Years pass and we slip into a comfort zone. The initial enthusiasm gives way to complacency and a false sense of security. We are content with our regular routine. We feel that we are fulfilling our side of the bargain by attending satsang regularly, doing some seva and having darshan of the Master. While we may attend to our spiritual practice, our efforts are mundane and mechanical.
With lip service, we hum to the same tune – how blessed are we to be on the path! How wonderful the Master is! How much we ‘love’ him! That was a great discourse!
Yet at numerous question-and-answer sessions with the Master, almost always, the questions are the same – of not being successful in meditation and of not living up to the ideals of the path.
Why is that? If we are truly honest with ourselves, we would pose the following questions: Do we realize the load of karmas we are carrying from countless lives? Do we realize how formidable our adversary, the mind, is? Are we approaching the path with a positive attitude? Do we tend to quit when we see no immediate results in our meditation? Are we lacking in faith, love and effort?
The saints warn us not to be complacent in our efforts and not to take initiation, the path and the Master for granted. Referring to our shortcomings, Soami Ji cautions us and at the same time affectionately reprimands us about our “superficial love”. If we take to heart his candid and straightforward advice, we may understand the reasons for the inadequacies in our spiritual practice. Soami Ji Maharaj explains:
Superficially you sing the praises of the Guru
but you never bring the Guru into your heart.
You have his darshan outside,
yet you never hold his form within.
With so casual a relationship with the Guru,
how can you hope to attain anything, friend?
Your heart pines for wealth and honour,
while outwardly you display humility and meekness.
Deep down in your heart you harbour lust and anger,
while on the outside you feign purity and forgiveness.
Inwardly you have not cultivated love for the Guru,
but what can outward love achieve, O foolish one?
How can the Master come to your help
when you have no love for the Shabd within?
I have tried to explain this to you in many ways,
but perhaps your destiny stands in your way.
You are overcome by the darkness of tamogun within,
while the harmony of satogun has not touched your heart.
You never meditate with sincerity
and your surrender to the Guru is only halfhearted.
You will not bear with even a mild rebuke,
yet you severely reprimand others.
When threatened by misery you apply yourself to meditation.
But when the misery ends,
you go straight back to your old ways.
You have not received
the elixir of the imperishable Name,
nor have you ever detached yourself from the world.
Now you are at a loss to know what to do –
without the Master’s grace
how can you possibly attain anything?
Sar Bachan Poetry
This is really the old puzzle of grace and effort. Everything comes through the Lord’s grace. We cannot achieve anything on our own. It is simply his gift freely given, to those who deserve it. But in order to become receptive to that grace, we must make a sincere and earnest effort. For it is in the trying, even the trying and the failing, that equips us and enables us to be receptive. How many times have we heard that he will accept even our failures? The Master knows us only too well. He does not expect us to be perfect but he does ask one thing of us: that we make meditation the priority of our lives and that we offer him our very best, leaving perfection and the results of our efforts entirely in his hands.
Eventually, when the mind has no interest in worldly desires, passions and attachments, and it is fully focused and concentrated at the eye centre, the Radiant Form of the Master will then look upon the disciple with loving compassion; and when that time comes, the soul will be immersed in divine love.
Sant Mat is not an emotional excitement or lip service and devotion. It is a way of life to be lived. We have to make very great effort and big sacrifices in order to achieve our goal. It is a path of practice and not of words. Love which is only expressed in words is just momentary emotion and excitement and it does not last. It should take a practical shape, and that is by understanding and following the Sant Mat way of life.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light