Pushing Away Obstacles
Masters ask us to meditate and to live in an atmosphere of meditation. But daily life puts many demands on us, and so retaining an atmosphere of mediation often seems difficult.
Maharaj Charan Singh tells us, “Meditation should be our main concern, and this should never be sacrificed to anything of this life.” If we keep that advice always in mind as the most important – the A-1 – aspect of our life, then everything falls into the right perspective. By keeping our focus on meditation, we overcome the many tricks the mind can play on us – let’s call these the “B, C, D” obstacles, in contrast to the Master’s A-1 advice.
The first obstacle, B, is boredom. We go to satsang or read a spiritual book and it all seems to be the same old thing we’ve heard over and over. We crave something new! But Sant Mat isn’t boring; it’s an adventure. Boredom is just a negative state of mind. It can be turned into a positive approach by creating new habits. We need to try doing something different, such as reading a book we would normally not pick up or going for a simran walk. Instead of watching the same old TV program we can look at the wonders of nature. Instead of gossiping we can find a satsangi to go out to lunch with and talk about the Master and the path. We need to get our creative juices flowing. But above all, we should recognize boredom for what it is – an obstacle to putting in our best efforts and enjoying the transforming effects of even the smallest efforts we make on the path. Hazur says in Die to Live:
Everything is to our credit. Whatever time you give to simran – whether moving, walking, sitting – and whatever books you read on Sant Mat, or satsangs you hear, they are all to your credit.… These preparations strengthen our love and devotion, and create that desire in us for meditation. They are all a means to a certain end, and any means to achieve that end is to our credit.
The next obstacle, C, stands for complacency. This means that we become satisfied with how things are and stop putting forth the effort to make them better. How can we improve or progress with an attitude like that? By reflecting on our life we can find some area to work on and make a project out of it. Do we do simran while getting ready for the day? If not, let’s work on that – make that a fun project. What about when we are waiting at a traffic light or in line at a store? Rather than feeling frustrated by having to wait, we could enjoy this excellent opportunity to do some extra simran. Let’s recognize complacency for what it is – a negative attitude, an obstacle that encourages the mind to avoid putting our hearts into meditation. We pay a great price when an attitude of complacency keeps us away from meditation.
Lastly, there is D, for despondency. We experience this when we have the attitude of hopelessness. “Oh, I can’t do this, I can’t do that. I might as well just give up and stop trying to achieve my main purpose in life.” If we aren’t careful, this can result in giving up meditation and possibly giving up on Sant Mat – at least for some time. Jump on this one right away! We can do much more than we imagine. For example, no matter how down and out we feel, we can sit in a chair. So why not sit in a dark and quiet place and do some simran? The cure for despondency is to not focus on how difficult the path seems but to focus on what we can do. Each small step moves us toward our goal of living a life of meditation.
It is easy to become despondent due to our apparent slow progress, but we are in no position to evaluate our progress. Instead of trying to assess our level of spiritual development – which is not in our control – Masters ask us only to stay positive and do our best. Hazur Maharaj Ji says in Die to Live:
Great Master used to say, “If you can’t bring your success to me, bring your failures.” It means, assure me that you have at least been giving your time to meditation. Whether you have achieved any results or not is a different question, but you bring me at least your failures, because that means you have been attempting to meditate, you have been doing your best. And if you haven’t noticed any results, that is entirely for him to see about. We should do our best. Whether we succeed or fail in meditation is a different thing.
All of these obstacles – boredom, complacency and despondency – are due to our karmas from past lives, but in this life we have an opportunity to chart a new course. We do that by following the advice of our spiritual teacher to put our meditation first, as our top priority. Only by meditation do we clear or overcome our karmas. Hazur says in Die to Live:
Whatever time we give to meditation, we are burning karmas. When you collect a heap of rubbish and you want to burn it, you need a matchstick.… The preparation to make that matchstick is also part of burning the rubbish; in the same way, whatever time we devote to meditation is to our credit.
We need to always watch our mind to guard against our negative thoughts. They keep us away from achieving the central purpose of our existence in this life – God-realization.
Let us strive to be positive, happy and relaxed. Let’s push these obstacles to one side and put our attention and our hearts toward our meditation. We are on a sacred path to our destination and we are destined to overcome all obstacles.