When a little child asks her mother numerous questions, the mother, out of love for her child, will provide only answers that the child can understand at her age. The mother doesn’t want to confuse the child and is aware that the child’s comprehension is extremely limited. So the mother’s answers may not be entirely accurate or complete – but as long as the mother responds, the child is satisfied.
Because the child is unaware of her limitations, she assumes she can understand everything and asks all these questions. Eventually she grows to understand all that the mother knows.
In the same way, we assume that our intellect is capable of understanding everything, so we ask endless questions and interpret the answers in accordance with our own understanding, without knowing whether that understanding is accurate or not.
We can use the example of a victim of a violent crime. Based on our own understanding of the law of karma, we may conclude that it is in that person’s karma to be a victim of such a crime. But do we actually know that? Do we know when and what that person previously did to incur such karma? No, we don’t know. At our level, we just assume that this is how the law of karma works.
Our understanding is extremely limited and only theoretical. Yet we apply our concept of karma theory to everyday situations without understanding all the intricacies involved.
If we knew how the law of karma actually worked, we would know the exact karmic effect and timing of our every action, including the karmic effect of the food we eat, of everything we do and say, of whatever we take for free, of how we earn our living – of everything. But we are ignorant of the details of how the karmic law plays out.
At the same time, when it comes to spirituality, we seem to want to understand everything about it before we commit fully to the spiritual path. Yet in material or worldly matters, our lack of understanding doesn’t stop us from trying new experiences or activities.
How many of us know exactly how the engine of a car works? Yet our ignorance doesn’t deter us from driving a car. Similarly, how many of us know anything about flight – and yet has this stopped us from boarding a plane? We don’t even know who the pilot is or how capable he is – yet we trust him with our life. What about cell phones, computers, smart watches, and the myriad electronics that we use daily – do we understand how they work?
Isn’t it amazing then that when it comes to spirituality, we generally want to understand everything – every detail about how it functions – and yet we don’t have the capacity or ability to comprehend these esoteric matters. Why can’t we just adopt the spiritual practice as we do electronic gadgets, without understanding the intricacies of how they all work?
The answer may be very simple. With electronic gadgets we experience immediate tangible benefits and we come to depend on them – so who cares how they work? They just do!
A child doesn’t wake up one morning knowing everything, but she gradually learns to speak, read and write. If the child insisted on knowing the reason for the sequence of the letters of the alphabet before she learned to read and write, she would never be able to do so, because there is no acceptable answer to the sequence of the letters in the alphabet. As the child grows and her awareness increases, the question of the order of the letters becomes irrelevant.
So too spiritual awareness isn’t something that happens overnight or with a flick of a switch, like switching on an electronic gadget. It grows extremely slowly and somewhat unconsciously, and as it grows our questions simply dissolve.
Since we expect instant tangible results, we have great difficulty understanding or believing how what seem like our meagre efforts in meditation, do in fact evoke giant leaps in subtle awareness. With this increased awareness, we also gradually change our perspectives on various aspects of spirituality.
Repeating our simran may seem like a mere mental exercise, but we do not realize the power behind those words. Simran will ultimately lead us to merging with God – can there be anything in the universe more powerful? No power or force known to us can achieve what simran can. So let’s not underestimate the power and value of simran, as it will lead us to experience the Shabd.
Our theoretical understanding is that Shabd is sound and light, and our impression is based roughly on the sounds and lights we experience here on earth. But we will know the true brilliance, intensity, and melody of the Shabd only when we experience it within.
Similarly, we may initially see the Master as a guide, but with heightened awareness we come to realize who the Master really is and what he does for us throughout our spiritual journey. At our present level of awareness we can debate who the Master is; we can speculate and assume who he is, and we can even imagine what we want him to be. But when we experience who the Master really is, when we meet his Radiant Form inside, then nothing will shake our conviction.
Until we reach that level of awareness, we won’t know what our seemingly meagre efforts in meditation can achieve. Why would the Master ask us to practise meditation if our efforts would not yield results? We may feel that our efforts are inadequate, when in fact we are slowly growing in spiritual awareness. This is similar to a child learning to walk. Its initial feeble efforts may seem futile, but every attempt to stand and take a step strengthens its limbs and improves its balance and is a major contributor to the child’s progress in learning to walk.
The real effect and impact of our efforts in meditation may not be visible or perceptible to us, but in due course we will realize their true value. It is the spiritual practice alone that will increase our awareness, which is why the Master urgently implores us to do our meditation. Let us never underestimate the importance and significance of the Master’s appeal.