The More We Know, The Less We Understand
In the book One being One, right at the beginning, there is a quotation from the 1926 book Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh – or Pooh for short – is the stuffed toy bear belonging to Christopher Robin, and the book concerns their adventures, together with a collection of other stuffed toy animals: Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, baby Ru, and Eeyore the perennially miserable donkey. This is a conversation between Pooh, ‘a bear of very little brain’ as Pooh calls himself, and Piglet.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh, thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has a Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has a Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “That’s why he never understands anything.”
It has been said that “rabbit likes to take charge and come up with elaborate plans…. As detailed as his plans are, they often miss certain key points and go wrong.”1
In other words, Rabbit’s brain, or rather his mind, his intellect, doesn’t always give him good advice, and what he thinks he understands – perhaps more often than not – is wrong.
Isn’t this what our Masters say about our understanding of this path that we follow and our connection with God? Our mind gets in the way. Great Master explains:
Worldly learning scatters the mind. Simple-minded folks go in easily. The hill people of this country are such, and in several cases their souls went in at once, as soon as the secret of concentration was imparted to them.2
Simple-minded folks, like the hill people of India, understand things because their minds are not cluttered with concepts and illusions garnered from too much education and living and working in a world where intellect is king – like many of us. If you tell a simple person to sit down, close their eyes, and repeat five words, that is what they do. Tell an intellectual, and he gets lost in asking questions about when to sit, where to sit, how to sit, the speed of repetition, and exactly how to pronounce the words. And doesn’t Master say: don’t analyze these things. Just do it!
Many of us who are following the path of the Masters, Surat Shabd Yoga, may smile when we hear Pooh Bear’s conclusion that Rabbit doesn’t understand anything because he has a brain – because we recognize that even after decades of reading every Sant Mat book and analyzing every aspect of the path with our minds, we don’t really understand the path at all. And we may in fact be even more confused, now that Baba Ji has been saying that what we read in the books is not how it really is. It is just a way of explaining the unexplainable.
The Masters are challenged to explain – in words that we can understand – what we have never experienced in this physical creation. We have to experience the inner to understand the inner.
We must go within by means of meditation to learn who we truly are: soul, not body, not mind – self-realization. And to really know without a shadow of doubt that we are already one with God – God-realization.
Self-realization before God realization. The twin goals of this path, learning step-by-step the truth of the Divinity of our soul.
We might then ask if we have to wait until we go within to experience the reality of the teachings and be able to develop true faith. In fact, as we walk the path, even before we enter the spiritual realms at the eye center, we get inklings of the understanding that we seek.
In the book One Being One, a second quotation is given right after Winnie the Pooh’s. These words come from the former president of India and renowned philosopher, S. Radhakrishnan, who says:
Off and on, in some rare moments of our spiritual life, the soul becomes aware of the presence of the Divine. A strange awe and delight invade the life of the soul, and it becomes convinced of the absoluteness of the Divine, which inspires and moulds every detail of our life.3
Perhaps here Radhakrishnan is talking about inner experiences, but even in the physical creation, as we go through our lives, moments arise when we feel the Master’s presence, proof positive that the Master is within us at the eye center and he knows what we are feeling; knows our secret longings. And this understanding that he allows us can change our lives.
Many of us want a dramatic sign to know for sure that he is there – to feel his presence in our lives.
The signs are there – but have we noticed? Or are we like the man who, in a heavy rainstorm, sat on his roof to escape the rising flood waters. While praying to God to come and save him, he then refused to get into a canoe, a police boat and a helicopter that came to do just that – save his life. What happened? He drowned. Are we aware of signs of the Divine permeating every aspect of our lives?
Maharaj Sawan Singh says: “Sat Guru is always present with you in Shabd form. He sees, he knows and responds.”4
Shabd that power that is light and sound – that created everything in the universe and beyond – that Shabd is the true form of the Master, and he is with us always. He sees us, he knows what is going on in our lives, and he responds. Let us remember him as he remembers us. And when we cry to him, let us be receptive to his response. He is there waiting for us to pay attention to him, to let him into our lives.
Sant Tukaram says in a poem called “My Companion”:
With love you lead me by the hand
And stay with me wherever I go.
Your support alone keeps me treading
the path of life.5
With the Master as our constant companion, with him holding our hand as we tread the path of life, there will be no more loneliness, no more belief that we are doing this path of life on our own. This is the experience that the Masters have and they want us to have it too.
In the book from Self to Shabd, a questioner asks the Master if he is lonely, and he replies:
In oneness there is no loneliness, just peace and happiness.… Only in duality is there loneliness and suffering. I am quite happy. I am not lonely at all.6
The illusion of duality, of separation, is what makes us feel lonely, makes us feel that there is something missing. The Master is saying that for him, there is no separation; he is One with the Lord, with the Shabd.
He is “one being one,” like the title of the book. But for us, living in the illusion of duality with our attention focused outwards towards the physical creation, we are unable to identify with the master’s experience. We look in the mirror at this body and we see an individual separated from the master; we see two, being two – duality – not oneness.
Hence, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj advises us: “You have to think, I am not this body but I am that formless, nameless knowledge dwelling in this body; that I am.”7
We are not this body; we are not this mind. We are Shabd; only the veil of mind and maya – and the layer of karmas that are still to be undergone – hide this truth from us.
In Soami Ji’s shabd “Come, My Friend, to Your True Home,” we read:
Come, live at the eye centre;
experience oneness here through concentration.
Here duality is transcended.8
Know the reality of oneness through experience, Soami Ji says; come to the eye center through the practice of our meditation; through concentration. Experience the oneness, become one with love, be love itself; no duality, no lover and beloved. Just one being. Eternal unalterable love and bliss.
Love is the nature of Shabd, of the Master, of the inner formless Shabd Master. Remember the words of Maharaj Charan Singh as quoted in the pictorial book about his life, Legacy of Love, “May your love of the Form culminate in the Love of the Formless.”9
In duality, we fall in love with the body Master who initiates us and teaches us everything about the path and – with his encouragement and our effort in meditation – we go within and merge with his radiant Shabd form. Oneness. One Being One. One being Love.
This Oneness is our goal, this experience of eternal love and happiness, glimpses of which we get from the Master as a gift from him to keep us going on the path. Moments when we feel happy for no apparent reason, suffused with a kind of joy that is not connected to anything outside ourselves. How can we experience this sense of Oneness more? By keeping him in our remembrance.
Live at the eye center, Soami Ji said. How do we do that?
The Masters say that meditation is not just sitting for the requisite two and one-half hours and then forgetting all about the path and the Master for the rest of the day.
We are probably familiar with Maharaj Jagat Singh’s words in A Spiritual Bouquet, # 9:
The secret of success in the path is “bhajan, more bhajan, and still more bhajan” (practice, more practice and still more practice). With bhajan only for three hours, the scale will always weigh heavily on the worldly side. You ought to become wholly and solely God-minded. Throughout the day, no matter in what occupation you are engaged, the soul and the mind must constantly look up to Him at the eye centre.10
If we want to go within and achieve self- and God-realization, three hours of meditation are not enough; we must also do simran all day long when our mind is not occupied.
Then he adds:
All the twenty-four hours of the day, there must be yearning to meet the Lord, a continuous pang of separation from Him. Nay, every moment, whether eating, drinking, walking, awake or asleep, you must have His Name on your lips and His form before your eyes.
If we want to go beyond duality to Oneness in this very lifetime, to never be born again, there must be longing to end the pain of separation to motivate us. To satisfy this longing, our attention must be on the Master one way or another all through the day and night from the moment we are initiated until we die.
If the Lord has bestowed upon us the grace to recognize the feeling of emptiness, the something lacking within us, for what it is – the soul’s longing to return to its source – and to realize that no matter what we do in this world, where we go, what we buy, we are always dissatisfied – then we already have the longing to end the “pang of separation;” and as the pain of that separation increases, as it must – because there is no solution outside in the world – constant remembrance of him will occur automatically.
But why wait? Why wait for the pain of separation to increase? Why not begin now, with the promise of happiness and bliss in being One with him in this very lifetime motivating us to sit every day?
- Spiritual Gems, letter 122
- S. Radhakrishnan, The Genius of India, in Tagore Centenary Volume, Part 2, p.8
- Spiritual Gems, letter 189
- Tukaram, The Ceaseless Song of Devotion, 2004, 3rd edition, p. 105
- Quoted in from Self to Shabd, p. 7
- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,The Ultimate Medicine, quoted in from self to Shabd, p.13
- Soami Ji Maharaj, “Dham Apne Chalo Bhai,” in Spiritual Discourses II, p. 304
- Legacy of Love, p. 547
- The Science of the Soul, 8th ed, p.196