Spirituality means waking up …most people , even though they don’t know it go thru life asleep…they are born … live … marry … raise children , and die without ever waking up.
There’s a story of a father who knocks on his sons door…wake up John!
I don’t want to get up says John…his father shouts ,you have to go to school…John replies… I don’t want to go to school…why not asks father?
Three reasons John says…1st its so dull, 2nd the kids tease me and 3rd I hate school.
His father says , well I’m going to give you 3 reasons why you must go to school…1st its your duty…2nd because you’re 45 years old and 3rd because you’re the headmaster.
We should constantly thank our heavenly Father for having finally woken us up !
In one form or another we have been in this boarding school called Earth for aeons and having finally moved on from kindergarten to primary we have received a new uniform called the human body …we may like or hate it, but it is ours for the entire period we are here… whether it is brown, black or white…female or male…fat or thin …tall or short… ugly or beautiful … God loves us all as we are his children… made in his image, we are the finest of his 8,400,000 species.
While we are here, as humans, in this informal school called Life, overseen by the strict headmaster Kal, we have the daily opportunity to learn lessons, … we may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid but we have no choice but to learn as we cannot skip any classes.
A lesson will be presented to us in various forms until we have learned it…When we have learned from it, we can then go on to the next lesson.
There is no part of life school that does not contain its lessons… as long as we are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
There are no mistakes, only lessons…growth is a process of trial and error…yes we do experimentation here and the “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.
As our awareness increases we discover many things, for example, that others are merely mirrors of us… we cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something we love or hate about ourselves.
As we progress spiritually thru , primary and high school a very limited number of advanced students are chosen to move on to the university of “Sant Mat”, where we discover that the answers to Life’s questions lie inside us.. all we need to do is look, listen and trust in the special Master assigned to us; the first thing he does is give us a wake up call… telling us that we are too big to be asleep and still playing with toys.
Our Master teaches us ;
That our Father is the one supreme power and foundation supporting everything…that we all come from him and are drops from the same divine ocean…and that each of us is accountable for everything we do!
We are taught that our essence is spirit…that the real nature or “me” is our soul…whereas our temporary nature or “I” is the ego/personality, which is of our body.
The object of life school is to get in touch with our spiritual essence, thru the Word or Shabd within us…having been chosen, we are assured that we will graduate within 1 to 4 terms…on graduating we return to our Father, beyond the limitations of time and space.
Unfortunately we are handicapped because we experience life thru our senses and fail to recognise what we are…just like children who have difficulty accepting that the atmosphere is vibrant with radio waves , so our spiritual immaturity hides our divine potential.
Master emphasises that as long as we remain busy with the world around us , we will continue to be seduced and fooled into thinking that only the physical world is real.
To free ourselves, Master teaches us how to withdraw our attention from the world and concentrate it so that ultimately we can detach ourselves from the distortions of the body and mind.
But he warns us that this is not simple, there is a catch… the law of Karma, or cause and effect. Karma is how headmaster Kal keeps his boarding school full…none of us can graduate until we have settled our life school account.
This account is the record of everything we have ever thought or done since our soul left our Father and put on the uniform of the mind and body …basically we have to remain at school , moving from class to class accounting for all we have done …but ,freedom does lie in settling past accounts and not incurring new debts.
The law of cause & effect is simple…whatever we give, we have to take … whatever we take , we have to give.
In the gospel of Luke
Judge not , and you shall not be judged
Condemn not , and you shall not be condemned
Forgive and you shall be forgiven
Give and it shall be given unto you
For with the same measure that you mete
Withal it shall be measured to you again
From our earliest years we are encouraged to think of ourselves as unique individuals…we talk about freedom and personal fulfilment, but in reality we have no free will at all…for example we have no control over who our parents are, where we are born, our genetic make up or our early education.
It is our mind conditioned by earlier impressions that enslaves us…to free ourselves we have to remember that each action and thought imprints itself on our consciousness, thus over many lifetimes thick walls have been built around our souls so that we cannot remember who we are as we can no longer hear the life giving music of the Shabd.
There are two things that we can do …1st living pure,honest lives helps prevent our Karma from increasing…2nd , Meditation concentrates our mind and focuses it away from the material creation so that our spiritual faculties can function.
However as long as our senses dominate our thinking, we remain ignorant of the real order of the creation…lacking spiritual knowledge , we give priority to material goals.
Master Charan Singh said ” always live within one’s means…try to adjust your budget and reduce your wants…there can be no end to a persons desires…the richest person is one who has no desires”
If we are not careful we start to covet what others have…so we need to cultivate contentment so that we are not tempted to acquire something that is not ours.
Guru Arjan Dev said” you clutch at things that belong to another but the Lord within knows and hears all…lost in greed for worldly things, you fall into the pit of hell, unaware of what lies in store for you in the beyond”
Baltasar Gracian a moralist of the 17th century gives us this wise advice..
“People driven by ambition may succeed outwardly but fail inwardly at the cost of their spiritual energy…they blindly forgo happy leisure and precious existence for stupid drudgery…overwork is the mother of greed and a substitute for boredom…once entrapped escape comes only with the slow collapse of body functions”
The reason we keep on doing wrong is because we do not see the repercussions of our deeds straightaway…at a physical level, if we put our hand into a fire , we immediately experience pain, so we don’t repeat it…but imagine if our nerves were’nt functioning , we might leave our hand in the fire until it burned away.
In the same way our spiritual nerves have been deadened to such an extent that we fail to understand that while the wheels of karma grinds slowly , but they grind exceedingly fine.
All our actions like fruit have their own time of ripening…it is easy with our limited vision to excuse or ignore things we do as small dishonesties…but Master tells us that no action, however small, is insignificant.
Master Sagat Singh said “not even a single grain that inadvertantly enters your granery from a neighbours field can go unaccounted”
We must remember that whatever we think and do , we alone are responsible…there is a story of a person who went to mystic for spiritual enlightenment …when asked how he earned his living the person said by “stealing”…Why do you do that asked the Mystic…the man replied “ I’m not trained to do anything else and I have to support my family… will they share your punishment if you are caught said the holy man ? …of course replied the man…but the holy man told him to go home and ask them , which he did…No! they all responded…”if you choose to support us in this way its your fault not ours”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said” The ways of trade are grown selfish to the borders of theft and subtle to the borders of fraud...everybody partakes, everybody confesses, yet none feels himself accountable”
How easy it is to ignore our responsibility when we act for a group, an organization, our community or our country…we have a conscience that makes us uneasy but we side step by shifting responsibility to others or the impersonal “group”.
This lack of accountability accounts, among other things, for the collapse of marriage in the last decades…todays culture of self interest makes us keen to secure our personal rights but do we understand our responsibilities?
These days profit hungry entrepreneurs and companies often pursue profits at the expense of the average person…on a large or small scale we always need to ensure that we are fair in our dealings with everyone.
Since we all have a natural tendency to strive for happiness the success of our spiritual journey depends on whether our priority is spiritual or material goals.
Master Jagat Singh said” make all necessary efforts to improve your circumstances; but leave the results of your efforts to the Satgurus will…he is not unaware of your problems”
In this world we daily walk along the edge of a precipice , any inattention and we may hurdle to our death…that is why our daily 2 ½ + hrs of meditation, regular satsang and reading spiritual books is so important …as is keeping the right company.
Master Charan Singh said ”we are always influenced by the company we keep, if we mix with bad people we will start thinking along these lines…if we mix with good, noble people, with devotees , we will think in their way”
Hypocrisy is another form of dishonesty…many of us would like to appear virtuous in the eyes of others…we adopt the external trappings, yet daily we are negative and uncharitable…we may genuinely want to experience the spirit but are not prepared to change the way we are .
The law of Karma is inexorable and subtle beyond imagination, for example if we are party to someone else’s dishonourable actions we are culpable as an accessory…this is highlited by the story about a holy man who slept over night in the hut of a poor elderly woman…since she had no extra food to feed him in the morning, she spun cotton all night and sold the yarn to buy food… but when the holy man sat in meditation he could not raise his attention…knowing the woman had bought the food from her own earnings, he noted there was no light source in the hut…he asked her how she had worked in the dark…she said “ there is a prostitute living opposite so I sat outside and used her light which was burning all night”
The modern food industry also causes us a dilemma with animal genes in vegetables and minute quantities of animal derivatives in a wide range of vegetarian food…Master says all we can do is cultivate the right attitude as it is impossible to live in this world without doing wrong we have to decide where to draw the line as becoming fanatical with details risks losing sight of the bigger issues.
Master reminds us that the human form is the only one in which our soul can become aware of itself and therefore we should not miss the unique opportunity to realise God… for example it would be a waste to receive a gift of a golden sword and use it in the kitchen to chop the veges.
Ultimately it is the grace and mercy of our supreme Father , thru the guidance of our Master , and by means of the Shabd that brings us to the spiritual path …we contribute whatever we can to make the journey easier …but really our debts will only be wiped clean when he wills it.
Ideally we should live lightly in the world, engaged in honest work…Benjamin Franklin said” be industrious and frugal and you will be rich…be sober and temperate and you will be healthy…be virtuous and you will be happy”
Our focus should be always toward the positive and highest good …we should be a “gurmukh”…one whose face is turned to the guru.
These days success appears to be measured in material wealth and our consumer culture encourages us to believe that we will not survive if we are not rich…it seduces us with images of the lifestyle it wants us to lead and tempts us to compromise ourselves to achieve the positions, promotions and jobs we cannot do without…there is no doubt it takes real courage to actually walk the spiritual path as opposed to just talking about it.
We have to take time for spiritual work…meditation becomes the sails of positive action…even though most of the world may drift in the opposite direction, pulled by the currents and tides of physical existence..we have to act , knowing where we are going , keeping our destination in view, not caring what others say, think or do.
“Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle , fast as a deer and determined as a lion in doing the will of our heavenly father” is a quote from the Ethics of the Fathers
Central to the ideal of honest living is earning our own living but ensuring we avoid anything that leads to the suffering of people or animals, such as handling meat .
Master Charan Singh said “ we ought to stand on our own legs and should not depend upon the charity of others for our livelihood…every single penny that we receive from anybody shall have to be repaid in this life or a future one”
As we build around us the atmosphere we need for meditation we will find the ups and downs of the roller coaster of life do’nt disturb us so much …we become happier, content and detached.
Once we let go of the things of the world we become less frightened …life becomes easier and more pleasant when we let destiny take its course…what is the point of compromising our principles when we will receive neither more nor less then is written in our destiny.
Detachment from the world can only occur by attachment to something higher…once we contact the word within us and experience its sweetness we will become detached without any effort & automatically let go of what we cling to.
Detachment from the world and love for our creator is expedited by giving away a part of our earnings…but charity is not about the quantity given, it is about the love with which we give that is important…we should give to others without any desire or expectation.
In the words of the wise servant/teacher Mirdad:
More possessing More possessed
Less possessing Less possessed
In reality we own nothing… we are merely custodians and need to take good care of the material gifts God has placed in our keeping…our only real possession is our spiritual wealth which we earn thru worshipping our Creator.
Baba Jaimil Singh said” the individual should use only 9 parts himself, as the 10th part is not his; it belongs to the Lord who created him…share it with others”
Kabir said” when wealth in the house increases… when water fills the boat…throw them out with both hands …this is the wise thing to do”
Contentment is the antidote to Greed and comes thru surrendering ourselves to the Spirit.
Master Charan Singh said” Faith and Love is the very foundation of Sant Mat… faith anbd love in Shabd and Satguru…then comes surrender to the will of the Sat Guru…not a slavish, but a loving surrender.
The mainspring of action then changes, and the will of the Lord or the Satguru replaces the mind as the motive Power.
Then the soul is in perfect harmony with the Lord… mind is dethroned and God is enthroned... it naturally involves a struggle, even a bitter fight to the last; but think of the crowning achievement too…it is the Shabd that will eventually lift you above matter & maya.
When we put our spiritual goals first, we find that our happiness and contentment increase and we sleep well at night, for we are at peace with ourselves and discover that it is thru the natural order of the Lords creation and not thru our efforts that we receive whatever we have
Until we become realized beings we need to emulate the Saints, for they are the finest examples of the most excellent human qualities…Rumi said” the reflection cast from goodly friends is necessary until you become, without the aid of any reflection, a drawer of water from the sea”
Life is a battle with the most powerful adversary in the creation…our mind , we need to subjugate it as our goal is the treasure of the spirit…the way isn’t easy….in fact, it is the most difficult journey of our lives…however we will prevail as Master is our mentor and by looking to him we understand the qualities we need to imbide.
Dhammapada said “ if a man were to conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and another conquer one … himself, he indeed would be the greatest of conquerors”
Throughout history the saints have lived amongst us and their lives stand witness to the principle of honest living…in the line of Radha Soami Masters Baba Jaimal Singh was in the Army …Master Sawan Singh was an engineer and later a farmer…Master Jagat Singh was a chemistry professor …Master Charan Singh was a lawyer and when he became Master supported himself from his family farm and his successor ,our present living Master, Baba Gurinder Singh, was a business executive and in the saints tradition, supports himself and his family through his farm…he accepts neither money or gifts for his personal use.
On our journey in life , if we weigh ourselves down with a cargo of stones, we won’t reach our destination…however if like the mystics we accumulate no cargo then the winds of Gods Love in the form of the Shabd will power our ship.
To make the journey we need enthusiasm, fortitude and stamina…there will be many occasions when we fail , The Roman Emperor , Marcus Aurelius advises us to think positively and rejoice that we are on a healing, restorative path of healing action rather than get caught up in our failings…he also advises us to look at everything afresh each day as an opportunity to be true to ourselves.
It is because we carry around the baggage of negative mental habits that we lose heart and courage and judge ourselves…we won’t let go of them and even enjoy the misery they bring…such emotions take us nowhere…Jesus said “ to be as little children” who see life with open hearts and minds.
Baltasar Gracian warns us against sadness and self pity “search for the good in everything…there is nothing that does not hold some good , if we but seek it...be the man who, among a 1000 evils , finds the single good…good finds good, but good that comes too late is as good as nothing”
While it is good to be self aware, judging ourselves too harshly is counterproductive ...with the same generosity of spirit and tolerence that we show to others, we need to be compassionate and charitable towards ourselves too…we should live by the golden law of the universe “ to treat others as we would wish to be treated by them”
One we realise that life is more then the physical…that we will keep coming back to Kal’s school of life to face the consequences of our actions …or even worse be reborn in forms below the human to repay the suffering caused to others, then we begin to understand the need of right action today!
Whilst our task is to bring our life in to harmony with our spiritual goal…we have to be patient…like a child that matures through kindergarten, primary and high school…likewise , for our long term good, we need to be balanced and allow our development to take place naturally.
If we strive to simply suppress habitual negative tendencies, there will be a reaction at some later date…the process has to be seen as a lifelong, steady evolution toward our goal…life can be as simple , or as complicated as we make it…
Marcus Aurelius said “if it is right, do it…if it is not true, do not say it”
While we are travelling on our journey we need to remind ourselves constantly…thru meditation, satsang , reading and listening to the words of the saints, of who we are and where we are going.
When we entered “Sant Mat “ university and undertook to live by spiritual principles, we committed ourselves to turn way from material goals so as to not waste the precious gift of this human life …as we progress we will find that drawing nearer to the source of the word will find increase our delight in the spiritual way.
By applying our principles we will see life in its true perspective and clothe our actions with awareness that the Shabd , which enlivens, sustains and governs the entire creation is present within us 24 hrs each day and thru it we will certainly realise ourselves and graduate with honours, from the university of Sant Mat and achieve our Goal of God realisation .