In Tibet there once lived a boy who wished to fly. According to lore, one fine day he spotted a giant bird soaring gracefully in the sky, but as he gazed intently he saw it was really a man flying like a bird. So he went from village to village in search of the flying prodigy until, finally, after several months he stood before the master. As he eagerly wished to learn the art of flying from him, the teacher took him under his fold.
Years passed by and the boy continued to serve his teacher dutifully. One full-moon day, as fate would have it, the master asked the boy to meditate at midnight in order to fly. Then he added: “And remember, when you meditate do not think about monkeys, or it will not work.”
The boy was ecstatic and left the teacher’s place with great anticipation. As he walked towards home, he thought to himself, “Monkeys! Why would I think of monkeys? I have not even seen a monkey. I will not think of monkeys,” and so his trail of thoughts continued. When the boy sat in meditation later that night, all his attention and thoughts were on not thinking about monkeys, thus the time passed and the opportunity was lost.
Our spiritual journey is also filled with such dangers, which primarily result from our expectations and the thoughts arising out of them. We end up meditating with the expectation of gaining and achieving something instead of simply meditating. Let’s say we have a profound experience in meditation one day; then we expect more of the same – we want deeper sittings, profound visions and inner inspirations. The list of expectations is endless.
Expectations act as a hurdle to experience. Expectations deprive us of the gifts that Nature wants to give us. When we don’t experience what we expect, we lose the gift we were meant to receive and at the same time we also feel disappointed and start doubting. We create doubts about the place, the people, the method and the teacher. “Is there something wrong with my practice?” “Maybe the group I am meditating with is not right,” “Have I lost my inner connection?” I have heard seekers making all these statements.
We then make the problem worse by discussing and comparing our experiences with other seekers. Someone else describes an amazing experience, and we think, “Why am I not bestowed with something similar?” Comparisons and expectations are accomplices and tirelessly play tricks with the mind.
Now, how to solve this very real and perturbing issue? The simple answer is in our attitude. The attitude with which meditation is approached will determine the altitude we reach. In his book Commentary on the Ten Maxims of Sahaj Marg, Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur gives us wonderful guidance in this aspect by asking us to practice “with a heart full of love.”
Every meditation can be an act of surrender. With such an attitude we negate our existence, neutralize our expectations and create the vacuum inside for the higher dimensions to descend.
We have generally misunderstood the concept of surrender. We do not surrender to someone or something, but every action done with love is akin to surrender. Here we realize the brilliance of the statement from Ram Chandra persuading us to practice with a heart full of love. We naturally create a state of surrender when we meditate with love. In such a state, we no longer have worries about what experiences we may have. Meditation is no longer a transaction with Divinity. We are now receptive to whatever needs to happen. The path is now the destination, and when the path becomes the destination we can consider ourselves to be surrendered.
In such a state of surrender, any worry seems ridiculous, and becomes a slight to the Lord. So, I invite you to meditate with love and let the magic unfold!
All the best,
Illustrations by Chloe Tayali