Diamonds. We all know that diamonds are considered the most precious of all jewels. They have a brilliance, and the expensive ones have a most desired clarity. In many countries a diamond ring has become almost a mandatory part of becoming engaged to be married – all due to what is considered one of the most successful advertising campaigns in modern history: “Diamonds are forever.” That’s the line – Diamonds are forever. It struck a chord with women, who started equating the diamond with a man’s perpetual love. It struck a chord with men, who started seeing the diamond’s value as indestructible, without an end. A diamond is forever. The love lasts. The investment lasts. Diamonds last – or so they say.
Interestingly, the diamond industry has a word for this phenomenon of great value. They call it ‘illusion.’ They define it as “a projection of value onto an object (usually a diamond) based solely on subjective psychological criteria, not any objective standard of measurement.”1 The diamond trade runs on illusion, on perceived value.
Now you might think that diamond dealers are immune to this phenomenon, but quite the contrary. Research shows that:
When a dealer owns a diamond, it’s not just another emotionless asset that he’s invested in … When he buys a diamond, he loves that diamond. He believes his diamond is the nicest diamond he’s ever seen in that particular color and class of clarity. He has built up a lot of illusion in the stone.2
So while dealers understand the concept of a diamond’s illusion, they still “exist within the bubble and depend upon it for their livelihood.” They may recognize that a diamond has no intrinsic value and that its value depends upon the perception of the owner, the buyer, or the populace at large. They understand the concept. Yet even the dealers are caught up in the beauty, the allure, the perceived value of diamonds. They love their diamonds and will not give them up.
And so it is with us. What is a diamond? A bit of carbon, a bit of earth, a piece of this world. Saints tell us it is the perceived value we give to this creation, our attachment – in addition to our karmas – that keeps us bound to this world, this plane of consciousness. In many ways we love this world and look for love from it in return. We certainly invest in this world – not just monetarily, but with the time and attention we spend physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And we expect a return on that investment. While we may recognize the concept that everything here is illusion (maya) and has no intrinsic value, we can hardly imagine it otherwise. We’ve been caught in this bubble for so long that we are part of the consciousness that keeps this system going. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh was asked: “We are told that all things in our life are an illusion or a dream. Is that right?” He replied:
What it means is that what we see has no reality – reality in the sense that nothing will exist, nothing will remain, everything is perishable, it’s not everlasting.
That means it is not ‘forever.’ Diamonds are not forever. Hazur Maharaj Ji goes on:
Flesh is no more, so flesh is not reality. … Where are those old civilizations now? New civilizations are coming up; old ones are vanishing. What is real here? Everything is perishable, nothing is everlasting. In that sense, it is illusion.
Only he is real, whom we do not see, whom we do not know. What we see, what we are supposed to know, what we think we know has no reality at all.3
So while we are in this world, there is some reality, a perceived reality, but it doesn’t last. Nothing here lasts forever. And the saints tell us that we must rise to a higher level of consciousness if we want to perceive the One who is real, who does last forever.
Because this world is such a charade, an illusion, how foolish we are to base our lives and our reasons for acting the way we do on such an unsteady foundation. By its very nature, anything that exists in the outer world has to change. Whatever at one moment brings us great pleasure must at another time bring us equal pain – if only because of the fact that we cannot hold on to that pleasure; we cannot stop or catch any single ‘happening’ and keep on experiencing that happening, for it has already become something else, like a movie going on playing. To the extent that we try to hold on to those experiences and feelings, to the same extent we feel pain because of our inability to do so, and to the same extent we are attached to them. The Persian poet, Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil-Kheir, wrote:
The deeper your involvement here,
The harsher your pain and suffering.
Donkeys with colorful ornaments and loud bells
Are groomed for heavier loads!4
So, who can afford to be a donkey carrying such loads? We need to lighten our load, let our baggage slip away. Hazur wrote: “All unhappiness in life is the result of our attachment … Where there is no attachment, there is no misery.”5
The saints tell us it is in our interest to seek the One, the reality, because we are not happy here, caught in this ever-changing dream world. Hazur explains:
It’s a dream that has no reality. You want to be one with the reality. We are miserable here, being separated from the Father. So we want to escape. If we had been happy here, we wouldn’t have thought about the Father at all. We would not want to go to him if we were happy here.6
He hits the nail on the head. We’re not happy here. Think of that. But it’s a boon even if we think about the Father, a greater boon if we want to reach Him, a still greater boon if we try to reach Him. Hazur continues:
Those who are happy in this dream will remain part and parcel of this dream. And those who are the blessed ones will realize the travesty of this world and will want to go to their everlasting home, their permanent abode. They will feel his separation. They will miss him. They will try to get to him.7
But what about the things we love about this world? What about the investment of time and attention we give people, places, and activities of this world? If we invest positive energy, shouldn’t we get a positive return? Well, we will reap a positive return from a karmic perspective, and that’s certainly better than reaping a negative return. But why expect a return at all? We do so many things to try to find our self-worth – our value – from outside forces, as if something outside and ever changing could define our intrinsic value. We are children of God, not children of this world! Yet we do so many things to try to get some satisfaction from external events and activities. And even if we get some satisfaction, it doesn’t last. So we try again, perhaps harder, and invest even more in an ever-moving target. It’s a game we cannot win, but we are in love with our diamonds – whatever they may be. This world is a very inconstant lover. It’s time to break off this relationship.
Hazur Maharaj Ji was asked, “Can we experience joy in this life?” He replied:
Where is the joy?… Where is that peace which you are trying to find in this creation? There is no peace. … The more you … try to find joy outside, the more miserable you become, the more unhappy you become. We are becoming more frustrated every day. Where is that peace which we are searching for outside? We just live in illusion and self-deception. The more we try to find peace outside, the more miserable we are becoming every day. … If there is any joy, it is within us. It cannot be outside at all.8
And to find that joy within, we need a teacher, a guide, a constant companion. We need a living Master who is one with the Father and knows all the intricacies of the journey, both inside and outside. Hazur said:
We always need a teacher. We are so much under the sway of the mind, of the senses, that unless there is somebody to shake us from the roots, to take us back to him, we can never reach him. We are in a deep, deep sleep. We are all dead. We need somebody to put life in us.9
And what is life? Shabd is the life force that is the essence of everything that is. It permeates everything and can be experienced in a transcendent state as sound and light.
Every particle in this creation is permeated with the essence of the Lord, which we call the soul, and that gives it life.10
So the saints attach us to that sound and light within, that Shabd, Nam, or Word of the Bible. They give us our meditation so that we too may experience and follow that Shabd back to the Father. Hazur again said:
And that love of Shabd and Nam within is so much higher and purer that we automatically forget worldly love, worldly faces, worldly objects. That is the nature of the mind. If you find something much more beautiful, you automatically run away from the other things to which you are attached. … So mystics, with the help of Shabd and Nam, detach us from the whole creation and permanently attach us to the Shabd, to the divine Father within.11
Our meditation not only focuses and elevates our consciousness so we may reach the Father, but our meditation also detaches us from the bubble of this world with all its beauty, allurement, and burrs. Meditation could not be a greater gift – except perhaps the gift of the Master himself. As Hazur said:
Saints just come for that purpose, to set us free from the world. They do not come to solve our problems. They come to help us to rise above these problems…. Saints give us the faith to live in this world and yet not be affected by this world.12
But the saints are even more than teachers and guides. Because they have realized the Father, they have become one with the Father and one with the Shabd, they become a medium for us to become one with Shabd. Hazur Maharaj Ji explained:
The Master is nothing but the sound, and sound is nothing but the Master. Our real Master is Sound, the Word, the Bani, the Shabd, the Nam – give it any name.13
Master is the medium between the soul and the Lord, and he is concerned with the soul – to help it to develop, to reach to the level of the Father. … That Word which has created the whole creation is our own Master and that is within every one of us. … In the flesh, Master has realized that Word within, and we are connected through him to that Word.14
We are indeed blessed to have been found by a Master. We are even more blessed if we follow his instructions and do our meditation to the best of our ability, regularly and punctually every day. Meditation is our gateway. Meditation will prick the bubble of world consciousness and take us to a higher, lasting, divine consciousness. Meditation will take us to the real Master within. Hazur said:
Meditation changes our attitude on life. Meditation makes us receptive to his grace and his grace clears all the karmas. Meditation makes you a lover. It helps you to lose your identity, individuality … It helps you to merge to become another being. It makes you a real lover, to lose your own identity. If you go to the karma side, I think if by meditation we have to clear them, God knows how many ages we may need to clear our karmas by meditation. It [meditation] only makes us a lover of God and detaches us from the creation.15
Meditation makes us a lover of God and detaches us from the creation. Meditation will also make us receptive to his grace, which will eventually clear our vast residue of karmas. But the other thing that keeps us here in this creation is our attachments, and our meditation helps to detach us from those attachments, from our fascination with the allure, the illusion, of this world. We need our meditation to break the hold that the world has on us. Our meditation slowly and slowly breaks those chains. Then we will be free. Master Charan Singh wrote:
The most important thing for a satsangi to achieve is detachment from the world and attachment to Shabd … by regular attention to simran and bhajan.16
Hazur was asked: “I suppose, Maharaj Ji, that any satsangi who does his meditation daily, diligently and devotedly, for two and a half hours or more in the morning hours can reasonably expect to reach his spiritual destination?” The Master replied:
Definitely. You see, you not only make spiritual progress within, but with regularity in meditation and living the Sant Mat way of life, your whole attitude and approach to the world and worldly problems changes. The time comes when you feel you’re not attached to anybody at all. And that is the main factor in our not coming back to this creation at all, no matter how little progress we have made within. Our whole attitude and approach to life change by meditation, by living this way of life, and automatically we get detached from everything. And that detachment pulls us out of this creation.17
- “Lose Your Illusion,” Pennsylvania Gazette, Sept/Oct 2014, p.16
- “Lose Your Illusion,” Pennsylvania Gazette, Sept/Oct 2014, p.16
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.24
- Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil-Kheir, Nobody, Son of Nobody, tr. Vraje Abramian, p.10
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light, letter 231
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.25
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.25
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.374
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.468
- Quest for Light, letter 268
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, pp.462–3
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.375
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, p.483
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, pp.483–4
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Dera, 6 April 1981
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat, letter 56
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, p.377