Doing What Comes Naturally
Laws of nature govern this physical universe. The sun rises and sets, the tides ebb and flow, the earth emits a gravitational pull whereby if you throw a ball up in the air, it falls down. Leaves drop from trees at a certain time of year, and during another season new leaves unfurl, seeds sprout, and buds give way to flowers. These natural laws are unstoppable.
A magnetic field illustrates another natural law. A magnet’s nature is to pull certain materials to itself, and objects made of those materials can’t help but be pulled. This describes exactly the relationship between the Shabd and the soul, which are of the same divine essence. Maharaj Sawan Singh writes in Spiritual Gems, “The current acts like a magnet on the spirit. It attracts the spirit to itself, and if the spirit were not covered by the rust of mind and matter, it would go up like a shot.”
Sant Mat provides a natural method by which we can remove that rust of mind and matter and reunite our essence – our souls – with our source, the Shabd. The Master teaches us how to meditate on that current, that Shabd, which exerts a pull on the soul that is so powerful that the soul must, eventually, merge with it.
Why does this merging take so long, from our perspective? Nature teaches us that even events that are inevitable don’t always happen instantaneously. For example, a river must eventually flow into the sea. But it may be so filled with sludge, garbage, and dead trees that the water doesn’t move – it’s stagnant. That’s our condition.
The sludge that prevents our soul from being pulled back into the Shabd is made up of our attachments and our karmas, all the actions we’ve committed over many lifetimes that have forged chains around the soul, binding us to this world.
That sludge, that rust on the magnet, has become familiar to us. The saints call this sludge “mind and matter” – it’s the pull of our attachment to this material world. We’ve grown so used to the sludge that we think that being stagnant is our natural state.
And yet, when we receive initiation from a perfect Master, we become aware of something stirring up the sludge. We feel discontented. We long for a purer, higher state of consciousness than we are used to. It’s as if our souls were sleeping, and the Lord poked us to wake us up:
There is something in us which is always disturbing us, something within us which always makes us feel that we are lonely in this world. We feel that we are missing something, and that … is nothing but a natural inclination of the soul towards its Lord. Unless it merges back into him, we can never stop that feeling of missing something.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
Hazur says that the soul’s inclination toward its Lord is natural. Something pulled us to this path. Something pulls us to want to hear about the teachings, to see the Master, to keep meditating even if our effort is sloppy and half-hearted. What is it that pulls us, and keeps pulling us? Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, “There is someone who is creating that unrest in you, who is pulling you towards him.”
Similarly, Guru Arjun Dev, quoted in Die to Live, says: “The One who has sent you to this creation, he is calling you. He is calling ‘Come with me. Let’s go back to the Father.’”
But we tend to turn away from that call, to resist what is natural and embrace what is artificial. Instead of removing the rust from the magnet of our souls, we rush out to collect more. Instead of dislodging the sludge from the river, whose nature is to flow to the sea, we pile on more sludge. Part of us wants to merge with that most natural of all forces, the Shabd. But the ego – the part of us that believes it’s separate from the Lord, that believes we can be happy in this world – resists the natural inclination of the soul to go back to its source and insists on remaining separate, on hanging on to its identity, its individuality.
And herein lies the perfection of the mystic path. The saints know what human nature is. They understand us. They tell us that we are at root spiritual beings. They give us a glimpse of our true nature, our true home. And they give us tools which, if we use them, can very gradually turn our attention away from the world toward the Shabd that is always pulling us within.
They know that this is a slow process and that there is much we must overcome. They know our struggle is difficult. But they also know that resistance is futile and that union is inevitable. The Great Master explains in Spiritual Gems:
Saints have to deal with human nature. If they ask a person to leave kam at once before initiation, we know he cannot do so. They attach him to Nam. There is something for him to look up to now.… A tiny spark is kindled in him. He gives it some attention. The days are passing. Partly through receiving knocks (sickness, death in the family, demands on purse, shocks to pride, etc.), partly through age, partly through satsang, partly because he has passed through some of his pralabdh karma (fate), and partly through devotion to Nam, his attention is slowly contracting. So, by the time he reaches the end of his days, he is almost ready to go up and grasp Nam.
Through all these means, we are primed to surrender to the pull of the Shabd by the time we die. This is a natural process that happens slowly, and most important, inevitably. The process is guaranteed to work because the spirit – as Great Master tells us – once freed of mind and matter, goes up like a shot. It’s just a matter of time.
Doing our meditation and leading a Sant Mat way of life is how we do our part to remove the rust of mind and matter covering our souls, so that we can become pure enough to be pulled by the magnet of Shabd.
The effects of meditation can be subtle. It changes the attitude of our mind toward this creation. We begin to see through the deception of the world and discern our true condition here. Meditation clarifies for us the purpose of our existence and enables us to fulfil it. Meditation sets our compass, so that we can align ourselves with the natural, irresistible pull of our divine home.
Though we may not think we’re making progress, if we do our part, we get signs that we’re on the right track. And these signs give us confidence. For example, we might feel upset if we miss our meditation or don’t put in our full time – we feel off-kilter, and then we want to do better, to try harder. And we become more sensitive. We may feel bad if we hurt someone’s feelings. We find ourselves being kinder, more patient, more tolerant, not so quick to react. And we may gradually find ourselves losing interest in many of the activities and people that pulled at our attention in the past.
This is all a natural process, the result of attending to meditation and following the Sant Mat way of life. The spiritual path is natural, as natural as the unobstructed current of a river flowing to the sea. Remove the obstructions in the river, and the river will flow.