The To-Do List
Our busy day-to-day lives have made to-do lists quite common and indispensable. We have lists for our tasks in the office, at home and for just about any activity. It is so popular that even cellphones have applications that can help us make our to-do lists.
A to-do list gives a clear and concise summary of what needs to get done in our work life, our family life and everything else that we are involved in.
In our spiritual lives, what would our to-do list look like? As a devotee, would it consist of what needs to be accomplished to fulfil our spiritual duties to enable spiritual progress? What do we need to do so that with each passing day we inch closer and closer to our spiritual goal?
First, we must meditate. Meditation is the backbone of the Sant Mat path and without it, there is no spiritual life to speak of.
There is one special process. And that is the very special process. That is meditation. You see, meditation creates love. It strengthens love. It deepens love. It grows love. Ultimately, it illuminates you and it makes you God. That’s all meditation. I can’t suggest to you any bypass. There is no short cut or bypass. That is the only way.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Meditation is the only way to get attached to the sound current and achieve liberation. Furthermore, with constant meditation our wayward mind is curbed and tamed bringing forth a multitude of good attributes and attitudes that will further our spiritual development. We cultivate qualities such as detachment, patience, peace of mind, kindness, charity and ultimately love – deep love for the Master and love for our fellow human beings. And slowly, we shed all our negative habits associated with our unstable minds.
Second, we must restrain ourselves from worrying and over-thinking. Maharaj Charan Singh has this observation:
Unnecessarily we are thinking the whole day and making ourselves miserable about things we can’t control, which we can’t help, which have passed. We are always thinking – thinking about either our future or about the past. By thinking those things, we’re always worrying.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
All this overthinking becomes a stumbling block when it is time to sit for meditation. It simply makes it more difficult to meditate.
Hazur Maharaj Ji advises us to live in the present, to do our best in the present moment, as the past and the future are not in our hands. As each day dawns, we should just strive to do our best and leave the results to the Master.
Third, we must aspire to live a balanced life, whereby our worldly obligations as well as our spiritual duties are fulfilled. But the vow of meditation is quite difficult, as the world we live in is frenzied and fast paced, pulling us in all directions. We can get caught up in the whirl and end up losing time for the single most important task on the Sant Math path, our meditation.
So to achieve balance in life, it is best to do this task first and foremost. It makes perfect sense to start our day with meditation, so that the rest of our time can be used to attend to worldly matters. This is in fact what all the Masters recommend. They suggest that we do our meditation in the early morning when the mind is fresh and the rest of the world is still asleep, so that there will be no distractions. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule. What is important is that we have regularity and punctuality in our meditation, so that over time, meditation becomes a habit.
With meditation done, one achieves more balance and composure and is relaxed during the rest of the day because the most important task is done; one is then free to concentrate on all other tasks.
Finally, we should keep good cheer at all times. Being happy and content despite the ups and downs of life is the hallmark of a devoted disciple. Knowing that the Master is with us during both good times and bad, and that he is helping us at every step should make us smile no matter what is going on in our lives.
Most of all, we should count our blessings and be grateful for the priceless gift of Nam.
In whatever circumstances the Lord keeps us, we should try to be happy. Take it as his grace, whatever he gives us. That is why Christ said: Be like a little babe. You give him a stone to play with, he’s happy; you give him a diamond to play with, he’s happy. He doesn’t discriminate between the stone and diamond. So we shouldn’t try to discriminate among these events of life, whether a cold wind is blowing or a hot wind is blowing. We are happy in whatever circumstances the Lord keeps us.
And we can have that attitude only if we attend to meditation. Only with the help of meditation will we be able to build peace within ourselves, and then we share peace with others. You go to a miserable person and he will make you miserable in two minutes. If you go to a happy person, however miserable you may be, you will just come out laughing and smiling – because we give what we have, we radiate what we have.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
As devotees on a spiritual path, we have a lot to be grateful for and happy about. Most importantly, we have a Master and the invaluable gift of Nam. This chance to taste the divine nectar every time we sit in meditation is a powerful tool that changes us; it is the means by which the Master purifies us. We transform into better versions of ourselves because meditation gives us the will to subdue our passions and the right attitude towards life. We end up happier, no matter what our circumstances.
Thus, with just these five items on our to-do-list – meditate, don’t worry, live a balanced life, stay happy and be grateful – we help ourselves live a healthy and fruitful spiritual life.
Our priority has to be to consider our obligations to our soul. First and foremost, we have to value our soul so much that it is more important to us than everything else.