Sant Mat provides clear and guided teachings for anyone wishing to tread the path of spirituality. Seekers are encouraged to conduct their investigation into the path to understand its philosophy and, in doing so, craft their lifestyle with the principles at its core. During initiation, disciples are taught how to meditate under the instructions of the Master, using simran, the repetition of words, and bhajan, the technique of listening to the sound current. From then on, the initiate is asked to meditate daily for a minimum of two and a half hours.
It is not long before the initial novelty of meditation turns into a struggle where one constantly looks for new ways to stay motivated. In such cases, it sometimes warrants that we pause and assess our attitude towards the path and meditation.
Life generally has us operating in some kind of a pattern where our minds tend to switch to autopilot mode during almost every activity we perform as a routine. When we brush our teeth, do we think about why we are doing it? More than likely we don’t. Like many other activities performed daily, it is done without much thought and carried out as a mechanical function. The shared commonality between our mundane everyday actions and our repetition of simran at the time of meditation can be uncanny. Has our simran also turned into a mere set of mechanically rattled words?
It would be incorrect for one to say that mechanical simran has no place on the spiritual path. Masters have always stated that we can start with mechanical simran as long as we keep to our meditation; that from quantity will come quality. But in order to better understand our meditation technique and its mechanics, it is important to first gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Mystics tell us we are soul, and have been given a mind, the senses and a physical body in order to function at this physical level. The mind, being a highly sophisticated entity, is meant to be used to gather information, think, and then act through the body. However, being in constant association with the mind, we now identify ourselves with it, no longer recognizing that it is no more than a well-engineered device used to serve the real us. It would be similar to someone owning a smartphone and, after becoming dependent on it, forgetting that its purpose is to communicate with others, to the extent that one now believes oneself to be the phone. Have we ever heard anyone say, “I am an iPhone?” This is what it compares to when we use phrases like “I think so” when we really mean “my mind thinks so”.
Furthermore, in directing our attention to ourselves, we will observe that the mind is continually running an endless marathon of thoughts. Thoughts are forever generated, flowing one after the other, many times forming long chains.
Understanding that we use the mind in everything that we do, mystics advocate the use of simran as part of our meditation practice. Using set words given by the Master, we are to substitute them for the random trail of thoughts that emerge when we sit.
Moreover, due to the lack of association with the words themselves, it can become very easy to repeat them without feeling, eventually resulting in meditation becoming mechanical.
Simran, therefore, is really an exercise for the mind. However, this immediately seems to lead us into a paradox. How is one to apply the mind through repetition in order to transcend the mind?
To transcend the mind, the saints tell us that we need to be pulled by something existing outside of the mind. A power from beyond its realm, fully capable of turning our meditation into a success. Masters tell us that this power is love.
Love, the saints explain, is the greatest power, and is in fact synonymous with the Creator himself. Reading through Hazur Maharaj Ji’s and Great Master’s letters to their disciples, one sees the most common advice: “Attend to your meditation with love and devotion.” The three key words being: attend, love, and devotion. Masters choose their words very carefully indeed. Each of these words convey the secret to successful meditation.
Love, the saints tell us, is in reality God itself. When the Great Master was once asked how one can develop love for God, he replied:
“That love is the gift of the Master.” Then the satsangi asked, “Will the disciple always get it?” The Master said, “Why not, if he works for it? Everyone else pays wages earned, and so if anyone works for the Master, he must draw the wages due him.”
With a Great Master in India
Hence, meditation is really a communion with the Master in which he gives us love. Devotion has been explained by the mystics as our response to this love that they give us. It is an overwhelming feeling of affection, gratitude, contentment and piety.
Therefore, simran with love and devotion is the key. Mechanical simran keeps us bound within the domain of the mind. Until and unless we invoke the grace of the Master through love and devotion, our practice will remain stagnant.
The real esoteric secret to our success in meditation lies in the Master’s third word – attend. The entire philosophy and essence of mysticism is condensed into this single word. The distinction between doing meditation and attending to it is where the difference lies. As mentioned earlier, what is our attitude towards our meditation? Do we really feel that this is a burden or a chore that we have to do? What is our state of mind when we sit? Are we sitting with the purpose of achieving some goal, or maybe a realization of some kind? Are we sitting with some expectation and thereby forcing it on ourselves? Then perhaps we are ‘doing’ our meditation. Attending to it simply means being present. To attend. We stop analyzing and sit for the simple joy of sharing those sacred moments where it is just us and Him, and a vast emptiness of space ready to be filled with love. We have lost all track and worries of clocking time and are in the bliss of just being with our inner self. Whether we are given paradise or not, it is no longer a concern. We are happy being present without it feeling like an effort.
The mind loves nothing more than to constantly re-establish and validate its identity. It does this in many ways, the most common of which is self-recognition. It enjoys working hard and accomplishing its given tasks so that it can duly take credit for its achievement. However, meditation is a gift from the Master. Something given for free that requires us to be present. This is beyond the mind’s capacity to grasp that its efforts do not produce any results. Hence, we struggle and work hard … and then we fail. This is what Great Master meant when he said, “Bring me your failures.”
Indeed there is effort involved, but the effort lies in our failing to make any progress. When we understand that we just need to be present and repeat our simran with love and devotion, only then will we draw the grace of the Master and achieve success in meditation.