Simran Is Remembering Our Master
We all have memories, and when we recall a friend from days gone by, that friend’s image pops into our mind and a fond feeling arises in our heart. Some years ago, an elder stood to ask Baba Ji a question. Even though I have kept a daily practice of meditation, he said, lately I have lost contact with simran. My mind just takes off and overwhelms my concentration.
Baba Ji replied by noting that is the way of the mind. After a pause, he added that simran should be automatic. Leaning in slightly, Baba Ji then asked the brother, “How can we forget Hazur Maharaj Ji?”
As the Master has done so many times in so many places, he answered a sincere question in a way that moved all of us. How can we forget our Master? How can we go through hours, if not days, if not weeks or months, without remembering the person who attracted us to this path of spiritual liberation, initiated us, and guides us still? Isn’t it shocking how easy it is to forget the greatest person we have ever known?
Simran is remembrance. We remember him by repeating silently the names he gave us, with our attention at the third eye, where his spiritual form resides. Such a supremely loving and powerful person not only gave us his spiritual contact information – five simple words – but also directed us how to arrange our lives so that we can stay in touch with him. Still, the power of the mind is such that we forget him. Even when we don’t intend to forget, we find that we have done so.
Baba Ji gave a three-part reply to this question. First, he said the function of the mind is to direct our actions in this world. Whether we feel positive or negative about the desires and thoughts of our mind doesn’t matter; it just keeps pulling our focus away from the eye center. Our task is to replace those thoughts and desires with simran. As the Master so often says, “do your simran and let go.”
“The mind is never still,” Hazur Maharaj Ji once explained. “It’s always thinking about something or another – either about the children, country, work, or whatever… This thinking is known as doing simran.”1 And, how should we practice simran of the Master? “Be 100 percent in simran,” he advised,“ (and) by 100 percent I mean that we should do only simran and nothing else. Nothing in the whole world exists except for the simran.”2
The second part of Baba Ji’s reply to the questioner was, “simran should be automatic.” The Masters present simran as a kind of level of consciousness, where we can become so committed and focused on those five names that their repetition is automatic. Perhaps it’s like riding a bike: at first we have to give it our supreme effort or we will fall and not get anywhere. After much practice and desire to succeed, however, our cycling becomes automatic, as if our body and the bike are completely in sync, virtually one thing. We are still paying attention, but the riding feels automatic.
The third part of Baba Ji’s answer was a rhetorical question, “How can we forget Hazur Maharaj Ji?” With that simple question, he shocks us into a deeper understanding of what simran is. Of course, we could never forget our Master, yet in meditation we do forget him. Once, during Baba Ji’s Q & A session in a crowded satsang hall, a sister sitting in the back of the hall said she didn’t know whether to focus on Baba Ji himself at the dais, or the much larger video image of him. Instantly, the Master replied that it didn’t matter – both were illusions.
The path of the Masters is a path of seeking truth; the last thing we want to do is follow an illusion. Once again, Baba Ji is reminding us to remember our real Master who is available within us. There is a state of mind where simran is automatic, but we need to perfect our concentration. Then the remembering of our Master will be ongoing; he becomes unforgettable.
When our friends and those whom we love come to mind, we can feel our heart relax. We enjoy a memory of being with them and we wish to be with them again. We were happy with them. Why not Maharaj Ji? Why not Baba Ji? We can relax in meditation, as we did with them physically.
Simran is such a beautiful gift from Master to us. It is a support in times of distress and imbalance, just as it is a weapon against the mind. It is something the Master gave us that is inviolable, and the words are easy to remember. “The words by themselves have nothing in them. But since they have come from the Master, they have their own significance and power within them,” Maharaj Ji explained.3
As we mature in life, we see that, no matter how much we learn, the mind remains our spiritual adversary. As long as we are in this physical body, the mind is with us, pulling our attention toward the things and people important to our physical experience. There is no end to it. With simran, however, the mind can be silenced. Those simple words, uttered with devotion, disempower the mind and turn it into our servant. Not forever, of course. Just as our mind bothers us at every moment, simran is the remedy at every moment. It must be repeated endlessly. Maharaj Ji advises us, “Put your whole mind in these words; you will automatically feel the love and devotion… Love comes automatically.”4
These are precious, holy names, and they are unique. The difference between remembering an absent friend and remembering our Master is that, by remembering the Master through simran, we strengthen our relationship to the Shabd, to the Lord, who is timeless.
The Master is not only our past, he is our future. As Soami Ji wrote, “Nam or Shabd is a great power but nobody realizes it. A sleeping person is awakened when his name is called. Such is the importance of Nam. If you call Him who is always awake by His Name, why would He not hear? But he tests your sincerity and firmness of devotion.”5
- Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Q. 226
- Ibid, Q. 228
- Ibid, Q. 234
- Ibid, Q. 223
- Sar Bachan (Prose), 6th ed., 1974, p. 84, Note 52