Any minute you spend in love and devotion for the Father is to your credit. It’s a stepping stone. You are making some progress maybe at an ant’s speed, but you are making progress.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
We are devoted. The Master sowed the seed of devotion in us when we were first called to the path. He taught us how to nurture that seed of devotion when he initiated us. By honouring the vows we took, we can grow in love and devotion.
But the most challenging vow is maintaining our daily meditation. Meditation, for most of us, is a sleepy affair or a worldly one during which meals are planned, conversations rehearsed and emails drafted. We get up from our sitting without a sense of accomplishment. Our analysis tells us that we are no better off than when we first started, no more pious than before initiation, no closer to our destination. The lack of quality or results can even become an excuse to skip our meditation.
No greater enemy exists in this life than negligence.
Sarmad, Martyr to Love Divine
The Masters clearly state the importance of dedicating time to our daily meditation. The seed of devotion will grow and ripen simply with regularity and punctuality in our meditation practice. In the book, Sheikh Farid, the mystic Khwaja Chishti is said to have stressed punctuality even in performing each of the five prayers at the appropriate time each day. He explained, “The fact is that constancy, perseverance and regularity are great things in spiritual life.” He saw the discipline of following the religious laws as a foundation for the practice of the spiritual path. It established regularity and a well-ordered life. It trained the practitioner in self-discipline.
That is how our love starts growing. The more time we give to meditation, the more our love grows.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
We are only asked to push the rock, not move it. Even the half-hearted, distracted sittings matter. They are the difference between keeping a vow and undermining it. They are the difference between showing up or missing the opportunity to tune into your true self, the Shabd. What’s encouraging is that the fickleness of our devotion is secondary to our Master’s acceptance of it. Even our failures and failings are welcomed by the Master.
O Farid, for those whose bow is patience,
remembrance is the arrow.
God does not let them miss their target
even if the arrows are poorly aimed.
In the Zoroastrian scripture, the word ‘devotion’ is also referred to as ‘work’ and ‘deed’. Not attending to meditation is the same as not doing our allotted work for the Master, despite somehow making time for other work.
Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work,
so most people don’t recognize them.
Ann Landers, as quoted in Relentless Mode
Efforts at meditation are the seeds we sow to attain nothing less than the Lord himself. We overlook the goal of our efforts and focus on the difficulty of the task. Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh reminded us that we cannot expect to achieve God-realization without paying the price for it.
That is our real work. There is no higher work than this.
Keep doing it every day; then all your endeavour will bear fruit.
Baba Jaimal Singh, Spiritual Letters
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. To cultivate devotion, we try to sit attentively with love. We try to be more active in concentrating, letting go of thoughts no matter how important they seem. When we catch ourselves drifting, we restart the simran. We try to hold our attention at the eye centre, and look into the darkness. During bhajan, even if we do not hear anything, we sit unconditionally because this is our Master’s instruction.
While the mystic Shiekh Farid was still quite young, his pious mother set out to train him to pray regularly, lovingly and with dedication. She told him that each time he prayed with love and devotion in his heart, God would put a sweet under his prayer mat. Then, while the young boy was absorbed in prayer, she would slip a sweet under the corner of his mat. And, of course, at the end of his prayers he always looked and was delighted to find the sweet, his gift from God. One day, his mother forgot to place the sweet under the mat. When she realized her mistake, she was deeply distraught and prayed fervently that Farid’s faith in God would not be shaken. One version of this legend says that when Farid finished his prayers, he told his mother there was no need to put a sweet under his prayer mat anymore, because he was enjoying the sweetness of the Lord’s presence.
From this story, we learn that the more present we are during our spiritual practice, the more we will enjoy it. Even in the absence of any apparent results, the sittings become natural and indispensable. Meditation provides the strength to fulfil our responsibilities. The attitude towards meditation becomes a different ‘have to’. Instead of “I have to meditate because I am initiated,” we graduate to “I have to meditate because I want to.”
Every moment I am trapped
in a hundred transgressions,
from morn to eve I am saddened by my desires.
I seek to release myself from this trap –
Destiny it may not be,
but I will make ceaseless effort.
Sarmad, Martyr to Love Divine