No doubt, all of us from time to time feel that our spiritual goal is utterly beyond our reach. We wonder, given our worldly natures, how we could ever reach to higher levels of consciousness. Even after years on the path, we are for the most part still just like little children lost in the dark. We are desperately in need of a helping hand, a light to guide us.
But one thing we do learn is that when we keep close to Master in our hearts, our sense of weakness diminishes and we can handle things better. No matter who we are, no matter the circumstances, our happiness always seems to be linked to our ability to maintain contact with the Master. When we turn our backs on the path, the light goes out of our lives. Sadness and anxiety increase. So, no matter how deep our knowledge of Sant Mat, no matter how long we have been initiated, it simply comes down to whether or not we are consistently tuning in to the Master in our thoughts and actions.
When we think of him, or are in his presence, the Master radiates such strong currents of spirituality that we cannot help feeling love and uplift in our hearts. But, as we learn from experience, the duration and intensity of these feelings depends on our attitude and receptivity. We can only maintain that inner contact when we are living according to his wishes. Our behaviour can definitely disrupt the flow of grace.
On one level, we seem to be completely powerless, but at the same time it is clear that our relationship with the Master gives us access to him in a very special way. When we approach him with sincerity, with a genuine desire for improvement, we provoke his grace. We have the means, in effect, to tap into unlimited spiritual resources. Initiation has empowered us more than we can imagine. It is as though we are surrounded by a great cloud of energy. Grace is all around us in abundance. But it remains invisible, or at best barely perceptible, until we send a tiny spark of genuine interest in its direction. As soon as we turn to the Master with love, with a true desire to be forgiven and to be loved, the response is tremendous. Powerful currents of spirituality immediately flow towards us, touch us and uplift our consciousness.
It may take us years to realize it, but our relationship with the Master and the Shabd is, in fact, extremely personal and intimate. It is our inner motivation and feelings (not the position we hold, or think we hold, in the world, or the sangat) which determine our spiritual progress. This relationship is a love affair of the deepest kind. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, it is expressed beautifully by Maharaj Charan Singh: “Just as a child is brought up, stage by stage, at every step, so similarly a new initiate is brought up. His spiritual development takes place under the care of the Master.” After all, what are our feeble efforts to focus on the Lord in meditation, but the hand of the infant reaching out to touch the mother, calling for her love? What is his grace, but the mother’s caring touch, protecting and looking after her child? And in matters of love, as we all know, it is our feelings which count, and the attention that we give to the other person.
Naturally, we are all going to make mistakes along the way. But, surely the trick is not to be blind to our shortcomings. We should develop the habit of quickly and easily admitting our faults and then moving on. Also, when we get off track, the greatest blessing is to have someone around who can help us see the spiritual side of things. And for this reason we should all try to help each other to behave positively. The worst thing we can do is to reinforce each other’s negative responses to situations and encourage back-biting and gossip. We can definitely be helpful by refusing to be drawn into negativity, instead helping each other to focus on the Master.
Being spiritual means being positive. Really positive. We have to make a special kind of effort if we want to get anything out of this path. It requires courage to take things spiritually rather than personally. The worst trap is to say to ourselves that conditions are not yet right for meditation. Instead of sitting on the fence, complaining about our lot, about how weak we are, we have to do whatever it takes to practise Sant Mat. Our effort is the key to success. By returning time after time to the Master in our hearts, we begin to feel that strength and to experience a sense of personal freedom which is beyond description. This is a revelation which, like light to the soul, brings an appreciation of what a great mine of happiness and bliss is to be found within ourselves.
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’
Minnie Louise Haskins, quoted in Deborah Cassidi, Favourite Wisdom