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Time and Opportunity

In the 1971 musical play, Godspell1, John the Baptist calls on people to follow the teachings of the Master Jesus. One of the songs sung in the musical is called “Day by Day,” which follows a prayer attributed to the 13th-century English bishop Saint Richard of Chichester, who wrote the following:

May we know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.2

Essentially, these are the words of a true devotee; a believer who longs to bridge the gap that lies between himself and the Lord; and give voice to his longing to bond truly and utterly through prayer, thereby meeting his Lord face to face. In the musical itself, however, there is the poetic addition of “three things I pray.”

Day by day
Day by day
O, Dear Lord,
Three things I pray –
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day.

This modern addition highlights the basis of those things that we so desperately desire from our Master. Yet, how is it conceivable that we are considering these words of prayer – where we ask our Master to help us see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly (closely) – when during the normal course of our lives, we find ourselves rushing blindly from one thing to another, always busy, minds cluttered and in overdrive and thoughts far from where they should be.

We eat, drink, sleep, and somewhere in between our twenty-four-hour day we make an attempt to sit in meditation and think of him. Mostly, we fail to sit for our two and a half hours and perhaps even sleep through this precious time.

Our feeble attempts leave us disheartened and we feel spiritually adrift.

However, suddenly life has changed and the world we know so well and are so familiar with has ground to a literal standstill. Someone remarked jokingly, that the world is now under repair! And so it seems.

Our “normal” has changed. Due to the Coronavirus we have to stay home and generally curtail so many of the worldly activities that usually take up our mental, emotional, and physical space. We cannot even go to Sunday satsang anymore.

Yet, surely this is now our time. A time to place our spiritual lives under repair, a time of Grace, to be still and silent and get to know our Master more intimately; and moreover, a time to develop our inner satsang and bridge that gap.

We always say that if we weren’t quite so busy we would devote more time to meditation, quiet down, socialize less, and generally focus that much-needed attention on the path. Well, for many of us here’s our opportunity, right here and now and perhaps even for some months to come. We have been given the time to repair our spiritual lives – to dig deep within our daily meditation. This discipline will sustain us when the whirlwind of daily life resumes. In this way, with this new found daily discipline, we can establish a strong routine that resets the foundation of our spiritual life.

It is said that a man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of life. There is great truth in this comment, because life indeed is short enough as it is. Time flies and no sooner than one year has come to an end that a new year begins. We may make a New Year’s resolution to be a “better satsangi” – meditate more and attend satsang more regularly, yet as the days pass by and turn into months and then years, precious time has been wasted, and what have we accomplished? Very little, other than occasional pangs of guilt. Sometimes we may even excuse ourselves by saying, “I feel no inspiration or very little motivation.” Yet, as the American author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. reminds us: “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin and inspiration will find you!”3

You see, the only cure for inactivity is action. Regret has its purpose but sitting around feeling guilty doesn't accomplish anything. The very first thought that ‘I haven't done what I need to do’ should be all the nudging and prodding we need to get us moving.

The more determined we are to act decisively on repairing our spiritual life, the more motivated we will become. And the more motivated we are, the more inspired we become – it’s a domino effect or chain reaction leading to positive outcome.

Maharaj Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh says:

Practice makes a man perfect. Even though he starts with misgivings, in due course, perseverance and sincere effort enable him to develop a strong fervour and piety.4

These words bring to mind the story of a king who in ancient times had his men place a boulder on a roadway. He then hid in the bushes, and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers passed by and simply walked around it. Many people even blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them made any effort to try and remove the stone.

Then along came a peasant carrying a heavy load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the way. It was extremely difficult but after much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. When he went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. To his amazement, the purse contained a large number of gold coins and a note from the king explaining that the gold was a reward for the person who had taken the trouble to remove the boulder from the road!

The moral of the story

Every obstacle that we come across in our spiritual life allows us an opportunity to improve our circumstances. While some may complain and justify why we cannot attain a positive spiritual outcome, there are others who take advantage of every opportunity life offers.

We now have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our spiritual lives, a State of Grace one could even say, because how often do circumstances like this arrive?

Although the Coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to many people in the world and still continues to do so, there are many positive scenarios that have arisen from it.

Families have become closer, life is quieter, and that infernal rush of time seems to have slowed down. We now even have time to “smell the roses,” re-evaluate our spiritual lives, give more precious time to simran, dhyan and bhajan, read the Sant Mat books again, and generally steep ourselves in our Master’s love and care.

What more can we ask for, and how grateful we should be for this rare opportunity, because in this precious moment in time we can strive to “see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and feel Him more nearly, day by day.”

  1. Godspell: The Anglo-Saxon term for ‘good news’ or ‘good story’; the musical play is based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew.
  2. The full prayer, in English translation from the original Latin, says: Thanks be to you, our lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
  3. Life’s Little Instruction Book, Vol 2, Q 695
  4. The Science of the Soul, “Spiritual Bouquet,” p. 102