Masters urge us to do the work of meditation, but they also tell us to just relax. This feels like one of those mixed messages of the Saints. Put in effort, but relax – empty the mind, quiet your thoughts – sit there quietly and just relax! Just relax!!
Many of us find it difficult to really relax. Instead we run around frantically, are tense and anxious, always ready to doubt. The mind continually raises doubts, making it really hard to quiet and tame our mind in meditation. This is a big challenge for most of us. As we attempt to take to heart this advice to just relax, we are also admonished to work hard at meditation. This seems both confusing and contradictory.
Maharaj Charan Singh, in Legacy of Love, explains very beautifully that the mystics turn everything upside down in our attitudes toward life and that this is a wonderful miracle.
The greatest miracle of the mystics is that they change the very attitude of our life, the way of our life. They turn everything upside down in our life. That is the greatest miracle the saints come to perform in our lives.1
The saints reinforce the message many, many times that the Master is sent here to help and support us. He is not here to judge us. Every human is imperfect; that’s why we are here in this imperfect world. Being imperfect, we typically don’t like to be told our shortcomings. That could be much too discouraging! The Master is not here to discourage or to embarrass us. In fact, he might turn an exchange into a joke rather than run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. Masters have a keen sense of responding with humor to put us at ease, as well as being serious and not taking anyone’s question or concerns lightly. Their love is boundless and is demonstrated in so many ways. Such unconditional love gives us a feeling of security and thankfulness that we have such a kind Master.
Spending time with a Master is a unique experience. He helps us understand this spiritual path and instills in us the desire to go home. We see love in action when we are with the Master. We see how he helps and guides us. How he treats everyone. It doesn’t matter to him whether someone is rich or poor, educated or not, white or black. What matters is love. Why else would a Master devote his life to the seva he has been given – to bring home those marked souls? Saints reach out to everyone. Before the covid-19 pandemic, both Baba Ji and Hazur Maharaj ji traveled the world to meet their disciples. Such travel is rigorous and demanding, so why do they do it? Out of love and concern for the sangat and their disciples. He is ever encouraging and wants us all to succeed. He wants us to have a safe journey home – to the Lord.
More recently the Guru has reached out to us in these times of turmoil through the Internet – specifically, the official RSSB websites and YouTube channels. Even though the Master previously disavowed the use of media to communicate the spiritual message, he relented in these troubled times and now speaks to us through essays and satsangs on the website, and question-answer discussions and satsangs on YouTube. A year ago this would have been unimaginable. But these days the world has been turned upside down.
These uncertain times make it clear that none of us has much time in this world. Death is around the corner and no one can escape it. To think that we have unlimited time here is a deception of the mind. That and other deceptions allow our attention to wander in this world, until we realize that the only way to escape the illusion of everything here and to attain real happiness is to devote ourselves to the Lord. The only way to be in touch with the Lord is to turn our attention inward through meditation. Everything outside will eventually fade. Only our effort to reach the Lord inside will reveal our eternal treasure.
On some level we know being here in this human body is very temporary and something much more beautiful and profound awaits us. The Master is with us, always guiding us in this life. Sometimes we think we have to be with the physical form to feel this, yet Hazur says in Legacy of Love that is not the case.
Some people being far away may be nearer to the Master than people nearer to him. This ‘nearness’ and ‘far away’ doesn’t make any difference at all. How much love people have in their heart, that makes them near or far away – it is not the physical nearness that matters.2
Saints give us everything we need to succeed on this spiritual path. Perhaps that’s why they urge us to just relax. When we relax into our simran, eventually the sound will follow. In doing so, then everything can come in its own natural way. Even the effort we put in can be done in a relaxed manner without tension or expectation.
The need for effort has been explained using an analogy of disciples who are swimming in the ocean close to the shore, while the Master is sitting in a boat farther away. The Master tells the disciples to swim to the shore to save themselves. But instead, the disciples want to swim to the boat, to the Master. The Master keeps explaining that the shore is closer and safer, so they should just swim to the shore. The Master might even joke that he will use his oar to push the disciples away if they try swimming to his boat. The point of this analogy is very clear and simple. We have to “swim” in the way the Master instructs us. He teaches us that our destination is the “shore, the inner shabd. The outer Master is not the destination but the means to help us reach our destination. We do that by turning our attention inward through meditation.
Saints tell us they will do everything. But we are reminded, prodded, and cajoled that it’s our responsibility to put in effort. In doing so, we should not labor under the illusion that we can control the results, nor should we expect any progress just because we put in effort. In fact, expectations are a hindrance in meditation. But if we can let go of our desire for control and subdue any expectations we may have for results from meditation, then we open ourselves to the Lord’s love and His helping hand.
Masters are very clear that the one action they want most from us is sincere effort in our meditation. If we relax, then we can begin to surrender to his will and let him take over. Isn’t that what we committed to when we asked for initiation? We acknowledged that we needed help. When we learn to trust and let go, then the reality that is our true self can come to the surface. Masters explain that love is at our core. It comes naturally. It’s there in everyone. When we let go we will see that love is the essence of our being and frees us from everything else in this world.
In Sant Mat we are told there are no limits. Anything is possible. So, if in spirituality there are no limitations, then there are only opportunities – the opportunity to relax, the opportunity to let go, and the opportunity to let the Lord allow us to see the light and hear the sound.
The Master wants us to succeed. Our job is simple – show up, make the effort to sit in meditation and appreciate everything that the Lord does for us. Then we can just relax into the meditation and trust him to do the rest to bring us home to the Lord. He’s waiting for us. Just Relax.
- From recording of question & answer session, March 4, 1983
- From recording of question & answer session, October 14, 1987