The Master’s Presence
It is a fundamental truth of the mystic path that it is necessary to follow a living master and seek the Lord within. Instead, however, most people worship mystics of the past and seek the Lord in external objects.
Jesus was a mystic who preached love and worship of God, yet even though his disciples had great love for him, he was betrayed by them. According to the Bible, Judas betrayed him, and Peter denied him three times.
But why would disciples of a mystic betray or deny their Master? As disciples of a perfect living Master, we wouldn’t intentionally do this. But could we do so inadvertently? Sultan Bahu may help us answer this question. He said:
Any moment you are negligent in remembrance of God
is a moment spent in denial of God.
A simple example of denial would be to commit an act that we would otherwise not commit in the physical presence of the Master. When the Master is physically present, we are conscious of his presence. However, we are not always conscious of the Shabd Master, who is always present within. So Sultan Bahu tells us that it is at these times, when we are unaware of the presence of the Master, that we are denying his existence through our forgetfulness.
What if we disobey our Master? Put simply, that could be interpreted as a lack of respect both for him and for his authority, and this could be perceived as a form of denying his authority. The Master is extremely forgiving, but we should not abuse his love by repeatedly being disobedient and expecting to be forgiven.
We know Christ said that to sin against the Holy Ghost could not be forgiven. Hazur Maharaj Ji has explained that to sin against the Holy Ghost means to turn our back on the Father by not practising devotion through meditation.
We also know that this path is not a part-time affair; it is a lifetime commitment, to be lived with every breath. Maharaj Charan Singh often reminded us that meditation is not just sitting for two and a half hours a day; we must live our whole day in the atmosphere of meditation. This path is therefore not for the faint-hearted. The Masters emphasize that this path is only for the brave and valiant, those who are prepared to give up everything in order to reach the ultimate goal. Most of all, what the Master wants us to give up is our ego. We are not required to give up our material possessions, though we should be prepared to do so if necessary. In other words, everything else in our lives should be secondary to our goal of God-realization.
On the one hand, we believe that the Master is all-knowing, and yet our behaviour may be inconsistent with that belief. Similarly, we believe that we should obey the Master’s instructions with regard to following the four vows, but we find it difficult to do so, as we merrily follow the dictates of our mind. Why this inconsistency? Could it be because our belief in the importance of adhering to the vows is just that – a belief, a concept or theory?
Belief is something that we accept as true or real, without any proof. Belief shapes our perception of reality, irrespective of whether it actually exists, and perhaps we would rather not have to put it to the test, for fear of shattering our belief.
We should be cautious that our behaviour does not undermine our belief in the Master and his teachings. For example, if we say the Master is unlimited, why do we rush to sit right in front of him? The Master reminds us that the Master is not limited, and that the disciple can be thousands of miles away and still receive what the Master gives, or that we can be right under his nose and get nothing, if he so decides. The Master will give us only what he wants to, and sitting in the front of the audience assures us of nothing except our own mental satisfaction.
A conviction on the other hand is based on experience. When we experience something it is not an idea or belief any more, and nothing can change a conviction that is based on personal experience.
So if we want to replace our beliefs with conviction, what do we need to do? The simplest way is to approach them as we would any scientific experiment. If we wish to prove a scientific theory, we start with a proposition that the theory has merit. It is this preliminary faith that we intend to prove through experience. Then we follow the experiment, according to the instructions of one who has himself proved the theory. Once we perform the experiment and experience the results for ourselves, we gain an unshakeable conviction that cannot be overturned.
The mystics advise us to follow the same scientific process for the discovery of spiritual truth. They advise us to find one who has himself performed the experiment successfully, and then perform the same experiment ourselves, in accordance with his instructions. They tell us that within the human body we have all that is required for the spiritual experiment – all we have to do is perform the experiment in the prescribed manner. We start with a little faith in the teacher, perform the experiment exactly as he instructs us to, and voilà, we have our own personal experience, proof and conviction.
The experiment we need to perform is simply to concentrate our attention at the eye centre. We are to become oblivious of the external world, our body and senses, and become conscious of the inner realms and of our soul within.
How is this concentration achieved? Our senses constantly seek satisfaction through the fulfilment of desires, and this keeps our attention focused externally. By stilling our senses we can reverse this outward process and focus our attention inside, away from external distractions. We select a quiet place where our senses can be calmed, and we sit in a comfortable posture so that we can remain absolutely still for the entire duration of the experiment.
Maharaj Charan Singh used to tell us that when we close our eyes we are there where we should be. Then, being there, we occupy our minds with the mental repetition of the five precious, holy names that the Master gives us at the time of our initiation. To derive the full benefit of the holy names, we must repeat them with all our attention, focus and concentration, and with love and devotion, as if they were priceless diamonds being placed in a jewel box.
What role does the Master play in all of this? Frankly, without him nothing is possible. Initially the desire to meet our Maker is sown by the Father himself, who also makes it possible for us to meet a perfect living Master. Then the Master takes over the responsibility to deliver us to the Father. He creates that love and devotion in us for the Father, and answers all our questions on spirituality. His love and devotion for his own Master is an example for us. His service and obedience to his Master is a beacon of light for everyone. If we observe his behaviour and lifestyle, we shall see nothing but unstinting love, devotion, service and obedience.
We now know that a living Master is absolutely vital to spirituality, but we have to understand his role, and more importantly, our role. The sheer beauty of his form makes it difficult not to want to always be with him. But we know we can’t always be in his physical presence. When asked if the separation from the Master was necessary, Maharaj Charan Singh replied:
It is very, very necessary. We cannot even gauge our love and devotion without physical separation. We can never know how much we miss him, how much we are involved in worldly attachments, and how much we actually love our Master, unless we have physical separation. In the presence of the Master we always feel we love him, because there is nothing else to pull us aside. We are always charged with his love and devotion. But how much depth it has, we get an opportunity to know when we are absolutely engrossed in worldly activities, worldly possessions and worldly love. If in that atmosphere we still miss him, we still have the same love and devotion for him and are yearning for his physical form, then we know that we really love him. If we forget him when he is out of sight, you can imagine how much the depth of that love is.
If we experience the path of spirituality as a struggle, let us not lose hope. Let us remember that the Master has chosen us because he is confident we will be able to follow the path. So to ensure that we do not return to the wheel of transmigration, let us fulfil our responsibility of being good disciples – because that is the only type of disciple that is worthy of a perfect Master.