Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon, commonly known as Madame Guyon, was a Christian mystic who died in France in 1717 after spending nearly ten years in prison for advocating inner prayer as a means of attaining union between the soul and God.
Forced to marry a man much older than her, Madame Guyon was a widow by the age of twenty-eight. Whilst looking after her three children, she dedicated her life to inner prayer – meditation – under the guidance of a Barnabite monk. Despite the many hardships she faced, she placed her faith in God not only for spiritual salvation but for all material necessities and surrendered herself to him entirely. Indeed, such was her faith that she viewed her difficulties as gifts from God with the purpose of eliminating the ego so that she might become one with her inspiration, Jesus Christ. As she explains in her book, A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer, inner prayer is not the same as idleness; on the contrary, the soul becomes active when the self is still:
When some people hear about the prayer of silence, they falsely imagine that the soul remains dull, dead, and inactive. But [just the opposite is true]. Without question the soul acts more nobly and more extensively than it has ever done before. God Himself is its mover, and He now energizes and directs its activities by His Spirit.
Harold Chadwick, Madame Jeanne Guyon, Experiencing Union with God through Prayer
Sant Mat is also a path of action and similarly emphasizes meditation as a means of rendering the mind motionless so that the soul, moved by God, may rise upwards. Put differently, the consciousness does not expand due to our meditation, but our effort is essential for God to do the rest.
Sant Mat advises that our effort should encompass two actions: to perform all we do in the name of God, as this negates self-interest and the ego; and the other is to be attentive to God in every moment by repeating simran. Maharaj Sawan Singh describes inner prayer as “the most natural, direct and easy means of connecting individuals with the Creator, and connecting the soul with the Lord.” Such inner prayer subdues the mind, liberating it from turmoil and anguish. The calmer the mind, the more at peace we feel and, as Madame Guyon explains, the more inclined we are to keep our attention directed in prayer: “The soul that rests in God has an activity [that is] exceedingly noble and elevated, yet altogether peaceful. And the more peaceful it is, the swifter it moves, because it is given up to that Spirit by whom it is moved and directed.”
When satsangis dedicate their life to inner prayer – that is, repeat simran throughout the day and practise meditation sincerely and regularly – it may or may not result in the vision of the inner form of the Master. However, the more we practise meditation, the closer we feel to him in heart and spirit, and, determined not to lose these feelings of love and yearning, we strengthen our desire and resolve to keep our attention focused on meditation. The love that we experience as a result is really an example of divine grace, a gift from the Lord in recognition of our effort to practise. As Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol.II:
Of course, it starts with the Father; but then we try to search for him, and our love grows and grows. The more he gives, the more it grows. The more effort we make, the more love we feel; the more grace is there, the more effort we make. These will always go side by side.
To conclude, union between soul and God is attained by a life dedicated to inner prayer.