I Know the Way You Can Get
Looking at the world of today, we might say it is in turmoil, for we live in times in which intolerance, animosity and strife prevail. We live in times in which people distrust each other, have a fight, wage war against each other and kill each other. Almost daily the media confront us with news of people using mental or physical violence against fellow human beings in a struggle for existence, for power, for money, for freedom. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh repeatedly said that this turmoil is not specific to today’s world; unfortunately, conflicts are of all times, and Great Master (Maharaj Sawan Singh) gave the following explanation:
The world of today is characterized by tension, worry and anxiety. Apart from realized souls, no one is free from their impact, no matter what our walk of life. The notable absence of harmony in modern life comes from the spiritual bankruptcy of a society thrown into chaos by people whose souls are in distress. In recent history, humanity has made great strides in all spheres of material activity. People have explored the earth, water, air and outer space, but they have failed to explore their inner being and improve their spiritual lot.… People acquire knowledge of all kinds but remain ignorant of their soul, which is not only the basis of all knowledge, but the life that activates the body, mind and intellect.…
Not knowing our own soul and being separated from our source cause the constant strife that goes on within individuals. This then results in social unrest as people forget the ideal of the oneness of God and kinship among all their fellow beings. Discord among individuals, families, communities and nations then follows, throwing the whole world into turmoil.1
So the unrest in today’s world is just a reflection of our own inner restlessness, which exists because our mind is not under control. Conflicts in the world are the consequence of a constant inner strife within each one of us – a strife that goes on as long as we are not conscious of our soul, and do not feel united with the divine source from which everything has emanated.
Mystics and saints – realized souls – live among us to show us the reality of the world and ourselves. At the same time they point out to us that we have the possibility to liberate ourselves from all conflicts and suffering by realizing God. So they encourage us to search for God, for permanent happiness, peace and rest, within our own body – the peace and rest which we all long for and which are so hard to find in the world around us. They assure us that if we live in accordance with their teachings, our inner restlessness will be dispelled and we will be able to live in a loving and compassionate way, in harmony with everything in our environment, and respectful towards all living beings, because of the bliss and unconditional, divine love we will find in our hearts.
Mystics assure us that once we are conscious of that divine spark of love in us, our soul, we can become one with the divine source from which we have emanated. Becoming one with God leads to a different experience of this world and our life, they say. Instead of discord, chaos and conflict, we will experience unity, coherence and harmony. We will realize that everything has a function and purpose, that nothing is meaningless; that everything is permeated with divine love; that every creature, every form of life is an expression of that love. The simple fact that we are not conscious now of the presence of this all-pervading love is exactly our problem and the cause of all conflicts and suffering.
What does living in accordance with the teachings of the mystics and saints imply? It means that we should keep a lacto-vegetarian diet; we should abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and mind-altering drugs; we should lead a clean and moral life; and we should practise meditation daily under the guidance of a perfect spiritual Master. Only by following all these instructions can our mind become still and under control. Only then can we reach deep concentration during meditation. Only then can we become conscious of the divine love within us, which will reveal itself as light and sound. A Buddhist text expresses this idea beautifully:
There is a supreme concentration called peace and bliss
Which can universally save and liberate
all sentient beings,
Radiating a great light, inconceivable,
Causing those who see it to all be pacified.
This light emanated is called ‘good manifestation’ –
If any sentient beings encounter this light,
It will cause them to benefit, without fail:
by this way they can attain unsurpassed knowledge.…
It also emanates a light called ‘tranquility’:
This light can awaken the scatter-minded,
Causing them to detach from greed, anger, and folly,
With their minds unstirring and properly stabilized.
Abandoning all bad associates,
Meaningless talk and impure action,
Praising meditation and solitude:
Thus is this Light produced.
It also radiates a light called ‘wondrous sound’:
This light can awaken enlightened beings
And cause all voices heard in the world
To be to the hearer the voice of Buddha.2
So it is the practice of the spiritual teachings, the practice of meditation, that will dispel our inner restlessness, that will bring us peace, tranquility and bliss and will make us conscious of the presence of divine love within us and around us. Not instantly, but gradually, because the inner unrest and dominance of our mind is enormous. That becomes obvious when we start to practise. Only through practising will we realize that just sitting motionless is very difficult for us, that our thoughts disturb the simran, the repetition of the five holy names, very easily. Only by walking this spiritual path will we discover that we sometimes have problems with getting our priorities right, with molding our lives in accordance with the instructions of the Master. And only through practising will we become conscious of the fact that we are more strongly attached to things than we had ever imagined.
Becoming aware of our limitations and all kinds of weaknesses might be painful, for our imperfection and powerlessness become obvious. As a result, some of us start to lose confidence and faith in the path. At these moments it is important to realize that this awakening has a purpose and is of great value. For it helps us to become humble. It helps us to let go – to let go of all the things which gave us confidence before. This is the way for us to learn to let go and surrender ourselves to God, to surrender ourselves to the Master, so he can be our helper. Saint Tukaram has put this aptly in one of his poems:
I want to devote myself to you, but I lack love –
All my attempts to sit at your feet have come to naught.
For some reason my mind is out of control.
When I wish to do good deeds, I lack willpower;
When I wish to give in charity, I lack the means;
I do not know how to honour priests and guests.
I have no mercy for my fellow humans in my heart,
Nor can I do anything for them.
I do not know how to surrender to my Master,
Nor how to serve the saints.
I cannot perform rites and rituals,
Nor can I renounce the world.
I cannot go to dwell in forests,
Nor can I control my senses.
When I wish to make pilgrimages, my heart is not in it;
When I wish to make vows, I do not know how.
Even though I say that God resides within me,
The feelings of ‘me’ and ‘you’ still remain.
All these weaknesses have led me to surrender to you.
I have no more worries now, says Tuka …
And I have become your marked servant.3
So our seeming failure has a purpose. It helps us to grow on the path. It is a phase we have to go through. That’s why the Masters encourage us not to lose heart and to continue the practice. As Great Master says in a letter to one of his disciples:
Stilling the wild mind and withdrawing the attention from the body and concentrating it in the eye focus is a slow affair. A Sufi says: ‘A life-period is required to win and hold the beloved in arms.’…
Human nature is frail. It is full of weaknesses and one begins to realize the weaknesses of human nature when one follows Surat Shabd Yoga. Frailties present themselves in almost every conceivable manner and interfere in concentration. But with the help of the Master and the sound current they are overcome, one by one, with every inch of the withdrawal of the current from the body towards the focus. The frailty of human nature is giving place to strength, and when the attention has detached itself from the centres of sense organs, the senses cease to function in this material world haphazardly and are under control.…
Do not lose heart but fight courageously. The battle has just begun. Mind is not stronger than the sound current. The Master is with you. He is watching your every movement. He is prepared to fight your battles with you. Take him as your helper. Have faith in him. Fight the mind and you will succeed.4
Keep on practising the teachings of the Masters, says Great Master, and you will succeed. All the Masters, whether Hazur Maharaj Ji or Baba Ji, give us this guarantee. We don’t have to walk this path alone. Our Master is prepared to fight our battles with us; he is prepared to guide us, to help us and to support us. That’s why Hazur wrote to one of his disciples:
Do not worry but go on doing your duty in the world; and as far as meditation is concerned, it is not for us to judge what progress we are making. This only he knows. With our limited intellect, being unable to see ourselves as we are, we cannot have any idea of what the Lord is doing for us all the time and how and in what way he is making us fit to enter his palace. Our duty is to do our meditation every day with love and faith. The rest he will do himself.5
Like Hazur, Baba Ji emphasizes not to worry, but also that despite the enormous help of the Master we have to do our part in the process of stilling the mind and realizing God. For there is a channel of giving and a channel of receiving. The Master’s teachings, his guidance, and the continuous showering of his grace and blessings constitute the channel of giving. Listening intently to his teachings, practising his instructions faithfully, remembering him constantly with devotion, remaining in complete obedience to him, and rendering service with utmost dedication in thought, word and deed – these constitute the channel of receiving, of becoming receptive to his grace and bounty, of putting our cup right-side-up so it can be filled with his love and grace. As Baba Ji has told us, the channel of giving is always open. We have to take care that the channel of receiving is not blocked.
That’s why Baba Ji keeps hammering on the basics, encouraging and urging us to keep remembering God, to practise meditation, and to take shelter at the feet of our Master. For in this world in turmoil, becoming conscious of the presence of God and drinking his divine love is our greatest, our vital need.
Hafiz, a Sufi Master, summarizes our situation – our vital need and the one way we can satisfy it:
I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:
Your face hardens, Your sweet muscles cramp. Children become concerned About a strange look that appears in your eyes …
That is why all the Great Ones speak of The vital need To keep Remembering God …
That is why Hafiz says: Bring your cup near me, For I am a Sweet Old Vagabond with an Infinite Leaking Barrel of Light and Laughter and Truth that the Beloved has tied to my back.
Dear one, Indeed, please bring your heart near me. For all I care about Is quenching your thirst for freedom!
All a sane man can ever care about
is giving Love!6
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, My Submission, 5th ed., pp.31–32
- Avataṁsaka Sūtra (The Flower Ornament Scripture) as quoted in Buddhism, Path to Nirvana, p.258–259
- Tukaram: The Ceaseless Song of Devotion, p.88
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, letter 210
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light, letter 274
- I Heard God Laughing, Renderings of Hafiz, Daniel Ladinsky, tr., pp.81–83