Can’t or Won’t?
“I can’t meditate” is a very familiar phrase to all of us. We say it and hear it so often that we have actually turned it into a serious and pressing problem; so much so that we often stand up in frustration and disillusionment before our Master to tell him of our plight.
The Master logically explains to us that what we require to sit for meditation are two things that we are already quite proficient at. One is to sit still for a substantial length of time, like we do in movie theatres, cars, planes and many other places. And the other ‘skill’ that is required is to silently repeat the holy names. We know we can do this because constant repetition is something that the mind is perpetually engaged in.
So meditation can be done, and if there is still a lingering doubt within us, the Master closes the case by lovingly and confidently reassuring us that if we were not capable of giving what it takes to follow this path, he would not have initiated us in the first place.
“But the mind keeps running away” is the complaint that follows. Once again, we are told that no one is looking at our success rate. All that is expected from us is honest and sincere effort. We need to sit still in a quiet corner and try to keep our attention focused while repeating the five names, and if the mind runs out, then without frustration we need to bring it back to the point of focus and try again.
The fact that meditation can sometimes seem dry, dull and pointless is a different issue altogether; due diligence and a determined attitude is what is required. But unlike a child who is honest enough to say, “I don’t want to do my homework”, we claim that we can’t meditate, when actually the truth is that we won’t meditate.
But we can meditate, if we try our best. Not only can we do our meditation, but we can also unquestionably succeed. Hazrat Inayat Khan summarizes it beautifully:
Often a person says: “I try my best, but I cannot concentrate my mind; I cannot make my mind still.” It is true, but it is not true that he tries his best. ‘Best’ does not end there. ‘Best’ really brings the purpose to its fulfilment.
The Heart of Sufism: Essential Writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Our Master is all-powerful and certainly one day he will release us from the bondage of mind and senses, through his infinite mercy, provided we turn not from his door, and practise simran and bhajan to the best of our ability, according to his orders.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, The Dawn of Light