Mystics, throughout time, have continuously given of themselves to their disciples, tirelessly working to save every soul that has been entrusted unto them. While most of their efforts to transform man into God take place in the inner realms, or ‘behind the scenes’ if one may call it that, a great deal of work is also put in at this physical level. Outwardly, the Masters guide their disciples by adopting several methods – the most direct of them being satsang, where grace and love flow unconditionally from the source. Amidst these waves of love, one will also find hidden a number of priceless pearls. These pearls of wisdom are revealed only to those who are willing to deeply inquire and investigate into the Master’s verbal message, where one will then discover pointers that aid in one’s transformation. One such tip often given is concealed in the word ‘balance’.
A pendulum bob that is elevated by a certain degree, and then let go, swings to the opposite side to an equivalent height, at which point it then assumes a momentary pause, and is then followed by a swing back again, only this time to a slightly lower position. This arc-like motion of to and fro continues until the pendulum reverts back to being motionless at the centre. One might be able to derive from this that with each movement in one direction, there is another of comparable magnitude in the opposite direction, which would imply that they cancel out each other, with the net effect being zero … and there is balance.
However, what is critical to note here is that whether on one side or the other, stability is only achieved when the pendulum restores itself to its natural position, at the centre.
The mind is often likened to a pendulum as it too swings from end to end, or to put it more practically, from one extreme to another. Just like the pendulum’s motion in one direction is cancelled out by its motion in the opposite direction, going to both extremes of the mind may appear that the person is in balance, but this is not the case.
“Being in the world, but not of it.” “The middle path.” “Anything in extreme is not good.” “React and rebound.” These are some of the common terms used by the saints that caution the spiritual practitioner to adopt a balanced approach to life while treading this fine line of a two-edged sword. But if one were to go deeper into this word ‘balance’, what does it really mean and why is it so important?
When saints use this word, they are not referring to a choice of lifestyle or behavioural pattern such as work and play. Instead, they skim the surface of something so profound that in its uncovering and understanding lies one of the greatest secrets of mysticism. This balance that is often talked about, in actuality, refers to a condition of mind that allows it to function in such a manner that it is continually in its natural state of being – remaining completely uninfluenced by thought and external activities.
J. Krishnamurti, a twentieth-century philosopher, aptly prompts students of spirituality by asking the question whether or not such a mind can exist which when occupied, will focus on the activity at hand, and once the task has been completed it will resume its natural state, unaffected by its previous engagement.
What is the mind’s natural state of being? Mystics have described the natural state of the mind as the meditative state, free from all thought while it remains absolutely still in total awareness. It is a serene mind that observes and acts, unsullied by any sensual or emotional conditioning or by any prejudice. Such a mind is a mystic or divine mind.
Thought, by nature, is divisive. With a single thought, the mind instantly creates a division within itself. And so it follows that with the multiple thoughts that man generates, he is creating innumerable fragments, where each one is trying to dominate the other, with the result that he finds himself in constant conflict. Chaos and disorder become prevalent, and every decision made is born of utter confusion.
As each part battles with the other, energy is continuously dissipated, keeping one away from having any experience with the Truth. What is in reality a clear screen, in no time turns opaque, and finally black. Clear thinking is then no longer possible, as objects are perceived the way one would like to see them rather than for what they really are.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to regroup and dissolve the millions of thoughts that drain and waste man’s invaluable spiritual energy. This is no ordinary task, and is perhaps impossible if attempted on one’s own merit. Fortunately, the perfect saints, in all mercy and compassion, have given their disciples the tool of simran, which can be repeated throughout the day to minimize the scattering of the mind. Furthermore, it is also advised to live a simple life whereby the unnecessary stimulations of excitement that arise from the senses and desires are kept at bay.
With simran and correct living, the mind eventually returns to its natural state of being – in balance. And with more practice, it learns to maintain this state for extended periods of time. That is meditation. It is no surprise that the mystics often state that meditation encompasses one’s daily living, and is not merely an interval of time spent locked in a room in solitude.
From this balance and stillness of mind, one then lives and acts, and one really experiences what it is to be truly human.
When the mind itself becomes sacred, then it opens the door to something that is immeasurably sacred.
J. Krishnamurti, A Wholly Different Way of Living
The cessation of thought in this state of stillness brings about a deep-rooted and sacred silence that pervades the entire being. Energy that was previously dissipated is then gathered to summation and the mind itself is sanctified. It is in this very state of intense silence that one is ready to meet the Radiant Form of the Master within.
My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience,
extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images,
that it might find out what that Light was.
Herein it was bathed,
And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance,
it attained to the vision of that which is.
Saint Augustine, as quoted in Living Thoughts of Great People