Get up, Sit up, Shut up
Do you have a favourite Sant Mat phrase? Until recently my wife and I would exhort each other to meditate with Bulleh Shah’s stirring words: ‘Arise! Awake! Do not snore!’
Now as the new decade begins we have a new call to action – in her words: ‘get up, sit up, shut up’. But, if I dare try to improve on my wife’s observation, following it will get us sitting silently. What’s next?
Maybe a Zen saying can help: don’t just do something, sit there! Nicely paradoxical, but sitting is itself an action: doing something. And what of our rampant mind? We need to get back to basics: simran and bhajan.
Someone once asked Maharaj Charan Singh in a question and answer session why Master would always insist we ‘do our bhajan and simran’. Was there some other message? Maharaj Ji replied, dead-pan: “Do your simran and bhajan.”
Read all the books of philosophy and religion you like. Meet the perfect living Master of your time, and he or she will invariably emphasize meditation on the Sound Current as the essence of the teaching.
Maybe the Zen saying needs some add-ons. Let’s offer: Do sit there and do just simran. Simran is specific spiritual work. It is absolutely not a fuzzy, warm remembering of Master. Nice as this is, it cannot bind our attention or ‘shut up’ the mind.
Instead, try the simran test: If we don’t know which name we are repeating when sitting in meditation, we are not doing simran consciously enough. When the words roll into each other, half-remembered, vaguely repeated, it is a start. But unfocused repetition is insufficiently respectful of Master and his majestic path inwards.
It will take a lifetime of effort for most of us, but practising simran is the only way to perfect simran. Sitting with a straight back (health permitting), repeat simran at the eye centre. We don’t consciously cease doing this or that in the mind; simran will itself stop all the ‘busyness’.
Simran is not a type of thinking. It is a process of becoming aware by repetition of Master’s given words at the given centre. To repeat – and repetition is the whole point – simran is not thinking, cogitating, daydreaming, philosophizing, speculating or planning.
All of these concern ‘me’, what the ‘I’ did in the past or wants to do in the future. The only way to be in present time and with Master is to say his given simran behind the eyes.
Simran centres us at the point where superconsciousness begins; it releases us from other types of mental activity; it gives us a break from our ego-full self; it anchors us in the present; it delivers us to the quiet place where we begin our real work of bhajan. So let’s revise our self-advice: ‘get up, sit up and do simran’.
And yet, simran itself isn’t our goal, it is the means for us to become one with the Shabd. What really matters is that simran habituates us to the eye centre, where bhajan will hold us and take us upwards and inwards.
The path is Shabd Yoga, with capital letters, because Shabd is Master, Shabd is the sound we experience in meditation, and Shabd is love.
Maybe, with all due respect to my partner, we can re-revise our daily exhortation to: ‘Get up, go up and stay up’. I’ll miss ‘Arise! Awake!’, though.