Is The Lord Lonely?
Someone once asked Hazur Maharaj Ji: “Is the Lord lonely? And the Master replied: “Maybe that’s why he’s calling us.”1
So the truth of the matter is: He is calling us back to him. What an extraordinary thing! It’s not just we who are yearning for God – it’s he who’s yearning for us. As a philosopher once wrote, “God is in search of man. God challenges us, and we have to respond.”
Let’s explore this subject more deeply. God is the primal source of light and love. We are particles of that light, but we have become separated from our source. We have become attached to matter; our light is obscured by our karmas – by our desires and fears, by our habits, by our ego. We are lost in the darkness of spiritual ignorance and we need to come in contact with the source of light once again, to rekindle the flame that is within our hearts.
Our longing to return to the Lord, to go within and experience the Master in all his refulgence, is our response, from deep within ourselves, to the pull of the Lord. The primal source of love and light pulls the spark of our soul back to the source. He plants the loneliness for Him within us. Hazur said:
That loneliness cannot leave you. It’s the yearning of the soul to become one with the Father. You cannot overcome that loneliness.2
It is he who has put this love within us and then we express that love back to him. As Hazur Maharaj Ji used to say – He worships himself through us. Someone once asked Hazur Maharaj Ji if the Lord needs our love.
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. But 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. Without that need, why should the Beloved give that pull to the lover? Why should he create the seed of love in the lover’s heart? The Beloved must be needing that love.3
So He needs to love us and He needs us to love him. As our soul is of his essence, it naturally feels a pull towards him. There is a magnetic pull from the whole to the part and the part to the whole. It is a great Circle of Love.
The longing within us grows until it lights a fire and we become desperate to find him within. We need to nurture that intense longing, and help that love to grow and grow. Meditation is the essential ingredient, supported by seva and satsang.
The Master is the key to the process. We need the Master to put us on the path back to union with our source. The Master pulls us with his unconditional love. He fills us with hope and inspiration. He is patient. When we are around him we feel saturated with love. He reflects to us our most positive selves – He is always telling us that we are worthy of meeting the Lord – notwithstanding our human weaknesses.
Being with the Master physically is a reminder of the Lord’s great compassion for us, as he has sent the Master to pull us out of the illusion of this worldly life and reveal our true potential as spiritual beings. Being with him is a validation of the true purpose of our lives. He is a mirror of what we really are.
When we first learned of the Master, when he revealed himself to us and brought us to his feet – that was a true miracle. We could shed the dark coverings of fear and despair, get off the karmic treadmill, and start to move towards the light. We need to remind ourselves of this miracle all through our lives, as our mind takes things for granted.
The Master is sent by God, the Father, for those souls that are yearning to be released from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Those souls that the Father is pulling home, to himself. He yearns for us to be united with him just as we yearn to be one with him.
The Master is the bearer of truth. He shows us our true state in life – how we live in self-deception, in illusion over what is real and true or false; how we can’t choose the correct priorities in life. This is because we are slaves to the mind, and the mind will always lead us along the path of least resistance, towards the senses, into more and more attachment with this world. Without the Master’s intervention, we would be tied to the creation forever.
So the Master teaches us that if we follow his instructions, we can be freed from those attachments. We can break the chains that are holding us back – and experience true love.
The Master is like the Pied Piper of the medieval legend, who leads children away from their parents and their normal lives, by the attraction of his music. So once we come into his magnetic field, into the orbit of the Shabd, which is the true form of the Master, the orientation of our mind changes. We begin to hear his music rather than the noise and music of the world. We become detached from the values that used to mean so much to us – and adopt the spiritual values he teaches.
So the miracle is not just that we have been chosen by the Master – it is that, at the most profound level, the saints change our very attitude to life. They detach us from the creation and attach us to the creator. Maharaj Ji said:
That is the greatest miracle they can perform. Our whole attitude and approach to life changes. Things for which we used to take credit and boast about, we feel ashamed of doing when we come into their company.
As Christ said, “I have come to make people blind, and give eyes to those who do not see.” That is the miracle they come to perform. Those who see only the world, see only the creation, are attached only to the creation – I have come to make them blind, meaning I have come to detach them from this creation. And I want to give them those eyes which should see only the Father…
We are awakened from deep slumber by the mystics – that is the miracle they perform. And this miracle is individual with every disciple. He feels that miracle within himself.4
What a powerful statement – that the Master has awakened us from the deep slumber of life, of illusion, so we no longer have to live in a dream. We can live in reality! The Master shows us the truth.
Hazur Maharaj Ji described the way the Master does this: He is like a gardener who transplants a tree from one place to another. And he makes it sound very simple – he pulls us out by the roots from one place and plants us some place else, where the soil is more nourishing.
On our own we can never overcome our old ways of thinking, our customary habits. We are like a train running along the track automatically, and we need someone to switch us over to another track. We need an outside force to reach into our lives, into our minds, and change the direction of our thinking. That is grace. And that is why the Father, in his mercy, has sent the Master.
He may use different methods depending on our personalities, but the main thing is that he has to “shake us by the roots.” As Maharaj Ji explained:
If a tree has many deep roots in the ground, and you want to uproot that tree, you need a very strong wind. You also need to moisten the roots to loosen them so that a strong wind can easily do its work. We have so many roots in this creation, with all our past karmas. We are so engrossed in the pleasures of this world that unless the saints shake us from the roots, we’ll never be able to uproot ourselves from this creation. So they sometimes use very drastic steps. Their approach is very, very strict, I would say, because they want to uproot us from this creation and take us back to the Father.5
It is difficult for us to face the truth. We are comfortable in our own illusions, so it’s the master’s role to show us the truth – how to give up our negative behaviour and live with our eyes – and our entire way of life – focused on our destination. This could be painful for us, but the master is not here to take us from one illusion to another, as Baba Ji has often said.
The ideal master was described quite forcefully by a Jewish mystic:
Whenever a new hasid (disciple) came to him, he instantly took his soul out of him, cleansed it of all stain and rust, and put it back into him, restored to the state it had been in the hour he was born.6
Soami Ji explains how the master does this:
Go to the Guru’s ghaat (laundry), O mind,
and have the garment of the soul washed clean.
Using the soap of seva, wash it with darshan,
and then immerse it in the water of love.
Using the detergent of his words,
burn the fire of longing under the boiler of love.
The soul is scrubbed clean in the stream of bhakti
that flows there day and night.7
So Soami Ji is saying that when we come on the path, our soul must be scrubbed clean. We have to do our part. We have to engage in seva and attend satsang; we must pay attention to the Guru’s instructions and cultivate devotion through meditation.
Our initiation is a milestone in that it signifies our intention to change the direction of our lives. It is like being born anew – being uprooted from there and replanted here. But nothing happens if we don’t follow the Master’s instructions. When we come under his protection, we are beginning the process. But initiation is just the first step. Now we must engage in the process and do it. This means that we have to seriously and sincerely mould our lives according to the teachings.
Maharaj Ji used to say that he cuts away our roots, our chains, with the sword of Nam, of meditation. He often emphasized the importance of meditation to cut these roots which pull us back to this creation again and again. Sometimes he likened our meditation to an axe – an axe is the only thing that will cut away roots that are thick and go deep in the ground. So we have this powerful tool, but we have to use it. Maharaj Ji said:
Connecting you with shabd is giving you an axe. Now cut the roots of the tree. If you won’t use the axe, what is the use? A farmer takes an axe to pull out a tree, to cut its roots, but if he doesn’t want to use the axe, doesn’t want to labour, doesn’t want to work hard, how can he cut the tree and cut the roots of that tree? He has to work, he has to use the axe. He is well equipped to do so.
The mystics equip us to fight with our mind, fight with our attachments to the creation, but we have to play our part. The general equips his soldiers to fight the enemy, and he wants each soldier to fight. He is at the back to guide him, to equip him, to give him his ammunition, to look after all his needs, but the soldier has to fight. The soldier can’t tell his general to come and fight in the front lines for him. We have to play our part. –- We have to fight with our enemy, our mind, which is attached to this creation. So naturally, meditation will help you to uproot yourselves from this creation.8
Maharaj Ji is reminding us that he puts us on the path, but we have to fight the battle with our mind. We have to respond to His pull.
And, as he often reminds us, we should never be calculated – we can’t think that because I’ve meditated two hours or two years, or twenty years, I deserve so much spiritual advancement. We are not to think of results – just do it to please him. We need to be sincere and honest and humble and patient. As Hazur Maharaj Ji wrote to a disciple:
There is a time for everything. Our duty is only to make continued and sincere efforts, and when the proper time comes and the Lord so ordains, the great gift comes to us.9
What does he mean when he says we need to make “continued and sincere efforts?” What is sincerity in meditation? It means honesty of mind, that we approach our practice with earnest devotion. We have to be true to our intent, true to our purpose; mould our lives so that everything we do points us in the direction of our destination. As Baba Ji often says, every action leads to its logical conclusion. Regrettably, however, we often prefer to live in our own illusions – we delude ourselves, and make constant excuses for not living up to our commitment – so we have to constantly rededicate ourselves to stay on track. Otherwise we take the easy way out or become complacent.
A satsangi once asked the master: “Could you explain what it means for us to be honest in our meditation?” He replied:
We have to be sincere with ourselves. We must live with ourselves rather than living for others. We have to put in honest and sincere efforts, and then leave the result to the Lord.10
The result is the great gift that will come to us when we are ready.
In other words, we need to make the effort sincerely, but the results, the outcome, is not in our hands. Only he knows the right time – it is when the Lord ordains – He knows what is best for us spiritually --- he doesn’t withhold his grace, but we may not always see how it is operating in our lives. He advises us to be patient. He knows when and how to give us the “great gift” of God-realization. We can never earn it except by humbly living as he has asked us to. When he wills it, he will pull us to him. It is all his will. As Maharaj Ji counselled:
He is the helmsman of your life now, and he has only your happiness and best interest at heart. By his mercy, he is bringing you to Him as swiftly as possible to give you all He has.11
It is all his gift.
Truth be told, sometimes we do get discouraged over time; but this is because we have too many expectations of ourselves. At first we are very idealistic and expect to make spiritual progress quickly. We don’t realize just how governed we are by our ego, our attachments, our desires. Instead of accepting ourselves and simply doing what he asks of us, starting from where we are, we become impatient and start analyzing ourselves and criticizing our efforts. We become too self-critical. Monitoring our actions and objective stock-taking can be helpful if it propels us to continue. But we often overdo it. This can become a negative indulgence – a form of self-pity.
Our goal may be to improve our efforts, but in fact, we often end up creating mental blocks and getting discouraged. Did I do enough meditation today? Did I have the right attitude? Why don’t I remember to do simran during the day, all day, why do I have all these bad habits? blah blah blah. And so – instead of thinking about the master, we are thinking about ourselves! How clever our mind is, to keep us off-track.
A Jewish mystic once counselled a man who was complaining about his lack of devotion and his failure to live the spiritual life. The master said:
He who has done ill and talks about it, and thinks about it all the time, does not remove that evil deed from his thoughts. He will certainly not be able to repent, for his spirit will grow coarse, and his heart will become stubborn. He may even be assailed by gloom and depression.
So the Master asked his disciple: What do you want to do? Rake the dirt this way, rake the dirt that way – it will always be dirt ! Have you sinned, or have you not sinned? – what difference does it make? In the time you are brooding over yourself, you could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven. You have done wrong? Then counteract it by doing right.12
We all do something wrong. But, the master is saying, don’t brood, just don’t do it again. Don’t get caught in a spiral of negativity, but take a positive step. Instead of wasting time and making yourself depressed in self-pity, string pearls for the delight of heaven – For us this means: Attend to your meditation! Make your simran a string of pearls for the delight of the master.
Hazur Maharaj Ji once said:
Anything you do to achieve your goal is not a waste – it’s a step forward... When we are trying to go back to the Father, all that we do to achieve that end is to our credit… Even when we fall, that’s not a waste…. Every step we take is a step forward.13
We need to remember this: That every step we take is a step forward. How many times has the Master said that if we take just one step towards him, he will take 100 steps towards us! He said that even our one step is sufficient for him to pull us.
How do we take those steps to him, to evoke his love, his grace? The Master talks of using every action of our day as a vehicle to prepare us for our next meditation – to create an atmosphere of purity twenty-four hours of the day. He said:
Whatever makes your mind pure is your meditation – good living, the right type of living, living by the teachings, having good relations with everybody, having a sympathetic nature – and also giving your time to meditation. That is all meditation, you see. Meditation is not just closing yourself in a room for a couple of hours and then forgetting where God is and where you are. That is not meditation at all. We have to live in meditation day and night. That is real meditation.14
Living in meditation day and night means being conscious of the Master all the time. Hazur Maharaj Ji said:
Why not always remain in the presence of the master? Be where the master is always there with you. Be in his presence always and always remain happy. We must bring ourselves to that level where we can always be with our master. Naturally if that gives you happiness, you’ll remain happy. You know the way, you know the path, you know the route, you know the destination, so you have to work for it. Happiness comes from within, it doesn’t come from anywhere outside at all. Happiness is always within. We have to help it to grow, grow, and grow from within, by meditation.15
To conclude, let us take solace in the words of Rumi:
O heart! Sit by one who knows the inner sound.
Take shelter under the tree that has fresh flowers.
Do not loiter aimlessly in this market of merchants,
But sit at the shop which deals in honey.16
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, # 27
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #520
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #536
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #538
- Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim; NY: Schocken Books, 1975; p. 309
- Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry (Selections); RSSB, 1997; p. 203.
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #546
- Light on Sant Mat, Letter #96
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #454
- Die to Live, 7th edition; introduction to section “Effects of Meditation,” p. 206
- Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man; Princeton Univ. Press, NJ, 2016: pp. 78–79
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #476
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #508
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #547
- Jalaluddin Rumi, quoted in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. 5; 2010 ed., p. 254