In life we are continually preoccupied with asking questions. We want to know when and how things will happen, building up a picture of the world around us, hoping for reassurance and a sense of control. We also question the objects and events of the universe beyond us. For instance, science is questioning how this world came into existence and has postulated various theories.
Physicists today believe that they have an ultimate theory which will explain everything – they call it the string theory or the theory of everything. But they also deduce that more than 90 percent of this universe is still not understood. Dark matter and dark energy are out there, but what exactly they are nobody knows. Science changes over the centuries and even over the decades. The science of ancient Greece differs from the science of the Middle Ages, which is different again from that of the modern era. As the hypotheses change, so do the possible answers. In two hundred years’ time, there will still be unanswered questions!
Why do we need to keep on asking? Isn’t it just to strengthen our small and lonely selves? And whether our questions are to do with our personal lives (perhaps trying to make sense of the things we are attached to) or whether they concern the wider world, aren’t we looking in the wrong direction for answers? The fact is, as Maharaj Charan Singh very beautifully told us, this world is both imperfectly perfect and perfectly imperfect. Whichever way you look at it, it comes to the same thing: there are no final answers to individual questions, only one answer, which is reached by transcending our human state. It’s rather as if we were in a factory in which there are hundreds of machines; the noise is deafening so we are seeking to control the environment by turning off each machine, one by one. If we were to find the main power button, we could stop the whole factory at once, and enjoy blissful silence. Sant Charandas advises:
Things of this world come and go
O friend, grieve not for these,
This world is superficial,
O friend, realize the Lord.
We have taken a very long journey in the course of our evolution as humans; it has taken us through many species over many aeons and we are still imprisoned by our small selves, the remains of animal behaviour still clinging to us. No answers in the physical world will help us one bit, but if we surrender the ego, then, like finding the central button that controls the factory, all questions will come to an end and we will come face to face with the Truth.
True Masters come to enlighten us regarding the truth. Truth is not dependent on anything external and is not subject to time and change. The greatest obstacle in our understanding is that we believe we depend on this transient visible world rather than on that which cannot be seen. This entire creation owes its existence to an unseen Creator and his unseen Shabd. Because of our long separation from him over innumerable lifetimes, we have forgotten this fact, becoming dependent only on what we can see and experience in the physical domain. This explains the deep attachment we feel for friends, relatives, country and culture. It’s difficult for us to accept that there is another reality. To find that reality, that Truth, is the purpose of human life. Sant Charandas states in another poem:
O Saints, this carnival will end in a short while;
We will depart after watching this show.
Never again will you meet those
Who have gathered here together.
Many travellers from different directions
Cross the river in a boat – they meet
Only to go their separate ways a few moments later.
In this give and take, each action has its consequence,
So do your real work
Develop love for the Lord,
Who is your real benefactor.
Just imagine when you die, wanting to take with you all the things you are attached to (it could be books, house, family, furniture, fame) and all these things have to be pushed through the tiny sesame seed opening of the third eye. That’s a painful operation! It’s because of our attachments that dying is such a painful event, as Charandas tells us:
O friend! You have never understood the extent
Of the Lord’s love.
He created you for repeating his simran,
But you decided to do otherwise.
Once a lady in a Q&A session with the Master talked about her young son who had recently died. She loved him so much and was extremely sad, no doubt questioning why someone so young should die. The Master asked her whether she could imagine how much love the Lord had for her? The Lord had had a connection with her for so much more time than she had with her son. She had had a bond with the Lord for aeons. She had built that other love in just a few years, whereas the Lord has loved us for eternity.
This world has never been a place of satisfaction, and it never will be. That’s the only thing we can learn from history! The Masters explain that we must go to our real home, the home of the Lord. The Saints explain that through meditation we are able to directly experience the difference between material happiness and spiritual bliss. So instead of constantly questioning and seeking for outside answers, we must quieten our mind through meditation and go inside ourselves to see the reality
Intellect cannot lead us anywhere, but the satisfaction of the intellect will give you faith and practice: if you try to brush aside your intellect and try to attend to meditation, you will never succeed. Intellect will always jump in the way. But if you satisfy your intellect with reasoning, then faith will come and practice will come, which will then take you to your destination….
If you want to follow the path without satisfying your mind, then questions and doubts arise, and whenever you sit in meditation all those things will come before you. They won’t let you sit in meditation at all.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live