By Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
This article has been selected and reprinted from Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj’s book, Spiritual Pearls for Enlightened Living (Radiance Publishers) an inspirational collection of stories from the world’s great wisdom traditions.
During the time of Guru Gobind Singh, there was a great rishi who gave up everything to go to a forest to meditate. There was also a king who had already conquered many other territories and their people. One day, the king set his ambition on conquering the rishi to make him obey his commands. People thought it was strange that the king would focus on conquering a rishi who had no property, kingdom, or wealth. But it turned out that the rishi had previously been a king before giving up his kingdom for spiritual life. This made the present king have an obsession with wanting to conquer the rishi. So the king gathered his entire army to prepare for battle.
The army marched into the deep forest. The army finally reached the rishi, who was sitting in the woods, deep in meditation.
The king waited for the rishi to come out of meditation, but he kept on sitting there. Finally, the king became restless and shook the rishi out of meditation.
The king shouted, “Prepare for a fight. I have come to battle with you.”
The rishi surveyed the scene calmly. He saw the great army and said, “Fight! I ran away from my worldly life for fear of my one great enemy. I came here to hide in the woods from this enemy. My soul shudders in fear when I hear the sound of my enemy’s name. Just to think of this enemy’s name causes my heart to quiver.”
The king listened carefully as the rishi continued to describe his feared enemy. Finally, the king became angry and shouted, “Is your enemy stronger than me?”
The rishi replied, “Even the thought of this enemy destroys my soul. I left everything to escape from this enemy.”
The king said, “Tell me the name of this enemy of yours.”
The rishi said, “There is no use in telling you who it is. You will never be able to conquer him.”
The king replied, “If I cannot conquer him, I will consider myself a failure.”
The rishi then told him, “This great enemy of whom I am speaking is the mind.”
From that day on, the king tried everything to overcome the mind. He tried all kinds of techniques to gain control over his own mind. Years passed and still he could not conquer the mind. Finally, the king had to admit that he had failed and that the mind is truly the strongest enemy.
The mind is powerful and will try every means possible to gain control over our soul. Many yogis and rishis have tried to gain control over their minds but failed. If such is the fate of those who have given up the world to conquer their own mind, then what is the fate of the rest of us who are immersed in the world?
The mind is the obstacle our soul must deal with to return to God. The mind is like a soccer goalie, guarding the goal. It will try everything to keep the ball from reaching the goal. If even devoted rishis had trouble overcoming the mind, how can we do it?
The fact is that we cannot conquer the mind on our own. The only way to conquer the mind and still it is through the help of someone who has conquered the mind. Such enlightened beings give us a lift to contact the Light and Sound within us. The Light and Sound help uplift our soul beyond the realm of mind.
The rishi found that doing spiritual practices alone in the jungle did not help him overcome the mind. The mind still tempted him with the countless desires of the world.
The mind knows that contact with the soul will render it harmless. Thus, the mind will find all kinds of excuses to keep us from meditation. It will make us think of the past. It will make us think of the future. It will make us wiggle around instead of sitting still. It will make us feel sleepy just when we sit to meditate. It will make us feel hungry. It will make us feel jealous. It will make us feel depressed. It will make us feel like doing work instead of meditating. It will find a million excuses.
How do we overcome the mind’s tendencies to distract us? We must use the tendency of the mind to form positive habits. The mind likes habits. If we tell our mind that we need to sit for meditation each day at the same time and place, a habit will form. Soon we will find ourselves compelled to sit for meditation at that time each day. If will miss meditation, we will start to feel like something is amiss. Soon we will find ourselves meditating regularly.
When we learn to concentrate fully, wholly, and solely into the Light and Sound, we will experience bliss, peace, and joy. We will want to repeat meditation again and again because of the wonderful experience we receive.