Wake Up to Love
Soami Ji, the great Saint of Agra, used different voices in his poems to demonstrate the essentials of the mystic path. He did this through poems of love and longing for his own Master or the Lord, with dialogues between disciple and Master or between mind and soul. Some of his poems are “warnings” or “wake-up calls.” He adopts these different positions to show that the Lord is everywhere and in everything. The Lord has no boundaries. It is all him. He is the dog who bites and the man who is bitten.
Even though he had different emphases, every one of Soami Ji’s poems focuses solely on spirituality. He stated repeatedly, as all the masters have done, that we should go on until our last breath with meditation, seva, and satsang. Even if we are too old and frail to get out of a chair, we can still carry on with our meditation.
Ultimately, we will be able to experience reality for ourselves instead of hearing about it or reading about it. In the end, after all the talk and work, our words and emotions will be channeled into devotion – into “the ‘actionless action’ of sitting still in body, with mind focused and listening to the inner sound.”1 We do this until we realize the radiant form of our Master, which is projected from the Shabd. The beauty of this is described as being so compelling that we can actually become absorbed in that light and move on within it to merge in the Lord.
The following opening of a shabd is a wake-up call in which Soami Ji addresses us ordinary human beings who are just starting out on the meditative path. He says:
None of your companions are truly your well-wishers,
you are surrounded by thieves and you are fast asleep.2
Can this be true? It’s a difficult statement to read. Soami Ji is reminding us that all our relationships are actually based on selfishness.
Until we lose that I-ness, that ego, that selfishness, what else is there for us? At this stage, we are only aware of our sense of individuality, which is a consequence of past deeds, both good and bad. Like the saints, we come to give to some, take from some, exchange goods and services, be friends and foes. Being human, we also have a huge capacity for devotion, which we direct outward and thereby become unduly attached to ideas, things, people, and animals. The Master doesn’t judge us for this, though. Of course, the mind tricks us and uses this very capacity for love against us because our attachments, our beloveds, can bring us back to this world.
Part of the great delusion of maya is that we humans seek permanent happiness in this world, but it does not exist here. We may find some form of satisfaction, but not for long. Although we are the highest species in this creation, gifted with the faculties of discrimination and introspection, our minds wander through the universe and we believe it’s all real. However, Soami Ji says we are “fast asleep”; that this so-called reality is a dream, in that it does not endure.
Everything in the three worlds – physical, astral, and causal – is made possible by the interplay of three attributes, or gunas: satogun, the quality of goodness, peace, beauty, rhythm, and harmony; rajogun, the quality of action, achievement, passion, and pride; and tamogun, the quality of darkness, inertia, ignorance, and decay. Those three attributes are present in this creation in varying degrees, so it is unavoidable that everything arises, comes into being, and then fades away, including our most passionate relationships. We can see that the foundations of matter are unstable and constantly changing. Both scientists and mystics agree that “reality” is an illusion, impermanent; because this creation had a beginning, it also will have an end.
Our greatest strength and potentially our greatest weakness is our human capacity for devotion and our belief that worldly loves can bring us happiness. Unless we find a way to attach ourselves to something lasting and true, our capacity for devotion becomes merely the passion of attachment. People sometimes work themselves to death for their families because the family and social relationships confirm the identity of each individual. Most people are probably not even thinking consciously about themselves but about some issue or problem with their beloveds. There is no doubt we do have happy times with our families and friends, but that pleasure is momentary. As Maharaj Sawan Singh stated:
In a family, the members meet as travellers in an inn, some coming and some going, at their own time. The meeting and parting are determined by karma of individuals – one comes as father, another as mother, another as son or daughter and others as near relatives. Karma determines friends and foes and karma has cast the mould of life. Everybody is running his own race.3
He also referred to our loved ones as “beloved thugs.” A thief or robber simply steals from us, but beloved thugs beguile us so that we don’t even know we have been robbed. Soami Ji also says that we are surrounded by thieves and are fast asleep. The greatest robberies are subtle; it’s not our money and possessions that are stolen, but our time and attention. Our attention is scattered out through the nine “gates” of the body via the senses, whether we are doing good deeds or bad. The Shabd, the enlivening consciousness that sustains us, is being frittered away as the mind, drawn by the senses, drags down the soul with it. This process sounds somewhat mechanical, but because we are dealing with realities that words cannot express, we have to settle for metaphors.
An American mathematician and philosopher once wrote:
We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves.4
This is a great way of describing our karma-created selves, both physical and mental, while also hinting at the fact that we are immersed in the ever-flowing stream of Shabd. God in action is flowing through and around us; it is us, but we’re not aware of it.
The Masters remind us that we cannot run to the jungle to become hermits or cut ourselves off from other humans. We are social beings by nature. In the jungle, we would still have our busy thoughts, busy like bees around a hive (good thoughts) or like flies around dung (negative thoughts). Thoughts are the mind’s watchmen at the gate of our attention. They keep us unaware of the stillness and peace within ourselves until we reverse our attention from “out there” to within our own bodies at the eye centre. Simran is the hook by which we can catch the Shabd.
In his shabd Soami Ji continues:
Wake up to love in the company of the Saints.
Then let the Master dye you
in a colour beyond all colours –
that of the purity of Nam.5
“Wake up to love,” Soami Ji says, from the dark dream of trouble and strife. When we wake up to the reality, all we see is love. “Wake up to love” is a beautiful phrase. So many teachers of enlightenment say we must wake up, but they don’t tell us what we are waking up to. Urging us to wake up to enlightenment doesn’t really tell us anything, but “wake up to love” gives us a sense of where we are going – the embrace of the only lasting love, in the company of the saints. Saints are the architects of love. Just as the Lord has designed his creation out of love, his saints, the Masters, refashion us into our original forms of love. As Paltu Sahib says, “Love alone counts in the court of the Lord.”6
This everlasting love is accessible to us. We wake up to love over time as we sit for our meditation and repeat simran throughout the day. Eventually, we will become so focussed on and attached to our spiritual guide that we will become aware of his real form, the radiant form, and merge with him. Then, we will see the Creator in his creation, and the whole world will become our family. This love, which the physical form of our Master initially provokes in us, comes from him. We don’t generate it ourselves. It is a gift.
There is an interesting exchange of the Master and disciple recounted In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III. A questioner asks:
Maharaj Ji, it seems clear that the lover needs the Beloved. Does the Beloved have any need of the lover?
And the Master replied:
Yes, but who gives the love to the lover? It is the Beloved who gives love to the lover. The lover thinks he loves the Beloved. The pull in the lover’s heart comes from the Beloved always. It gives the feeling to the lover that he is in love with the Beloved. Actually it is the Beloved who has put that pull in the lover’s heart.7
And the Master continues:
Actually, he’s the one who is pulling us from inside and he’s the one who is making us receptive to that pull. He is the doer. He is the puller. We feel that we love when actually he is the one who is loving us, who is pulling us, who is creating that feeling of separation in us.8
Love starts with the Beloved. Our capacity to absorb the love of the Lord grows through our spiritual practice. But what happens if we don’t do our spiritual practice? Nothing changes without spiritual practice. Without meditation, there is no inner transformation. Spiritual love doesn’t grow, though emotional reactions might. If we don’t do our meditation, we may simply be reborn.
And if we are doing our spiritual practice, that love will grow, but slowly, so that our minds can adjust to the transformation taking place within us and be purified gradually. It’s a matter of keeping a balance; slow and steady wins the race. What matters is not how we begin on the path but how we finish. Think of all the dacoits and villains who have come across a Master, been initiated, done the work, and been transformed into saints.
It is our inner attachment to our meditation and the Master, the desire to be with him, that will draw us away from all the myriad desires that have been agitating us life after life. Once we have been given the gift of Nam, our destiny – which cannot be avoided but only delayed – is for the mind to finally take control our senses and for our soul to dominate the mind. Ultimately, we will achieve self-realization and then God-realization.
Today, our Master, Baba Gurinder Singh, is as urgent as Soami Ji was in his time. We don’t have to wait until we think we’re a better person, or more deserving. No change can take place without action: we must wake up to love, and we must do it now.
- Sar Bachan Poetry, Translators Note, p. xvi
- Soami Shiv Dayal Singh, Sar Bachan Poetry, p.135
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, ltr. 107
- Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings, p.96
- Soami Shiv Dayal Singh, Sar Bachan Poetry, p.135
- Isaac Ezekiel, Sant Paltu,p. 27
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #520