Just Stay in the Race
During the filming of the epic film, Ben Hur, it is said that the lead actor found it difficult to learn how to drive the horse-drawn chariot that would be used for the spectacular chariot race. After a lot of practice, he was finally able to control the horses, but he still had doubts. He explained his concerns to the director, saying. “I think I can drive the chariot, but I'm not sure I'm going to win the race.” The director replied: “You just stay in the race and I will make sure you win.”
This is precisely what our Master, the director of our spiritual life, asks us to do: just stay in the race, sit down to meditate every day with love and devotion and without expectation. He asks us to simply keep our attention on the inner Master, the Shabd, twenty-four hours a day.
In the book Kabir, The Weaver of God’s Name, the author reminds us that as love for the Satguru grows in the heart of the disciple, he begins to lose his own will and replace it with that of the Master. He surrenders his ego to him and accepts everything that happens in life as the will of his Master.1
In the book Sant Paltu, the spiritual path is described as being on a razor's edge. It takes love and courage to walk on it. Jesus Christ taught us that without love, all our efforts to achieve God-realization are meaningless.2
On receiving initiation, we promise to meditate for two and a half hours every day to pour our attention, our love, our soul current into the audible life stream, the Shabd, so that the mind may taste that amrit, that supreme pleasure within, and free the soul to travel home on the path of Shabd.
We promise to keep our minds in simran, the repetition of five holy names given by the Master, so that the factory of our mind may be stripped of worldly thoughts – the raw materials needed to manufacture worldly desires, actions, and, eventually, future lives.
Meditation is not easy. We sit the body down to meditate, but the mind is not so quick to obey. It wants to keep doing its job the old-fashioned way. It rejects the restriction of simran. It keeps creating thoughts, images, and scenarios during meditation – another and another and another! The disciple finds the journey much longer and much more difficult than he counted on. Mind keeps submitting topic after topic, desire after desire, trying to capture the attention of the devotee.
The mind comes up with a fascinating idea and the devotee takes off on a wild ride on that train of thought. Suddenly, he becomes aware that he has stopped his simran and has let the mind lead him astray again. How long have I been away? One minute? An hour? He starts his simran again. Again, the mind submits more thoughts, more images. The disciple struggles to repeat the holy names, and once again he finds that his mind has led him down a dark road to some strange place. And so the fight goes on...
The devotee is discouraged. He feels he’s not getting anywhere. He begins to feel that there is nothing stronger than this monstrous manufacturing machine called mind. His simran is so poor that he feels that there is no point in even trying. The negative power sends daunting doubts through the devotee’s mind, such as, “How can five little words control an immense machine that can produce millions and millions of thoughts and images?” or “How much good can this be doing? Maybe I'm just wasting my time.”
The mind finally wins the battle – or so it seems! The devotee gives up and gets up early from meditation. The soul is kept out of the Shabd's magnetic field for another day. And this is how the negative power’s enemy army advances, inch by inch, one day at a time, one moment at a time, one thought at a time until a priceless human lifetime is over. Fortunately, that doesn't happen to our devotee! Sunday comes in a few days and the Satguru pulls his discouraged disciple from within to come to the Master's satsang: Association with truth.
What is satsang? Hazur Maharaj Charan Singh made the importance of satsang very clear when he said: “Satsang is an appetizer to create real hunger for the darshan of the Lord.”3
The devotee listens to the teachings of the Master. He is reminded again that it is the mind's job to keep the devotee out of Shabd's magnetic field. He is reminded that he has joined the Satguru's army to save the soul and that he has to fight with his mind until the last breath. He is reminded that love is giving oneself and not expecting to receive inner experiences in return.
He is reminded that when he is in meditation he is with the Master. He is reminded that the only thing more powerful than the mind is Shabd, and for that reason, he must listen to it every day; he must align himself with Shabd's superpower. Whether the mind concentrates in simran or not, he is reminded that meditation is just trying to surrender to the Father, begging for his forgiveness, trying to become one with Him.
And in the satsang, without words, without the devotee knowing, the Satguru always gives his grace. He sends a gentle breeze of Sach Khand through the heart of the devotee. This fans the flame of love and longing in him. Filled with haunting nostalgia for his homeland, the devotee leaves the satsang inspired to again sit in meditation.
The Master only asks us to sit down and meditate and promises us that he will take care of the rest of the journey home. We have only to repeat the holy names, listen to Shabd, and leave everything else to him. Meditation may not be easy, but it’s so worth the effort. The effort itself gives us happiness. Even when we seem to fail, we feel contentment in doing what our teacher has asked us to do. As Maharaj Charan Singh often said, there are no failures in Sant Mat, because you are trying to follow the path. So even if we lose the battle of love, we still win.
With our effort and his grace, we learn how to hold the reins of the mind, control the stampeding horses of the senses, and drive the chariot. We stay in the race. And the Master keeps his faithful promise to make sure we cross the finish line and win.
- V.K Sethi, Kabir, The Weaver of God´s Name, p. 162
- Isaac Ezekiel, Sant Paltu, His life and Teachings, p. 110
- Sabina Oberoi, Concepts & Illusions: A Perspective, p. 152