Gratitude to the Master
The most precious gift to a spiritual aspirant is to have a true Master who shows us how to connect with the eternal Shabd, which is the dynamic power of God and kindles our love for the Lord, so that we may find our way out of this world of duality and attain peace and joy in the constant company of the Lord.
One who understood the significance of a true Master and his gift was Tulsi Sahib. He wrote:
At the outset, I offer salutation to my Lord, the Satguru;
In surrender at his feet, Tulsi loses himself in ecstasy.
I pay homage in all humility at the feet of my Master,
Whose grace has revealed the mystery of Light and Sound.
I offer myself in adoration to the Saints,
Who have bestowed on my soul the power to see.
The brilliant light of surrender has revealed unto me
The essence and the true form of my Master.
Lowly and bereft of wisdom, I offered my heart to him;
Through surrender, recognition of Satguru has come to me.
The Satguru, indeed, is an unfathomable ocean of bliss.
He has revealed the path and the method to attain the Lord.
Again and again, I bow at the lotus feet of my Master;
In all humility I sing praises of him.
Perceiving my state of misery he took pity
and gave me inner vision;…
With all my heart and soul, forever I am thy slave;
Except the saints, O Satguru, none can fathom thee.
O merciful Master, full of joy is thy blessing;
By surrendering to thee, helpless sinners are ferried across.
The Sant Satguru is my very life and being,
The lowly Tulsi has taken refuge in him.…
Tulsi Sahib, Saint of Hathras
Until he came in contact with his Master, Tulsi only saw with his physical eyes and heard with the physical ears, but now, he says, he sees with his soul. This experience has led to a state of surrender, through which he has realized the true form of his Master. Realizing who his Master is, he offers his love completely to him.
What else can a disciple offer his Master? The Master wants us to experience the reality of the path by following his instructions, so that we may achieve true or eternal love. He also advises us to adopt an appropriate lifestyle, so that we do not bind ourselves further to this world, where we have to reap what we sow.
Those disciples who devote themselves fully to their Master go beyond merely accepting their destiny. They express their gratitude to their Master and the Lord even under the most trying circumstances. For example, Sarmad, the seventeenth-century Jewish-Sufi saint, was tortured and beheaded, and Guru Arjan, the sixteenth-century Sikh guru, was made to sit on hot irons and had boiling water poured over him. They accepted their fate without flinching and maintained their faith throughout their ordeals. Being the mere mortals that we are, however, we are never thankful for the pain and suffering we undergo. On the contrary, we are upset and disillusioned. We complain and even lose faith.
In fact, the Lord is always present within us, helping and guiding us, but our grief and our pain create a barrier, preventing us from experiencing his presence and acknowledging his grace. On the other hand, if we remember him and repeat the names even during the difficult times, then our problems become easier to bear.
It is through the Master’s grace, and not our effort, that the miracle of our transformation takes place. Love and grace are the cornerstones of the disciple’s relationship with the Master. Without this relationship there is no path. Through the grace of the Master, the disciple is given the love and guidance that are needed for this journey.
True lovers of the Lord experience a deep joy in following the instructions of their Guru, the most important one being simran. This constitutes the devotional link between Master and disciple. When the Master is physically near us, our repeating the names is our expression of gratitude to him for the bliss of his presence. But when he is physically absent, it becomes our cry to him to help us bear the longing and the pain of separation. In times of trouble, simran brings reassurance, comfort, and strength.
The Masters say that with the loving repetition of the holy names, the veils that have kept him hidden fall away, and the lover feels the Master’s presence and experiences his love. Then the lover finds him not only within, but also in the outer world, so that wherever we turn we may see the face of God.
The love that comes from the Master is pure and unconditional. It does not arise from duality or the normal dynamics we associate with a relationship. The Master’s love is constant, neither increasing nor decreasing. His love for the disciple is implicit and never-ending. He does the real work of transforming the disciple.
If we want to meet the Lord, if we want to attain salvation, we cannot keep desiring the frivolous pursuits of this material world. We need to change our lifestyle by adopting a simple life that is conducive to spirituality. In addition, we need to make sincere efforts in simran and bhajan in order to reap the associated rewards.
To reach our goal requires a change of focus, where all of our thoughts and energies must be directed towards attaining the objective of self-realization, followed by God-realization, while discharging our duties towards family, friends and society. This represents a drastic change from being outwardly directed to being inwardly directed. Then, as we listen to the Shabd, we will begin to discover the divine mystery of love within our souls.
The true Masters know how to disentangle us from this web of illusion and they want us to feel complete and fulfilled with eternal love. Only after we experience this love will we be able to know who the Lord is and what spiritual bliss is. Just as important, we will become free from death and rebirth. It is for this reason that saints awaken within us love for the Lord and the desire for union with him.
Our purpose then as human beings is to reconnect with the Truth, and uncover the mystery of the Shabd. This has been made possible for us by our Master, who has equipped us with the method to experience this for ourselves. What a phenomenal gift this is! Let us therefore show our appreciation for this gift and do what is expected of us regularly so that we too can experience the rapture of divine union.