A Clear Mission
Regarding the invaluable nature of human life, Kabir Sahib said:
This precious chance
You will not get again.1
Various saints have used graphic allegorical images to portray how rare it is to be born a human being. The problem, however, is that souls are born into this world without any knowledge or awareness of the value of this birth, apart from the common belief that we are born with an intellect in order to appreciate and enjoy this life. People therefore use the intellect at every opportunity to experience the pleasure and enjoyments offered by the world.
The greatest good fortune that a human being can experience is to learn what this life is truly all about. The Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, spoke about utilizing this precious opportunity:
Let me assure you that it is a most fortunate thing in any one's life when he has found a definite purpose and a definite end towards which to work. I am glad you have found that definite end and purpose. You shall not be disappointed.2
Great Master clarified this purpose:
Our soul is a drop from the Ocean of Bliss, Life and Energy, from which it separated milliards of ages ago. It is a stranger in this foreign land of agony and grief. There is nothing homogeneous to it here below in this world of earth, water, fire and air. Unless it returns to its Ancient Original Home, its sorrows and sufferings cannot and will not end. … No one has ever found nor will ever find Him outside.3
Because of our state of ignorance of this, however, we start our journey in life ill equipped to deal with both the unfathomed limitless sea of life as well as the return to our original home. And in reality we have no means of coming to know the answer to this crucial question of life without the intervention of someone who already knows it. The simple fact that we have been born with an intellect capable of understanding what such a person may have to say is a great boon, as we can never gain this knowledge by our own capability. This knowledge is grace, the pure grace of God.
Along with the blessing of being told of our real purpose, there is something we have to do – we have to turn knowledge into experience. And we start with the inherent confidence that we will be able to do what it takes. But again, ultimately we find that this experience also can be accomplished only through the grace of God. And yet we discover that even though everything, in truth, is his grace, somehow the requirement of our effort is profoundly associated with that grace. Baba Ji once suggested that we must feel that we are working in this process.
So despite the absolute necessity of the work we need to do in order to become aware of grace, our lesson of life is that we must turn to him 100 percent for help. The lesson of life is that we cannot do this work by our effort alone. In fact, in the end the lesson is: only he can do this work – or alternatively put, he will extract this work from us.
The problem is that our mighty foe, our ego, will not concede. So therefore we could say that it becomes the purpose of life to concede. And as always, the Master has a simple solution to get us to do our full share of the work and to concede our ego to him. He simply makes us fall in love with him. Then we are prepared to do anything for him, and we take shelter under his wing. His wings are strong and can lift us high into the sky – and far beyond into realms we can’t even imagine.
All saints say that it is he and he alone who will bring us face to face with the supreme One himself. At that point the purpose of our existence will be clear, and we will have accomplished our goal.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh describes this process of grace and effort:
We are so mixed up with this mesh of maya [illusion], so involved in worldly and sensual pleasures that we would never even think about the Father but for the pull, which he creates in every one of us. First we start with his grace that he starts pulling us, then he makes us worthy of his pull, he makes us receptive to his pull, and then we attend to that pull – we try to achieve our destination.4
This statement by Maharaj Ji makes it clear right up front that the entire process, whatever it may be, is instigated and carried through by the grace of the Father. He continues in the same letter:
With his grace we go back to him. So who is doing it? Isn’t he worshipping himself through us?… He … gave us the company of mystics and saints and made us more restless to become one with him – so restless that day and night we’re thinking about him… . So when we achieve our destination, who’s worshipping whom? Through our body he’s worshipping himself, because without his pull, without his grace, without his making us receptive, without his giving us the opportunities and facilities to meditate, nobody would do anything at all.5
When we meet a saint, a true Master, we are drawn to learn all we can. He gives us the desire to put what he teaches into practice, and he motivates us further by saying that we can thereby reach the same goal he has already attained. It is an old adage that you have to find a teacher who has experienced everything he is going to teach you, and then you have to make the effort to experience it for yourself. Otherwise it is all hypothetical. So the formula for life is: learn about Nam or Shabd through someone who is knowledgeable in these things and do our very best to put into practice fully what he asks us to do. That someone is our Master.
Great Master quotes Guru Arjan Dev on the nature of a Master:
A Master is a lover of God. In him there are boundless currents of true love. He is the physical form of that love. To love him is to find the most important medium for developing love for God, because he is a manifestation of God and his heart is full of love for Him. His face shines with the light and energy of God. By seeing him, love and longing for God increases. To love such a person is to love God himself, because by loving him we always remember our Lord.6
Guru Nanak identifies the key attributes of the one inner power within us all:
Nam, Light, Melody, Master, Love.
The Master in his true form is Light and Melody and Love. And he has taken up residence within our inner being. We can we turn to him for refuge at any time – and all the time – throughout the long spiritual journey as we attempt to put what he says into practice.
If we turn within under the guidance of our Master, our inner consciousness will discover that amazing Melody and Light which are actually the true form of the Master, whose composition is that of pure Love. If we rely on him and turn to him, he will become our pilot in this world and bring us in touch with that power of Nam. Nam will enable us to rise above the shackles and pain and suffering of this world. In this way, our voyage in this world becomes one of purpose, with a clear mission to be accomplished in this life. This is clarified beautifully by Dariya Sahib:
Practise devotion and cultivate true knowledge,
And blessed will be your life in the world.
You will never again fall
Into the dark well of the world.
The Divinity will come to your sight
And you will cross the ocean of the world.
You will go beyond the cycle of old age and death,
And will not enter the womb of the mother
to take any more births.
Be awakened at heart, says Dariya,
The Satguru has made this thoughtful utterance.
O men, and women, offer devotion
To the soothing holy dust of the Satguru’s lotus feet.7
Wondrous is the Creator who has designed this body.
The human form is the top of the whole creation.
You are the beautiful mirror, O brother;
The Lord reveals His Form within you.8
Despite all that has been said about our goal, however, if we carefully examine our actions we will have to admit that they still serve primarily short-term worldly goals – even after we are initiated. Saints remind us that nothing of this world accompanies us beyond death, but we are like someone who spends all his time on a business that is certain to fail. And every action we take exacts its own karmic price. Baba Ji has exhorted us to ask ourselves: What goal have we chosen for our lives? Do we keep it before us, and work toward it every moment?
The simple essence of our spiritual work can be found in the Bible, in Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Dariya Sahib also refers to this stillness, or steadiness, of mind:
Having made the mind steady,
one attains profound wisdom,
Which is called the manifestation of Nam,
the true Diamond. 9
The simran given to us at initiation is designed to still the mind. When the mind is totally preoccupied with the holy words, there is no room left for the world. Letting ourselves ‘go with the simran’ in meditation, repeating each Name attentively with confidence in the method and the Master, we experience the mind gravitating toward stillness. The relentless oscillations of our attention are calmed momentarily by this concentrating pull, and we can experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.”10 The sweetness of the inner Master, although as yet invisible to many of us, is always at work, luring our spiritual heart inward and upward. This is true love at work – the affection between the Source and the soul. And this is what it is all about: love, true love.
Right here and now, though, through habit – and despite our knowing the critical importance of simran and meditation – the mind remains largely focused on the outside world. So it may take a long time to actually put his instructions into practice properly, and to persuade ourselves to keep going in the face of apparent failure.
Therefore we need to be reminded continuously of the big picture and our true goal in life. When, with his grace, we learn to fully concentrate the mind internally, we eliminate awareness of the outer physical world, and the gateway to the upper realms of consciousness opens. We have embarked on a long journey inward that leads to reunion with God under the guidance of the Master. Even so, it is not we who will accomplish anything; what we will ‘accomplish’, perhaps, is the humility to realize we can do nothing of ourselves, and that in the end, it is all his grace. Everything is his grace – everything.
What the saints are telling us about the role of work is that “profound wisdom” is the unique fruit of attending to meditation. Absent that inner experience, the only direct experience we can have of Nam on this material plane in its pure divinity is in the physical form of a true Master. This is supported by a series of abbreviated quotes from Philosophy of the Masters, Volume V:
The Guru … is a power which is manifested in this body temporarily. … [He] is a Perfect Man … the fulfillment of spiritual evolution in human beings. … He is the life of the Universe. … truth personified or Reality in human form. … He is the top of creation. There is no one better than he. There is no one greater than he, here or hereafter. … He lives in this world radiating love … The blending of power with solicitude and humility, and of wisdom with love … is to be found in a Satguru only. … A perfect Guru … has the power to take others to the highest region.11
Repeating our earlier quote, Maharaj Ji said:
With his grace we go back to him. So who is doing it? Isn’t he worshipping himself through us? … he gave us the company of mystics and saints and made us more restless to become one with him – so restless that day and night we’re thinking about him… . So when we achieve our destination who’s worshipping whom? Through our body he’s worshipping himself, because without his pull, without his grace, without his making us receptive, without his giving us opportunities and facilities to meditate, nobody would do anything at all.12
Maharaj Ji said, “Actually he worships himself through us – we're just puppets.”13 Many mystics have explained creation as simply the Lord’s worship of himself through us. This worship transforms a human being into the Lord himself – which is the crowning objective of life here in the manifestation of God’s love that we call the creation.
However, we are not quite yet his lovers; we don’t experience ourselves as puppets yet – as tools in his hands. But when our puppet-realization dawns, we will be wonder-struck at his game of duality. Great Master reveals in Philosophy of the Masters that we will eventually see that all is he, all is one:
A true lover is a real believer in the oneness of God and is a true discerner of the jewel of His non-duality.14
Rumi writes of the singularity of duality and unity:
His description is not contained within the intellect, for He is the Coincidence of Opposites. Wonderful Composition without composition! Wonderful freely acting Compelled One.15
Finally, Mirdad says:
Not a punishment is duality, but a process inherent in the nature of unity and necessary for the unfolding of its divinity.16
What a goal and spiritual process the Saints have outlined for us in their writings! And what a purpose behind it all!
- V.K. Sethi, Kabir: The Weaver of God’s Name, 1st ed., p.422
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, #208.
- Ibid., p.viii
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #504
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, 7th ed., pp.146–47
- K.N. Upadhyaya, Dariya Sahib: Saint of Bihar, pp.159–60
- Dariya Sahib, p.166
- Dariya Sahib, p.75
- Bible, Phillipians 4:7 (NKJV)
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, 4th ed., selections from pp.113–116; 74
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #504
- Recorded February 26, 1982
- Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. II, 3rd ed., p. 171.
- The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, tr. William C. Chittick, Diwan 26832, p.50
- Mikhail Naimy, The Book of Mirdad, p.154