Cleanse Your Heart
The great saint Tulsi Sahib has counselled us: “Cleanse the chamber of your heart so your Beloved can enter.”
Tulsi Sahib urges us to empty our hearts of our desires and attachments – all our bad habits, everything we are carrying from the past, our expectations and worries for the future. We need to empty ourselves in order to feel the presence of our Master within us.
And just as we truly want to welcome the Lord into our hearts, he longs to be seated there also. Hazur Maharaj Ji commented that the Lord is the one who pulls us to him to love him. Someone once asked him:
Maharaj Ji, it seems clear that the lover needs the Beloved. Does the Beloved have any need of the lover?
Yes [Hazur said] who gives that love to the lover? It is the Beloved who gives love to the lover. The lover thinks he loves the Beloved. But the pull in the lover’s heart comes from the Beloved always. … The Beloved must be needing that love.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
So he needs our love as much as we need his love. He is waiting for us patiently, to welcome him into our hearts. So let us prepare ourselves to receive him.
How can we do this? We have to live the Sant Mat way of life and control our minds through meditation. In this way we will rid our hearts of anything that drags us down, and make room for him to be seated there.
Hazur Maharaj Ji spoke about how we can live in the divine presence all the time – by training our minds to obey the Master, by living the Sant Mat way of life, attending satsang and doing seva. He always emphasized that service with body and mind were the best way to channelize the mind towards the ultimate service – meditation. Selfless service will allow us to keep our minds focused on him.
Hazur once said:
Of course, the best service is bhajan, but there are other services also which are strong means leading to bhajan. To train the mind to live in the will of the Father is also a service….
We have to face situations at every step in this life, and at every step in this life we have to explain to our mind to accept whatever comes in our fate smilingly, cheerfully – why grumble? It’s a constant training of the mind. This is also doing service, because that will help us in meditation. If we always feel perturbed with every little thing, then how can we concentrate, how can we meditate? If we make every little thing an issue the size of the Himalayas, then how can we concentrate? We have to forget; we have to forgive; we have to train our mind to take things easily, lightly, to laugh them away, to ignore them. This is all training the mind.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
So Hazur is telling us that by taking things lightly and going through life happily, accepting what comes to us as our destiny – that this in itself is training our minds, and this is the first step in controlling our mind.
Very often the Master gives us practical advice, hints on how to overcome our weaknesses and live in accordance with his teachings. We have to take positive steps towards the Master at every moment. And our meditation will protect us. It will create a protective barrier against the distractions of the world.
Hazur spoke about why regularity in meditation is so important. He said:
If you are tied to a strong chain, you can move only within a limited area. So if we are tied to our meditation every day, no matter how much we’re involved in other things, we will always remain within the circle. … So the chain of meditation should not be broken. Meditation must be attended to every day, and then no matter how much you involve yourself in other activities, you’ll never be allowed to go astray at all.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Our life is like a fast-flowing river, and we are trying to swim against the current towards the opposite shore. If we don’t put in the effort to control the mind and swim upstream, we will be dragged downstream – perhaps over violent waterfalls to the rocks below and certain death. It is a matter of life and death for us to control our minds. We don’t know what our destiny holds. So we have to be prepared for any and all eventualities by having our minds focused on the Master and the Lord. We don’t know when death will come, so we need to remember God at all times.
A story from a Jewish mystic in 18th century Europe presents a radical way of looking at this problem of controlling our mind:
Once a disciple complained to his Master: “Master, I can understand why I am responsible for my actions, even for my words. But my thoughts? How can I be punished for my thoughts when they enter my mind of their own accord? Can a person control his mind?”
His master listened quietly and responded: “Just go visit Rabbi Jacob, my devoted disciple who lives in a remote village in the distant mountains. Only he can answer your question.” So the disciple made the trip in the dead of winter. After travelling for two weeks, he finally reached Jacob’s village late at night. He could see a light shining in the window of Jacob’s study, Jacob himself studying his holy books.
The traveller knocked, and continued knocking, but there was no response. He pounded on the door, but Jacob, just a few steps away, continued his studies, oblivious to his cries.
It was almost morning when Jacob rose from his seat, opened the door, and warmly greeted his visitor. He sat him by the fire and prepared a hot glass of tea. He then led his guest to the best room in the house to rest. For several days, Jacob attended to all his needs, and the visitor, a model guest, never mentioned his terrible experience on the night of his arrival. But after about a week, the traveller felt it was time to go home. Just before leaving, he posed his burning question. “Why,” he asked, “should I be responsible for my thoughts, when I have no control over my mind?”
The rabbi replied simply: “Tell me, my friend, is a man any less a master of his own self than he is of his home? You see, I gave you my answer on the very night you arrived. In my home, I am the boss. Whomever I wish to admit – I allow in, when I’m ready to. Whomever I do not wish to admit – I do not permit to enter.”
So we need to ask ourselves: Are we the boss of our minds? Or do we just let any thought or desire enter freely, at any time? Why aren’t we as firm with our minds? When we sit in meditation, how hard do we really try to control our thoughts and keep our attention in simran, directing our mind towards our Master?
This story illustrates that we can indeed be the boss of our minds -if we choose to. We cannot blame outside conditions for our lack of mental discipline. It’s a struggle, but we can’t give up. When the mind drifts away, we should keep bringing it back to simran. And never give up. And it’s not as if we’re alone on this journey. The Master has made it very clear that if we take one step towards him, he will take a hundred steps towards us. But we need to take that one step. Then he’s ready to help us – his grace will take us the rest of the way.
You take that one step. We are more anxiously waiting for his hundred steps rather than our one step.
We are so tied down with the attachments of this creation that it becomes difficult for us to take even one step. … So even our one step is a great step. Without his grace, we can never get out of this creation. Our one step is sufficient for him to pull us.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol . II
Even our one step is sufficient for him to pull us.
The Master gives us so much encouragement. He’s doing everything he can to help us along the way. Hazur said:
When we try to follow the path, he gives us strength to follow the path. He strengthens our faith, he strengthens our love with the help of meditation and by our following that path. He is the one who’s pulling us from within. We sometimes think that we worship him or that we are in love with him. Actually, he is in love with us. But for that we would never be in love with him at all.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
And meditation will strengthen our love. It will give us the personal experience that can never be shaken. Personal experience creates depth in our faith, and that we can get only with meditation.
Of course, it is because we have faith in the physical form of the Master that we come on the path in the first place and make the effort to obey him. It is faith in the Master that will encourage and inspire us to do our meditation and eventually raise our consciousness to the level where we can see him in his true form as Shabd. We can look forward to the time when we will find the Lord seated in our hearts. We will become him.
On a practical everyday level, we have to live our lives with maturity – spiritual maturity, as Baba Ji has called it. Maturity means that despite all obstacles and challenges, we will continue with our meditation and stick to our values, our way of life. Our faith will allow us to accept the events of our life.
In one of his shabds, Soami Ji tells us to strengthen our faith in the Lord’s will. He advises us:
Put your faith in the Lord’s will –
not in your labour, not in your effort.
Submit yourself to Radha Soami now,
one day he will fulfill your heart’s desire.
Sar Bachan Poetry
Ultimately it is not our efforts which will see us home – it is his grace. We live in the illusion that we have control over our lives, even over our meditation. We need to give up that illusion. We need to submit to the Beloved, our Master, and humbly do what he instructs, and then the Lord will enter the chamber of our heart.
The Master always emphasizes that everything we are to get, we will get through meditation. By listening to the Shabd, our mind becomes pure and we can develop a positive attitude. And he advises us to continue with our simran all the twenty-four hours of the day when we are not otherwise occupied. That is our act of love. Hazur once said so succinctly:
For the lover, love is a twenty-four-hour sickness. He doesn’t have a specific time to love, or to think about the Beloved. He is in love twenty-four hours, no matter what he’s doing, where he is.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Soami Ji gives us great words of comfort. Here are a few lines from another shabd:
I shall myself help you put in the effort,
I shall myself take you to your ultimate home. …
Have patience, keep the company of the Saints,
and I shall purify you through my grace.
Sar Bachan Poetry
What could be more encouraging for the struggling disciple? Here we are, embarking on the road to cleansing our heart so the Beloved can be seated there, and the Beloved himself is reassuring us that he himself will make the effort for us. We just need to take the first step. We need to keep him in our mind at all times. We have to live in His presence.
So let us not forget that the Lord has marked us, that the Master won’t let us go astray. As Hazur Maharaj Ji often said, the Lord worships himself through us. This means that he is pulling us to him. He has planted the seed of love in us that makes us want to love him. In fact, we can’t help loving him, as it is his love that is within us, that seeks to merge back into him. All we can feel is gratitude.
With hands folded in supplication,
To whom shall I surrender?
Apart from you, is there anyone who will help me?
You are the ocean of mercy,
You are the friend of the humble and the poor
And the redeemer of the world, O Lord!
You are indeed the true ship, says Tuka,
That will carry me across the ocean of existence.
Tukaram: The Ceaseless Song of Devotion