Aiming for the Ultimate
When we apply for initiation from the living Master of our time, do we ever realize what we’re asking for – the enormity of this request? Of course not! It’s only much later that we even get an inkling of the significance of initiation.
The truth is that it is the turning point in our many, many lives, from the dawn of creation to now. We are asking the Master to set our feet on the path back to God. After so many lives we are begging him to rescue us from our imprisonment in the creation and make us one again with him.
Once initiated, we undertake something huge, striving for the highest goal anybody could even think of. We work, ever so slowly, to transform ourselves to become worthy of God-realization.
Mind you, right at the start this was probably not our conscious intention. And in truth, it wasn’t even our choice. For some inexplicable reason we were rounded up, infected with a strange dissatisfaction with our ordinary lives and made to search for something better. And then we were brought to a point where we stumbled upon this path and were initiated by the bewildering, incredible and beautiful Master who has accepted us as his own.
So now we’re faced with the uncomfortable truth that our goal for this life is something far beyond us. By ourselves we just can’t do it, and it’ll be up to our Master to see that we get to where he wants us to be.
But we’ve also been given an important part to play in the process. We have to live the life of a good satsangi and we have to meditate. And in time a slow, slow inner transformation will bring us to the point where we will indeed become fit to merge back into the Lord.
But this is a joint venture in which he is playing by far the bigger part. We can’t see what’s happening, and the part we’re playing is probably ridiculously small. Considering our ignorance of the process, we just have to do what our Master tells us to do. And keep on doing it.
Perhaps we can compare ourselves to a blindfolded ox pushing the wheel of an old-fashioned oil press. We don’t have to understand the process, we don’t need to know anything about making olive oil. Day after day all we have to do is plod on.
So, what are the qualities needed for this patient old ox? Obedience, humility, acceptance, and submission. The very qualities a devoted disciple needs to please his Master.
But just watch the ego when we list these qualities. It’ll probably rear up like an angry snake at the very thought of being obedient, accepting, humble, and submissive. Such weak and pathetic qualities. The mighty ego is none of these things! But that is what we will become, because of our meditation.
In all our Sant Mat literature there may be no more beautiful passage than the Great Master’s prayer. And these are the very things he mentions:
My Lord! I am ignorant. I do not know what to ask of you. Give me that which you think best for me. And give me the strength and wisdom to be happy about what you deem fit to give me and about how and where you keep me. I have no virtues, no devotion. My actions are all dark and sinful. I possess no merits and my mind has thoroughly crushed me. For a sinner like me, O Lord, there is no refuge but thy blessed feet. Please take me under thy shelter. I want nothing more. Make me thy slave, that I mayest be thine and thou mayest be mine.
As quoted in Call of the Great Master
Acceptance, humility, obedience, submission – they all shine through Great Master’s prayer. And because of our meditation these will become our qualities – because the Lord, through the Master, wants us to come back. And he’s doing everything he can to make that happen. But we also have to work with him. And ask for nothing more than his grace to meditate every day without expectations.
We read this in Divine Light:
Do not mind whether you see any light within or not, or whether the sound is audible. You simply do your duty and leave the results to the Master.… He alone knows what is good for us and when it should be given. He will pay in abundance. Have faith in Him.
He will give us results in our meditation when he thinks we’re ready. But in the meantime, he’s working on us, transforming us into something higher and finer. We can’t see it, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Still, we sometimes wonder whether our meditation is worth anything. What makes us keep trying to meditate, even though there isn’t the slightest evidence we’re achieving anything? The truth is: we have a need to meditate.
Shams-i-Tabriz, the Master of the Persian poet Rumi, spoke a lot about this need – this deep-seated and powerful yearning inside us that drives us to look for a way to get back to our source. Shams recognizes this need as a deep desire for God or for the inner Beloved, a quality that distinguishes those who seek God from those who are content to stay in this world.
Along with this need, there’s an understanding of one’s own helplessness and inadequacy to find the one we are seeking, which brings a restlessness and a feeling of not belonging in this world. It also reflects a deeply felt humility as we beg the Master and God for help to find what our heart is yearning for.
But of course, there has to be much change in us before we can become one with our Beloved. A great deal of our transformation has to start with the mind – turning the attention inward through meditation, and training the mind itself to leave its attraction to the senses and look instead for higher pleasures. This is how Hazur Maharaj Ji defines meditation:
Meditation means that we are training our mind to go inward and upward. We are creating a tendency in the mind to go inward and upward, withdrawing it from outside and bringing it back to the eye centre.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
This process can’t be rushed. By its very nature it must be slow because we can’t easily change the nature of the mind. Great Master has told us this is a lifelong struggle. So, we can see why the path is long – why a certain amount of struggle, probably a great deal of struggle is inevitable.
And there’s even more to it than reining in the mind. Much of the invisible work of our meditation is detaching us from the creation. It’s principally our attachments that keep bringing us back into the creation one life after another. Maharaj Ji told us that when we meditate we are automatically becoming detached. He said:
It is our attachment to the creation which brings us back. You see, even if you have no progress within, but you are not attached to anything in this creation, nobody can bring you back here. If, on the other hand, you have a certain amount of progress to your credit within, but you are attached to something in this creation, you may have to come back to clear that attachment.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol I,
What a prospect: to finally get release from this endless wheel of birth and death in the creation! But we often feel daunted by the part that we have to play to achieve it – the seemingly endless struggle that lies ahead of us.
However, let’s never imagine our Master doesn’t understand how difficult this task is for us. He knows all our failings and our defects, and he loves us anyway. And he promises us that we will succeed. In this beautiful letter written by the Great Master to one of his disciples he says:
I am well aware that you have struggles.… But you can do it. If you have full confidence in the inner Master, he will always help you. And often when you find the difficulties greatest and the hour darkest, the light will appear and you will see that you are free. Let nothing discourage you. This is no light proposition, but your getting Nam means more than if you had inherited a million dollars, or many millions. You are one of the lucky sons of Sat Purush, and he has chosen you to get Nam and go with the Master to Sach Khand. You must reach there. Nothing can prevent you. But you can hasten the progress or retard it, as you like.