Realizing our Potential
The Masters keep telling us what rare good fortune it is to be born as a human being – an opportunity that should never be wasted. Even souls of high spirituality, they say, residing on planes far beyond this tatty and imperfect material plane, long to have a human birth, because it’s the doorway to the light and bliss of God-realization. And of all the souls populating all the various planes of creation, we – who have been initiated by a true, living Master – have been singled out for this remarkable privilege.
Perhaps we ask ourselves: ‘Why? Why us? We’re such ordinary, deficient little creatures.’ But if we think like that, it’s because we’re seeing ourselves as mere humans, with little to recommend us. We’re not seeing ourselves as souls.
But the Masters see us as souls – with enormous potential that simply has to be realized, souls that are capable of becoming so pure and perfect that we can become one with the Creator himself. And the Masters have been given the task of helping us realize that marvelous potential. In one of his letters, Maharaj Charan Singh writes: “This limited individual soul has unlimited capacities and does not rise up to higher regions simply because it does not make use of those capacities.”
We don’t use our capacity because we waste it by trying to be happy and successful human beings. As Maharaj Ji also says in his letter:
Few men know what a great mine of happiness and bliss is to be found within themselves. Man, in his ignorance, tries to find it in wealth, women and wine. But true bliss is not to be found in this world of senses. For that peace and bliss one has to turn Godward.
Quest for Light
That’s what we’re now trying to do. But our close companion, mind, is used to looking to the things of this world to find its happiness. No matter how hard we try to lift our consciousness, it pulls us outward. It does this a million times a day. It is just so firmly attached to its worldly loves and attractions. And that’s what has forced us to take birth after birth in this low material world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Quest for Light Hazur Maharaj Ji also tells us:
According to one’s good or bad actions in this life one passes at death into the body of a higher or lower being. If one loves the world and the things of this world, he will come back to the earth and be reborn into any of the species to which his mental inclinations have led him. And if one loves to go to higher spheres, that attachment shall draw him to those regions. Even the power of becoming divine is given to man.
We’ve forgotten what we are. We don’t know that we are souls with unlimited capacity, even the power to become divine. We’ve been tricked into believing that we’re pathetic, limited human beings, powerless to rise higher than our present debased condition. During our descent into the material creation our souls took on the coverings of mind and these physical bodies, and now we’re ruled by the senses and all the low passions and desires that even animals are prone to. So that’s what we now think we are: just limited little human beings.
How to throw off these coverings that hide our true identity? Actually it’s impossible. By ourselves we cannot do it. This is where the Master comes in. He has been sent by the Creator to wake us up to who we really are: spiritual beings, as he is. And he teaches us a method of meditation, which may be, quite frankly, still a bit of a mystery to us.
We try to do it – perhaps for decades – without any indication that we’re achieving anything at all. But in the background, beyond where we can see, he is working silently, slowly stripping away the layers that are blinding us to our own spirituality. He is using his grace and his own enormous power to strengthen our humble little souls to eventually wake us up to the full knowledge of what and who we are.
We are helpless to do anything for ourselves without the silent help of our Master. It is the Master in his physical form that the disciple needs to be guided by, and to be a role model setting a standard for our conduct. It’s the Master in his physical form that we learn to love, and this deepening love will eventually lead us to love for our Master in his Shabd form. Only with his help can we learn to transcend our limitations and function at different levels, as he does. We are made of the same stuff that he is: pure, unlimited Shabd. We just need to discover that within ourselves.
It has been explained to us that our souls were sent down into the creation in order to wake up to a knowledge of their true spirituality. But we’ve had to learn this the hard way. During our descent we fell under the grim law of cause and effect, administered by Kal, who became responsible for this thing called karma. What you sow, so shall you reap. We’ve spent life after life learning that some actions are good and bring rewards, while others are not and bring suffering. Unfortunately both the good and the bad karmas have piled up, resulting in the need for many lives to reap their results.
Over all the long years that we struggle with our meditation, it feels to us that there’s a very solid mountain of karmas blocking our way. But then, who really knows what karmas still remain? Maybe, just maybe, not too many. Soami Ji Maharaj, the first of the present line of Masters, said that for initiates the karmic debt cannot be too impossibly huge, otherwise we would not be accepted for initiation. We read in his book Sar Bachan Prose:
When one comes to the satsang of a Saint, he finds out the extent of his indebtedness to Kal. If his debt is not so very heavy and can be repaid in this life, he is accepted as fit for initiation. If, however, the Saint finds that he is still food for Kal (heavily in debt to Kal), he is not accepted.
If we have been accepted, then let’s do what we undertook to do when we received initiation. And let’s not concern ourselves with where we may be or how far we still have to go. As Maharaj Ji has told us it is not for us to judge our progress. Our job is to do our duty faithfully and leave the rest to the Master. He will do his job – if we do ours.
It is true that this is not an easy road to walk. In fact, we’re engaged in the most difficult battle of all: trying to turn our attention away from the world that it’s always known and been comfortable with to a world that it doesn’t know at all.
But we keep trying. It’s that niggling little pain inside us that makes us do this, that strange little hankering for something that will bring us real joy and fulfilment. Now the attention has to be released from whatever holds it down, so that it can be free to rise.
How to do this? Well, certainly not by force of reason. Our intellect is not going to get us there. The only way we can get to know this glorious inner reality is to rise above mind and intellect and know it with the faculties of the soul. Naturally this takes time and effort. But every moment of meditation that we do is bringing us nearer to that higher state of consciousness. And even if we struggle, we are making progress all the time, perhaps more than we know.
One of the most satisfying things about the path is that it works, provided that we cooperate with our Master’s plan for us. We need to work with him – do whatever he asks us to do. This obedience to our Master’s wishes is important. Without this we cannot succeed. But eventually we will succeed. Because that’s what he initiated us for.
Meditation has been compared to drilling a tunnel through a mountain. We keep labouring away in darkness, not knowing how far we still have to go. We could break through at any moment and see the light. We just don’t know how much effort is still needed or how many karmas still remain to be worked through. And in the meantime our Master is waiting for us to finish our work.
We will get there, because that’s what our Master wants. He knows what we are under these sad and deceptive coverings that hide our true identity. In time, once this long struggle is over, we too will know.
Great Master tells us something wonderful – that ultimately the soul is divinely powerful. In Philosophy of the Masters, Volume IV, we read:
The powers that exist in the soul also exist in the Lord. The soul is conscious and the Lord is the storehouse of consciousness. … The soul has intelligence and knowledge, and the Lord is the embodiment of knowledge and the treasure-house of intelligence. The soul is full of love, and the Lord is the source of all love. We are made in his image. Every particle is a part of the whole, and so are we.
The bliss of merging into the Supreme Being cannot be expressed in mortal language. There is no thought of individuality, consciousness or anything else. It is all love, all bliss, for in merging we become the Supreme Being, and he is all, he is everything. … The Lord is one. When we merge back into him, we become the Lord. We become part of him.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I