The Subject Tonight Is Love
To talk about love is tricky, because it’s not something you can describe in words. Like God or the Master, love is far beyond the realm of language.
The real discourse on love is the darshan of a true, living Master. Through darshan, the Master, who is the embodiment of love, communicates to all present. He communicates nothing but love, and he uses no words.
It has been said that Sant Mat, this path of the Saints, is caught, not taught. Some part of us catches the essence of the path through the presence of the Master, the company of other satsangis, in our meditation, at satsang, and during seva. No one teaches it to us. We get taught concepts, but as Baba Ji reminds us so often, those concepts are not Sant Mat.
So here, now, we are left to explain the inexplicable, to catch sight of the invisible. The following sentence is attributed to the 13th-century Persian mystic Rumi: “Love is invisible, except here, in us.”1 What does that mean? Let’s consider it from three different perspectives.
First, let’s look from the perspective of true Masters – human beings like ourselves who, through intense effort and the grace and guidance of their own Master, have risen above the limitations of the physical, purified their mind and soul, and merged back into the Father.
Rumi was such a saint. So, when he says, “Love is invisible, except here, in us,” one of his meanings might depend on the word “us.” Perhaps by “us” he means realized souls such as himself, who are, as the Bible says, “the Word made flesh”2 – the Shabd in human form. They are thus visible manifestations of that divine energy or love. So, Rumi’s first meaning could be rephrased as, “Love is invisible, except in the form of a true, living Master.”
Who are these Masters? “True” means that they have transcended this physical plane, as well as the higher mental and spiritual planes, to become one with the Lord. His will is their will. They live only to love him and to serve him.
“Living” means they come to this world, take on a human body, and work to rescue a specific group of souls allotted to them from the cycle of birth and rebirth. They are alive at the same time as their disciples are.
They come only for their disciples’ benefit. They gain nothing, and they sacrifice much, as they have to take on a human form, with all its illnesses and problems. They act only out of love – working only in service to their Master and the Lord, and to the souls they are sent to save.
For examples of those who have given everything they have in the service of their disciples, we need look no farther than the Beas Masters: Baba Jaimal Singh, Maharaj Sawan Singh, Maharaj Jagat Singh, Maharaj Charan Singh, and the current Master, Baba Gurinder Singh. The Sant Mat books are full of stories about the first four and their devotion to their Master, their duty, and their sangat. How they worked endlessly to initiate new souls, to inspire the sangat with their discourses, and to improve the facilities at the Dera to serve the increasing numbers of disciples. How, despite serious illness, they continued with their work without thought for themselves. And we witness the same intense love and extraordinary devotion to service in Baba Ji, the same selfless drive to perform the work assigned to him. These Masters are love made visible.
In addition to the work they perform on the physical plane – traveling, speaking, building, initiating – they are working with every disciple within, to help us purify our minds, clear our karmic debts, and grow spiritually. Those processes are normally invisible to us, but sometimes we hear historical accounts or stories from other disciples’ lives that reveal the subtle work that the Masters are constantly performing on our behalf, and the complete understanding they have of our inner state.
There’s a story about a poor farmer in North Africa who became the disciple of the great Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi. The disciple was very devout. He used to give away all the food he harvested each day, saving only half a potato for his dinner. Once he learned that a fellow disciple was about to leave on a trip to Spain, where Ibn Arabi lived. The poor farmer asked his friend to visit their Master and bring back some spiritual advice for the farmer, who was feeling that he hadn’t made any spiritual progress in many years.
His friend traveled to Spain and made his way to the town where Ibn Arabi lived. He told the Master about his friend and asked if he had any spiritual advice for him. Ibn Arabi said, “Tell your friend his problem is that he is too attached to the world.”
Too attached to the world?! This was a very devout man who gave away virtually everything he harvested everyday. What was the Master saying?
When the man returned home to North Africa, his friend, the poor farmer, asked eagerly if he had had a chance to meet with their Master. The friend repeated for the farmer exactly what Ibn Arabi had said. The farmer broke into tears, saying, “Every night, when I have my half a potato, I wish it were a whole potato.”3
Living in Spain, Ibn Arabi understood the deepest, subtlest imperfection in one of his disciples, who lived far away in North Africa. He saw that although the poor farmer gave away almost everything physically, he still held on mentally, still desiring that which he had given away. His Master saw the smallest remaining attachment that marred this otherwise pure soul.
The Master knows everything about each of his disciples and what he or she needs in order to develop spiritually.
So, these Masters are extraordinary beings – living in a human body but rooted in the Divine and fully in contact with it. Their role is to live among us and be a magnet that attracts us toward themselves and away from the world.
In Philosophy of the Masters, Maharaj Sawan Singh wrote:
If you wish to see Love, you should meet a lover [true Master]. Then you will discover its unique currents. A lover is like a cup which is overflowing with the Elixir of Love, and by looking at him a desire to follow him is awakened.4
So that’s the first way of looking at Rumi’s statement that the Master is love made visible.
A second possible meaning of Rumi’s statement – “Love is invisible, except here, in us” – focuses on us as disciples. If we now take the word “us” to mean followers of a mystic path, then the meaning is very different. But clearly he can’t mean that each of us as we are is as true an expression of love as the Master is.
Instead, perhaps he’s laying out a challenge to each of us. He’s saying, love is invisible, except inside us. He’s telling us that we have that potential within us: not only to see God but to become God.
That is the basic message of the Masters: through initiation by a true, living Master, a disciple can overcome the barrier of the mind, which currently blinds us to our real condition, and become purer, finer, and more subtle through our daily meditation practice, living the Sant Mat way of life, and the Master’s grace. With that increasing purity, the disciple rises above the physical and mental worlds and comes in direct contact with the spiritual realms inside, where love is the law.
In The Dawn of Light, Great Master wrote: “This huge machinery of the universe is worked on the eternal principle of love. So try to bring yourself in harmony with this principle of love.”5
But that is not so easy, because of the way we humans are made. In Discourses of Rumi, Rumi describes our situation:
There are three kinds of creatures. First there are the angels, who are pure [spirit]. Worship and service and the remembrance of God are their nature and their food: that they eat and by that they live…. If they obey God’s will, that is not accounted as obedience, for that is their nature, and they cannot be otherwise.
Secondly there are the beasts, who are pure lust, having no [spirit] to prohibit them.
Lastly there remains poor man, who is a compound of [spirit] and lust. He is half angel, half animal…. He is forever in tumult and battle. “He whose [spirit] overcomes his lust is higher than the angels; he whose lust overcomes his [spirit] is lower than the beasts.” …
Now some men have so faithfully followed their [spirit] that they have become entirely angels and pure Light. They are the prophets and saints.…
In some men lust has overcome their [spirit], so that they have taken on entirely the status of animals.
Some again are still struggling. These last are the people who feel within them an agony and anguish, a sorrow and a repining; they are not satisfied with their own manner of life. These are the believers. The saints are waiting for them, to bring them to their own station and to make them as themselves.6
So, we’re half angel and half animal, forever in battle within ourselves between those two sides of us. The senses pull us outward; the passions pull us downward. And then that inner pull from the Divine lifts us and inspires us, telling us that we are more than this body and mind; that the world around us is only a shadow; that Reality is just beyond the limits of our vision.
And so it goes on. We can yield to the mind and senses and fall to the level of an animal, as Rumi described. Or we can continue to fight against the downward forces and align ourselves with the upward pull. The Master guarantees that, once we’re initiated, he will ensure that the upward pull will win, through our own efforts at meditation and his endless grace, so that we grow spiritually to achieve the potential that lies within every human being: to love God, to serve God, to become God. We can unite with Love, as Baba Ji puts it. Love will then be visible within us.
A third possible meaning of Rumi’s statement again lays out a challenge, but of a different sort. It asks us not just to do our meditation, but to live the Master’s teachings in our daily life. It asks us to demonstrate love in action. We could rephrase the sentence to read: Love is invisible, except here, in our dealings with others, in how we treat people, and in how we respond to those who harm us or threaten to harm us.
Aldous Huxley, in his book The Perennial Philosophy, which explores the common features of all the great spiritual traditions, writes about the objective of following a spiritual path:
The aim is primarily to bring human beings to a state in which … they are able to be aware continuously of God in themselves and in all other beings; secondarily, as a means to this end, to meet all … circumstances of daily living [even the most trivial] without hatred, greed, or ego, but consistently with love and understanding.7
This is making our love visible. If we’re living the path as the Master wants us to, people can watch us and see that there is something different about the way we interact with others. Our love is visible in our actions. This is what Hazur meant when he said that we can’t just do our daily meditation and then forget about it; we have to carry the path into our daily dealings with other people, act like good human beings, and behave in a way that makes our Master proud.
But can we actually reach that high standard? Can we really meet all circumstances of our life without hatred, greed, or ego, but consistently with love and understanding? For most of us, probably not.
In Spiritual Gems, Maharaj Sawan Singh wrote:
It is true and very true that Christ lived a pure, sublime life. His Sermon on the Mount gives his moral teaching and is the beacon of light for the guidance of humanity. The strength to live up to this teaching he derived from the practice of the Word, the Sound Current.8
Great Master is saying that until we have substantial contact with the Word, the Shabd, we can’t fully meet that high standard we described earlier. The passions simply still have too tight a hold on us.
So, do we give up and say, “I’ll act like an idiot until the Shabd has transformed me”? No, we try our hardest to be good human beings, as Baba Ji asks us to – trying to restrain our temper, forgiving others as much as we can, trying to understand others rather than looking at things from only our perspective, and so on. Most important, we continue with our meditation, to the best of our ability, because that’s the arena in which the real transformation will take place.
Speaking of what Dera means, Maharaj Charan Singh once said, “The Dera is just your love, your harmony, your affection, your understanding and your cooperation with one another.”9
And talking about whether or not to build a satsang centre, he said, “It is all right, as long as you can retain that atmosphere of meditation, of love and helpfulness and kindness.”10
What a beautiful list of attributes in those two statements! Holding meditation aside as an essential foundation for all the others, he listed love, harmony, affection, understanding, cooperation, helpfulness, and kindness as guidelines for our behaviour toward each other. What a sweet recipe for a beautiful atmosphere! And they all flow from our meditation practice.
Here’s how Hazur described it:
You see, we must not forget our meditation when we start our worldly activities during the day. Its effect should remain with us. It fills us with certain noble ideas, noble thoughts, noble principles, and we shouldn’t start compromising with them during our daily activities. Our meditation must reflect in all our activities in life. It automatically makes you kind, makes you humble, makes you loving, makes you helpful. You don’t try to cheat anybody, you don’t try to deceive anybody, and you don’t want to hurt anybody. It must reflect in our daily activities – this is our way of life.11
Now it’s easy to understand that we should be kind, loving, helpful, understanding, and cooperative with our friends, family, and co-workers, and also people like shopkeepers and mail carriers. But what about those who seek to harm us, those who hate us, whether it’s an unfriendly neighbour, people from an opposing political party, or terrorists?
In the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, Christ is quoted as saying:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust…. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.12
Hazur commented on this, saying in Light on St. Matthew: “Christ says, why am I giving you such a high philosophy? Because you want to become the children and the beloved of the Father. The Father has all these qualities, so you must also possess them if you want to become his children.”13
This is another aspect of love in action.
So, in conclusion, we’ve looked at three different ways in which love becomes visible: first, in the form of a true living Master; second, within us in our meditation; and third, in our actions, when we live according to the teachings of the saints.
Whether it’s visible or invisible, love is the heart of everything.
This path is about love and love only. Anything we can do to strengthen love, develop it, share it, is all to the good, although it’s really a gift in the end. But, somehow, we can help it to grow – by giving. As Hazur said:
In love we always give. If we demand anything, that is no love at all. Love is giving.… And when by giving we can become God, what else is left?14
- Rumi (tr. Coleman Barks), The Glance: Songs of Soul-Meeting, p.26
- Bible, John 1:14
- Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak, Love Is the Wine: Talks of a Sufi Master in America; Hohm Press, 2014, pp.18–20
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, p.238
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, The Dawn of Light, Letter #4
- Discourses of Rumi (tr. A.J. Arberry), pp.89–90
- Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p.43
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, Letter 104
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #143
- Ibid., #170
- Ibid., Vol. II, #509
- Bible, Matthew 5:43–45, 48
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on St. Matthew, p. 36
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #597