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We are Just Spectators

When we get real conviction and realize that nothing belongs to us, that it is all a play and we are just spectators, then naturally you are not attached to anybody. So then you start feeling that vacuum within yourself. That detachment creates a vacuum within you; in a way that is the Lord preparing us for something to hold on to.1

In the above quotation Maharaj Charan Singh goes straight to the heart of our human predicament. As long as we fail to realize that “we are just spectators” and continue to identify with the roles we play in the game of life, we will suffer due to our attachments. In the course of innumerable lifetimes we’ve played every imaginable part many times over. Due to this identification we’ve become entangled in a complex karmic web, a maze of dead-end lanes with seemingly no way out. The only escape is when the realization dawns on us that “it is all a play” and has no more substance than a dream. In other words, we’ve begun facing reality, we’re waking up from an age old slumber, beginning to see with different eyes. In spiritual literature there are many references to mystics applying collyrium to the eyes of their devotees, enabling them to look at the world with fresh eyes.

We’re part of a show of deception, in which nothing is real and everything is false. Through the meditative practice a process of distancing and alienation from that which was once familiar takes place. We begin to feel we don’t belong here, to “realize that nothing belongs to us”, that we live in a foreign land and belong someplace else. We’re like “a stranger in Jerusalem”2 on our way to the spiritual realm where we truly belong. Hazur beautifully explains the effect of detachment which creates a vacuum within us, that it is “the Lord preparing us for something to hold on to.” No longer are we searching outside for something to lean on, but we turn inside to seek the support of that divine presence within. What is real has nothing to do with what is outside, things which used to be attractive become insipid, the emptiness, the vacuum within becomes increasingly filled with the desire to remain in an atmosphere of tranquility. To be in a state of receptivity and hold on to the shabd within.

Hazur gave his treasure house of teachings for almost forty years, but did we listen? It takes time and some maturity to really appreciate what an incredible legacy he left us. Continuing with the quotation from Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:

Unless we hold on to the shabd and nam within, it’s difficult to remove this vacuum, to remove this feeling of not belonging to anybody and of nothing and no one belonging to you. When you hold on to the shabd, then you get that bliss that you belong now, that your own reality and your real self belong to you and you are part and parcel of that. Then that feeling of loneliness or of that vacuum which often frustrates us, dejects us, vanishes. You see, this has to be. You can’t help it.3

Living a contemplative life in which our daily meditation is paramount, helps us adopt the spectator role. When our focus starts shifting within, our sense of clinging to outward things, activities and relations becomes less. A slow transformation takes place over the course of a lifetime of meditation, and the groove in the mind becomes indelible. Home becomes where you feel at home, where you feel that you belong. The shabd has been doing its work and you start reaping the results of your efforts, of your failures, of falling and getting up again. The initial eagerness to have inner experiences is being replaced by a deep abiding peace of mind and appreciation for the many gifts of grace. The pull from within is becoming so strong that you automatically lean within. What a wonderful feeling “that your own reality and your real self belong to you.” You realize you’re not alone, that He is always with you. A sense of gratitude floods your whole being and meditation becomes more than anything else an act of deep gratefulness.

Awareness of your true self becomes reality when the Sant Mat way of life takes precedence over everything else. Feeling his guiding hand in everyday life, living with your master, walking the path of life with him, experiencing the joy of simran going on even at the back of your mind – all these things are of immense help in focusing our attention within. This shift of attention brings with it a clarity of thinking and an increased awareness. Life’s drama keeps unfolding, but you’re not in it any longer with your whole being. You’re watching it from a spectator’s point of view. As Hazur explains:

Below the eye centre, you are one with the body and absolutely under the control of the mind, so you don’t feel separate from the body. But when the consciousness is brought back to the eye centre, and sometimes the soul gets released from the mind, then you feel that this body belongs to somebody else and that you are just a spectator watching this body moving about in the world, doing all sorts of things, and you are something different. The soul is just gaining its identity, its individuality. The individuality of the soul is being developed by spiritual practice.4

What an amazing spiritual perspective! Through our spiritual practice we can achieve a state of mind in which we start experiencing that we “are something different.” Coming into our own, getting closer to the core of our being – which is love – we truly begin to exceed the limits of the physical. But not only the physical, for the knot binding mind and soul together is being loosened, and the soul is gaining “its identity.” This is coming home. Coming home to our true home.

  1. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Question 444.
  2. Bible, Luke 24:18.
  3. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Question 444.
  4. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Question 347.