“Please don’t go there.” “Please don’t do that.” “No son, it’s raining, we cannot go to the park.” “No darling, it’s late, you cannot watch TV now.” “Be careful, don’t touch that.”
No, and variations of it, are some of the most commonly repeated phrases children hear. While children innocently learn and absorb the world around them, grown-ups often step in and abruptly halt this exploration. To the child, this may seem cruel and unfair, but everyone knows that a parent’s strict and uncompromising behaviour comes from love.
Every parent knows what it takes to keep a child safe from harm. Parents understand the law of gravity and how jumping from heights can be dangerous. They know the physics of fire and the catastrophic outcome of playing with a box of matches. It is not the parents who created these scientific laws; but they are aware of their effects and it is their duty to teach their children and guide them.
Similarly, albeit on a deeper and grander scale, saints come into this world to guide us. We have come into human existence as newborns who are unaware of many things. We do not know who we are, where we have come from and what our purpose is. And like innocent children, we are curious. So we experiment – with our food, clothes, bodies, jobs and relationships. And saints, like loving parents, come into the world to help us understand the law of nature and the outcomes of our actions.
We are just reaping the fruit of what we have sown. We do not even learn from our mistakes in this life, not to speak of our past lives. This world is a field of karmas. Whatever we have sown, we reap, and whatever we sow now, we reap here in the future. We have come here again and again to fulfil those desires, to reap the fruit of the seeds that we have sown in our previous births, and while reaping we also sow for the next birth, and the excess also increases our stored lot. That is karma.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
But from our limited, childlike perspective, it may seem as if the Master says no to a lot of things. No meat, no fish, no eggs, no animal rennet, no alcohol (not even the occasional glass of wine), no tobacco, and no intimate relationships before marriage, and so forth. There are so many restrictions that it seems like we do not get to have any fun at all.
While these rules might seem stringent and severe, the saints did not create the natural law that governs the creation. They do not choose to be harsh, rather, it is the law itself that is relentless. So when they offer us guidance and advice, they are simply looking out for our best interests and what will ultimately benefit our true self – the soul.
When the Masters advise us to abstain from animal products, it is because they can foresee the heavy effects of karma upon the soul. When they ask us to live a moral life with a clean heart, it is because they know that only a pure soul can merge back into the perfect One. And when we are told to earn our livelihood through honest means, it is because a spiritual life cannot be sustained on fraudulence and deceit.
There are many who want to learn about life through personal experience. On this point, the saints cannot be more encouraging. They do not want us to take their word at face value; nor do they want us to follow the path like blind sheep. They want us to verify everything for ourselves by taking a scientific and logical approach to spirituality. As with a science experiment, the saints present us with a hypothesis. They provide us with the tools to test the hypothesis and then it is up to us to perform the experiment and draw our own conclusions.
Man himself is the perfect book; for all books have come out of him. Inside of him is the Creator, with all His creation. The study of books gives second-hand information; while the study of man gives first-hand information – that is, the study of what lies within ourselves. So why not enter within ourselves and see what is there?
It is incumbent on man to seek his origin because he is a “thinking” person. He is expected to “supervise his planning department,” go inside and go ahead to get his reward. I wish that you go within and see the reality with your own eye and to your satisfaction, and compare it with that your reason has pictured. The substance lies within you….
The first essential thing, therefore, is to enter this laboratory within ourselves, by bringing our scattered attention inside of the eye focus.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
The point is we need a teacher whom we can trust. An expert who we can turn to for guidance and advice. A fledgling, before taking flight, learns from its parents. It learns how to fly, how to hunt for food, how to build a nest – just like a little child, who at every step in life needs guidance from his parents and elders. Similarly, when it comes to the inner life, we need a spiritual teacher who can teach us the Truth and show us the way to make best use of this precious human life.
When we look back at the time when we were children, we recall the countless times that our parents said no to us. As adults, we can understand perfectly where they were coming from. So just as we trusted our parents and reaped the reward of that trust as successful adults, at this stage of our spiritual childhood, we too need to trust our Master and obey his instructions, because in order to conduct any experiment – to begin with, one needs to have a certain amount of faith in the teacher. One day, our soul too will reap the reward of that trust; when it can shine in its own pure light and stand shoulder to shoulder with the beloved Father – free at last from the bondage of transmigration.
It is our duty to obey the instructions of the Master, and spiritual exercises are his instructions. It is also the direction of the Supreme Father that we should be moral, honest and laborious in the spiritual practices. And, if we do not obey his instructions, we cannot escape the consequences. We must turn from the world and obey with love and faith. His power is unlimited and he will save us.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems