Embrace the Struggle
Maharaj Charan Singh was asked a question regarding the actual set amount of simran that an individual must do in his life. This was his answer:
There’s no set amount. It’s a whole life of struggle – that’s the amount. A whole life of struggle. We have to withdraw our consciousness to the eye centre, and then we have to hold our consciousness there, that it may not slip down again. That is why it is a lifelong struggle.
Die to Live
Baba Ji was asked a question about ending this struggle and returning to our divine home. He was asked why the Lord doesn’t just take us in sooner rather than later, since this will happen eventually. He replied by saying something like he wished that it were so simple, but in time we will see that there is value in the struggle.
What could this mean? It seems that he is suggesting that we should embrace the struggle. Yet it is often so hard to grasp the value of struggle. Saints tell us that only in a human birth can we make true progress on our return home. Our daily effort is an ongoing investment into this return home. If we could truly see the potential at our fingertips we might respond differently to the challenge. It’s much like the experience of driving around the town we grew up in and seeing a big development on property that we could have purchased for next to nothing when we were younger. It seems so obvious in hindsight. But that is exactly the message regarding this human birth. We are guaranteed a huge return on our investment if we take some of today’s precious time and invest in the struggle before us.
Every great achievement has been accomplished by those who have accepted their struggle. The greatest athlete creates his winning ability by getting up every morning when no one is around to notice and pushing himself to the brink of his own limit. Then he repeats the task day after day as he slowly improves. With no guarantee of success, he puts on a pure demonstration of his ability to keep the struggle alive.
Or take the artist. We see the final painting and we think how talented the artist is. But there are very few artists who just paint a painting. A true artist keeps refining his work as he reaches for perfection. No one else may ever know what struggles he has had to resolve in the final work. His eye, his intent, his spirit cannot find satisfaction with his effort until the final piece reaches a goal that is personal to his pursuit of perfection.
When the question arises as to why the Master doesn’t just take us up now, the answer given most often is that we are not yet ready. Perhaps the answer is that when we are ready, we will accept all that we encounter as his gift. And through this acceptance, we will understand that every effort we endure is a step closer in our return to the One. It is as simple a lesson as the one learned by Dorothy, the leading character in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Through all of her struggles, all she wanted was to go home to Kansas. When she finally reached the end of her journey, it turned out that all she had to do was click her heels together and home she went. She could have clicked her heels together any time and returned to Kansas, but that’s not the way it worked. Only when she was ready, and when she had endured the challenges she encountered, did she become aware that she already possessed the means to go home. We are working with the same set of rules. When we are ready, we will surrender and click our heels together, and Master will bring us home.
In Sant Mat we are dealing with an individual relationship between ourselves and our Creator. He has made us as we are. He has set this whole production up to benefit our growth while he nudges us forward. We are all putting in effort to increase our understanding, our love and our devotion. We are all being our best and doing our best today, right now. This is not about some future arrival into a reality of bliss. This is about who we are now. We are not here as a result of our failures or our successes; instead, we are here in his perfect timing and we will progress by his grace.
Masters have often emphasized that there are really just two things that we are responsible for: our effort and our attitude. They have asked that we put in our effort and trust our Creator regarding results. This is where a positive attitude is so important. It is up to us to abandon any preconceived ideas regarding results. We can simply practise seeing every event in life as an opportunity to trust in his plan and, therefore, believe in the necessity for things to work out as they will. This is the essence of a positive attitude. This is all his work.
Maharaj Charan Singh used to take great care in answering the same basic questions a thousand times in order to help us grasp the spiritual process we are in. He demonstrated his love and patience over and over and reached out to each questioner with a detailed answer that, if taken literally, would preclude any further thought on the question asked. This was wonderful. It was great that we had this information to feed our intellect and encourage our quest from within. But even this has its limits.
Our present Master has drawn a line in the sand and asked us to step across. He has asked us to quit analyzing these teachings and instead just live them. He has asked us to quit conceptualizing what love is and to take steps, through our meditation, that will help us to be in love. As our guide, he reaches out his hand to us and asks us to take action towards our objective. He asks us to trust in our purpose and believe in this journey. He does not point to a future arrival that will some day satisfy our needs; instead, he emphasizes the present moment.
In meditation, we are simply asked to be ourselves and to commune with our Master within, beyond thought, beyond intellectual perception. That’s all. This is an act of trust. Slowly detachment will come in its own time. Embrace the struggle. He knows what he is doing. This is why he smiles when he says to just let go and trust in the plan. If we only knew what he knows, we would laugh at ourselves for wasting time worrying about and questioning this destiny.
Let’s surrender to the struggle, click our heels together and go home.
My Beloved, this torture and pain
I suffer because I am so addicted to Your Beauty.
People ask me whether I prefer Your company to being in heaven.
Heedless fools, what would heaven itself mean
Without the Friend’s Presence.
Nobody, Son of Nobody, rendition by Vraje Abramian