The word “sincerity” or “sincere” pops up a lot in the Sant Mat literature. Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh often said that we should do our meditation with devotion and sincerity. What does it mean to be sincere in our meditation?
The dictionary defines sincerity as honesty of mind and also freedom from hypocrisy. Some words that mean the same thing or are related are “wholehearted,” “heartfelt,” and “unfeigned.” The dictionary says that “heartfelt” implies “depth of feeling” and defines “wholehearted” as “earnest devotion without reservation or misgiving.”
So, to do our meditation with sincerity, to approach the teachings of the saints with sincerity, is to embark on our spiritual journey with “earnest devotion without reservation or misgiving.” In other words, we have to be committed, we have to have “honesty of mind.”
Maharaj Charan Singh sums up our spiritual quest in Light on Sant Mat:
The only way to bring lasting peace and happiness and a sense of real comfort is to go within and rely upon the inner Power. The best way to contact that inner Power is through a real Master. A living Master can be approached outwardly as well as inwardly. Hence, the disciples have confidence and a sense of security, knowing that they would not be left dangling in mid-air and they can always have their doubts and difficulties resolved. But as you know, there is a time for everything. Our duty is only to make continued and sincere efforts, and when the proper time comes and the Lord so ordains, the great gift comes to us.1
Baba Ji has said that Sant Mat is an experiment with the truth and that meditation exposes us to the truth. It is the Master’s job to lead us to the truth. But it is we who must develop the capacity to face it.
When we put in a sincere effort to do our meditation and to follow the path, we actually are exposing ourselves to truth and increasing our capacity to face it with “honesty of mind,” as the dictionary says.
When we apply ourselves wholeheartedly, with “earnest devotion without reservation or misgiving,” we are in the process of making our hearts whole. We are healing our broken hearts, hearts that were broken when we separated from our home. We’re in the process of becoming whole, of becoming wholehearted.
To become wholehearted, to be sincere in our efforts to face the truth – of our origin, our spiritual identity – we must be true to our intent, true to our purpose. We have to remember what we started out to do.
In other words, we have to remember our goal in order to apply honest, sincere effort. Someone asked Hazur, “Could you explain what it means for us to be honest in our meditation?” He replied:
We have to be sincere within ourselves. We must live with ourselves rather than living for others. We have to put in honest and sincere efforts, then leave the result to the Lord.2
We must live with ourselves rather than for others. To live with ourselves means that we must fulfill our responsibilities but at the same time be one-pointed in our pursuit of truth. In the end, we will never be able to please all the people all the time. We can’t compromise our principles, the vows we take at initiation, to please other people. If we do compromise our principles, we feel as if we literally can’t live with ourselves. We have to work hard to get back to center, and we can do that only by putting in honest, sincere effort.
At another time Hazur said:
We have to be truthful and honest with ourselves, not with others. When we are truthful with ourselves, then we can live with ourselves; otherwise, we are always at war with ourselves. We are always miserable within ourselves if we are not honest and truthful with ourselves. So, we shouldn’t try to deceive ourselves. We must face facts, and we must understand the reality, and we must be honest with our own feelings, with our own self. And if you are honest with yourself, you’ll be honest with others also. If you are deceitful to yourself, you’ll be deceitful to others also. One always knows whether one is being honest with oneself or not. You don’t require anybody to tell you about that; you know within yourself whether you are truthful to yourself, or honest with yourself or not.3
That is an amazing statement. At first, we may think: Oh, no problem, sure, I can be honest with myself. But really, how easy is it? Is it really so easy to face facts, as Hazur says, understand the reality, and be honest with our own feelings? If it were easy, would we still be here, still struggling to do our meditation, still struggling to do what the Master has asked of us? And yet he says that we don’t need anyone to tell us what’s true, because we already know.
This is a standard we have to hold for ourselves: Are we facing facts, facing life? Or at least are we exposing ourselves to the truth? Are we trying to understand reality? Are we being sincere in our efforts?
Honesty of purpose. Keeping our goal in view. Facing facts. Understanding reality – that is, understanding what we need to do to realize the truth within ourselves – these are all part of sincere effort, of not deceiving ourselves. But when we’ve been on the path for a long time, we face one of the biggest enemies of spiritual seekers. Not lust, anger, greed, attachment, or ego – rather, complacency. We get comfortable. We say the path is our life, but we start wearing it like a pair of comfortable slippers.
We become like mountaineers who get together at base camp to talk about climbing the mountain. We’ve got our expensive gear, our fancy hi-tech climbing clothes; we’ve built a cozy fire; and we talk all night about climbing the mountain. We create a home at the base camp, conveniently forgetting that we had intended to climb the mountain.
But we’re cozy and warm. We don’t want to go out into the howling wind and start climbing the mountain. It’s just too hard, and we’re also not sure that we can do it. So, we tell each other stories about what other people say about the mountain. We talk about what they found at the top. And we talk endlessly about our climbing guide.
In the same way, many of us have stopped seeking the truth. We become like mountaineers at base camp talking endlessly about the mountain we want to climb. We surround ourselves with the trappings – before the Covid pandemic, we went to satsang, did seva, visited the Master at every opportunity. We may parrot the Sant Mat platitudes, but are we out on that mountain in the howling wind, all alone on the mountain, putting one foot in front of the other? Facing our fears, exposing ourselves to the truth? That is, every day stashing our mobile phones and attending to meditation for 2 ½ hours, putting forth honest, sincere effort?
We want to feel safe, we want to feel comfortable, and so we tell ourselves that we are already saved, that everything is the grace of the Master. It is easy to become complacent and hold ourselves back by staying stuck in old habits.
One writer said this about our choice to move forward or hold ourselves back:
You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, enter the unknown, do things your ego doesn’t want to do. You have to value being true to what you glimpse as possible – to the heart of your heart – more than you want to be right or get your own way or be comfortable.4
The Master tells us that it is possible to achieve the heart of our heart – to go back to him, to be one with him. But we have to want this more than anything in this world, and then we have to be true to our intent, true to what we know is possible.
As Hazur wrote to a disciple:
There are some people who hold that in spite of their great desire to go within, they do not get the necessary help. Such people have only to search their hearts a little deeper. They will find that what they call their ‘great desire’ is very superficial. When a soul really wishes to go to its Home, there is nothing to prevent it. This is the law.5
He is asking us to search our hearts a little deeper, to be honest with ourselves. How much do we really want what we say we want?
Someone once asked him, “How can we possibly clear all our karmas?” He said: “By meditation. That is the only way. You see, brother, the Lord’s grace is not lacking; our efforts are lacking, our sincerity is lacking, our faith is lacking.”
When our sincerity is lacking, our effort is half-hearted – we hold back. The Master doesn’t withhold his grace; we withhold our effort. And again, he refers to our sincerity, our honesty, when he continues: “If we are sincere and honest in our devotion, in our efforts, he never withholds his grace. He is always there.”6
There is a cosmic law that is one of the keys to our ultimate success on the path. It sounds so simple, so obvious, but it is very profound, and if we take it to heart, we will find our heart’s desire, the heart of our heart. Great Master wrote to one of his disciples: “All actions are performed with a motive, and it is the motive that is binding.”7
This means that the quality of the action, that is, our success at performing it, is not as important as our motive, our intention. You can see this in the legal system. Killing someone with prior intent carries a much heavier sentence that killing someone by accident. Your actions resulted in a death, but you meant no harm.
This is a dramatic example, but let’s apply the same principle to meditation. If our motive is to please the Master, to awaken our consciousness and merge with God – if we have sincerity of purpose – then if our actual performance is somewhat feeble, for example, it doesn’t matter. “If we are sincere and honest in our devotion, in our efforts, he never withholds his grace.” It is our motive that counts, our motive that is binding. So, we can’t be half-hearted.
How many times does the Master tell us that if we just do our part, the Lord will do his? It doesn’t matter if we’re not up to the task. None of us are up to the task! That’s why we got initiated in the first place – we can’t do this on our own, we can’t climb the ladder if no one is holding it.
At a recent Dera session, someone who had been initiated for a long time sheepishly said to the Master words to the effect: I’m not spiritual. I’m not grateful enough. I complain all the time. Baba Ji replied that it’s not the words we say, it’s what’s in your heart that counts.
He knows very well what’s in our heart, no matter how we behave or what we babble on about. He knows when we’re scamming, and he knows when we’re being honest, heartfelt, sincere. So regardless of our success or failure, what the Lord responds to is our motive, our deepest truth. And as the saints make clear, this has nothing to do with who we present ourselves to be on the outside. It doesn’t matter if we feel as if we are the worst disciple on the planet, or even if we actually are the worst disciple. Nothing matters except the sincerity of our purpose. We must hold on to that for dear life. We must remember why we came to the path and sought initiation. That sincerity will lead us not to success but to effort, and that’s all the Master wants from us.
A famous rabbi said: “God is waiting on every road that leads from intention to action.”8
This same rabbi has written about the wholeheartedness of our spiritual journey:
Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Audacious longing, burning songs, daring thoughts, an impulse overwhelming the heart, usurping the mind – these are all a drive toward serving him who rings our hearts like a bell. It is as if He were waiting to enter our empty, perishing lives.9
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat, #96
- Ibid., Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #454
- Ibid., #119
- Geneen Roth, Lost and Found, Penguin Group, 2012, p. 194
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light, #30
- Ibid., Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, #478)
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, #20
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, I Asked for Wonder, Crossroad, 1999, p. 12
- Ibid., p. 15