Not One Speck
What exactly is humility? And how important is it for those who seek union with God? A passage by Soami Ji in Sar Bachan offers some stunningly clear directives for initiates.
Satguru is pleased with humility. If humility is genuine, then one need not worry either about the restlessness of the mind or about the provisions for the journey. Such a one should firmly take refuge in the Satguru and rely on his protection. Then his boat will cross over to the other side.
The intended audiences for these sublime instructions are those of us with distracted and restless minds who cannot focus our attention in meditation. Soami Ji speaks to disciples whose simran is infrequent, half-hearted or weak (or all three). He talks to those of us who wonder whether the outer circumstances of our lives are sufficient to support our continued efforts on the path, and who wonder whether our inner resources are adequate for the journey to take us to the eye centre and beyond. In other words, he speaks to most of us. And he says, if we are humble, there is nothing to worry about because we can submit to the Master and let him take us home. The implication is that if we are not humble, then we need to fight the mind.
So then the question becomes: What will allow us to become genuinely humble? We might think we know the answer to this question already.
Initially, we may hope that simply a little clear thinking and rational thought might help us to recognize and accept that our pride, our delusion is false. The saints ask us, “What are you proud of?” Your intellect? That was a gift from God. Your family? Again, you were placed there. You had no choice or say in those circumstances. Your wealth? Your achievements? Your youth? Your beauty? All of these come and go and are dependent on powers outside of our control. And any of them can vanish in an instant. But understanding that we have nothing to be proud of doesn’t help us to become humble, because we can’t achieve humility with our mind.
Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, that the very source of our false pride is the mind and the ego:
Ego comes out of the mind – so unless the soul leaves the mind, we can never realize the real humility at all.… There is always humility in the soul, but there is none in the mind. Mind always wants to assert itself.
So, we cannot “think” our way into being humble.
Maybe we hoped that humility would come from doing a whole lot of seva? Or maybe by being a better disciple than those around us. But the egotism, pride, and arrogance in calculations of this sort increase the barrier between the Master and the disciple and take us farther away from real humility, rather than closer. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III: “Ego only comes when we look to the creation for comparison – I’m better than him, I have much more than him. Then we feel the ego.”
Hazur even cautions us: “Sometimes, when we make a research of our humility, we find it is another form of ego.” Humility is not self-hatred or self-criticism. It is not about the self at all. Ultimately, humility has nothing to do with what we think or feel or how we judge ourselves. Humility begins when we stop thinking about ourselves, and start remembering the One who is calling us home.
Fortunately, the Masters tell us exactly how this transformation from a delusional, arrogant, self-centered initiate to a humble, self-forgetting, obedient disciple will occur. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
We can drive the ego from within us only when we see that light, when we hear that sound, the word of God, the holy ghost.… The more we travel on the path, the more humble we become. The more we get the devotion and love of the Lord within us, the more humble we become. The more we are in love with the Lord, the more we realize his greatness, and the more insignificant we are in our daily life – the more humble we become.… Only by the spiritual practice, only by that meditation can we kill the ego.
Meditation, of course, is the answer – the only answer to all of our questions, to all of our challenges, to all of our longing for what is real and true and holy. Including humility. Meditation is the answer to our wanting a closer relationship with the Master.
Hazur continues in the same book: “Love makes you humble. Love makes you meek. Love means you want to do that which pleases the other person, not what pleases yourself.” Hazur explains that when you love, when you meditate, when you put yourself under his care:
You never want to take. You never love for advantage. You never love to bargain. You never love for wages. And that love gives you submission. And where submission comes, humility comes.… If you submit to him, his will, his creation, humility comes in you.
We don’t become superior by following the path. If you follow the path, actually you are filled with more humility. Then we go on realizing our insignificance before the Father. Then we don’t look to the creation for comparison. Then we look to the Father for our comparison.
You are humble when you think everybody is superior to you. And when you think everybody is superior to you, it means that you find the Lord in everybody.
The path to genuine humility takes us directly to the eye centre, through our meditation practice. What blocks our ability to see him there and to know he is with us always? It is the ego. As Hazur says in Light on Saint John:
If we do not get rid of our ego … there is no room for the Lord, so we are “alone.” We can never be conscious of the Lord, as long as we are full of ego. As long as there is even one speck left in us, we are impure and not fit to bear the fruit of God-realization.
Not even a speck. So, welcome to the lowest level of the spiritual nursery school where, as Hazur told someone in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III: “Brother, it is a lifelong struggle.”
But practically speaking, we can begin to recognize that we are not alone in having a distracted mind, and in being a struggling soul with no special talent at being a good disciple. We are on a path where we are required to discover our insignificance, our poverty, and our need. Our emptiness can be filled only by him. We are simply struggling souls, initiated, loved, and being changed by God – the way he wants and when he wants. Hazur reminds us: “We say we are following the path. It doesn’t mean that we follow the path. By his grace, we follow the path.”
As the Lord makes us whole and complete in his own way, our emptiness will be filled by him and we will realize who we truly are: nothing – nothing but him. Meanwhile, we do the work he asked us to do – our meditation and following the other three vows – because he is pulling us with his love.
The Master reminds us never to ask for wages, never to look for advantage. He asks us to happily, joyfully and willingly work every day at our meditation. Our spiritual work is what we came here to do. Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh says it succinctly in Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II:
Your real work, your own work – the one you’ve come here for. Do it! Anything else you do will be blessed, if it is done, keeping that in mind. But if you forget that work, then all other work counts for nothing.
We don’t do this spiritual work for wages. We do it because the Master has asked us to do it. He tells us that this work pleases him. Our meditation is the work that shows what is in our hearts.
The value of this spiritual work is so high it is not even measurable. Those of us with restless minds and few provisions for the journey have been found by the One who has promised to protect us. We have taken refuge in the Satguru. He will captain our boat across the stormy seas of the mind and the senses to the abode of the Lord.