Denial and Acceptance
Saints tell us that we accept what we should deny, and we deny what we should accept. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh said in a satsang back in 1964:
If we regard as permanent our stay in the world … we are only deceiving ourselves. … While we are alive, we should gather what is our own here and will remain ours hereafter. This wealth is devotion to Nam: attaching the mind and soul currents to the audible life stream, the Word or Logos. If we fail to do this, we must again enter the dark dungeon of the world, where we do not know what pain and privation may await us. Our colossal ignorance of Reality keeps us forever chained to the wheel of transmigration.1
This quote encapsulates many of the basic teachings of saints throughout time. First of all, Hazur tells us that this world is not our true home; it is not permanent. Everything we see, everything we own, our status, our class and our caste will all disappear. Hazur refers to our grasp on Reality as “our colossal ignorance.” He’s not telling us that we are a bit mistaken; he’s telling us that we have no idea what is really going on in life!
Secondly, Hazur tells us that “while we are alive” we have to gather what will remain with us in the hereafter. Saints throughout time have told us that the human form is a rare gift, and it’s only in the human form that we can achieve God-realization.
Third, he’s telling us that the wealth we need to seek is devotion to Nam – the practice of meditation given to us through a living perfect Master at the time of initiation. It is a practice that consists of sitting in meditation and repeating five holy names, known as simran and then listening to or for the Shabd, also known as the Word or Logos in the Bible. Through this practice we connect with the audible life stream and begin our journey home.
Finally, Hazur reminds us of the laws of karma and reincarnation. If we fail to use this human birth to achieve God-realization, “we must again enter the dark dungeon, where we do not know what pain and privation may await us.”
Hazur tells us that we are deceiving ourselves. Another way to say it is that we are in denial. So let’s examine some of the many ways we are in denial. We are in denial about the idea that our time on this earth is limited. We know that every single person in our lives can be divided into two categories:
- Those who we will leave behind at the time of death and,
- Those who will leave us behind when they pass away.
Yet we are so surprised when someone passes. And many of us are surprised that suddenly we are “elderly,” and our time is limited. Hazur reminds at another point in this satsang:
We must not put off spiritual discipline until tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes. It is another name for Kal….no one knows when the eagle of death will pounce upon its prey.2
Since we are in denial about the nature of this world, Hazur also encourages us to:
…realize the dream-quality of this earth plane. Only then do we stop running after the mirage in which the water of Truth is constantly receding from us.3
What is this “mirage in which the water of Truth” keeps receding before our eyes? Recent research related to social media found that about 50% of all news found on social media is greatly exaggerated, misleading or completely untrue. People become upset and react one way or the other based on misinformation. This is how we operate every day in this world – in our lives at our work and even in seva. We live in false realities created within false realities. We get upset; we get angry about things that never happened and live in fear of what people tell us may happen in the future. We allow these things to upset our balance, our peace of mind. We stew on these things during our meditation. As if this world is not enough of an illusion, we create internet worlds where we seek “likes” and “followers.” The internet and social media become more fertilizer for the weeds that grow in our minds. How can we possibly find truth in this world when Hazur describes our grasp on Reality as “colossal ignorance?”
We even find ourselves in denial about our progress and efforts on this path. As disciples we get despondent about our progress and about our spiritual practice. We are in denial about our ability to succeed. We deny our ability to live the life of a disciple. We deny that we can find a way to meditate for 2.5 hours each day.
Fortunately for us, the Master is also in a state of denial, but it’s a state of “positive denial:”
- He denies our outward nature and our failures,
- He is the only one on this earth who sees what we will become – who we really are,
- He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
- He denies that we can’t do it, and he tells us that we can do it,
- He denies that we can’t meditate.
Recently, Baba Ji also spoke in a satsang about the wretched condition in which we find ourselves, from a spiritual point of view. To paraphrase, he said that we are mired in worldly pursuits and are steeped in lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride. But then he also said something quite interesting, which is that it’s not our fault. He pointed out that our current condition may be due to karmas from our past lives. Then he told us that the Masters come to rescue us from this condition, to save us and to cure us. The Great Master Sawan Singh says:
The perfect Master or Satguru is the true physician, for he has the life-giving herb of the Name or Shabd.4
And Hazur answers a question in Spiritual Perspectives by saying:
It’s not essential that only good people become satsangis. Who goes to the doctor? A healthy person or a sick person?5
Perhaps Sant Mat is the trauma hospital of spirituality, and the doctor is not going to focus on how we got there. He knows we probably did something stupid. He’s going to focus on healing, but he’s also going to insist that we do our part. He instructs us to avoid the things that made us sick and only do the things that make us healthy.
Hazur speaks about how we help or hurt ourselves when he says:
When he knows how helpless we are, what victims we are of our mind, that at every step we are full of failures, it’s nothing new for him to know about us; he already knows us. …So the question of displeasing the Master doesn’t arise at all, but definitely we can please him by living the Sant Mat way of life, by attending to our meditation.6
So, we have spoken about the denial that helps to create our predicament. Now let’s talk about acceptance. The Master accepts the disciple unconditionally, and we have to accept the Master unconditionally. In the quote above, Hazur tells us that if we don’t follow the teachings, if we don’t live the Sant Mat way of life, if we do not attend to meditation, we are not denying him so much as we are denying ourselves. We are denying ourselves the cure for all that ails us. We are not accepting him! So if we fall into denial and fail to follow the instructions of the Master, it is ourselves that we displease. We harm ourselves; we delay our progress and we incur karma.
However, we do have to be careful with this idea that our condition is not our fault. It can be a bit of trap. We can’t take the point-of-view that it is our destiny to do these things or that we can’t help ourselves, so we’re in the clear. We can’t say that we’ll meditate if he wants us to meditate.
The saints tell us that while we may not be accountable for our current condition, once we’ve been initiated there are no more excuses. We’ve been given the tools to overcome the plight of our soul, and we must choose to use those tools. We must make a choice to follow the teachings and the instructions of the Master. We cannot plead ignorance any longer.
In short, we must replace denial with acceptance, as follows:
- To accept is to follow the vows of being vegetarian, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and living a clean and moral life.
- To accept is to devote our time to meditation
- To accept is to accept his love, and in return, we turn around the love that we have for the world and refocus it on him.
- We have to accept the Master and deny the world.
He has accepted us, and it is through our actions – and not our words – that we accept him. This is the true way to become God-loving. We are generally told to be God-fearing. We are told to not incur the wrath of the Lord. We are told that if we do thus and so, God will be angry. But why do we try to place human attributes on the Lord? By doing this, we’re trying to bring Him down to our level and ascribe worldly behaviours to Him.
Very significantly, Hazur tells us:
The basis of religion is love, not fear – at least it should be.7
The path of Sant Mat is about being God-loving, not about being God-fearing. It’s about loving the Master and being loved by the Master, unconditionally. What do we have to fear from the Lord who is calling us home, who knows our condition and privation? What do we have to fear from the master who has been sent by the Lord to free us from this prison and take us home? What do we have to fear from the master who only has our best interest at heart? If we have to fear anything at all, we should fear the mind. Hazur says:
What frightens you about the Master? Actually we are always frightened of our own self. We’re frightened of our own weaknesses, of our own handicaps, and that becomes a barrier between us and the Master. There’s nothing to fear about the Master. He comes to create love, to strengthen love, to help it to grow and to absorb a disciple within himself. …He knows us. We are all struggling souls, full of weaknesses. What is there to judge?8
It’s interesting that Hazur tells us that being frightened of our weaknesses “becomes a barrier” between the Master and us. Sometimes we do not feel as if we can face him. Baba Ji reminded us recently, by saying that self-pity is our worst indulgence. Instead of saying to our self, “I am so awful, so miserable,” which is denying our true self, he wants us to say, “Here is what I can be.”
The Master’s acceptance is such that Hazur says:
He comes to create love, to strengthen love, to help it grow and to absorb the disciple within himself.9
How much more accepting can you be than that? Just to repeat again, we accept the Master by:
- Living the Sant Mat way of life,
- Taking advantage of every opportunity to do seva, and
- Most importantly, by attending to our meditation.
There is no better way to deny this world and accept the Master than by sitting in our meditation. Great Master says:
Whenever we have a desire to express our love for someone, we should try to discover what kind of love the beloved would prefer. We should then inculcate in ourselves those qualities or actions by which the beloved is pleased, and we should always talk about those things only, for by listening to them he will naturally be attracted. …When you are able to develop the qualities that are liked by the beloved and he is satisfied that you have actually developed them, he will then automatically bestow his love on you.10
Foremost, we know that meditation is the love that the beloved most prefers. But let’s think of some other qualities that the Master loves. He is the living example of so many good qualities, so let’s remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Can we absorb the following qualities through imitation?
- Can we see the best in everyone?
- Can we be kind to everyone?
- Can we be peaceful?
- Can we live a simple life?
Finally, we have spoken about the Master’s acceptance of us, but what about our acceptance of ourselves? We often say to our self, “I am so bad. I am such a failure. Oh, my meditation is useless. During my meditation, I only focus on all the bad drivers on the road, my mother-in-law, and my investments!”
But what has the Master been telling us lately in response to these concerns:
- Who says we’re not making progress?
- Don’t calculate.
- We just need to put in the time,
- And try our best to concentrate.
- Try our best to keep the simran going,
- And leave the rest to him.
Hazur reminds us:
Perseverance will ultimately bring its reward. For obvious reasons the progress has to be slow and we should never feel disheartened on this path. The burden we have collected during millions of lives will take time to clear off. Simran and bhajan with love and devotion will do this. One day you will ultimately reach your home if you continue to do your best.11
He tells us to persevere, and to just keep up the effort. Again, and again we are told not to worry about the results. How do we know we are not making progress? He accepts all our efforts with the joy that a father shows when the child gives him a silly little gift. He turns that gift into a nugget of gold. Hazur tells us that, “…it will take time.” If you save one dollar each day, you will have enough money to go to Dera and sit at the feet of the Master within three to four years. Yet each day you feel as if you are not closer to being in his presence. You feel as if you are just as far away. Then suddenly you have a ticket, and within a day or two you are there. So, he says that, “…we should never feel disheartened.” He reminds us that we are burning off the “burden we have collected during millions of lives.”
Finally, here is a passage from Soami Ji:
Moved with extreme compassion for souls,
Radha Soami explains all the mysteries
and cries out:
Unfortunate souls, listen to me
and accept my word,
Radha Soami can turn your fortune around.
Make haste to embrace his holy feet
and do whatever it takes to submit to him.
A chance like this may never come again.
Grasp this opportunity now, at any cost.12
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol.1; “Nam is Our Only True Friend,” RSSB: Beas, 1987, p. 184, 182.
- Ibid, p. 185
- Ibid, p. 181
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, RSSB: Beas, 2010. p. 191.
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. 1, RSSB: Beas, 2010, p. 408.
- Ibid, Vol. 3, p. 15-16.
- Ibid, p. 371.
- Ibid, p. 16-17.
- Ibid, p. 17.
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, RSSB: Beas, 2010. p. 162-163.
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light, RSSB: Beas, 2002, p. 84.
- Soami Shiv Dayal Singh, Sar Bachan Poetry, RSSB: Beas, 2002, p. 13.