Living in the Presence of the Lord
We mortals are living on top of a time bomb - can you hear it ticking? It will explode, it’s just a question of when. Death can come at any moment. So let’s be prepared by keeping in mind our true purpose in being here: God-realization. Let’s use our time consciously - that means meditation and remembrance.
Ultimately everything on the path comes back to meditation, but that is only two or three hours a day. What about the other twenty-one hours? Deduct about seven for sleep and you are left with fourteen waking hours each day. But are they ‘waking’ hours and are we really ‘awake’ during that time, awake to God’s presence? Or are we asleep as far as the inner world is concerned and awake only to outer illusion or maya?
Neither people nor things belong to us. We do not possess them but are only possessed and obsessed by them. To keep our distance from this world, how should we spend our days? The simple answer is “in remembrance of the Lord”. Although Sant Mat is a householder’s path (we do not retreat physically from the world), we should aim for some of the discipline of a monastic life while still carrying out our worldly responsibilities.
A monastery is a retreat from the world. The eye centre is our retreat and we should consciously practise living there. For that is where the Lord is, that is where the Master is, that is where the Shabd is. The more time we can spend during the day living in this spiritual dimension, the more detached we will become and the more blissful we will feel. Think of a deep sea diver, operating in his underwater world from the protective bubble of his suit and helmet - the noises of the world sound a long way away. Are we not all divers, diving deep within ourselves for the pearls of spiritual experience? To remain in the atmosphere created by meditation and satsang we must cultivate a life of solitude, even though we may be surrounded by people.
Thomas Ã Kempis, a Christian monk living in the fifteenth century, wrote in The Imitation of Christ: “If you avoid unnecessary talk and aimless visits, listening to news and gossip, you will find plenty of suitable time to spend in meditation.” So you see, they had the same problem that we have today, namely filling up their days with time-wasting trivia at the expense of their meditation. He continues, “Whoever is resolved to live an inward and spiritual life must … withdraw from the crowd.”
Trapped in the human body, the soul is not free. Our top priority must be to escape from the trap, not perpetuate it. The only way to escape is by meditation which is supported by round-the-clock remembrance. In Spiritual Perspectives Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh says, “If the Lord is always in your heart, then every breath is meditation.” To help us in this remembrance, we are given the simran of the five holy names, which can be repeated not only during our daily meditation session but whilst we go about our routine activities. One day this simran will awaken us from the deep sleep of ignorance and we will see the world through the eyes of love. Love will vibrate through our being and everything will be right with the world.
Just like Brother Lawrence, another Christian monk, who advises us in The Practice of the Presence of God that “One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer and preserve it in tranquillity is to not to let it wander too far at other times”, Maharaj Charan Singh points out that simran or remembrance during the day will enrich our meditation practice. He says, “The practical use is that when we sit in meditation after having done simran during the day, we are able to concentrate much better sooner”.
It is ourselves we have to work on and change for the better. The real battle is not with anyone or anything outside but with our own mind and its many weaknesses. We need not concern ourselves with the increasingly strange and perverse ways of the world. The Lord is overseeing development in his creation and until we accept that everything is happening as he wills it, we will not find inner contentment. We waste so much mental energy and concentration on the past and the future. If we remain in the present - “in the presence” -we will feel energized. Brother Lawrence says, “You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why then must God be neglected? Do not forget him, but think on him often, adore him continually, live and die with him”.
Our well-being begins and ends with regular, quality meditation, or at least the right quantity of meditation, as the results are in his hands. But meditation is more than sitting for a couple of hours in a room. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that “its effect should be there with you in all the activities of the day”. The Master has given us a full set of tools and detailed instructions for their use. Are we going to use them or leave them gathering dust in a cupboard? We must bridge the gap between words and deeds. “Offer him your heart from time to time in the midst of your business, even every moment if you can”, says Brother Lawrence.