Soami Ji says that we are so attached to the creation and love it so much that we have forgotten the Lord, forgotten our true home, and forgotten who we really are.
The Sufi mystic Rumi said that our situation is similar to that of a servant who is sent by a king to a country to accomplish a specific task. The servant goes to that country and does many wonderful and amazing things, and then returns to the king. Back at the king’s court, the king asks him, “Did you do that task I sent you to do?” The servant answers, “My lord, please, first let me thank you. The place you sent me to is a wonderful place. I met a beautiful lady and I married her. Then we had children and with them my responsibilities increased, so I opened a shop.” The king interrupts him and says, “But what about the task that you were sent for? Did you or did you not perform that specific task? I didn’t send you to get married, to have children, to make money or to get entangled in other types of affairs.” The subject bends his head down in shame and says, “I am sorry, my lord, I forgot…” The king replies, “How could you have forgotten the only thing you were sent to perform? You will have to go back and do it again.” And that’s how we keep coming back into this world.
What is that only thing we were sent to perform?
The saints remind us that the only thing that matters in this world is our relationship with the Lord. For some divine reason, we are spiritual beings going through a human experience that revolves around the need to reconnect with the Lord. In fact, one of the origins of the word ‘religion’ is thought to be the Latin word ‘religare’, which means to ‘tie’ or ‘bind’. This suggests that the purpose of religion is to recover our link with the Lord.
In fact, so essential is God-realization that the author of the book Living Meditation writes that if we were to forget everything else and remember this one essential thing, then everything would be fine in our life. If we did a thousand other wonderful things and forgot this one essential thing, we would, at the end of our life, have done nothing whatsoever.
Even the Bible asks us to consider for what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul (Matthew 16:26). And Brother Lawrence suggested that we count as lost each day that we have not used in loving God.
Because we can only build a relationship with someone we have seen, we seek the company of the mystics or saints, who fill us with love and devotion for the Father. Thereby, our love for our Master is transformed into the love of the Lord. Jesus assured his disciples, “I and the Father are one.”
The teachings of the saints further indicate that this remembrance of the Lord is for our benefit and in our own interest.
Life is full of perils and hidden reefs, on which we shall make shipwreck without the continual succour of the grace of God. Yet how can we ask for it, unless we are with him? How can we be with him, unless our thoughts are ever of him? How can he be in our thoughts, unless we form a holy habit of abiding in his presence, there asking for the grace we need each moment of our life?
Brother Lawrence, The Spiritual Maxims of Brother Lawrence
To maintain remembrance of the Master, the Lord and the teachings, we have several avenues, for example, satsang, seva and trips to the Dera. Satsang reminds us of the teachings and helps us realign our priorities. Seva cultivates an attitude of doing action in his name. Trips to the Dera place us in an environment that is infused with association with the Master.
But the ultimate tool of remembrance is meditation. In meditation, we engage in simran, which means remembrance. By repeating names that are associated with the Lord, we focus on him. The practice of dhyan and bhajan help us see the Light and hear the Sound that will lead us back to the Lord and our true home.
When we hold his hand, when our attention is towards him, we can go through this life without losing much of our balance. If we have absolutely forgotten him, then we live miserably in this creation. But if he is our focus, if he is our destination and we are trying to achieve that destination, then we can breathe in peace. Then we have consolation, contentment that we are going towards our home.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
Initially, our remembrance is sporadic and half-hearted. Our meditation is infused with thinking. Given how easy our forgetfulness is, how persistent must our remembrance be to overpower it? That is why we are encouraged to give our full time to meditation. It is the minimum amount of practice that can help us build this habit.
Prayer is a language of love from the heart to the Father, and nobody exists then between you and the Father. You are not conscious of the world when you pray to him. He exists and you exist. That is real prayer, and that is only possible at the time of meditation when we try to forget all that we are and where we are.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live
Moreover, it is through this remembrance that we show our gratitude. When we do not remember loved ones enough, their usual complaint is that we do not appreciate what they have done for us. So it would make sense that if we see our whole life as a gift from the Lord, a life spent in his remembrance would be our return gift to him.
For what have you to lend? Is not your very life a gift? Were God to charge you interest for the least of his gifts unto you, wherewith would you pay?
The Book of Mirdad
Because the Master knows how thick the fog of forgetfulness is, he does not hold our weaknesses against us. He inspires us and tells us repeatedly that we can do it, otherwise we would not have been initiated. At the end of our lives, we need not be able to say that we always remembered him, but that we never stopped trying. We do this by resolving to try again each new day.
I will delight in your statutes: I will not forget your Word.