The Wound Within
We sometimes hear people say: ‘Oh, so-and-so is off the path, drinking alcohol and eating meat,’ and so on. And whilst it’s actually rather sad to hear such a thing, nevertheless it is not really possible for someone to go off the path permanently. The simplest explanation for this is that the reason that anyone comes on to the path in the first place never changes. We might allow ourselves to get somewhat distracted, one way or another, but the fundamentals never change.
Deep within us is a wound that never heals. It has been with us all along but we have consistently misunderstood what it is and, thinking that it indicates a lack of something in our lives, we run around like mad things, trying to fill up this bottomless pit.
We may imagine that it’s a lack of a meaningful relationship, and so we rush around seeking a ‘significant other’ to make our lives whole and complete. One relationship after another comes and goes, and still we do not achieve our objective. Do we stop and pause to think that maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree? No. We just continue rushing down the same dark street, achieving nothing but more and more entanglements in the material world and the suffering that accompanies them.
We may think we suffer from a lack of sufficient pleasure in our life, so we go rushing around in a hedonistic whirlwind, going from one indulgence to another, achieving at best the briefest of distractions from our inner pain, before rushing after the next fix, the next sensual indulgence.
We may think that more money will be the answer to all our problems – after all, what problem cannot be cured with enough money? But how much is enough? We beggar ourselves morally to gain favour in the workplace, to succeed, to get promoted, to rise to the top of the pile with its prestige and upmarket lifestyle. But if we ever actually get to the top, what do we find? Satisfaction? No. Peace? No. We are constantly stressed that we may lose what we have, and even what we do have barely scratches the surface of our deep and intrinsic need.
There are many, many ways in which we fail to understand what lies at the root of the problem, and they are all due to the fact that we never look inside. We always assume that the answer is ‘out there somewhere’, so we look for solutions where they cannot be found. Thus we are guaranteed failure until we stop and wonder what it is inside us that causes us to feel so miserable and dissatisfied.
Even then, it is only when we come across a true Master that we finally come to understand the real nature of the problem. The Master explains to us that the soul is longing for its true home. Our pain is the pain of separation that the soul has been suffering since it parted from its Lord so long ago to travel through the creation. Our journey has finally reached its lowest point, the bottom of the creation – that point where we find nothing whatsoever that can satisfy our innermost need and we have exhausted all possibilities available to us.
It is at this point where the soul finally turns in desperation to the Lord and realizes that he is the only one who matters, and it is only by returning to him that we can finally find peace, love, and bliss.
This has become our mission. In the person of our Master we have found our solution. He has given us the instructions that will guide us steadily and surely back to the Shabd – the original Word – which is the living presence of the Creator in his creation, and is the means and method of our journey back to our true home.
Having received initiation from the true living Master of our time, we can run this way or that, we can distract ourselves by continued indulgence in worldly pleasures – we can do whatever we want – but all this will do is postpone the day that we finally recognize, once and for all, that there is nothing out here for us anymore. There is no balm for our inner wound in the world around us. The sooner that we realize this and internalize it, the sooner we will start to recognize the great gift that our Master has bestowed upon us.
When one of us appears to have gone ‘off the path’, what is really happening is that the mind is making a last, futile attempt to find joy and peace in the material creation. It is merely delaying the inevitable, the day it finally realizes that the only solution is to find its way back to the feet of the Lord within.
After untold ages journeying through the creation in all its various forms, and having experienced all that it has to offer, our weary soul has had enough. It is only the recalcitrant mind that has not yet been totally convinced and so is still trying to immerse itself in the world. But the pull of the soul is growing daily; it will not be put off anymore. This pull will never go away. It will just get stronger and stronger till it pulls us to sit down and do our spiritual work.
This is what we need to do in order for the soul to win its freedom from bondage to this world, to be liberated from attachments and illusions, and finally to journey home to the realm of pure spirit and into the presence of the living Lord of all.