Our Number’s Up
What is it about numbers and satsangis? Say the number two-and-a-half and you’ll get an instant reaction. It’ll range from a quick change of subject, to a look of guilt which says, “I know, I know, don’t remind me,” to a contented, “Yes, most definitely, every day without fail.” You don’t even have to add the word ‘hours’ to two-and-a-half. The significance of this number became etched on our minds from the moment we left our initiation session, full of optimism and anticipation of a life dedicated to meditation.
Sadly, for many of us, our initial optimism soon turned from confidence that we’d be approaching the gates of our eternal home within a matter of months, to a realization that we may well spend our entire lives trying to reach the eye centre. Every time we hear the words ‘two-and-a-half’, we are reminded of our misguided optimism about a quick journey home. We hadn’t fully appreciated that it can be a struggle to set aside this amount of time on a daily basis, or acknowledged the challenge of concentrating for so long. Perhaps it wouldn’t seem so bad if we said “a hundred and fifty minutes” – that doesn’t sound quite so mind-numbingly long as two-and-a-half hours. However, whether it’s a hundred and fifty minutes or two-and-half hours, whether we achieve perfect concentration or not, we need to build up to the allotted time as we promised.
Five – a multiplicity of connotations
The number five has many connotations for satsangis. We’re reminded of how we can become enticed by the power of the five senses and fall prey to the temptation of the five passions. We’re told about the five regions and the five sounds that will guide us on our inner journey to our true home. We’re also aware that, as human beings, there are five elements present within us, including the all-important ether. This gives us the power of discrimination that all other species lack, helping us to understand the difference between right and wrong.
Perhaps the most significant ‘five’, however, relates to the five holy names that comprise our simran. Given to us at the time of initiation, they’re the most wonderful, priceless gift we will ever receive. They help us to remember our Master and form a binding association with him. Their constant repetition will help concentrate the mind and make it still – a prerequisite for our inner spiritual journey.
The potency of the five holy names lies in the fact that they came directly from our Master. If the five words were given to us by a fellow satsangi or if we had found them in a book, they would merely be a collection of sounds and letters. It’s a bit like a bullet being fired from a gun – it’s lethal! But the same bullet delivered by hand is harmless. So there is power in simran precisely because it is a gift from the Master. However, we can get even greater benefit from that power if we practise repeating the five names constantly, taking advantage of all the opportunities available to us throughout the day. When we’re cooking, surfing the Internet, listening to music, or watching our children, by saying simran our mind can be occupied with remembrance of the Lord. This will help our meditation, making it easier to achieve the level of concentration that we aspire to.
The four promises
Four is another number that resonates with a satsangi. In the science of the soul teachings, ‘four’ is always associated with the absolute, no-compromise promises upon which we base our lives. We’ve probably lost count of the number of times we’ve heard explanations about the need for a lacto-vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol and drugs, leading a moral life and commitment to meditation. We’re definitely not following a ‘sometimes vegetarian’ lifestyle or being occasional social drinkers. We’re absolutely committed. Period. We also need to ensure that we keep the third promise – honesty, kindness and high morality – with equal diligence and steadfastness as the first two. Together, they lay the foundations for our fourth promise – regular attention to meditation. Without following the first three absolutely, we have no chance of making progress with the fourth, our meditation.
The wheel of eighty-four
A satsangi immediately knows the relevance of eight-point-four, particularly when expressed as 84 lakhs. It brings home to us the complete insignificance of our position in the creation. Human beings may be at the top of this hierarchy, but we need reminding that we’re just one of 8.4 million other species that also have a right to inhabit the planet. They’re just as much a part of God’s creation as we are. Eighty-four is also a salutary reminder that, without initiation from a true Master, there is no guarantee that we will be born again as a human and the soul can go up and down the hierarchy of species. We have experienced many lives in other forms and we now have an opportunity to ensure that we transcend the cycle of birth and death.
The unity of one
Once we’ve achieved our two-and-a-half hours through constant repetition of the five names and with absolute adherence to the four promises, then we will become aware of the significance of the best number of all. The number that means most to a satsangi is, of course, one. For we all aspire to experience that oneness and escape the duality of our lives. If only we could cease seeing the ‘I’, then we could merge into the one.
One-pointed concentration is our ultimate aim. And to complete our number journey, we can achieve that only by diverting our attention from the nine apertures and turning our attention to the tenth door or the seat of the third eye. This is where our inner journey begins. Here there is only room for one, and when the drop of our soul merges with the ocean of bliss, then our number really will be up.
Intense longing, ardent love and unfailing devotion denote the same thing. They are the three inseparables in Guru Mat – the path of the Masters, the essential ingredients of true bhakti. All the rest are innovations of the mind. The trinity of God, soul and Satguru is indeed one long chain of infinite love.… The individual soul is the drop, the Satguru the stream, and God the vast ocean.… Nothing save pure love pervades in Sach Khand, the abode of the ultimate reality.… It is truly the fountainhead of pure, unalloyed love, eternal and limitless. None but the saints have access to it and only the perfect adept abides there. Therefore, develop utmost devotion and abiding love for the Satguru.…
It is through loving devotion to the Master that we get the secret of Nam. Even though in the beginning the intensity of love is not pronounced, with constant devotion and scrupulous adherence to the directions given by the Master, this deficiency is soon made up. In due course love wells up as an overflowing stream and liberates the soul forever from the ties of the world.
We are all recipients of immense grace. We are born as human beings, who alone have the capacity of God-realization. We have got a true Master who has granted us the boon of Nam and has come to reside permanently within the eye centre of each disciple. It is now clear that our duty is to live up to his injunctions, develop constant love and devotion, and thereby reap the reward of eternal bliss. ‘In the union of the soul with Shabd is happiness; in the realization of God is bliss.’
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul