Glimpses of the Divine
Initiation by a living master marks the beginning of a tremendous spiritual adventure. From times immemorial, the soul, our real Self, has been waiting for this moment to occur. It is the awakening from an age-old slumber. As we progress our consciousness expands, encompassing everything.
Being allowed to engage in Shabd meditation is said to be the greatest gift which can be bestowed on a human being. The living master is not only the unparalleled spiritual teacher, he is also the personal inner guide of the Shabd practitioner. Progress on this spiritual path is not measured by achievements or results. Far from it – it is infinitely more subtle and is linked with the experience of love. And that love hasn’t anything to do with physical love, because it falls outside the parameters of the physical.
Expanding consciousness automatically implies becoming aware of changes in our mind-set and in our attitude towards things and circumstances. In short, our whole being is undergoing a complete and radical transformation. It is a life-changing process that does not take place overnight but over the course of a lifetime – most probably many lifetimes. The spiritual teacher, untiring in his generosity, has come to this earthly plane “to bear witness to the Light” – to share the spiritual teachings with us.1 In the way the master speaks about the Father, his love for the Father, his love for the Lord, shines through. We are being urged to live in His will, to accept whatever comes our way. As we are fallible human beings, this is a “mission impossible,” and yet it is the ultimate challenge we’re faced with in life. Our destiny is fixed; karma has to be gone through and paid off. The karmic load will be lightened, however, once we start gaining some mastery over the inclinations of our mind. Our receptivity to the master’s teachings increases through the regular daily meditation practice. Through our master, we start getting a glimpse of the Divine.
In the Gospel of John there are many references to bearing witness to the truth and the light. Hazur Maharaj Ji gives deep insight into the truth of these statements. In Light on Saint John he comments:
Saint John is explaining to us that the Saints, the Masters come as a witness to the existence of the Light so that “all men through him might believe,” that is, might experience that Light that God has kept within us.2
The masters share with us a divine intimacy. Through their teachings, through the seemingly simple way in which they express themselves, they touch the spiritual core of our being. Automatically, love for these teachings is evoked within us. On the surface there is the physical teacher but on an inner level, an opening up to the inner master, the Shabd master, is simultaneously taking place as well. Often Baba Ji repeats that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the physical. Again, initiation is the start of an incredible cosmic inner journey. By walking the path, by engaging in meditation, a disciple of a living master will experience his consciousness being raised. A clarity of vision takes possession of our life, and we begin to see as if with new eyes, with a fresh awareness of an inner reality, the effect of an inner transformation. This goes hand in hand with an ever-increasing sense of gratitude, a renewed determination to stick to our side of the spiritual bargain, to never slacken in our daily spiritual discipline. We also may experience a glimpse of the Divine when we are in the presence of the living master.
In our meditation there are also these moments of divine inspiration – not to be shouted from the rooftops, but to be cherished as precious inner treasures. There are no words to describe what the inner master, the Shabd master, is doing for us. So much is kept hidden from us, because protection by the master from being carried away by inner experiences is necessary. Our part is to be patient and to appreciate and digest what is being given to us out of the Lord’s boundless love. For this whole life of ours is a gift from the Lord; everything – down to every breath we take – is prashad. Just look around you and let this realization sink in.
The importance of satsang cannot be over-emphasized. Huzur uses a powerful metaphor in Die to Live to drive this point home. First of all, he compares initiation to planting the seed of Nam, at the same time giving the reassurance that this seed must sprout. This seed will grow into a crop:
The seed of Nam is planted within every initiate, and it must sprout. We are advised to protect this crop and preserve the sanctity of this treasure. A crop in an open field will certainly grow without protection, but it remains vulnerable and is easily plundered. We must, therefore, surround our crop, which we grow through meditation, with the fence of satsang, the company of the Masters and the Saints and their devotees. Satsang provides an impregnable shield against robbers and thieves who may wish to have us squander that spiritual wealth.3
We cannot do without the protection given by satsang, whether it is a satsang given by the living master or a satsang given by a fellow satsangi doing seva as a speaker. Satsang is always by the master; it is a unique opportunity to share the teachings, to experience the power of the gathering of the support group and to imbibe the spiritual atmosphere. In satsang we may be inspired by the words of the speaker and feel a spiritual uplift. There is even more to satsang than this, and that is the feeling of closeness to the Shabd master. The outer satsang is accompanied by an inner satsang as it were. Our relationship with the Divine gets strengthened and a deep longing for our master suffuses our whole being.
In these times of Coronavirus restrictions, when physical satsang cannot be held or is only held under very special circumstances, the present master has revisited his intention to never have online satsang. It is an incredible blessing for us to be able to listen to Q & A sessions with the master. These are magical sessions giving viewers the feeling of being in direct contact with their master. But here, too, there is more than the eye can see. The Satguru’s love for the Lord is such that we are automatically affected. Deeper and deeper we realize how a completely new understanding of the Divine is being revealed within us. A relationship which was initially a mere theoretical concept is becoming something real, something which has come alive within us. Through the master’s teachings, through his love for the Lord, we also get a glimpse of the Divine.
The living master will always refer to his own master, his predecessor, as the one who is doing everything. He keeps his own greatness hidden and emphasizes that he is only doing his master’s work. He is truly in the service of his Satguru. His humility is such that he puts himself on a level with his disciples, asking them to work and walk with him. The effect of this exhortation is such that any thought of the disciple being the doer simply vanishes. The utter humility that the Satguru displays engenders in the disciple a feeling of longing to imbibe that quality. Deeper and deeper the Shabd master touches the innermost recesses of our being. The pull from within is irresistible and, from being a wayward child, we become an obedient child. Pleasing the master, as his teaching of love for the Father sinks in, takes priority over everything else in life. Our attention is being turned within, in a wonderful mystic exchange with the master’s energy. It is up to the disciple to grasp any opportunity to increase his receptivity to love for the Divine.
The practice of simran, the repetition of the holy names given by the master at initiation, becomes our companion and contains a sweetness, filling us with joy. Working and walking together, side by side, is fulfilling life’s purpose. A sense of profound contentment and gratitude comes over us, and more and more a feeling of letting go gradually takes precedence over everything else. To the extent that our attention becomes more focused within, worldly attractions gradually lose most of their impact. There is still the zest for life, but infused with a spiritual awareness, casting a glance of spirituality over everything we do. Following in his footsteps is not a mere phrase any longer – we experience his presence behind everything.
Living in the presence of the Shabd master is not some fancy thought, but a silent awareness of the spiritual dimension. In a way we could never ever have imagined, life has changed. Our focus has shifted from outside to inside. A lifelong experiment with the Truth has turned out to be worth every effort, however small. Regularity works wonders; the hard work of meditation is to be continued. We’re on our way to our final destination. The Satguru urges and spurs us on, showing us that we can do it. And with his help we can do it.
In The Treasury of Mystic Terms we find our relationship with the Divine expressed as an inner place of refuge and solitude where God is to be found. The saint Francis de Sales counsels:
Remember to retire often … into the solitude of your heart while you are outwardly engaged in work with others. This spiritual solitude can be preserved no matter how many people there are about you, for they are only about your body and not about your heart which can remain alone with God.4
The Shabd practitioner has been given a method of meditation which comes directly from the Divine. This practice is ideally suited for kalyuga, the present cosmic life cycle, in which people live a relatively short span of time; it can be done under any circumstances. Besides – and that is beyond our comprehension – it has also been the meditation practice of the Satgurus themselves. What they teach they have practised and experienced themselves. In Light on Saint John, the deeply mystic teachings of the Bible are explained by Maharaj Charan Singh.
The Bible says, John the Baptist was with God. One who is with God is no less than God. He came from God, and he and God are one and the same. A drop in the ocean is the ocean itself.5
John the Baptist was Christ’s predecessor, just as Maharaj Charan Singh was the predecessor of Baba Gurinder Singh. Of course, masters will always refer to themselves as servants of the Lord. But their real status can never be communicated in language. The path of the masters is a path of spiritual love; it is the path of bhakti. The practice of meditation, for which this human birth has been given to us, provides ideal circumstances and will give us the foundation to build a lasting relationship with our master, and consequently with the Divine.
- Bible, Gospel of John 1: 7,8
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint John, p. 17
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live, p. 54
- Francis de Sales, Devout Life 2:12; in The Treasury of Mystic Terms, Part III, Vol. 11, p. 32
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint John, p. 17