Finding Pleasure in Meditation
Maharaj Ji was asked if there was anything that could help us make more effort to meditate. He recalled that he had once received a letter from a satsangi saying this:
I have found a very good substitute for this dry simran. I have invented a machine that works by electricity and when I switch it on and sit on it, all my soul currents come up at once. So I just sit for ten or fifteen minutes on that machine rather than spending two hours in dry simran.
Then Maharaj Ji remarked: “See how far the mind will go!”
We are regularly asked by the Master to put in the effort to do our meditation. And the very word ‘effort’ may turn it into a chore in our minds. Meditation has everything to do with our attitude − with our mental disposition towards sitting − whether we see it as a chore or a pleasure. When we see meditation as a chore it takes effort to sit and the simran is boring and dry. When we see meditation as a pleasure, simran is more relaxing and the experience is enjoyable.
Mental effort requires discipline and determination. But it seems that when it comes to putting any real effort into our meditation, we may dream about doing it; we think about doing it; and we promise ourselves we will do it. But perhaps we never get down to actually doing it. So what do we need to do to get past the dreaming, thinking and promising phase and on to the actual doing phase of our meditation?
We cannot have the attitude that when the Master wants me to meditate he will make me sit. What we need is a strong desire to make it happen. We must want to meditate. And not only that, we must believe that meditation will offer us the results as promised by the Masters. It is our longing for the Master, and our belief in his teachings, that fuel the fire in us to put in the effort necessary to truly experience this spiritual journey. When we believe we can achieve something, we put our heart and soul into it. If we are not putting effort into our meditation, we need to ask ourselves if we really believe in what we are doing. Are our actions in line with our words?
A strong desire is the impetus that will take us to the eye centre. It’s about wanting to do it − not just some days, but every day. It is the difference between idly wishing for it and putting in earnest effort to achieve it. If we are idly wishing for it, we are unlikely to ever put in the effort to reach there. The Master is in our life. The path is our way of life. It is now up to us to use correctly both the knowledge and opportunity he has given us. To do this, we need to create a strong desire for meditation.
All too often our minds are taut with tension and stress, filled with challenges and desires associated with our materialistic lives. We seem to be convinced that our lives are our own, lived according to our own wishes and hopes and ambitions, according to our own plan and design, and reflecting our own individual efforts. Maharaj Ji explains this saying:
It is a very simple thing: Once we are separated from the Father, we are part and parcel of this creation. Then we try to think this creation belongs to me, and we start putting in efforts to own our attachments or to be owned by them.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
The decision to change this situation lies with us. When we take the first step to overcome the challenges we face, the Master will be there to help us. As our effort to let go of the world grows stronger, so we will find increasing support from the Master: through our simran and bhajan. But if we are not doing our meditation, how can we expect to receive that guidance? The Master is always there to help us, but first we have to put in the effort to be receptive to that help.
We cannot withdraw from our worldly responsibilities, but we can teach ourselves to withdraw our emotion and the associated mental contamination that goes with much of our worldly interaction. Removing the ‘stuff’ in our heads − making sure it is no longer available to us during our meditation − is an essential part of our effort. We must learn to relax and let go of all the worldly impressions that disturb our meditation and hold us back. Maharaj Ji tells us that the right attitude is to sit in a relaxed manner:
‘In a relaxed manner’ means sitting in meditation without any tension or excitement on your mind.… So with an absolutely relaxed mind, you should forget the whole world when you are sitting in meditation. Only you should exist and the Father should exist, and nothing else should exist between you.
This is the ideal – the perfect way to meditate. This is what we strive to achieve. This is what makes all the effort worthwhile.
Physical effort requires that we create a place to sit. It also requires that we adhere to a certain time and duration for our daily meditation. Mental effort is ensuring that our time is used wisely and not wasted by allowing our concentration to be dissipated by thoughts about the outer world. The mental effort is clearing our minds of all clutter and focusing only on our repetition.
Repetition is the way we teach the mind. It is the way we create the mental discipline needed to maintain the mental effort required to meditate. It is to compel the mind to accept a condition that we choose, rather than accepting the conditions our mind forces on us.
Repetition can have either a positive or a negative effect. This means we should be conscious not to repeat negative suggestions in our mind because they can also be accepted by the subconscious mind and can plunge our life into states of depression. This is why the Masters repeatedly suggest that we do simran as much as possible during the day. Apart from creating strong, positive spiritual currents in us, this also prevents us from making negative auto-suggestions to the mind.
Through repetition we train our mind to accept our spiritual holy words, and even to enjoy repeating them. Over time this will improve our ability to sustain the kind of mental effort that is necessary for the improved concentration level that we want in our meditation. It is a process that has to be adhered to and there are no short cuts − not even an electric machine to sit on! What we want is ‘smarter not faster’. We simply have to decide if we are prepared to work toward our own good and then to put in the effort to make it happen.
The more we neglect our meditation, the more difficult it becomes to sit, and then we become discouraged. Maharaj Ji said that when we are discouraged, it means we need to do more meditation. That is probably the most difficult time to put in more effort. He also tried to encourage us by saying:
Every effort that we put in meditation is a step forward. Definitely we get its advantage, and we have its effect. Even if we devote five minutes, it is to our credit.
Die to Live
The problem is that we fluctuate and are not constant in our effort. We take the stress and strain of our daily life into our meditation and then find it difficult to get into the rhythm of simran, so that our minds constantly pull us out.
Meditation sanitizes the mind. It clears the mind of all the debris that we so willingly store in it: relics of our past − our personal museum. When we wake up in the morning we bring all that old information from our past into our fresh mind and clog it up. We carry the ‘museum of me’ wherever we go.
Meditation is to the mind what cleaning the call logs and messages are to a cell phone. We regularly clear our cell phones of unnecessary messages and call logs. Similarly, we should maintain the integrity of our memory, keeping it clean of dated and useless information and associations, letting go of the ‘museum of me’.
Meditation is our future. What kind of future are we creating for ourselves? Are we simply focusing on, and putting our effort into going through our destiny, or are we awakening our inner potential? When we meditate we are creating our tomorrow – we are putting the past with all its antiquated concepts, ideas and stale relationships in the rubbish bin. The Master has given us the key to a bright new future. Are we working on that future today? Meditation is about creating that future. It is about unleashing greatness, but we need to smarten up our performance to experience it.
The only way we can move forward and create the future the Master wants us to have is by letting go and being still – by stilling the flow of thoughts and focusing on what is inside. It requires the utmost effort, not only to do it well, but also to do it in such a way that we will not have to return to this plane of life again. As the author of One Being One writes: “Live in such a way that when you die, you laugh and others cry.”
The vast majority of us are not going to be fast-tracked to freedom but have to slog and get on with it. We have to put the effort into doing our meditation. We cannot allow ourselves to be continuously carried away on the turbulent cross-currents of thought. The grace of the Master comes automatically when his instructions are followed. So what are we waiting for? We can start creating that wonderful future today if we want to.
Sant Charandas tells us that we need to make a concerted effort to overcome the wanderings of the mind and commit to following the path of the Guru. He tells us that effort is the alchemy that will turn the disciple into the Supreme Being. In his words:
This teaching is the essence of all teachings.
Guru Sukdev has revealed to me that effort is supreme.
We should never allow the negative association we may have with the word ‘effort’ to distract us from doing our simran and bhajan. And, we should never underestimate the value of our effort. It is our dedication to our own spiritual purpose and our persistence and effort in working towards its realization that will take us to the peace and joy of our eternal home. But ultimately, as the author of One Being One tell us: “Our effort is simply a response to His call.”