Five Gems of Advice
We need to take stock of our life. We need to honestly figure out which way we are facing now – toward the world or toward the Lord? If we have a desire for spirituality but our focus is on the world, we need to make the changes necessary to commit ourselves to spirituality. In a letter to a disciple, Maharaj Sawan Singh, the Great Master, lists five essential points that will enable a disciple to make proper use of the gift of initiation on the spiritual path. The Great Master says in Dawn of Light:
A hungry man is never satisfied simply by counting the names of various dishes that are before him. Though the teachings you have received are invaluable, yet they cannot be of any use unless you utilize them and daily engage in the spiritual exercises.… you must be careful about the following:
1. control of mind,
2. check on senses,
3. resignation to his will,
4. love for him,
5. regularity and punctuality in the spiritual exercises.
Let’s take a look at these five suggestions from the Great Master and see how they may help us.
- Control of mind: Easier said than done! This is definitely a big struggle for us on this path, because our mind is too often controlled by the senses. But we have help. When the Master initiates us, he gives us the practice of simran (repetition of five holy names during meditation and throughout the day). Simran helps us to keep our mind under control. It keeps the mind occupied, so it can’t run in a thousand directions creating more desires. We can turn to simran when we find our mind going places it shouldn’t. And when we are sincere in our efforts, we feel the help of the Master. In The Call of the Great Master, someone asks: “How is one to check the entrance of evil thoughts into one’s mind?” Great Master answers:
This is a very good question, but its answer needs long satsangs.… Briefly, if an evil thought troubles one, it should be checked by meditating on its opposite. The study of good books also helps a good deal. Food goes a long way in influencing our mind.… But the greatest help always comes from the true Master, who takes upon himself the duty of saving his disciples from the cunning tricks of Satan.
A key requirement for controlling our mind and thereby attuning ourselves to the inner sound and light is to follow a certain way of life. Before initiation we are asked to follow three vows – moral living, vegetarianism, and abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. These vows help to begin the process of curbing the mind and senses. They help to create the framework in which we can do the meditation practice. Ultimately, it is the sound current, the Shabd, that is the effective method for controlling the mind and turning it inward.
- Check on senses: Masters give us practical advice. They tell us that our environment has an effect on us. Just as we protect our children from negative aspects of the world, we should protect ourselves. For example, parents often limit the amount of violence and sex that their children are exposed to on television, but these things influence us also and can fan the fire of our senses if we aren’t careful. The Great Master, in The Dawn of Light explains how we can keep a check on our mind and senses. He says:
Again and again, the mind goes out and remains thinking of worldly matters. So keep a sharp eye over its working during the whole of the day and take care that it may not carry you away.… This is possible only by keeping your mind engaged in repeating the holy names. At all times, whether walking, eating, drinking or doing any work which does not require much attention, try to concentrate your attention on the holy names and never allow your senses to control you.
- Resignation to his will: This is a tricky subject. We have to take actions and make decisions and put in effort. Resignation to his will, entails accepting the results after we put in our effort. Great Master explains in Call of the Great Master: “This does not preclude effort to improve one’s condition, but it is the feeling of dissatisfaction and discontent that is to be discarded.”
The saints tell us that we will get our fair share in this world – no one can keep it from us. Whatever we are supposed to get, we will get. But if something is not in our destiny, no matter how much we try, we won’t get it.
Nothing in our life happens to us without the Lord’s knowledge, and what we think of as a misfortune may actually be of benefit to us. Great Master explains in Dawn of Light:
Never be disheartened if you are to pay some severe debt. It is all for your good….
Therefore, all events which appear to be misfortunes are not really so. They come to chasten us, to add to our power of resistance, and leave us better men in the end. What the Father does, he does for the best.
- Love for him: The Master alone is worthy of our deepest love. He advises us and helps us. We are lost in this creation, and he navigates our way home. We suffer from the ills of worldly attachment, and he is like the surgeon who can heal us. Great Master says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V:
The disciple should rely implicitly on the Master and should give himself up to him in the same way as one confides in a surgeon and entrusts his life into his hands. Similarly, one follows the instructions of a guide when one is lost in a jungle, is sick and tired, and cannot himself find the way.
Great Master explains the effect of loving the Master. He says in The Dawn of Light:
The deeper the love for the Master takes root in you, the fainter will be the worldly love in you. His love will displace the love of earthly things. Then the mind and spirit will transcend the flesh and the curtains will rise before you, one by one. The dark mysteries of the universe will become revealed to you and you will find yourself in the loving lap of the Holy Father; in fact, you will be one with him.
This is the beauty of the path of the Masters!
- Regularity and punctuality in the spiritual exercises: Lastly and most importantly, Great Master advises us to be regular and punctual in our spiritual exercises. He is not saying that we must be perfect, sit absolutely still, be full of love, and hear the inner sound. He just says we should be regular and punctual. That is something that we can do. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
We find that the more we give our devotion to the Lord, the more it grows every day. The more love we have, the more it grows. But the only practical step that we can take is to be honest in our meditation, for then devotion and love come automatically.
We all know what being honest in our meditation means – to be regular, to put in our best effort at stilling our bodies, and to be relentless in bringing the mind back to the eye centre when we catch it wandering. Not to give up or get up. We all have good days and bad days. Success depends on how firm our intentions are. It depends on how willing we are to take a stand and to keep our commitment to do what we say we believe in.
If we haven’t been regular and punctual, it’s not too late to start. Every day counts, every action counts, even every thought counts. Albert Camus says, “I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.”
It’s never too late to turn our face towards God. It’s never too late to become regular and punctual in our meditation. Following the suggestions of the Great Master will help us become successful on this journey. He is all love and all mercy and gladly welcomes us back into his loving arms when we turn towards him.