The Inseparable Companion
You alone exist! I do not, O Beloved!
You alone exist I do not!…
If I speak, You speak with me;
if I am silent, You are in my mind.
If I sleep, You sleep with me;
if I walk, You are along my path.
O Bullah, the Spouse has come to my house.
My life is a sacrifice unto him.
In this poem, Bulleh Shah is describing the state where he sees his master all around him. His master is deep within him, and he is with his master in all his activities as well as sleeping, walking, and in silence. In short, he is saying there is no separation between the master and him.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh says, “The concept that we have of ourselves should be the same as our concept of the Lord.” But it is not, because mind creates the illusion of separateness. He says our distance from the Lord is just an illusion created by our mind. He is there at the very core of our being. The core of our being, our soul, is identical to the Lord’s.
So, if the Master is with us always, then – like Bulleh Shah – we can also experience him the whole day. When Bulleh Shah asked his master, Inayat Shah, how to realize God, his master told him, “Be uprooted from here [outside the eye centre] and planted there [within].” In other words, he advised Bulleh to value the inner life more than the outer life by giving the interior more importance than the external.
What is the inner life? It is the life or the journey that starts at the eye centre and takes us back to our spiritual home. The inner life is considered to be our real life; the time spent nourishing it will be with us even beyond the death of our physical body.
The outer life is our worldly life, which is fleeting and limited to our physical body. The inner life is living with the Divine. No matter how much we attach ourselves to the world by trying to accomplish our many goals, it still has no reality. The outer world will continue along its merry path well after we have departed.
Saints assure us that the inner life is beautiful beyond words – far beyond anything we may experience in the outer life. The inner life makes us complete as it results in our union with the Lord. The outer life can never make us whole; in fact, our engagement with it keeps us away from the Divine.
In The Awakening of the Human Spirit, Hazrat Inayat Khan, often credited with introducing Sufism to the West, describes a few prerequisites for attaining the inner life:
The first condition is that one should value the inner life more than anything else in the world, more than wealth, power, position, rank, or anything else. It does not mean that in the world, he should not pursue the things he needs; it means he should value most something that is worthwhile. Second, if one really values the inner life, he should give ‘his precious time’ to it.
Like Hazrat Inayat Khan, all true Masters encourage us to value the inner life. The Master resides just beyond the eye centre in his Radiant Form. So at the time of initiation, we are told to focus at the third eye and repeat the Holy Names imparted to us. With this repetition, the inner gate will gradually open, and we will begin to finally see the Radiant Form of our Master and begin our journey to oneness with him.
So while we are living the outer life, we should ardently work on our meditation to pierce the veil that exists between our two lives, so that our soul can travel between the inner and the outer life at will. In this way, we prepare for our physical death, when we will leave the outer life forever and return to our source in the Lord. This preparation is essential.
In an Aesop fable about ants and a grasshopper, the industrious ants work all year long to provide food for their colony in the winter. The grasshopper does nothing to prepare and has to beg for food from the ants when winter comes. We cannot be like the grasshopper and wait until the last moment to repent for our wasted life. Instead, we should make a dedicated effort to release ourselves from our outer attachments and become acquainted with the inner path. We should build our relationship with God and live in his consciousness so that at the end of our lives, we will be ready to go home. To achieve this, we have to take action by spending the precious time we have in practising our vows, especially our daily meditation.
But valuing and talking about inner life doesn’t help – only action helps. What is that action? Follow the instructions of the Master: repeat the names, focus the attention at the eye centre, listen to the Shabd, and make a consistent attempt to be with the Master. Action is essential, as the inner gate opens only when the attention is focused entirely by our diligent practice of meditation. When we consistently and continuously apply the pressure of focused simran at the third eye, God will open the door for us. If we do our part, he will certainly do his.