Formula for Success
How can we win this battle with the mind? When we look at the way the most successful people in the world operate, often, the principles they use resemble what the Masters tell us to do. The only difference is that successful people use them for worldly gain, while the Masters want us to use them for spiritual benefit. Let’s review a simple three-step process used for success in the world.
First, focus on right now. As human beings, we tend to think deeply about the past and the future. But being stuck thinking about the past or overly concerned about the future tends to paralyze any progress we might make today. Focusing on the present also is similar to the Master’s advice. Our intelligence, our thinking mind, can help or hinder us. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh tells us:
Intellect will not take you to the destination, but it can become a hindrance in your way to following the path. Ultimately, faith and practice – not intellect – will take you to your destination. But intellect can become our friend if we satisfy it…. And once the intellect is satisfied, that intellect will be our best friend, our best guide. Then nobody can shake us.
We can’t do anything about yesterday, and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Focus on today because that’s all we’ve got. The Masters even go one step further. They tell us to focus on this moment, right now. If we close our eyes, we are “inside.” It is natural. All we have to do is keep our attention in the darkness and do simran, repeating the five holy names given to us at initiation. Being behind the eyes is not a place in the future or the past. It is being present in this very moment.
The second step for success is to eliminate the clutter in our lives. We all have thoughts that come and go that aren’t necessarily related to the task at hand. This mental clutter can cause an internal train wreck in our minds and often derails our best intentions. Get rid of the clutter. Block it out, no matter what you have to do. Ask yourself, “Are these thoughts relevant to what I have to do right now?” If the answer is no, chase them out of your head with simran. Far too often, we are consumed with irrelevant thoughts. The Masters often tell us to live a simple life, giving our attention only to important things.
For spirituality, we need to be focused. Our life and thoughts should revolve around the Master and our meditation. Whatever we do in our daily activities should be arranged so that it helps us at the time of meditation. We should consciously prepare for meditation by not letting our thoughts and actions go so astray that we become lost in the senses and worldly pursuits. That, in turn, makes it difficult for us to concentrate and attend to meditation.
We have to make conscious efforts to improve our meditation. We have to take practical steps to be attentive at the time we sit. Then we will be prepared and ready to receive the gifts he wishes to shower on us. All of us say out loud that we want to be with the Lord, that we never want to be separated from him. But how many of us live our life that way?
Many of our thoughts are for worldly gain, fame, and rewards, and are not aligned with our spiritual goal. Rather than be ashamed or feel bad about these tendencies, we can use this awareness to gradually reshape and realign our thoughts and actions in ways that can help us move forward.
Otherwise, we will continue to waste our time on unworthy things or endeavors. The Masters don’t tell us not to do worldly things. Rather, they tell us not to give worldly things so much importance that we will be distracted from our spiritual pursuits.
Third in the formula for success is not to be attached to outcomes. Attachment to outcomes is among the common themes we hear when initiates complain about not making any progress. The Masters often tell us that we actually are making progress, but often we’re not aware of it. The Masters also tell us that progress is not in our hands, and that the only thing we can do is sit in meditation and do our simran, looking into the darkness and listening to whatever sounds we may hear. Yet still, we should sit and listen while looking into the darkness. We should never be disheartened by a seeming lack of results, as the Master assures us there are no failures in Sant Mat. In any case, what counts in meditation is love, not progress. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
You see, we should not do our meditation on a calculated basis. We are so fond of getting wages for anything we do. We say, I have done simran for so long, what advantage will I get? Love never demands any wages. Love itself is an effect of wages. The Lord has given you that love to love him. What more wages could one demand from the Lord? A lover doesn’t demand any wages at all. He just wants to love. But we hardly sit in meditation and our sole aim is: How much have I been able to gain, how many karmas have I been able to wash today? You wash nothing; if that is the calculation, you wash nothing. When that love comes, you don’t want any reward for your wages.
You see, you don’t have to ask the Father at all. You have only to love him.… If you become a loving son, he’ll give you more than you need.
We have a choice to make. We can spend our time chasing worldly goals that will vanish and give us no lasting pleasure, or we can seek immeasurable peace and bliss. We can strive to live up to the vows we took at initiation and lean in to experience the joy and happiness that the Master offers us.
Many forces pull us away from the Lord. To overcome those forces, we have to put our entire focus on turning inward. We need to do that now and take advantage of the present moment. Ultimately, only one thing pulls us back to the Lord: love, the most powerful force in the universe. Don’t wait – seize the moment.