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Our Positive Essential Nature

The spiritual path is positive in its very essence. Our common essence as human beings is goodness. Maharaj Charan Singh says: “Love is always there. Potentially every soul is God... So love is always there in every soul.”1 He explains that everyone is the Lord and when we know our reality, “the soul shines and becomes pure, we become the Father, we become the Lord.”2 As spiritual beings, we are positive at the core of our being – this is our intrinsic nature. The love that is within our soul is the most positive force in the universe.

The teachings of all mystics in every religion explain that we have this common essence, that it is within everything, and that it is part of the divine law of the universe. “The Golden Verses,” from the tradition of Pythagoras in the 6th century BCE, tells us:

When you have mastered these teachings,
  you will know the common essence of immortal gods
  and mortal humans; you will know how this essence
  runs through all things, how it rules all; you will recognize,
  as divine law demands, the same nature in all.3

The Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard calls this fundamental essence, this treasure within us, the buddhahood. He reflects:

One reason why this life is so precious is that all beings have within them what is called ‘tathagatagarbha’ in Sanskrit, the essence of, or potential for, buddhahood, which is the fundamental nature of all conscious beings. That nature, temporarily obscured by confusion and disturbing emotions, is like a treasure buried within us. The purpose of practicing the Buddhist path, or ‘Dharma,’ is to remove those obscurations. We are not trying to manufacture the state of buddhahood but simply to reveal what is already there...The qualities acquired on the way to enlightenment are not fabricated. They reflect the gradual reactivation of our nature, like the brilliance of a jewel covered in mud that is revealed gradually as the dirt is removed.4

We are like a jewel that is embedded in mud, but we are not the mud itself. As we do our spiritual practice, the mud gets cleaned off and the brightness of the jewel shines through. The jewel has always been there, but it was hidden under the mud. Ricard quotes the Buddhist master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye who says:

Getting butter from milk is only possible because milk already contains cream. No one ever made butter by churning water...Likewise, the quest for perfect enlightenment only makes sense because buddha-nature is already present in every being. Without that nature, all efforts would be futile.5

Maharaj Charan Singh also explains that everything is already within us, that we are already filled with light and sound. The purpose of our spiritual practice is to awaken our consciousness so that we can perceive who we really are. He says:

You see, nothing is put within us at the time of initiation which is not already there. Everything is there; we are just brought in touch with that sound. The soul is within, the sound is within…There is nothing but light, but unless we are within that realm from where we can see the light, we see only darkness. So everything is already here. We just have to come here to see that light.6

The positive qualities of our nature are always present, but they are latent until we recognize them, become familiar with them, and activate them through what Baba Ji calls the meditative process. Soami Ji explains that our truth, our real essence is love, in the same way that the Master’s true essence is also love.

... the true Master is the real form of love.
In fact, your own real form is also love,
so you may accept all beings to be of the same essence.7

We come in contact with our real form, our real self, as we cultivate awareness of it. We have to make time to develop this awareness of our deep and positive inner being. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a contemporary Buddhist monk, says:

Our very own awareness is itself fundamentally pure and good. The only problem is that we get so caught up in the ups and downs of life that we don’t take the time to pause and notice what we already have. Don’t forget to make space in your life to recognize the richness of your basic nature, to see the purity of your being and let its innate qualities of love, compassion and wisdom naturally emerge. Nurture this recognition as you would a small seedling. Allow it to grow and flourish.8

When we get caught up in the ups and downs of life, it is like living in a place that is always cloudy. We think the gray clouds are the sky and we don’t realize that there is a luminous blue sky behind the clouds. But then one day the clouds part and we are able to see the bright blue sky and the brilliant shining sun. This is like the awakening we experience on the spiritual path. Our lives can sometimes seem gray like the clouds and we get mired down in our difficulties, but behind the clouds is the infinite blue sky of the Shabd within us that, as Baba Ji says, is ringing twenty-four hours a day. This blue sky, this Shabd, is our real substance.

Maharaj Charan Singh describes this process as coming to an understanding that we are not the dirt we are mired down in. We discover that the dirt is something different and we realize our origin in the sky.

You see, there is water in the clouds in the sky, but when it rains the water comes onto the ground. It merges into the dirt. It stagnates; it gives off a foul smell. It has forgotten its identity. It is thinking itself part and parcel of this dirt. But when a hot wind touches that water, it evaporates. Then it realizes: The dirt is something different from me; unnecessarily I was thinking of myself as part and parcel of the dirt. It realizes its origin – it is a cloud in the sky. It goes back and merges into the sky, the clouds. That is the condition of everybody’s soul.9

This happens through the meditative process as we begin to realize our true identity. We become aware that we are one with the Lord, and we lose the illusory identity of a separate self. The mud of a separate identity is washed away and we come to an understanding that we are part of the Lord. Maharaj Charan Singh explains:

The Lord is one. When we merge back into him, we become the Lord. We become a part of him. A drop has its own identity when it is in the mud. When it leaves the ground by means of evaporation, it still has its own identity, separate from the ground and separate from the cloud. But when it merges back into the cloud it becomes the cloud.10

When we expand our horizons through meditation, we are able to see past our limited separate identity. Rumi says we go beyond ourselves and even beyond the sky to a place of ancient light.

When you go just a little beyond yourself,
  past these skies, you will see
  the king of truth and meaning –
  and his banners and pavilions
  made of ancient light.11

This ancient light is the connection between the soul and the Lord. Maharaj Charan Singh, using this metaphor of ancient light, explains that we are the rays of the sun and are not really separate from the Lord, we are of the same essence.

There is no difference between the rays and the sun. The rays come from the sun and merge back into the sun. So the soul comes from God and merges back into the same God. Potentially every soul is God, because its origin is the Creator...The ray has its root in the sun. It comes from the sun and merges back into the sun.12

He says this light is within us, and it doesn’t come from outside of us. We want to develop the level of consciousness through our meditative process in which we have direct perception of this light.

The light, of course, is there, and it does not come from anywhere outside; but we have to develop that consciousness to open that eye which sees that light...We are all rays of the same light and we come from that light and we have got to go back to merge into that same light.13

The rays are not separate from the sun, the drops are not separate from the ocean, and we are not separate from the Lord. The illusion is our sense of separation. We aren’t separate and never have been. Our only problem is our lack of awareness of who we actually are. Maharaj Charan Singh says, “Unless we know who we are, how can we know who God is?”14 The meditative process helps us to know our real selves, and then to know God. We are all potentially God, but we have to realize our potential.

Potentially every soul is God, but we have to realize that potentiality and become God, to be one with the Father.15

Unless we realize our potential, we are living in the realm of illusion, where we believe that the separation is real. Soami Ji describes this realization as letting go of the parts of ourselves that are unaware of our divine origin, the parts that are fragmented and are not connected to the oneness of our common positive essential nature.

This world, this alien land,
  is a game of body, mind and senses.
Discard these coverings,
  these extraneous fragments of your Self.16

He explains that our real self is our soul, the infinitely positive aspect of our internal being. He pleads with us to tune into it so that we know who we really are. And knowing who we really are is the essence of the path. It is knowing God.

Since your own real form is soul,
  you should follow his trail of Shabd.
The Master’s form is in your eyes –
  if only you would open your inner vision!
The Master’s Shabd resounds in your ears –
  if only you could hear him calling from the heavens!
This is the essence of the path, says Radha Soami.17

The positive Creative Power is our common essence, the substance of all life. The mystics come into this world to awaken us to this because we have forgotten our true identity. If only we would open our inner vision, if only we would hear the call from the infinite, boundless blue sky of ancient light. If only we would know the positive nature that is our real self so that we can truly know God.

  1. Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 265
  2. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 232
  3. Translation by Dr. D. Markus based on H.C. Thom, The Pythagorean Golden Verses with Introduction and Commentary. Leiden: Brill 1995, p. 183
  4. Matthieu Ricard, On the Path to Enlightenment, p. 9
  5. On the Path to Enlightenment, pp. 11–12
  6. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Q # 20
  7. Soami Ji, Sar Bachan Poetry, p. 103
  8. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey through the Bardo of Living and Dying, pp. 252–253.
  9. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 260
  10. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 234
  11. Farida Maleki, tr. Jalal al-Din Rumi (Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, Selections), p. 21
  12. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 227
  13. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 266
  14. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 261
  15. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Q # 227
  16. Soami Ji, Sar Bachan Poetry, p. 129
  17. Sar Bachan, p. 21