At some point in life, we may have felt that the road we are travelling on seems uphill. Each of us wants a life that is without any problems. But as we all know, that is not reality. Things have a tendency to take their own course, and we end up saying, “That is not what I expected,” or “That is not the way I wanted it to turn out.”
Maybe some of us have even applied this thought process to our meditation. We all probably remember the first few days after our initiation – the enthusiasm we felt to wake up and meditate. But for many of us, meditation soon seemed to be like licking a dry stone. We lost our zeal and our concentration, and we did not hear the faintest sound or see the dimmest light. So our interest may start to dwindle. Does this mean that we should quit or relax our efforts?
We think the easy way out is to just quit. And at times it is a very tempting thought, especially when it seems that we have made no progress whatsoever. The mind always does a good job of trying to keep us in this world. It not only distracts us when we meditate, but when our meditation seemingly has no results, the mind gives us all the reasons why we should quit meditating. The mind is our worst enemy when it comes to God-realization. In the Book of Mirdad, it says, “Often you shall think your road impassable, sombre and companionless. Have will and plod along; and round each curve you shall find a new companion.”
So what do we need in order to keep steadfast on the path even though the road may seem uphill or impassable? We need faith, perseverance, patience and, of course, the Lord’s grace.
If we have faith that the path we are following is the path for us, that the Master, our guide on this path, is the right one for us, we will be more likely to persevere in our meditation.
If we follow Master’s instructions, we will automatically gain the strength to carry on when it feels uphill. In Light on Sant Mat, Maharaj Charan Singh advises, “We are to do everything according to the best of our knowledge, but the results are to be left entirely in the hands of God.” We have to remember that we have to do our duty without thinking of the outcome. In the Book of Mirdad it says, “Seek no reward for any labour done. The labour itself is reward sufficient to the labourer who loves his labour.” As we learn to love the labour of our meditation, if we love being in the presence of the Master during the hours we sit and meditate, we will definitely want to give our allotted time to meditation and not cut it short.
Baba Jaimal Singh says in Spiritual Letters, “There is nothing higher than meditation. Increase this practice from day to day; never decrease it.” There may be times when we think we have no time to meditate because of worldly obligations. But again, that is the mind trying to make excuses for cutting short our meditation. Baba Ji continues in the same book, “Be concerned only with meditation. Affairs of the world will take their own course. They just go on and never come to a stop.”
So we have to meticulously allot our valued time to what we think is important to achieve – God-realization. We have to evaluate our goals every day before we set out every morning to do our worldly activities. Are they more important to us than our spiritual activity?
Hazur says in Light on Sant Mat, “The more time one gives to the repetition of the holy names and listening to the Sound, with love and devotion, the nearer he comes to his goal.” Baba Jaimal Singh gives similar advice in Spiritual Letters:
You are to attend to your meditation every day. When you persevere in this practice, his grace will surely descend upon you one day.
An impatient mind is another reason we may compromise our meditation, if not just give it up. We are so used to ‘instant’ things in this creation, from instant coffee to instant text messaging. Why can’t meditation work the same way – instant God-realization? Because this is a path which we have to tread slowly and steadily like the tortoise does, rather than hurry along like the hare and then get tired and lag behind. Hazur says in Light on Sant Mat:
Yes, it is true that slow and steady wins the race. How many times do we stumble and fall when we learn to walk. But as we grow older we forget the struggles and enjoy the performance. So it is with spiritual work.
And again he tells us in Quest for Light, “Please remember that great things are not accomplished quickly. They require time and effort to achieve them.” Working to attain God-realization is the greatest goal we have to set for ourselves. Should not our effort match the greatness of the goal?
Our concern should be with the effort, not the results. Often we try too hard to get results – to see the light and hear the sound. Our business is just to do meditation, and leave the results to him. A German philosopher, Gerhart Tersteegen, is quoted in The Spiritual Athlete, an anthology of writings by and about spiritual teachers from around the world: “Just stay where you are and unite yourselves with God as with something there already that you do not need to seek! For God is certainly with you and in you.”
We intellectually know that God is omnipresent. He is not just everywhere outside, but very much inside us, and yet we cannot see him. Why is that so? The Jewish mystic Baal Shem Tov is quoted in The Spiritual Athlete: “There is no spot where God is not. Of course not everyone ‘sees’ him, because the physical creation is a garment the Lord has put on, whereby … he is both revealed and concealed.” The Baal Shem Tov goes on to explain that there is a reason that God seems to stay out of our reach.
Observe well how a devoted father, when teaching his young son to walk, stands in front of him, speaks encouragingly and holds his two hands on either side of the child. The boy goes toward his father with outstretched arms, but the moment he comes close to him, the father moves away a little and holds his hands farther apart. He does this over and over so that the child may learn to walk.
Meditation every day is our humble effort to follow the Master’s instructions. Maybe we are just taking baby steps on the path; but our effort will bring forth his grace, and in the end it is, of course, the Master’s grace which will help us walk all the way uphill to the summit. Our duty is to put in effort, like the child learning to walk, and then grace will be forthcoming.
Our effort, however meagre, is never in vain. Hazur says in Die to Live, “Whatever time we give to meditation, we are definitely making progress.… Not a single moment of meditation goes to waste.” Zeal and sincerity are the key to man’s relation with God. God desires the devotee’s heart. And if we give him our heart, he will give us everything. This is our paramount duty and even if we see no seeming results, we have to persist with faith and devotion. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
It’s not in your hands at all. It comes from within. A girl falls in love with a man. She has no reasoning. She cannot say, “To what extent should I have faith, to what extent should I have this and that?” She is absolutely blind. No matter how much you explain to her, she can’t get out of it. She may be deceived, but she has faith. So love creates faith. The more love you have, the more faith you will have in the person concerned. And faith enables you to practice. Then you will follow another person’s advice. If you love somebody, that builds faith in you.…
So these factors are very essential for following the path. Love will create faith, and faith will create practice. Without faith, mind doesn’t go straight on practice. It finds one excuse or another – a hundred obstacles come in the way. You brush them away; again they come. They come and they go. But faith makes you absolutely straight.… And the base of all that is love.
All of this is built slowly by our commitment to our meditation. Faith is strengthened by our meditation. Meditation creates and strengthens our faith. We become unshakeable in our journey within.