Advice from the Masters in Times of Upheaval
Humanity has faced catastrophes, both natural and man-made, for as long as there has been life on this earth, which, saints remind us, has never been and never will be a paradise. In each instance of heartache and pain—be it earthquake, floods, war, or illness —the Master of that time has provided comfort, reassurance, and loving guidance. He has reminded us of the Lord’s love for us, his constant presence within us, and the importance of doing our meditation to contact him there so that we can escape from this “ocean of dread” and return to our true home. The Master is our lodestar: we turn to him for comfort, love, and inspiration, and he always provides it, with profound spiritual insight into the workings of the Lord, destiny, and the ephemeral cycles of this material world.
In this time of extreme instability and fear, we are fortunate to have access to Sant Mat literature and other writings of the saints, which are filled to overflowing with their penetrating wisdom—both worldly and spiritual—articulate advice, and loving encouragement. A sampling in the following letters from saints past and present reminds us that we need not worry. The Master is our companion now and forever, and, in the words of Great Master, “He who has been connected with the Word cannot go amiss in catastrophe or peace.”
Spiritual Gems is a compilation of letters to European and American disciples and seekers during the momentous period between 1919 and 1948, which was filled with heinous crimes against humanity, economic devastation, political instability, and fear of worldwide nuclear destruction. In Letter 72, Hazur Maharaj Sawan Singh reminds us that karmic law is supreme—only our destiny dictates what suffering we will undergo, not world events. All that is created is subject to change and decay; we should worry only about seeking the Master within and direct all our effort and attention to uniting with him inside—only then will we find lasting peace and safety.
The Karmic Law is supreme on the material and the mind planes, and nothing happens of its own accord, spontaneously, so to say. The law governs the planes; therefore, no haphazard happening of events takes place anywhere, whether the events are of microscopic or astronomical dimensions. In peace and in cataclysms or catastrophes, only they suffer who are destined to suffer.
All that has been created is bound to change and decay. There is dissolution of earth, planets, sun and stars but at very long intervals—too long for human conception. … Who can say how often this dissolution has been repeated? Only He who creates, knows it. Suffice it to say that for human beings sitting outside the eye center, the time is infinitely long since the creation came into being and when it will disappear again.
So there is nothing to worry about the next war or the atom bomb; this very kind of loose, vague talk was indulged in during and at the end of Great War I, and is also indulged in after floods, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. The worry should be about one’s entry into the eye center and meeting the Radiant Form of the Master, so that the Master is our companion, on whom reliance can be placed here and hereafter. He who has been connected with the Word cannot go amiss in catastrophe or peace. He has a place to go to, goes there, and is not lost.
Hazur Maharaj Sawan Singh
Maharaj Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh also tells us that we need not worry or fret about anything, because our destiny is pre-ordained. He writes in Science of the Soul (“Spiritual Bouquet,” Number 99): “Old age, health, poverty, richness, sickness, disease, wealth, learning, honour, dishonour and time of death are all pre-ordained while a man is in the womb of his mother. So a wise man never worries or frets or regrets anything.”
Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh repeats those themes in Letter 233 in Quest for Light, another compilation of excerpts from letters to disciples and seekers, written between 1965 and 1971. During this politically and socially tumultuous period of political, racial, and generational division and unrest, Hazur reminds us “that this world has never been a paradise to live in, nor will it ever be so.” In the face of karmic law, where is so-called injustice? He advises us to escape from the cycle of birth and death once and for all and to follow the advice of saints, who “not only give us the key to return to our true home of eternal bliss, but also help and guide us on the way back to this blissful abode from which we need never return to this world.” Hazur encourages us to continue with our meditation and not dwell on worldly conditions and events, because “everything is happening as the Lord wants it to happen.”
You seem to be greatly upset by the political happenings in your country. I might tell you that this world has never been a paradise to live in nor will it ever be so. We look on the happenings in this world with our limited vision and therefore find much so-called injustice. In reality, everyone is undergoing his own karma—receiving reward or punishment for his own actions in past lives or even in this one. The Creator never rewards or punishes one without a cause. “As you sow, so shall you reap” is the unalterable law of this universe, and no one can change it. In the face of this law, who is to blame?
Moreover, when has the world been a happy place to live in? Read the history of the world of the past and you will find that this killing and slaughter has been the rule. Even in so-called peaceful times, how much suffering we find in this world in the form of mental and physical ills, cruelty, murder and other crimes. It is for these very reasons that the saints tell us to leave this “ocean of dread” forever and to get out of this cycle of births and deaths. They not only give us the key to return to our true home of eternal bliss, but also help and guide us on the way back to this blissful abode from which we need never return to this world.
Everything is happening as the Lord wants it to happen. Not a leaf can stir without his command. No man can change the course of nature. How then can a few men, howsoever good-intentioned they may be, stem the tide of a torrent which flows in all its fury? It is best to leave these things as they are and let them take their natural course. Saints never interfere in worldly conditions, which are all going on according to the plan of the Creator. They tell us to rise above all this and eventually escape from this world of fury through meditation, while living a normal life and performing all our worldly duties.
Continue with your meditation with love and devotion and do not attach your mind to the happenings in the world by dwelling on them. It would serve no useful purpose and would only retard your spiritual progress if you permitted yourself to get involved, no matter how good your intentions may be.
Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh
Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington DC, Baba Ji empathized with the American sangat trying to cope with the trauma of that catastrophe. “Such catastrophic events … test us to the extremes of our humanity,” he wrote. “They demand that we go to the deepest levels of faith, trust, and generosity of spirit if we are to endure them without losing our balance.” Surely that same advice applies to us now during the current coronavirus pandemic. Baba Ji urged us to help and support one another, to have courage, and “to show fortitude in the face of unpredictability and fear.” Only love can take us beyond terror and pain, Baba Ji wrote, adding that God’s love “is far greater than anything we can see.”
After the terrifying earthquake and tsunami in Japan in Spring 2011, Baba Ji again empathized with all those affected, and praised the humanity shown by the Japanese people in their offer of support and comfort to one another. He reminded us of the real purpose of life: “to regain our conscious contact, through our meditation, with the Shabd within.” It is our meditation alone that can truly help us, he said, and urged us to continue our spiritual practice with renewed commitment.
Radha Soami! Everyone here at Dera and throughout the world is aware of the tragedy which has taken place in Japan. The destruction and misery on such a large scale is unimaginable. Our hearts go out to everyone affected. To their credit the Japanese people have met this tragedy with grace and dignity. Even when faced with personal loss they have given comfort and help to others, never losing their sense of humanity. Their exemplary behaviour is an example for all of us. It is my hope that our sangat in Japan has not been too adversely affected by these events. We pray to the Lord that the worst is over and life for so many people can quickly return to some semblance of normalcy. Our life in this world is short and uncertain. We need to stay ever vigilant and keep focused on the real purpose of life; to regain our conscious contact, through our meditation, with the Shabd within. With our efforts in meditation, and with His love and grace, we can secure our transition from this world of pain and suffering to an eternity of bliss and happiness. Never lose faith in the Lord's love and compassion. It is our meditation alone that will be of any real help to us, nothing else provides any lasting benefit. In the face of these recent events, please continue your spiritual practice with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment.
With love and affection,
Finally, the Masters provide us with practical as well as spiritual advice, consistent with Sant Mat’s insistence on our obeying the laws of our respective countries and being good citizens as well as good human beings. Baba Ji’s compassionate letter to the global sangat (see below) not only takes responsibility for doing the right thing by temporarily cancelling satsangs, but also urges us to show restraint, support, and sensitivity in our own behaviour to fulfil our social responsibilities.
Radha Soami Ji
We are extremely saddened that we will not be seeing our beloved brothers and sisters at the Dera this session. Whilst we appreciate the love of the sangat and their desire to visit Dera, keeping in view the current situation and the health concerns, it has been decided to cancel all Satsangs in the months of March and April. We need to stand with all our brothers and sisters at this crucial time and show our support and sensitivity by fulfilling our social responsibilities. Therefore all are requested to comply and follow the directions to stay where they reside. Please exercise extreme caution where your health is concerned and restrain from any travel that is not absolutely necessary.
Humbly seeking your cooperation.
We are fortunate to have the compassionate guidance of a true Master during this frightening phase of our brief sojourn here on earth. Let us take his advice to heart and attend to the divine presence within us all, while offering comfort, kindness, and support to one another. As Great Master wrote, “He who has been connected with the Word … has a place to go to, goes there, and is not lost.”