Have you ever witnessed an orchestra warm up? Moments before the conductor enters, as each and every musician tunes his or her particular instrument – it is collective dissonance to say the least. Yet when the conductor appears, the chaos stops. Eyes become fixed. Thoughts become focused. Each performer is ready and open to receive direction from the maestro. With each gesture of his baton, the notes flow freely from every instrument in perfect harmony. The result is a musical symphony that lifts the hearts of all who hear and experience it.
As we go though the orchestra of life, some of us may play isolated notes like the musicians tuning up. It is only when we are faced with the Master’s presence that we are transformed. Like the maestro, his every gesture is a guiding force that draws out the best in us. We learn to focus and surrender to the master-conductor’s lead, so that we are finally able to play that magnificent melody.
In every soul there is a great potential to play a sweet symphony. But most of us do not realize that we are out of tune. The Master helps us connect to that untapped source of beautiful music within, by means of initiation into the Shabd practice. He teaches us that all we need to realize this potential is focus.
We are living in a world caught in an epidemic of distractions. The thoughts that germinate as a result of all these distractions can create mental chaos. The images and thought processes in our minds never seem to stop. Each thought is rapidly followed by another, crowding our minds, like too many people entering an elevator. If one were to liken the mind to a computer, it is almost like having too many files open, overloading our processor. We do not realize the true cost of these distractions. They use up what is actually a limited supply of time and attention each day, scattering our focus.
It is the nature of the mind to focus first on one thing and then on something else. This moment it builds castles in the air, and the next it demolishes them. It is tossed about between objects of love and hatred, as a feather in a stormy wind. In short, the mind is never still.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Discourses on Sant Mat
The Masters emphasize the paramount importance of bringing back our attention to the seat of the soul, within ourselves. They teach us to rein in our attention and focus it, without wavering, at the eye centre. This focus is essential for meditation.
Numerous motivational books and talks extol the virtues of focus. Any endeavour in life is more likely to succeed if the mind is attuned to the job at hand. It works the same way in spirituality. In fact, in spirituality, the task is even more daunting as the mind continually rebels at the thought of sitting still.
The third eye is the seat of the mind and soul. This is the pivotal point that holds the mystery of life. It is from here that our attention continually descends and spreads into the world through the nine outlets of the body.… From here every minute the mind wanders out. It does not sit still at this spot even for a moment…. The path of the saints lies in drawing the attention back to this point.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I
The saints explain that it is all a question of discipline and practice. For countless incarnations our minds have been scattered in this creation. We cannot pierce the darkness within because our attention is caught up with our body and our attachments. Unless we can reverse this process and hold our minds still at the eye centre, with the help of simran and bhajan, our minds will continue to get tossed around like a ship in the midst of a stormy sea.
Focused meditation will transform the way we perceive things and the way we live our life. Spiritual progress depends upon making the mind still at the eye centre, and concentration is what makes the mind still. Concentrated simran is the best way to train the mind to ‘sit’ at the eye centre. Our minds are used to jumping from one object to another, so to train the mind to concentrate on simran is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.
There are many examples throughout history where people have overcome what seemed to be impossible odds and insurmountable obstacles. The one common factor that contributed to their success was their ability to focus, to concentrate the mind on their objective. The objective of every disciple on the spiritual path is to connect with his maker, with the Lord. And the means to this end is to focus at the eye centre.
The mind is similar to a focusing lens – whatever we focus upon, internally or externally, becomes our picture of reality. It is therefore the source of our bondage as well as our freedom.
Aaron John Beth’el, The Spiritual Guide for the New Millennium
The mind is driven by memories and emotions that run rampant and accelerate our thoughts and actions. The saints explain that the only way to put a brake to these thoughts is by meditation. By closing our eyes and repeating the words of simran in the darkness, we are “knocking on heaven’s door”. The Master assures us that as the mind begins to focus at this point, it gradually becomes more and more absorbed with the true reality, and it is then able to enjoy the sweet symphony of the Shabd.