Are You Worried?
Worry is an intrinsic aspect of the human condition that is described by the Taoist sage Wei Po Yang as “preposterous.” One reason why worry is deemed ludicrous is that it presupposes knowledge of a situation that we simply do not possess. Fundamentally, though, the principal reason rendering worry preposterous is our own individual spiritual experience.
Many of us have yet to experience the inner sound or light. Nonetheless, most of us are able to recall at least one incident in which we have been conscious of the protection of the inner Master and, as he has steered us away from adversity, we found ourselves inwardly thanking him for his help in a difficult situation. As Maharaj Sawan Singh explains in Spiritual Gems:
[The Master] is always with us – within us – watches as a mother watches her child. So long as we are on this side of the focus, we do not see him working. But he is doing his duty. Your worries and cares are Master’s worries and cares. Leave them to him to deal with.
So, we find ourselves in a strange paradox. On the one hand, our personal experience of the Master’s guidance reassures us that he will look after us during difficult situations. On the other hand, whilst knowing that the Master has looked after us in the past, we continue to worry about the future.
What does worry tell us about ourselves?
Maharaj Charan Singh explains that there are two causes of our worry. As detailed in Spiritual Perspectives Vol. III, our endless desires constitute the first cause:
By nature, man is happy and contented. What makes us miserable is our wishes, our demands, our ambitions, our desires. When they are not fulfilled, we become miserable. But if we don’t have any desires, automatically we are happy. It is our desires which make us miserable, and all our desires can’t be fulfilled. Whatever is in your destiny will be fulfilled; what is not in your destiny – your worry will not be able to fulfil that desire.
So it is our desires that make us worry; if we were desireless, our anxiety about fulfilling them would not materialize. However, no matter how much we tell ourselves not to want things, it is impossible to achieve this by reason alone. At this level we are dominated by karma and it is only by eradicating karma that we will become completely desire-less, which in turn will free us from anxiety. As Maharaj Sawan Singh explains in The Dawn of Light, “Although in our heart we may persuade ourselves that we have eliminated desire, yet it is not correct, because as long as the karma is not washed away … it cannot be said that the practitioner has abandoned desire.”
Fear is the second cause of worry, as Maharaj Charan Singh makes clear in the following quotation from Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
There is always fear of losing whatever the Lord may give us in this creation. If you have a lot of wealth, there’s always fear in your mind that the Lord has given me so much wealth in this world and I may lose it.… There is always a fear of losing even the best things we have of this life. As long as fear is at the base of our happiness, we can never be happy.
Paradoxically, it seems that sometimes we don’t even fully enjoy the happy times because, knowing that life can be precarious, we become anxious as to when and how our good situation will end. This negativity and worry suggests that our faith in the Master is weak. Maharaj Jagat Singh advises in The Science of the Soul, “Your worrying shows that you have no faith in the goodness of God or even in God himself. Let him accomplish things in his own way rather than in the way that you desire.”
How do we stop worrying?
Training the mind to live in the present is one way in which we help ourselves to stop worrying. We cannot change the past and we exercise little, if any, control over the future. All we have is the present moment. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
We must live in the present. Every day has to be lived. So we should plan for a day and then live it thoroughly and happily, and attend to our meditation. That is the only way we can get out of these worldly worries and worldly problems.
The value of trying to take one day at a time, one task at a time, has been picked up by modern philosophers who call it ‘mindfulness.’ If we practise it, we will not only reduce our worries, but strengthen our mental muscles, which, in turn, will support our meditation.
Doing our best and leaving the results to the Lord is the second piece of advice Maharaj Charan Singh gives us to stop worrying. He says:
Brother, instead of worrying about the situation, one should try to do one’s best. With your best available intellect or reasoning or thinking or intuition – whatever you may have – do your best, then leave it to the Lord.… You have no other option.
Maharaj Charan Singh makes clear that having tried our hardest, we have no option but to leave the outcomes of life to the Lord, as our destiny has already been determined and no amount of worry will change this.Such surrender comes with consistent, dedicated meditation practice.
In an era characterized by individualism, narcissism, and conspicuous consumption, there is no method more effective than meditation to help us learn to accept rather than demand and that also stops us worrying, by increasing our faith in the Master.
You can’t change the course of events dictated by your destiny. But by obedience to the Master and attending to meditation you remain happy and relaxed as you go through it. You accept whatever comes your way as the grace of the Master. He is the helmsman of your life now, and he has only your happiness and best interest at heart. By his mercy he is bringing you to him as swiftly as possible to give you all he has. So worry has no place in a disciple’s heart.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live