Now Is the Time
The moment we are born the clock starts ticking. No matter which country we are from, whether we are rich or poor, healthy or sick – sooner or later, the clock will stop and death will come for us all.
It is not easy to accept death. Moreover, thinking about it can be quite depressing. This does not mean we should live with a pessimistic attitude or lose all hope because we know we are eventually going to die. In fact, keeping our mortality at the forefront of our mind is a good way to maintain an attitude of gratitude. By accepting the reality of death, our lives become purposeful and we focus our energy on things that truly matter.
Nowadays, it is often difficult to be spiritually inclined, especially because there are so many distractions vying for our attention, including the pressures of work and our day-to-day commitments. The Sant Mat Masters, throughout the ages, have taught the method of ‘dying daily’ through the practice of meditation. They emphasize the importance of practising every day alongside our worldly duties because it is only through consistent meditation that we can conquer death.
Conquering death through daily meditation involves submitting ourselves to the will of the Lord. It helps us develop the understanding that this life is a dream; that we are living in an illusory world and that we should aspire to something permanent and everlasting.
Through meditation, we become attached to the sublime pull of the Shabd, the primary life force that holds the universe together. The Shabd is present in all life forms and manifests itself throughout the entire creation. Becoming attached to the Shabd through meditation is to become aware of our true nature. We are not limited to the perishable flesh and bones of our physical body – we are soul, which is immortal. The goal of human life is to transcend our limited existence and realize that we are something much greater than this physical body.
Just as a pot filled with mud remains sunk in water and rises to the surface as soon as the mud is washed away, so also the soul, freed from the mud of karmas, rises at once to the higher regions….
Just as rising up is the very nature of the flame, so also is rising upward the innate nature of the soul. Therefore, it ascends at once to the higher regions as soon as it is freed.
The Essence of Jainism
The Shabd is always present in all of us, calling us back just as a magnet attracts a needle. The soul is of the same essence as the Shabd, so it is its nature to be drawn to it, its source. It is an intuitive tendency of the soul to be drawn to the Shabd. We might believe that we need to hear the Sound or see something in meditation to experience its bliss. But the Masters tell us that this is not the case. The Shabd is constantly pulling us and purifying us whether we are aware of it or not. Most of us are not aware of the Shabd due to the heavy load of karmas tying us down to this creation. Through the constant practice of meditation, as we gradually lighten our load, the Shabd pulls us upward until we eventually merge with it. The more receptive we become to this pull, the more prepared and fearless we become in the face of the unknown.
Through simran (repetition), and bhajan (listening to the divine Sound), we become saturated with the Shabd’s purifying power and experience the intensity of God’s grace. We come to understand that there was never any separation and we were always a part of the One. The process of dying while living allows the Shabd to cleanse the mind every single day. Slowly and surely, we start to realize through our daily practice that our true self is the immortal soul and not the perishable body. Thus, every moment spent trying to contact the Shabd is time well-spent.
So seize the moment – carpe diem! The moment is now. The only time that we have is the present, because anything can happen tomorrow.
Let us stop living in a state of denial, letting the years go by while we neglect our spiritual practice. As we grow older, our responsibilities also increase and it becomes harder to set aside time to meditate. It is a fallacy to think that we will have time when we retire. By then our bodies will give way and we will be filled with regret. We will wish that we had given time to our spiritual practice when we were younger. So let us not delay any further. Even if our efforts seem to yield no progress, every attempt is accepted in the court of the Lord. With sincerity, persistence and constant practice, the grace of the Master will take us across this ocean of existence back to our true home.