The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Bible, Matthew 13:31-32
We are like this man. We have taken the path, which in the beginning does not appear to be very significant and is not recognized as valuable in the eyes of men. Indeed, we ourselves are unable to comprehend its true worth. But it is the potential that we do not see. It is the potential that we do not comprehend, just like the tiny mustard seed which is as insignificant as dust. But the man in the parable took this minute seed and planted it in his field. He knew what to do to make it grow. He prepared the soil, he planted the seed, he watered it, he protected it from foraging animals until it was strong enough on its own, and then it grew into a magnificent tree. Now we have to do the same. We must take our initiation and provide a suitable field to grow the potential of this gift, and the potential is that we can all become as our Master. The present Master has said that we can each achieve this. We have all the necessary potential.
This gift is subtle, though it may appear inconsequential and may even be easy to forget its importance. But we must provide the circumstances whereby this gift can grow.
It is only through that understanding and acceptance, only through our continual efforts to comply with the four principles, that our foundation will be strong enough to stand up to the forces that will try to prevail against us and hinder our progress. We all know what happens to a structure if the foundations are inadequate.
So once we have a foundation that is adequate for our structure, what next?
We start to lay the bricks, one after the other. We must lay at least seven bricks every week of our lives because we undertook to do this at initiation – one brick each day. One brick is our two and a half hours of meditation. These are the building blocks of our journey on the path. We have to place the first layer of bricks on a good mortar bed on top of the concrete foundations. The bricks are the substance of the building and they will now form the superstructure. Each brick on its own is relatively insignificant in size, but all are equally essential within the structure. Seven meditation periods of two and a half hours should be properly attended to each week. Any meditation done with all the love, devotion and attention that one can muster, no matter how dry and boring the result, is acceptable to the Master. The Great Master used to say, if you cannot bring me your successes then bring me your failures. The clear message here is to bring the Master something.
The Master guides us as to how we should do this meditation. The first part is repeating the five holy names whilst holding the attention at the eye centre and the second part is listening to or for the Shabd. He answers our questions about it in the utmost detail so that we may keep straight and true in our endeavours. This is the stringline for laying our bricks. Before a bricklayer places any bricks, he sets up a stringline to line and level so that his courses run straight and true. Then each brick is individually laid on a bed of fresh mortar, seated home with a tap of the trowel, and then the joints are cleaned up.
The mortar forms the matrix within which the essential structure and tone of the building is created. The structure will fail if the mortar is defective. If we look upon the mortar bed and surround for each of our meditation periods as the other three vows and our worldly duties, then we can use this imagery to see how the four vows crystallize together to form the structure. So we must continue to keep to the vows in our everyday life and attend to our worldly duties. In this way, we ensure that each day’s meditation fits properly into the overall structure of our life. Consolidated, balanced progress is what we are after.
The mortar is also the actions we take to try to ensure that our meditation can receive our best efforts and is of the best quality. For example, the Masters suggest that we get to bed at a regular time which allows us to have adequate sleep. They advise us not to eat too much, not to take part in stimulating activities before going to bed, to read some of the Sant Mat books each day, to give time to simran whenever our mind is free. These important practical tips have a significant effect on the following meditation period. If we are careless about these things, then we undermine our ability to make maximum progress. It is a waste of time for bricks to be laid that are crooked or laid on a weak mortar bed. They will have to be removed and placed again.
Equally, we need to be constant and regular in our practice. If the bricklayer lays the mortar bed and then is distracted or goes to do something else, the mortar will go off and the bricks will not bed. The old mortar has to be removed and is wasted, and he then has to start again with fresh mortar. Steady routine is what is required.
The first few courses of bricks above the foundation are placed to bring the walls above ground level. When the bricks are above ground level they are all laid ‘fair faced’, with the joints fully finished. The appearance must be first class. When we start on the path the first few years are spent adjusting our lives, trying to get the quantity of meditation embedded into our lives. At first, the quality may not be so good. We must start as soon as possible to improve the quality of our meditation so that we are working ‘fair faced’ to provide a quality job for our Master. He supervises and inspects our work continually and it will be this work that determines when and how we are paid – in grace. This we easily forget!
Each meditation each day is important, no matter what we think. It is like a bricklayer who needs and orders 15,000 bricks to build his house. The last brick is the same as the first. It is of equal size and weight and it is laid in the same way to the same stringline in the same mortar surround. It just happens to be in a different place. Equally, the building is not complete if but one of the 15,000 bricks is missing. Maharaj Charan Singh used to say that in a building, one needs bricks at the top and bricks at the bottom. Which brick is the most important? They are all equally important and the building will not be complete without all of them. We must be clear about this so that we value properly each and every meditation period.
Equally, making our best efforts must include all the daily supporting routines and actions which go to improve our meditation when we actually sit down to do it. The meditation will never improve if each day we are undoing what we have achieved in the previous meditation. If a bricklayer just places bricks one on top of the other without the mortar matrix then he ends up with a neat stack of bricks, but he does not end up with a load-bearing structure.
Maharaj Charan Singh advises in Die to Live:
You have to give it [meditation] practical shape in your daily routine, in your daily dealings with people.
And again in Quest for Light:
Please remember that great things are not accomplished quickly. They require time and effort to achieve them.
So the process that we are undertaking is initially to fit our meditation firmly into our lives, then develop this until our meditation, the atmosphere that it brings and the attitude that it creates, all merge into our everyday life so that it is seamless, and our spiritual duty is as much a part of our daily life as our worldly duties. Satsangis should avoid the de minimus attitude of doing the minimum to comply. In that way, meditation time and attendance at satsangs will not be fresh but will become a stale ritual that is remote and separate from our everyday life. We are not going to satsang on Sunday just to forget the path for the rest of the week. It is up to us to keep the path and our efforts fresh and vibrant.
Maharaj Charan Singh reassures us in Die to Live:
Just change your way of life according to the teachings and attend to meditation. That is all that is required. From meditation, love will come, submission will come, humility will come. Everything will come.