What Have We Learned?
One of the themes Baba Ji has emphasized in his question-and-answer sessions on the RSSB website is that we are in this world to learn. Certainly, during the first two years of the Covid pandemic we learned a lot, as we were confronted with decisions about how to spend our time and about what we value. For most of those two years, we lived without satsang, and with little or no physical contact with the Master. Many of us realized that all we really have is our meditation. We could not avoid the stark reality that, when the world seemed to be falling apart around us, this was the one thing we could do for ourselves. Meditation was our gift from the Master, our lifeline, our support – we could sit down and let go of our worries, our fears, our incessant thoughts.
And Baba Ji’s responses to questions gave us another gift of being relieved of our expectations of what our meditation should be. We learned that we didn’t have to be concerned with results, just our efforts. All we need to do is sit down, repeat five words, and let go – of expectations, events of the world, work, plans for the future.
Baba Ji told us over and over to take advantage of our forced disengagement from the world. But did we? Maybe our mind, our biggest enemy, was in full attack mode during the pandemic. It generated fear, worry, disbelief, procrastination, obsessive doomscrolling, and so much else. We heard questioners ask Baba Ji our own internal questions and voice our complaints: I can’t sit, I can’t concentrate, my mind won’t let me meditate, I’m afraid to close my eyes, I’m worried about my family, my body shakes. And then, there was the ultimate plea – Baba Ji, you have to do it for me! But his relentless reply was always that we must do our own meditation; he cannot do it for us. His eating food cannot satisfy our hunger; we have to eat for ourselves to satisfy our hunger.
It is that hunger – our spiritual hunger – that ultimately will drive us to meditate. Hazur Maharaj Ji explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
You see, it’s a constant struggle with the mind…. Without hunger, you won’t sit in meditation at all, and without meditation you won’t be able to increase your hunger. Hunger is there – that is why we sit in meditation. Whether we are able to concentrate or not, that’s a different thing. But hunger is there, need is there – that is why we are devoting our time to meditation. There will be more hunger, a greater intensity of hunger, when you give more time to meditation. Hunger automatically will increase.
Even missing the Master’s physical presence can serve a purpose. Hazur wrote in Die To Live: “This longing for the physical form, this longing which you cannot fulfill, leads you within towards the Radiant Form of the Master, which will ultimately take you back to the Father.”
“Back to the Father” – isn’t that where we want to go? Baba Jaimal Singh also explains the power of spiritual hunger – our urge to merge with Master within: “Whenever the mind thinks of inner darshan, the Shabd-dhun is at your service. Just attach your attention to it and you will receive the benefit of darshan – you will receive its fruit to the extent that your heart yearns for it.”
Such is the power of yearning. But how do we awaken that hunger, that yearning? Maharaj Sawan Singh (Great Master) explains in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, that there are two ways of awakening our love. One is through the grace of the Master, and the other is through spiritual practice. He explains how those two work together:
In actual practice, the first essential is to awaken love for God by means of repetition [simran] and then by contemplation [on the Master’s inner form]. As we repeat the five Holy Names, our attraction and love for him increase within ourselves…. Simran, done with faith, produces a unique feeling in the heart. By doing simran a feeling of bliss and divine influence fills the heart.
And then Great Master explains: “part of the spiritual practice is listening to the Shabd, Nam or Sound Current…. As the soul contacts Shabd, Love flows out from within.”
This divine love is accessible to all of us – at our eye centre, where our Shabd Master is always with us, where we lose our I-ness or ego and can hear the divine melody of Shabd and see the light of God. This is true love, and it can be awakened only by our daily two and a half hours of meditation.
Both awareness and longing awaken our need to meditate and thus turn us inward toward our Master. As Great Master writes in Spiritual Gems:
The whole beauty … lies in the Word and its practice. Because the saints are rare and the Word cannot be had except from a living saint, and the practice of the Word is no joke, … without the grasp of the Word there is no awakening of the soul, no victory over the mind and senses, no development of the positive qualities and no banishment of evil.
Our suffering ends only when our soul is awakened, when we merge in the Word by living the teachings, attending to our simran and bhajan, and leaning into our Master at all times. We can help ourselves and increase our receptivity by putting into practice the instructions we receive at the time of initiation. All that the Masters ask of us is to attend to our meditation, let go of our illusions, and “lean into” our Master for everything.
The Masters stress that intense longing is essential and is actually a prerequisite for meeting the Lord. This longing is described as a surge “like a wave or current in the heart,” an agony that is “assuaged by continuous remembrance and contemplation of the Lord.” To live through such intense longing may be difficult and painful, but it is a steppingstone to the divine love within us. The Masters explain that eventually it leads us to everlasting connection with our Master, and because of that, we don’t want to give it up.
The Masters give us the solution to our unhappiness: live in the Lord’s will and accept our destiny, which cannot be changed anyway. Our destiny was created by the Lord from our own karmas. It is designed for our spiritual benefit and is part of our awakening to the God within us. In fact, we are born with the inherent capacity to hear God’s voice and see his light.
We need the help of the Master, and we receive it. The truth is, we have everything we need to become spiritually conscious – self-realized – while living our lives. That is the goal of initiation, and meditation is the means. As Great Master tells us in Spiritual Gems, “The inner Master gives all the grace and help that the disciple is capable of receiving, no matter where he may be. The Master is within him.”
In the end, as Hazur wrote to an initiate:
It is right and proper and natural for the soul to give its love to the Lord, for there is a natural affinity between the Part and the Whole…. But as a consequence of association with the mind, the soul offers its love to this world, its faces and things. This is an unworthy gift that we make to this world. Our love naturally belongs to the Lord, and it should be offered to none else but to Him. If we offer our love to this world and its denizens, the consequence is unhappiness, frustration, disappointment and ignominy, whereas in offering it [our love] to the Lord, we find fulfillment, perfection and fruition.
The Masters’ advice doesn’t change, no matter our circumstances or in what time period we live. We will be able to turn away from the world only when we do our meditation regularly and lovingly. As Hazur wrote to this initiate:
The Master loves us steadfastly and never leaves us. Let us build our faith in him and turn to him for everything in life. Let us be psychologically turned to the Master and let us be looking to him every moment of our life.
If we have learned anything about the Master’s love for us during the time when the pandemic forced us to face ourselves, perhaps it is a renewed appreciation for the many gifts he gives us – spiritual hunger, intense longing, acceptance of his grace, discipline – that lead our soul to his divine love through meditation.