Cream on Milk
Meditation inspires us to become better human beings. Maharaj Charan Singh says that through meditation “all good qualities come in us like cream on milk.” Let’s take a look at five positive qualities that develop in us as we live a life of meditation.
First there is resilience. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows certain people to readily recover after being knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Resilience requires a light-hearted perspective and, often, a sense of humour, as if we are laughing our way to heaven. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise above the ashes. Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
We shouldn’t have a defeatist attitude if we have fallen, if we have become a victim of human failings. When a child starts running, how many times does he fall? How many times does he get bruises? But he rises again, gets up again, again starts running. We have all passed through that same phase, and now walking or running is no problem for us. So in the same way, we are tempted, and we do fall, we do become a victim of human failings. But that doesn’t mean that we have to submit to the mind, that we have to lose the battle. We have to carry on. Ultimately, success is ours if we just struggle, just carry on.
The second good quality that develops as a result of meditation is humility. Humility allows us to quietly give what we can, to see opportunities to be of service with no egotism, no fanfare, wanting no attention for ourselves. Today the world teaches us to claim whatever we do, or know, or accomplish as our individual success. The way of the world is not the path of the saints. Maharaj Sawan Singh cautions us in Philosophy of The Masters, Vol. III:
If we do not take a humble and meek attitude before doing a good deed, do not retain it while doing and do not consider it a gift by the grace of the Lord and the Master after it is done, it is snatched from our hands by pride amidst our rejoicings. “The way to God is firstly humility, secondly humility, and thirdly humility. Again, unless humility precedes, accompanies, and follows every good action we perform, pride wrests wholly from our hands any good work on which we are congratulating ourselves.”
The best way to face our limitations is to meditate. Meditation humbles everyone who tries. If we desire to become better human beings and increase our humility, meditation will do it. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, “The more we meditate, the more we are driving out our ego.”
An important insight may emerge as our humility increases. We begin to see we are not the only ones in the world with problems to solve, with suffering to face, with responsibilities to fulfil or with significant challenges to overcome. When we stop focusing so much on our own needs, desires, and failings we become much more aware of others.
The third quality is compassion. As we become more aware of others’ challenges and suffering, we naturally become more compassionate – we feel empathy for our brothers and sisters. Great Master gives a beautiful description of compassion in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III:
Humanity simply means love for the Lord and his creation. Its other name is sympathy or compassion, fellow-feeling, or heart-felt attraction. Its proof is that one’s heart melts like wax on seeing the suffering of another. The other man’s suffering appears to him as his own. He heartens him, feels sympathy for and is attracted to him, and takes steps to remove his sufferings.
As we become more humble, and our hearts become softer, then we become more giving, more compassionate. Maharaj Charan Singh in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, is very clear about compassion when he says:
If we can do anything to help anybody, we should. That is our duty – we are meant to help each other. Humans are meant to help humans. Who else will help? Birds and plants won’t come to help you – you have to help each other. We should be a source of strength to each other.… Your heart should be very, very soft to other people and you should be very compassionate, very kind.
The fourth virtue is charity. We can demonstrate generosity every day. We learn to let go, to share, and to offer to others what has been given to us. We can offer a smile to a cashier at a store, extend a welcome to a friend, give a word of encouragement to someone who is exhausted, or send an email to someone who feels isolated and lonely. The practice of generosity is important. It embodies the understanding that we are here to serve. Mercy is always in the heart of the charitable.
Becoming humble, compassionate, and generous requires more than thinking. Becoming a more ethical, moral, and caring human being is all about action and effort. Becoming a better human being takes practice and persistence. It is our assignment every morning. It can be our aspiration in every interaction, in every service we perform. We are here on this earth for two purposes: God-realization and to help one another. These two aspects of our lives are intertwined – one strengthens the other. We naturally imbibe good qualities as we devote ourselves to meditation; and as we become better human beings our lifestyle aligns with and supports our spiritual focus.
The four above-mentioned virtues bring us to a fifth quality – awareness of the presence of God. One of the most extraordinary ways we can become better human beings is by beginning to act as if we are always in the presence of God.
The Lord is within us, closer than our own breathing. We will know that we are living in the presence of the Master whenever we remember him, whenever we seek his company and take refuge in him. Master is always pulling us in hundreds of ways – whenever we do our meditation, repeat our simran, attend satsang, and whenever we recognize others as being God’s children.
At the time of meditation every initiate is invited to become aware that he or she is standing in the presence of the inner Master. We are not alone in this work. One day, we might even discover that the path of God-realization and the path of becoming a better human being are intimately related.