Faith is the foundation of spirituality. Faith is essential to quiet our doubts and deepen our belief in the Lord. Going into the unknown takes a leap of faith. We are explorers, seeking the inner world. We know we want to journey back to the Lord, but we don’t know how to travel there. In days past people had no maps and certainly not a GPS so commonly used today to plot out a journey. Travellers had to depend on the stars at night and various landmarks during the day. Adventurous travellers often were the first to explore unchartered territory and may have ended up somewhere completely unexpected. Christopher Columbus did not set out to discover America, but that is where he ended up.
The spiritual journey also takes us into the unknown and may have many unexpected twists and turns. We go through many stages. We may begin with skepticism, then hope blossoms and peace settles in. At various times we are doubters, seekers, and believers. Initially, we may doubt ourselves and question our purpose in this world. Doubt sometimes plants the seed of dissatisfaction that pushes us to seek. As we go beyond doubt, a seed of hope begins to grow. We find we want to believe in something bigger and better than what this world has to offer – whether we call it a higher power, or purpose, or the divine, or the Lord. As we seek, if we are lucky enough to have the Lord reach out to us through one of his human emissaries – a Master – we are given the opportunity to believe. As believers, we want so desperately to feel that divine power, that spark that comes from deep within. Faith in the Master lays the foundation for us to realize the Lord.
Sadly, so many things can shake our faith. Doubt creeps back in from time to time. When faced with hardship, some may ask, “Why has the Lord deserted me?” Yet everyone has ups and downs that may test their faith. Patience, acceptance, and effort can help to steady our faith. We need patience to accept the will of the Lord. We need to turn that patience into persistence and perseverance to seek the Lord within. We have to make the effort and accept the grace of the Lord in whatever he has planned for us.
We also have to surrender to the will of the Lord. Surrender is one of the most difficult things to do because it challenges us to operate on faith without proof. We have to put in effort, but we must be patient and not expect results. We have to accept our fate. None of this is easy. People may rebel and rage at the Lord. We want him to tell us what to do. How often have we said to ourselves: “Lord, just tell me what to do, and I will do it.”
But would we really? Our ego and our mind constantly send us contradictory messages that keep pulling us back into this world. Or we think we know better than the Lord what is best for us even though deep down we know it is not. It is a constant struggle to keep trying despite our professed desire to reunite with the Lord. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
Without faith we don’t make any progress at all. But first we have to build intellectual faith in the philosophy. And in the light of the philosophy, we have to weigh the Master. And then real faith will come only when you practise. Actual faith comes by experience, and faith comes from within, it doesn’t come from outside at all.… The faith which we build by seeing other people doesn’t have much depth at all; it’s very shaky. The faith that comes from within by meditation – which strengthens our faith, rather it creates faith – that is unshakable faith. Faith is very essential before we can put forth an earnest effort to practise.
The purpose of meditation is to sustain us and help us grow closer to the Master. Without it we will not make progress. It is said that faith can move mountains, meaning it can overcome any obstacle in our path. Meditating with faith will move the mountains that stand between us and the Lord and help us in so many other ways. It changes our attitude from negative to positive, opens our heart, and allows our receptivity to the Lord to blossom.
Meditation is that internal practice in which we are able to leave our cares and worries behind and focus our attention inward. If we attempt to do that, we have a chance to quiet our mind and commune with the Lord. At first one might be enthusiastic and excited at the prospect of going within and meeting the Lord. We may hope for, and in fact even expect, quick results. For most seekers, however, the journey within happens gradually, and we have to take it a day at a time. Sometimes our effort is weak; sometimes our effort may be very strong. Moving the mountain of our mind may seem impossible, yet we’ve been told we can do it. With our daily simran and bhajan we are chipping away at that seemingly impenetrable rock.
At the Dera, sevadars have literally moved mountains. Years ago, people would move mountains of earth to fill in ravines by carrying baskets of dirt on their heads – basket after basket after basket. From one day to the next there would be an entire transformation of the landscape.
Another seva was to break bricks into small pieces that would be used for construction of roads and other projects. Sevadars would sit on a pile of bricks with a hammer and break each brick until it became rubble. Occasionally they would get a brick that just would not break. So they kept hammering away and away and away. These stubborn bricks were easily spotted because they usually had a black tinge to them. When sevadars got one of those bricks they might have felt tired and frustrated that it seemed impossible to break. Sometimes they might even have wanted to just throw it back on the pile. But if they kept at it, eventually those bricks would break with a lot of effort. Effort in meditation is like breaking those bricks. We just keep hammering away.
While our effort is essential in this quest, we also are blessed with the grace of the Master who is always supporting us, encouraging us, and pulling us home. Effort and grace go hand in hand. As we put in our effort to realize the Lord, things start to shift in our lives. What was once important becomes unimportant. Just as we broke those bricks, we have to break down our mountains of attachments to people, places, and things in this world. Our attachments can so easily consume us and we may lose sight of the Lord. If we are not careful, we can get lost in the enjoyment of the world and wallow there just like the water buffaloes in India that roll in the mud.
Rolling in the mud of this world feels good most of the time, and we like it here. But we can easily get stuck here, and then we need help to get out of the mud. Just as the farmer comes to take his water buffalo home after it has cooled off in the river, the Lord knows his marked souls, and he comes to pull us out of the mud of this world and take us back to our true home.
When that happens, our perspective shifts, and many things that were attractive to us lose their appeal. The Lord is detaching us from this world and the things that bind us here. When things start to become less alluring, doubt and dissatisfaction often set in. Then the Lord begins to reveal the way home through meditation. Through the sound and light he guides us back to him. Every soul is a particle of this sound and light, but when we are so trapped in this world, that ringing radiance is hidden from us until we turn within.
Faith, built on the practice of meditation, unlocks everything and allows us to move mountains to find the Lord. Over and over the mystics tell us not to delay. Put your faith in the Lord, leave your doubts behind, and seek the Lord within. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
With your faith you can move the Creator of the mountains, what to say of mountains. Who created the universe? Who created the mountains? The Lord. By your faith in him, you can move him. You can become him. If you become him, you can move anything.
When you close your eyes, you are normally automatically here at the eye centre, because the seat of the soul and mind knotted together is at the eye centre. When you close your eyes, you are here in the centre of the darkness in the forehead, and being there, you do the simran. You also feel that your Master is there and that you are there in the darkness and you are doing simran in the presence of the Master, if you can’t visualize his form. So be there and also feel your Master is there, and that will hold your attention there in the darkness.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live