We all love exploration, no matter where we live, what kind of personality we have, or what age we are. Toddlers wander from the kitchen to the living room to see what’s interesting there. Older kids explore the neighborhood and teens explore their city. Once mature, we adults explore the worlds of ideas and work, of relationships and community. That is all natural and creative; we are accustomed since infancy to taking a leap into the unknown.
Exploring is universal, but the question arises, are we exploring or just wandering? Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, loved the scholarly exploration of physics. He sought clear answers to deeply complex questions.
He also loved to sail, so much so that his family bought him a small boat. Whenever he was free in the summertime, he would go for a sail. He was happy, but his family was worried. They never knew where he would end up and were concerned he might have an accident.
Close friends knew Albert well enough to realize that once he relaxed out on a lake, his attention would go to complex abstract notions of mathematics and physics. He had trained his mind to do that. But, out on a lake, he would forget which way was north and south, and he might lose his direction home. His attention would wander aimlessly.
Well, we may not have that much in common with Einstein the scientist, but isn’t our meditation like his sailing? Don’t we spend countless hours wandering? Like Einstein, we have pressures on our mind, and desires to succeed in understanding our work. In meditation, we relax our body, and then wander wherever our worldly interests and desires lead us.
Of course, sailing was not always only a form of recreation. In ancient times, it was a serious matter and explorers took great risks to sail the seas toward distant destinations. More than 2,500 years ago, for instance, the Phoenicians not only successfully sailed to ports throughout the Mediterranean Sea but around the entire continent of Africa. Their clear and focused intention was to find gold and other commodities for their nation.
Unlike Einstein, however, they were not wandering aimlessly, simply enjoying the sea and the breezes. They cared deeply where they went. In that respect, we are like the Phoenicians in that we also have a clear intention to reach a goal. We want to detach our attention from the world of mind and body and find the spiritual treasures of the radiant world within. To do that, we need a focus.
Like the Phoenicians and every sailor since, if we gaze up at the dark sky on a clear night, we can find the Ursa Minor Constellations. Once we have spotted those stars, we can pinpoint the North Star, also known as Polaris. This star is famous for holding still while the entire northern sky moves around it. Being located near the north celestial pole, it is the point around which the entire northern sky turns. This star was vital to the ancient navigations of the Phoenicians who did not have the compass or other instruments for navigations. What is our spiritual North Star?
As we age, our explorations and adventures change. Death comes closer and we can’t avoid knowledge of it. We watch others die and, perhaps, we become ill ourselves. It is a fact that this body will eventually expire. We also become deeply aware of our internal process and this mind which tries to block us from succeeding in our meditation. Our mind is a formidable adversary. At the same time, we have a Master who reminds us always that we need not wander aimlessly. He advises us to focus our attention at the Third Eye.
The eye center is our spiritual Polaris; it is the radiant home of the saints. It is the point around which our mind revolves, and it is the spot we must locate if we are to end our wandering and secure our destination. In meditation, we try to direct our attention because we also care about our destination. We want our focus to reach and stay at the eye center. We are like the Phoenician sailors in that we will make many sacrifices of time and energy to reach our goal. As they followed the North Star for ocean navigation, we follow the shabd. We want to gain the bliss, contentment and inner experience found at our destination, that area behind and between our eyes, the Third Eye.
We begin our spiritual journey with curiosity and confidence. We want to know about the world within our body and we believe we can conquer the mind and meet the radiant form of our Master. Why not? The Master has initiated us, and he knows all there is to know about the soul’s journey home. We have confidence in his leadership. Still, we have challenges.
No doubt, those ancient sailors also had challenges. Squalls and storms could appear unexpectedly and assail their ships. Sailors could become ill; masts or decks might crack or break. No doubt fights between sailors erupted during times of stress. Doesn’t each one of us have our challenges? Poor health, financial setbacks, relationship conflicts. We know all these are part of our human experience.
The ancient explorers made sure their ship was constructed expertly and was stored with all sorts of supplies, from food to extra sails to medicines. We also make sure we are prepared. A vegetarian diet, drug and alcohol-free lifestyle and positive moral choices keep our mind and body strong and healthy enough for our journey.
We are prepared to be spiritual explorers and we know our destination. It is possible to relax while also focusing on our goal, the Third Eye. It is there the Master awaits us, in what Baba Jaimal Singh Ji calls “our original home, the wondrous Radha Soami region.”1
- Spiritual Letters, #97, p. 150