I Am Ready
Scenario: Our boss pops into our office to remind us of an upcoming presentation we have to make to clients. The words “I’ll be ready” slip easily off our tongues, even though we have barely started the preparation. We have been dealing with all the unexpected issues that fill our lives: an emergency visit to the dentist, a trip to pick our kids up early because of an unscheduled teachers’ meeting, and other critical things that need our immediate attention.
Now the deadline for the presentation – with the added stress of an upcoming visit to our home by out-of-town guests – is only days away, but “it’s okay,” we say to ourselves. We work well under pressure. So we pull a couple of all-nighters, and we get it done. Maybe not our best work, but we are ready. We give our presentation and we greet our guests into our not-quite-as-tidy-as-we-would like-it home, heaving a sigh of relief that once again we dodged the bullet. We were ready on time – barely.
Is this how we manage our meditation? Do we keep putting it off by telling ourselves it’s okay because we have plenty of time? “Don’t worry, Master, I will be ready when my deadline comes.” Are we not thinking? “Dead” line means “dead.” End of life.
The problem with this analogy is that the way we manage our lives – procrastinating but still squeaking through – doesn’t work for treading on our spiritual path. It doesn’t work at all for meditation. We have no idea when our deadline will be. Years from now? Or months, weeks, days or hours? Perhaps minutes, seconds, breaths? We cannot cram for the final examination in Sant Mat. If we have not been doing our meditation all along, it will be too late when the doctor says we have only a few months to live; too late when the axe falls on our silver cord, and our life is cut short. “I will be ready” is meaningless without the cumulative effect of daily meditation over time.
How long ago were we given the assignment for the work project? A few weeks? How long have we been expecting that visit from our out-of-town friends? A few months? How long ago were we given our initiation? Whether only a short time ago or longer – twenty, forty, fifty years – we need to pace ourselves.
Doesn’t our Master tell us just that? “Pace yourself.” Often, he’s talking about the mundane aspects of our lives. We typically find time for whatever needs to be done in our worldly life. We eat every day, so we find time to do grocery shopping; we put the time aside to cook. Our cardiologist tells us that if we don’t lose weight and exercise, we will die sooner than later. So we take long walks, work out, change our diet, and get a little healthier every day. But do we think about applying this advice to our meditation?
Have we been pacing ourselves by doing our meditation regularly every day? Or are we planning to do intensive meditation at the last moment, just before we die? How is that going to help? Can we reach the eye centre after a few days of practice? If that were true, all initiates would be inside right now, enjoying the bliss of merging in the Shabd, the Creator within us. If we waste our lives, we can’t make that up at death. It will be too late. If we don’t pace ourselves, we won’t be able to say, “I am ready, Master.”
Sant Tukaram warns:
Do your meditation, for the end is drawing nigh.
Ignore all the useless words around you
And devote yourself only to the Lord’s Word.
Tukaram says that the end of our life is near. He advises us to pay no attention to the “useless words” around us – to the people, places, and things that tie us to the creation. They are useless because they distract us from our goal of reaching the eye centre and making contact with the inner Word, the Shabd. We must devote ourselves to the inner spiritual path now. Devote ourselves to our meditation – our bhajan and simran – every day. Do our simran during the day, because it is the tool our Master has given us to still the mind – even during the day – and reach the eye centre. Simran is our call to the Master, our call for his support 24/7. Simran is our refuge from the mind. Simran helps us to strengthen our will. It helps us to stay firm in making the right choices during the day that will support our meditation.
Maharaj Charan Singh points out that we are vulnerable to temptations only when we are scattered away from the eye centre: he says, simran “ keeps you concentrated at the eye centre; it keeps your thoughts at the eye centre.” So let’s turn to our simran as we navigate this world. Simran is an action we can take.
Doing simran can help us not to deviate from our shopping list when we wander through a grocery store. Do we actually need three gallons of ice cream, even if it is on sale? Indulging our senses with ice cream in excess does not support the health of our body, the vehicle for our meditation. Instead, turn to simran and move on.
Simran is how we pace ourselves. If we want to be ready for the deadline of all deadlines at the end of our lives, we can pace ourselves and prepare daily by turning to our simran any time of the day when our minds are not occupied.
Kabir Sahib says in Kabir, the Weaver of God’s Name:
Day and night, over and again,
Repeat, repeat his Name.…
While sleeping or awake, relish,
Relish the ambrosia of simran.…
Without it you’ll not find freedom.
Let us relish our simran and do it with joy. Do it because it makes us happy. Do it because it takes us within. Do it until we reach the eye centre and go within to the waiting arms of the Shabd Master. That’s the goal, that’s the ideal, but we have to work up to it because this is a life-long path. That means every day we pace ourselves, do our meditation, do our simran and bhajan so that when our final deadline comes, we can say with confidence, “I am ready, Master.”