Living in the Will of the Lord
Masters often give the same answer to our many different questions: We reap the benefits of being on a spiritual path if we live in the Lord’s will. The dialogues with disciples go like this:
Will the Master meet me at the time of death? – If you have been living in the Lord’s will.
How do I overcome tragedy? – Accept the Lord’s will.
How do I live my life? – Live in the Lord’s will.
In today’s discussion we will focus on two concepts concerning will:
- Living in the will of the Lord and following the instructions of the Master are interchangeable. They are one and the same.
- We have the ability to choose between living in the will of the Lord or succumbing to the will of the mind. In other words, effort is in our hands.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, the Great Master, writes:
The Master is the Lord’s will personified or made flesh. It is by following the will of the Master that the will of the Lord is known. But this can be known from a perfect Master only.1
Here the Great Master clearly states that it is by following the will of the Master that we will come to know the will of the Lord. In ordinary life how could it be possible to know the will of the Lord? There are so many religions, so many conflicting interpretations of the teachings of the Saints. How can we sort out the truth among all these?
We need a Master who has been sent by the Lord to teach us how to live in the Lord’s will. At the time of initiation the Master tells us everything we need to know to achieve God realization. More importantly, he enables us to live in the will of God by directing us to the Shabd, Nam, Word or Logos within us. The Master empowers us to know the Lord’s will, as well as live in it.
So what actually is the Master’s will? Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh offers this explanation:
What is the Master’s will? Just to be firm on the principles on which we have to build our meditation and attend to our meditation – that is his will, that is his teaching, those are his instructions. That is the base on which we have to start. The real will of the Master we can know only when we go beyond the realm of mind and maya.2
Hazur affirms that to know the Lord’s will we simply have to follow his teachings, to hold steadfast on the principles on which “we have to build our meditation.” Hazur Maharaj Ji always reminded us that we have to build the atmosphere of meditation twenty-four hours a day, and we build the base for this with our daily actions of reading spiritual books, doing seva, attending satsang and holding firmly to the four vows we took at the time of initiation.
But to truly know the will of the Master we have to go beyond the realm of mind and maya, and this can only be done through conscientious simran and bhajan. It is the will of the Master that we sit for 2.5 hours each day.
But now let us ask oursleves: Who decides if we remain in his will or don’t remain in his will? The answer to this question brings us to the second concept: effort is in our hands. We must act as if it is within our own power to choose between living in the will of the Master or living in the will of the mind. Do we succumb to lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride, or do we cultivate chasity, forgiveness, detachment and humility? Do we make helplessness our excuse?
We tell ourselves that this is not in our own hands – the devil made me do it.
We tell ourselves that we can only do the right thing when he gives us the strength to do the right thing.
We tell ourselves that we are doing all these negative things because it is our karma.
We tell ourselves that we will sit in meditation when he wants us to sit in meditation.
It’s important to remember that the Master does not ask us to do anything that is not within our power to do. It’s important to believe in our ability to follow his instructions. This means that there is no excuse or justification for not doing what we promised to do at the time of our initiation. Great Master tells us:
If by the Lord’s will it is meant that everything that happens is bound to happen and that man’s efforts are of no avail whatever, then what was the use of the Guru’s incarnating themselves again and again, giving out their teachings, taking pains to hold spiritual discourses and putting out scriptural writings? The Gurus say that it is necessary for us to make our own efforts, but these should in in accordance with the will of the Lord. 3
When we sit at the feet of the Master, when we see what sacrifices he makes to be with us, we would do well to remind ourselves why he is here:
- He is here to tell us what we need to do.
- He is here to tell us the consequences of not living in the Lord’s will.
- He tells us we canlive in his will – we can do it! He tries to build our confidence.
We ask for more tapes, more books and more satsangs, while we are barely absorbing what is in them. Even when we ask questions, we often cut the Master off during his responses. Whatever is contained in 100 books or 100 tapes or 100 satsangs is contained in each tape, each book and each satsang. It is not by reading hundreds of books, listening to hundreds of CDs or attending hundreds of satsangs that we will achieve God realization. It is rather by putting into practice the principles they offer that we will come to live in and realize the Lord’s will.
A word to the wise is sufficient: A mountain of books and tapes and satsangs are distilled into the instructions given at the time of initiation. If we follow these simple instructions we ae living in the Lord’s will.
And this thought brings us back to the question of our ability to follow the instructions, to put the principles into practice. Great Master reflects on this question:
A man conceives thousands of plans and puts some of them into effect, but fate sits by his side and laughs at him. Effort is the outcome of man’s will. Fate however, is the outcome of the will of the Lord.4
We see the very definition of effort and grace in this quote. This is profound. Great Master is telling us that we had no control over how we got to where we are. “Man proposes, God disposes.” We did not choose our parents, our country, our innate genetic makeup which controls so much, or the environment in which we live.
But then Great Master says something extraordinary. There is something that we can control: “Effort is the outcome of man’s will.” He does not say that effort is the outcome of the Lord’s will or the Master’s will. He says it is the outcome of man’s will. It seems that Great Master is telling us there is something that is in our hands after all – our ability to make an act of will to make the effort.
It is effort that will bring success.
It is effort that will have us do our meditation each day.
It is effort that will propel us to do seva.
It is effort that will force us to make the right decisions.
And effort has to come from an act of will on our part.
He gives us everything to enable us to succeed. But it is up to us to will ourselves to accept his gift. We are starving, the food is on our plate, but we have to lift the spoon. Almost every page of every book talks about our effort being rewarded with his grace. The spiritual rewards of merging in the Shabd are always showered upon us in response to our efforts.
We have heard the advice to “rise above the fray.” The Master personifies this at the highest level. He expemplifies the statement: “Be in the world and not of it.” But is it possible for us disciples to reach the stage where we can step above the fray and onto a level where we can act in concert with the Lord? Can we step out onto this higher plateau where we have escaped the dictates of the mind? Great Master offers an interesting answer to this question:
When by following the directions of a perfect Master, one understands it, he becomes the administrator of his will. Whatever he does, he does on behalf of the Lord. The Lord works through him. His will becomes one with the Lord’s will.5
When we follow the directions of the Master, we become the administrator of his will. We are acting on another level.
Baba Ji has quoted a saying, in paraphrase:
Don’t walk behind me, I cannot lead.
Don’t walk ahead of me, I cannot follow.
Walk beside me, I need a friend.
Great Master amplifies this thought:
Those who act in accordance with the Divine Law or Will are conscious co-workers with it and act according to its provisions.6
What a wonderful way to describe this state! Great Master is making it profoundly clear that when we follow the directions of the Master, we become the administrators of his will. We become one with his will, so the Lord works through us.
Then Great Master tells us that we become conscious co-workers. We become that friend Baba Ji talks about. We become a partner with him in the effort to return our soul to its rightful home. We have stepped out of the fray of the mind and stepped into his world. Each time we meditate, each time we do as we are taught, we are becoming one with the Lord’s will and we are becoming a conscious co-worker.
Now let us reinforce these concepts about the Master, the disciple and the Lord’s will with some passages from Spiritual Perspectives:
When the Father wants you to see the light and remove that veil of darkness from within you, he sends a man to our level.7
The concept that the the Father wants us to see the light is overwhelming. In the case of each and every disciple of a true Master, the Lord himself determines that he wants that disciple to see the light.
So why would the Lord put any impediment in our way? He wants us to see the light. He would not send a Master to initiate us if he was not sure that we could succeed. The answer must be that only we ourselves put impediments in our way.
Now Hazur continues this quote:
You have to meet somebody who has come from God to our level, and being at our level he has the privilege of still being one with the Father. God has given only him this privilege so that through him you can see the light.
This privilege is given to him so that we will be able to put our faith in him and practise accordingly, and then we will also experience the same light that is within every one of us.8
We have to meet someone who has come from God, someone we can relate to. A Saint is not a concept, but rather the embodiment of the teachings of all the Saints. From him we receive the instructions for achieving God realization first-hand. When we sit in front of the Master, we sit at the feet of all the Masters who have come before.
The Master is the example. When we see the Master’s devotion to seva, his discipleship, the way he treats people, the way he lives in the world, we have a model of what we need to become.
The Master is someone we can love and put our faith in. Hazur has just said that the Master is sent so that “we are able to put our faith in him.” Faith creates love and love creates faith. If we love him we will do what he asks. If we have faith in him we will do what he asks.
Hazur also slips in a very beautiful thought: “being at our level, he has the privilege of being with the Father.” The Master has this wonderful privilege of being in two places at once! How many times have we read or heard and read that that:
- The Masters want to give us everything they have.
- The Master wants to make the disciple like himself.
So we can extrapolate: We too – in this very life, in this very body – can be in two places at once. Great Master told us this very same thing: we too can become administrators of his will, when we live in his will.
Now we come full circle, back to our part to play in rising to the level of living in the Lord’s will. Hazur in the above quote says to “practise accordingly.” It is so wonderful to have a Master; it is so wonderful to have someone to love; it is so wonderful to hear the teachings directly from a God-realized being. We are so happy to sit at his feet. But what good does all this do if we do not will ourselves to make the effort to practise accordingly? This effort to live in the Lord’s will must manifiest itself in one simple way:
- Live in the will of the Master.
- Follow his instructions.
- Live the life.
- Do our meditation.
Hazur continues in the answer in Spiritual Perspectives:
But unless the Father sends somebody to our level and we are able to place our faith in him, and then practise and do the needful, for our part we cannot eliminate that veil of ignorance or darkness and see that light within.9
Finally, it is the miracle of grace that underlies everything. It begins with the Father sending someone in whom we can place our faith; only then can we can begin to exert our little will to practise and do what we need to do. Only then can we begin to make the effort to dispel the veil of darkness, and to live in the light within.
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV, 4th ed., page 88
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, #284
- Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV, p.87
- Ibid., p.83
- Ibid., p.80
- Ibid., p.74
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #20