We Don’t Belong Here Download | Print

We Don’t Belong Here

We don’t belong here. We have forgotten where we have come from, but we don’t belong here. Such is the state of forgetfulness in which the Master finds us when he comes to rescue us – God alone knows where from. This is one of the great surprises of the saints’ teachings: we don’t belong here. Basically, what the Master suggests to us when we meet him is that we need to go back home, to go back to what we are in reality – to recover our true identity, that of a spiritual being going through the human experience, as he tells us. Maybe we thought that ending up on a spiritual path would enable us to become wiser, to be happy, perhaps to get “enlightenment,” even to change our way of life, but certainly not to change our identity. Yet this is precisely what the spiritual path requires: letting go of what we call “my identity.”

But in reality, to regain what we call that “other identity,” we have to accept losing the present one. Because what we’re calling today “identity” or “personality” – and unfortunately we tend to confuse identity and personality – is but a manifestation of our ego, a manifestation of the mind. And in fact it is the mind which drags us away from our spiritual identity, which takes us away from the inner path leading to our true nature.

Mirabai shares with us her experience and what she feels in the depths of her being. With Mirabai, as with all the saints, there is no pretence. Only the saints have this degree of authenticity. And this is precisely what she is describing: this identity, this original state which was once ours, along with the one we’ve drifted towards to reach where we are today.

Without the Lord, to me this township
  appears desolate and dreary.

The swan whose repast once
Was shining pearls divine
Now after millet runs.
Leaving the crystal lake
Of bliss that was his home,
He has now come to take
Abode in a muddy pond.
His plumage once sublime
Is now smeared with slime.

Soon the pond will be dry,
And then it will be time
For him to leave, and fly.

Mira’s dear Lord, when
Will your arm extend,
And with much love and grace
Take her in your embrace?1

In the first two lines, as in most of her poems, Mira tells us that her existence is meaningless if she is not in direct contact with the Lord, with her Master. It is truly a constant theme with her, and she describes the overwhelming pain of absence. As always, there is the simplicity which is characteristic of the saints: a few words, and we understand where they are at, but most of all, we understand where we are at….

The simplicity with which she expresses this pain gives it such power that we, who are so complicated, could almost doubt its authenticity. So we turn to the Master to find out what it really means, because Mira’s words appear so strange to us. Like this question put to Huzur Maharaj Ji:

Q. Sir, this pain of separation, the pain that drives Mira, was it a real pain or only a way of expressing it in poetry?

A. This real pain never comes unless love is there. With the mystics, their heart speaks. It is not the tongue that speaks, it is not the pen that writes; it is the heart that speaks, it is the heart that writes. And the mystics just express all that. Without going through the pain, nobody knows the pain. And that pain can be experienced only with the Lord’s grace. When he pulls from within, then this is what happens – what Mira has written. Unless he pulls from within, there is no pain.2

So after hearing this, we might think that we are miles away from experiencing such feelings, from feeling such longing, such ache caused by separation.

And yet, if we think about it, why did we decide one day to follow the teachings of a Master? Why did some of us ask for initiation and commit ourselves to this path? This feeling of separation, of nostalgia, of the pointlessness of one’s existence – we’ve all probably experienced it at one time or another, in one way or another. Before meeting the Master, before he gave us the keys to the path, these feelings were possibly more hazy and may have led us to perceive life, even our own existence, as being absurd.

Now, this feeling of separation – we experience it with regards to the Master who has granted us the gift of Nam. This feeling of something missing drives us to seek him where he truly is – within us. This very feeling is the beginning of reconnecting with the identity which we aim to rediscover.

Of course, we cannot compare the words of a saint like Mirabai with those of a popular singer, but one occasionally comes across some beautiful lyrics which have a spiritual connotation and inspire us in our quest, as is the case with a popular rock song written by Roger Hogdson of the British band Supertramp, “Lord, is it mine?”3 The songwriter talks about the bond that we’re trying to create. Addressing the Lord, he tells him about the need he has to be alone sometimes – a need we all experience, the need to find a quiet and private “place,” a place we can truly call our own and where we can seek refuge from the mayhem of the world. He says, “You show me there’s a silent place that I can call my own,” and the chorus line of the song is his plea, or maybe his prayer to the Lord: “Is it mine, Lord, is it mine?”

The Master keeps on repeating that the solution, the answer to this yearning, lies within ourselves, in solitude, in introspection, in meditation. That place which belongs to us, which we can really call our own, is within us. It is wonderful to think that this refuge, this comfort, but also this path leading to the “Being,” in the true sense of the word, is within arm’s reach, so to speak. No need to travel the length and the breadth of the world, no need to expend a massive amount of energy. This place which is ours cannot be closer to us. As Baba Ji often reminds us, sit down, close your eyes and you’re there.

Coming back to the song, the writer says that he is tired of the battles of life. These battles seem to be such a waste of time. Our only hope, he says, would seem to be the Lord: “And there's many times it seems that you're the only hope in sight.”

Our life as human beings – this experience that we’re going through in the human form – is determined by our karmas. It matters little what different types of karma we have to face; we definitely have to face them. We have to face what we call pleasures and what we call troubles. Of course, when we’re going through what we consider nice karmas, we don’t complain. We don’t say anything. At most, we thank our lucky stars, but more often than not, we take the credit for these pleasant things. However, when we’re going through the consequences of karma we qualify as being negative, and therefore unpleasant from our viewpoint, we realize that this world, despite its beauty, is only a land of suffering where the machinery of karma is constantly working, a kind of factory for settling accounts. This karma tosses us about, like coconut shells in the ocean, until finally, just when we think that death will be our deliverance, we find that the product of this combination of cause and effect will bring about our return to this world in one form or another. And then, it all starts again….

Ultimately, we realize that we never win anything. We are programmed by this system of cause and effect; but if we open our eyes, then we notice that none of this exists. All is futile. The daily battles we fight in this world will never come to an end. We will never win a battle because every action we do has a consequence that leads us to another action, which in turn has a consequence, and so on. The Masters tell us it is a huge wheel that rolls over everything in its path, crushes everything, and leaves no way out.

So, like the songwriter, we ask ourselves the question: “O Lord, is it mine?” Will I soon be with you and freed from this system? And like the songwriter, we too want to know how to feel the Lord’s sweetness through the day, experience ourselves the love that shines around us. “When will your arm extend?” says Mira. We sense this divine love, but our present state doesn’t let us experience it intimately – just a few glimpses perceived here and there. However these few glimpses exhilarate us. So when will this love be ours? When and how shall we be constantly connected or, rather, bathed in this love that nevertheless surrounds us? How do we reach that state, how do we rediscover this identity?

The song ends with these words: “We know what we have to do.” Maybe the songwriter had been given an answer? But this is no concern of ours – we have been given an answer and we know what we have to do, which is to carry out the Master’s instructions to the letter. Nothing else.

Obviously, as Mira says, the plumage of the swan which we really are is right now sullied with slime. So then – the ultimate paradox – we project what we are onto the Master and we go as far as thinking that he is like us, instead of doing the opposite and trying to be like him, to identify with him. We think that his plumage is covered with mud like ours is, as Mira says. But if we think that, it is because the Master comes down to our level; otherwise it is highly likely that we wouldn’t be able to bear being in his presence. Our concept of love is poles apart from what love truly is. It’s because we lack experience in the field of love. So we have to seek advice and the Master goes to great lengths to explain to us what true love is.

Just as he replied to this question a disciple put to him:

Q. Maharaj Ji, can you tell us how we can love our family and fellow man without feeling or being attached to them? How can we love them and at the same time be detached from them?

Here is what the Master answered:

Sister, when we love everybody, we are not attached to anybody. Loving everybody means loving that power which is in everybody, and not just in certain individuals or in one particular person or creature. We should try not to justify our weaknesses by saying that we are loving his creation when we are loving one particular person.

I shall tell you a little portion of a mystic’s example, written in his lifetime. He was going down the street, followed by some of his disciples. He always used to remain in devotion and love of the Lord, in his own mood. As they were walking, a dancing girl came happily dancing towards them in the street, in her lax manner, and he just kissed her and said, “Oh, how beautiful is the Lord.”

Because the master kissed her, his disciples also kissed her and said, “O, how beautiful is the Lord.” The master saw that. As he went a little farther, he saw a blacksmith hammering a molten hot plate. The master went up to that hot plate and kissed it and said, “Oh, how beautiful is the Lord,” but the disciples held back. Then he said to them, “Where is your love for the Lord?” Sometimes we just try to justify our weaknesses in this way and we say that we are not loving the person, we are just loving the Lord in that person. For everybody, the real attachment should be to nam or shabd, for that alone attaches us to the Lord.4

So here we are, we interpret what he says, what he does, what he is, according to our own criteria; but that’s because we do not have that real perception of what he is. Our way of loving is the one that fits our criteria, but unfortunately not his.

What do we need to do to truly love him? The one thing that we never stop wondering about, so limited is our understanding: what must we do in order to be a good disciple?

The reply Hazur Maharaj Ji gave to this question was very simple, very direct and very easy to understand!

Q. Maharaj Ji, from a master’s point of view, what are some of the characteristics of a good disciple?

A. Well, I don’t know who is worthy to go back to the Father or who is worthy to be his best disciple. But one who stands firm on the principles of Sant Mat and is attending to his meditation and living in the will of the Lord, naturally he’s the right type of disciple.5

We know what we have to do.

Now let us go back to the words of Mira:

Soon the pond will be dry,
And then it will be time
For him to leave, and fly.

Mira’s dear Lord, when
Will your arm extend,
And with much love and grace
Take her in your embrace?

The Master’s promise is that if we meditate, the swamp of our karma will dry up. In reality, the game is on and the ball is in our court. We just have to sit down and close our eyes … and it is time, it is high time for us to be going home. It’s time to be leaving this place. The Master repeatedly tells us, “What are you waiting for?” And when he asks us, “What are your priorities?” he’s really telling us, “Come on, hurry up!”

As soon as we do see or understand, in a word, experience what the Master’s true identity is, then we will merge in him; and when we merge in him, we will rediscover our true identity. One goes hand in hand with the other, or rather One with One.

As we’ve seen earlier, “We know what we have to do.” And as Mirabai says: he will take us so tightly in his “embrace” that we will become One.

  1. V.K. Sethi, Mira, The Divine Lover, RSSB, p. 92
  2. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Q. 89
  3. Album:“Breakfast in America” by the band Supertramp
  4. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Q. 365
  5. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Q. 558