Near and Dear
In a world that often breaks our hearts with hatred, violence, and sadness, the mystics tell us that at the very core of life lies a love that is so powerful that as the Bible says, “God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” Love is a vast subject. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Legacy of Love, “In spite of being away – you have all been very near and dear to me.” A Master can communicate a great deal in just a few words.
We assume that we know what the word “near” means – close by, standing next to. But when a Master says that he is near to every initiate he is describing a mysterious and profound link. The Masters remind us that meditation is the gradual realization that God is always with us. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
Master takes charge of us right from birth … we become conscious that we are being taken care of only when we see the Master within - then we know that we are being helped.… Once the Master initiates a person, he never leaves that disciple.
Someone asks Hazur, “I know that you are my Master, but you seem so far away from me in my day-to-day life.” He replies:
Brother, every satsangi has a personal relationship with his own Master, and he’s never far away from his Master. Neither is the Master away from his disciple. We should never feel our Master is somewhere at a far distance. He is the one nearest to us. He’s always with us.…
We are never left alone. We are not orphaned. There’s somebody to guide us, somebody to lead us, somebody to pull us forward, somebody to push us forward within.
The closeness of this relationship between the Master and the disciple is described in detail by Baba Jaimal Singh in Spiritual Letters:
In his Shabd-dhun form, he is ever present in each hair, in each and every part of the body. Inside and outside, he is always with us. The Satguru is ever present within us.… Even now he is with us – he is bestowing his gracious mercy upon us all the time.
If this nearness is hard to fathom, then how “dear” we are to the Master is an even greater challenge. “You have all been very near and dear to me.” Every initiate? Even the distracted, the unfocused, the arrogant, the insecure, and the unappreciative, those of us who struggle with meditation? Hazur describes the love of the Master for every initiate in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
The Master is never displeased with any soul.… We can only displease a person when we do something which he never expected. When he knows how helpless we are, what victims we are of our mind, that at every step we are full of failures, it is nothing new for him to know about us; he already knows us. We are all imperfect. That is why we are here.
We might ask, “How can you love me when I feel so lost?” The Master’s answer to that question can be found in an unpublished letter that Hazur wrote to one of his disciples.
Please do not lose heart. Never feel for a moment that you are being neglected or that you have no one looking after you. The Lord and the Master both are always by your side giving whatever help is possible. Sometimes certain karmas are quite heavy and these have to be gone through by some physical or mental suffering. Of this be assured, that whatever you are going through, you are being prepared to enter into the Lord’s kingdom and stand in his presence. A disciple passing through the fire of suffering comes out pure gold.
Never misunderstand the Master. He never blames anyone, never hurts anyone’s feelings. He knows very well that all human beings are weak and suffering greatly in this life. The suffering of the disciple is the suffering of the Master.
Please face life with strength and faith in the Lord. Times here keep changing. Everyone lives on hope. The Lord knows very well what you are passing through. Do your best and leave the rest to his will. Pray to the Lord for his grace.
The Masters describe a real relationship, a lasting relationship, and the only one that ultimately matters. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, “We belong only to him.” And the astonishing thing is that we don’t have to earn the approval of our beloved or achieve his acceptance. The Masters urge us simply to give our attention to what is positive; and the most positive aspect of a disciple’s life is our relationship with the Master.
For whatever mysterious, unfathomable reason, every initiate is the beloved child of the Master. He is close by. We are dear to him. And yet as lovely and as comforting as those words might be, they are mere words and can never satisfy us.
In order to move closer to this love, we need three things. First, we have to understand that this is an inner path. Second, we have to act. And third, we need to trust our Master.
First, this is an inner path. The reality of this path can only be understood within ourselves, at a higher level of consciousness than this material world of delusion. The Masters compare the invitation that the saints extend to their disciples to go within to a situation where, if you found your friend standing in the scorching sun, you would naturally invite your friend into the shade. The saints invite us into the shade of Nam. For those of us who live in more northern climates, the metaphor can easily be re-interpreted. We are standing out in a blizzard. The wind chill is below freezing. The snowplow has just buried our car, again. Then the saints invite us inside to a warm fire, and a cup of hot chocolate.
We have to go inside to partake of the wealth that is being offered to us. As Baba Jaimal Singh explains to Maharaj Sawan Singh in Spiritual Letters, “His call is resounding within everyone’s body; He is summoning everyone to his palace, Sach Khand.” This path is within us.
The second requirement is that we accept the mutuality of this relationship. We have been given an active part to play. While we might entertain the pleasant fantasy that the Master will transform us with his grace and mercy, sparing us any necessity for effort or sacrifice, that does not accurately portray our relationship. Hazur was direct about this mutuality. He says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, “We ourselves have to work to make our soul free from the mind and senses. We have to put in effort to do that.”
This invitation to action is an ancient theme in spirituality. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna plays the part of a warrior who doesn’t think he should have to fight. But Krishna says you are here on this earth to do the work that God has assigned to you. Neither this world, nor the next is for those who are not willing to sacrifice. Be a warrior! Kill your laziness, your self-indulgence, and your arrogance. You must act. This is the war that opens the door of heaven. Do not run from this spiritual battle out of cowardice or fear.
What actions need to be taken? Meditation, simran, following the vows, seva, and attempting to be a good human being are all required. Great Master expands the list in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I:
We should so mould our lives, that all our actions, namely, seeing, hearing, talking, eating, drinking, reading, writing, working, and meeting with people should ensure our progress.
The Masters tell us that if we are willing to work with them, every-thing is possible.
Thirdly, we need to learn to trust our guide, our Master. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I, Great Master quotes Rumi, who says, “The face of a saint is the answer to every question.” Hazur puts it simply in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
What more could we want, if we can trust ourselves to the Lord? What more do we want? We think we know more than the Lord? What else could we want – that he will take care of us, he will absolve us from all our planning, all our thinking, that he takes our destiny in his own hands – what more could we want in life? These are the most fortunate people.
The Master suggests that we let the Lord decide how to move us through the world. Trust means confidence and reliance. Trusting him means that we are willing to receive his help. This trust is meant to grow, until whatever the Master wants is what we want. Whatever situation he places us in is good enough for us. Whatever personality he gives us, whatever challenges we face, whatever setbacks we encounter, and whatever success we enjoy – nothing distracts us from our relationship with him.
The Master promises that someday we will completely surrender to his will. If we received a letter from our Master saying that we will be going straight to Sach Khand, and a second letter saying that we will return here, surrendering would mean that we would be as happy with the second letter as we would be with the first. This is what trust looks like. No matter what happens, we will be steady and unshakable. The Master tells us that being a satsangi is learning to be who the Lord wants us to be, and that meditation is the opening of the heart to receive the love that he wants to give us.
Someday we will truly know that we are near and dear to the Master. As our attention goes within, as we work like warriors, and as we implicitly trust in our guide, we will be the most fortunate of souls.
O Bullah, this mystic hint is of great import.
Those suffused with the longing for his glimpse,
They come to know the home of the great Hawker [the Lord].
“The hand of God is over Your hand.”