On the Right Track
Maharaj Charan Singh said that potentially every soul is God. Several saints have confirmed that the soul is the essence of God. If we have the potential to become God, what are we doing about it and how can we realize this potential?
Mystics explain to us that the soul’s brilliance and light is obscured by our mind, which covers the soul and its true essence, as if with layers of black wrappings. The dominance of the mind over the soul has led to the suppression of its God-like quality of unconditional love. And just as the soul is dominated by the mind, the mind is equally dominated by the senses. So the only way to unveil the brilliance of the soul is to reverse the domination of the mind over the soul. And this can only be accomplished by reversing the dominance of the senses over the mind. This sounds easy, but those who are undertaking the journey will testify that it is a life-long struggle.
We know the goal is to free the soul from the clutches of the mind and to free the mind from the clutches of the senses, and we also know that this can only be accomplished through meditation as taught by perfect living Masters who have themselves achieved this goal. So our responsibility is to apply the same technique to bring our mind under the control of the soul.
The meditation technique is absolutely natural and uses the attributes of the mind and body. There are no aids or apparatus for meditation. Neither are there any particular postures, breathing exercises, rituals or garments required. Anything physical is concerned with the body, whereas spiritual meditation is concerned only with the mind and soul.
The mind is constantly engaged in thoughts. It thinks of what has happened in the past or what may or may not happen in the future. It often thinks of things that will never materialize. It thinks of solutions to problems and ways to save time, money and resources. Just as waves in the ocean are never still, thoughts generated by the mind go on forever. We might ask ourselves: if thoughts are incessant, why should we try to stop them? But the idea of meditation is not to stop our thoughts completely but to direct them inwards and upwards towards the Lord.
If we observe ourselves carefully, we will see that our emotional state is directly linked to our state of mind, and our state of mind is directly linked to our thoughts. When we watch a comedy, our thoughts are directed away from everything else and focused on the comedy. Even at a time of sadness watching the comedy and even just thinking about it afterwards can lighten our state of mind and make us laugh. The laughter doesn’t take away the cause of our sadness, but for a while we can feel more cheerful. Meditation is a technique to focus our thoughts on something that is superior to the ephemeral states of mind here in the physical world.
The theory and practice of meditation is very simple. It involves replacing worldly thoughts with thoughts of the Lord. The technique used for this purpose is repetition of the five holy names given to us by the living Master who grants us the gift of initiation. By repeating these holy names, we shift the focus of our mind and thoughts from mundane issues to a superior state of spiritual awareness.
Shifting the focus from the mundane to the spiritual is not so easy. The Masters often remind us that the mind has created deep grooves with its existing thought processes, and we have to develop a new groove with meditation. This goal cannot be achieved overnight or in a matter of a few years. It is often a life-long struggle.
Nothing, not even light, travels as fast as thought. It moves so fast that we are not even able to measure it. In a fraction of a fraction of a second, we can be in another country across the globe, just by thinking that we are there. In an instant we can also go back in time many years by merely thinking of the past. Of course we do not physically travel back in time or to another country, but the fact is that when our focus and thoughts take us there, we are there and not present in the now. We have often heard the expression that we are a million miles away. This does not mean we are literally a million miles away, but rather that our attention is far away. So if our thoughts travel at such great speed and are not on the right track, what chance do we have of controlling them?
Our current thoughts are no different from a high-speed train running on its track. Unless the train is on the right track, we will end up at the wrong destination. High-speed trains are kept on the right track to avoid collision with other trains by ensuring that the railroad switch on the tracks guides them onto the right track long before they reach the switch point. Similarly, we have to ensure that the switches in our mind keep our thoughts on the right track long before thoughts approach the switch points.
Put more simply, we have to ensure that our thoughts are wholesome and pure - devoid of malice, revenge, retribution and anger. Thoughts filled with fear, worry, egotism and impatience or those of lust, greed, violence, and attachment will pull us downward and outward, while our desired destination is inward and upward. Again, the only method of ensuring our thoughts are on the right track is through meditation. Just as the speed of thought can take us many years back or across the globe, meditation can take us instantly out of this quagmire, to taste the bliss and peace within us. All we have to do is keep it on the right track with the repetition of the five holy names.
In the Bible we read: “Be still and know that I am God.” This injunction is nothing but a call to perform the practice of meditation. In meditation we still the body and mind to such an extent that all the soul currents withdraw from every pore of the body and concentrate at the eye centre, from where the inward journey begins. It is only by stilling the body and concentrating the mind that we are able to focus our attention and thoughts on the Lord within us.
The battle of concentrating our attention at the eye centre is no different from a tug-of-war, in which forces pull in opposite directions. The obvious winner is the stronger force. Applying this analogy to our predicament: the two forces are the mind and all the senses on the one hand and the concentration of attention at the eye centre on the other. When we meditate we deny the mind and the senses their power, and gradually we win the tug-of-war. But if we feed the mind and senses with worldly pleasures, we empower the mind and senses, and we lose the battle. Which force is winning our spiritual tug-of-war? Are we feeding the mind and senses more than we are feeding the soul? The choice is ours.
If we want our soul to win this battle, we have to use the ammunition of meditation. As in any war where the battle can be won only if the soldiers use all their ammunition, so too every spiritual seeker has to use the gift of Nam and fight, and not capitulate at every hurdle. The battle of controlling the mind and senses has to be fought and won. If we allow the mind and senses to win, we will remain their slaves forever. It is only through meditation for two and a half hours a day and living in the atmosphere of meditation all day that we can win this fight and liberate the soul from the mind and senses.
To succeed in meditation we have to practise it daily, and we have to use both faculties of the mind to fully occupy it. The thinking faculty of the mind is occupied with the repetition of the five holy names, while the faculty to visualize is occupied with dhyan or contemplation on the form of the Master or on the darkness within. If these two faculties are fully occupied when we meditate, the mind automatically is focused at the eye centre.
The established habit of the mind often causes the attention to wander from the repetition and contemplation to mundane matters. When this happens, like a dutiful soldier, we merely take up arms again and use the weapons of repetition and contemplation, and slowly but surely increase the periods of concentration, until we eventually dominate the mind and senses. In this way we will transcend both the happiness and misery of this world and enter the realm of eternal bliss and peace.
Leaving everything else aside, one must implicitly obey the Satguru of his own time, and faithfully follow his instructions. This will lead him to success. This is the long and short of everything.
Soami Ji, Sar Bachan