Focus Is Everything
Why are we not happy? What can we do to change our state of mind? Maharaj Sawan Singh says, “Happiness is the fruit of a concentrated mind, and a concentrated mind is the fruit of focused meditation.” If we want to focus at the eye centre in meditation, we must practise focusing in our everyday lives. This means being mindful of what we are doing.
There is a wonderful Zen story in Anthony de Mello’s book The Song of the Bird about the disciple Tenno, who, after apprenticeship with his Master Nan-in, had become a teacher in his own right. One day, he went to visit his master, and because it was raining, he wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. The story explains:
When he walked in, Nan-in greeted him with “You left your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch, didn’t you? Tell me, did you place your umbrella on the right side of the clogs or the left?”
Tenno was embarrassed, for he did not know the answer. He realized that he lacked awareness. So he became Nan-in’s student and laboured for another ten years to acquire constant awareness.
De Mello comments:
The person who is ceaselessly aware: the person who is totally present at each moment: behold the master!
How present are we at any given moment in our lives? How aware are we of what we are doing? Do we forget where we parked our car and waste valuable time looking for it when we want to drive home? Do we lose track of our car keys? If we consciously park our car, paying attention to exactly where it is, we will find it when we want to drive away. If we consciously put our keys into our bag, we will know exactly where they are later when we need them. But if we absentmindedly jump out of our car and shove our keys somewhere, while running over in our minds all the errands we have to do, there is a good chance that we won’t be able to find them or our car later.
Maharaj Sawan Singh echoes this in Spiritual Gems when he says:
When we are attending to our daily duties, our mind is usually not occupied with them but is wandering. Saints say, hold the reins of the mind tight in your hand throughout the day then, when you sit in bhajan [meditation], concentration will be quick and easy.
How does one hold the reins of the mind tightly during the day? The saints have suggested that when we are focused on a task that we fully pay attention to that task, but ultimately simran is the way to collect the wandering mind. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Die to Live:
There is something wrong with us. We never want to be happy at the present moment. Either we are worried about what we have done or about what is going to happen to us. We don’t want to make the best use of the present moment. If we make this moment happy, our past automatically becomes happy, and we have no time to worry about the future. So we must take life as it comes and spend it happily. Every moment should be spent happily. And simran helps.
Staying in the present moment can only be accomplished with the help of simran. Eventually simran will help keep our attention at the eye centre and we will become unconscious of the effect of the world and our karmas. It will truly be like a stage. We will move like actors on the stage of our lives and yet be fully conscious and present. Ultimately, Hazur Maharaj Ji says, “That is the effect of simran, and that is ultimately what we want to achieve.” He continues:
Simran looks dry, but the concentration that you get with simran alone gives you peace and bliss and happiness. The more the mind is concentrated, the more happy you are: the more the mind is scattered, the more frustrated you are. As long as the mind is below the eye centre towards the senses, you can never be happy – there’s nothing but frustration and agony. But when you are able to withdraw your consciousness to the eye centre and still your mind, you feel bliss and contentment and happiness. And simran is the only way that you can withdraw the consciousness to the eye centre.
So ultimately our happiness lies in focusing our attention on the one thing that will bring us the ultimate and lasting happiness that we seek. The more simran we are able to do, the more effect it will have on our mind. When the concentration and focus come, love comes and Shabd comes, then we are able to see the Radiant Form of the Master within. This is our road to true happiness.