The Master’s True Form
As human beings, our understanding and knowledge of the world around us, is gained from what our mind absorbs through the body’s sense organs. Our physical being influences how our mind perceives the physical world, as depicted in the fable of the frog and the swan.
According to the fable, the frog’s world existed inside a well. He could not see or move farther than the walls of the well around him, so he had no idea that the real world was, in fact, incredibly larger. The swan, who had flown across the skies and had seen many ponds and landforms, tried to explain to the frog how wonderful and vast the world was. But the frog merely looked at the swan in disbelief and declared that the swan had no idea what it was talking about.
The moral is that one is not prepared to believe anything that is beyond the mind’s ability to understand – hence, the human mind sees the world within the limitations and abilities of its physical body and sense organs.
In our case, the only way we know that there are places beyond what we already perceive is to travel by car, or on a train, looking out the window. We get a wider view when we fly in an airplane. However, to know the world is truly round, we depend on astronauts. From their experiences, pictures and other proofs we even learn that the universe is much larger than we could have perceived from where we are right now.
Given our physical limitations, how can we know God? He is not seen with the eyes, or heard with our ears. How then, can we understand the path of spirituality? This path cannot be found physically, even though it exists within us.
Through the teachings of the spiritual Masters, we may surmise the following: God is here, there, and everywhere! Every cell in our body knows that he is real despite his physical invisibility. We cannot perceive him through books and discourses, as these can only give us intellectual insight about his existence and reality.
What we need is a guide – a teacher to direct us. Thus, God sends his messenger in a human form to connect with us at our level of understanding, in a way that is appealing and acceptable. Without such a guide, because of the limitations of our mind, we would be in the position of the frog unable to see the world through the eyes of a swan. The author of Concepts and Illusions explains:
On the physical side, the Master is as human as we are, but herein lies a huge difference: On the spiritual level, he has traversed the path of truth, experienced inner bliss, realized the Ultimate by going deep within himself and being connected to Shabd – the inner spiritual sound. Only a Master has the experience to show us the way within.
In the process of learning how to connect with the almighty Lord from the Master, we develop a relationship with him. This relationship is built on faith and trust and develops into love and devotion. At the same time, we must not fall into the trap of worshipping and chasing his physical form, believing that the physical form or his darshan is enough to free our souls or can compensate for our lack of meditation practice.
All the Masters emphasize that the true guru is the Shabd. Soami Ji Maharaj once wrote a poem that begins:
Guru Mohe Apna Roop Dikhaa’o (Master, reveal your true form to me).
We may have heard these words sung before. The entire poem focuses on Soami Ji Maharaj’s desire to see the Radiant Form of the Master which would lead him to the Creator. In the first half, he professes that the physical form is important, is dear to him, and that he loves and values the physical form because without it, he cannot perceive the “other form” which refers to the inaccessible, boundless, true form of the Lord – that is the form he wishes to be absorbed in.
The Masters emphasize that the true Guru is the Shabd. In the second half of the poem, Soami Ji Maharaj further highlights the value of the Shabd. The Shabd, the sound current, the sweet celestial melody, resounds within the body of every human being. The Shabd goes on within us without any interruption. We would not exist if it were to stop for even a second. It is the life current in us. This sound comes from the mansion of the Supreme Lord, and by catching hold of it, the disciple can return to that mansion. Soami Ji further reassures us in the second part of this poem:
I shall not rest till I show you that form
why are you in such a hurry?….
I shall myself help you put in the effort,
I shall myself take you to your ultimate home.
Listen to what Radha Soami has to say:
all will be worked out
as and when the supreme will ordains it.
To connect with the Shabd is the true objective, not only of Soami Ji Maharaj, but for all of us. It was the desire to unite with the absolute Lord which pulled us on to the path. Deep inside we too are singing, Guru Mohe Apna Roop Dikhaa’o – Master, reveal your true form to me!