A Hero’s Journey
In Light on Saint John, Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh says:
The more effort we make, the more grace we receive to make still more effort until we reach our goal.1
This path we’re on is about the spiritual work and our efforts. It’s an astonishing fact that we’re on this path at all. We’re truly Homeward Bound now. We’re definitely going from station to station. We’re on a seemingly never-ending journey, going back Home after our descent into the creation so many aeons ago. In this creation we are re-living experiences we’ve had before. Any freshness we’re experiencing right now comes from the slow awakening of the soul power within us. It’s the soul with which we’re primarily concerned.
From time immemorial the soul has been bound to the mind, which is always eager for more and more-varied worldly experiences. The mind wants more of everything, be it recognition, reputation or status and power. It’s never enough because the ego can never be satisfied. Our ego has expanded and become so powerful that it takes heroic efforts to get it under control. For our life’s journey is truly a hero’s journey.
It takes time to get an even basic understanding of what is required from us on this spiritual path. Years, and even decades, pass before we begin to notice some subtle changes in our attitude towards life. Initially, meditation is one of the many activities in which we’re engaged. Work, family and other pastimes take up so much of our time, that there is hardly any room left for our meditation. Efforts are being made, but more half-heartedly than whole-heartedly. Somehow or other a new groove has to be made in our mind.
At the early stages ─ and mind you, early is a very relative notion in Sant Mat ─ it is more out of a sense of duty, or a sense of guilt rather than anything else, that we sit in meditation. At this stage, discipline, perseverance and even routine play their part. Yet, something miraculous takes place as well. A foundation is being laid, which is built on rock and not on sand. Keeping within the Sant Mat parameters is the biggest challenge, but slowly and gradually it’s taking effect.
Wake-up calls though are necessary as well. The biggest wake-up call is when your Master passes away. You’re overwhelmed by a deep sense of loss, but at the same time you’re left with no choice. You have to seek the Master within.
A hero’s journey is no child’s play. You will be tested and tried; you will go through trials and tribulations, but you will end up with a deeper understanding of the purpose of life’s journey. At crucial moments there is a shift of perspective. The focus and drive to succeed in the world become increasingly less important, and there is a slow turning within. During this process of transformation, the spiritual traveller is gradually becoming aware that he or she is being accompanied by an unseen travelling companion. The physical Master may have left this earthly plane, but the Comforter is always with the disciple. As Huzur says in Light on Saint John:
So, when I leave you physically, you will not find me anywhere outside and will have no option but to seek me within. Then you will be in touch with the Comforter, who will pull you up to my level, the level of the Father.2
The subtle changes in our attitude towards life and the shift of perspective have everything to do with our increasing awareness of a richer life within. We’re little children on the path and are being spoon-fed with small drops of divine nectar. Somehow our consciousness is being raised and we’re starting to breathe in a different dimension, the spiritual dimension. Boring sessions of automatic repetition and constantly being out of focus are being replaced by sessions in which we move towards stillness. The incredible has happened, stillness is becoming part of our daily routine. We’re getting glimpses of the richness of an inner life.
Turmoil and disturbances are still there, but the knowledge that any time you can escape to that quiet place within is immensely comforting. Unknowingly to us, the relationship with the divine is being restored. That relationship is the most precious thing in the whole universe. The way that the bond between Master and disciple, between the Father and the devotee, is being forged is beautifully explained by Huzur in Light on Saint John:
The Master comes to our level to fill us with devotion and to put us on the path, and he fills us with so much love that we cannot live without him. Physically we cannot always be with him, so the love he creates in us ultimately leads us within. When we turn within, we are in touch with the Comforter, which pulls us up to the level of the Father.3
Living in the world, and not being of the world, means spending time in your own company. This is where our relationship with the divine comes in. The aloneness we’re seeking is closely bound up with the inner company we’re experiencing. We have found a true friend in the Master. Friendship with the Master is so much more than any notion of friendship we may ever have had. It’s hard not to remember Hazur leafing through the Holy Bible and hitting upon this passage:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.4
In Light on Saint John, he offers this explanation:
When we make progress on the path according to the instructions of the Master, we are no longer slaves and servants of the mind and the senses. He brings us up to his level; we become his friends, his brothers. The Master has come into the world just for this purpose.
He has come down to our level and laid down his life for us. No love could be greater, for even to come down to the level of a human being he has to take on some karmas to get a human body. He lays down his life of perfect bliss with the Father in order to come into the dark and filthy dungeon of this world; he tells us how to get out of it; he puts us on the path and even carries some of our load himself, just to bring us up to his level of supreme and eternal happiness.5
Baba Ji asks us to work with him. What a wonderful invitation, to which we can only respond by taking to the task at hand. For we won’t get anywhere by talking about the path; the only option is walking the path. We are spiritual workers, to which Hazur refers when he explains this passage in Light on Saint Matthew:
The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few.6
It’s hard work to get to the eye centre. Hazur used to call it, “a lifelong struggle.” The harvest is waiting for us and we should become labourers, so that we can collect that harvest. Everything has been prepared for us. The best conditions for our spiritual growth have been created for us. This is something one has to slowly come to realize. So many gifts from the Father have been showered on us. There is “no dearth of Grace, no dearth of the blessings of the Father.”7 So, there are no excuses for not doing His work. Quoting from Light on Saint John:
Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest?8
Time is fleeting; it slips through our fingers. You wake up one morning and realize you have become old overnight. Postponing and delaying our action is pure self-deception. We have to build our treasure in heaven, saving for our spiritual pension, as it were. That moment comes sooner than we think. It won’t work, if as Huzur says, “We always like to give the worst part of our life for worshipping the Father.”9 Instead, we should give the best part of our life for worshipping the Father.
As Shabd practitioners, our primary task is to grow that inner capacity. The more that capacity grows, the more we become aware of the subtle changes that take place inside. We are turned inward in a process of transformation. Our longing to be with the divine, to be with the Shabd Master, grows day by day.
The more effort we make, the more grace we receive to make still more effort until we reach our goal.10
We can never do enough, but we can always do more. How will we spend the precious time given to us? What choices do we make? Apart from becoming more aware, we also become more alert. We can choose fewer distractions and more focus, with the realization that we are in the company of Saints. We can try to follow in their footsteps and belong to that great chain of spiritual beings. The heat from the world is being kept away from us when we take shelter under that huge tree of Shabd. We are being submerged in the water of life, which keeps us cool.
Being friends with the Master means being engaged in a unique relationship. The etymological meaning of friend is lover, which makes sense because we are committed to a relationship of divine love. It is this relationship which causes us to go beyond our physical and mental boundaries. In the stillness of our mind we become receptive to the divine. Through the constant practice of the art of doing nothing, we automatically enter that spiritual atmosphere which gives us peace of mind. We begin to collect the harvest which is referred to in passage after passage in Light on Saint John:
Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.11
When you are able to be at the eye centre and still your mind there, then ‘look to the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ When you have raised your consciousness to the eye centre, you have as it were, the crop of your meditation ripe and ready for harvesting, and you can begin to gather it.12
The joy and that sense of fulfilment coming from meditation becomes so strong that we start to cherish those hours of meditation as the most precious thing in our life. We can’t even begin to imagine what incredible reward is waiting for us. The reward we’ll get, the wages of our meditation, is “fruit unto life eternal.”13 We’ve come a long way and we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re definitely on the journey home. Sacrificing worldly pleasures, putting in the hard work, it’s all so worthwhile. Leading an inner life, in communion with the Spirit, in your own company but always with the friend next to you, is where we end up.
A cosmic journey of descent which left us deeply entangled in the creation is being reversed into a cosmic journey of ascent. We’re fulfilling life’s purpose under his guidance. We’re seekers after truth who have been given the method of worshipping the Father. To quote Huzur again:
I [Christ] have given you this knowledge. Do not think that you have searched for me and found me. Actually, my Father has drawn you to me. But for my Father, you would never have known anything about me.14
The Father’s love for his children has brought us into the company of Saints. We can labour in his vineyard, now that it is day. No amount of gratitude will ever be sufficient, but we do know that our labour pleases him. What greater joy than pleasing your Master, not adding to his load but lightening it!
Baba Ji has said that love is the core of our being; love is the core of our existence. It is this love, which is with us, all throughout our life on our hero’s journey. We can tap into it any time and make contact with it. It is so far beyond the physical and is the direct cause of our peace of mind. It is the source of our contentment and stillness. It is an immense power that is slowly obliterating our ego. We find our true identity when the ego fades into the background. That true identity is strongly connected to the inner Master.
Additionally, when we speak about gifts from the Lord, what an incredible gift to feel our connectedness with all of the creation. We’ve also been made part of a wonderful support group, which manifests itself in so many unexpected ways. The understanding from a brother or sister, members of our spiritual family, in words and often without words, can have a huge impact on our spiritual well-being. Recognizing that you’re on the same path can give such a feeling of joy. You can’t explain it, and you don’t have to analyze it. We’re truly spiritual beings, part of that Great Being.
This is beautifully expressed in the chapter about the Jewish tradition, called “Ladder to the Divine,” in The Spiritual Guide:
My teacher, may his memory be for a blessing, cautioned me and all the brethren who were with him in this fellowship that before praying the morning service, we should take upon ourselves the positive commandment, “…and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”15 … And especially when it comes to the love of our brethren, each and every one of us must bind himself to the others as if he were one limb within the body of this fellowship.16
Rung by rung, we’re stepping on the ladder to the Divine, getting closer to our destination every minute of the day.
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint John, RSSB, Beas, 2007, p. 217.
- Ibid, p. 231.
- Gospel of John 15:13; & Light on Saint John, p. 221.
- Gospel of Matthew 9:37; Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Saint Matthew, RSSB, Beas, 2008, p. 101.
- Gospel of John, 4:35; Light on Saint John, p. 65.
- Light on Saint John, p. 217.
- Gospel of John, 4:35; Ibid, p. 66.
- Ibid, p. 67.
- Ibid, p. 69.
- Bible, Leviticus 19:18
- Beverly Chapman (editor), The Spiritual Guide, Vol. 1, RSSB, Beas, 2017, p. 215.