Goldilocks Go Home
Just doing our meditation, punctually sitting for the required time each day, whether we feel like it or not, is very important. Beyond that, it’s even better if we can approach meditation with a positive attitude. Feeling disappointed about one’s apparent lack of progress is not helpful and spoils this positivity. As Maharaj Charan Singh advises a seeker in Light on Sant Mat:
Please do not mind the ups and downs which are almost unavoidable but carry on with faith and confidence. It is not for us to judge the progress. Ours is to do our duty faithfully and leave the rest to the Master. The soldier’s duty is to fight and to obey the commands, it is for the generals to plan the strategy and evaluate results. If we but do our duty faithfully and carry out the instructions we received at the time of initiation, we have nothing to worry about. The Master will do the rest.
Please keep on with your bhajan and simran, and try to be regular. Do some simran before retiring to bed and read Sant Mat books when you get time, but never strain yourself.
The Master points out an elementary truth about life: ups and downs are unavoidable. Yet, strangely, the most straightforward insights are often the hardest to accept. Our experience of meditation varies. Sometimes we find it comparatively easy to concentrate, but there are days when our mind is so scattered that it’s painful to sit still for even half an hour. Meditation has ups and downs because our life goes through ups and downs. The mind and emotions, driven by karma, create a see-saw effect. This is the nature of the mind – it’s constantly reacting. Hazur Maharaj Ji’s letter advises us to step back and to “carry on with faith and confidence,” even though our mind is experiencing turbulence.
Hazur Maharaj Ji also counsels us not to judge our inner progress, a maxim which is the opposite of the constant judgements we make in our daily lives. This habit begins as infants, as soon as we start learning a language. For example, when we look at an object and refer to it as a “chair”, it is after our brain has compared it with all other possible objects and concluded that it does indeed meet the necessary criteria. And immediately on reaching this determination, we probably pass judgment as to other aspects of the chair, such as its design or how comfortable it may be.
Remember the nursery story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”? Straying into the home of the three bears, the little girl started testing the furniture, the breakfast porridge and the beds! The first chair was “too high,” the porridge “too hot” and the bed “too hard,” while the next was “too low,” “too cold” and “too soft.” She assessed each item until she found what was “just right.”
In many ways, we are like Goldilocks – constantly comparing and judging. Our mind has an idea of what an ideal meditation session should be like (“just right”), and when our practice falls short of this, we become perturbed. However, the Master imparts a simple yet profound insight by encouraging us to stop judging ourselves. Upon initiation, our Goldilocks- self should cease to be. We must send her home or, in other words, we must discard our deeply ingrained habit of judging, assessing or rating our performance.
In addition to not judging our meditation, masters encourage us to refrain from judging others. For instance, in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Jesus Christ advises his disciples to “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Jesus reminds his followers not to be quick to judge others; otherwise, we risk becoming involved in a circle of karma and invite judgement on ourselves. Suppose we let go of this acquired tendency of the mind. Then, instead of feeling disturbed by ideas of good or bad, of what should or shouldn’t be, we would be more accepting.
We can apply the principle of non-judgment to our own outward lives as well. Hazur Maharaji writes, “Ours is to do our duty faithfully and leave the results to the Master. The soldier’s duty is to fight and obey the commands.” So, if we accept that passing judgement on other people is not conducive to spirituality, we shouldn’t judge our own lot either. If we have been given seva, we should be confident that it is helpful in one way or another. It’s not for us to judge how beneficial it is or whether it’s more or less valuable than the seva somebody else does. If we think the seva could be organized better, we can make suggestions, but it’s up to those in charge whether they take these forward. If they don’t, it’s okay because our part is to do what we are given, just as a soldier does his duty and leaves the rest to his general or the officer nominated by the general. Even if the soldier believes the general’s officer is at fault, that’s for the general to look after. If we can learn to judge less in our daily life, our minds will be calmer when we come to sit in meditation.
The well-known story of Bhai Bela illustrates the idea of unquestioning acceptance. This simple man was a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh and responsible for looking after the Master’s horse. As Bhai Bela was uneducated, Guru Gobind Singh used to give him a few sentences to repeat each day to improve his command of language. One day, the Guru was in a great hurry to reach the battlefield; Bela, not understanding the crisis, asked for his day’s lesson as usual. The Guru cried out as he mounted his horse, “O Bhai Bela, this is neither the time nor the place!” The simple-minded Bela mistakenly thought that this was his sentence for the day and repeated it constantly whilst going about his duties. The other disciples were highly amused. So when Guru Gobind Singh returned from the battlefield in the evening, they hilariously told him what had happened.
However, the Guru was touched by Bela’s simplicity and devotion. Without questioning what his Master had said, Bhai Bela had repeated the phrase as best he could. Guru Gobind Singh said, “If he has repeated that this is neither the time nor the place, he will indeed be without time and place.” And with his spiritual power, the Guru took Bhai Bela’s soul up to experience that which is beyond reckoning. This is the value that the saints put upon the ability to let the mind go and focus unquestioningly on the Master’s instructions.
Finding such simplicity is not the work of days or months, but often many years. Meditation is the key, and this is why the Master writes, “Please keep on with your bhajan and simran and try to be regular.” If the mind is to be de-cluttered, we need the strength of our daily meditation session to keep the momentum going. But he also advises, “never strain yourself.” Attending to meditation every day will cease to be a struggle and become – more reliably – a pleasure if we can relax in our daily life. As Baba Ji often reminds us, there’s really nothing to be anxious about. Everything is running according to the Lord’s will. As Goldilocks would have acknowledged, “It’s just right.”