The path of the saints promises us the music of the spheres – the real music, the melody and harmony within every living being. The Shabd, the Logos, the Word, is calling us home. The Masters try to explain to us that this divine music becomes incarnate for us in the form of the Master who is complete in every way. Guru Arjan Dev is quoted in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, says: “He who sent you – calls you back.… The welcoming music is playing.”
This path to truth urges us to still the mind and to enter into the silence within. To move closer to the music of the spheres, we have been given some genuine “hearing aids.” Simran and bhajan is the key to remembrance that we are given at the time of initiation. This is the primary resource that shuts out the noise, distractions, and anxiety of the transient world. Meditation gives us the chance to please the Master, to nurture our relationship with him, and to relax into the work he has given us. When we are meditating, we are listening in the silence, opening ourselves to the Shabd, and becoming receptive to the Lord’s presence.
Satsang is another opportunity to be reminded of the Shabd in a virtual concert hall where the message of the saints is repeated over and over again. As we hear the scriptures, poetry and discourses of the mystics, we remember what the world seems so determined to try to make us forget – that we are loved, that we are being called home, that only lasting joy and eternal truth will ever satisfy us. What do we hear at satsang? A message straight from God in which the Lord invites us to remember his presence, his promises, and his protection. Maharaj Sawan Singh reveals some of what we are receiving in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V:
Take the words of the Master to be true. Let them dwell in your heart and make your life fruitful.
The words of the Master are not separate from him. The Master pervades them. His words are outpourings of his heart and are permeated with his truth and soul force. Such words pierce the hearts of spiritually minded persons like arrows and produce a sweet pain, which cannot be described.
Even when we can’t quite grasp what some of the words of the saints mean, they touch us, they help us on our journey, and they increase our receptivity. One day, we will not just be able to hear what the saints share, we will be able to act on these words so that we can know through our own experience. Until that time, we need help. When it comes to the love songs coming from God, most of us suffer from a profound hearing deficit. So we need to ask for the Lord’s help to please end this separation, forgive our flaws, help us in our meditation, and walk with us on this path.
Please end this separation. Separation is a normal human condition, the almost universal experience that most of us feel. We often feel cut-off and alone in this universe because we are no longer conscious of our primary relationship with our Creator. We think our “I” is real and all there is. We believe our individual identity is important. Our ego thinks it should be all-powerful. Our ego wants to be God, calling the shots, pronouncing what is good and what is bad. Being separate means to be alone, strange, alienated, isolated, apart, homeless, abandoned and out-of-tune. The thirteenth- century Persian mystic Hafiz, in the book The Winged Energy of Delight, sums up the predicament of separation:
I have dropped in a heap on the earth, crying,
In the hope that I will feel a touch of His hand.
I have fallen like a fish into deep water
In the hope that he will throw His net.…
Both union with you, and separation from you
Confuse me. What can I do? You are not present
Nor are you utterly absent from my sight.
When we feel the pain of separation, we are also feeling the pull of the Master. Our longing for union is his gift. Without this yearning, without this sorrow, we would be lost in the world of illusion and impermanence. When we feel the pain of separation and ask the Master to please end it, we are experiencing a love song, straight from the source – calling us to return to our real home of lasting joy and union with the Beloved.
Please forgive my flaws. Maharaj Charan Singh was an eloquent spokesman on our need for forgiveness. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, he says:
Meditation is nothing but seeking his forgiveness, nothing else.… When we are sitting in meditation, we are actually repenting for what we have done in the past.… Now, we are asking the Father to forgive us.…
We are all knocking at the Lord’s door to forgive us for all the sins we have committed, all the karmas we have committed, right from the beginning of the creation.
The Master offers mercy and forgiveness to all of us who are flawed. To obtain that forgiveness we must seek it through the hard work of meditation. When we sit in meditation, we have adopted the only means of invoking the mercy and the forgiveness of the Master. It is not obtained through an ocean of tears, or regret, or adopting especially harsh New Year’s resolutions. It is the long, hard work of meditation.
Meditation is where we go to hear the Master’s love songs to us. Meditation is what increases our capacity to receive the grace of the Master. Hazur says in Light on Saint John, “When we do the spiritual practice as instructed, we are gradually cleansed of our sins and become pure and receptive to his grace.”
Please walk with me. In our helplessness and powerlessness, we learn lessons of humility as our expectations are crushed. On our own we can do nothing. Egotism, self-indulgence, pride, selfishness, arrogance – these are some of the barriers that block our awareness of the Master’s presence. Only when they are eliminated, can we return to what is real and true and full of joy. We must be humbled. We must have our pride broken. We must experience just how little we can do. Humility is essential, transformative, and ultimately a blessing, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Farid ud-din Attar describes our dilemma in Conference of the Birds:
Creator, I am a helpless weakling in your Path.
I am like a lame ant, in the deep of your well.
I do not know where I come from, where I stand, or who I am.
Luckless, useless, destitute, distracted, and a coward.
When the Master sends us love songs it appears that he wants us to respond as a lover, as someone who wants him. If there is nothing we can do on our own, if we can’t turn our faces from this fantasy world on our own power or purity – what can we do? The disciple says to God:
I have no one, and nowhere to turn –
a lowly beggar at your door.
I am a nobody, who happens to know a Friend of Yours.
Farid ud-din Attar, Sweet Sorrows
We know a friend of God’s – the Master. And the Master does know the Beloved; the saints are the ones who have an intimate spiritual connection with the Lord. So what we can say to God is, “I know a friend of yours! He initiated me!” And through the years, we develop confidence in this Friend. Our confidence is not in ourselves or in our own capabilities. Our confidence is in the Master.
If you have the Beloved, you have all that you need,
The seven seas will be but a bridge beneath your feet.
Left on my own, I struggle and am a wreck,
Take my hand, O helping hand, take it.
Conference of the Birds
Please help me in my meditation. Ultimately, meditation is the only way home to the Lord. Only meditation will end our separation. Meditation is the only way that our flaws and karmas can be forgiven. Meditation will teach us all we need to know about our powerlessness and limitations. And only the Master’s grace and assistance will take us to the inner realms that our meditation practice opens up for us. We are assured by the Master that help comes to us at every moment, and that he will see to it that we will reach the Radiant Form within and go back to Sach Khand. Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II:“He guides the seeker in this internal practice and, like a mother, helps in the spiritual growth of the child of love, by making him drink the Divine Elixir.”
We turn to the Master for help in our meditation because only the saints can help us. The question is: how can we, who feel separate from God, blocked by karmas, unable to do anything on our own power – how can we still the mind, so that we can perceive this love and help from him? According to the saints, the Master will be the one to subdue our distracted minds; the Master will be the one to wake us up. The Master will provide everything we need. Guru Nanak is quoted in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V:
The Master loves the disciple with all his heart.
He lends a helping hand
and sustains the disciple every moment.
It is our privilege to wait. If we are given the grace to hear the love songs that are constantly being sung by the Master to every disciple, we can wait with confidence, contentment and trust – knowing that the anguish of separation, our need for forgiveness, and our powerlessness are all his gifts. The Master will give us all the help we require to go forward.