Our Wake-Up Call
Things have probably never looked rougher. The world as we know it has turned upside down. All that we have taken for granted has been uprooted and redefined, as we face looming uncertainties on a day-to-day basis. This may sound like the review of a horror film, but it is in fact a reality the entire world has been dealing with in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some it is about survival; for others it is a question of navigating through a complex series of complete unknowns.
Man invites his own calamities and then protests against the irksome guests, having forgotten how and when and where he penned and sent out the invitations. But time does not forget; and time delivers in due season each invitation to the right address; and time conducts each invitee to the dwelling of the host.
The Book of Mirdad
Do we really understand the law of karma and how it affects our lives? If we did, we wouldn’t feel troubled by these circumstances. Nor would we go through the exhaustion or the frustration of trying to and change the many aspects of our life that don’t seem to make sense, are seemingly unfair, or are not working the way we want.
The law of karma dictates that everything that happens to us is a direct or indirect consequence of our previous actions, either in this present life or a past life.
There are no accidents in time and space. But all things are ordered by the Omniwill, which neither errs in anything, nor overlooks a thing.
The Book of Mirdad
So, where do we draw the line of how far we need to go to better our lot, to improve life’s conditions for ourselves and for those we care for? How and where do we define the parameters of what to accept and what to expect from life? If, ultimately, we have no control over our present destiny, how do we know when to put our hands up and save ourselves all the sweat and toil?
The answers to our questions lie more in the approach we have to life and in our attitude. Our lives resemble a ship sailing the oceans, having to face the ebbs and flows as they arrive. We know that every voyage has its fair share of turbulence and thunderous storms, accompanied by stretches of smooth sailing and bright skies. And yet in our lives, we long for cool gentle breezes and never-ending sunshine and try to avoid messy hiccups and misfortunes. We see these as undesirable impediments along the way to achieving our higher goals. We complain, we clamour for the easy path, we hold on to our attachments and refuse to let go. Seeking stability and security, we grab hold of our material comforts, failing to address the bigger questions.
Maybe the Lord has put these so-called obstacles in our lives to help us to grow and to appreciate and strengthen our faith. There is always a tug from the Creator to pull us up to him, if we were attuned enough to be receptive to it. As we climb the tree of life, instead of going up, where the view is clearer and the air is cleaner, we hold on to the shrubs and weeds at the bottom. We are so entangled with our earthly belongings that we don’t take the trouble to focus on where he wants to take us.
It is said that rock bottom is a solid foundation on which to rebuild one’s life.
Our wake-up call comes in the form of mystics. They are the only ones capable of yanking us out of here, reminding us of how close we are to reaching our spiritual home. They instill in us a need to be vigilant; to remember why we are here and where we are headed. They implore us to take action, to prepare ourselves for that journey that ultimately every being has to face. Their wisdom resonates profoundly within the depths of our soul, and their presence in our lives captures our attention.
But what are they trying to tell us?
For thousands of years monks and hermits who lived closed solitary lives were convinced that the secret to life’s mysteries could be found in silence.
There is a story of a Buddhist monk who asks his teacher to talk to him about the source of all creation. Upon hearing the question, the teacher remains silent. The student repeats the question again, only to be met with the same stoic silence. After further attempts by the disciple, the teacher finally opens his mouth and says, “I am instructing you, but you are not listening.”
The answer was, of course, silence.
One of the objectives of this path is for us to learn to listen – to ascertain the truth of the Divine through personal experience. Experience of what? Of the sound current, the logos, the whisper of the word of God. This happens when we heed his message and guidance – when we sit in silence. That’s what we do when we practise our meditation. We attune our inner selves to that beautiful silence and shut out the constant clatter of the world and the chatter of our wayward mind. By focusing on this inner silence, we direct our attention to the primal source from which all answers and knowledge emanate. We may go far and wide searching for our true identity, but the moment of epiphany occurs when we return home and put the key in the lock. We may well discover that what we are looking for is really, in fact, inside ourselves. God does not make himself known with great fanfare and thunder, but to a silent listening heart.
Sant Mat teaches us to listen with focused attention, slowly transforming each and every individual practitioner. It is this heightened form of understanding that will help us explain the untold mysteries of life. It is this elevated form of consciousness that will help us traverse our karmic mesh and give us the opportunity to understand the secret workings of the Creator.
Soami Ji summarizes these thoughts beautifully:
Now that you have received this human form,
strive to accomplish your own real work.
Do not get embroiled in the affairs of this world,
think of it as no more than a night’s dream.
This body is false, as are its relationships,
so why exhaust yourself over an illusion?
Soami Ji, Sar Bachan Poetry