Shabd Amrit Dhara
(Song of Devotion on the Stream of Immortal Grace)
There are times in probably every life when the old familiar moorings that give us a sense of who and what we are get disrupted or are even taken away from us entirely. The material comforts and expectations to which we had become accustomed suddenly become irrelevant or of little value. The death of a parent, a life partner, or a child; a sudden illness that leaves us or a loved one incapacitated or dependent; an unexpected negative reversal of our finances – there are many possible scenarios, but few of us had seriously considered the effects, global and personal, of a sickness that sweeps the planet like the one we are presently facing.
Yet along with all the disturbance, this tiny virus has achieved things that we human beings, for all our talking and discussion, have been unable to do. Civil wars have ceased or at least declined in their ferocity; politicians have toned down their rhetoric; oil prices have tumbled; atmospheric pollution has cleared; wildlife is rapidly reclaiming newly deserted areas; and families are spending more time together (maybe not always with positive results!). It has become self-evident that we are all in the same boat (socially distanced, of course, and hopefully not a cruise ship!), rich or poor, well-known or obscure – whoever we are. And all this and much more has taken place in a matter of days and weeks. Many people are saying that life has taken on a surreal quality, like a dream.
As spiritual seekers and initiates of a master, how do we handle the situation? In the eye of a hurricane, all is calm; at the centre of our being there is tranquillity and bliss. But how can we find that centre and remain in it? The problem, we know, lies in the mind – its thoughts, emotions, and disturbances that draw us away from the peaceful centre. How then to recognize the negative tendencies of the mind? How to control them? How to surrender our mind to the Divine so that it ceases to be a hindrance and a cause of separation?
We have often heard our masters say that meditation is easier than surrender, because anyone can sit down and try to meditate. But to reorientate our thinking and emotions into a state of complete acquiescence to the divine will – that is another matter.
We have also heard it said so many times that the real guru is the divine energy that has created and sustains creation. We may think of it as the Shabd, the Word, the Kun, the Dao, the immanent divine Power, Will, Intelligence, or Wisdom – there are many ways of thinking of it. Nothing happens that is outside the province of this power; “Not a leaf stirs but by His order;” and although we are harvesting the fruits of our karma, the administrator of these karmas is the divine power, the Shabd. And in a way that we may find difficult to understand, the karma that we have to face is not only a paying-off of the past, but also a means of present spiritual correction and evolution. If we have sufficient humility, we can learn from the experience. It is all, ultimately, for our own spiritual benefit.
Although much comfort and strength can be derived from the living satguru, the real satguru is this divine energy, which choreographs the dance of our lives. Therefore, in this song of devotion to the satguru, the unknown author writes that everything in life, including difficulties and suffering, should be taken as coming from the satguru. Everything is being done for our spiritual benefit. Afflictions are all his corrective measures and, in the end, all suffering will disappear when drowned in the stream (dhar) of immortal grace (amrit) that continuously emanates from him. The author says it all so much better than any commentary could:
In whatever circumstances your satguru wants to keep you
you should always be happy, even if you are in trouble.
He will mould your mind in several ways;
Sometimes he may even cause you to be ill.
He will frighten you in many ways,
and sometimes he even makes you fight against your enemies.
Sometimes he may cause you to lose money and prestige,
suffer losses and humiliation,
and sometimes put you in such extremity that you fear death.
Sometimes you may be very sad and depressed without reason,
and sometimes he makes you feel disappointed,
or doubtful whether you will receive his grace.
In many other ways, he will try to correct you.
Often, silently, he is kind to you
or gives you grace without your knowledge.
With the help of bhajan, contemplation (dhyan), and satsang,
he will sever your ties with the world.
Understand all these corrective troubles to be his will,
and through them all you should remain contented and happy
and know them to be his will.
Whatever should happen to you,
you should never waver in your devotion to him
or leave the refuge of his holy feet.
Whatever he does, you should feel it is for your good
and whatever your circumstances,
you should realize it is his grace and for your good.
Sometimes, when trials are many and great,
your faith may waver and they will make you forget the satguru,
but this is the time when you should remember him.
Understand, this is the time when you should control yourself
and crush your mind.
This is the time when you should think
of nothing else but your satguru.
This will steady your mind.
It is the only way in which your mind will be purified.
Get the stream of grace (amrit dhar) from the satguru,
the ocean of mercy, and thus be rid of all affliction.
Author Unknown, Shabd amrit dhar