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Our Relationship with the Divine

Choose the pir and regard him as the essence of the Way.
The pir is summer, others are the autumn month;
They are like night, the pir is the moon.
I have bestowed on young fortune (Husam-al-Din)
  the name of pir (old),
Because he is old in Truth, not old in time.
So old is he that he has no beginning:
There is no rival to such a unique pearl.
Truly, old wine grows more potent;
Truly, old gold is more highly prized.1
Rumi, Masnavi

The pir is the equivalent of the living master, a living reference to the inner form, the Shabd form of the master. For without Shabd, the creative power, no life is possible. It is the spiritual life force permeating the whole of creation, and the living master is the conscious embodiment of this Shabd. He is the pivotal point around which the perennial wisdom teachings revolve. It is through contacting such a spiritual teacher that the journey back to the source of the Divine starts, with the disciple’s first hesitant steps. The pir is to be regarded as “the essence of the Way.” He puts us on the path of self-realization and God-realization. He guides us on the way to the understanding that we are spiritual beings, yearning to become united with our true essence, our intrinsic spirituality.

Meeting the pir is the cosmic turning point, ending the descent of the soul into the creation and starting the ascent of its journey homeward back to the source of the creation. The pir is the be-all and end-all as spiritual guide, slowly revealing the essence of the spiritual teachings. Step by step, the disciple of the living master progresses on the path, slowly digesting the spiritual food. He partakes of this food in its purest form in his meditation. The meditation is his lifeline, and the disciple should never slacken his hold.

The status of the pir is unique. Rumi calls him “summer,” all light and bliss, not to be compared with others who are “the autumn month.” The metaphors he uses are images of light, to be contrasted with darkness. Then he makes a wonderful shift and draws full attention to his beloved disciple and successor Husam-al-Din, whom he calls “young fortune.” Husam-al-Din is the one who writes down his master’s teachings in the Masnavi, which are inspirations coming directly from the Divine.

Doing Maharaj Ji’s hukam (will or command) is the purpose of a Shabd disciple’s life, the objective he should always keep in front of him. The relationship between a master and his successor is the paramount example of what it means to have a relationship with the Divine. As individual disciples we’re building up a relationship with the inner Shabd master by submitting ourselves to the meditative process. It’s a lifelong process sustained by ceaseless daily efforts. Progress can be measured by a growing sense of maturity and by the extent to which we experience peace of mind. An undercurrent of spirituality is present in the disciple, which he or she can tap into any time of the day.

Because he is old in Truth, not old in time.
So old is he that he has no beginning:
There is no rival to such a unique pearl.
Truly, old wine grows more potent;
Truly, old gold is more highly prized.

Shabd masters bear witness to the Truth, and they give us a glimpse of this Truth in their teachings. The teachings are not only imparted by word of mouth, but also without words. Shabd practitioners imbibe the spiritual fragrance radiating from the living master, experiencing an atmosphere suffused with light and love. One’s consciousness expands, more in a subtle than a dramatic way. A deeper, intuitive understanding of the meaning of life and the interconnectedness of all things becomes embedded in one’s inner life.

The teachings of the masters are age-old and timeless, and so are those who are expounding them. Spiritual guides have no limitations and have risen above time and space. There is freshness in their approach to life, which is inspiring and invigorating. Every day is a new day, full of opportunities, and it’s up to us to adopt a positive attitude – with an underlying feeling of gratitude, because as Baba Ji so often emphasizes, “we get so much more than we deserve.”

Rumi’s wordplay on “old” is interesting and revealing. Some of us have literally grown old with our master and observed how the successor merges into the predecessor. The impact of the Guru’s message becomes deeper in the course of a lifetime. His words, his images, familiar one-line sayings, however inspiring and uplifting when you hear them for the first time, only gain in meaning and depth while we’re progressing on the path. In the Bible the Father and Jesus are referred to a couple of times as the “Ancient of Days,” having no beginning and no ending. This goes for the Shabd masters as well; they are old beyond time, speaking with God’s own voice. This is beautifully illustrated by the poet and philosopher Hazrat Inayat Khan, who is quoted in A Treasury of Mystic Terms:

Although the tongue of God is speaking through all things, yet in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for Him to speak through the lips of man. He has done this all through the history of man, every great teacher of the past having been this guiding Spirit living the life of God in human guise. [They are] known or unknown to history, always one and the same person.2

Since the beginning of time, there has been an unbroken line of “sons of Man” or “sons of God,” who have taken their allotment of souls back to the house of the Father. Owing to karma, to decisions we have taken in the past, we have missed that golden opportunity. Now is the time to grasp the opportunity, to realize that our Golden Age has finally dawned. In the words of Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh:

Sister, don’t you think this is a Golden Age when we are on the path, we are meditating, and we are doing our best to go back to the Father and lose our own identity? Isn’t this a Golden Age?3

  1. Rumi, Masnavi I: 2938-42 in A Treasury of Mystic Terms, Vol. 8, p. 365
  2. Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Sufi Message, Vol. 1, p. 14, in A Treasury of Mystic Terms, Vol. 8, pp. 394-395
  3. Die to Live, p. 279