Once upon a time in Tibet there was a boy who wanted to fly. The story goes that one fine day he saw a big bird flying majestically in the sky, but as he looked more closely he realised it was a man flying like a bird, so he went from village to village searching for the flying master. Finally, after many months of searching, he came face-to-face with him. He pleaded his case with eagerness to learn the art of flying so the teacher took him under his tutelage.
As the years passed by, the boy dutifully served his teacher, until one fateful day on the full moon the teacher imparted to him the knowledge of how to fly like a bird. He asked the boy to put this knowledge into action by meditating at midnight. Then he added one caveat: “The only rule for the technique to work is that you are not allowed to think about monkeys.”
Overjoyed with the knowledge, the boy left for home. As he walked, he thought to himself, “Why would I think of monkeys? I have never seen a monkey. I will not think about monkeys,” and in this way his train of thought continued. Later that night, when the boy sat in meditation, all his focus and thoughts were on ‘not thinking about monkeys’, so the moment came and went and the opportunity was lost.
Our spiritual journey is also fraught with such pitfalls, which are primarily the result of our expectations and the thoughts that arise from them. Instead of simply meditating, we end up meditating with the expectation of gaining and achieving something. For example, if one day we have a profound experience in meditation, we then expect more of the same. We want deeper sittings, profound visions, and inner inspirations. The list of expectations goes on and on.
Expectations act as a barrier to experience. Expectations rob us of the gifts that Nature wants to bestow upon us. When we don’t have the experience we expect, not only do we lose the gift we were meant to receive but we also feel disappointed and create doubt within ourselves. We end up doubting the place, the people, the method and even the Master. “Is there something wrong with my practice?” “Maybe the group I am meditating with is not right,” “Have I lost my inner connection?” These are all statements I have heard from seekers.
We then compound the problem by discussing our experiences with other seekers and comparing our experiences with theirs. When someone else describes an amazing experience we think, “Why am I not bestowed with something similar?” Comparisons and expectations are partners in crime and relentlessly play tricks with the mind.
Now, how to overcome this very real and troublesome issue? The answer is so simple: attitude. The attitude with which we approach meditation will determine the altitude we achieve. Beloved Babuji has given us wonderful guidance in this arena. In his book Commentary on the Ten Maxims of Sahaj Marg, he says to practice “with a heart full of love.”
Every meditation can be an act of surrender. When we meditate with such an attitude we negate our existence, nullify our expectations and create the vacuum within for the higher dimensions to descend.
The concept of surrender is widely misunderstood. We do not surrender to someone or something. Instead, every action done with love is akin to surrender. This is where we realise the brilliance of the statement from beloved Babuji urging us to practise with a heart full of love. When we meditate with love, we naturally create a state of surrender. In such a state, there are no longer any worries about the experiences we receive. Meditation is no longer a transaction with Divinity. We are now open to whatever needs to happen. The path is now the destination and when the path becomes our destination, we can consider ourselves to be surrendered.