The Battle against Negativity
It is tempting to think that once we have resolved to follow the spiritual path, life will be straightforward from now on. Big mistake. The saints warn that once we have been initiated and start out on the spiritual path, we have identified ourselves as being on the field of battle. The negative, obstructive forces will attack us with greater vigour; although we are assured of final success, we may yet have a tough battle ahead.
We have to turn away from the world whilst living in it in a detached way, and the ruling force of this region will not let us leave without a fight. The world’s temptations and illusions will continue and may intensify, but once initiated we no longer belong to the world. We belong to the Master.
In the world but not of it
If we visit a large aquarium, we look into the tank through a reinforced glass side and see all the marine life within. We are not part of that world, and we could not survive in it. We are merely observers. That is the way we should look at the world at large, as though through a toughened glass window. Clearly, we have to do our duty in the world, but the rest of it can pass us by behind the glass screen, if we practise the art of being an observer rather than a participator. Then we can be in the world but not of the world. Even with events that do affect us personally, we should remember the old Chinese saying, that the wise man observes difficulties but does not experience them.
The present Master has talked about negativity and positive thinking. The world’s media are full of negativity because that sells papers and programmes. We should avoid internalizing any of this negativity or it will harm us.
It is easy to get into the habit of automatic negative and critical thinking, particularly at a low level. Even a small amount of negativity and criticism is very detrimental to our progress. The saints advise us to keep the body active and the mind in simran as much as possible, so that the mind does not slip into its habitual negativity. As the old saying goes, the devil makes work for idle hands. Take life lightly and with a smile; don’t react so much. We need to make choices and decisions using our best judgement and then deal with whatever subsequently transpires.
Worry shows a lack of trust
If we worry, then we are displaying a lack of trust in the Master, who advises us that we have no cause for anxiety about the future. Now that we are safe and secure in the hands of the Master and a bright future is assured, we have every reason to be positive. Whatever our troubles, our situation is but temporary and we are guaranteed a blissful outcome. Why should we be downcast?
Even if we slip, as we will, the Master is positive and always ready to encourage us to get up and get going again. Forgiveness is always there if we take the right attitude. Maharaj Charan Singh once listened to a distraught satsangi confess how he had continued to do so many serious things that were against the Master’s teachings. It was a litany of misdemeanours, and one quite expected the Master to give him a sound telling off at its end. However, Maharaj Ji waited until the satsangi had finished and then merely said, “This is not a very promising start.” He then advised the satsangi to start again that very day, putting the past behind him.
The Master is always understanding, forgiving and positive about what to do next. We continually fall down in one way or another, but that is in the nature of struggle. If we respond to our faults in the right way, if we learn from our errors, if we genuinely seek forgiveness from the Master, then we can readily move on. Equally, that is why the Masters tell us not to criticise others and always be ready to forgive, for that is the way the Master treats us.
The focus of our life should be the immediate goal of reaching the Master within. This entails us being attentive and assiduous in both our spiritual and temporal duties, whilst living through our karmas in a cheerful and contented way. Love is the very essence of the Creator and the Master, and our ultimate goal is perfect unity with them in permanent bliss. If this is what we want, and if we want it badly enough, then we should just be happy to struggle – simply do our meditation and leave the rest to the Master.
The Masters have talked about storming the fortress of the mind. To extend the military analogy, in making a ground attack it is sometimes necessary to lay down what is called covering or suppressing fire. This is loosely aimed but continuous fire that is designed to keep the enemies’ heads down to enable one to move forward on the battlefield and press home an attack. Simran during the day at any and every opportunity is like suppressing fire. It keeps the pressure on the mind to stop it from gaining mastery over our thoughts and actions and it conditions the mind for when our main concentrated attack comes, at the time of meditation. Simran can be used both for mind suppression but also for close-quarters combat with the thoughts that come at the time of meditation. Simran is totally portable, always ready for deployment and never runs out of ammunition. Just use it.