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The Role of the Living Master

We’re told that it’s the teachings of the saints we need to focus on, not the saints themselves. But our relationship with our Master is central to our practice of the teachings. While our real Master is the Shabd, Maharaj Charan Singh says that “unless we find someone in whom the word has taken its abode and he connects our soul with that word, we cannot be brought in touch with that word within.”1

Hazur always used a beautiful image to describe the relationship between a Master and his disciples: “The mystics just come as shepherds.”2 He continues:

Souls are marked by the Father. The saints come and whistle, and all their allotted souls automatically collect around them with one excuse or another. They don’t have to go searching for them. The marking is done at a different level. The shepherd recognizes his own sheep.

Many of us have experienced how wonderful it is to be around the Master in person. We know, theoretically, that his real form is the Shabd, but when we are around him physically, it is usually a compelling experience. We want to be like him – as blissful, as relaxed, as loving. He inspires us to want to meditate. He makes us believe we can do it – he has more faith in us than we have in ourselves. That’s as it should be. It’s the shepherd’s job to bring his sheep home. He whistled for us, and we came running.

For those of us who are initiated, our life now is dedicated to falling in love with him. Because ultimately, our love for the form of the Master will culminate in love for his real form, which is Shabd. That’s what Hazur wished for us, as he’s quoted on the final page of the book Legacy of Love. “May your love of the form culminate in love of the formless,” he says in a handwritten note.

Hazur explains:

Mystics, with the help of shabd and nam, detach us from the whole creation and permanently attach us to the shabd, to the divine Father within. This is his divine law, cosmic law, by which he pulls us to his own level from the creation, which he has created, which he has designed. Only he can pull us back to his own level.… He worships himself through us.3

To do this, the Master sneaks past our defenses, by any means necessary. He uses charm, jokes, stories, straight talk, love talk, down-to-earth talk – whatever persuades us that it’s worth our while to do what we signed up to do at initiation: 2 ½ hours of simran and bhajan every day; being vegetarian; abstaining from alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products; and living a moral and ethical life.

Maharaj Sawan Singh, in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I, quotes the saint Maulana Rum: “The desires of the mind will never die / without the perfecting hands of the Master.”4 The Master molds us, from the moment of our birth. And then our meditation softens us so that we become more pliable in his hands.

Maharaj Charan Singh assures us that, in the beginning, what matters most is the sincerity of our effort in meditation. He once said to someone who asked him about our “low effort” compared to our high goal:

Let us at least put in low effort. Then automatically it will become high effort. With our sincerity, with our honesty in meditation, our quality of meditation increases. It’s not the quantity which matters so much; it is the quality of meditation. So, our quality will become purer and purer, better and better.5

The Master helps the soul to develop spiritually, but not from a material, worldly point of view. We tend to think of grace in terms of satisfying our worldly desires and ambitions, but it’s not the Master’s job to find us parking spaces or good jobs. He’ll protect us as much as our karmas allow him to, but he’s concerned with our spiritual development, not with making us happy or giving us what we think we want. Hazur writes, “He gives the source of strength to the soul to spiritually develop within so that it is transported to the level of the Father and gets released from the mind and thus from birth and death.”6

Hazur once said about our need for a living Master:

We are so much under the sway of the mind, of the senses, that unless there is somebody to shake us from the roots, to take us back to [God], we can never reach him. We are in a deep, deep sleep. We are all dead. We need somebody to put life in us. We need somebody to give us that eye with which we can see inside; we need somebody to give us that ear through which we have to hear, somebody to give us that living water by which we have to come back to life again from death.7

The Master’s job is to wake us up, to bring us back to life. The Lord has charged him with coming to our level and giving us the teachings in a way that we can understand them, and then helping us to practice them. Of course, he does much more for us inside, which we are rarely aware of until we realize his presence within. In any case, what he does for us “inside” is not our concern. Hazur once said that the disciple’s “own master will do everything for the disciple. What happens internally is not the concern of the disciple at all.”8

This is one reason why Baba Ji tells us not to analyze or calculate, to just go with the flow and enjoy whatever comes our way. When we look at a watch, we don’t need to know how all the cogs or chips work underneath the watch face – we just need to know what time it is.

As Baba Ji reminds us, our part of the bargain is just to stay in his will. He says sit down; we sit down. What we need to see, what we need to hear, what we need to know – we don’t have to bother about all that. We’re not capable of understanding the inner workings of what’s happening, so why even go there? He tells us not to worry, not to analyze or calculate; just enjoy life and stay positive. He tells us that something good comes out of everything. Everything the Lord does is for a purpose, and if we just learn to stay in his will, we’ll see that automatically things start falling into place.

All we need to do is attend to our simran and bhajan, because that’s all we really can do; the rest of this path is literally unfathomable – our mind cannot understand what the master does for us, cannot understand how we’re being dragged, or pushed, from illusion to illumination.

The Master makes us fall in love with him so that we will want to do what he asks of us. He is literally lovable: full of life and mischief, bursting with vitality, and always telling us what we need to hear in the here and now. He often says that his job is to confuse us. And he does! Remember what Hazur said: that the Masters come to shake us from our roots, to wake us up because we are in a deep sleep. Here, now, the Master shocks us, to wake us up, to make us see things differently, to take us beyond our comfort level, our habitual way of thinking and reacting, to move us beyond mere concepts of spirituality into the reality of it, the guts of it.

The teachings are not some ancient dead philosophy; they’re alive and vital. But for those shocks of truth that we get from the Master to take root and have an effect, we must put the path into practice. Saints tell us that everything a disciple is to receive from his Master and everything that the Master has to give is through meditation. Just begging for grace is not going to cut it.

Hazur has told us:

Without meditation you cannot create love even for the physical body of the master. Meditation helps you to develop it; it helps you to grow it. If you say you love the master without meditation, you are just deceiving yourself. It is just an emotional deception. In real love, we feel an experience, and then this turns us inward to the level of the shabd master within. Then we feel more love for the outside master also. And that love is real. Otherwise, today we feel love, tomorrow we feel absolutely dry and vacant. We are trying to convince ourselves that we are in love, but probably we are not. Experience within gives your love depth.9

And then he says something very powerful: “Meditation takes our roots very deep in love; nobody can shake us then.”10

Masters don’t ask us to fake anything. Hazur tells us that his Master (the Great Master) “used to say that when you love the master as a brother, as a friend, then automatically you will realize that he is within. Have as much faith in him as a brother and as a friend, and then, in your practice, you will realize what the real situation is.”11

Baba Ji has been talking a lot about appreciation. Normally we put everything into slots of good or bad, because we don’t understand that everything the Lord does for us has a purpose. Later, maybe we realize what the purpose was. This is how we can live in the Lord’s will: by appreciating everything in our life, however it appears to us at the time. If we concede that the Lord knows what’s best for us, then everything has a place; even pain and hardship become part of our learning process, part of our spiritual growth.

The Master is a crucial link in the chain of our spiritual evolution. It is he who helps us, through our meditation, to connect with the presence of the divine. In Sar Bachan Poetry, Soami Ji explains the real deal to a disciple impatient to see the real form of the master within:

Unique and wondrous is my real form,
  which no one can perceive until I lend a hand.

Practise meditation and subdue your mind….

Have patience, keep the company of Saints
  and I shall purify you through my grace.

I shall not rest till I show you that form –
  why are you in such a hurry?

I carry your burdens in my own heart
  so that you may be free of worries
  and nurture my love in your heart….

I shall myself help you put in the effort,

I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.

Listen to what Radha Soami has to say:
  all will be worked out
  as and when the supreme will ordains it.12

  1. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #498.
  2. Ibid
  3. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #523.
  4. Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. Page 119.
  5. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #466.
  6. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p#537.
  7. Ibid., #527.
  8. Ibid., #511.
  9. Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #35.
  10. Ibid., #36.
  11. Ibid., #30.
  12. Sar Bachan Poetry, Bachan 33, Shabd 16.