Be Bold Enough to Struggle
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.” If we keep getting up whenever we fall, it is certain that we will reach our destination. Masters remind us that there really are no failures on this path, but, they urge us to never give up our efforts. In the Bible it says: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
When we first come to the path, we are filled with zeal and determination. The challenge is to maintain that enthusiasm and to persist in our efforts despite the fact that meditation can be difficult. Maharaj Charan Singh says 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.
In truth, our struggle to overcome the domination of our mind is the only real struggle that we face. There is no end to our desires, and we know how easy it is to be dominated by them. The mind is a formidable opponent. Its tendency is to run downward and outward. In so doing, it attaches us to this creation, and then these chains of attachment hold us captive. Because of our attachment to the world, we have developed the insidious habit of compulsively thinking about it throughout the day. Then when our time to sit in meditation arrives, we find ourselves faced with a considerable struggle to still the mind and make it one-pointed at the eye centre. But Masters tell us that nothing of this external world will ever give us permanent satisfaction. They encourage us to let go of our worldly thoughts at the time of meditation, and they tell us that if we do this we lose nothing, we only gain. In Spiritual Letters, Baba Jaimal Singh says:
When you go to sleep, you forget all worldly activities. What do you then lose? If nothing goes wrong for you then, why during bhajan and simran do you indulge in worldly thoughts? What will go wrong if you do not recall worldly affairs during meditation?
Letting go also means not having expectations of “results” from our meditation. A desire for instant results makes meditation practice very difficult, and such a desire is contrary to the whole spirit of meditation, which involves simply being receptive to whatever he gives us – without analyzing and without expectation. In the material world, we become accustomed to experiencing satisfaction as a result of our efforts. For example, when we go to work and perform our job according to the boss’s instructions, we expect to receive a paycheck for the tasks we perform. However, meditation is an entirely different process from our worldly work. One reason that we do not necessarily receive visible inner experiences has to do with our karmas – the results of our past actions. In this context, Hazur says in Die to Live:
Everybody has an individual load of karma, and that is why no time limit can be fixed for how long it will take. If the load of karma is the same for everybody, then you can fix a time limit that “You can clear this much load in this length of time.” But you can’t say how much time it will take you to reach that level of consciousness because everybody has a different load of karmas.
And then the length of time depends upon how much karma you burn. The time it takes to burn a big heap of rubbish depends upon whether it is wet or dry, whether, while you are burning it, the rain is falling. So to burn that heap of rubbish depends upon many things.…
It depends upon how much effort he is putting forth, how much the grace of the Lord is there, and the type of environment he has been brought up in and he is living in. There are so many factors to burning that load of karma. Suppose he has even a small load but doesn’t attend to his meditation, then how would he burn it? If he is putting in all his effort to attend to meditation but his environment is such that his mind is not there in meditation, or if he has such worldly activities that he can hardly snatch any time for meditation or he’s hardly in a mood to meditate, or if he is a victim of certain weaknesses which he can’t get rid of, then how can he burn that karma?
Master doesn’t take away our suffering or our karmas. But, as a true friend, he remains with us and gives us support, comfort and encouragement. And that makes all the difference.
In supporting and encouraging us, Masters urge us to be bold enough to struggle and they assure us that we are always making progress. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
When he’s bold enough to walk, there’s a chance of him falling also. We should take all these failures as our pillars of strength, provided we get up and walk again. If we don’t get up again, that is different. We are full of weaknesses, so pitfalls are there.
But we should always be steady on the path. Our destination should always be before us, and we should try to get up again, and again walk. Ultimately we succeed. So there’s no failure at all.
Our job as disciples is to never lose heart, to be bold enough to struggle, to get up each time we fall. That kind of persistence is all that is required of us. Then he will do the rest.
Open the window of your heart
and look at the Beloved’s face.
Love’s task is to create that window
so His Beauty may illumine the heart.
It is in your power, my friend,
to gaze constantly at the Beloved’s face.
Make a way to the core of yourself
and banish all other impressions.
Rumi, Rumi’s Little Life Book, translated by M. Mafi and A. Kolin