Over the years, as disciples on the path of Sant Mat, we have grown to love the five precious names the Master gave us at initiation – our simran. Imagine not being able to repeat our simran in this world of uncertainty, this rollercoaster of highs and lows that epitomize our daily lives. The repetition of these precious words is a gift of untold measure.
We use our senses to interact with the world. With our tongue, we communicate thoughts and ideas which leave impressions on our mind. Our eyes allow us to visualize objects of the world, and these forms are embossed in our mind. Our ears allow us to hear various sounds and voices and these too are also registered in our consciousness. With advances in technology, our senses are constantly bombarded with stimuli every moment of the day. And finally, on social media – with applications like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter -we develop ‘virtual personalities’ that require perpetual attention. All these create an endless flow of clutter in our already overcrowded minds.
The saints advise that by simran – repetition of the holy names – we can eliminate these impressions and clear our minds. Simran allows us to think and act with clarity, kindness and equanimity. It helps us not to just blurt out words or react to situations impulsively. We learn to respond with self-control.
The problem is, we do not use our simran enough. Whilst repeating the names during meditation, we easily get lost in other thoughts. And before we know it, our meditation period has flown by. When we are nervous, worried or upset, we are anxious to repeat our simran, and we cling to the words in desperation. Simran, as the Masters have said, is the hardest step, no doubt. There is no one who can do it for us, nor is there another shortcut to reaching the eye centre. There is no escape from the requirement of serious effort and self-discipline.
It is because of the mind’s flighty nature that it is so difficult for us to keep our attention on these five simple words. The mind is a most useful instrument provided it is kept under control. In this way, it is like a car. A car can’t turn on its own engine. It has no will of its own – the driver’s will controls it. If it is not controlled properly and is run at full speed, disaster is inevitable.
Similarly, in order to keep the mind in tow and functioning under our control, we need to consciously steer it in the right direction, letting go of unproductive desires and tendencies and at the same time creating new, more positive habits. In the Dhammapada, a classic Buddhist text, it is stated that whatever harm a foe may do to a foe, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind can do far more. The mind’s desires for all things artificial takes us away from the Lord.
What then is the remedy? The mystics say that simran is the solution, provided it is consistently practised and is supported by a lifestyle that is conducive to its practice. We must put before the mind something which can curb the lower desires. We all know that our state of mind is constantly changing. Happiness, sadness, depression, anger, kindness and indifference are some states we often find ourselves in. The mystics tell us that it is impossible to keep the mind in a state of constant equanimity without simran. But until the mind experiences the bliss of the higher regions, the pleasures of the physical world will continue to tug at it. The mystics remind us that this method of repetition has been proven and tested over thousands of years. It is not possible to turn our attention inward and tune itself to the Shabd as long as the mind is fixated upon things of the outer world. All of our attention must be withdrawn from our senses and focused inside. We simply cannot take the world in our back-packs on our journey inside. Our inner most thoughts must be detached from worldly desires and attachments.
Concerning the balance between our spiritual duties and worldly work, Hazur Maharaj Ji says, “Our worldly duties and obligations are to be fulfilled along with spiritual practice.” Sant Mat encourages us to attend to our worldly work and also find time for our real work. Saints tell us that as we persist with our simran, our lower desires and tendencies will gradually weaken and fall away. Through simran, the soul currents that permeate every pore of the body will withdraw from the nine apertures and collect at the third eye.
Maharaj Jagat Singh reminds us: “Simran is the foundation and the foundation must be very strong.” The mystics tell us that ceaseless simran means thinking more of the Beloved than of ourselves. It entails tremendous sacrifice. How many of us can do this? Usually we do concentrated simran only in times of trouble. At other times, can we truthfully say we do it with love and devotion?
It is not that we can’t do it. We are capable of making sacrifices for our loved ones. We sacrifice quite readily for those we love in this world – spouse, children, parents, friends – but we have to go one step further and include our Beloved.
Habits are easily formed and soon become a part of our daily routine, and then if we neglect them, we start missing those things.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
As we know, the mind is a creature of habit. So in the same way that we go about our daily routines, performing them day after day, week after week, repeating them over and over, we must also do our spiritual duty. We have to create a habit of simran, so that it becomes ingrained in our lives.
Hazur Maharaj Ji explains further:
We have to form a habit of meditation. If you say, “When I feel the urge I will meditate,” you would perhaps never meditate. If you think, “When I feel the right atmosphere, then I will meditate. I will sit in the morning, I will sit at noon, I will sit in the evening,” you will always go on giving excuses to yourself; you will never attend to meditation.
Die to Live
Through simran we cleanse the mind of all the impressions that obscure our path. The reason the spiritual path is hard is because we are trying to eliminate old habits that come to us so easily and replace them with difficult new ones. Regularity and punctuality in our meditation are essential conditions that help us develop the habit of simran.
In Die to Live, Hazur Maharaj Ji says, “If you are late today and feel guilty, then the next time you won’t be late. If you don’t feel repentant, then you will always have a habit of being late.”
The approach of attending to simran as a habit may appear to be mechanical at the onset, but it is the first step on the spiritual ladder. It is a systematic approach that requires discipline. To begin with, we have to make the effort and put our mind in simran, and then automatically love will develop.
Hazur Maharaj Ji reminds us:
We should also honour the commitment which we have made with the Father, that we have a certain time to attend to meditation. We have to sit, whether our mind is still or not. Whether we have to fight with the mind or not is a different problem, but we have made a certain commitment with the Father, and we should try to honour it by giving our time to the Father at that particular time.
Die to Live
We do not have to worry about results or whether our effort is good enough. Master sees only our sincerity and honest intention. The results are not in our hands – they are a gift from him. We can only renew our effort day after day, and pray to the Lord that our every thought, deed and action is inspired by his love for us.
Why do you lose patience, O seeker?
Forget not, progress is always slow.
However freely you may water the tree,
It needs time to burst into bloom.
Saint Paltu, His Life and Teachings