Dream or Reality?
Many of us seem to be sick in one or two or all three levels of our existence: the spiritual, mental/emotional, and the physical. Any imbalance in our life filters down through the mental and emotional level to the physical body. But the healing process starts at the top, and true spiritual healing ends suffering at all levels.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we inhabit two worlds at the same time – the outer and the inner, the visible and the invisible, the dream and the reality. How did we get into this situation? We have been ‘out’ in the dream since the beginning of creation. Maharaj Sawan Singh said:
Ever since the world was created we have been here. Millions of ages, of dissolutions and grand dissolutions, have rolled by, but we have not been able to find the way back to our Home. If we had found the way, we would not have been here now.1
We have been experiencing life at all levels in the creation on the wheel of birth and rebirth, in any number of the 8.4 million species of life.
A Sanskrit saying goes, “God sleeps in minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals and thinks in man.”2 We are concerned here with God who thinks in man – with the human being who can think. The philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”3 The Lord is within each one of us. But is anyone in this world really happy as this divinity in disguise?
With all our advancements and all the objects created to make life easier, do we have more happiness? With all our advances in the medical field is sickness gone? We may live a little longer but our quality of life has diminished. As some sicknesses end, new ailments pop up. All the toys that we work so hard for – do they really bring us happiness? Maybe some short-term pleasure, but nothing lasting. We work two jobs, or both parents work to make ends meet, to have more cars, a bigger house, more opportunities for our children. With this constant activity, children hardly know their parents and parents know little of their children. With all this so-called progress, where have our family values gone?
Values give us a foundation for living, something to hold us up – ideals and goals, love and affection. But how can young people develop values living in conditions of immorality, crime, drugs, and alcohol? One large city in the United States has an illegitimacy rate of eighty-five percent. What do we learn and absorb from TV, videos, and movies? What do our children learn? Do they learn values, traditions, good conduct, love and devotion from their parents, or other so-called values from information sources such as TV, movies, computers and I-phones?
The saints tell us that this place is not our true home and happiness here is an illusion. Short-term happiness seems real, but how long does it last? The pleasure and smell of a new car is usually gone in thirty days. All the things that we work so hard for bring us short-term happiness. Visit our hospitals and nursing homes – is there more pleasure or pain? Is anyone not subject to sickness and old age? How about our prisons and slums? Are there more people living in the streets now than fifty years ago? Is our level of safety lower? And what of greed and politicians?
We need help here, we need a guide. In our short lives we have many guides or teachers, starting with our parents and schoolteachers, then physical, mental, emotional and spiritual teachers. We leave these teachers at some point and take on new ones at all levels. Some questions have been answered and some have not. Growth has depended on our capacity to understand. What if we found – or were found by – a teacher who could answer all of our spiritual and mental questions, which in turn could bring us balance and happiness on all levels?
He has found us. The living perfect Master has found us, and from him we receive Nam, the gift of liberation, the end of our suffering and the ‘wheel of 84.’ The mystic Inayat Khan said, “When the cry of the disciple has reached a certain pitch, the teacher comes to answer it.”4 According to his secretary, Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, Maharaj Sawan Singh stated:
To get initiation is not easy. The gift of initiation is the reward of good deeds accumulated over a number of lives and is, in fact, the benefit reaped by one for keeping the company of saints and devotees in previous lives. He remarked that Dharam Das’s relation with Kabir Sahib had existed during eight previous lives.5
Is this human spiritual teacher more than a normal man? Guru Nanak Ji said, “The saints can give salvation to billions with an iota of the power they have attained through meditation; that is, they can take everyone with the power they have acquired through the practice of Nam, but such are not the orders of the Lord.”6 There are teachers at some levels of achievement who utilize their powers to give their disciples inner spiritual experiences, but the disciples do not have the power to sustain these. Soami Ji Maharaj said that anything done in a hurry is an act of Kal, the negative power of mind. The inner path taught by the living, perfect teacher is a slow path, but the Master is in complete charge of our lives, always aware of everything we think and do. Ours is a slowly developing relationship of love and devotion.
Do you remember the story from the earthquake in Haiti a few years ago? A mother and son were working in their shop when the earthquake hit. She was rescued and taken for help. Afterwards she went to different rescue centres looking for her son. She finally went back to their own building to search for him, and she thought she heard her son calling to her. Rescue workers arrived shortly, she showed them where she thought he was, and they started digging. Day after day they removed stone and steel. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine days, and finally on the tenth day they saw an arm moving. They dug more and there was her son – dehydrated, weak and hungry, but alive. They asked him what sustained him over those many days and he said, “I knew my mother would never give up on me.” And why this story? Our friend, the Master, our inner guide, never, never gives up on us. He helps us and guides us all the way to our true home.
Above the eyes or below the eyes: which is our goal, which do we want to have as our home? Above and below the eyes – these are the two worlds we live in simultaneously, but not always consciously or harmoniously. The outer and the inner, the visible and the invisible, the dream and the reality. Where do we place our time and energy, our thoughts and attention?
Simran, the gift of repetition from the Master, helps us live in and purify our inner world. Living in the physical world, we create negative habits – we continuously see and do unpleasant things, and as these habits deepen our lives can slip into chaos. Just as we become better in the company of positive people and thoughts, conversely we are affected by the company of people with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are the world’s most communicable disease. But simran is the means to help us cure this negativity. Then, as our inner world becomes more clean and orderly we will start to see our outer world becoming more clean and orderly as well.
So how about considering our goals – the outer or the inner, the visible or the invisible, the dream or the reality? We could focus on one long-term goal like submitting to the process of going to our true home, going inside, and meeting our inner Master. Short-term goals could be to do our two and a half hours of meditation every day, to do more simran during the day, to attend weekly satsang and read Sant Mat books, and to be with friends who have the same objective. And maybe to talk less, sleep less, and eat less.
Focusing on goals is important, because even though life can be pretty much the same for all of us, it’s how we each react to it that can create peace or problems. Our job is to try to stay centred. That is where the Lord resides – in the centre. No more room for why this or why that; everything just is. It is all his will. All we have to do is follow the discipline of both the long- and short-term goals. He will do the rest.
If the law of attraction, that what we think we attract, is relevant to everything in our existence, wouldn’t the logical direction for us be to dwell not on our weaknesses but rather on those things that take us toward the Master? Rumi said:
God has planted in your heart the desire to search for him. Do not look at your weaknesses but focus on the search. Every seeker is worthy of the search. Strive to redouble your efforts so that your soul may escape from the material prison.7
We have to try to be more aware and not react to the situations life brings to us. We can learn to be proactive by watching the mind, becoming the observer. Our thoughts are not us; we are that which observes the thoughts. Saint Francis of Assisi said, “What we are looking for is what is looking.”8 Complaining as well as fault-finding and reacting strengthens our ego’s sense of boundary and separateness, on which its survival depends. We are constantly redefining who we are with thoughts, but it just doesn’t work. Thinking and analyzing will not get us to the Master.
Less thinking and analyzing opens the door for us to open and unfold. To re-learn what we have forgotten. Non-reaction is not weakness, but strength. The inner Master hears our every thought and word. He sees our every action. We are the puppets and he is pulling the strings. No matter what we have done in the past – expanding our ego, judging, being angry, not forgiving – and no matter what we haven’t done – our meditation – today is a new day. Rumi said, “Come, come, come again to the one who loves to forgive.”9 That is our Master.
Instead of collecting more knowledge, opinions, ‘I’m right’ pictures of ourselves, and useless comparisons with others, it’s time to focus on the most powerful tool the Master has given us, simran.
The present Master has spoken of the importance of focus. We may talk of focusing on the vows, on being good people, on watching the mind or our faults, but the most important focus is the focus in and on our meditation. We are still incomplete – complete means that we have fully realized our true self, who we really are. We are incomplete because of our distractions – and they are ours – forms of energy from the mind. Our desires, our distractions are what have kept us here, trapped in the lower three worlds. And what do these distractions keep us from? Our way home, the tenth door, the only way out of this land of duality, distraction and incompletion.
When we judge ourselves and others, when we can’t forgive ourselves and others, it means that we are still stuck in the dream. And all this creates resistance to his love, his flow, his grace. Allowing it all to happen without reacting – just accepting – is reality. His will.
As we experience negative emotions and react to them, we stay stuck in the dream. When we allow and feel the positive emotions, we are in his love, in his grace, in his hands. We start to feel his presence. The dream has become real because the mind has made it so. Still, even this is all his will. And finally it is his will to have us leave the dream, to allow it to happen, to embrace reality. To accept his will in the good and the bad, within this dream of duality.
As we continue to utilize the gift of the Master’s grace, we slowly, slowly bring ourselves, with his help, into the present moment. By doing so we start to overcome the imbalance of identifying with our self or ego, of loving and believing in ‘I, me, my and mine.’ By the practice of simran (repetition) and meditation we eventually come to understand that we are not this body or this mind with its sense of past and future. We are the soul, part and parcel of the lord.
We will someday come to the realization that every person we meet is also part of the Lord. With that realization, that awareness, how can we view others as different, as bad, as our enemies? That realization is born out of the love and the compassion shown to us by all perfect Masters. It is an awareness of a deep bond between ourselves and every other creature. It is an allowing of the continual flow of his grace, his love, his will. This final step on the path is just a process of letting go – of judgments, opinions, desires, of holding on to everything. Letting go of the last part of the dream. Rumi sums it up by saying that our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within ourselves that we have built against it.
Finally, because of our misery the Lord sends to us a perfect living Master who shows us the formula or the way back to our original home. He tells us that the most important action we can take and desire we can have is to do our meditation. As Hazur Maharaj Ji often would say: The answer to all your questions is to attend to your meditation. But yet, many of us struggle to do what we promised him. We fail. Mark Twain said, “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.”10
Of all of the goals we may have our meditation is the most important. Without meditation it is very difficult to go inside. And we should understand that this inner path we follow is a slow path. But ‘slow’ is a relative term; in the big picture, our going home with our inner Master is very quick compared to the amount of time we have been away from the Lord. It is but a tiny dot on the long calendar of our existence. We see only a small part of the picture, and so it seems that we remain stuck and that progress is very slow.
It is all about our doing the daily two and a half hours of meditation we promised our Master we would do. We all have good intentions, especially when we are as fortunate as we are to come to Dera and sit at the feet of the Master. But we also know that hell is paved with good intentions. We need self-discipline. The writer Elbert Hubbard said, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”11
Do we think that people who sit for meditation every day always feel like sitting? All our plans, hopes and dreams will not work without self-discipline. The big goal is to go inside. The small goals are to do those things that help create the environment for us to sit and go in. The present Master has said that the Master wouldn’t have given us Nam if he didn’t think we could do it. We just have to ask him for help.
As we put in more effort he will reward us with more love and grace. We may fall but there is no room for quitting. He is always helping us. The poet Longfellow wrote:
Those heights by great men, won and kept,
Were not achieved by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.12
The time for excuses is past. Tomorrow morning is a new opportunity to sit for our Master. An opportunity to please him.
A letter from Maharaj Sawan Singh states:
The father is always with you. You live, move and have your being in him. He is always helping you in every kind of task that you perform. The nearer you come to him, the more fully you will feel his presence and realize his help. As love for him increases in you, you will get a deeper and deeper realization of his radiant form within yourself.13
In closing, every day we must:
- Ask our Master for help.
- Thank him for everything he gives us.
- Do our very best to do our daily two and a half hours of meditation.
He allowed us this human body. He allowed us Nam. He allowed us to be his puppets.
He allows us to sit with him each morning. He allows us to be aware of his presence.
And finally… he allows us to follow him to our true home, Sach Khand.
- Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, With the Three Masters, Vol. I, 4th ed., p.20
- Andy Zubko, Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom – A Collection of 10,000 Inspirational Quotations, p.193
- Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom, p.193
- Greg Bogart, In the Company of Sages: The Journey of the Spiritual Seeker, p.i
- Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, With the Three Masters, Vol. I, 4th ed., p.19
- Rai Sahib Munshi Ram, With the Three Masters, Vol. III, 3rd ed., p.48
- Rumi, Masnavi V: 1733–5
- Tania Kotsos, The Adventure of I: A Journey to the Center of Your Reality, p.33
- Path of Love (internal magazine publ. RSSB Hong Kong), July – September 1999
- Brian Tracey, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, p.1
- No excuses!, p.10
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Dawn of Light, letter 2