“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” asked some disciples of Jesus:
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.1
A child is so simple and innocent. His or her mind is still pure and unsullied by the world. Children live in the moment and harbor no ill will against anybody. Christ is saying that if we want to enter within we need to change our way of life and become pure and simple like that little child.
But… we have strayed far from that state of simplicity and purity because of our ego, which makes us see ourselves as separate, different and better or worse than others. We have strayed from that simplicity and purity due to our attachments to people, possessions and pleasures; and due to our intellect, which only leads us deeper and deeper into confusion. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh said:
To accept simplicity in a simple way is very difficult for us.2 … If you tell a simple person in a simple way, he will follow it. If you tell an intellectual person, in a simple way, he will never follow it. He's so intellectual he cannot accept simple things in a simple way. It must be put to him in a very complicated way. First he creates a problem with his intellect; then he wants to solve that problem with his intellect; then he takes pride in solving it or feels frustrated in not solving it. That is the fate of an intellectual person.3
The highest thing we can do with our intellect is to realize that we must put it aside, but this can be done only after the intellect is satisfied. Otherwise it will be a hindrance on the path. That’s why Hazur Maharaj Ji and Baba Ji have spent so much time answering our questions, in order to help us resolve our doubts. But still, the intellect cannot take us to our destination. Ultimately, faith and practice – not intellect – will take us to our destination.
So when we talk about simplicity, what can be more simple than the number one:
There is one Truth… one Reality… one God… one Father. There is one path within each one of us that leads back to him. In this life we have only one true friend, who is here to show us that path by connecting us to that one power, the Shabd, which created everything. There is one thing we can practise to make contact with that Shabd, to tread the path to reunion with him. And there is one point in the body, the eye center, where we have to focus all our attention in order to enter within.
There are many more ‘ones,’ including the one thing which is keeping us from realizing all that oneness: the mind. As long as we are under the sway of the mind we are seeing multiplicity, not oneness.
We see human beings in all different sizes and shapes – tall, short; skinny, fat; skin that is black, brown, yellow, red and white; male, female; rich, poor; old, young; healthy and sick. Well educated and illiterate. Respected and shunned. People come from so many different countries and speak so many different languages. And they may follow any one of the many religions that human beings have created.
Yet, when it comes to spirituality we are all exactly the same. There is no difference. Our essence – the soul – is the same in everybody. We are all drops of the same ocean of divinity. God has no caste, color or religion. If we study the teachings of the Masters, we will find that they all teach us to rise above all these differences until we see that same one God who resides within every one of us.
The soul is like a diamond that has fallen into the mud. The mud represents the layers of mind and matter covering the soul. There are many different types of mud, making us appear different from each other, but when you wash off all the mud, every diamond shines – every soul shines just as it did before it fell into the mud. And when this happens nobody will remember, nobody will care about what type of mud covered us.
And when the soul leaves this world, everything connected with the body and personality is left behind, and there is only one thing that matters. Hazur says:
There what is judged is our love, the intensity of our love, our desire to go back to the Father, how strong our inclination is to go back to the Father, how much we have been able to withdraw from the senses, withdraw from the riches of the world, withdraw from this creation, and how anxious we are to go back to the Father. Those things will be weighed there.… All that counts is that love and devotion for the Father.4
So, all those things that we think are real and important have no meaning beyond this life. All the things that we spend our time and energy on – our health, our beauty, our finances, our car, our house, our job and all of our relationships – none of these things can go with us. They have only made our lives more complicated and more difficult to put our attention where it really matters.
In a letter to a satsangi the Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, wrote:
How strange that being so wise you cannot go in. Last month I was touring in the foothills of the Siwalik Range. People there are very simple-minded. At initiation there were three ladies whose attention went in at once, and it became rather difficult to explain to them the details of the path – light, sound, regions, and so on. Their necks had to be massaged to bring the attention out. They were illiterate. They would be quite justified if they called the worldly-wise ignorant.5
The people who lived in the Siwalik Range lived a very simple life in a very simple environment. All the choices of the complex world were not available to them. For instance, they didn’t have to decide how many times a day to check their email! When presented with the simple teachings of the Saints they didn’t analyze, judge, compare, question, evaluate, calculate or doubt. They just took the teachings at face value and got the results.
Today we live in a very different environment. The world has intruded more and more into our lives, this intrusion taking a giant leap with the advent of the internet and all the mobile devices. Looking at screens has become what humans do most of the time. We are constantly fed the latest news on everything happening in the world – all the natural disasters, all the cruelty that human beings inflict on each other, and all the greed and power-hungry actions done in the name of governance. And so on.
All the options for material comforts and diversions – anything we could possibly need or want – come right to us through the new, more invasive marketing techniques, and then with one click these items are delivered to our door.
It’s so easy to buy into the convenience, the instant gratification, but when we start believing this is the way to happiness, our inner life begins to wither away. Kal is a marketing genius and his methods of catching us and keeping us in his web are getting more and more sophisticated. In A Spiritual Primer it says:
By attaching ourselves to money, possessions and things of the world, we strengthen our egos, weaken our inner focus or balance, and, in the process, alienate ourselves from who we are. This is how we lose our peace of mind, and, possessed by our possessions and our ambitions, we become anxious and stressed.…
Mass marketing media, the face of human greed, has replaced our spiritual values with material ideals. Consumerism dictates the way we live. Going shopping has become a substitute for religious experience and the malls and shopping complexes have become the new places of worship.…
Greed is destructive. Greed blinds a person. It makes people so obsessed with getting their perceived share of the proverbial cake that they are ready to sell their souls for a song.…
Greed and the relentless pursuit of self-gratification harden a person's heart, scatter the mind and waste precious energy, making spiritual development very difficult to achieve.6
So, living in this environment how are we ever going to be able to “enter the kingdom of heaven?” How do we navigate through this maze of complexity and make our way back to that childlike state of simplicity that we so badly need?
The answer can be found in two words that we often see on the internet: Opt Out… Opt Out. In other words, “unsubscribe”… hit the delete key… click that little X up in the right-hand corner. We have to exercise our power of discrimination and boldly make choices not to play in that game, not to fall into that trap. More than ever, we have to take charge of our attention.
When Tulsi Sahib told us to cleanse our hearts and to remove from our attention all that is other so that the beloved may be seated there, he was telling us to opt out of everything other than the Master – to empty ourselves of all the trash that the world is sending our way so that we may enter into the pure spiritual path.
The overarching choice that we have to make is to follow either the mind or the Master. We have been following the mind for eons, and it hasn’t worked out well for us. It has made pitiful slaves of us and kept us locked up in this prison of birth and death. Now we have the option to take refuge with the Master and to live in his will. This is the only way out!
So we should understand what it means to live in his will. Living in his will begins and ends with obedience. Soami Ji Maharaj makes it very clear:
Leaving everything else aside, one must implicitly obey the Satguru of his own time, and faithfully follow his instructions. This will lead him to success. This is the long and short of everything.7
And what are the Master’s instructions? He is really only telling us to do one thing, meditation, and he tells us the Master will take care of the rest. Everything else that we speak about doing either supports our meditation or comes as a result of our meditation. The Master tells us that there is only one command – one thing which pleases the Lord and only one thing that will go with us – and that is our meditation on Nam and nothing else.
So this now becomes our measuring stick for making choices: simply to ask ourselves if something helps our meditation. Does it bring us closer to the eye center, closer to the Master?
We are like the blind man who fell into the well and the Master is the one who has come to get us out. If it weren’t for him we could never get out of here. He extends the rope of Nam and asks us to grab hold so he can pull us out. Very simple! Simple obedience means just grabbing the rope. But as we’ve discussed, most of us are not oriented around ‘simple.’
In the original story the blind man asks a long series of questions: how he had happened to fall into such a deep well; why the good man wanted to take him out – did he have any personal agenda in helping him; why wells were made at all; who was the first designer of a well; where was the guarantee that he would not fall into some other well, and so on.
The intellect is not really helping us at all. Better to realize our ignorance and simply put all our trust in the Master. And despite our resistance, he never seems to get tired of telling us to just grab the rope… thank God!
And we can’t just loosely grab the rope – we have to grab it with whatever love and devotion we can muster. Because unless we are holding on tight how can he pull us out? Holding on tight means that when sitting in the stillness and in the silence we are bringing our full attention to the eye center. When we do simran we should put all of our attention into the words. As Hazur says, we should put our whole self into the words. If we do this we can begin to feel his pull.
So grabbing the rope of Nam is obedience to the Master and it pleases him. Everything else is obedience to the mind. The human form is given to us only for gathering the wealth of Nam. Therefore the one thing that we must strive for is Nam. Hazur explains:
If you do not do this, you cannot but repent dearly at the time of our exit from this physical plane. A leper who is in possession of this wealth, who is in touch with the Word, who is guided by it, is thousands of times better off than a person who has health, wealth and worldly fame but is not in contact with this Immanent Power.8
Living in his will also means accepting our destiny cheerfully. Hazur said:
It is His pleasure to keep us as He likes, as He thinks fit, and always for our own good. It is not for us to appeal or pray that it should be like this or like that. We should acquiesce in His Will and try to merge ourselves into Shabd. Desires are born of the mind, and when we pray for our desires to be fulfilled we are placing the mind above God. We should surrender ourselves to God and accept cheerfully whatever comes from Him, confident that whatever He does will be for our own ultimate good.9
What choice do we have anyway? We can’t change our destiny. What has to happen has to happen. In fact, it has already happened on another level. If we have any choice at all it is how we receive the events of our life. So when we’re able to see that the Master has taken us under his wing and there is a positive reason for everything that happens to us, then we will accept it with a sense of gratitude. On the other hand if we allow ourselves to get bummed out, if we grumble, it means that we have the wrong perspective – and so we suffer. As they say, “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.”
We suffer because we have desires and expectations that cannot be fulfilled. If it is not in our destiny, no amount of worry will be able to fulfill those desires. Soami Ji makes it very clear that he doesn’t want us to worry about anything:
I carry your burdens in my own heart
so that you may be free of worries
and nurture my love in your heart.
Give up your misgivings, be steadfast in your love –
a love tempered with faith.
I shall myself help you put in the effort.10
Actually, he is doing everything. We're all puppets, and our greatest realization is that we are puppets … By meditation we learn that we are puppets, that we are helpless. The ego goes and we begin to learn that whatever is being done is being done by him.11
So what could be more simple than being a puppet? Puppets have no problems or burdens of their own. No difficulties. No struggles. They just let the puppeteer pull the strings. He does with us what he pleases and we happily accept whatever happens. We just leave everything to him.
Finally, remembrance lets us come to realize that we are his puppets and leads us to live in his will. Remembrance means to become conscious of his presence by bringing our attention to where he resides in our body, the eye center. The Master, the Shabd, is living right within each one of us. Our practice is to awaken to that reality and to live in that reality day and night.
This path and our practice are all about our relationship with the Master and with Nam. Every satsangi has a personal relationship with his or her own Master, who is always with every one of us. This is not a worldly relationship that will come to an end, but a spiritual relationship that will endure and last forever. This relationship is so important that nothing else really matters in comparison. Hazur says:
The Lord is always waiting for you there. The nectar is flowing there day and night. The ringing radiance, that Spirit, is there day and night, waiting to pull you to your own destination, your eternal home of peace and bliss.12
In other words: The door is always wide open! Hazur sums it all up beautifully:
What greater prayer can there be than to have the Name of the Lord on our lips day and night through constant simran?
What greater austerity than to be living in the sweet will of the Lord, abiding by his command day and night?
What greater worship than having the form of a saint with us twenty-four hours of the day, wherever we go?
What greater recitation than listening at all times day and night to the unending music of the Word within?
What greater renunciation can there be than the indifference to the world that arises when the mind tastes the nectar of the Name?13
- Bible (King James Version), Matthew 18:1–4
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #152
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live, #27
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #354
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, #116
- Hector Esponda, A Spiritual Primer, pp.49–50
- Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Prose, #116
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I, 5th ed., p.28
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat, 7th ed., p.91
- Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry, Bachan 33, Shabd 16
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, #41
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint John, 8th ed., p.67
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II, 3rd ed., p.92