Masters urge us to do the work of meditation, but they also tell us to just relax. This feels like one of those dualities or confusing messages that the saints sometimes subject us to. Put in effort, but relax – empty the mind, quiet your thoughts, sit there quietly and just relax! Just relax!
Many of us find it difficult to relax. Instead we run around frantically, feeling tense and anxious, with a mind that is always ready to raise doubts. And because of those doubts, it is really hard to quiet and tame our mind in meditation. So the whole concept of relaxation is something most of us are not used to, and we may even feel that we are not able to do it. This becomes a big challenge – just relax. And then on top of it all we try to balance the advice to “just relax” with the admonishment that we need to work hard at meditation. This can seem topsy-turvy. Maharaj Charan Singh, in Legacy of Love, explains very beautifully that the Masters turn everything upside down in our attitude toward life and that this is a wonderful miracle.
The greatest miracle of the mystics is that they change the very attitude of our life, the way of our life. They turn everything upside down in our life. That is the greatest miracle the saints come to perform in our lives.
Saints reinforce the message many, many times that the Master is here to help and support us. He is not here to judge us. So we can just relax and focus on the work that he asks us to do – without fear that we won’t “measure up.” Every human is imperfect; that’s why we are here in this imperfect world. Being imperfect, we typically don’t like to be told our shortcomings. That could be much too discouraging! And the Master is not here to discourage or to embarrass us. In fact, he might turn an exchange into a joke rather than run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. Masters respond to us with a keen sense of humour to put us at ease. At the same time, they do not take our sincere questions lightly. Their love is boundless. That unconditional love gives us a feeling of security and thankfulness that we have such a kind Master.
The Master gives us everything we need to succeed on this spiritual path. Perhaps that’s why the Master urges us to “just relax.” We need to learn to just relax into our simran, and we can be assured that when we do this the Sound will follow. When we are relaxed, then everything can come in its own natural way. Even the effort we put forth can be in a relaxed manner, without tension or expectation.
The concept of relaxation is not that we get so relaxed that we are in danger of falling asleep. The spiritual concept of relaxation is to turn within to the Master – to let him take over, to stop thinking that we are in control. This relaxation is just to empty out our mind and quiet all those endless thoughts that consume us.
The Master tells us that if we relax, he will do everything. So this gives us a reason to relax! The reality is that we have no control over anything. Saints explain that while we are taught how to meditate at the time of initiation and it’s our responsibility to put in effort, we should not labour under the illusion that we can control the results and expect any progress just because we put in effort. In fact, expectations are a hindrance in meditation. But if we can let go of our desire for control and subdue any expectations for results in our meditation, then we open ourselves to the Lord’s love and his helping hand. If we relax, we can begin to surrender to his will – basically to let him take over. Isn’t that what we committed to when we asked for initiation?
We acknowledged that we needed help. When we learn to trust and let go, then the reality that is our true self can come to the surface. Master explains that love is at our core. It comes naturally. It’s there in everyone. When we relax and let go we will see that love is the essence of our being, which shines through. This love frees us from everything else in this world.
Masters are very clear that the one action they want most from us is sincere effort in our meditation. The Master wants us to succeed. We have our job – show up, make the effort to sit in meditation and appreciate everything that the Lord does for us. Then we can just relax into the meditation, and we can trust him to do the rest.
Meditation should be embarked upon in a relaxed attitude of both body and mind. One is, of course, learning to relax completely and not interpose one’s own will but to give up action and hand oneself over entirely to the Master’s will. Herein lies the unique boldness and strength of this philosophy, for otherwise it would be impossible to relax one’s ego so completely as to hand oneself over entirely to anyone but God incarnate.
In Search of the Way