Where There’s a Will There’s a Way
Throughout our lives we will have been faced by tasks or challenges that may well have seemed impossible. One might not actually remember learning to crawl, sit, stand up, walk, and eventually run, but none of those skills was learned without a struggle. We persevered. We fell. We stood up and tried again.
Parents and teachers have constantly asked us to stretch ourselves. They have asked us to set our minds to the task and push through the difficulties. And if we ever threw in the towel and said, “I can’t do this!” then the reply might have been, “Yes, you can. Because where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Over the years we came to understand that we could trust our parents and our teachers. They would never ask us to do something that was beyond our capabilities. No one wants a child to fail at anything. So a difficult task would be explained, demonstrated, and then handed over to us to get on with.
Now we have moved on from those early years and simple tasks. Along the way we have all mastered many extremely complicated activities. We learned from our childhood experiences and have constantly reaffirmed for ourselves that where there’s a will, there is indeed a way. The path of Sant Mat is no different.
When we were initiated by our Master, we were asked to make four promises – to become strict lacto-vegetarians; to avoid alcohol, recreational drugs and tobacco products; to lead a moral life, and to meditate for a minimum of two and a half hours every day. For most of us the first three vows have been relatively easy to fulfill. However, meditation and efforts to keep simran going throughout the day may well have caused us to say: “I can’t.” Many, many times we’ve needed to remember that where there’s a will, there is indeed a way.
For some reason exercising our will in this area of our lives seems to be more difficult than in others. People have exercised their will to learn to play the violin, fly an aeroplane or become rocket scientists – but when it comes to meditation, the mind is extraordinarily wily and slips out of our grasp very easily.
But meditation is definitely an area where the truism applies. The Masters tell us that, seen from a higher perspective, we have virtually no free will at all, given our karmas and conditioning. But they are adamant in insisting that we have a modicum of limited free will.
Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
We have no free will as far as our destiny is concerned. Whatever seeds you have sown in the past have become your destiny now. You have to reap the harvest of the seeds which you have sown. But as to the seeds you are to sow now, you have limited free will to sow these seeds. Whether to sow or not, you have that choice.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. 1
The Masters all say that man has the faculty of discrimination, which separates us from animals, birds, insects and plants. This sense of discrimination allows us to exercise our will, to choose one thought, word or deed, over another. If we have a goal that really matters to us, then surely, it makes sense to choose to move towards our objective rather than away from it.
Baba Ji tells us over and over again that we must safeguard our futures. The past is behind us. It is water under the bridge that can never be brought back again. It is the future we must be concerned with now. It must be protected with every breath we have.
We must exercise that limited free will we have, to choose to be good human beings and to choose thoughts, words and actions that will take us towards our Master’s outstretched hand and not away from it. He wants us to accept responsibility for our present actions. If we do this well, in accordance with his wishes, then the results of our actions will be the Lord’s responsibility. All he wants is sincere, constant, and consistent effort. Sitting back and saying “I can’t” is just not an option.
In the book Living Meditation we read:
If we believe that Master will wave a magic wand and automatically give us liberation after death, we are wrong. If we believe that just by attending initiation or by having his physical darshan, without doing our meditation, he will give us liberation after death, we are also sadly mistaken.
The Masters all tell us that as far as meditation is concerned, there is no such word as “can’t.” Maybe “won’t,”but not “can’t.” They say that at the time of initiation we are given all the grace we need to get the job done and that nothing justifies us in saying that we can’t do it. We have to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and through positive choices and actions get on with the job.
In our hearts we all know that we appear to make choices throughout each day. How much of this is karma or destiny we have no way of knowing. But we appear to act independently and have been happy enough with this concept since childhood. So why change now? With the welfare of our soul on the line, now is the time for positive and grateful actions that reflect our choice to follow our Master in every single aspect of our lives whenever and however possible.
Of course, we are only human and therefore some failures are inevitable. We are not perfect yet. So stumbling and falling can be expected. The important thing is getting up and trying again. This, apparently, is what our limited free will can enable us to do. The results may not be in our hands, but our efforts are.
It doesn’t matter how often the mind prefers to reminisce or daydream. All that matters is that we notice and try to restart that simran, both during the day and during our meditation time. Simran is the tool our Master has given us to prune away the rubbish in our minds and clear the pathway for growth in the right direction. There is never any justification for not trying.
Impatience, despair and frustration are the mind’s tools to distract us. We don’t have to fall for its tricks. We have enough free will, enough discrimination to recognize its games for what they are – the desperate efforts of a defeated foe. In the long run, with our Master on our side, victory is assured. In a recent question and answer session Baba Ji said what all other Masters have said: There are no failures in Sant Mat.
These are words to encourage greater effort, not justify laziness. It is true that the Lord sends the Master to initiate certain marked souls whom he wishes to return home. It is true that nothing can ever stand in the way of the Lord’s will. But it is equally true that our effort and struggle are part of the equation and that they please him.
We will get there eventually. Every day Master gives us countless chances to choose to be good human beings who exercise their sense of discrimination and move in his direction. Choosing to do our simran is us reaching out for his hand. Deliberately choosing simran in the face of great opposition from the mind is saying: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”