Every so often, disciples on the spiritual path feel the need to ask themselves the question: what matters more, this material world of phenomenon or the inner world of universal spirit? The mystics say that this reflection is an invaluable part of the spiritual life because it is our priorities that determine the success we achieve in our spiritual evolution – the importance we place upon our career and business compared with the priority we place on our meditation; the importance we place on satsang and seva compared with improving our social standing in the community. The mystics remind us that it is our actions that reveal what matters most to us.
On the path of Sant Mat, it is not uncommon to hear disciples contend that meditation is difficult. The mystics’ response, however, is always the same. They advise their disciples to approach it from a logical point of view – can sitting in one place, repeating some words be difficult? They explain that the difficulty is not in the act of meditation itself, rather, it is the obedience and the imposed discipline that the mind objects to. The real hardship, therefore, is the mental anguish that the disciple goes through when he has to choose between his spiritual life and desires of the mind and body.
But the mystics make it clear that this only happens when the disciple’s lifestyle does not revolve around meditation, and instead, meditation is forced to fit into his lifestyle. And it is easily proven. If meditation is done first thing in the morning, the disciple feels happy and everything is effortless during the day. But if for some reason he has compromised his meditation for something else, then throughout the day he is distressed. By the time evening comes, the mind is tired, the body is exhausted and he is saddled with guilt because he does not feel like meditating. And that is when the struggle begins and meditation becomes difficult.
To overcome this, the mystics offer a simple and practical solution. They tell us to make meditation the priority. When one starts the day with meditation, the chances of struggling with the mind are less. Both mind and body are refreshed from a good night’s sleep, and one’s thoughts are generally more subdued. Also, when the disciple begins his day remembering the Lord, he builds a positive atmosphere around himself. He enjoys its effects throughout the day and it helps him cope with whatever challenges come his way.
The Sant Mat Masters explain that only when a disciple pursues this routine regularly can the mind gradually be trained. As the habit develops, the struggles come to an end and the mind begins to enjoy the solitude of meditation.
Gradually, gradually, devotion will bring its own sweetness.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol II
The perfect mystics assure us that to be one with the Truth even for a single moment is worth more than the world and life itself. It is for this reason they urge their disciples to experience it for themselves. It is why they inspire them to not only persevere with meditation but to make it the most important part of their life.
For the true disciple, it is a simple proposition. He has made his choice. And when one chooses the Beloved, love becomes his ultimate power source. It lightens every burden and bears every hardship. It attempts things beyond its strength and sees nothing as impossible. Fortified with such deep devotion, his only aspiration is to seek the pleasure of his Beloved. For him, there is no doubt. It is the only priority.
Most loving God, I beg You so to preserve that
I am not overborne by the cares of this life.
Give me strength to resist, patience to endure,
and constancy to persevere.
Give me the rich graces of Your spirit
rather than all the pleasures of the world
And supplant all worldly love by the love of Your Name.
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ