Subarata’s plain-spoken, sometimes vehement loyalty to Guru was often tested. From memory it was Sri Ramakrishna who spoke of the various forces arrayed against the spiritual life, against the Masters, as “thickening the plot." When asked why our human life is so filled with struggles, Guru, in a similar vein, replied, “Otherwise, where is the fun?” The Cosmic Game! Guru often reminded us of the descending grace that enables us to find and to hold true to our path – not easy when from cradle-rock to last breath we are immersed in all the phantasmagoria of the world. “I sincerely admire you people,” he once said, “for I know how hard it is to be a disciple.”
In one of Guru's songs the lyrics remind us, "Darkness there is, light there is; you can choose whichever pleases you." Yes – who has not felt the tug of other, unlived lives clamouring for attention and birth? All the more reason to feel gratitude for this enduring, if sometimes fragile, gift of loyalty to God. For those whose choice of self has opposed them to the spiritual way of life, they also have their part to play, and certainly they “thicken the plot.” I remember the line attributed to Judas in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” – "Why was I cast as the villain?" – acknowledging the nudgings of fate and destiny in the roles we play.
Vishnu Paran – tales of the incarnations of Vishnu – and the Mahabharata are both filled with the stories of great souls destined to oppose righteousness and the incarnations of God. Our own other possible lives and selves also lurk in the shadows behind our public personae and, but for a twist of chance, might “strut and fret their hour upon the stage to a very different tune as well.
Confronted by those who have chosen to defame our spiritual life, I do believe our greatest strength lies not in being drawn into response and combat – even where that is sometimes necessary and unavoidable – but primarily through our own deepening and blossoming spirituality. When the storm blows through the forest, only the sickly trees will fall. And from our love of God and God-reliance will come the knowing of how, when and what to do. Our guardianship of Guru's legacy will be most effective through our own self-perfecting, through building an individually perfect world. Such is the power of each human soul that the force of consciousness itself is the greatest way to honour our teacher and offer light to the world.
Subarata might not always agree with these musings, but she always prayed to be true to her teacher and her path to the end. And she knew that the inner challenges, such as doubt, fear, anxiety and flagging aspiration, are really our greatest threat, rather than the enemy at the gates. The innumerable outer challenges of the world will finally strengthen us, for we cannot make progress in a vacuum, nor ever realise God unless through the trials of life we develop strength and faith and fortitude.
Guru's own words are always encouraging: "The more you take your life as a life of divine, supreme duty to the Supreme, the more your body, vital, mind, heart and soul will spread beauty.... Spiritual history will bear witness to what we are doing. Each of you is of paramount importance. In spiritual history our love of light, truth and oneness will be inscribed in golden letters. If we dedicate ourselves consciously to the supreme cause with our aspiration, prayer, meditation and service, then in and through us will grow a better, more illumining and fulfilling world."