The Greatest Gifts
What are the best gifts in this world? Some of the most expensive gifts include a collection of artworks by Picasso and other artists, valued at US$1.1 billion, donated to a museum. And the Cullinan diamond, valued at US$400 million, originally found in South Africa, and now part of the Crown Jewels. These are beautiful gifts at which we marvel. But what has mankind actually gained from them?
The saints tell us that the greatest gifts in this world do not have monetary value or artistic appeal. These are gifts bestowed upon the soul by the Lord himself. They include life in human form, meeting a true saint who imparts spiritual initiation, and the daily practice of meditation.
In his writings, Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh tells us that it is only in the human form that the soul can realize God and retrace its footsteps homeward. Of the 8,400,000 species, man alone has this privilege. The saints are sent by the Lord to awaken us to the fact that this world is not our true home. Nobody is happy here as this is a place of pain and sorrow. We are urged to leave this prison house and return to our spiritual home.
This human life is a precious spiritual opportunity to escape from this creation. Saints tell us that it is the greatest good fortune to be born in the human form, and our responsibilities are correspondingly great. Having come up to the top of the evolutionary ladder, we must take full advantage of this opportunity and get maximum benefit from it by seeking a true Master, a Guru.
When we embrace the extraordinary gift of meeting a true spiritual teacher, we are led on to the path of God-realization. The Master will teach us how to vacate the nine portals of the body and enter the tenth, which leads to our eternal home.
Without a Guru it is impossible to proceed even an inch on the spiritual path. Without the protecting hand of a mystic adept, it may be hazardous to even try to ascend through the inner spiritual regions, as there are temptations to lead us astray and pitfalls to drag us down.
The gift of spiritual initiation from a true Master is specifically intended for the disciple on whom it is bestowed. The Master never initiates a soul in error. Those who are designated by the Supreme Lord receive initiation, the most significant event in the history of a soul.
And how can this come about? Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
When the Lord wants you to follow Him, to know Him, to go back to Him, He will give you the understanding and the urge. He will pull you from within and you will not be able to resist the pull. …. And by our own effort, we can never search for the Father.
We are all blind; only He has eyes. … So it is for the Father to pull us. We cannot seek Him; at the most we can be receptive to that pull.
Thus Saith the Master
When initiation is coupled with sincere effort in meditation and the grace of the Master, liberation of the soul from this plane of darkness and duality is guaranteed.
During initiation, the method of Shabd meditation – the practice of getting in touch with the divine creative power of the Lord – is taught to a disciple by the Master or his designated representative. In meditation we focus the mind at the third eye, where the Shabd can be heard. By meditating daily, we are also becoming detached from our worldly circumstances and are attaching our soul to the Shabd.
In addition to daily meditation the disciple is required to follow a vegetarian diet, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs, and live a moral life. When we abide by the spiritual principles of Sant Mat we are actually living by the highest standards in this creation.
The gift of initiation by a true Master is of incalculable value, and we can only be grateful for it. In Die to Live a disciple tries to express his thanks for Nam, for being accepted for initiation. Hazur Maharaj Ji responds:
The real thanks we can give for initiation is to practise it and to live it and to mould our pattern of life accordingly. That is the real, actual thanks we can give to the Master. Mere words are meaningless. They don’t carry us anywhere.
But as our days mature into years and decades on this path, living by high standards consistently is not always easy. Lifelong adherence to our spiritual principles requires perseverance, strength, and determination. In everyday life there will be times when our spiritual values are tested and challenged by our circumstances. But the eventual reward of trying to serve our Master will be infinitely worth it.
Also in Die to Live a disciple asked Hazur Maharaj Ji about living a life of service to the Master, and he told her:
Sister, the time we give to meditation is nothing but service to the Master. You cannot serve the Master in a better way than by following his instructions and living his way of life – attending to your meditation.
As we go through life, nothing that we undergo is good or bad. Everything is just an experience that we must find a way to use to our spiritual advantage. It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of classifying any experience as good or bad. Then what happens? The mind gets swept away in thinking, analyzing and judging. By thinking about events and people, rather than engaging in simran, we are squandering precious time that should be directed towards our higher purpose in life.
When we focus our attention on the present moment by engaging in simran, we alleviate the mental agony that the mind constantly subjects us to. Simran restores the mind to clarity, strength, and wellness by becoming receptive to the healing power of the Shabd. Instead of indulging in negativity we need to direct our attention inwards.
One could say that life is all about B to D: B for Birth and D for Death. That which is situated between B and D is C. As you might have guessed, C is Choice! Any day we choose, we can challenge ourselves to change for the better. Any day we choose, we can return to this spiritual path and renew our effort at meditation. Any day we choose, we can engage in simran more frequently. We can make these choices immediately, next week or next year. Change begins with choice.