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Love - Bhakti

In Sar Bachan Poetry, Soami Ji Maharaj writes:

Listen, my friend, while I tell you
  about the greatness of bhakti,
  as explained by the Saints.
Know that this is the very path of the Masters,
  and all other paths are false, misleading.
Without bhakti all are hollow, without substance,
  like a husk without the seed.
Hold fast to bhakti, O ignorant one,
  and give up all your ‘wise’ pursuits.
Call it devotion, adoration or love;
the three differ in name, not in form or essence.

Understand that Gurumat means bhakti and love,
  and that every other path
  is a contrivance of the mind.1

In this poem Soami Ji tells us that bhakti – love and devotion – is the basis of the path of the Masters. Maharaj Charan Singh also says: “There is no spiritual practice greater than love. There is no law greater than love, and there is no goal beyond love. … In love the lover becomes one with the beloved.”2 And Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh says:

If you have love, it’s good! If not, go ahead all the same and act on his instructions. As you continue to practice, love will grow. … The more you cultivate his love, the more you will love him, and this love will keep on growing.3

He says the “love will keep on growing.” Love is not limited. It is similar to a magnetic power that keeps drawing our attention toward the Lord. This pull we experience allows us to keep our attention heading in the right direction toward our goal, that of self-realization and eventually God-realization. At the time of our initiation we made a promise to the Master that we would give 10 percent of our time to meditation. But it turns out that Masters don’t want 10 percent. They want 100 percent. How can we limit love to a certain percentage of our heart or a certain percentage of our time? Love is not limited.

So the relationship of a Master and a disciple is one of love. The Masters express their love by creating an urgency in us to give ourselves to them. And how do we give ourselves to them? Through our meditation practice. In giving them our focused attention with love and devotion during our meditation, we are showing them how committed we are to our promise. When we sit in meditation every single day, we demonstrate our urgency and commitment.

In the life of the mystic Eknath, there is a story about how his Master created an urgency in him to meditate.

Eknath learned a lesson … from his guru, Janardhan. One day Janardhan asked Eknath to find a mistake of one pie (the smallest unit of currency at that time) in the account book. Eknath pored over the book all night, and finally he found the mistake before daybreak. He was elated. Quite proud of himself, he triumphantly showed his guru his finding. Janardhan said to Eknath, “How much effort and concentration it took you to find this one trivial mistake! Can you imagine how much more work it will take on your part to find God? You were thrilled at finding this one error. Can you imagine the joy you will feel at finding God?” On hearing this, Eknath realized that his feeble efforts at meditation so far were insignificant. After that, he spent much of his life in deep meditation and introspection.4

This was a major turning point in Eknath’s life. But why are masters so intent on encouraging us to practise meditation? It is because “Out of the practice will come love. Out of love will come Shabd.”5 And it is the Shabd that will help us reach our ultimate goal in life, to return home to the Father. If we are attached to the Shabd and Nam, the Shabd and Nam will pull us back to the level of the Father. Those who are attached to the Shabd by their meditation practice become intoxicated with love and devotion. As we are now, we may be in love with this creation. But in time, love of this creation will lead us to fall in love with the one who has created it. Once we attach ourselves to the Shabd within, all coverings of the creation will fade away, and we will see only the Lord in all that exists. That real love will stay and all other loves will evaporate.

In the next part of Soami Ji’s poem, he explains the form that real love takes:

Love is the essence of God and soul,
  and true Name is the real form of bhakti.
Bhakti and the Lord are one and the same,
  and the true Master is the real form of love.
In fact, your own real form is also love,
  so you may accept all beings to be
  of the same essence.
But you might discern one difference:
  while some are drops,
  others are waves of that love.
In some it appears as a sea of light while in others
  it is called the fountainhead of all love.6

If we read about the life of any mystic, it’s nothing but a story of love – the love they have for their own Master and the love they have for their disciples, how they inspire and encourage them to come to a higher level of consciousness. The real Master is the Shabd, but contact with a Master at this level can uplift us and help to create this feeling of love and longing.

In The Spiritual Guide, we read how a Master (in Judaism called the tsadik) can influence those around him:

Like a ladder, the tsadik’s feet are set firmly on the ground as he participates in the ordinary life of the community, yet his spiritual consciousness is in the celestial realms. He is a link between those living in his own time and the heavenly reality. Through the tsadik, the grace of God descends to those on earth. Through him, those who yearn for spiritual realization can climb towards higher levels of consciousness.7

So Masters teach us by acting as a link or a ladder to a higher reality. They show us the way by being a light and inspiration to everyone. It is their love alone that shines through everything they say and do. But the Masters love with a humble detachment. Their sole purpose is to return to the Father all those souls marked for their return. The only universal law the Master serves is the universal law of love.

Masters come to help us to understand that we are all of the same essence – that of love. No one is better or worse than another. We are all brothers and sisters of the same Father. Thus, mystics come to this world to unite us, not to divide us. Soami Ji continues with the next verse by talking about the obstacles on the path. He says:

Desire defeats one person
  while maya dominates another.
But there comes a stage where maya is diminished,
  dissolved in the Ocean and purified by its grace.
At the Source there is no maya at all,
  only love prevails there – nothing but love.
It is the great treasure house of love,
  it has no beginning, no end.
No one except a Saint has access there –
  Only a true Master makes it his home.8

It’s easy to complain about problems in life or obstacles on the path. But these problems may have their own role to play. Masters show us by their behaviour how we should live. They show us how to be happy and carefree in life regardless of our circumstances. They show us how to have the right balance, in which we can take life lightly while being serious about our commitment to meditation. If everything were perfect in our lives, perhaps we would never think about the Lord, and we would never try to find a Master or a spiritual path. We are also told by the Masters that achieving love and devotion is a gift from them. We can’t deserve it or earn it. It’s just a gift. This gift of love transforms us, and then our life takes us on a different course because of our coming in touch with a Master.

The poet Kahlil Gibran talks about the power of love, which can alter the direction of our lives, when he says: “Think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”9

In conclusion, “Soami Ji says that the essential thing for all of [us]… is to go on increasing [our] love and gradually reach that place where the only thought that exists is of the Master. Until the Master becomes the sole object of [our] love, [our] work will not be complete.”10

  1. Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry, p.103
  2. Maharaj Charan Singh, Divine Light, #436
  3. Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh, Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II, pp.130-131
  4. Radha Soami Satsang Beas, The Spiritual Guide, Vol. I, p.67
  5. Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh, Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II, p.120
  6. Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry, p.103
  7. Radha Soami Satsang Beas, The Spiritual Guide, Vol. I, pp.173-174
  8. Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry, p.103
  9. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (Knopf, 1969), p. 13
  10. Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh, Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II, p.131