We need to “lighten up”, so the present Master has said. What does this mean? First of all, of course, it is a suggestion not to take life too seriously. And from the context, it was clear that we were also being told to find time to enjoy ourselves and participate in the lighter things of life, such as singing, sport or baking, even if we are not very good at them. But there are other ways, too, in which we can lighten up our lives.
Smile at life
One way is to cultivate a lighter attitude to life. Being lighter can mean not only less weighty but also brighter. We should be positive on the path, even when things are not going well in our lives. Smiling can be an important part of this. When we smile, we actually feel lighter. It takes about forty-three muscles to frown, but only seventeen to smile, so smiling is physically easier.
Maharaj Charan Singh supported this idea when he said:
Give up the habit of worrying and losing your temper. It is easy to be happy and laughing; in fact, easier than it is to fret and frown. God does not want us to be unhappy. It is a sin to worry. Have faith in His goodness and grace and try to keep simran on your lips at all times.
This isn’t just telling us to try not to worry – it goes much further, actually calling worry a sin. That is because when we indulge in worry, it means we are forgetting to put our trust in God or the Master. The message here is that God does not want us to be unhappy. Saints often demonstrate this light-hearted attitude to life through their own actions. They like to laugh, and to make us laugh – even when we come crying to them.
In Heaven on Earth we are told how Maharaj Jagat Singh was asked by a satsangi, “Maharaj Ji, when I sit for meditation, my soul withdraws to my knees, yet I do not see anything inside.” His Master replied, “Brother, the Lord, it seems, has erred a little. He put the eyes too far away, high up in the face. If he had put them in the knees, you would surely have seen something.” By responding to his disciple with affectionate humour, the Master would have helped him feel less anxious.
Hazur Maharaj Ji said that no other person should be so happy in this world as an initiate who is on the path. The initiate should always keep his final goal in sight: the treasures, the joys and the bliss that await him in his true home. Hazur said that we should give up feelings of depression and live a joyous life, fully relaxed, thanking the Lord for the great gift conferred on us.
If we just keep our thoughts in simran and bhajan, then we can find happiness within ourselves. We should not worry about anything in this life, which the saints say is nothing but an unpleasant dream. The real life lies beyond the physical, and that is where our Master awaits us.
Don’t be weighed down by attachments
But while we remain in this physical world, we should live our lives with an attitude of joy and gratitude while also focusing on meditation. We should enjoy life – even love it – but without feeling attached to it. This is one of the ways in which we can lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously.
This approach to life is described in the quotation written above the Victory Gate near Agra in India. It says: “The world is a bridge. Cross it but don’t build a house on it.” It goes on: “The world endures for an hour. Spend it in devotion.” This means that in the grand scheme of this creation, we exist at the physical level only for a fleeting moment.
The mystics remind us that since we are here for only a short time, we need very little in this life and should control our desires. Moreover, we cannot get rid of our desires by satisfying them. That would be adding fuel to the fire, which only makes it blaze more. The mind can never be satisfied. The more you give it, the more it desires. Instead, we should use simran and bhajan, coupled with love for the Master, to balance our attachments.
Meditation further develops our love for the Master, and automatically moves us towards detachment from the physical. It provides perspective on life, and makes us prioritize our needs more clearly: thus through meditation we develop contentment. Changing circumstances is not necessarily a bad thing. But when efforts don’t pan out, contentment allows us to accept our situation. Contentment allows us to travel more lightly.
Follow the Master’s guiding light
Quoting the Bible, Maharaj Charan Singh used to say, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” These words are usually cited to explain that only a living Master, someone with whom we can talk and ask questions, can help us to return to the Lord. The Master is thus our light in the sense that he is our guide, showing us the way.
But there is also another important implication in these words. “I am the light of the world” means that the Master is literally radiant light. When we meditate, when we withdraw our attention from the world to the eye centre, what we will eventually perceive is the Radiant Form, the divine light of the Master.
Hazur Maharaj Ji also used to quote the following passage from the Bible:
The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
He explained that if we want to be one with the light, we can find that light in the body. And if we want to see that light in this body, which is the temple of the living God, we need to be at the eye centre. He also said that in our bodies there is only light. So “lighten up” can also mean to merge ourselves in that light within.
Sometimes, though, it can seem as if we have a long way to go before we can reach that stage. Hazur Maharaj Ji was once asked why the Lord doesn’t just take us sooner rather than later, since this is something that is going to happen eventually. He replied that in time we would learn to see that there is value in the struggle.
Accept the struggle and trust in him
Seeing value in the struggle means learning to see our daily effort as an investment towards returning home. A professional athlete creates his winning ability by continual practice, by struggle, with no guarantee of success. Every great achievement has been accomplished by those who have accepted and embraced their struggle. Today we are struggling with meditation, perhaps precisely because we have not accepted it as a struggle.
The reason that the Master does not simply take us inside right now is because we are not yet ready. Once we have accepted the struggle as his gift, we can come to understand that every effort we make is one step closer to our home. Today we are resisting the struggle, and it’s said that what we resist will persist. When we accept the struggle, it becomes easier, lighter.
With the right approach, and by his grace, we do progress. The Masters have often emphasized that there are only two things for which we are responsible: our sincere effort and our attitude. This attitude entails putting our faith in the Creator, seeing every event in life as an opportunity to trust in his plan. This is the essence of a positive attitude.
There are many books available on the path to which we can turn to help us understand the spiritual process and foster a positive attitude, and we are fortunate in also having the opportunity to put questions directly to the present Master. But ultimately, as he has said, we need to move on from analyzing the teachings and instead just live them.
Doing this requires us to live in the present moment. Because, as the saints have told us, even in this present moment we are already at our destination, it is just that we have not yet realized it. In meditation, we are simply being asked to be ourselves, to commune with our Master within, beyond thought, beyond intellect. This is an act of trust. Slowly, detachment will come in its own time.
The Master knows what he is doing. If only we knew what he knows, we would laugh at ourselves for wasting time worrying and questioning our destiny. Baba Ji once said that when we truly believe the Master is helping us, we will never feel overburdened by our problems or overwhelmed by our responsibilities.
So let’s accept the struggle, live lightly, and trust in the Master. Sultan Bahu says that in the dark, fathomless night of ignorance, love is a torch that brings light. If we truly love someone, how can we not pay attention to him and follow him to the destination he has chosen for us? We want to go where he is going. And that is towards the light.