The source of love and devotion - Living Meditation

4  The source of love and devotion

Were it not for His grace, we would never even think of our separation from Him, nor would we desire to return Home. But for His grace, we would neither meet the Master nor follow the Path.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Our past positive actions through many lifetimes and the grace of Shabd have brought us into the presence of a living Master. Since the time of our birth, the Master has been with us. He is our true companion. Whenever we have been in sorrow or despair, at the lowest points in our life, the Master has been there, waiting for us to realize the illusion in which we exist.

The Master not only guides and helps during the disciple’s lifetime, but stays with him even at the time of his death, and afterwards.
Introduction to Die to Live

The living Master is our link with Truth. Baba Ji says, however, that it is important that we question and inquire about all aspects of the teachings. He frequently points out the need for us first to relate to the teachings and find them logical and truthful; otherwise we will not be able to do justice to the teachings or to the Master. Having our doubts resolved will give us the necessary confidence and trust that we are on the right path, with the right teacher. This trust will help us remain constant in our meditation, and our constancy, in turn, will give us the balance and equanimity that support spiritual growth.

It is for us to find within ourselves the tenacity and endurance to follow the Master’s teachings to the end, bearing in mind that it is the truth of his teachings that is important, not his personality. It is important that we don’t become blinded by his appearance and lose sight of the fact that the true Master is Shabd.

Our real Master is the Word, the Logos, Shabd, Nam, the Audible Life Stream or whatever name one may choose to give it. The Master is that Power manifested in human form.
Introduction to Die to Live

Since the Master is the human manifestation of Shabd, and we too are part of Shabd, when we meet the physical Master he seems very familiar. We may feel we have known him forever or that we have met before. In reality, at a deeper spiritual level, he is us. How can anyone be more closely connected to us? He is our own true Self. The only difference is that the physical Master is aware that his real form is that of Shabd while we are not aware of this truth. With the constant practice of meditation, the layers of misconceptions and illusions that cloud our perception begin to dissolve, and we start to see that the outer and inner Masters are one and the same.

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
John 14:9

As we gradually become aware of the connection between the disciple’s identity and that of the Master, an indescribable bliss, gratitude and devotion are born in us. Through the deepening of our meditation practice, this feeling of devotion increases until we go deep enough to realize that Shabd, Master and disciple are one and the same.

Within me the Father has revealed Himself;
Father and son have met and become one.
Guru Arjun

Meditation is devotion

You can build love and devotion only through meditation, not otherwise. Meditation builds everlasting love.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Love is the fruit of devotion. Meditation is the way to kindle devotion. Meditation is where we find the depth of love. Meditation will build within us the true devotion that will take us to the heart and the source of Shabd, to the home of the Master of our soul, to our Radha Soami. Without devotion, we are as the living dead; without longing, we are barren and a desert. The way to kindle longing for this love is through meditation, for devotion finds its fullest expression when we surrender our whole being to the Master, through giving ourselves to Shabd in meditation.

The only way to strengthen love is by meditation. There’s no other way, because the love which we get by experience cannot be compared to any other type of love.
Maharaj Charan Singh

It is only through meditation that absolute or ultimate Truth is realized. Truth, or Shabd, cannot be realized by logic or by intellect. The path of the intellect does not take us beyond the realm of the mind. The way to go beyond the mind and to gain access to direct perception or the spiritual experience of reality is by stopping the currents of thought through the practice of meditation, with love and devotion.

The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.

Devotion is a practical way to become receptive to the teachings of the Masters. If we see the Master as a teacher of logic and intellect, then we will get words and explanations. If we try to know the Master as he really is, without the hindrance of the intellect, then we will come to know him as the embodiment of Shabd. For those who are intellectual by nature, this is very difficult to do, but we need to start somewhere. However artificial and stone-hearted we may have become, raised as most of us have been on scientific materialism, we still yearn to experience feelings of love, awe and longing, like those recorded by the lovers of Shabd.

Love came and emptied me of self,
Every vein and every pore
Made into a container to be filled by the Beloved.
Of me, only a name is left,
The rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.
Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir

The path of devotion or bhakti can begin by simply recognizing the Master’s kindness, by not taking him for granted. The spark of longing, and receptivity to his love, can be ignited by gratitude – gratitude to the Master for giving us initiation, for teaching us to meditate, for teaching us what to do with our mind and how to live our life; gratitude for putting us on the right path, for giving purpose and direction to our life, for teaching us, by his example, to love beyond our self without thought of reward. As we look back on the time before he called us to him, we will remember with gratitude the many things done for us even then to transform, and spiritualize, our life.

A time will come when we will see our Master as something more than a mere human being. When, through meditation, we are able to relate to him as the embodiment of Shabd, we will be able to receive the full transforming and purifying power of his teachings. This receptivity we will only get from meditation. Without meditation, we will be able to perceive only a fraction of a fraction of his love and wisdom. That is why it is so important that we try to develop the highest type of devotion through meditation, not confusing emotion with devotion.

Emotion, rightly directed, becomes devotion

Emotions are all right if they lead you to devotion, but they should be channelled. If you let loose your emotions, they become a nuisance. If the river flows within its banks, only then it is useful. But when the river floods, it overflows its banks and creates devastation everywhere.
Maharaj Charan Singh

The mind wants us to believe that the path of devotion is one of romance, and it entices us to think, “Here is the Beloved. I am going to merge in him. He is always the father looking after my needs. I don’t have to put in any effort. He is taking me to Sach Khand, and all will be wonderful.” This is pure deception of the mind. All saints have told us that the path of love is a path of struggle.

The lovers of the Lord go into the battlefield with their heads on the palms of their hands. This is how they find the Beloved. No one has found the Shabd through emotional excitement. To paraphrase a quotation from Kabir: When the celestial war drum is beaten, the warrior rushes forth to battle; bare-chested, he fights without weapons. The coward, on the other hand, slinks away, turns on the TV, calls someone on the phone, enters a chat room, visits friends, loses himself in indulging the senses, and thinks a thousand thoughts, with his mind darting in every direction. The last thing he wants is to have to face the battle.

The battle is inside, and it is inside that it has to be fought. The war drum is beating constantly, calling us to arms. This fight is the real purpose of our life. This is what is essential for us now. In practical terms, it means to keep our attention as much as we can in simran, at the eye centre. This is the way of the spiritual warrior, the way to empower the soul, the essence of the path of devotion, the foundation for a more mature relationship with our Master.

The strongest warrior is he who conquers himself.
Aztec saying

True devotion is to keep our attention at the eye centre. If we feel devotion, but cannot concentrate our attention at the eye centre, we may be confusing emotion with devotion. Unfocused emotion scatters the attention and dissipates precious energy. It is the concentration of our attention, of all our longing and consciousness, at the eye centre, that alone will enable us to break through the barrier of the physical. This alone will bring us into contact with the inner experience that will enable us to sustain true longing and devotion. This inner experience cannot be had if our attention is scattered and misdirected outwards by emotion. That is why devotion is not the same as emotional excitement. It is important to distinguish between the two.

Love is always within. When you try to dramatize your love, you lose the depth of the love.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Sant Mat, the path and practice of the saints, is not a matter of lip service or emotional excitement. It is a profound way of life to be lived, within ourselves, at every moment and at every level. The mind falls into the trap of wanting to run after the physical form of the Master because it believes that this is the way to demonstrate love for him. We get caught up in running after the physical form of the Master like going to see a pop star. Everybody is jumping up and yelling, and because of all the emotional excitement buzzing and humming around us, we soon find ourselves jumping up and yelling too. We may ask ourselves why this so often happens in the relationship of spiritual Master and disciple.

Could it be because we want to believe that running after the physical form of the Master will give us spiritual benefit to compensate for our lack of effort in meditation? Could it be that we cannot face the effort required of us to go beyond the physical level to discover Truth? We want the easy way out. But the fact is that no amount of seeing the physical form of the Master will compensate for a lack of meditation. And when we put the Master on a pedestal and worship him in his physical form, are we not treating him like a stone idol, an image of what is already an image of Truth? Taking an analogy that Master Charan Singh often used, it is like the sun reflecting on water that is then reflected on a wall. Rather than being content with the reflection on the wall, would we not do better to seek to see the sun itself?

People think that by running after me or by greeting me and saying ‘Radha Soami’ many times, they will get spiritual benefit. It is nothing but their own deception. What do they get out of it? By touching my hand or my clothes or putting the dust from where I have walked on their forehead, they get nothing.
Maharaj Charan Singh

When we confuse emotion with devotion and follow blindly our own need for outward rituals and tangible evidence, when we give up the spiritual fight and surrender to our human tendency to ritualize and reduce everything to the physical, we are doing a great disservice to the Masters and their teachings. We are being deceived by our mind. True devotion is trying to please the Master by bringing our attention up to the eye centre. To help him in his promise to liberate our soul is the greatest demonstration of love we can give him.

Running after the physical form of the Master is something very different from having love for the Master.
Maharaj Charan Singh

The task of the physical form is to initiate us and to introduce us to the inner Master. The Master has told us where his real form is. Now it is up to us to pursue it. The physical is a means, not an end. We need the physical to love because we cannot develop the love needed for success on the spiritual path if its object is just an idea, a concept, in our mind. Our aim has to be to direct our love for the outer Master into effort in meditation so that we reach beyond the physical to the spiritual.

Let us not get so attached to the physical form that we stop our efforts to see him within. Buddhist Masters express this dramatically by saying: “If on the road you find Buddha, kill him.” Here they are not talking about the physical – not that we have to physically kill the Master, but we have to ‘kill’ our limited concepts. They are trying to provoke us out of our slumber by drawing our attention in such a dramatic fashion to our limitations. We are ignorant of who the Master is. As we grow in understanding of the purpose of the physical Master, we cannot stop there. We must carry on our search for the Master’s real form – the Shabd form.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.
John 16:7

Commenting on this quote, Shabd Master Charan Singh writes: “He [Jesus] says: When I leave you, it will be in your interest. Hearing this, the disciple is surprised. How can it be in the interest of a disciple that the Master leave him physically? Christ explains: Day and night you are running after me now. You are mad in your love, and you are not trying to devote your time to the Spirit inside. But without attaching yourself to the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, you can never go back to the Father. So when I leave you physically, you will not find me anywhere outside and you 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.”

In the introduction to the book Nobody, Son of Nobody, a story is told of a young disciple whose Master has turned cold towards him and finally has him thrown out of his presence. Bereft and in anguish, with no one else to go to, he turns to the Lord and throws himself on his mercy. Suddenly an indescribable peace descends upon him and he tastes that which he was seeking. At that moment his Master comes to him, and still confounded, the disciple asks him how he could treat him that way. The Master answers, “You had given up all and everyone, but there was still someone between you and your Lord; me! I was the only idol left in the temple of your hopes, wants and fears and that had to be taken from you for your ego to surrender and take refuge in the Beloved. Rise now, let’s relish this victory.”

All Masters proclaim the same truth. The true Master is Shabd. True darshan is inner darshan. The Truth is within. The journey of Sant Mat can take the disciple to the innermost level of Truth, but the disciple has to travel there. The Master can point to Truth, but he cannot experience Truth for us. A father has done his job when his sons and daughters are no longer dependent on him. It is only then that the father becomes happy, because he has accomplished his fundamental task of bringing the children up. Likewise, the task of the living Master is to show us how to make contact with the Radiant Form so we can gradually distinguish true from false and travel the path with firmer and stronger steps.

The true Master is the Shabd that projects itself into a human form and descends to the physical level, disguised as a human Master, to introduce us to the Master within and to bring us back to our source. A mature level of devotion is one where the disciple realizes that the true Master is the Master that never dies. Meditation is the way. Meditation is the means by which the love and natural emotions generated by contact with one who lives by Truth are directed inwards and upwards to bring us to that state where alone we become intimate with the real Master.

May your Love of the Form culminate in the Love of the Formless.
Maharaj Charan Singh

The role of the Master

The purpose of the physical form is achieved by explaining the teachings to you, putting you on the path and filling you with love and devotion for Shabd or Nam. Now we have to turn love and devotion for the physical form into love for Shabd or Nam, which ultimately is to pull us back to the Father.
Maharaj Charan Singh

Our spiritual maturity is reflected in our relationship with the Master. Many of us have reduced love to its physical expression, and consequently we believe that we need to be physically close to the physical Master to experience divine love. We may even believe that we should get directions from him concerning every aspect of our life. This is a misunderstanding of the role of the Master. His role is not to get involved in solving the problems of our life. Those are to be addressed by us.

Sant Mat is meant for God-realization, for liberating the soul from its entanglement with the mind. The function of the Master is to be of help and guidance in achieving this goal. Baba Ji says his role is to inspire us to meditate, and he frequently guides us to start our journey by being natural to ourselves. If he is telling us to be natural, it is because our relationships with him, with the teachings and with life in general have become mechanical, superficial and artificial – all centred in the physical sphere. With such relationships as our yardstick, the results of any efforts are likely to be equally superficial. We behave in the way we think we ought to, based on concepts of what we believe spirituality and life to be, rather than starting with where and who we naturally are. Meditation gives us the means to develop a living relationship with the Master, with the teachings and with life, a relationship that will grow and flourish out of experience, that will mature with us and with our practice, and that is wholesome, natural and increasingly profound.

The Master wants us to go as deeply as possible into the nature of our path. He wants us to become spiritually grown up. Baba Ji says that if we are content to see just the physical form and we make no attempt to go within, then how will we ever know that the Master is not a fraud? How do we know that the Master is the embodiment of Shabd? Do we know? We may want to believe that he is, but we will not know it for a certainty until we first make the attempt and one day succeed in going inside, where alone we will know for ourselves.

To know Truth, we must seek the darshan of the Shabd form of the inner Master. Outer darshan should lead us to search inside, not stay content with the outside. Only by seeing the inner Master will we know with certainty what difference there is, or is not, between the physical form and the Radiant Form.

True darshan

A misconception that is frequently encountered on the path of the Shabd Masters concerns darshan of the physical form of the Master. People go to see the Master in the belief that through his darshan their karmas will be cleared away. When we have an opportunity to ask him a question in a meeting, we may prolong our question as much as possible, not because we want full clarification, but because we calculate that by looking at the physical form of the Master for as long as we can we are getting our karmas washed away. This is just another deception of the mind and we’d do well to wake up from such delusions.

Simply by looking at the Master, no karmas are cleared away. That would be comparable to believing that just by going to see a millionaire counting his money, we will also become millionaires. It is his wealth, so how can we get it just by looking? Yet in the case of the Master’s darshan, we are assuming that by doing exactly the same thing, that is, by looking at the Master, we will get spiritually wealthy. The question is: Do we go to see the Master to get something out of him or because we love him? In love, there can be no bargaining, no calculations. If we are to keep on the straight and narrow, we need to reflect regularly on our motives and our way of understanding this supreme path of love.

Baba Ji says that when we are having darshan of the physical form, if we are not gazing at the Master with absolute love, oblivious of everything else, then we are not having his darshan, we are just looking. Darshan is the helplessness of the lover to look at the beloved. It is not something that we can fake or force. It is a natural state born of love.

Darshan is complete absorption in the one we love. Receptiveness to the physical form can make it possible to have the darshan of the Radiant Form. And the way to become receptive to the Master’s true nature is through meditation. Once this receptiveness is achieved, then the Master can grant the vision of his true form. It is up to him to give or not to give his vision: darshan cannot be taken, it is given by the Master. It is the prerogative of the Master to give when and where he wants, regardless of whether we are sitting right in front of him or anywhere from Auckland to Zanzibar.

A thousand miles away is my Master’s abode,
But I always see him nearby.
It’s of little consequence if he’s physically out of sight;
My heart is his real home.
Sultan Bahu

If we want to become intimate with our Master, we must meditate. Pretending that we can establish a true and eternal bond with the Master through visits to the Dera or by seeing him anywhere in the outside world is deluding ourselves, for the true relationship takes place on another plane altogether. A relationship created on the physical level without the support of meditation is a very shallow one. The way to achieve the true relationship is by making contact with the spiritual Master, and this can be done only through the practice of meditation – which can be done anywhere in the world.

We need to be clear that any spiritual progress that can be obtained at Dera can equally be obtained anywhere in the world. The battleground is within us, wherever we are, and that is where the fight has to be fought. Our trouble is that it is a million times easier for us to travel thousands of miles to see the physical form of the Master than it is to bring our attention up one inch. Lack of spiritual courage and stamina makes us keep running to the outer form. The physical form of the Master is our starting place in understanding spirituality. It is also our safeguard in our battle with the deceits and deceptions of our mind. But the true intimacy with the true Master and real spiritual progress will only be obtained within us – through meditation. There is simply no other way. Every true Master says the same.

Your desire to visit India is welcome, but what I wish is that you may have no need for your physical hands, feet, and body, but travel without feet, speak without tongue, hear without ears, and see without eyes, and while sitting indoors visit not only India but the whole of Brahmand. If you saw India with the physical frame, what use, if you did not go beyond this world?
If you reply that you want to come to India for seeing your Guru, then it should be noted that the physical frame is not the real form of the Guru. It is a mere dress he has put on in this world and which will be put off here. The true form of the Guru is holy Sound, and in that form the Guru permeates every hair on your body and is seated within you. When you go above the eyes then the Guru will meet you in his radiant form, and when you reach Trikuti, the Guru will accompany you in his Sound Form, even up to Sach Khand.
Maharaj Sawan Singh