The Turning Point
From the very dawn of creation and through the ages, the pattern of our existence has been to move, interminably, from one life form to another – hopefully progressing upward, but probably also moving down the scale sometimes. We revolve endlessly on the wheel of transmigration – unless and until we have the great good fortune to be chosen by the Creator to return to him; to be initiated on to his path of God-realization. And this marks the turning point in our soul’s entire existence.
In Quest for Light Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
According to one’s good or bad actions in this life one passes at death into the body of a higher or lower being. If one loves the world and the things of this world, he will come back to the earth and be reborn into any of the species to which his mental inclinations have led him. And if one loves to go to higher spheres, that attachment shall draw him to those regions. Even the power of becoming divine is given to man. This limited individual soul has unlimited capacities and does not rise to higher regions simply because it does not make use of these capacities. … Life does not begin at birth and end with death. We are an expression of infinite life, which had no beginning and shall never come to an end.
We are expressions of infinite life. And our souls need not be limited at all. They have unlimited capacities. Initiation provides the opportunity to start developing those infinite capacities.
And the two absolute essentials for this? We have to be born as human beings, and we have to come in touch with a living Master and receive initiation from him. But not only do we need to have evolved to the point of a human birth for this. We need to have been marked by the Creator to return to him. Without that marking we might be told about a Master, we might even sit next to him on a train or a plane, but we wouldn’t recognize him for what he is. We have to be singled out of the many millions and trillions of souls to be drawn back to him. And for this we must be in the human form.
Maharaj Sawan Singh tells us in one of his letters:
God made man in his own image. … It is only in human form that man is endowed with superior faculties and is better off than the lower creation. … It is only man – and not even gods and angels – who has been endowed by the Almighty with faculties, by developing which he can attain to the highest spiritual region, provided he is initiated by a perfect Master and works hard to elevate his soul to the higher regions.
To be born as a human being is an immense privilege. And then, to rise to a level where we at last are able to meet a Master – to be initiated by him and to be taught how to eventually achieve this high goal of God-realization – is a privilege afforded to very few. If we do not take advantage of it we will have wasted this precious opportunity.
What is our situation here? Much of our lives are spent in hard work, perhaps struggling to support ourselves and our families. We are full of all kinds of worries and fears, maybe having to deal with poverty or injury or ill health. Instead of soaring like the eagles we’ve been like chickens scratching around in the dirt. And for most of this time we have had no inkling of our divine origin, of our own spiritual nature and potential. In one of his letters Great Master uses a lovely simile to describe what we’ve sunk to:
Man is much like a covered lantern. There is light in him. There is the spark of pure existence, knowledge and bliss in him; but the envelopes of mind and matter dim his light and he gropes in darkness. Real existence has degenerated and appears in him as reason, intellect and instinct. Bliss has degenerated into fleeting experiences of pleasure and pain.
Not a very happy scenario. And to think there was a time when we were actually part of the Creator, sharing his light and love and his total perfection. In that same letter Great Master tells us:
The Creator is existence, knowledge and bliss – or power, wisdom and love. An atom or spark of this essence of existence is the soul, which, encased in its covering of mind and matter, forms the individual man. If the coverings were removed from the individual, the soul would be naked and would be qualified to know its Creator. The individual will know itself – attain self-realization – and will, in turn, be able to know its Creator.
That’s the goal we have ahead of us: in time to know our Creator; even to become one with him. But now that we have been initiated by a true Master, it is time for some hard work on our part. And that work is meditation. The Masters tells us that the whole purpose of initiation is meditation, and with the help and guidance of our Master, to eventually achieve this final goal – a goal so high that nothing else matches it.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
When the soul is initiated it has to become God, to go to that level. Every soul potentially is God, but it has to become God.
This is momentous. When we’re initiated we don’t have the slightest understanding of what has happened to us, but when we begin to practise meditation, the process of self-and God-realization begins – irreversibly.
This is where our commitment and effort comes in – our meditation and our obedience to our Master. We can either submit ourselves to our Master’s will and wishes and do what he has asked of us, or else we can get distracted or become lazy and drag our feet. But if we commit ourselves to his path, our obedience to his wishes is how we earn his grace, so that in the shortest possible time he can make us fit for our grand destiny.
Absolute obedience to a Master’s wishes – that’s one of the most important requirements for us as disciples. If we consider that most of us don’t know what we’re doing and exactly where we’re going, then we should know that we’re completely dependent on our Master’s guidance. We need to do exactly whatever he tells us to do. He is the one who is steering this ship. He will take us back to our home. All we have to do is obey him in everything.
Scrupulously living according to his instructions in itself will bring about a slow transformation in us – slowly, slowly make us fit for God-realization. And this transformation will proceed according to plan – his plan – as long as we obey him and live according to the principles he has given us.
The time will come when we will be reabsorbed into that ocean of love and bliss and ultimate oneness. We will get back there because that is the Lord’s will, and that is also our Master’s will. In Spiritual Letters Baba Jaimal Singh said something quite incredible – that our return home is inevitable:
Whatever is to be done has already been done, and that is what will happen – man does not do anything by himself. Believe implicitly, my son, the Satguru has told us that man does nothing – only the means for doing appears to come through him. … Whatever is to happen has already happened.
We often complain that the path is long and difficult. But the Masters have made it as easy as possible for us. In fact, we should be infinitely grateful that we’re living in the middle of the Iron Age, when the whole world seems to be going mad – when wars, bloodshed, crime, greed, corruption, widespread poverty and general misery are rife. In this dark age the Master is intent on getting his marked souls out of here as quickly as possible, and he asks so little of us in return. Think of how many hard tests and trials seekers in earlier times had to endure in order to get initiation. Now all that is required is that we live according to four not-too-demanding principles, and especially that we should meditate. Nothing else.
All we have to do is just sit. Every day, just sit. It’s the Master who is taking his disciples up. We can’t do this by ourselves, not even with a million years of meditation. We are entirely dependent on the Master’s grace and the grace of the Supreme Lord who wants us to come back to him. As Maharaj Charan Singh told us:
Everything happens by grace. Without his grace nothing can happen. Unless he wishes, nobody can reach him. We are all blind, groping in the dark. He is the only one who can show us the light out of this darkness. And he has his own ways and means to show that light to us. … We think that we worship him, that we love him. But he is the one who is pulling us from within, who creates that desire in us to worship him and creates that longing for him. He is the one who is pulling us from the back. We are only an instrument, so to say.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
It may be that when we listen to a beautiful piano concerto by one of the great composers, it fills us with joy. But it’s not the piano that’s making the music – it’s the musician. The piano is only the instrument. And now we’re just the instruments, and it is our Master, or the Lord himself, who is playing his glorious Shabd music through us, to draw us back to him.
The beginning and end of all things is Shabd. All gross matter, the sky and so forth, subtle matter, sound, form, taste and scent are all Shabd. Whatever is manifested from Shabd cannot be anything but Shabd. Shabd is our creator. Shabd is our sustainer. We are of Shabd and Shabd is ours.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV