And the Answer Is …
It was 1991 in San Francisco and Baba Ji was making his first appearance in the USA as the Master. It was the first thing we heard him say. It could have been the last. Just before the questions started flying, just before he was about to spend the rest of his life answering all our questions, he tried to give us the only piece of advice that we would ever really need. It was simple: The answer to all of your questions is meditation.
For most of us, it takes a little while to get to that realization. The human intellect is such that the straight truth often simply just won’t do. Oh no, not for homo sapiens; thinking man must have the why, what and how questions satisfied, and once the mind comprehends these concepts and has satisfied the intellect, then perhaps it will get down to the business at hand – which then leads us right back where we started in the first place: meditation.
No wonder the Masters tell us that the reason the path is long is because it goes through us. It seems that’s just how we’re wired. So, perhaps we should take a look at the why, how, and what of it.
Why is it that, having found a perfect Master, who has revealed the truth of our circumstance, we are not completely committed to practising our meditation as often as we possibly can? We understand the transitory nature of physical life. The graying head, lined face and sagging physique that stares back at us in the mirror is enough to convince us of that. We know that this physical plane is little better than a hunting ground where death stalks and devours every living thing. We know that the flesh of these bodies is heir to disease, pain, cruelty, and all manner of unspeakable acts. We’ve only to pick up a newspaper for that to be abundantly clear.
As a matter of fact, if we honestly consider man’s horrifying inhumanity to his fellow man and to the animal species, we would almost have to be crazy to neglect the meditation that frees us from imprisonment here in this physical plane. Yet we make ourselves volunteer slaves to the material world. Why would we do such a thing?
In Discourses on Sant Mat, Great Master tells us precisely the why of our plight here and why we do little or nothing to save ourselves:
Without Nam life is no better than a curse , and the soul keeps wandering aimlessly from one body to another. The wheel of birth and death keeps turning endlessly.… At the instigation of the mind he leads a life of sin and wastes this priceless gift of human life.
That brings us to the what of it. What is this Nam, this simran (repetition), this bhajan that frees us from the illusion of the sensory mind? In Spiritual Letters, Baba Jaimal Singh writes:
Simran’s current links up with the Dhun, and the current of the Dhun links one with the Shabd – and the Shabd is the very essence of the Anami Lord himself. For this reason, if simran is done with love and devotion … it brings great joy and bliss. Grace and mercy then descend in full measure.
And that’s what Baba Ji said once in satsang in Northern California, and as usual, he said it in the fewest possible words: Meditation is your lifeline. That’s only one word more than, “Just do it.”
Which brings us to the how question. How do we “just do it”? Great Master writes in Spiritual Gems:
You also ask for the method I worked out for myself during my own early experiences. In regard to that, I may say that I never worked out any method for myself. I took instructions from my own Guru and he gave me the exact method. That method is the same as all saints use, which is simply the concentrated attention held firmly at the given centre. What else can we say? It is all a matter of unwavering attention.… It may be said safely that if any earnest student should hold his attention fully upon the given centre for three hours, without wavering, he must go inside. But that is not so easy without long practice. However, by and by, the mind becomes accustomed to staying in the centre. It rebels less and less, and finally yields to the demand to hold to the centre. Then your victory is won.… This was the method by which I won my way inside and it is the method by which you must win your way.
Can it possibly be as simple as that, just putting one foot in front of the other, unquestioningly following the Guru’s instructions, forging ahead with faith in the words of the Master? It is rather like “The Fool” in a deck of tarot cards: the young man marching along his path, with his bundle of karmas slung over his shoulder on a hobo stick. There’s a little dog yapping distractingly at his feet. But the fool looks neither right nor left as he steps off the edge of the cliff into mid-air, certain that he will be supported and sustained.
We are like that fool, or at least we want to be. Unquestioning, unafraid, undeterred as we step into the void – into the utter darkness from which comes the Light, into the profound silence from which comes the Sound, into the solitary morning embrace from which comes all that we’ve ever hoped for – to that place where the Beloved assures us he awaits us, is waiting there even now.
Baba Ji once said that if we ask him our questions on the outside, he will answer on the outside. But if we ask our questions on the inside, he will answer on the inside.
The answer is meditation. Now, what are your questions?
Other than you, no one exists –
the whole creation is your theatre for the drama of life.
All living beings are created by you
and tasks are assigned to them according to your will.
Everything happens as you will;
nothing is in our power.
Through meditation on Nam I attained great bliss,
and by singing the praises of God my mind was pacified.
By the perfect Guru’s grace, celebrations are held
as Nanak emerges victorious in the tough battlefield of life.
Guru Arjan Dev, as quoted in Voice of the Heart