Sometimes it seems that following the task our Master has set for us is just impossible. We can become disheartened and overwhelmed, particularly if we expect certain visible results from our meditation. These times are opportunities to redirect our emotions into self-reflection, rather than blame others. By channeling this energy toward self-reflection, we can gain important insights that can help us hold on to hope and courage and strengthen our efforts on the spiritual path.
In a letter to one disciple who has had an emotional reaction to her feelings of lack of progress, Maharaj Charan Singh says in Quest for Light:
Please remember that this emotional outburst will not help you in any way. Meditation has never been an easy thing for anyone before reaching the state of perfect concentration. How can we rise to spiritual heights within, just for the asking? It is something we have to earn.
He says we have to earn perfect concentration; and we do that through our sincere effort. Later in the answer, he adds “Instead of blaming the path or the Master, see within yourself where the weakness lies.” He urges us to look honestly at the way we have been following the path. This means not to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings but to look gently at our lives and identify where we might do better.
Then Hazur lists six questions for us to ask ourselves.
- Have you given regular time to meditation every day?
The Masters emphasize the importance of this daily discipline of meditation. Meditation is really the answer that they give us to almost every question. At initiation we promise to devote at least ten percent of our time to meditation every single day. Masters assure us that if we do our part they will do the rest. Even a few hours each day of turning to him on the inside adds up to a lot. Then we can look him in the eye and know that at least we have tried. But if we have not been doing our part, if we have not been keeping the promise we made to him, can we really expect results?
- Have you been able to keep the attention at the eye centre all the time during meditation?
That should be an easy question to answer. Mostly, we know when our attention slips down and our mind runs wild or we fall asleep. If we are sitting because we want to sit, out of love for our Master, not just because it is a duty, we will keep trying to focus.
- Have you vacated the body of all consciousness and brought it to the eye centre?
If we have, we will probably have seen the light and heard the sound and maybe even met the Shabd form of the Master. This demands a high degree of continuous focus.
In Spiritual Gems, Maharaj Sawan Singh says,“It may be said safely that if any earnest student should hold his attention fully upon the given centre for three hours, without wavering, he must go inside.” Three hours of continuous focus is all it takes!
- Have you tried to live the Sant Mat way of life, detaching yourself gradually from the world and attaching your thoughts to the Lord within?
Masters know that we cannot do this all at once, so they recommend a slow and steady approach. One disciple asks Hazur, in The Master Answers, “Supposing I work only six hours a day and spend all the other time in meditation or trying to?” Hazur replies:
I personally feel, if we are regular and punctual in our meditation and we are living in Sant Mat and for Sant Mat, that two hours and thirty minutes or three hours daily are sufficient for meditation.
He says that two and one-half hours are enough if we are living in Sant Mat and for Sant Mat. In other words, we need to live the Sant Mat way of life 24/7 and always keep our spiritual goal in mind.
- Have you kept the names with you most of the time?
Doing simran during the day is a great help in living the Sant Mat way of life. If we are doing simran, we are not thinking about the world. We are fully in the present; we are remembering the Master. In Quest for Light, Hazur advises:
Try to perfect the simran to such an extent that the holy names remain with you all the time, even when you are not conscious of them. This repetition should become as much a part of your life as breathing. When the simran is perfected, light will appear and the sound will become clearer.
If we do simran all day long in addition to during meditation, it will become automatic and will run ceaselessly in the background. If we perfect our simran in this way, we may be able to make contact with the light and sound within. If we allow our attention to roam worldwide then meditation will be more difficult.
- In other words, have you followed the instructions given to you at the time of initiation?
Every question that Hazur has asked in this letter has been about the instructions we were given when our Master initiated us. And they all concern perfecting our meditation practice. Are we doing what we promised to do? Hazur then adds: “If we have not done our part, we cannot complain about the shortcomings of Sant Mat.”
Hazur is not asking these questions to chastize us. He is just saying that if we are not following these instructions, we cannot expect to reach the eye centre and travel within to our true home. We need to do the work that we promised to do. It is very simple, really.
Hazur ends with:
Please remember that all are struggling souls on the path. We all have to strive and do our best and then leave the rest to him. There is no need to feel so disheartened. This is a path of hope and courage. Live within the will of the Lord, do your duty every day and leave the rest to him. He is always with you.
That says it all.