Five Good Reasons
Would you like five good reasons to meditate? Here are mine:
We should meditate because the Master asked us to, and we promised we would.
Meditation is the only way to quieten the mind.
Meditation is a rehearsal for our death and thereby counters our fear of death.
Meditation is the strong boots that enable us to keep our balance in the world.
Meditation is … but I’ll keep the fifth and final reason to the end!
Our promise to meditate
In Philosophy of the Masters, Maharaj Sawan Singh explains that initiation into the path of the saints can be had from a living Master only. It is only Shabd, the divine and audible creative power of the Lord, that can rescue us – and only a Master who himself has intimate knowledge of Shabd can awaken us to the Shabd that resounds within each of us.
Initiation gives the soul the ticket back to its origin. We can start to get control over our weaknesses, break free from our attachments, and awaken to a new, higher life of the spirit. This is set in motion with the gift of initiation and can never be taken away. However, it only works if we honour the promise we make to give full time to meditation.
Spiritual life without regular meditation is like spending weeks collecting good soil: cleaning, sifting and preparing it, putting it in the right location, building a protective channel around it, fertilizing it, watering it – and then not planting the tree. What sense does that make? The tree, if planted in such soil, and looked after, will grow strong and give much delicious fruit, but if the tree is not planted, no matter how good the soil, how can it grow? Meditation has to be done to live the teachings; to meditate is to move closer and closer to the Master; to meditate is to plant the tree in the ground.
The principles given at initiation – following a strict vegetarian diet, abstaining from alcohol and habit forming drugs and leading a sincere moral life – are like cables that lead to a power station. But it is only through the power of the generator (fulfilling our promise to meditate) that our consciousness can be raised, and we can move beyond the grip of the mind, unfolding the truth of who we really are, who the Master is and what he is doing for us.
Meditation quietens the mind
Meditation has to be done. There is not a book, a satsang or a question answered by the Master where this point is not made clear – but no one, least of all the Master, says it is easy.
Maharaj Charan Singh writes in Die to Live:
I don’t think there is anything more difficult than meditation. Meditation is the most difficult. It looks simple and yet it is so difficult to attend to it. It’s easy to understand Sant Mat because the whole philosophy is very simple, but when we put it into practice, many obstacles come in the way. To live Sant Mat, to live the teachings, means a constant struggle with the mind.
The Masters explain the teachings so clearly and concisely that – irrespective of our age or background – they are easy to understand. They explain that the mind must be brought under control through the practice of meditation and this will put it in touch with the all-powerful Word or Shabd. But it is essential that we move on from the concept to the practice.
How, practically, can we help ourselves to be faithful to our meditation? It’s regularity and punctuality that strengthen the concentration when we sit. In Light on Sant Mat Hazur Maharaj Ji writes, “The Masters have always enjoined satsangis to spend some time daily in reading Sant Mat books or literature pertaining to the Sant Mat teachings.” However, reading is easy. Meditation is hard. Reading cannot replace meditation. Reading is to inspire us to change our lives and to show us how. Reading has to lead to action.
Since most of us are intellectually comfortable with the teachings, why is it that we have such difficulty in converting this acceptance into practice and making meditation part of the very fabric of our lives?
A rehearsal for the moment of death
Perhaps a fundamental reason is that, although deep within ourselves we know that what the Master is telling us is true, we still find it hard to accept that each one of us has limited time left in this human body. Through meditation we will eventually cross the threshold of death and experience death while living and thus fear of death will be conquered. Meanwhile the subject of death is often an unwanted topic for discussion – we consider it to be far off in the future.
We fail to grasp just how serious our Master is when he tells us that it is of the utmost urgency that we make a persistent effort with our meditation. Kabir, in his usual outspoken and clear manner, warns that the grave awaits us:
Kabir, it’s no time to sleep –
Wake up, repeat the Lord’s Name!
A day will come
When you’ll sleep undisturbed
With legs outstretched.
The truth is, we were born empty-handed and we will leave this world empty-handed. Our bank balances, properties, possessions, will remain here. The only wealth we’ll take with us is that of simran and bhajan.
It is meditation that will remove the fear of adversity, remind us of the fleeting nature of life, and yet help us to live to the full, unafraid of death and what lies beyond.
Meditation gives us strong boots
We all have to live in the world, leading simple lives, earning honestly and fulfilling our worldly responsibilities to the best of our ability. All of us to some degree or another have to mix with people not necessar- ily following their higher minds.
In Quest for Light, Maharaj Charan Singh tells us that the company we keep has a great influence on us:
We should avoid persons with evil habits, character or reputation; people whose lives and behaviour give a jolt to our life and disturb our peace, happiness and mental equilibrium. Such company might rouse similar thoughts in a satsangi and lead him away from meditation.
The majority of people float downstream, moved and tossed here and there by the currents of life.
The spiritual aspirant has to be like a salmon, swimming upstream, trying to return to its original home, often against the current of habit, familiarity and the easy way out. We must keep our meditation up so that we are protected from worldly influences, and we need every bit of encouragement we can find. That is why the importance of satsang – true spiritual companionship – is stressed by the Masters. In Die to Live, Hazur Maharaj Ji writes:
Satsang will help you to remain in his will, which is real humility and meekness. Satsang will help you treasure all the grace of the Father that is within you.
So now we reach our fifth and final reason:
Meditation is the way to thank our Master
In Die to Live, there is a chapter entitled ‘Be Bold Enough to Struggle’. We have to struggle with our meditation and we have to struggle to develop qualities in our lives that are conducive to meditation. Our predicament is clear. If only we could meditate punctually and regularly, we would slowly reduce our egos; but as long as we are so full of ego, how can we meditate successfully? We need our Master’s help at every step and should be truly grateful to him for being here for us. Kabir Sahib writes of his Master, “Let me never forget him! In him I found a saviour.”
The Master is love, and we have to emulate the Master’s qualities and become like him. Baba Ji sometimes points out that it is our own self-importance that blinds us to reality. In Quest for Light, Hazur Maharaj Ji writes:
Why think so much about yourself? The very ego that we want to crush is the only barrier between us and the Lord. The moment you lose your identity and merge yourself into him, he appears before you. Ego is our only enemy, which attaches us to the world, and the whole struggle is to eliminate it from within ourselves.
To be full of ego is to be empty of love, while to be full of love is to have little ego.
In the first letter to Corinthians in the Bible, Saint Paul describes love’s qualities:
Love is patient,
love is kind and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, nor quick to take offence.
Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other’s sins,
but delights in the truth.
There is nothing love cannot face: there is no limit to its faith, its
hope and its endurance.
Love will never come to an end.
Is it the love and grace of the Lord which make it possible for us to meditate? Or is it our effort? The answer is that they both go together. Our effort invokes the Lord’s grace and through his grace we are able to make an effort. It is through meditation that we feel that grace, so one could say that meditation is a conduit for grace. Actually love and grace are always with us. But if we want to know it, we must meditate. Through using this conduit, we offer our Master true thanks.