By Kamlesh Patel (Daaji)
Next to peace of mind, what is the most important benefit that you gain by meditating in silence, all alone? It is the realization that all is one!
It is no coincidence that we get this idea now, on Guru Nanak Saheb’s birth anniversary. One of the important lessons we can imbibe from his life is this idea of equality and unity of all humanity. He declared that God is one, and lives in every one of us. Those were the times, when there was intense communal competition between various religions, and sects. His vision of the world was an all-embracing, all-inclusive humanism.
Nanak Saheb is known to have travelled on foot to many countries for over 20 years to share what he knew. In those times, religious leaders and spiritual teachers preferred to teach only their own communities and sects, and not people from other religions. To the Muslims he said, “And when, O Nanak, he is merciful to all beings, only then shall he be called a Muslim,” and to the Hindus, he said “O Nanak, without the true name of God, of what use is the frontal mark of the Hindus, or their sacred thread?” He endeared himself to people of different cultures and diverse backgrounds. Even during his lifetime, Guru Nanak Saheb was able to set up dharamsala (places of charity) from Assam in the east to Iraq in the west.
During those times, racial discrimination was rife and disrespect between the different classes and caste was at a peak. Guru Nanak Saheb in his own gentle and tender way, discouraged it. He said: “See the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis; conquer your own mind and conquer the world. There is one awareness among all created beings. One who recognizes the One Lord among all beings does not talk of ego. He urges all the peoples of the world to conquer their minds and not to fall prey to these evil practices. All human beings had the light of the Lord and were the same – only by subduing one’s pride and ego could one see this light in all.”
Great teachers come in different ages to awaken the spirit of unity and harmony amongst us. The great Buddha trained us to develop compassion to those who suffer and to realize oneness of all humanity – rich or poor, brahmin or pariah. The apostle St. Paul wanted gentiles and jews to unite in the love of God taught by Jesus. The mystic poet Kabir made Hindus and Muslims to realize the futility of rituals done without love of God; he awakened in them a spirit of equality before God. There are many more such practical, self-reliant and loving teachers, including the great rishis and sages of India, Lord Krishna, Zarathushtra, and the Prophet.
His life’s message also extended to upholding the dignity of our sisters and women. In the 15th century, when the world treated women differently, Guru Nanak Dev sought to improve the respect women deserved. He said, “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.” In his own unique way, he promoted women’s rights and equality — this is a first for the 15th century!
Today, one of the modern teachers of the Heartfulness tradition, Shri Ram Chandra Ji of Shahjahanpur, affectionately called Babuji Maharaj, also has worked hard for universal brotherhood. He said, “It is neither oneness nor separateness, but the unity of all existence. It transcends this idea of oneness and separateness, or to be together and to be separate. It goes beyond it and says, “When we are all one, where is the question of being separate or being together?”
His contribution to the world has been the teaching of equality, unity, harmony and human dignity. Today these ideas get shattered once again because of a lack of deep and loving connections. There are differences and more competition within us. Our modern world is driven by aggression to the idea of success and materialism, which causes more divisiveness and decline of spiritual values and peace. With so much advancement in science, technology, medicine and Information technology, our civilization is still floundering in its foundation qualities of peace, love, and compassion.
Global harmony, a spirit of brotherhood, unity in diversity, is all possible, if only we replace this idea of competition with a collaborative attitude. The human experience and life’s value would be much improved. Haven’t there been times in our lives when we felt a deep soul-searching or longing to feel connected, or to feel belonged to someone or someplace beyond the apparent? This desire for that deep space where we wanted to feel part of a large whole bigger than yourself – where did it spring from? Can that feeling be the first step for a truly soulful search for integration?
Today, while there are more differences amongst us, there is also hope on the other end of the spectrum. It is also easy to discover the oneness of humanity by an undemanding modern-day practice of Heartfulness meditation, and a simple lifestyle. When many of us meditate together with hearts filled with love, unity and peace will come automatically. Babuji Maharaj in his letter to the UN in 1957 said, “We must learn how to create within the heart a feeling of universal love, which is the surest remedy of all evils and can help to free us from the horrors of war.” He further suggested, “Let all brothers and sisters sit daily at a fixed hour individually at our respective places and meditate for about an hour thinking that all people of the World are growing peace-loving and pious.”
On Guru Nanak Saheb’s birth anniversary, let us experience that humanity is one, in this subtle field of loving unity. As we embark on this journey, the most important and first step is this realization that we are one and in harmony with ourselves.
(The author is Guide of Heartfulness Meditation. View expressed here are personal)