Our Mind Is Our Obstacle
Of all the obstacles that can trip us up on our path to spirituality, the greatest is our own mind – because its tendency is constantly downward and outward, seeking worldly pleasures through the senses. So, while all our attention and energy remain absorbed in seeking and indulging in worldly pleasures, this leaves no room for our attention to be focused on our soul and its awakening.
To refer to the mind as an obstacle or enemy is an understatement that underestimates the power of the mind and how formidable it is. To have a glimpse of its power, we have to understand that our soul, that is, our real self or our true essence, is controlled by the mind to such an extent that the soul’s existence is for all intents and purposes obliterated. This means that the soul isn’t acknowledged and, therefore, in our own sense of reality it doesn’t exist.
The mind is in total control, and effectively, through controlling all our thoughts, determines what we do and how we see and experience everything. This means that our mind creates all our perceptions and perspectives and controls all our experiences. So, our mind creates our own reality, which is often different from what others experience.
What does it mean for us to have our mind in control? Simplistically, it means that our mind makes all our choices and decisions. This leads to our desire to satisfy all of our senses and sensual desires, which in turn, means our attention is always externally focused – making it virtually impossible to take our attention within. Does this mean that we are doomed to failure? On the surface it would appear to be so. But this would only be correct if we didn’t have a more powerful antidote or remedy.
The antidote we are given is a unique form of meditation, which is designed to use the attributes of the mind to gradually tame it and bring it under the control of the soul. The emphasis here is on gradually! When one considers that we’ve been in the creation since it began millions of years ago, and our mind has, for these millions of years, been driving our attention outward into the creation, it would be unreasonable to expect an overnight reversal of the mind’s inclination or behaviour. The meditation technique uses the attributes of the mind to seek a pleasure that is better than the sensual pleasures, so that the mind gradually reverses its focus from outward to inward.
So, in effect, we do not fight the enemy, we merely win the enemy over through giving it what it wants and enjoys – pleasure. But the pleasure is inward; experience of the Shabd, mesmerizes the mind and keeps its attention inward instead of outward.
We have embarked on a journey of transformation – we are transitioning from being disciples of the mind to becoming disciples of spirituality and the Master. This means we have made a conscious decision to leave one master and adopt a new Master – the Shabd Master. Any transition from one master to another is no easy matter and not as simple as flicking a switch.
Although we were not previously conscious that we were disciples of the mind, we unconsciously followed the mind and its dictates for millions of years. The mind, having been our master for so long, is not going to let its old faithful disciple switch allegiance so easily,
Fortunately for us, there is an incentive for the mind in this transition. Just as the soul is restless in this world and wants to escape it, so too, the mind is also restless. All the pleasures it seeks here are so temporary and short-lived that it has to constantly seek new pleasures to be happy. Instead of depriving the mind of the pleasures it seeks, we offer the mind the better, permanent pleasure of the Shabd. With this incentive, the mind can be conquered. But to do this, we have to take our attention to the eye centre and hold it there, so that the mind can taste the better pleasure that lies within.
However, to achieve this monumental change, we have to put in the effort. Meagre effort will result in meagre change and significant effort will result in significant change. The choice is ours.
Of course, any effort we put in towards avoiding indulgence in sensual pleasures will also contribute greatly to our goal. It would be futile if, on the one hand we try to turn the mind inward with meditation and on the other hand, we indulge our senses and keep our attention outward. This is perhaps one area we need to examine if we feel we are not making any noticeable progress in our meditation. Are we taking several steps back for every step we take forward? Only we know the answer to this question.
When we learn of the time, attention and devotion the spiritual Masters have dedicated to achieve their goal, what should we expect to achieve with the efforts we are currently putting in? Unfortunately, we are oblivious of what lies within us and who we truly are. Due to our ignorance of what our soul is and of the spiritual wealth that lies within us, we assume we are this body and nothing more – because presently that is all we can perceive.
Spirituality is an awakening. It teaches us that we are more than the body and how we can realize the soul. What an illusion it is to think we are one thing – the body – when we are indeed something totally different – the soul.
Soul is within each one of us and therefore, to realize the soul, nothing has to be implanted within us or given to us. It’s similar to love. No one puts love into us or teaches us to love. Love is always within us, and only when we learn to give love will it be awakened or realized by us. Hazur Maharaj Ji said that love is the only thing that cannot diminish when we give it. The more we give love, the more it grows.
Since we don’t know that we are the soul, neither do we know how to access or realize the soul. We therefore need a spiritual Master to show us how to awaken our realization of who we are and how to develop a relationship with God.
The Master explains to us that our attention is currently dissipated through the senses into the world, and the only way to withdraw our attention from the world and take it to the eye centre is through Shabd meditation. This unique meditation is taught to us by the Master. It is designed to gather all our scattered attention from throughout the body and the senses and gradually focus it and concentrate it at the eye centre – which is our responsibility. The Master, who is one with the Shabd, will then draw the soul and mind inwards and upwards through the astral and causal regions.
If we are truly serious about spirituality, we have to make the mind our greatest ally, and we can do this only through Shabd meditation.
Great Master said:
The mind is wayward. It cannot be curbed and brought under control except through hard labour.… The disciple who works hard at his meditation, earns the special grace of the Master, who is always ready to help him.
Regularity and punctuality in meditation should be adopted by every student of this science. Keep sitting in meditation, even if you fail to achieve concentration. This is the remedy for all your ills. Ceaseless effort will be crowned with success; if not today, a few days later.