The Colors of This Life
It is estimated that the human eye can see about a million colors. What abundance! We live in an alluring world where we can easily lose ourselves through what our senses perceive. And with this perception, our mind experiences a multitude of emotions, almost as countless as the varied colors of the creation.
In the arc of a lifespan, we live through moments of wonder and joy as we encounter the birth of our child or drink in a sky full of stars. We also experience suffering and chaos, as when a loved one dies or we struggle with ill health. We feel both the warmth of the sun and the cold of icy winds; bright days of contentment and empty, dark nights of the soul. These varied “colors” of emotions, thoughts, and experiences make up our life.
Entranced by the kaleidoscope of this world, we hurl ourselves toward everything that brings us pleasure while doing our utmost to avoid any pain. As we grow, we learn to play our roles and blend in with society and do what our culture asks of us. But along the way, we begin to feel a lack, an emptiness, a persistent craving that nothing, no matter how beautiful or pleasurable, can satisfy.
Fortunately, our Master comes to collect us, and he shows us the way to peace. He points toward an unchanging and everlasting truth that far exceeds the multicolored illusions of this world. He tells us that this physical reality is a mirage, a dim reflection of a more expansive truth beyond our physical perceptions.
Mystics of all ages see through the veil of mind and maya and reveal to seekers the true essence of this physical phenomena we find ourselves in. For example, in the book A Thousand Names for Joy, the author interprets the ancient Tao Te Ching according to her own spiritual experiences. She refers to the Master, as Lao-tzu did in the Tao, as someone with a peaceful mind, believing that we can all awaken and “know the difference between reality and our thoughts about reality.” She writes: “The Master observes the colors of the world, its sounds, flavors, and thoughts. Since they are all reflections of the mind and … realization of that is precise and indisputable, [the Master] is never fooled.”
The Sant Mat Masters teach that the Shabd, Nam, or Word of God is the creative power that sustains every part of the universe. Shabd holds us in love and grace, and it is the purpose of every human being to come in touch with it, know it, and merge with it. We meditate on this holy Word – we practice listening to it – so that we can become familiar with this essence that underlies “the colors of the world” and that is at the core of who we truly are.
Once we come in contact with the Master and focus on the teachings of the saints, this multicolored world begins to lose the fascination and luster it once held for us. The Master promises us that with a sincere heart and disciplined one-pointedness, we can reach a place of bliss and peace and come to know him in his radiant form. This is not some far off place we hope to reach one day; it is a state of being always accessible to us and the very source of our seeking.
As we come to notice all the colors of our life – the duality of despair and hope, clarity and confusion – we find that the Master has always been at the centre. His love is unconditional, and we realize this by remembering him with simran, in times of joy, challenge, and everything in between. In truth, it is he who turns us toward him and helps us to let go of the world.
The Sanskrit word vairagya, directly translated, means loss of color, and in Eastern and yogic philosophy refers to dispassion, detachment, and renunciation. All spiritual traditions hold this common precept – that in seeking God, we must necessarily turn away from the illusions of the world. This detachment is not so much living an isolated, ascetic lifestyle but rather one in which we do not hold the world so tightly. It is through the spiritual practice of daily meditation; abstinence from animal flesh, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances; and living according to the highest moral standards that we begin this journey of letting go into God.
In Spiritual Discourses, Vol. 1, Maharaj Charan Singh describes the ultimate fruit of true discipleship:
Living constantly in his presence, [such devotees] have become one with him. All the veils that hid God from their sight have been torn away and their chains broken. They are completely free and are enraptured to see his radiant light. They are completely dyed in the color of their master.
As we walk this path, we start to notice all the chains that bind us to this physical realm, those of the body, mind, our relations, and various attachments. With the Master’s grace and our effort, we begin to experience a natural turning inward, as if our gaze and focus is being redirected. We begin to feel lighter in our dealings with the world, and we find that we are more forgiving and more able to accept the conditions of our life. And so, we begin to walk with our Master right beside us, through the many shades and colors of our life. We come to trust his plan for us and become more accepting of our life as it unfolds. We find ourselves having more faith in his love, and we bow our heads in gratitude.
Without our even knowing it, our Master dyes us in the color of his love. We inevitably go through the circumstances of our karma, but our lives now are imbued with his grace. We ask him to love us, not knowing that it is with his love that we survive each moment; we beg for his grace, not knowing that every pore of our being is already steeped in it. We ask him for himself, not knowing that he has always been a part of us.
With our childish, limited vision, we are unable to see the inspired picture of our life that he has painted. In his hands, our ordinary life has become a priceless masterpiece.