Come Now, Dear Soul
Come now, dear soul, to the Master’s country,
where there is neither body, nor karma, nor conflict.
Soami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Poetry
Each moment of each day, an open invitation from our beloved Master is extended to us. This invitation is wrapped with enduring love and affection and is addressed to our “dear soul”. No matter our circumstance, whether or not we are experiencing the “good things in life”, the Master always considers our soul with love.
The soul is invited now to come to Master’s country. But what is the Master’s country? It’s not in India or any other nation – we disciples are scattered all over this earth. Perhaps it’s in satsang, when we feel his subtly divine atmosphere. Perhaps it’s in reading his profound teachings, when we remember him, or when we enjoy his physical presence and are paying attention. Actually, though, his country is located within the body at the third eye. We can be with him there, no matter whether we live near or far from him.
Why would we focus on the Master’s country? We might say, to experience “spiritual bliss”, to have “a better life”, to become “a better person”. It seems that we can’t resist the river of his love; words fail us when we try to describe them. We know we are going nowhere without him. Wherever we are, Maharaj Jagat Singh says in Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II, the Shabd is with us. “It should be like a garland of flowers round our neck, for the gateway to freedom is Shabd.” Soami Ji continues in Sar Bachan Poetry:
This world, this alien land,
Is a game of body, mind and senses.
Each of us, in our heart of hearts, has a deeply personal desire for enlightenment. We only want pure love and, at some point in our life, we find it embodied in our Master. Nothing else makes us happy like he does. In the moments when we are with him, we feel comfortable and at peace, as we might imagine that being home would feel. Our cares and worries seem to dissolve and we believe that anything is possible. Even that perhaps we can be like him one day.
We feel disturbed not to find this feeling anywhere else in life. In fact, given our own experience, the world seems like a dark game with strange rules and outcomes. Survival requires the taking of life. Pleasure may lead to pain; pain may lead to pleasure. People love us, then leave us. Others treat us like possessions. Conflict is everywhere, even in our own hearts. What a disappointing game of “body, mind, and senses” this is.
The world says power brings happiness; but if that were true, all politicians would be happy. If wealth or knowledge brought happiness, all rich and educated people would be happy. If family or friends brought happiness, all people with large families or lots of friends would be happy. Should we give our precious life to such a game?
Watch how our desires run from one thing to another. Meanwhile, in fleeting moments of quiet reflection, we may stop and wonder, what we are doing. We are not facing the darkness within, which is the outer border of Master’s country. We feel uneasy playing this cruel game, yet we still don’t seek where he lives, within. Meanwhile, his open invitation rests in a quiet corner of our heart, calling to us silently.
No wonder we suffer a deep nostalgia, a sense of having lost a most precious friend, and our sorrow feels inconsolable. This pain is a gift from the Master, as Rumi writes:
Till the cloud weeps, how should the garden smile?
The weeping of the cloud and the burning of the sun…
keep the world fresh and sweet.
The Rumi Collection, edited by Kabir Helminski
Our mind can turn this life into an alien land. Under the mind’s sway, we may envy the lives of other people we know. We envy them, even if we do not know them, but those lives are not ours. We want to be somewhere else, but we are here. We want to have the Master’s consciousness, but we only have our own. Consciousness, however, can change, no matter who we are or where we live. We can attune our heart to his by meditating, and our consciousness will rise and “keep the world fresh and sweet”.
There is a story about the early years of the Dera eye camp: Some doctors were hired to work with the sevadars to care for the patients. After one session, Maharaj Charan Singh handed each of the sevadars a small gift of parshad as a gesture of gratitude. The doctors were handed their fee for services. One doctor, however, who had watched the sevadars receive their parshad, held up his hand when Hazar reached him. “No, sir,” he said, “I do not want my payment. Whatever you gave the sevadars, I want that.” Was he talking about the handful of sweets? No. What did he really want? Soami Ji continues:
Listen to the Guru’s message with full attention,
through Surat Shabd practice head for your home.
Sometimes we fail in our devotion. We may find ourselves ruminating about our troubles and our insecurities. We aren’t rich enough or good-looking enough or prominent enough. Now, wait a second. Who is making these ridiculous claims? It is the mind talking. This talk is like dancing with the devil; nothing good comes of it. Who cares how poor or ugly or outcast we are? Certainly Master doesn’t care about that. If he doesn’t care, why should we? The Master sees we are trapped and he offers release. Maharaj Jagat Singh in Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol. II, says:
Whatever weaknesses are to come in the way of your devotion will gradually disappear as you continue with your meditation, and the entanglements in your heart will be taken care of.… Gradually, gradually, devotion will bring its own sweetness.
In meditation, we face a mirror that reflects our hopes, fears, excitement and anguish. It is all about us, and personal insecurity is the inevitable result. Simran repeated with our attention at the eye centre turns that mirror into an open door through which we enter our Master’s country. While staring into our own personal mirror, without the focus of simran, we remain in the country of the mind. The pull of the world is so powerful that we can even forget simran, the eye centre, and our Master.
Sooner or later, however, the mirror loses its allure. We get sick of it. We are humbled to find out that we don’t even have the power to repeat five simple words, and that we are not the person we thought we were. That is a good thing! Surrendering, we approach meditation again, seeking only to keep our attention at the eye centre and call his Name. Soami Ji’s poem continues:
Through the true Guru’s grace you arrive in that country
which only admits the consciousness of a saint.
Our body and heart are limited. There are limits everywhere outside in the world. Only grace is unlimited, and that is the consciousness of a Master. Maharaj Sawan Singh writes in Spiritual Gems:
There are two ways of looking at this creation:
1. From the top, looking down – the Creator’s point of view;
2. From the bottom, looking up -man’s point of view.
The Great Master continues:
All the saints, when they look from the top, describe the creation as His manifestation. They see Him working everywhere.…
Looking from below, or the individual viewpoint … the individual thinks he is the doer and thereby becomes responsible for his actions and their consequences.
Can we give up our viewpoint? Can we change? The Masters say we already live in his country, only we don’t know it. We don’t realize that our identity is Nam; and, if we did, our journey would be complete. No force anywhere can challenge the Shabd.
Imagine the security we would feel if we realized that this country we experience with our hearts and minds, and the spiritual country we long to experience are both under the absolute control of the Shabd. Where is the worry then? Karmas would still come at us every day; apparent obstacles would still present themselves. But our perspective and behavior would rest in the consciousness of a saint.
When we are at the bottom of a mountain, we can only see one small area. Almost the entire mountain is unknown to us. After a long ascent, reaching the summit, we can see in every direction – above and below. At the bottom, there are many of us. At the top, there is only the One.
Reaching the Master’s perspective, we transcend the mind. May his grace be with us at this moment, that we may always take another step toward the Master’s country – right now and forever.
Spirituality is not attained by merely reading or writing, but by practice. A theory without practice is not of much value.… So the saints always advocate self-experience through practice as far more important and beneficial than sheer theoretical knowledge, for spirituality is the knowledge gained through inner realization, and that cannot be had without practice and without learning from a Master.…
If, to our knowledge of spirituality, we add practice, then such a knowledge will adorn the seeker like a garland of flowers.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I