Make It Tasty
A disciple once asked Maharaj Charan Singh: “Master, you said that we have to attach ourselves to Shabd and Nam. But if our meditation is very dry, how can we depend on the Shabd and Nam?” To which he replied:
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. When a child is sent to school, he weeps and cries and clings to his mother, crying, “I don’t want to go to school.” But when he’s forced to go to the school, he starts reading and writing, and after a while, you can hardly pull him away from his books. Mother is shouting for him to come to dinner or meals, and he says, “Just wait, just wait.” He’s the same child. So make your meditation tasty.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Indeed, making our meditation interesting and appealing remains one of the greatest challenges that a satsangi faces. For the most part, as the question is so aptly put, our meditation is very dry and tasteless, requiring great effort to keep both our bodies and mind still. What can we do to make it tasty?
Just as Maharaj Charan Singh says in the quote, the first step is to force ourselves to do it as a child is forced to go to school. We must also force ourselves to sit for meditation regularly and punctually. This means that we need to sit in meditation ideally at the same time and at the same place every single day. Whether we fall asleep for part or even most of the time, whether we fall short of completing the session, whether we move far too often than we want to, or whether our minds are running out in all directions, we must turn up for our duty every single day – no excuses.
This “forcing ourselves” part is critical. This is how we build a habit to sit in meditation and integrate it into our daily routine.
With enough time and effort, we get accustomed to this pattern of life and become comfortable. We develop associations with the time, the place, the atmosphere and even the struggle of sitting in meditation. This is no different from the other daily tasks we do, like cooking meals and going to work. Meditation simply becomes part of our way of life.
Every time we comply with our spiritual duty we give ourselves the chance to develop a taste for meditation. We allow ourselves to make this difficult task of sitting in the dark and trying to still our minds, more palatable and more acceptable. Eventually, the flavour of the once ‘dry’ meditation becomes more pleasant. And again, like the child going to school every day, we open ourselves to all the school’s attractions and develop a liking for them.
This acceptance moves us towards activities that will further improve the flavour of meditation. Doing simran throughout the day when we are mentally free helps us maintain the atmosphere of meditation.
You see, this constant simran helps our attitude towards meditation, helps to draw our mind towards meditation. That helps when we sit in meditation because we are developing a certain attitude towards Sant Mat, towards the teachings, towards the path. It helps a lot.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II
By keeping our thoughts in the orbit of our Master, we restrain the mind from the waves of turbulence associated with daily living – the worries, the passions, the obsessions. This makes our minds calm, which in turn shifts in our sensitivities, distancing us from the noise and clutter of our worldly life and moving us towards silence and solitude. We perceive the stark difference between the two worlds and inch ourselves away from being worldly to being spiritually inclined. Slowly, we cultivate an appreciation for Sant Mat – the teachings, way of life, and most especially, our Master.
Cognizant of the value of our spiritual life and with deepening love for Master, we gravitate towards our ultimate desire – to actually taste the sweetness of Nam in our meditation. Eventually we will develop an exclusive taste for Nam, to the extent that all else in this world will lose its charm. We will become absorbed like the child who was once forced to go to school but now has found true love for his studies.
Intensity is the law of prayer. God is found by those who seek him with all their heart.
Samuel Chadwick, The Path of Prayer
It is important to note, however, that despite all our endeavours, there still will be days when we will feel dry and listless towards our meditation. On days like these, we just roll up our sleeves and try harder; keeping up the struggle at complying with our spiritual duties. Let us all bear in mind the advice of all Masters: the antidote to dry meditation is simply more meditation!