A Friend Like Him
Two friends were once camping in the woods. As they were having their morning coffee near their tent, they heard a rustling sound in the bushes. Suddenly, they saw a large, grizzly bear heading towards them at full speed. One man grabbed his running shoes and started to put them on. His friend asked him, “What are you doing? Do you think you can outrun the bear?” Without turning around, the man answered, “No. I just need to outrun you!”
It is said that success in life depends upon the friends we keep. Today, our lives are driven by social media where we seek constant validation from our many online friends. We comfort ourselves with the idea that the more friends we have, the more people we can rely on when things get tough. However, as we go through life’s adversities, we often find that the friends or companions who we imagined would be by our side are nowhere to be found. We see how easily people ‘unfriend’ us. We eventually realize that we can never achieve the kind of security and comfort we seek from the world.
The company and friendship of worldly people is transitory and evanescent. Some leave us when we face difficulties, while others desert us in the end. But the Master is the true protector and helper of the disciple. He is always with him at the time of need or difficulty. He does not leave him alone at the time of death or even later.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V
Our relationship with the Master is not only the most intimate bond of trust, but also an unbreakable one that lasts through this life and beyond. Sadly, we are so blinded by our transitory attachment to near and dear ones that we fail to realize that it is only the Master who is our greatest benefactor and everlasting friend. He is here to extricate us from the cycle of transmigration and take us back to our true home. And yet, we do not take the time to establish our relationship with him.
What kind of relationship should we cultivate with the Master? As disciples, we tend to put the Master on a pedestal. By doing so, we distance ourselves from him and create a barrier, which is not conducive to an open and loving relationship. In fact, the Master wants us to be closer to him, so much so that we walk beside him, side by side, as friends. He often quotes the unattributed verse:
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
The Master does not expect us to literally walk beside him. If we could imagine walking together with a close friend, what would that entail? It would mean communicating, sharing our thoughts and problems. Our simran repeated with love and concentration is the only language we need to communicate with the Master. Repeating our simran regularly as promised at the time of initiation is the first step to strengthen our relationship with him. It is through this simran that we shift our attention from the worldly to the divine.
In addition to our daily meditation practice, we can try to consciously live in the Master’s presence as we go about our daily lives. For example, before eating, we can take a moment to acknowledge his presence and give him our heartfelt thanks through our simran. At work, when we are at a business meeting or talking with our colleagues, we can visualize his form right beside us. When we walk anywhere alone or when we have fears or worries, we can imagine that the Master is lovingly holding our hand. We then discover that we are not alone. The Master guides and protects us every second of every day.
Imagine that the Lord himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly he is teaching you. If you become accustomed to having him at your side, and if he sees that you love him to be there and are always trying to please him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send him away, nor will he ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend beside you?
Saint Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection
Our Master’s presence in our daily activities will change our relationship with him. He will stop being the Master who is far away from us in Dera and instead become our everyday companion and intimate friend.
The Master-disciple bond is eternal; it is something which cannot be compared with anything else in the world. In the movie Aladdin, there is a song called “Friend Like Me,” in which the genie tells Aladdin that he is a friend unlike any other. He ends the song with the words: “You ain’t never had a friend like me!”
When we attend to our meditation diligently and practice the Master’s presence in our daily lives, we will finally understand that the Master is a friend unlike any other and that we ain’t never had a friend like him!