Vacuum Your Rug
What does Sant Mat have to do with vacuuming a rug? Everything, as it turns out.
In recent years, Baba Ji has been asking us to examine why we do what we do. He has told us to ask ourselves whether our actions lead us closer to our goal of God-realization or farther away. This is where vacuuming comes in.
In a book called “Winning the Clutter War”, the author talks about the difference between task-orientation and goal-orientation. To be task-oriented means to see what we are doing in isolation, not connected to a larger whole, not attached to a goal. To be goal-oriented, on the other hand, means to see the big picture, how everything is interconnected.
Talking about housekeeping and keeping one’s home orderly and clean, the author explains:
People who say, “I’ve got all day to vacuum the rug” are indicating that they are going through the motions of housekeeping and doing the job just to get it done, not because it is an important part of a larger picture. As long as we look at housekeeping as a group of isolated tasks lined up in order to be done, we can put them off because there is no reason to do them except to get them off the list.
The solution is goal-orientation rather than task-orientation. We should never lose sight of our overall goal, which in this case is a beautiful and orderly house. When we see our work in terms of this goal, individual tasks become a means to an end.
In Sant Mat terms, when we see doing our simran and bhajan as a task, something that we have to do sometime, but not something critically important that takes us closer to our goal, we can happily procrastinate - secure in the “knowledge” that it is okay to forget about it now as long as we do it later. But if we see it as a means to our goal of making our Master happy, of moving towards God-realization, it becomes a priority and something that we enjoy doing. The author continues:
A person who is task-oriented can wait all day to vacuum the rug, as long as it gets vacuumed that day. A person who is goal-oriented, however, won’t wait all day since her goal is to maintain a nice-looking house at all times….
Are we goal-oriented on our spiritual path? Do we look at every aspect of our vows as a means to the end of God-realization? Or are we so crushed by the rationalizations of our mind that we can only see our devotion as a chore. Do we view our meditation as a child too fond of play who views his or her homework as something to be done under duress? Echoing the Masters whom we follow, the author explains that:
The mind is the key to what we do. Sometimes we slip into a pattern of thinking that hinders us from making progress, and we never realize that while our wills are saying “Go, go,” our minds are saying, “No, no.” So we end up failing because we are harboring pet ideas that are keeping us from going forward. We have to be willing to make some changes in the way we think if we are ever going to make permanent changes in our houses.
The author says that we have to be willing to make changes in the way we think if we want our physical house to be clean. We have to vacuum the rug. The Masters say we have to change the way we think if we want to cleanse our spiritual heart.
In Spiritual Discourses Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh, talking about Tulsi Sahib’s shabd “Cleanse the Chamber of your Heart”, says:
The fact is that each one of us would like the Lord to make his abode in our heart - but have we ever considered whether this heart, where we would like the Lord to live, is fit for Him? Even a dog, when it wants to sit down, first prepares the ground with its tail as it turns around. And when we want to sit on the ground, we first sweep it, then wash it, then spread a rug or a carpet, and put out upholstered chairs and cushions. Only then do we consider the place to be fit for us.
Is our heart fit for the Lord to enter it or is it, as Hazur goes on to say, full of the love of the world and attachments to our families? Expounding on Tulsi Sahib’s second line, “From your attention discard all that is other so He may be seated there,” Hazur says, “Until you rid yourself of your love and attachment for everything other than him, your heart will never be fit for the Supreme Being.”
Hazur Maharaj Ji is telling us that we have to focus only on the Lord and develop our love and devotion only for him because part-time devotion or putting off our spiritual practice to a more convenient time will never take us to our goal. We have to keep our mind in simran and bhajan twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
In every aspect of our path, we must become goal-oriented, not task-oriented. We must vacuum our rug now, not later today, not tomorrow. We want to make our heart clean and beautiful now, so that the Lord will come and take residence within it.