We live our lives at a hectic pace. There are so many demands on our time – our families, jobs, friends, hobbies – the list seems endless. We crave stimulation, and therefore, the joys of the simple life elude us.
When people are born in this world, no one knows what kind of life they will have, who they will meet, and what they might do. The only sure thing is that one day all who are born will die. So what preparation are we making? We are desperate to fill the aching void within us, but will the things we do be of any help to us in the hereafter – will they go with us after death?
As children, we used to play a chasing game that we called “You’re It.” If you were chosen to be “It,” you would have to chase after your playmates and try and catch them. In chasing them you would rush around and try anything to get hold of them – you didn’t care what it took. Then to your relief and after a lot of effort you would eventually catch someone, and you would be happy. But that happiness was short-lived, because now they were the chaser and you their quarry. In that brief moment your happiness had instantly become something else – the fear of being caught. That which you had chased after was now trying to catch hold of you!
Similarly, we chase after many things and sometimes we ruin our life in pursuit of them, only to become their slaves in return. The acquisition of things outside of ourselves can never bring us the peace and happiness we long for – that peace can only be found within.
So what is the purpose of human life if not the pursuit of the world? In one of Soami Ji’s poems in Discourses on Sant Mat, he explains:
Thou hast with human form been blessed;
To task of salvation be thou addressed.
We have been blessed by the Lord with the human form. The saints have called human beings the top of creation. The human body is referred to as the “temple of the living God.” The saints say that in this creation there are 8.4 million species in which we might incarnate. In some forms we only live for a day or two; in other forms, such as trees, we might live for many hundreds of years. Can we imagine how long it might have taken us to get this much-prized human form? To attain this precious birth it perhaps took hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of years. Through what ordeals and difficulties have we struggled to get here and then to what depths could we sink? Further in his poem Soami Ji says:
Be not bewildered in this maze
The world’s a dream of mighty haze.
He calls this world a maze. How do we find our way out of a maze? The walls are high, and we can’t see over them. It is dark and we can’t see ahead. We can only find the way out of this vast and bewildering maze of the world with the help of one who knows the way. The Master is the guide, he can take us through its twists and turns and save us from its many dead ends. He has passed this way countless times and knows the surest and safest route.
The Master is trying to awaken us from this dream we call our life. He even walks with us in our dream world; yet he is beyond the dream – he is fully awake. He tells us how we can wake up, by teaching us how to raise our consciousness and save ourselves from the terrifying shadows and the nightmare of this dark world.
So where is our attention? Is it distracted by the shadow-play of the world? In which direction are we focused? Attention is the major currency of this world. Everyone and everything wants it. But it’s a limited resource; we only have so much to give. The more we allow our attention to pour out into the world, the more scattered we become, and the harder it will be to focus it within. We need to seriously evaluate where we are spending this precious wealth of our attention. Christ says:
Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The mind is fond of pleasure and seeks it in the world. Our Master knows this and so attaches us to the greatest pleasure – the Shabd reverberating within us, the eternal source of happiness and bliss. This is where we should place our treasure – our attention, our love and devotion.
All human beings have the capacity to become one with the Creator – to return to the source. The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as having said, “Humanity is our actuality, but divinity is our potentiality.”