Two monks were walking down by the river when they saw a woman waiting to cross to the other side. She was in a dress, and it was obvious she did not want to get her dress wet. The older monk, without saying a word, picked up the woman, carried her across and put her down. The two monks went on their way in complete silence. About an hour later, the younger monk threw out a series of judgments to his older counterpart: “How could you have touched a woman? You know we took a vow never to touch a woman! And you did not even seem to care to contemplate it! You just walked right over and picked her up!” The older monk listened to everything the other said and replied simply, “Brother, I put her down an hour ago; why are you still carrying her?”
For most of us, letting go is probably the most difficult thing to do. If someone uses a harsh word against us, or if we disagree with a friend or experience any sort of negativity, we tend to carry it around with us for days, weeks and sometimes even years. We are either focused on what has already happened, or what will happen in the future, and we allow these thoughts to rent space in our mind for the longest time.
If someone were to throw a piece of hot, burning coal at us, we would instinctively move out of the way because we know, without even having to think, that the piece of hot coal will burn. Yet, when we experience anything negative, we tend to dwell on it and hold on to it in our thoughts, not realizing how harmful it is to our mind, body and spirit. We don’t understand how this way of thinking adversely affects our health, and more importantly, our meditation.
What can we do to change situations of the past? Are we able to turn back time and make outcomes any different? We do not even know how many breaths are assigned to us, so what is the point of worrying about an uncertain future?
The spiritual path encourages us to look forward with a positive attitude.
When your mind is attached to the Shabd and Nam within,
then you don’t think about the past or worry about the future.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Following the Master’s advice, we can remind ourselves that every time we think negatively or are troubled by our circumstances, rather than carrying it around with us like the younger monk in the story, we can learn to focus our thoughts and energies inwards. The first step to doing this is replacing each negative thought with our simran. This is perhaps the most effective method in training our mind towards meditation, and letting go of worldly troubles.
We do simran to eliminate thoughts from our mind because the mind is in the habit of always thinking about something or another.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Slowly but surely, we will be able to rid our mind of all its worries and tensions. When we allow our mind a taste of peace, we will be able to let go and understand that everything happens according to our destiny. The only choice we have is to leave everything in the hands of the Lord, put our efforts into our meditation, and become like the older monk, fulfilling all of our worldly duties and obligations, but with a detached mind and loving attitude.