A Thankful Heart
Somebody once asked Maharaj Charan Singh what quality he liked most in a satsangi, and he answered: “a thankful heart.” He could have said devotion, love, obedience, or discipline, but above all these he valued thankfulness.
Are we thankful enough for being on this path and all that it entails? Have we really thought about what it means to be a disciple of a true Master? Do we appreciate the fact that after being lost in the creation, with all its suffering and misery, for hundreds of thousands of lives, we are on our way back home?
Great Master once wrote to a disciple:
Your face is toward the light. Let nothing hinder or discourage you. You shall drink of the Living Waters, and be thirsty no more. No matter what may be your difficulties and deficiencies, they shall all be overcome, and the divine Shabd whose music never ceases within you shall sooner or later bear you upon its loving waves back to your original home. … No one can say just how long it will take. But it must be.
It must be. How can we not be overwhelmingly grateful for such a promise?
And let’s think about the handful of people who have this opportunity. In Die to Live somebody asked Maharaj Ji about Great Master’s statement that only one person in several million might reach the level to be able to drink the divine nectar – in other words, come in contact with the Shabd. Maharaj Ji remarked that even if it’s one in a million – compared to all the people in the world – it’s a very good ratio.
I wonder whether we have the slightest idea what a tremendous privilege has been conferred on us. What could we ever have done to deserve this? But only the Creator knows best. And whether we deserve it or not seems to have little to do with it.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol.II we’re told that without the grace of the Lord we would never be able to escape from here. In fact, nothing we have ever done was ever enough to qualify us for this grace. Maharaj Ji tells us quite bluntly:
We have done nothing. A man can never do anything to deserve all this. We can never do anything to deserve his love. He just gives it and gives it. We are too small-fry to even invoke his grace, because we are so helpless as humans in this creation.
We can only be thankful to him for the opportunity to get release from the creation and go home. It’s been a long journey, but it’s coming to an end. Let’s remember that when we struggle with our meditation, when we complain about how long it’s taking for us to see any results. In the bigger scale of things it’s probably not taking very long at all. Maharaj Ji once put it into perspective:
Sister, the reason is very clear. Can you know when this creation came into being? Can we calculate when this creation started? Since then, we have been here in this creation. We can’t even extend our imagination to grasp how long we have been here in this world and how many karmas we have been collecting in every life … and we want to burn it just in a second, comparatively? Naturally it has to take time.
Die to Live
We’ve been programmed to expect quick results from any effort we make. But this doesn’t happen on the spiritual path. We have to undergo such profound changes to make ourselves fit for what’s being given to us. We have to be transformed. We have to become pure enough to come face to face with God. We can’t expect to rush this process.
And for that, to come face to face with God, we have been found worthy. But still, we look at our many imperfections, and we blame ourselves for our poor meditation. We know what karmas we’ve committed in this life alone and worry about the weight of karma we are carrying from many past lives.
But do you think that the Master worries about that? Not at all. He is the divine laundryman who doesn’t only accept the cleanest garments to be washed. He accepts even the dirtiest, knowing that with a bit of scrubbing he will get them clean.
We should just feel very grateful that we have this opportunity, and show our gratitude by doing what he asks of us: by living the lifestyle he has designed for us and, most of all, by doing our daily meditation. And we don’t even have to keep crying to ask for forgiveness. We just have to show our love by doing what he asks, and leave the rest to Him.
The struggle that we go through in meditation is the only meaningful way of proving that we are grateful for this tremendous grace that’s been given to us, and showing that in our small, inadequate way we’d like to give something in return. All he wants from us is our meditation.
But if we are not working at our practice, perhaps it means that we don’t appreciate what we have; that we don’t understand the magnitude of being on a spiritual path and what it’s going to give us. In Spiritual Gems, Great Master emphasizes how fortunate we are to have been initiated by our Master and to be on our way to Sach Khand. But he also says that our efforts – or lack thereof – can hasten or retard our progress.
Let’s try to hasten the process. Let’s work at our meditation – with as much commitment as we can, without expecting anything in return. Let’s just sit, every day, in a spirit of love and deep gratitude, knowing that only this can help us to attain our eventual goal of going home to our source.
And let’s not despair if we feel that we are failing. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Ji gives a very comforting reply to someone who’s ashamed of her poor meditation – something she says can hardly even count as meditation. He says:
Well, you can count all twenty-four hours in your meditation. If you build around you an atmosphere of meditation, every breath you breathe is meditation for you.
If we’re living in the atmosphere of meditation, then every breath is meditation. Isn’t that reassuring? He seems to be looking for any excuse to shower us with his grace.
Maharaj Ji used to say that without the Lord’s grace we would never even think about him, let alone love him or work to try to reach him. Everything stems from his grace.
We think so much depends on our own effort, and if we don’t get this meditation right, we feel bad because of our failure. We see only what we’re doing or not doing. We don’t see the part he is playing in bringing us to him.
His power is unlimited. There is nothing that he cannot do. Whatever happens, he is going to see us safely home. He could take us all up to Sach Khand immediately if he wanted. But that is not the Creator’s design. The whole game of karma needs to be played out to its end because this is the Lord’s will and perhaps a significant part of preparing the soul to return to its source.
And if we feel pain, even for this we should be thankful – especially if he allows us to feel the pain of separation from him. These pangs of yearning are tremendous grace. They’re proof that the Lord himself is impatient for us to return to him and he is pulling us by our heartstrings.
It is this pain of separation that compels us to meditate. It’s what directs all our efforts towards him. The more we feel the pull to return to him, the more painful it becomes, because we’re becoming more and more anxious to find our way back to him. In our distress we may think only about our pain. We forget that he is the one who is pulling us.
He is the one who has set our sights on the goal of God-realization. He has planted this craving in our soul to return to the Lord and to be drowned in his love. But there is a price to pay for this. The price is our effort. But the final reward will be indescribably joyous.