The Value of Tears
Once initiated on the path leading to God-realization by a true master, a disciple’s life is a constant ebb and flow: at times being in the physical presence of the master and at times – actually most of the time for the majority of us! – being away from him physically. Day and night, summer and winter, joy and sorrow, presence and separation...
All mystics explain to us that this separation is essential to burn away the impurities in the disciple’s heart and make him or her fit for union with the Lord. The heart must be absolutely pure to contemplate the face of the Beloved. Now, there are times when this physical separation from the master doesn’t impinge too much on our daily lives. We get on with our daily routine and feel fairly content. Or our inner connection is strong and we feel at peace.
But there are other times, and they come out of the blue, as it were, when an intense longing for the master’s outer darshan arises in us. The heart is gripped with nostalgia, tears flow, and nothing in the world seems to assuage the pain. This is the longing that forces us to seek him within, to seek the inner darshan. In Philosophy of the Masters, the Great Master explains that this longing is created because our soul has not been able to succeed in getting what it actually longs for, and that just as a fish is in anguish without water, our soul is intensely restless because of its separation from the Lord. This longing is a pre-requisite for meeting the Lord.1
During these times of heartache, we see more clearly the illusory nature of our small self; we become more aware of our attachments and desires, of the karmic burden we carry – all veils hiding Reality.
Since every disciple has to go through this necessary cleansing process, much of what Baba Jaimal Singh writes to the Great Master can be of comfort to us:
You write that for darshan you are writhing like a fish out of water. His will is like that. When true love for the Satguru is felt inwardly, only then does true yearning for darshan develop. Please understand that even with hundreds of years of bhajan, one does not become so pure as one does with true yearning for the Satguru's darshan. That is why the disciple is separated from the physical form of the Satguru: because he does not become pure so quickly through doing bhajan as through true love for the Satguru and true longing for his darshan...
True yearning for darshan is the key for meeting the Lord. The mind’s dirt is shed only when these means become fully ingrained in the mind. Only then can the disciple perceive the Shabd-dhun form of the Satguru. So please try to listen to the Shabd-dhun – then the Dhun itself will take you to your home. He who has true longing for the Satguru in his mind has accomplished everything.2
He also explains that whatever is happening is being done by the current of the Shabd, that if our benefit lies in pleasure, the master will send us pleasure, and if it lies in pain, he will send us pain. Therefore “look upon pain and pleasure as the same,” he advises.
In The Book of Wisdom, the Sufi mystic Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah gives the same message:
Sometimes He makes you learn in the night of contraction what you have not learned in the radiance of the day of expansion. You do not know which of them is nearer to you in benefit... Sometimes darknesses come over you in order that He make you aware of the value of His blessings upon you.3
When asked if the desire and longing for the master is the same as darshan, Hazur Maharaj Ji replied:
Yes. Even if you don’t get the opportunity to see the master but the real longing and desire is there to see him, you will get the same effect... Ultimately what counts is the love. You may not have that longing even in the presence of the master – the darshan becomes just mechanical, meaningless. And you may have a very deep longing and desire to be with him even when you are a thousand miles away from him – that may have much more value.4
Again and again, the master reminds us that the purpose of the physical presence is to create love and devotion in us and ultimately to convert it into the real inner darshan, which is the real love and devotion. Hazur would often quote from the Beatitudes in the Bible: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Ultimately, what is required of us on the spiritual path is complete surrender to the Shabd master, in other words to the Divine Will. Sultan Bahu says, “My Master has sown in my heart the jasmine of God’s Name... He himself moulds me into his own real Self.”5 But transforming us from beings steeped in the world to true lovers of God is not ‘tea at auntie’s’. In one of his poems, Sultan Bahu graphically describes what this moulding entails:
Like a piece of iron that is to be forged into a fine sword,
you must bear the Blacksmith’s
unrelenting hammer blows.
Like a comb, you must be finely sawn
before you can caress the Beloved’s locks.
Like henna leaves, you must be ground into powder
before you can adorn the Beloved’s palms.
Like cotton, you must endure being carded
before you are woven into a turban for his head.
You will only taste the nectar of divine love
when you become a true lover of God, O Bahu.6
So the acid test of our spiritual maturity is our stability of heart, our total acceptance of what He gives us, our recognition of His grace in whatever happens to us. In the words of Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah, “If when given something, the giving expands you, and if when deprived of something, the deprivation contracts you, then take that as proof of your immaturity and the insincerity of your servanthood.”7
- Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. 2, pp. 75-76
- Spiritual Letters, p. 29
- The Book of Wisdom (Paulist Press, tr. Danner, 1978), Aphorisms #150 & 198
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Q #94
- J.R. Puri & K.S. Khak, Sultan Bahu, Bait (poem) #20
- Ibid, Bait #162
- The Book of Wisdom, Aphorism #147