Coming to Terms with Ourselves
Saints want us to be kind to others and ourselves, to accept our very messy humanity while we struggle to be good and to become one with God. Coming to terms with ourselves, being at peace with ourselves means accepting ourselves but wanting to improve. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, “Your attitude towards yourself should always be loving.…Our thoughts should be very loving and helpful to ourselves.”
Life isn’t perfect, and neither are we. It’s easy for us to get tangled up in our ideals and our concepts – of how we think life should be and how we think we should be as disciples. We need to have a practical approach to life, and we do this by coming to terms with life as it is, and with ourselves as we are.
The Masters impress upon us that this is a very high path to follow. The saints lay before us the goal of self-realization and God-realization, under the guidance of a living teacher who has achieved these same goals: to realize that we are of the same essence as God. We do this by cleansing the karmas we have been collecting for lifetimes and shedding our ego so that we can merge with God and return to our spiritual home.
Loving and caring for the soul means bringing it back to the Father by way of meditation. This ultimately is how we can be at peace with ourselves and truly love the Creator. Hazur continues, “Only with the help of meditation will we be able to build peace within ourselves.” But in the meantime, Masters do not judge our failures and shortcomings. Hazur tells us:
There’s nothing to fear … because he never sits in judgment. He doesn’t judge anybody. What is there to judge? He knows us. We are all struggling souls, full of weaknesses.… We are all imperfect. That is why we are here.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
We are asked simply to do our best, despite our shortcomings and failings. Recognizing our helplessness is the key to coming to terms with ourselves. We want to be good, we try to be good, and we fail over and over again. Eventually, we have to acknowledge that we didn’t come into this world with a clean slate. Our karmas have determined the circumstances of our lives – family background, challenges, strengths, weaknesses, personality, intellect. We may have a sweet and kind disposition, and then maybe we have to learn how to assert ourselves, or we may have a depressed and defensive disposition, and we may need to learn how to be more positive and how to trust other people and trust the Master. We’re different from one another, with different strengths and weaknesses, and we are also alike – struggling souls wanting to reunite with our source. We all have our individual karmic journey and relationship with the Master.
We will get what the Lord wants to give us. When it is time for us to go back to him, he will pull us. However, we have to put in our absolute best effort to overcome our weaknesses. But sometimes our efforts seem to fail. Being so imperfect helps us to realize how dependent we are on the Lord’s grace. We become humbled. Isn’t that what Sant Mat is all about? To lose our ego, to realize that we are nothing, and he is everything? We have no choice but to lean on the Father – the Master, the Shabd – when we realize how small we are and how powerful he is.
The Master does not ask us to be perfect. He asks us to keep trying, to do our bhajan and simran and pick ourselves up after we fall and begin again. The Masters impress on us that the Lord is with us and loves us, regardless of our behaviour, how bad we think we are or how dark we may feel. Hazur wrote to one disciple, “We should never lose heart when we have pitfalls or when we have fallen or think that we are being driven from the path. He never leaves us.”
The Master has initiated us. He wants us to go back to the Father more than we do. Coming to terms with our imperfections is a way for us to keep moving forward. The Masters tell us we need to go with the flow, to accept what he gives. Then we can relax and do what will help us most – our meditation. If we hate ourselves, we’ll never be able to love the Master or anyone genuinely. We won’t be able to meditate, to transform ourselves. When we practice kindness toward ourselves, we learn how to be kind to others. We unlock a softness in ourselves so that we can become more receptive to the Master’s love and grace.
Coming to terms with ourselves, practicing kindness toward ourselves, relaxing with our brokenness, paradoxically makes us stronger, more able to withstand the storms of life. As Ernest Hemingway wrote in his novel A Farewell to Arms, “The world breaks everybody, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” We must face life with all its ups and downs. Strengthening ourselves through adversity helps build our faith and deepens our longing for the real love that is within. Hazur tells us in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
Trust your own self, not anybody else. You must develop your consciousness to that level where you are facing yourself, where you can stand in any situation, stand on the path, and nobody can shake you. You must develop and build that trust within yourself. We have a karmic relationship with people, and we can’t trust anyone. Everybody is selfish, everybody has their own way of dealing with us, and there is always a string behind us. So we should know what we want, where we stand and how to be. We must build that confidence within ourselves and develop that confidence by meditation. We must build faith in ourselves.
This is a very powerful statement about how to be in the world, how to approach life, and how to approach ourselves. At first, it might seem harsh. Don’t trust anyone; everyone is selfish; relationships are need-based. It sometimes takes us a lifetime to realize this and to accept it. Once we accept this fact of life – that all relationships are karmic, need-based, and impermanent – we’re free. We no longer tie our happiness to what other people can give us or do for us. The people in our lives come and go, and we learn to accept that. No one belongs to us, and we don’t belong to anyone. Then only can we build that confidence, strength, and faith in ourselves through meditation – it’s the only way.
All we have to do is try. We need not be perfect disciples. We simply need to follow the tenets of the path and direct our efforts inward. We need to let go and lean inside. The saints tell us not to have expectations in our meditation. We should just experience the darkness and silence, or whatever we’re experiencing, and then let go.
We will be truly awake when we still our minds, raise our consciousness, and contact the Shabd within. That will happen when he wills it. In the meantime, we can just relax and enjoy our weird, unfathomable, ordinary lives. Because we’re almost home.