In answer to a question once asked about dry simran, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
You see, you have to make it tasty. First you have to fight with your mind to attend to your meditation, but the time comes when it becomes very tasty.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
In Treasure Beyond Measure, Maharaj Charan Singh recounts the time when, at a railway crossing, a cart accidently dumped a huge load of iron bars through the windshield of his car. The bars stopped one inch away from his head. As Hazur says:
By Maharaj Ji’s grace, I was so calm and cool that I even laughed when it was over.… At the time of the accident, I was doing simran as a matter of habit.
Simran was an essential and integral part of Maharaj Ji’s nature. He had been able to make his simran tasty. Perhaps if we follow his example, it will become an essential part of our nature too. It will become our lifeline. And ultimately it will lead to the beloved’s Radiant Form within.
How do we make simran tasty? First, let’s put aside the fact that even the ability to think about God, much less meditate on his Shabd, is the highest grace. We know in the grander scheme of things we’ve won the lottery without any effort on our part. But at a personal level how can we, men and women of action, transform our bland-as-mush simran into a gourmet experience worthy of a king?
Since Hazur uses the word “tasty”, which we associate with food, what is it about food that we find tasty? Maybe it’s the flavour, or the texture, or that it reminds us of our favourite tasty meal our mother would make after a tough day at school. It satisfies us in some way, both physically and emotionally, and we long to have more of it. As satsangis we want to relish our simran like good food, and we want to crave more of it.
Let’s start with a food. Take pizza. Most people like it. If we wanted to make a pizza that someone would enjoy, how would we do it? First we would need a recipe from a master pizza chef. The chef would have made thousands of pizzas and would know the exact method for making a masterpiece. Next we would gather good quality ingredients: flour, olive oil, spices, yeast, tomatoes. Only the best ingredients will make the best pizza.
Master has given us the recipe for reaching the divine food above the eye centre – repetition, contemplation, and listening. This is a tried and true method. He has also given us all the ingredients we need – the five holy names. These names are priceless and rare, as they come from the Master.
None of the pizza ingredients or the holy names is savoury in and of themselves. Anyone can buy flour and clever people can figure out the names that we use for repetition. But that doesn’t make for success either in pizza making or meditation. For meditation we need the expertise, the guidance and the power of a Master to make our simran effective. Most importantly, we need that love connection.
So, we start making our pizza. Perhaps we are making it for someone we love or care about. We are very careful about using each ingredient correctly, in the right order, out of love. And perhaps we’re smiling to ourselves as we imagine his or her enjoyment of the pizza we’re creating.
With meditation, when we begin our simran, we repeat those precious ‘ingredients’ of the five names deliberately, in the right order, out of love. At first, our repetition is not very focused or one-pointed. In fact, maybe we think it’s plodding and cloddish. Maybe our first few attempts at making a great pizza aren’t successful either. But we continue on. Over time we begin to realize that the tastiness of simran comes from the pleasure we get by being attentive to the Master’s presence in the serene darkness of the eye centre. The savouriness comes from him. His holy ingredients are infused with a taste of his love. They awaken in us a craving for more.
In this day and age of fast food, why not just send out for a pizza? Or, for satsangis, why not just ask the Master to deliver the spiritual food without us having to go through the trouble of working for it? A wise cook knows that there is two-fold happiness in cooking. First, is the pleasure in creating a meal for a loved one, the care that it takes, and maybe a small measure of anxiety the cook feels hoping that the meal will please. Second is the happiness in coming together with the loved one and sharing the joy of the meal.
In meditation there is the joy of repeating the names attentively for the love of the beloved, hoping that he will find them acceptable; and then there is unfathomable bliss of union with him. So why would a cook ignore the pleasure of cooking, and why would a satsangi give up the pleasure of repeating the simran of his beloved Master?
Simran is the appetizer that leads to the banquet inside. The Master has given us the recipe, the appetite, and the food in the form of meditation and Shabd. All we have to do is approach the table.
O come to the water all you who are thirsty:
though you have no money, come!
Buy corn (hence, bread) without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen, listen to me,
and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me:
listen, and your soul will live.
So, savour repeating of the holy words at the eye centre, in the Master’s presence. They will become tasty. And tasty simran leads to the spiritual feast within.
My definition of real is that it never changes. That which is true, only that is real. All else is an illusion. Only the Lord is real. The soul is real. All other things change.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I