We All Have So Much in Common
We all have so much in common. We are all in the same predicament: conscious beings shaped into human form; prisoners of time, space and ego – which are all illusory. We are spiritual beings going through a human experience.
We seem to start off OK. As children we didn’t have too much to worry about. Our needs were taken care of by our parents and others in the adult world around us. An English poet wrote:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
upon the growing Boy.1
The saints can be painfully blunt about our critical situation. Sultan Bahu wrote:
I was bound and flung down:
banished from heaven, dumped on earth.
Bound by the dictates of my destiny,
I was exiled in an alien land.2
What an extreme situation he invokes. It’s as if he’s describing a war zone – a battle between mind, matter and soul – a tug-of-war. Well, if that is the case, something needs to change and we need a plan.
Now, if our body was unwell we would attend to it. We would visit the doctor, take the medicine. We might have to go to hospital, undergo an operation, recuperate, exercise, and change our diet and our lifestyle. We would do whatever it takes to get well.
If we had emotional or mental troubles, forgetting everything else, we would mull things over, discuss our problems with our friends and relatives and, perhaps, seek therapy of some kind. Mind and body would command us to attend to their selfish needs. There would be no getting away from it.
Now, doesn’t the same apply to our spiritual condition? Our soul feels its separation from the Lord, its source and natural element. We are in an alien environment and no matter what comforts we try to surround ourselves with, or whatever pleasures we turn to, there is no cure here at the material level. At this point Sultan Bahu gets very graphic:
I am a stranger, my home is very far away,
and my situation worsens
with every breath I draw here.3
Wow! One of the most heart-rending lines in the Sant Mat literature. This is the dark night of the soul. How can we live without feeling the presence of the divine? The world’s greatest poetry expresses the bitter-sweet anguish and longing for a love that has been lost.
However, it is with great good fortune that we have come to the human form, in which we have the discrimination and self-awareness to feel our situation and to seek a solution. We are full of potential. We may become aware, somewhere deep within, of our predicament, of not belonging, of feeling, as the title of the James Bond movie has it, that “the world is not enough.” How can we satisfy spiritual longing with material things?
We are like Alice in Wonderland, fascinated for a while by the strange characters around her. But, however curious and entertaining their behaviour, Alice eventually realizes that she misses her own home where she belongs and she starts to retrace her steps.
The Great Master wrote:
The number one sign of his being merciful to anyone is that he creates in him dissatisfaction with the worldly routine and a longing to seek the truth.4
This will turn us into seekers. And Hazur Maharaj Ji wrote:
This constant feeling of loneliness and missing something is in reality the unquenched yearning of the soul for its Lord. … This feeling has been purposefully put in the heart of man.5
It’s part of his long term plan to get us home.
The Lord automatically responds to the cry of the soul just as a mother responds to her crying child or a ship responds to another vessel in distress. Out of compassion the Master appears in our lives to uproot us – an even greater stroke of good fortune, which Kabir describes as the “propitious moment when the man of God came and graced my home.”6 As Hazur explains:
The saints take us out of this predicament by teaching us Nam Bhakti (devotion to Nam, Word or Shabd) – thus turning inward and Godward the tides which are now flowing outward. It is the nature of the mind to run after pleasure, but no pleasure in the world has the power to captivate it forever, so it flits from one object to another.7
The nature of the mind: one minute a creature of habit and the next craving novelty. Hazur continues:
When, however, it takes to Nam Bhakti and, ‘going in,’ tastes the bliss of Shabd, its fickleness is gone and it becomes steady. Guru bhakti and Nam bhakti are the means by which the mind is weaned from sensual pleasures and is attached to the Shabd, the Audible Life Stream, which ultimately takes us back to our origin – God.8
Shabd or the Audible Life Stream resounds in all of us. It sustains everything. Perhaps an echo of it can be caught at moments of concentration or elevation of the spirit. The poet Wordsworth described it:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of thought,
And rolls through all things.9
And in his play The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare interrupts the action with an interlude in which the character Lorenzo points out to his beloved Jessica how the heavenly orbs in the night sky sing like angels and says:
Such harmony is in immortal souls:
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.10
The Masters teach us how to hear the inner music and see the inner light so that we can immerse ourselves whenever we want. By ourselves we would never find the source – it’s under lock and key. Only the Masters know the combination. In the Bible St John says, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”11 Who will help us penetrate that darkness? Hazur said:
With whose grace do we gain admission to the Court of the Lord? Surely not by our own efforts. Alone we can do nothing. We can never, by ourselves, traverse the uncharted terrain of the inner Path. We owe everything to the immeasurable grace of the Master.12
How can we show our appreciation for these great blessings? It is said that when we are happy we are grateful, but more likely it’s the other way round. When we are grateful we are happy. Gratitude brings happiness. The best way of showing our gratitude is to make the most of our opportunities and privileges, and we know what that means:
- Practise living the Sant Mat way of life without compromise – no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts.’
- Practise concentrating at the eye centre – focusing the attention, our crown jewel.
- Practise repeating the names and listening to the Sound.
Soami Ji advised:
Hold fast to the Shabd with the Master’s Grace and with Master’s help make Shabd the mainstay of your life.13
On old sailing ships the mainstay supported the mast and held it firmly upright. Without its mainstay the mast would collapse and the ship would drift helplessly. Likewise, without the support of Shabd as the mainstay of our life we would drift aimlessly in this life.
Sant Mat is a minute to minute affair, a constant effort. We need to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into this project, diving deep to find those precious jewels. We may have made bad choices in the past which have brought us to our present situation, but now we can make positive choices and, for that, we need determination.
It’s not easy. The body doesn’t want to cooperate and distracts us with its aches and itches. The mind finds excuses. How often have we heard in satsang that we have to raise a fight against this powerful enemy, the mind. Blows will be given and blows will be received, we are told; we can’t escape that. Hazur wrote, “You are perfectly right in saying this path is difficult, but there is no alternative.”14
So we may as well knuckle down and enjoy the ride. In due course the licking of the dry stone of meditation will be transformed into the Song of Life, something not to be missed for anything. Hazur used to tell us that by and by the mind will take pleasure in it. The Master urges us to waste no more time and to start taking him seriously. We have no idea how much time we have left. Soami Ji wrote:
Why don’t you listen, dear soul, to the melody of the name? 15
We know we want to but how much? In October 1987 in Delhi, a questioner asked Hazur whether it was true that he is urgently calling us right now. And he replied:
What else are these meetings for? All these meetings, all these satsangs, all these questions, answers, are meant for that purpose, that we should do our best to come to that level where we can be pulled upward … The Shabd is calling every one of us.16
So, why do we hold back? Could it be that we are too preoccupied with analyzing our sense of self? As the poet, George Herbert put it:
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne… 17
It is this sense of “dust and sinne” that the Master says will be cured by meditation. Therefore, we should all listen to what he says and follow the method he proposes, and, as Soami Ji advises:
Why not submit to the Master?
You have spent this human life in confusion. …
Why don’t you seriously consider the fact
that this world is just an illusion? …
Radha Soami says: win over this enemy your mind,
and transform it into a friend.18
We all have a common need to follow the Master’s advice and find our way back home, where we belong.
- William Wordsworth, from Ode to Immortality
- J.R. Puri and K.S.Khak, Sultan Bahu, Bait 27
- Sultan Bahu, Bait 27
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, letter 28
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light, letter 10
- V.K. Sethi, Kabir, The Weaver of God’s Name, p.195
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat, 8th ed., p.6
- Light on Sant Mat, p.6
- William Wordsworth, “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”
- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 5, Scene 1
- King James Bible, The Gospel According to St John, 1:5
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live, 2nd ed., p.295
- Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry, 1st ed., p.87
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Divine Light, letter 58
- Sar Bachan Poetry, p.119
- CD of Q&A session with Hazur Maharaj Ji in 1987
- George Herbert, Love, published in The Metaphysical Poets (Penguin paperbacks, 1966)
- Sar Bachan Poetry, pp.213–215