The Pangs of Separation
by Stanley and Edna Shinerock
One Year ago we boarded the plane that was to carry us away from our beloved Master and back to the West. For six wonderful years, we had enjoyed the company, the radiation of God made manifest. Now we were to see how greatly we had taken advantage of this privilege, and to what extent we had developed the all-important receptivity spoken of by the Master in His circular letters. Had our nature, to some extent, been converted from base metal to tempered steel, or had we hidden faults that would crack open under different circumstances and pressures? Only time would tell.
The plane was two hours late, so we had plenty of time for reflection. On the evening of our departure, we had the privilege of having tea with the Master. He poured the tea for us, and filled the cups almost to the brim. Then after we had put sugar in, He looked at us with a twinkle in His eyes, saying,
I think you need something to sweeten it with,
and reaching for the bowl of sweet rice pudding which had been our dessert, the Master ladled two big spoonfuls of rice, first into His own, then into our cups. We had only drunk a little tea, and expected to see the contents of the cups overflow on to the table following this addition of Master’s generous bounty, but not a drop was spilt.
So there we sat, alternating drinking from and spooning out our cups. Emboldened by this unusual form of parshad, we returned to our room after the tea to do the final packing, and to tidy up the odds and ends that remained. We tend to see things in greater perspective by contrast. So it is that a western disciple, on spending some years practising the Spiritual Disciplines without meeting the Master physically, just tries his best and does not really grasp the concept of receptivity to the Master-Power. As yet, he has no standard of judgement to apply. He is, or should be, too much conscious of the effort that he makes daily in striving to live the teachings, to keep the sweet remembrance of the Master; and this supersedes everything else.
If he is then fortunate to dwell for some time in the Master’s company, he finds that there is no effort required to keep sweet remembrance, for he is constantly permeated by the Master’s radiation.
So it was with us. Almost every day, we received the glances of Love and life transmitted through the eyes of the Master; almost every day, we listened to the charged words spoken by the Master. The awe in which we held the Master prior to meeting Him physically was tempered with the Love that sprang up in our breasts when the Master looked into our eyes.
But like others before and after us, our stay with the Master one day came to an end, and we returned to the West. It was then that by contrast we fully appreciated the value of receptivity. Before we met the Master, this important aspect of Spirituality tended to be in half tones, the effort to live the life taking up all our attention. When we came within the Master’s personal aura, this effort ceased, for in the Master’s presence, such things required an effortless effort as compared to being away from Him. When we left the Master, we saw things in black and white. That is, we realised we had lost something very valuable. For all our strivings, we could not recapture the effortless receptivity we were blessed with in the Master’s presence. With physical parting, we lost also the personal intimacy that we had enjoyed. It was an intimacy founded not on words, but on radiation from the Master. There was hardly any need to raise any particular problem or difficulty. The Master would show by just a word or a glance that He knew the circumstances of the matter. And knowing that He knew gave us the strength and determination to struggle on.
On some occasions, the Master Himself would raise something. Only a few words would pass between, but this would be sufficient. At other times, I might be discussing something with Him, and while looking up at Him, the Master’s face and beard would expand and become more brilliant, and I would get lost in this expanse. This sort of intimacy is impossible to recapture away from the Master.
But if such experiences cannot be had away from the physical Master there is the compensation of seeing how the Master-Power works in one’s life when one is no longer with Him. It is, of course, the same Master-Power that works in our lives whether we are in His Presence or away, but there is a tendency of seeing things in greater perspective by contrast.
As with other aspects of the Path, great effort is at first needed before some success is achieved in tuning in, as it were, to the Master-Power within. Naturally, we would like to be able to make the effortless effort that Master speaks of, but I don’t think this can be done all at once, for it is only conscious effort that can lead to effortless effort. But the effort must be made and is well worth it. We have seen for ourselves how, as the Master puts it, the Master-Power works in all phases of our lives, both material and spiritual. This is the compensation that is seen clearer by contrast when one does not dwell physically with the Master.
Three months after we arrived back in Canada, during which time I kept myself busy doing temporary office work, the Master-Power opened the door to a permanent position, and since October 1970 I have been happily settled into an interesting job as an accountant. And just as wonderful to relate, one month after I started my new job, the way opened for Edna to obtain a position as residential organizer with the Toronto Red Cross Blood Donor Service.
When we wrote to Master telling Him of our good fortune, He replied:
Immaculate are His ways.
Nothing, however, can really compensate for not being with Him physically. We are still like two thirst-ridden travellers struggling through a sandy wasteland, hoping that each step will bring us nearer to the cool water and breezes that can be found by the oasis of the Master’s physical presence, to have Him gaze once again into our eyes and experience that which we have greatly missed since we left Him.