The Master has given us the advice to frequently reflect on two questions once in a while: What is the purpose of meditation and why do we do it? This reflection will help us prevent meditation from becoming a meaningless action, a mere ritual. To answer the first question, Maharaj Charan Singh says in Die To Live:
The purpose of meditation is nothing but to obtain that peace of mind. Actually, all this tension and depression that we feel is due to the scattering of our mind. When our attention is scattered we become very restless, unhappy, and we lose that peace. The more we concentrate at the eye centre and the more our attention is upward, the more peaceful we become, and only then we enjoy that bliss and happiness within.…
Peace we can obtain only when all coverings are removed from the soul, when the soul shines and becomes whole, and it becomes worthy of merging into the Lord.…
In order to get tranquility and peace, the only method is meditation, which takes our mind back to its source, thereby releasing us from the mind and removing all coverings from the soul.
Tulsidas, a well-known Indian mystic, confirms this in one of his poems in The Teachings of Goswami Tulsidas:
There can be no happiness to the soul:
And no rest to the mind,
So long as one does not meditate on God,
Relinquishing desires, the abodes of sorrow.
To obtain this inner peace and happiness, our Master has given us a very simple method in meditation – simple because we only have to repeat five words during simran and to listen to the celestial music during bhajan. It is so simple that everyone can do it, irrespective of age, education, intelligence or health. Everyone can do it. Yet most of us say that it is very difficult to practise. The Masters confirm this. How is it possible that something apparently so simple can be so difficult to practise? Tulsidas gives us the answer: The mind has never been at rest. Forgetting its natural heavenly bliss, it wanders day and night, drawn by the senses.
It has become soiled by the mire of many karmas,
Accumulated through innumerable lives.
The Teachings of Goswami Tulsidas
Meditation seems difficult to practise since our mind is not used to being at the eye centre. For innumerable lives it has been scattered, tempted and distracted by worldly pleasures. How reasonable is it to expect that it will be at rest in the eye centre and in an instant be cleansed from all its impressions, the mire of many karmas?
These unreasonable expectations can lead to frustration, when during meditation thoughts continuously interrupt our simran, sleep overwhelms us and concentration feels impossible to attain. This frustration is a reaction or a manifestation of our ego, for it has to admit that it is powerless and helpless; it can’t do what it wants and has to surrender to a greater power. The purpose of meditation can only be fulfilled by his grace. Initially, this is difficult for our ego to accept.
Maharaj Jagat Singh says that when we notice that frustration or feel we want to become rebellious, we should continue with our meditation, and he explains why:
We must strive hard to subdue the mind and put in every effort to drive away the evil qualities that overpower us. But, if after struggling very hard we still find that we have not advanced a single foot on this long journey, we should not get disheartened. Master knows well that with our feeble hands and feet, we shall not be able to accomplish this journey even if we were to go on travelling for a hundred thousand years. He wants to impress upon us that unless the Lord’s grace intervenes, no one can walk on this path of immortality. When we collapse and fall, and have no strength left to struggle further, then Master’s loving kindness and grace will carry us forward as a tottering child is carried in the arms by its mother.
The Science of the Soul
If we can keep the purpose of meditation in mind, we will find energy, power and inspiration to begin anew every day. That’s why the present Master has given us this advice to reflect on, not for the purpose of evaluating our daily meditation – but this is what we usually do. We tend to focus on the results of our effort and compare it with an ideal, while we should really focus on the effort. By doing this we deprive ourselves of the opportunity of enjoying our meditation. Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, shows us the difference between his experiences when he focuses on the result of his prayer instead of on his effort:
Every morning at 6:45 I go to the small convent of the Carmelite Sisters for an hour of prayer and meditation. I say “every morning.” But there are exceptions. Fatigue, busyness, and preoccupations often serve as arguments for not going. Yet without this one-hour-a-day for God, my life loses its coherency and I start experiencing my days as a series of random incidents and accidents. My hour in the Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself.…
The only way I become aware of his presence is in that remarkable desire to return to that quiet chapel and be there without any real satisfaction. God is greater than my senses, greater than my thoughts, greater than my heart.
Henri Nouwen, Gracias
The present Master gives us the advice to learn to enjoy our meditation, to enjoy just doing it and to leave the results to him. When we take his advice to heart, we will see that this attitude will help us to focus on the repetition of the names during simran and to listen to the Shabd during bhajan. This will deepen our concentration.
We must first learn to settle the mind in simran, and stay there, enjoying the practise with gratefulness and humility.
We will learn to enjoy the meditation also by reflecting on the second question: Why do we meditate? If we can answer this question sincerely with “because my Master has asked me to,” we may start to enjoy it. For what is more enjoyable than doing something at the request of our Master, knowing that it pleases him most? We are very fortunate to be allowed to do this seva of meditation.
The Master appreciates every moment we engage in our meditation practice, even when we are distracted, restless or sleepy. Every moment we try to get close to him within, pleases him. Hafiz confirms this in a loving and compassionate way in one of his poems, using the metaphor of a dance for our effort to be near our Beloved: the dance of our soul with her Beloved. It is a difficult dance for us and Hafiz explains why. But the fact that we try to draw near the Beautiful One again and again makes the Beloved defenceless and will lead to the moment that he can’t withhold his love any longer, the love that will bring rest to our mind and happiness to our soul.
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One.
You have waltzed with great style…
To have neared God’s heart at all.
Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow,
And even his best musicians are not always easy
I Heard God Laughing, Renderings of Hafiz as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky
Hafiz’s message is clear. If we are honest and sincere in our effort, what does it matter that we do not see or hear anything inside? So what if we have to start our simran again and again because our mind is still scattered and thoughts come in between? So what if we have to start our bhajan again because we fell asleep? What is important is that, despite all our weaknesses and shortcomings, we are sincere and honest in our effort and keep on trying to get close to the inner Master. What is important is that we are doing what our Master has asked us to do. And when all our efforts to meditate please him so much, why not shift our focus to the effort and just do it – just enjoy the practice.