The next worst thing you can do is think you can't do it."
— Sant Ji Maharaj
Every scripture contains paradoxes, statements which seem to be contradictory but are actually true in fact. Our own lives, as devotees of the living Perfect Master, are an unfolding scripture, riddled with these same paradoxes. How do we live in the world but not be of it? What does it mean to live as a lotus, with roots firmly planted in the muddy bottom, while the flower floats clearly upon the surface?
The recent violence in Florida is one example bringing these questions into focus: one premie dead, two critically wounded from gunshots triggered by a severely disturbed premie late one night in the Information Center in Tallahassee.
Upon hearing of this tragedy Maharaj Ji immediately conveyed his sympathy to the parents of the slain sister. The following morning he requested all premies to join in meditation and prayer for the two premies remaining in the hospital. He then went on to ask how many devotees of past Perfect Masters had died in the effort to share Knowledge with others. He asked if we thought it would become any easier to share love as our world goes through one of its most dark and difficult times.
No, I don't believe it will get any easier. Though we are trying to bring peace, we will continue to be confronted with a violent age. Though we find great joy inside of us, outside the world is wrought with sorrow. What can we do?
Maharaj Ji continually reminds us that practice and application of Knowledge are the solution to all problems. To practice means to make practical. Keeping regular hours and meditating morning and night requires a quiet and safe environment. Be realistic in your social concerns. Remember that those who aren't into such discipline may only disrupt your ability to keep that discipline and should find another place to stay. If you live with other premies, make sure everyone has a key so you can lock your home at night. Satsang is wonderful, encouraging people to take Knowledge and to practice it, but it does not penetrate the unwilling heart, miraculously stopping bullets or turning lions into lambs instantly.
More than this, Knowledge must be a practical everyday experience for us, brought by consistent efforts to meditate, attend satsang and do selfless action. Once we are firmly grounded in this experience of Knowledge, these paradoxes will unwind into clarity, simple joy, and peace.
My dog Pierre had a mind of his own, but it never did him any good. For nine months we lived together in Germany in an apartment overlooking a park. During that time it was my duty, as his master, and my pleasure, as his friend, to take Pierre for walks on a leash.
Our strolls were generally peaceful. Moving at a relaxed pace, I'd guide Pierre on a course defined by the pavement that ran the perimeter of the park. We'd stop here and there so Pierre could sniff, but when it was time to go, Pierre would obey the command of the leash with true humility.
But sometimes Pierre's ego would take over. He'd rebel and try to hop the fence into the flowerbed and attempt some freelance fertilizing. Or else he'd spot a tough German shepherd and feel challenged to demonstrate his canine machismo. In either case he'd tug on the leash trying to take me with him. It was to no avail, for I was stronger and not inclined toward flowerbeds or dog fights.
We would struggle. I'd tilt back on my heels to hold my ground while Pierre would strain to assert himself with his 40 pounds of might. His collar had him in a stranglehold so the more he resisted me, the more he gagged and choked.
Finally he would surrender to my strength and shoot back a piercing glance which, when interpreted, meant, "How could you be so cruel? Did you see what you almost did to my neck? Some friend you are!"
I'd reply, "Listen, you little jerk. Don't blame me for your hurt neck. If you didn't carry on like that everything would be fine. Just follow this path with me and we'll do okay." Pierre would sulk. That was way back in 1960.
Memories of Pierre and his stubborn resistance entered my head like an avalanche one night during satsang. Gary Girard, just in town for a quick visit, was explaining that Guru Maharaj Ji had defined God-realization as "acceptance of the Superior Power."
That definition, simple and profound, tipped over a mental domino in me which in turn tipped over another, then another, until bingo! I realized something. The dominoes went something like this:
A. God realization means feeling absolute peace and harmony
B. God is the supreme power in this universe
C. Therefore, acceptance of God's will yields peace
D. Therefore, challenging God's will yields suffering
E. Common sense says follow God's will and stop suffering
With that chain reaction completed inside my head, I recalled Pierre's futile struggles with me. In those situations I had been the superior power. When Pierre challenged me, he suffered. When he surrendered to me and followed the path, he was happy. His animal desires led him off the path and into suffering.
It didn't take me long to apply this principle to my own life. I suffer at times, so it must mean that I deviate from God's will. When I live in agreement with my creator's will, I am overwhelmed by peace.
I didn't always interpret suffering this way. It used to be that whenever something went wrong in my life I thought all the forces of the universe had entered into a cruel, celestial conspiracy designed to make me feel bad. I was appalled at my misfortune. In those days I had trouble putting my life into proper perspective.
My efforts at humility back then were well-motivated but ineffective. I would think, "Here I stand, one male homo sapien, five foot eight, weighing 150 pounds. I live on a planet with an equator that measures 26,000 miles. This planet, my beloved earth, is but one small member of a family of nine planets that comprise our solar system. The father of this family, the sun, is only a medium-sized star. Now, this entire solar system is a mere speck compared with our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way, in turn, is but a speck in the universe. God created this universe. All of it. The most I ever did was make some wooden bookends in eleventh grade shop class. Therefore, I must not be too important." This was my round-about attempt at humility.
But this brand of humility was too cerebral and not much help in a pinch. I needed to maintain the proper perspective about myself always, not just when I was looking at NASA photos. Genuine humility is essential to civilized life. Without it, I could not even buy a pack of gum at Walgreen's properly. Not properly.
Besides humility, I lacked a method of determining God's will. I knew that God was tops, but unless I had some way of becoming sensitive to His wishes I was doomed to forever getting off the track. Certainly, the Ten Commandments were some help, but they didn't cover every situation. No, the answer wasn't in books. It would take a wheelbarrow full of books to cover all the messes I got into. I needed something more definitive, more natural, that could indicate God's preferences.
It wasn't until I began meditating upon Knowledge that my problems were solved. Once, in meditation, I observed that my breath entered and left my lungs independently of my will. I realized that, in fact, I do not breathe. I am breathed. By God.
How perfect it all is! Humility is the natural product of meditation. After watching God sustain my life with His power, I could not possibly feel proud of anything I had done. All my glory was based on one essential thing - my continued breathing - and this was not in my hands.
I see now that my breath is an invisible lifeline that connects me to God, like the leash that linked Pierre to me. By remaining sensitive to that connection, I can surrender to Divine Will and avoid pain. For me to ignore my dependence on God, even for a minute, is to bite the hand that breathes me. That hurts. Today, if I start feeling bad I know what to do: meditate and get back in line.
But surrender to God is far more than avoiding pain. Surrender is a positive step toward peace. When a human being truly surrenders himself to his creator, he experiences the "peace that passes all understanding." Surrender is more than just taking the path of least resistance. Surrender is sweet, exquisite, tranquil, wonderful, gentle, aware, harmonious. What more is there to say? Surrender to God is everything.
"I am here for one purpose."
Guru Maharaj Ji gave a beautiful and inspirational satsang program in Los Angeles on February 8. Among many other things, he said, "I am here for one purpose. See, I am your instructor. And my job is to make sure you do everything okay. My job is not to go and play in the field for you. I am not gonna do that, you see. You are the team, you team up; you play; you win the game. I'll coach you along; that's all my job is. But if you want me to play out there, forget it. There is no way. I have had my time; I have played. Now I am coachin' you."
For the full text of Maharaj Ji's satsang see next issue.
Inspiration by the Grace of Sant Ji Maharaj
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