Our Best Friend
Let’s cast our minds back to the time of our search for the path. And let’s ask ourselves the question we were probably asking then: Why are we here?
In Spiritual Perspectives, Volume I, Maharaj Charan Singh defines the purpose of life:
The main purpose of life is to realize God.… The privilege of going back to the Father can be achieved only in the human life. So we should always be mindful of our destination and try following the spiritual path which leads us back to him.
We should never forget our real purpose: to realize God – and work to achieve that goal. That means that while in this world, we have to prepare ourselves to leave it.
And if we’ve been trying our best to live according to our principles right from the time of our initiation, we have been slowly turning away from the world. Many of us have begun to feel we are strangers here. We can see how our worldly attachments and our desires have started leaving us. Simply by living the Sant Mat way of life, our minds are no longer so entangled in the attractions of the world. Of course, the greatest help here is our meditation.
Over time we’ve become more conscious of the role that the mind plays in our lives. The mind is something we have to deal with. And maybe we even need to change the way we think about the mind.
So often we’ve heard that it is a powerful enemy and that we have to fight it. In a very real sense that’s true – and seeing the mind as an enemy, at this stage more powerful than the soul, means that we’ve probably lost every single battle that we’ve tried to fight against it. But Maharaj Charan Singh has told us the mind can be our best friend. So let’s think how we can make it our friend. We need to do that, because without its help we’ll never be able to return home.
Maharaj Ji reminded us repeatedly that the mind and soul are knotted together at the eye centre. This knot will be untied only when the mind reaches its own home in Trikuti. So the mind has to work with the soul during meditation so that it too can become attached to the Shabd and rise up to reach its own home. And while doing so, it will bring the soul along with it as far as Trikuti, after which the soul can travel further. Unless the mind goes inward and upward, the soul can’t go inward and upward. We have this explanation from Maharaj Ji in Spiritual Perspectives, Volume I:
The mind is an enemy as long as it pulls you downward towards the senses. And it is your best friend when it is at the eye centre and is in touch with the shabd and is being pulled towards the second stage. Without winning the friendship of the mind, the soul can never go back to the Father.
We’ve been told that the nature of the mind is to seek pleasure, and that it does this through the senses. But in this regard Maharaj Ji tells us that in time it realizes that lasting happiness does not lie there. And the mind also becomes unhappy and frustrated by its enslavement by the senses.
This is priceless knowledge for us – we have to take advantage of this. We have to try to give the mind a higher pleasure and point it towards real happiness – which can come, of course, only through our meditation. We need to learn to enjoy our meditation, so that the mind can enjoy it with us. All too often we are negative and we focus too much on the struggle aspect of it and our failure to get it right. But we can’t afford to be negative about our meditation. It must be satisfying for us. It must make us happy.
Certainly there are times that our meditation fills us with great joy. Even at other times when we sit for meditation, even though we’re far from hearing the Shabd in its full glory, still we might hear something – a vague echo of the Shabd, which can hardly be described as beautiful or magnificent. But still, it’s a little something. And even if it can’t pull us up, it still gives us some satisfaction, some happiness.
When this happens, what we need to realize is that it’s the mind that’s feeling that happiness, that satisfaction. So, let’s meditate to give the mind as much of that happiness as possible, so that it can look inward for its happiness. This is training the mind to turn inward and upward. This is making the mind the soul’s friend.
We read in Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II:
The mind doesn’t want to live in misery; the mind also wants peace. When we are happy, it is our mind which is happy. When we are miserable, it is our mind which is miserable. The mind is seeking happiness. That is a characteristic of the mind.… In seeking happiness it has become a slave of the senses. But when it becomes frustrated by the senses and finds another channel through which it can seek some internal happiness, naturally its tendency becomes inward.
Let’s ask ourselves this question: Why do we meditate? Well, we might say we do it because it’s our duty, or because we love our Master and want to please him. But there’s more to it than this. The more we meditate, the more our attachments and desires for worldly things are being diminished by a slow shift of our attachment and desire away from the world. And at the same time the tendency of the mind is being reversed from outward to inward.
On the face of it, meditation is not difficult. Even going within is not difficult. The way Maharaj Ji explains it, it sounds quite simple:
When you close your eyes, you are automatically within.… When you close your eyes you see darkness. Mentally, keep your attention in this darkness and do your simran with the attention of the mind…. Mentally keep concentrating in the darkness and do not try to pursue anything. You are only to keep your attention mentally in the darkness and do simran.
Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II
But of course, this is the difficult part – keeping the attention in the darkness, and holding on to the simran. So how can we improve this?
The Masters tell us that the mind has two faculties that need to be occupied if we’re to achieve concentration: the faculty to think and the faculty to visualize. And we should bear this in mind when we do the simran part of our meditation. The actual words of our simran stop our mind from constantly thinking of other things – provided that we give attention to each word and don’t just let them roll on mechanically. And then the visualizing faculty needs to be occupied by looking into the darkness while we do our simran.
We can enjoy the darkness; we can be comfortable in the darkness. The darkness can become our shelter, our refuge, our place of peace. If we can do that, the mind will become less inclined to look for diversion in a thousand thoughts. And if we stay in that darkness, saying our words, that is being within. And the Shabd will start making us aware of its presence. Maharaj Ji tells us:
The purpose of simran is only to eliminate thoughts. The moment you are there, that you have been able to eliminate worldly thoughts, light and Shabd will absolutely pull you, it will catch you there. It will not let you remain in a vacuum.
Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II
All of this sounds fairly simple. But of course we know that meditation is never consistently simple. One day it may be a bit easier, and the next day we can’t even sit comfortably, let alone focus.
But even those difficult meditation sessions are valuable. In Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II, someone says something we can relate to very well: “Maharaj Ji, my meditation is so poor that I feel that it doesn’t even count as meditation.” And he replies:
Well, you can count all twenty-four hours in your meditation. If you build around you an atmosphere for meditation, every breath you breathe is meditation for you.… If the Lord is always in your heart in one way or another, then every breath is meditation.
And perhaps this can be enough for us – that we try our utmost to keep our awareness on the path. There’s not much more that we can do -because anything more is not in our hands. Our Master, or the Lord, is doing it all.
As we read in Spiritual Perspectives, Volume II:
Everything is done by the grace of the Father in this world. A seeker can achieve nothing without his grace. Without his grace a seeker would not even know about the Father, what to say of reaching the Father.… Unless he wishes, nobody can reach him. We are all blind, groping in the dark. He is the only one who can show us the light out of this darkness.
This is very comforting. We see our failings and our weakness, and it often feels that we can do so little. So it’s good to hear that he is doing everything. Surely then he will make the mind become our friend, since this is the only way we can start the inner journey back to him.
But we still have a part to play and we still have work to do. We’re told we have this much choice: we can hasten the process or we can retard it. And so we meditate because we want to hasten it. But still there are days when we want reassurance that our efforts are achieving something.
Well, there is something that could be a clue, even if we never see or hear anything inside. We can judge for ourselves what pleasure we get from our meditation. We can feel to what extent it quietens our minds and gives us a sense of peace.
This sense of peace is important. It’s an indication that the mind is becoming our friend. In another answer in Volume I, the Master tells a questioner:
“Many times you may not see anything, but you will feel so happy, so contented, so much at peace within yourself”.
And then the person he is speaking to wants to know: “And is that enough at the time of death to take us up?”
“That is more than enough,” Maharaj Ji says, “because your tendency is not towards the creation now.”