The Gift of Initiation
Speaking on the Master’s protection at the time of death, Tukaram wrote:
The lord of death says to his messengers,
Wherever people are repeating the Name,
there you have no power. …
God’s discus spins round them in protection.
The Lord stands guard by their door.
Many Voices, One Song
One cannot help wondering whether we always remember and fully appreciate exactly how great a blessing has been given to us. We all give and receive many gifts during our lifetime. Some can be small and insignificant and yet treasured. Others can be of great material value, such as rare jewellery or priceless artworks. And then there are the gifts such as true friendship and love, of no material value, but rare and priceless.
However, nothing on this material plane can compare to the gift we have been given by the Master – the greatest gift possible – initiation into this inner spiritual path. Perhaps from time to time we should ask ourselves whether we are treasuring this gift as we should. It should be the most important aspect of our lives. We were reincarnated as human beings, which in itself is a rare privilege. Great Master said to a disciple: “My dear daughter, I will repeatedly ask you to value this lifetime of yours.”
We conscientiously perform our earthly duties, earning our own living and fulfilling obligations to family and friends. We should be careful not to be deceived by the mind into thinking that we are on this earth to achieve material fame and fortune and impress the world. Once we have received initiation, our objective in life should be to follow the Master’s instructions without compromise. Unless and until this objective outweighs all else in our mind and we afford it top priority in our planning and actions, we cannot expect to be successful.
It is no easy task to tame the mind and get it under control. In fact it is undoubtedly the most difficult venture we will ever undertake. If our attention and effort are not applied to our task, our goal will not be achieved. It is futile to have one foot on the spiritual path and the rest of our being still completely absorbed in worldly pleasures and activities.
We cannot and do not have to shun the world and its innocent pleasures. But we need be involved in the world only as much as is needed to do our duty. The greater part of our time and effort should be in striving to make progress on our spiritual path. We should be like the bee that drinks honey while sitting on the edge of the jar and then flies away with its wings dry.
We know what needs to be done, and we should in no way compromise the four principles to which we committed ourselves at initiation. We usually have a little voice inside that alerts us to what is right and what is wrong, and we need to pay attention to it. It warns us when the mind tries to make us think something is acceptable when actually it is not. We know how important these principles are, and especially how vital our meditation is. Meditation can be very difficult, especially when we are busy with the things of this world. This is the area where the mind can be the most convincing. It never tires of providing excuses and seemingly valid reasons to keep us from doing our meditation. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I:
As long as the mind is the slave of the senses, it is our greatest enemy. When we are able, by meditation, to withdraw the mind from the senses and attach it to Nam or Shabd or the audible life stream inside, the mind starts taking the soul along with it back to Trikuti, the origin or home of the mind, and in doing so, it becomes our best friend.
Initially we must force the mind to sit in meditation. When we struggle and feel we are failing and not always managing the full time, we need to remember what the Masters tell us: that every minute of meditation is to our credit. We must keep on trying. If we want success on the spiritual path, then we must build our life around the four principles; and not try to fit them into our lifestyle. Let’s not bluff ourselves that half-hearted attempts at walking this path will get the results that it promises.
We live in a results-oriented world. Even from a very young age, when we had to strive to learn to crawl and then to walk, we discovered that if we made certain efforts, certain results would follow. Now more than ever, as we embark on the most important job that we have ever tackled, definite qualities and behaviour patterns are required for success. We need determination, patience, perseverance, sincerity, and buckets full of effort and commitment to succeed on this path.
But it often feels as though the results are so slow in coming that they are non-existent. This is where perseverance in simran becomes so important. The Masters continually emphasize simran. It is a gift with the power of the Masters behind it. The Great Master makes this clear when he says in The Dawn of Light:
Only the holy names imparted by the Master are to be repeated. These names are energy charged and help the transference of spiritual energy to the disciple, with the result that rapid progress follows. They also save the devotee from many difficulties and pitfalls. Simran of such holy names is beneficial both here and beyond.
When we read the words ‘rapid progress,’ many of us may heave a sigh. It sometimes seems that it is taking so very long to even begin to feel that we are progressing on this path, or that simran is helping at all. But initially simran is the crux of the spiritual path. It is important to the Master and it should be important to us.
In Many Voices, One Song various mystics describe the importance of simran and how precious it should be to us. Sena Nhavi reminds us of the importance of constant simran, saying:
Wherever you may find yourself,
do simran – no other practice exists.
In another poem Tukaram tells us exactly how simran should be done:
My one daily practice is your Name –
it’s my thought, my conduct, my commitment.
I’ve no wealth nor possession worth mention,
says Tuka, other than that of your Name.
If that is what simran is to us we have nothing to worry about! If not, we should try harder. If we are determined to succeed we will persevere with our efforts, for nothing of any value can ever be achieved without determination and perseverance.
Our minds are deeply rooted in this material creation – roots that have burrowed and grown through countless lifetimes – and we cannot expect to uproot the mind without a determined struggle and continuous effort. We become disheartened when we are unable to persuade the mind to turn in a completely different direction, but it can be done. The Masters assure us over and over that we would not have been initiated if we did not have the potential to tame and control the mind. We have to persevere.
We must be sincere in our efforts and not just give lip-service to the Master and the path. It is no use giving the impression of being a dutiful and obedient disciple if it is not honestly true. The more sincere we are in our efforts, the more we will experience the benefits of being on this path.
This life is very short. We need to strive with genuine longing to accumulate the treasure that we can take with us when this human existence comes to an end. We should be thankful to the Master for the gift of initiation and for showering his love and mercy on us.