Are You Worried?
Are you worried? What worries you the most? Family, school, work, health? Leaving these thoughts aside, think back to some difficulty during which you felt the protective hand of the inner Master, the Shabd, steering you away from danger, reducing the impact of some troublesome event, or providing reassurance you were not alone.
Initiated or not, we regularly thank the Master for looking after us, not only during crises but in the micro and mundane aspects of existence too. And whilst we would be hard-pressed to describe the nature of that support, we know of it because we have sensed it. So, returning to the question first posed, isn’t it odd that we are worried? If, deep within, we’ve sensed the Master’s care, why would he not respond to our call for help again?
Why do we worry?
Human birth, finding a true Master, and receiving the gift of Nam are three extremely rare gifts bestowed by the divine. In a letter to a disciple living overseas, Maharaj Sawan Singh,the Great Master, wrote in Spiritual Gems:
The mere fact that God, in his mercy, has selected us to be put on the path should make us very happy. If it does not, it is due to the fact that we do not realize the great blessing and privilege involved in it…. Are not you one of the luckiest persons living in your country to be chosen by him for the path? How many millions is the population of your country, and how difficult it is for any person living there to come to know of the path and, even on knowing, to get initiated on it! Do you think you have searched for and found the path by your own efforts?
Whilst the mystics remind us of our great blessings and exhort us to be happy, going by the questions relating to worry in the Sant Mat literature, it is evident that we do not eradicate our anxieties simply by making a commitment to follow a spiritual way of life. However, allowed to persist, worrying will impede our spiritual development. To avoid this, let us try to identify the root cause of our angst. Maharaj Charan Singh points to “our wishes, our demands, our ambitions, our desires” as one reason. We agonize over fulfilling our aspirations,and the stronger our desire to achieve these, the more we fret. On this basis, it would seem logical for us to become desire-less but flitting from one desire to another is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that, no matter how much we instruct ourselves not to wish for anything, it’s impossible to achieve this by reason alone.
In The Dawn of Light, the Great Master identifies karma as an additional reason why we are unable to become desireless:
Although in our heart we may persuade ourselves that we have eliminated desire, yet it is not correct, because as long as the karma is not washed away, which happens at the second stage only … it cannot be said that the practitioner has abandoned desire.
So, to stop worrying, we must become desireless and for this to occur, we must eliminate karma. We are apparently caught in an impossible situation but Maharaj Charan Singh offers advice on how to stop worrying. Before turning to this, it’s useful to explore how worrying impedes our progress.
Worry impedes our spiritual development
From a spiritual perspective, worrying binds us to the material plane. Just because we might not be praying for X or Y to occur, we mistakenly believe that we are complying with the mystics’ advice not to ask anything from the Lord but the Lord himself. However, our worrying is an expression of dissatisfaction through which we are implicitly entreating him to change things in accordance with our desires. Since, in accordance with divine law, the mind records every thought, word, and action, our worrying also creates an imprint, and if etched deeply, this will become the reason that we return to the material plane after death.
To understand how this might happen, we can turn to another divine law. As explained by Guru Arjun Dev in the fourth stanza of the Jap Ji, when the Lord sent souls into the creation, he decreed that every desire of the soul must be fulfilled: “The kind Father has ordered that the child should have whatever he asks for.” Perhaps this was to compensate the souls for their separation? Whatever the reason, as long as the soul keeps yearning for worldly things, its desires continue to be fulfilled. Indeed, the Lord will continue satisfying our hopes and wishes until such time as we become exhausted with asking.
To be clear then, our worries become imprinted in the mind and, if etched deeply, signal a desire. In accordance with divine laws, each desire must be fulfilled, if not in this life, a subsequent one. We are therefore mistaken if we believe that our worries are harmless or, at worst, cause us temporary mental anguish. Until we expand our consciousness, we are incapable of understanding the subtle and intricate ways in which karmic law operates. Our worries are not harmless but keep us imprisoned on the material plane.
How do we stop worrying?
To stop worrying, Maharaj Charan Singh advises us to give everything our best shot but, ultimately, to let the Lord decide what is best. Virtually, all aspects of our life are predetermined and cannot be changed, irrespective of how much we worry. By focusing our energy on our effort and not the outcome, we not only minimize regrets for not trying harder but also our unhappiness when events unfold differently from our hopes or expectations. Indeed, this is exactly why Maharaj Charan Singh puts considerable emphasis on learning to accept life as it is because when we don’t, meditation becomes much more difficult. Indeed, meditation is the only tool at our disposal to truly learn how to accept our destiny. Acceptance, if not always a sign of contentment, means we are less preoccupied with desiring change. With fewer desires, we reduce our worry.
The human mind is incapable of understanding how severely worry damages our spiritual development. We risk setting off a chain of events that will bring us back to the material plane. Our only defence is meditation and the grace of the Master,as Maharaj Charan Singh lovingly explains in the following quotation from Die to Live:
You can’t change the course of events dictated by your destiny. But by … attending to meditation you remain happy and relaxed as you go through it. You accept whatever comes your way as the grace of the Master. He is the helmsman of your life now, and he has only your happiness and best interest at heart. By his mercy he is bringing you to him as swiftly as possible to give you all he has. So worry has no place in a disciple’s heart.