The Bag of Jewels
None is poor, O Bhika;
Everyone has rubies in his bundle;
But how to open the knot
He does not know,
And thus remains a pauper.
Bhika, as quoted in Divine Light
We are all born with a bag of precious jewels, but this treasure remains a secret until, as our spiritual understanding grows, we gradually learn about the Lord’s gifts. Then we open our hearts to him in gratitude.
Maharaj Charan Singh writes in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, that the Lord has given us so much in life, but we don’t have a thankful heart:
Instead of asking the Father to give us the boons in life, we should ask him to give us that heart which is full of gratitude for what he has given to us….But we are always protesting what he has not given. We must believe that what he has not given, is not meant for us, is not good for us, it is not to our advantage. And for whatever he has given us in life, we should be grateful to him, we should be thankful to him.
Most of us are not even aware of our utter dependence on the Lord’s grace. Even this human birth – for which we seldom thank him – is ours because of his grace. God has given us many valuable gifts such as wealth, beauty, strength, power, good health and knowledge. We are naturally fond of these things, but they all have an alternative aspect. Wealth makes a man proud, beauty makes him conceited. Power may cause cruelty and arrogance, while good health may cause him to be less sympathetic to those who suffer. Knowledge may puff up his ego so that he fails to realize that his proud intellect is a delusion.
These gifts are beneficial if they are combined with the sweetness of love. God is love. He gives and demands nothing in exchange for his gifts, just as love demands nothing in return. It knows only how to give – hence it is free from all selfishness. We should be grateful for whatever he gives us for he will give us only what we need in spite of what we pray for.
Let’s dig into our bag of jewels and examine the first and most important jewel – the gift of love. Again we refer to Maharaj Charan Singh who, speaking on love, tells us:
Love is always there in every soul. But for that love, nobody would worship the Father….Meditation not only creates love, it strengthens love. It helps you to grow and grow to become one with the Father. That is the love…which helps us to lose our own identity, our own individuality; which helps us to become another being. That is love. And that is why we say that love is God and God is love.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
Ultimately, the lover wants to merge with the Beloved. The Masters explain that potentially every drop is the ocean, but it has to evaporate and become the cloud and the rain before it can be one with the ocean. An important aspect of loving the Master is obedience. To attend to our meditation and live the Sant Mat way of life without compromising on the principles denotes obedience, which is born of our love for the Master.
Sacrifice is also part of a relationship of love. The Masters have a deep love for the sangat and they devote their lives to their satsangis. As they guide us towards the truth they teach us how to overcome the barriers of the material world while pursuing a spiritual goal. And importantly, a living Master is available to us in the physical. We are able to meet him and he answers our questions and talks with us, guiding us and dispelling our doubts about spirituality. He has chosen us for this path, and we must live by its principles and follow his instructions. The Master encourages us to introspect deeply and to ask ourselves what we are prepared to sacrifice so that we may experience God.
The second jewel in our bag concerns our soul, which is so ethereal that it is almost impossible to know if it is real and if we can be in touch with it. The only way to learn about the soul is from a Master who has first-hand knowledge of it. Such a Master will teach us about the inner path that leads to the realization of the soul, and he will guide us to that realization within ourselves.
In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, the Great Master describes such a Master saying:
He is the radiant sun of purity, universal wisdom, truth and spirituality. He is spiritual, and seekers after spirituality gather round him like moths and make their lives fruitful by obtaining spiritual benefit.
Saints or Masters are pure souls who are tasked by the Lord to address the needs of our soul. The Masters explain that our soul exists within us but it has neither colour nor form – we cannot detect it with our physical eyes nor with our physical ears. Kabir uses the metaphor of a bird to illustrate the reincarnation and transmigration of the soul as it transfers from one body to another. It can only give life to one body at a time, which is the present body that it occupies. At some time in the future a different life will require a different body.
No one tells me about the bird
That sings within the body
Its colour is a colourless hue,
Its form a formless form,
It lives under the shade of Nam….
It hops, it pecks, it eats,
And from branch to branch it flies.
No one knows where it comes from,
No one knows what makes it sing.
Kabir: The Weaver of God’s Name
Our third beautiful jewel is the inspiration we receive from the Masters. They encourage us not to dwell on our past mistakes but rather to make a fresh start and keep moving forwards. They inspire us to continue meditating even though what we accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. However, with the hand of the Master guiding us, our life’s work can be truly beautiful. When we are struggling with our meditation we should know that he is there with us, bolstering and helping us – inspiring us to keep trying.
Our fourth jewel is the gift of the divine Sound. In his book The Path of the Masters, Dr Julian Johnson, speaking of this Sound, says that what concerns us most is the fact that it can be heard within ourselves, which he says is an amazing thing, too marvellous to contemplate. He writes:
This fact of hearing the Sound is our supreme joy, for it points directly to our ultimate spiritual freedom. The Masters teach their students exactly how to develop this inner hearing. After that, the life stream can be heard as distinctly and perfectly as we can hear anything on this plane by means of the physical ears.
To gain access to the divine Sound we need the fifth precious jewel, which is the gift of simran. Simran directs our thoughts to the remembrance of our Master. Whatever we may be doing we should remember him so that we can be in his inner presence at all times. Guru Nanak writes in the Jap Ji that ceaseless simran is the ladder by which to reach the mansion of the Lord. We need to put in the effort to do our simran – this is within our power. To do simran with love and devotion is the gift of the Master.
There can be no greater gifts than these. Because of our spiritual immaturity we cannot know why we were chosen to be recipients of these gifts. The Masters dedicate their lives to teaching us that our meditation is the only way to untie the knot in our bag of jewels. Meditation is also our only means of saying thank you for this precious gift.
Some day, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin