Abraham Maslow was a psychologist concerned with human values. During the 1930s he visited the Blackfoot Indians in Canada to study their views on life and relationships. A few members of the tribe had considerable possessions in the form of land, cattle and other goods, but the rest of the tribe kept referring to a different individual as “rich” and not those who were seemingly affluent. Maslow was surprised to find the so-called rich person living in a simple dwelling, his only significant possession a very beat-up old car. The car was knocked about because he would lend it to anyone who wanted it.
We in modern society hold the concept of riches simply to mean the money and goods we own. This tribe had a different concept. They felt that true wealth was in the way one used what one had. It was demonstrated by generosity, not the market value of one’s possessions.
We can apply this thinking to our spiritual teachers. The Masters may not be rich in the way that the world assesses it, but they are infinitely rich to the disciple because they give all that they have so freely to anyone who is ready to receive. And their ‘all’ really is all. The vitally important thing that a Master, and only a Master, can give is the connection with the Word or Shabd within us – the ever-resounding music within that is our direct connection to the Creator. In Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
Saints of all ages, countries, and climes have proclaimed with one voice that salvation cannot be secured without contacting the Shabd, the immanent power…. This is our exclusive heritage, but we can be put in possession of it by saints alone.
It is impossible to understand the height, the reach and the power of a complete Master. He is a unique being, seemingly an ordinary human being living the life of a householder – earning his own living, supporting his family, undertaking the usual worldly duties – but inside he is a fully realized part of the Creator, for whom he acts on this and other planes.
The living Master is the proof of the potential of man. He has attained his spiritual power by conquering the mind in exactly the same way that we must learn to conquer the mind. This is within our capability and in fact has been built into our very design: the soul, embedded within the human form, can be liberated. In the Bible we read in St John, Chapter 1:
And as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become Sons of God, even unto them that believe on his Name.
In the same way, any father might tell his three year-old son that one day he can be as strong and able as a grown-up. It may be difficult for the three year-old to grasp, but it’s true. And the Master looks after his disciples just like a father. On our spiritual journey he continually beckons to us. However dirty we are, he overlooks it and takes our hand; he pushes and pulls us; he waits for us when we lag behind; he provides for us; he protects us; he loves us. The extraordinary truth is that we are the Master’s sole reason for being here and he will not rest until all the souls in his charge have been safely taken home.
The child in his ignorance, always wanting to play about, does not understand how much he needs the father. If we as disciples want to grow up, it may help to remind ourselves of what it is that the Master offers and what he does not. It is misguided to come to a Master looking for permanent happiness in this creation. It is pointless to expect him to deal in fame or position. It is meaningless to ask for initiation just because our families or friends are satsangis and we might as well join the club. We should be clear that the Master provides us only with those things that lead to our final destination, Sach Khand. These may result in disillusionment with the world; they may help us to see that we can rely on nothing and no one in any permanent sense, turning us to him alone. Once we get the picture and start to align ourselves with him, our good days begin.
The Master’s wealth is love and that is the wealth that he wants his disciples to realize. The present Master once said that his riches are his sangat, telling us in this way about the great value he places on the love of his disciples. That love actually has been generated by the inexhaustible flow of Shabd from the Master himself. The disciple falls into step with the Master by listening to him and following his instructions.
At initiation the Master gives us simran or repetition of the five holy names, which is an activity in which we can participate at any time. Firstly, it forms the beginning and key part of our daily meditation session. The repetition is carried out to help concentrate the attention between and behind the two eyes before we switch to bhajan -listening for or to the Shabd, which will take our attention in and up. Secondly, it is recommended that the repetition of the five names should be carried out at any time of day when the mind is free. If we can remember to do this simran, then we are reminding ourselves of our need for the Master and that we should turn towards him rather than letting our mind run out to the world.
If, like the Blackfoot Indians, we are able to acknowledge that real wealth lies in the way we handle what we have been given, we will see that there is a double whammy in our situation as satsangis. We are fortunate enough to have been given a share of the true wealth of a complete Master. That happened at our initiation and can never be taken away. But it can only be realized as a fortune if we follow the instructions : simran and bhajan, simran throughout the day, satsang and seva, all practised with as much love and devotion as possible.
We carry the Creator, the Shabd and the Master within us all the time. They are light – so light that we are hardly aware of their presence. Instead we often choose to carry the world around. That is heavy, and we feel it! Like wealthy people who can use their wealth to ensure comfort for themselves, we should spend our time close to the Master (through the methods mentioned above) and so find peace. When we are disturbed by events and lose serenity, we should cultivate the habit of running back inside to the Master. Daily practice will, over time, bring about a real change in us. Hard work brings results, and instead of wasting our time over the tawdry baubles of the world, we will realize our true riches – peace of mind, joy and selflessness as we draw ever nearer to rejoining our Father in our real home. In Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I we read:
Hazur Maharaj Ji (Maharaj Sawan Singh) used to say that we are like a person who has enormous wealth buried in his house but wanders about seeking trash. If he were only to search his own house he would find the treasure and save himself the futility and difficulty of the outer search. Therefore we should detach ourselves from everything else and work within to obtain the treasure of Shabd and Nam.