It hardly takes much time after listening to the Master’s satsang for us to recall and share with others what the Master spoken about. We are quick to recollect the key points, teachings, and sometimes even dispense reminders to those around us. We easily catch what the Master says, but how many of us pay attention to what the Master doesn’t say?
Being physically present, we see the Master addressing the sangat. But the mystics caution us about the limitations of the physical shell which we identify with. The body is a coarse form that exists purely for operating on this plane of existence under the discretionary guidance of the mind. Functioning at this level requires the establishing of a proxy identity, which comes about from the parenting and social patterning we receive right from our infancy. Within a few years from the time of our birth, we have associated the self with this temporal vehicle – and we are no longer able to remember who we really are.
Saints have often explained that just as with our schooling, we need to begin with the fundamentals of spirituality, but this is just the starting point. If God-realization is what we seek, we need to move ahead and get past the basics. Sant Mat principles and teachings are critical in shaping the seeker’s lifestyle, giving it structure and direction. But this is only the beginning. The entire spiritual path lies ahead of us. We need to embrace it and live it day in and day out, through our thoughts and actions. The leap from simply knowing and quoting Sant Mat philosophy to actually living it is no small task. Hence the immense stress all mystics place on meditation.
Whoever believes he can reach God
by his own efforts toils in vain;
whoever believes he can reach God without effort
is merely a traveller on the road of intent.
Abu Sa’id al-Kharra, Travelling the Path of Love
Our excuses and baseless justifications often get in the way of even the most earnest of intentions, making it sometimes impossible to meditate. Perfect Masters explain to us that it is our fear of the unknown that creates many of the obstacles in our way. The more we meditate, the more we come to realize that this fear of the unknown keeps us from entering into the abyss of our own emptiness.
Saints explain that this emptiness, or nothingness, is actually a highly potent and energized space; an extremely fluid and dynamic state of being in the non-physical - something that the mind is unable to understand. Only a shift in consciousness allows us to understand this. Meditation allows us to experience this finer reality.
He travels with whoever looks for Him,
and having taken the seeker by the hand,
He arouses him to go in search of himself.
Al-Ansari, Travelling the Path of Love
At the same time, the Master also assures us that he is constantly guiding and protecting us when we sit in meditation. But in order to experience this non-physical state, we must first start with the physical. The effort to sit and still the mind is ours and ours alone. We try so hard to detect signs of progress. Even as we try to think of God, we have contaminated its true essence because we approach him with calculation. Perhaps that is why mystics tell us that if we want to mature spiritually, we need to first forget about progress.
The only way to overcome this mental hurdle is to do more meditation. The grace that is continually showered on us at all times will never be understood, and cannot be put into words. It has only to be experienced, for it originates from the infinite nothingness, the Source, even before manifestation. We are indeed blessed to have come into the company of a perfect Master – someone garbed like us in the physical, and yet one with the Source. Under his guidance, success in meditation is the only outcome we face, as long as we persevere.
We have all become experts at grasping the verbal through the physical. What we need is to experience the non-verbal and the non-physical. Could we ever imagine ourselves sitting in a silent satsang with the Master, with no movement of lips and no words spoken, fully conscious of him addressing us individually? Enveloped in a sacred and love-filled space, could we imagine our state then, if we could catch what Master didn’t say?
All this talk and turmoil and noise and movement is outside of the veil.
Inside the veil is silence and calm and peace.
Bayazeed Bustami, as quoted in In the Company of Friends