Sant Mat or Gur Mat (the teaching of true Masters) presents its followers with absolute essentials; it has no need for any sort of decoration or elaboration, any form of ritual or ceremony, or any outward show.
Sant Mat asks us to focus on the essential purpose of our human birth, which is for the soul to journey back to its original source, the Supreme Lord. In order for this to happen, the Masters teach us four basic principles. These are explained in detail and are repeated at almost every satsang. The first is that we follow a strict lacto-vegetarian diet; the second that we avoid alcohol, mind-altering drugs and tobacco; the third requires us to lead a good moral life; and the fourth is that, once initiated, we practise meditation for at least two and a half hours daily as explained by the Master at the time of initiation. We are instructed to adhere to these four principles for the rest of our lives.
Even the Supreme Lord does not require elaborate adjectives to describe him or to praise him. He is what he is – let us reach him and know him rather than spend our breath on describing one whom we do not yet know. Saints and mystics use a wide variety of adjectives in an attempt to tell us about the Lord – they do this in the irrepressible flow of their love. Actually, it is said in the Adi Granth that even if one used the whole surface of the earth as paper and used all the trees in the world as pens and then used all the water in all the oceans as ink to describe or praise the Lord, even then one would not succeed. Soami Ji Maharaj in Sar Bachan used one word, ‘Anami’ meaning ‘no name’, to describe the Lord.
Let us look at some additional, everyday aspects of Sant Mat to see how it exemplifies simplicity. Firstly, dress: Masters are a perfect example to us. They dress simply but smartly and in accordance with the place where they reside. On becoming satsangis we are not advised to dress in any particular manner since the wearing of a specific type of clothing has no bearing on our ability to follow this path. We dress respectably in response to convention and cultural norms – after all, we are following a spiritual way of life so that we can forget about our bodies, not draw attention to them. But at the same time, in a spirit of love, we should accept those who are different from ourselves. It would be a dull world if we all looked the same.
Another aspect we might consider is the environment in which people gather to listen to the teachings of the saints. We will notice that our satsang centres around the world are often constructed to blend with the local surroundings. They are also built with functionality in mind, without elaborate decorations on the outside or inside of the buildings – they are there to serve a purpose and they do it well, without fuss.
The satsang stages from which the teachings are relayed are simple and functional, though attractive in their simplicity. Yes, CCTV cameras, monitors and speakers are there to ensure that people even far from the stage can see and hear those giving satsang. Hardly anything else is required. In fact, if there were complicated, lavish fixtures and fittings, it could distract our attention.
The simplicity in outward things reflects Sant Mat’s fundamental response towards life in the physical creation: a resolve to use God’s material gifts responsibly and well but always as a stepping stone towards life beyond this world.