The Great Debate
Once upon a time there were two disciples who had a disagreement about how to do simran. The first disciple said, “Do the simran however you can. Just do it!” His name was Nikeji (like the famous running shoe). The second disciple said, “No, no, you can’t just do simran. You have to do it with love and devotion.” His name was Heartfeltji. Other disciples listened to them and said that they both seemed right. So Nikeji and Heartfeltji went to their Master to ask, “What is the right way to do simran?” He said, “We will set up a public debate so everyone can benefit from hearing the different sides of this argument.” So a date was set, and word got out. It drew a lot of people who were excited to resolve this issue in their meditation and learn the best way to do simran. The debate began.
Heartfeltji went first. “Simran is the most difficult thing in the world. It means suffering. It means tragedy. It means sacrificing everything you are attached to for the sake of the Beloved. Ceaseless simran means thinking more of your Beloved than of yourself. If that self-sacrifice isn’t there, then you better not play this game of simran. It is a very difficult game and should be played only by the lovers of the Lord. It means putting your own head under the sword, sacrificing your ego and all that you are attached to. If you are not prepared to do this, you cannot be called a devotee of the Lord. Simran should be done with burning zeal, with close attention, with fear and reverence, and with the deepest humility. Then you will feel the warmth and sweet satisfaction of repeating his Names.”
The crowd was impressed. How could one argue with Heartfeltji. His words were, well, so heartfelt.
Then Nikeji spoke: "Yes, doing simran with love and devotion is the ideal. But love and devotion are not within our power. They are gifts from God and come only by grace. God has not given us the power to access them at will. The quality of simran is not in our will, but the quantity of simran is. He has given us the power to repeat his Names at all times and in all places and has commanded us to do so. Quantity is our part, but not quality.
The secret to drawing aside the veil of illusion is to repeat simran in any way that we can. Just do it! Do it with every breath, in every circumstance we find ourselves. Simran calls for continuous action to counter the downward tendencies of the mind. Repeat the Names without ceasing.
If our hearts don’t feel the warmth and sweet satisfaction of doing simran, then bring to the altar of simran what can be brought - whatever lies within our power. And what lies within our power is the frequency and consistency of the repetition. Let the humble instruments of our mind first grow familiar with frequent, persistent simran. Let the call upon the mighty Names given to us by the Master be often and without interruption. There is not a greater labour than this. The Master has said that if we couldn’t do it, we wouldn’t have been initiated. So just do it! Do simran continuously and do not labour much to conquer your passions by your own strength. Simran will destroy them naturally. This is where the secret of awakening lies."
Nikeji continued, “So it is fitting to do simran at work, travelling, standing in line, or waiting for satsang to begin. It is possible to do simran everywhere and in every place. And if we sincerely turn our attention to the task of simran, we will find convenient circumstances everywhere. We just need to be convinced of the fact that simran should constitute our chief occupation and come before every other duty. Then we will prioritize our life accordingly and just do it!”
The crowd was stunned. Nikeji made so much sense. And what a relief that it is in our power and we can do it!
Then it was Heartfeltji’s turn. "That’s good advice if you are a lizard or emotionally brain dead. But if you have an ounce of emotion, channel it into devotion. It doesn’t have to be love, it can be your frustration, sadness, hopelessness, guilt, fear, pain, anything. Let these emotions charge the simran and it will lead to love.
How can we repeat simran without any feeling? We will get bored and our minds will wander away in a minute. Feelings charge repetition which then focuses the mind. Maharaj Charan Singh was once asked: ‘Great Master once said that you cannot rend the veil inside unless there is grace, longing, and love. Does constant simran have the power to do that, or will simran develop the love to rend the veil to pierce within? Is it the power of simran alone, or will that just develop love?’ Hazur replied in Die to Live:
Simran or meditation without love doesn’t yield much result. Simran and meditation with devotion yields results. That’s why the Great Master says that if you just mechanically do simran and your love is not there, your faith is not there, your mind is not there in it, then you don’t get much result. You have to attend to simran and to the whole meditation with love and devotion.
Heartfeltji’s closing argument was, “You have a heart. Access it and channel it into your simran.”
Again the crowd was swayed. Of course we need to channel our hearts into our simran.
Then Nikeji spoke again. "Let’s see how Hazur answers another question: ‘How does mechanical simran get turned into simran with love and devotion? And does it help to try to repeat the words with love and devotion if you’re not feeling it?’ Hazur also said in Die to Live:
First you may start with a dry simran, and then ultimately you may end with a love of simran. When a child is sent to school to learn the ABCs, it is very dry for him. He is made to repeat it over and over. It’s only later [that] he loves to read, and enjoys pronouncing the words. Simran is the same thing.
If we can’t attend to meditation with love and devotion, it may be attended to even mechanically. Slowly and slowly that love and devotion will be built. To begin with we have to fight with the mind. We have to put the mind in meditation, and then automatically love develops with effort, and faith also comes. Some people are lucky, and start with faith and devotion; others have to build faith and devotion.
Nikeji finished with, “So if you aren’t one of the lucky ones who starts with faith and devotion, what are you to do? Just do it!”
By this time the crowd was totally confused. Do we just do it, or do we do it with love and devotion?
They turned to the Master. He said, “Thank you, Nikeji and Heartfeltji. You have helped me very much. My job is to confuse my disciples so much that they will drop their intellects and just do it!”
The crowd gasped, thinking Nikeji must have been right. He must have won this great debate. But then the Master added, “So my only advice is to just do your bhajan and simran every day - with love and devotion.”