The Power of the Words
Some time ago the BBC ran a programme about the healing power of mantras. It gave the findings of researchers who concluded that, with our modern lifestyle, we’ve created a psychological environment that’s not good for us. We’re constantly reacting to outside pressures that cause us stress, or we’re trying to live up to expectations of others or even ourselves. And when that’s not possible, we become angry or anxious and depressed.
During their research, two women studied the brain activity of a group of people who were saying a mantra (any kind of mantra), and found that this was making them calm and reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
We may find parallels here to our own practice of our five words of simran given to us by our Master. What may not be obvious though – especially if our own simran is shaky and sporadic – is the potential for good that comes with the repetition of those five words.
No matter how long we’ve been on the path, it’s surprising how many of us battle to keep our simran running, not just during meditation, but during the whole day. We do repeat it whenever we remember, but often that’s because we feel it’s our duty. If we haven’t made it a habit, we often forget. And then we miss the benefits our simran brings.
The study found that on average the mind produces 60,000 thoughts a day. As we know, it’s well-nigh impossible for us to stop our minds from thinking. But, the study found, by repeating a mantra it does become possible, at least for that time.
Now, let’s relate this to our own simran. Why is there such emphasis on repeating our words? Originally, the soul was one with its Creator, but then it was sent down into lower regions. Eventually it had to take on the company of mind. The Masters tell us it became knotted together with the mind.
We’re told that in this partnership of the mind and the soul, the mind is initially the stronger of the two. At this time, the mind has made the soul subservient to it – even though it draws its power from the soul. We are also told that we have to facilitate the soul reclaiming its power back from the mind. That’s a really big ask.
However, when we’re initiated by a true Master, he gives us a weapon to overcome the domination of the mind. That weapon is our simran. And what it has to do is bring the mind in check and direct the attention inward to the eye centre. That’s our duty for this lifetime.
In the first volume of Spiritual Perspectives Hazur Maharaj Ji answers questions about the mind. He makes it clear that at our level, the mind is totally in control. And if the soul is going to make any headway in its journey towards its true home, it’s got to work through the mind.
Somebody asks Hazur Maharaj Ji, “As I walk through this world and live from day to day, that’s mind?” “That is mind,” Maharaj Ji says, “100 percent mind.”
But what about when we’re meditating? The questioner asks if it’s mind or soul that gives us the will to sit to meditate. “Mind,” Maharaj Ji says. The person then asks, “So there is actually no action in this world from the soul?” “No,” Maharaj Ji says, “No.”
In a way this is quite frightening. If the soul is so totally under the sway of the mind, how is it supposed to fight the mind – if even our very efforts to meditate are under the control of the mind?
Then Maharaj Ji tells this person that meditation means that we are training our mind to go inward and upward, withdrawing it from outside and bringing it back to the eye centre. And of course, the mind is going to fight us. What chance do we have of winning this David-versus-Goliath battle?
Ah, but this is where our simran comes in. Whenever we manage to say our words with attention, for that little time our mind is in check. And even in our meditation – which our mind is allowing us to do – if we can keep our attention in our simran, for that time we are slowly training our mind to turn inward.
But, of course, training the mind to turn inward means working to hold the attention at the eye centre. Letting the mind flit around while we try to get in the odd round of simran is not going to get us very far. So, how to achieve this focused attention? The author of Living Meditation tells us:
The first step in meditation is to place simran at the eye centre. It takes a deliberate act to extract our mind from its involvement with its thoughts. We have to take our mind away from its thinking and consciously contain it in simran.
This deliberate effort to focus the mind in its repetition of the words is important. We have to do it right from the start of our meditation. And come to think of it, it’s not difficult to keep our focus for one round of simran, and then focus on the next, and on the next. It also helps to focus on each individual word. The moment we start rattling off the words mechanically, it leaves the mind free to go back to its thoughts.
Maharaj Jagat Singh had this to say about the way we think: “Satsangis should form the habit of ‛thinking’ – clear thinking.” And it’s true – most of the time we just act, without stopping to think about what we’re doing. So, we should keep a watch on the mind. We may be shocked to realize that most of the time it’s mulling over trivialities. Or else it’s worrying about something.
We all worry. And perhaps, some time or another, we may have had the following kind of experience. We were confronted with a problem that seemed so huge we didn’t know what to do about it. In desperation we started saying our words, out of a real need for our Master’s help. And then, suddenly we felt calm.
And in that moment we saw that these were not just unfamiliar words. They really did have power. Let’s remind ourselves of what Great Master revealed about simran. This is from the first volume of Philosophy of the Masters: “The names that a Master imparts… are also energy-charged and help the transference of spiritual energy to the disciple.”
In that conversation recorded in Spiritual Perspectives that we looked at earlier, Hazur Maharaj Ji says something interesting. He’d been saying that everything that we do at this level is through the mind. And the questioner then asks: “So the mind, which sometimes hates to sit in meditation, is forcing itself to sit in meditation?” “That’s mind,” says Maharaj Ji. “The mind also is not happy in this creation. The mind also…becomes miserable after some time in the sensual pleasures. It also wants more peace, more happiness.”
This is a real revelation: that the mind is unhappy here and wants to be free of its enslavement to the senses. And if it can find better happiness by leaving this world of misery, it will start to turn inward at the eye centre.
But this is just the start of the inner journey. The simran still needs to continue. It needs to reach a point of concentration that will reveal the beautiful Radiant Form of the Master himself. It will also bring the soul to an awareness of its true spiritual identity. Even after the attention has entered the eye centre, the simran should continue.
Baba Jaimal Singh, the Guru of Hazur Maharaj Sawan Singh, urged his disciple to keep doing his simran. Baba Jaimal Singh said that simran has a power of its own and through simran we are able to make contact with the Shabd. And in doing so, it can make the soul aware of the divine presence within. He wrote in a letter:
In simran at least there is no problem, my son, so keep doing it. Simran’s current links up with the Dhun [the Sound], and the current of the Dhun links one with the Shabd – and Shabd is the very essence of the Anami Lord himself.
It’s Shabd that will carry the soul into the presence of the Lord himself, but it’s our all-important simran that has to bring us to the Shabd.