Thoughts on Meditation
The daily news seems to be filled with political drama, war and its casualties, terror attacks, human distress, natural disasters, and many other disturbing events. When we hear or read such stories, we may experience anger or fear, and yet we continue to switch from one TV channel to another, or surf the web for more news. We feed this anxiety.
Perhaps it is time to reassess how quickly our balance can be upset by events that are either tragic or go against our values.
Losing our balance, our centeredness, our calm – is that what we want as satsangis? More than ever we need to turn to our objective: to free ourselves from the world and not get caught in its dramas, its traps, its never-ending struggles.
After the tragic events in New York City on September 11, 2001, the Master offered a message in a letter to the USA sangat, which resonates deeply. He wrote:
Such catastrophic events can test us to the extremes of our humanity. They demand that we go to the deepest levels of faith, trust and generosity of spirit if we are to endure them without losing our balance.… We are called upon … to show fortitude in the face of unpredictability and fear, to rebuild not to avenge, and to understand that only a response of love can help us beyond the fears we experience.… We have to go to a higher level. God’s greatness and love are far greater than anything we can see.
It is during times of turmoil, more than ever, that we must turn towards him. We must turn to our meditation. That is the only thing that matters. Nothing can be achieved if we lose our balance. The Masters offer us much to help us keep our balance. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Light on Sant Mat:
I cannot send you a better message than to remind you of what the Master told you at the time of initiation: Life is precious and it is only after thousands of years that you got your turn to be born as a human being. This opportunity should not be lost, and every minute that you can spare from your duties should be devoted to simran and bhajan so that you may soon go in and thus finish your round of births and deaths.
This is the framework within which we, as satsangis, make all of our daily decisions. Whether our objective is kept in mind or it is forgotten, the decisions we make will affect our spiritual life accordingly.
The Masters explain that God is love and that love is God. They urge us to create an atmosphere of meditation that is uplifting, light, and loving. We might ask how we can do that if we allow ourselves to get upset and angry about the world.
Masters say that meditation is easy. Sit, repeat like you always do in the world, but repeat the names of God rather than the words and images of the world. Let go of thoughts, let go of worries. Fill our minds with simran. That is the objective.
In My Submission, Maharaj Sawan Singh says, talking about prayer, but referring to meditation in this context: “As long as a disciple has not reached God he needs prayer in order to meet his personal, religious, social, national, and other needs.”
He does not deny that we have personal and other needs, but meditation is where we get the strength, the clarity of mind, and the fortitude to go back to the world with a different perspective. He continues: “Prayer helps overcome the lower tendencies of the mind and senses and acts as a bond between the soul and God.”
We have to develop a higher view, a deeper vision, which we can have only through meditation. Then we can go out and play the game of life to the best of our ability.
The Master’s command is: Meditate, whatever the circumstances around you are. He doesn’t want excuses. He just wants action.
In My Submission, Great Master explains that the path of the saints starts at the eye centre. Saints advise us to plug the three main external outlets of energy, which pull the attention down, and “to do simran with the tongue of the soul, to contemplate on the form of the Master with the eye of the soul, and to listen to Shabd with the ear of the soul.”
“The first essential thing,” he says in Spiritual Gems, “is to enter this laboratory within ourselves, by bringing our scattered attention inside of the eye focus. This is a slow process. But we are not justified in saying that we cannot do it.”
Simran is the key tool that takes us to the eye centre where we become absorbed and transported by the Sound. Great Master says in My Submission:
When simran of the Lord is carried out incessantly and with every breath of one’s life, it awakens one’s consciousness in the Lord. Simran of the name or names given by someone whose consciousness is awakened in God is highly beneficial because, through the medium of thought transference between master and disciple, fast success is assured.
And, very practically, he continues in the same book:
After assuming an easy posture, simran should be done by concentrating one’s attention between the eyebrows (which is the seat of the soul) and repeating the names with the tongue of the soul with an all-consuming absorption. Simran done in this manner overcomes the restlessness of the mind and results in a high degree of concentration.
The Masters ask us to find a comfortable position, to sit regularly and punctually for two and one-half hours every day, and to repeat the words with attention, without moving. We are advised not to worry about the results, not to even think about results. Although we read and have been told in detail during our initiation about the inner lights, the sounds, and the Radiant Form of the Master awaiting us at the third eye, the Master tells us not to expect results, for if we have expectations, we are trying to control a process which is not in our hands. “If light and sound is all you want, go to the discotheque!” the Master has famously said, thus destroying our ideas about what we think these inner experiences are.
So we sit. And what happens? For most of us, after four, five or six rounds of simran, the concentration evaporates. Masters know this. They know that sometimes when we meditate we fall asleep, we see all black – not the sun, moon, and stars – we see nothing, we hear nothing.
Masters know. So they say bring back the attention and start over, and they do not seem to care how often we have to do this. Just bring back the attention into the next round of simran. And leave the results to him.
And results there will be. Meditation gives peace of mind, for meditation is a process of concentration, and the agitation, tension, depression that we feel is the result of an agitated, scattered mind. This peace of mind, says Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, is felt before we even make progress within.
You’ll be mentally at rest, at peace, you’ll feel the bliss, you will feel that atmosphere within yourself, and there is some sort of contentment. Your attitude towards the events of the world is also changing. You are developing a detached outlook on everything by meditation, though you may not have experienced any progress within at all.
There is no substitute for meditation. We can’t do more seva and think we can make up for missing our meditation. We can’t read more books and think we can make up for it. We can’t come to satsang and think we can make up for it. We can’t go to the Dera and think we can make up for it. Meditation is essential.
Master knows what is happening between him and the disciple during those precious two and one-half hours of dialogue, so there is absolutely no need for us to worry about what we see or hear or don’t see or hear; we just close our eyes, and we are automatically where we are supposed to be. Just focus on the darkness and let go. Stillness of the mind will come in due time. In due time, nothing in the whole world will exist for us except the Shabd and our love for our Master.