Meditation – Action and Union
Farid ud-Din Attar, a contemporary of Rumi, wrote the following:
Standing on the shore of the sweetest ocean
We are all parched – dying of thirst
Be ever patient with the affliction.…
Since separation from Me is not in your destiny.
Somewhere deep within us we remember the boundlessness of our true nature before this apparent separation occurred, and it haunts and nags at us. And yet we tend to live our lives as if we have all the time in the world to get rid of the illusions that hold us and attach us here. We remain “parched – dying of thirst.”
Why? Because we are human – we are in the world and it is so easy to get more and more distracted from our spiritual priorities. We are attracted to and enmeshed in the things of the world because we seek experience and pleasure. When one pleasure begins to become dull to us, we seek something else. Perhaps, we were even attracted to this path because we thought that our meditation would provide us with colourful and spectacular experiences, and without realizing it, even our spiritual lives have left us feeling dry.
It’s really somewhat disingenuous to say we can put all our energy and thought into success in our outer life and, on the other hand, have a successful inner life without putting our priorities in order. After all, it has been taught by every saint, in every religious tradition, that the only way to true and lasting happiness, in this world or the next, is through our meditation.
The Masters suggest that the truly brave are those who make meditation the centre of their lives. It has been said that it takes courage to make choices in our life that are aligned with our real purpose and to seek that deep stillness in the midst of the karmas that come our way. But the Masters tell us that this stillness and happiness can be experienced in this lifetime.
What kind of lasting happiness are the Masters talking about? What is a successful inner life? Do we think it entails running to the hills, standing on one foot under a tree meditating for years; or does it entail the slow transformation of our entire orientation to our life? Because these answers aren’t immediately obvious and forthcoming, we may turn again to the world and its pleasures for comfort. Perhaps without realizing it, we even evaluate our ‘success’ on the path by the same measures that we apply to our worldly pursuits. In applying this type of thinking to our meditation, we judge it by unrealistic standards. Meditation, Master says, is simple, but not easy. Its importance can never be ignored.
Meditation, the Masters tell us, will eventually answer all our questions and give us everything we need.
The Masters promise their disciples that through meditation the disciple may attain forgiveness for lifetimes of sin, the mind and ego will become still, and the separation between the disciple and ultimate truth will be removed. What mystics don’t say is that our lives will magically become easier.
Consider that when we initially make our commitment to sit in meditation, we may have no idea of the larger truths that we seek. But there is power in that commitment to sit – especially if we can keep that commitment. There is a common saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While many of us feel so restless that we can’t even sit for one minute in meditation, the act of trying to sit time and time again shows that we can exercise some control over our mind. This act of trying repeatedly will make a large and critical difference in our life. Hazur says in Light on Sant Mat:
Do what you can as best as you can, even if it is not deep and one-pointed. If you cannot find much time, if concentration is not attained and the mind wanders, do not be discouraged.
So perhaps our image of a meditation full of skyrockets and firecrackers is not what we get. It may be through the simple act of repeatedly doing our meditation that we become stronger, gain determination, and burn away our self-imposed limitations. So we get up again, we try, we fail, we succeed, we get up, we fail over and over and over, and eventually we succeed.
Our meditation helps us become more sensitive to the divine plan of our life. Loving repetition of the holy names will naturally make us aware of the constant presence of the Master. Through the deepening of our simran and remembering him in all we do, our consciousness automatically will become purer. We can attain the mental and spiritual balance and equipoise that Master encourages us to have. The Master refers to meditation as the anchor to our sanity.
In Living Meditation the author explains this process:
When we recognize … and release our thoughts we are remembering the teachings.… Each time we let go of our thoughts and go back to our simran, we win a heroic and courageous victory. We are, as it were, swimming against the current, returning home to our source … we are turning our attention upwards to the eye centre.
Most importantly, by switching our thoughts to simran, we extract ourselves from the world of concepts and the dramas in our lives. We give up our addiction to the inner chatter and step into the path of inner peace.
If we make an effort to keep our mind in simran, the soul then gradually regains its power. The stronger we become, the more real, potent, and transforming our spiritual life will become and the more unreal the drama of this life becomes. This repeated effort and Master’s grace enable the mind and ego to release their grip on our souls.
Contrary to what we may think, our meditation may not give us an absolutely clear perception of the spiritual truth we think we are seeking. The truth is that, at this level, the mind finds itself in the presence of mysteries too vast for human comprehension. While the mind says, “I can handle this,” the body must also transform to be able to withstand the Shabd.
Maharaj Jagat Singh explains this to us in Science of the Soul:
Our consciousness permeates the entire body, down to our toes. We have to draw it up again and bring it to the eye centre, and send it upward. It is then that the door is opened. But the drawing up of consciousness or shaking it loose from the material body is a slow and labourious process. It has been called the “way of the ant.”
All that is required is to persist with patience, hope, faith and love. Then success, he reminds us, will be ours.
While we might think we are missing something in our meditation if there are no inner skyrockets and fireworks, actually, the result of our meditation finds its best expression in the very way we live our life. With meditation, we may find that positive qualities of being fully human begin to appear. We may be more focused, more kind, more loving, more content. We may eventually begin to prefer living in the atmosphere created by meditation.
This is what the Masters mean when they tell us that the entire purpose of our existence here on earth, is to become one with the Lord – to shape our lives so that everything we do points us toward self-and God-realization.
If, on the other hand, we see our meditation as separate from our daily life, we will soon understand that this is just a symptom of our still fractured nature that needs to be healed. More meditation, we are told in Living Meditation, is the only remedy for this fragmentation, this “cosmic fracture that has not only separated us from God and the Master, but has also torn apart our inner being.”
We have to build our whole life on the principles of seva, love, devotion, humility, and meditation. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Light on Saint Matthew:
The One who has created you is more anxious about you and takes much more care of you, is more concerned about you, than you are about yourself.… Have faith in the Father.
It is for us to find within ourselves the tenacity and endurance to follow the Master’s teachings to the end. We cannot hope to have love or devotion, peace or happiness, without a true and strong commitment to our meditation.
We get there on the pathway of grace that he is constantly putting before us; we get there because we have been pulled to something that is far geater than we are, and he has made us willing players in this plan.
We get there by the day-to-day decisions that we make to engage in the repetition of simran that will clear the way and dissipate our egos for the sake of our true self. The guiding spirit for this stupendous task is the Master. Tulsi Sahib says:
Listen, thou art constantly being called from the
There ever beckons thee the voice of thy Beloved.
It is not meeting with the Beloved that is arduous;
What is difficult, O Taqi, is that it is hard to behold him.
Without the grace of some realized guide, says Tulsi,
the path of salvation is distant.
Every morning, every day, each of us is invited to become aware that we are standing in the presence of God – in the presence of the inner Master. The invitation from him is his request that we meditate. We are not alone in this endeavour, for he is helping us in every way.
Our response to the Master’s invitation to us is to fulfil our promise to him. None of what our soul seeks will come without it. As the Masters say, separation from him is not in our destiny.