Why Do We Meditate?
As disciples on the path, we made a commitment at the time of initiation to devote at least two and a half hours daily to the practice of meditation. However, although we constantly strive to achieve some sort of balance between our worldly commitments and our spiritual responsibilities, sometimes we find ourselves so overwhelmed that living up to that commitment becomes a great challenge. As a result, we hurriedly rush through meditation merely to strike it off our to-do list, meditate mechanically, or even miss sitting altogether - leaving it for another day. Why then do we meditate? We would do well to reflect on our motive and objective for undertaking this commitment in the first place.
If we are certain that spiritual realization is our primary goal in life, then the first and most important thing to do is to support our spiritual self. Our spiritual self is to be considered our core, with all the other aspects of our lives revolving around this centre. Moreover, with a correct and renewed understanding and application of our objective, meditation will cease to become a mere ritual, and we will attend to it with a true sense of devotion, love and humility.
One of the main objectives of meditation is to appeal to the Lord for forgiveness and invoke his grace. The mystics explain to us that we are imprisoned in this endless cycle of birth and death, due to our enormous amount of karmas from countless previous births. These karmas are what separate us from the Lord and prevent us from merging back into our Source. As we look deeper into the workings of the law of karma, we begin to see that one reason we go on doing what we do is because we do not experience the repercussions of our deeds straightaway. It is precisely because of our ignorance that we end up in such a trap. Our spiritual nerves have been deadened to such an extent that we fail to understand where our thoughts and deeds are taking us. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in one of his poems, “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.” In the Buddhist scriptures it is written:
So long as an evil deed does not bear fruit, the fool thinks that it is like honey; but when it bears fruit, then the fool suffers grief. An evil deed, like newly drawn milk, does not sour; smouldering, like fire covered by ashes, it follows the fool.
Dhammapada, as quoted in Honest Living
The mystics teach that meditation is the most effective prayer to ask for forgiveness. It provides us with the opportunity to repent for our karmas and to beg the Lord for his compassion and mercy. It is a means for us to communicate with God and serves to open up our hearts, making it receptive to his ever abundant love and grace.
Meditation is nothing but seeking his forgiveness, nothing else. “Whatever we have done or we are too weak to do every day, please forgive us.” Meditation is nothing else. It is not vain words to say to him, but practically we pray to him for forgiveness by attending to meditation. It is the same as repentance. When we are sitting in meditation, we are actually repenting for what we have done in the past.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Meditation helps us develop and sustain an attitude of acceptance and surrender. In order for us to go through the ups and downs of life without losing our equilibrium, we need to constantly maintain an attitude of acceptance of our circumstances. When we are more accepting and react less to situations, tranquillity replaces anger, humility replaces ego and contentment replaces greed. We are then more focused, more skilful and more productive in anything we do. We naturally adjust our attitude and behave in a manner that is in harmony with both the inner self and with our external environment. The mystics tell us that the attitudes of surrender, patience, awareness and contentment are strengthened through the process of meditation and are naturally applied to every aspect of our lives. We then reflect the peace, joy and calmness that develop in us automatically.
Meditation is the best way to prepare for death. The mystics explain to us that meditation is in fact a preparation to leave the body. By mastering the process of keeping our attention at the eye focus, not only will we go within and experience what it is to die while living, we will also be able to take refuge at the eye centre at the time of death - peacefully and willingly.
Die to live. You must withdraw to the eye centre, and then you will live forever. Otherwise, you are just living to die. Every time you live, you have to die; so die to live. Learn to die so that you may begin to live, and live forever.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live
As we evolve and continue to grow in our understanding of the real purpose of meditation, we should never forget that the moment we receive initiation from the Master, we also receive all the grace we need to practice our meditation. We need to just strengthen our willpower that we can do it. Life will never present us with perfect circumstances, so we have to make do with the present moment and simply latch on to the circle of effort and grace - that is, the more effort we put in, the more grace we receive to make more effort. In keeping a commitment, we are encouraged to know that our word is worth something. There is great value in just making the commitment to meditate.