Resolving Life’s Struggle
In the Hindi language, the word pagal literally means ‘mad’ and this expression seems apt to describe the unenlightened mind when life seems to be a struggle. I call my mind pagal because, as yet, it’s still dominated by pride, anger, greed, attachment and lust. We madly run after the things of the world, thinking that without physical love, a stable home, financial security, a good job – the list is endless – we can’t possibly be happy and contented. Our needs are few, but our desires are infinite; once we have what we want, there is always something else our heart desires. But are our desires really worth all the heartache and the effort we put into acquiring them?
Life can sometimes seem a struggle because of the karmic load with which we were born. We settle our account as we go through life and hopefully, as initiates, no longer add to our load. Nevertheless, when times are tough, it can be hard to remember that tough times won’t last forever. And life can also seem difficult because we worry about the past. As struggling souls with powerful minds, we all make mistakes, but rather than dwell upon them, we should ask the Lord for forgiveness and promise not to make the same mistakes again. We cannot demand forgiveness but if we are truly sorry we should trust in the love that the Lord has for every single one of us.
But how do we achieve this confidence and faith? We may well acknowledge that the pursuit of material possessions beyond what we need is futile, but reason alone will not end our desires. Nor will it give us the strength to face the tough times with equanimity – and it certainly won’t be reason that will deepen our love for the Lord. How then do we resolve life’s struggles? In Quest for Light, Maharaj Charan Singh advises us:
Meditation, when done with love and devotion, always gives peace and strength. It is when the mind is too worried about some worldly problems that pleasure in meditation is temporarily lost. Try to enjoy bhajan and simran with a relaxed mind and forget everything else at that time. Then you will get much peace and strength within yourself.
Maharaj Ji’s advice about meditation is invaluable. Whilst we are told about the power of simran and reminded in satsang and in the Sant Mat literature, somehow we forget. Maybe it’s because we can’t see the slow, subtle, transformative effect simran has on us. If we truly acknowledged its power, then perhaps we wouldn’t find meditation so difficult.
The reason we find meditation difficult is not because the power inherent in simran is lacking, but because our progress is slow. And one reason our progress is slow is because of the karmic burden we carry and constantly analyze. We often think too much rather than just sit and let go. However, as difficult as meditation is, we cannot afford to give up. We have to keep trying because this is the way to end life’s struggles – permanently. Given how long we have been in this creation, collecting all sorts of karmas, we must train ourselves not to expect miracles within months or even years. Meditation is a lifelong struggle, but one that is worthy of all our effort and energy. In the same way that it is useless for a beggar to shout at the door of a millionaire because no amount of shouting will open the door, we have to remember that not everything can happen just because we want it to. It is humility and submission that will move the heart of the Lord. We cannot demand anything from him. We can only fold our hands and beg.
We have to become both good planners and good dreamers. We use the ability to plan when we visualize the one future that we all share – death – and set our goals appropriately. Do we want to die to live forever or do we want to die only to die again? If we want death to lead to the liberation of our soul then we have to put in our daily meditation practice and, yes, occasionally put up with what we perceive to be setbacks and disappointments. We have to take on the challenges if we want success because challenges are a part of success. Now, all this may seem daunting, but actually it’s not so difficult.
We can also allow ourselves some hopeful dreams. Thinking about all the effort and the discipline required to practise meditation is far worse in the mind than in reality. Our Master promises us that the challenges we’ll meet on the road to success are far less difficult to deal with than the struggles and disappointments that come from not making the journey at all. In fact, confronting and overcoming the challenges of being on the Sant Mat path is an exhilarating experience. We strengthen our mental muscles, feed our soul and, over time, become more than what we were before.
Challenging ourselves to succeed, it is time to think positively, relax and calmly attend to our meditation every day. Let’s see where this takes us! At the very least, it will strengthen our faith in the Lord and enable us to live in his will. Once we realize the truth of the saying that ‘not even a leaf stirs without his command’, we will go through our destiny with a sense of understanding and acceptance, and with life’s struggles automatically resolved.