I Will Show You My Form
Hazur Soami Ji Maharaj opens one his shabds with the following couplets,
Listen, dear soul, and let me explain:
Unique and wondrous is my real form,
which no one can perceive until I lend a hand.
Practise meditation and subdue your mind
by holding your sense impulses in check.
Raise your soul – rise up through the sky of Trikuti
and go beyond the top of Sunn.
I will show you my form as Sat Purush, the true Lord,
and then as the Lord of Alakh and Agam.
Beyond them is the stage of Radha Soami,
where I am manifest in my own true form.1
It is impossible to comment on these lines. They need to be experienced in order to be understood. But they also set out the final destination that we are all searching for. Reaching Alakh and Agam and experiencing the region of Radha Soami is our goal. Even if we have no experience of them now, perhaps we have just enough knowledge of the teachings to know that our goal is to merge into oneness. We also have Soami Ji’s assurance that he will show us the way to our final destination.
We need a goal or an ideal to motivate us towards putting in effort to reach our destination. This ideal also works as a touchstone we can use to check if our behaviour reflects our ideal. These lofty opening couplets of the shabd give us hope of a future beyond our imaginings. But how do we become closer to these pure regions? What do we have to do on our journey? Do we passively wait to merge as the Lord wills it or do we have an active, participatory role to play in our own becoming?
In these couplets Soami Ji also begins to lay out the relationship between effort and grace. He tells us that nothing will happen until he lends a hand. If that is so then can’t we just wait until he pushes us into the experience of these mysterious regions? Why do we have to bother doing anything? But he also tells us that we have to practise meditation and subdue our minds. On one hand we need his helping hand but on the other we need to meditate in order to experience that the Lord is the doer. We are participating in our own becoming by showing our master, by our meditation, that we cherish his commands. There is comfort and contentment that comes with our efforts no matter how feeble they may seem to us. The master doesn’t judge our efforts but accepts them with pleasure. The teachings assure us that his helping hand is always there, but it is the practice of simran that slowly but steadily grounds us in the experience of his grace.
Soami Ji Maharaj continues by saying, “Have patience, keep the company of the Saints and I shall purify you through my grace. I shall not rest till I show you that form – why are you in such a hurry?” He reminds us that there is no hurry to reach our goal. We cannot get there quicker than the Lord wills. He tells us that it is his grace that will take us to our destination – and of most importance, that he will never give up on us and he will continue, no matter where our circumstances lead us, to work towards revealing the true form of the Lord to us. It is the guru’s will that we will reach our goal and there is no force in the creation that can circumvent that power. If the shabd wills something, then it will manifest. It is an irresistible force.
And that power, that will of the Lord, that shabd, our master, has decided that we deserve to experience the truth. That is our destiny. He says that he will purify us through his grace. To be able to have an experience of the purity that is the shabd, the vessel needs to be pure first; otherwise the shabd will stay buried inside us, hidden under layers and layers of “me and mine.” To purify us could mean suffering, ill health, a loss of funds, problems with family or any other experience that will turn our mind from the world to towards him. The journey to purity could be painful and we will need to do all we can to maintain balance and a positive perspective in order to remember that our destiny is to be recipients of his grace.
He is saying then, that karma is grace and grace is karma. He gives us only that which will help him to take us as quickly as possible to the inner regions of bliss and love. Everything that happens to us is his grace. We tend to think of grace as a shower of rose petals or our guru changing our karmas so that we don’t have to suffer too much. But the guru is objective, he sees us for who we are and then does all in his power, by exercising his grace, to lead us at a quick march towards the ocean of love. If this means suffering to purify us, then so be it, it is suffering we will get.
But Baba Ji has also said that we don’t need to feel the pain of the suffering. We can take a painkiller if needed. We must go through the event but we can mitigate the suffering as best we can. We must, no – we need – to go through our karmas, as they help to lighten the weight of our ego bearing down on our mind. If we keep our balance on the karmic highway, then our road runs straighter and our suffering is mitigated. It is simran that will give us the objectivity to see our situation as it is and then accept whatever happens to us as his will. With focus come positivity and a grateful heart. Simran and bhajan are the antidote to pain. They create peace of mind which gives us the strength to bear whatever it is that unfolds in our destiny.
Couple that with Soami Ji’s words, “I will not rest till I show you that form…” These words give us so much comfort and confidence. He never rests from his seva of helping us to our final destination. We have nothing to fear or to be worried about. His love never falters or weakens. It is constant and complete. We are the sole focus of his attention.
Soami Ji Maharaj then says, “I carry your burdens in my own heart, so that you may be free of worries and nurture my love in your heart.” With those words the guru lifts all fear from our mind. We have no burdens and no worries. He is the supreme doer and we are the vessel for his love. Fear, worry, ego and anxiety are illusions. They have no power or permanence except what we give them.
Stress is self-made and not inherent in any situation. Something terrible can happen to us, but if we stay positive and happy in his will, then it can be bearable and not a creator of fear or worry. Usually our reaction or fear about what will happen to us is worse than the event itself. We create the stress and anxiety. We can let go of them and give him our burdens to carry. For him they weigh less than nothing. If we hold on to them, then they weigh more than the universe.
His words are so reassuring. But are we brave enough to trust him? Are we bold enough to let go of fear and worry? Our only experiences have been of suffering coupled with fleeting moments of pleasure. It takes trust and a fearless leap into love to give him our burdens. But if we do let go then we can nurture his love in our hearts. We think it is we who love him, but in truth his shabd inside us is love, and only love. He asks us to nurture that love and let it blossom. It isn’t our love rising up to meet his love, but his love rising up from inside us to merge with his love. If we give him our worries, then all that is left is the shabd inside us and it will purify our hearts. It is simran that gives us the focus to hand over our burdens to him. It gives us the strength to let go. It is the shabd which will then purify us.
He continues by saying, “Give up your misgivings, and be steadfast in your love – a love tempered with faith. I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.” Soami Ji suggests that we have doubts and misgivings about the path. If we had full faith in the master, then Alakh and Agam would be our home. Instead we struggle along, trying to keep the vows and serve our master. All of us have doubts about the path and the master. Without the experience of the shabd it is impossible to be absorbed in him. But doubt can be a tool to spur us to narrowing the gap between our daily behaviour and our commitment to mediation. How can we overcome doubt, only by the continued practice of simran. Simran will bring us the focus that will allow the love inside us to blossom into consciousness.
How do we become steadfast in our love? If we were steadfast we would have no doubts about the guru or about worries in our everyday lives. Being steadfast is being constant and consistent. But as he says, we need faith in order to become constant. As we haven’t yet had the experience of the inner regions, we need faith that our final home exists, faith in the teachings and faith in the guru.
When we first studied the teachings we had a revelation that we had found the truth. The teachings made exquisite sense to us and lifted a burden from our hearts. We had comfort that the teachings of the Saints made sense of the world and gave meaning and direction to our lives.
The comfort we got from the teachings and from the master is the foundation for our faith. The teachings are as potent and vital now as they were when we first encountered them. But as much comfort as we get from the teachings, we get greater comfort and support from our guru. He is our tower of strength, and our continued devotion to him will make our faith stronger and stronger. Then slowly over time our faith will transform into experience. We nurture that faith by meditation which then strengthens our steadfastness.
The very nature of the guru is love and he manifests that love by saying, “I shall myself help you put in the effort, I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.” He will do everything. He will help us in our effort; he will take us to our ultimate home. But we need to let him do his seva. We need to let him love us. We need to let him help us in our effort.
We work with our guru by dedicating ourselves to simran, which will help us to become constant, objective, and receptive to love. By our effort – of which he is actually the doer – our love for him blossoms. Then we cans relax and enjoy the journey to our ultimate home.
Soami Ji promises that he will take us to our final destination. If we have faith in him then we realize that we have nothing to worry about. We even have nothing to hope for, as we have the assurance of the guru that he will be with us until the end. No matter what our destiny holds in store for us, we will get through it with gratitude and comfort. He is our strength and we don’t need anything more than him. Our destiny is the shabd; it is Alakh and Agam. We will reach our goal and we will reach it with pleasure as long as we are bold enough to give him our burdens.
In the final couplet of this shabd Soami Ji Maharaj writes, “Listen to what Radha Soami has to say: all will be worked out as and when the supreme will ordains it.” There is no hurry or worry. With patience and faith, coupled with accepting his help in our effort, we will reach the supreme goal. We can relax and enjoy the journey. As Saint Catherine of Siena said, “The road to heaven is heaven also.” We will then be contented on our journey, thanking him with every breath.
- Bachan 33, Shabd 16, in Sar Bachan (Selections), p. 329–331.