When Your Spiritual Garden Blossoms

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj used an interesting expression in his last Saturday evening question and answer session, and he repeated it again during his Sunday discourse. He said that at the time of initiation into the Sant Mat teachings, the spiritual Master “imparts some of his own consciousness” into those he initiates.

Some may view initiation as a purely outer event, through which the theory and technique of Shabd Meditation are conveyed. That is certainly part of what occurs. But initiation has a deeper, more esoteric dimension, and this statement hints at it.

To understand the incredible blessing that initiation represents, we need to try to understand who a spiritual Master really is. At the outer level we will first likely view the Master as a teacher. But the true significance of a spiritual Master and the remarkable benefits he bestows, becomes apparent only with inner progress, as through meditation we penetrate the thick curtains of matter and mind, realize our nature as soul,  and experience the divine nature of the Master.

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj writes:

After we take initiation, and have a firsthand experience of the Light and Sound of God, we realize we have received something from the Master that we did not get anywhere else. As we continue to meditate and follow the spiritual path, we realize that we are receiving more and more gifts from the Master. We are having meditation experiences within.

As the Master continues to pour out love and grace to us, we start developing love for the Master. This love grows with each passing year. As we become more seasoned on the path, we realize how much sacrifice the Master is making for us. We continue to grow deeper love for the Master.

When we go within and meet the Master’s radiant, spiritual form and he travels with us as our guide on the journey back to God, we start to recognize who he is and develop more and more love for him.

It is when we attain the ultimate goal of union of our soul with God that we finally recognize who the Master is. At that stage we experience oneness and the ultimate consummation of spiritual love.

The consciousness the Master imparts during initiation is the great catalyst to our spiritual evolution. The uplift we receive is not coming from the physical person of a Master. Rather, it is born of the power of God with which a spiritual Master is fully in tune. That is the singular divine energy through which enlightened beings throughout history have awakened humanity to the eternal truths of inner revelation.

Spiritual Discourse by
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

Sunday January 15 & 22, 2:30 PM
Piper’s Banquet Hall
1295 Butterfield Road
Aurora, IL
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Mystic literature tells us that a spiritual Master does not add anything that we don’t already possess. As soul, as drops of the ocean that is God, we have all the attributes of divinity within us, but those attributes are yet unrevealed. We are like a winter garden. All the color and fragrance of Spring exists as potential in the seeds in the frozen soil. All that is required is the Sun’s warmth, through which the garden blossoms and flourishes. The consciousness the Master imparts at initiation is that Sun.

Again, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj:

When there is a sincere cry of the heart to know truth, God puts the seeker in touch with a spiritual Master who can awaken the buds of the heart to lasting happiness. The seeker is led to a Master, who grants initiation into the Light and Sound of God.

Through the spiritual radiation and attention of the Master, the disciple’s inner eye and inner ear are opened to see the divine Light already within him or her and to hear the divine Sound reverberating ceaselessly within us.

That experience is like the blossoming of Spring when all the flowers bloom where there were once thorns. The heightened ecstasy of Spring with its magnificent colors and fragrant scents arouses our passions. Life takes on a new depth of joy and we feel intoxicated. This is the symbolism that gives us a taste of what ecstasy we experience when the Master opens our floral buds at the time of initiation and transports us into a world of spiritual delights and divine ecstasies.

Those who are initiated take great comfort in the closeness and certainty of that inner reservoir of divine consciousness. In all our activities, but especially in meditation, we can turn to, repose in, and rely on that uplifting power.

For seekers interested in the next step in their spiritual growth, this benefit of a self-realized Master deserves deep reflection. The history of esoteric literature emphasizes again and again that nothing speeds our spiritual development like the sublime influence of a competent Master.

As the great mystic poet Rumi wrote:

The only truth I know in this word is my spiritual Master:
The light of his Sun has never shone upon anything passing without making it eternal.

—Translation by Jonathan Starr

Meditation and the Divine Current of Shabd

At the heart of the Sant Mat meditation practice lies the principle known as Shabd. In fact, the technique taught by Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj at holy initiation into the Sant Mat teachings is called Shabd Meditation. In India the path he teaches has historically been known as Surat Shabd Yoga. What do these terms mean?

“Surat” is simple; it means “attention,” as in focusing within during meditation. “Shabd” is more esoteric. Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj explains it this way:

Shabd is the Current that came into being when God had the thought of being many from One. That thought produced a vibration, which resulted in a Current of Light and Sound. This is a stream that brought all regions of creation into being, created this world, all forms of life, and sustains all life. It is a stream that exists within each of us. When our soul, a particle of God, connects with the Light and Sound, it can swim on that divine current back to the source, God.

Imagine the will or energy of unmanifested God flowing outward like a great river, and along the way manifesting into existence the various realms of creation. That expressed power of God is Shabd. Masters often equate Shabd to the Word in the New Testament. The thing about this great power is that it flows in both directions. As Sant Darshan Singh Ji says in his beautiful quote, Shabd emanates from God to create existence, but Shabd also returns to God, carrying with it any souls fortunate to immerse themselves in it.

In the Sant Mat traditions, this “swimming in Shabd,” to use his poetic language, is the essence of meditation. Sure, meditation reduces stress, improves our physical and mental health, enhances our powers of concentration, and provides other benefits. But these are all side-benefits of regular practice. Meditation’s real purpose is to return to God, and Shabd provides the means.

September Meditation Course

The Science of Spirituality Meditation Center in Naperville offers a three-session workshop on Jyoti Meditation, an introductory technique for  meditation on the inner light. 

Mondays, September 12, 19, and 26
7:30 – 9:00 PM
Science of Spirituality Meditation Center

The course is ideal for those wishing to learn meditation, as well as those who would like a refresher. See Events for details.

How do we recognize Shabd? What are its attributes? Scriptures tell us that Absolute God has no form. But when expressed in creation as Shabd, God has two attributes–light and sound. The scriptures of the world overflow with references to divine light and sound. We may interpret light as intellectual understanding and sound as outer phenomena, such as singing or ringing bells. But mystic literature makes it clear that the inner journey is marked by revelations of rapturous mystical light and music unlike any we experience in the physical world.

Many of you have been through introductory Jyoti Meditation training with Science of Spirituality. “Jyoti” means light—the same light that is an attribute of Shabd. Next time you sit for Jyoti Meditation and are blessed to behold inner light, know that in that light is the power of God extending into the lower reaches of creation. It’s there within us, blazing and resounding constantly. When we withdraw our surat or attention from the world and direct it within, the light becomes apparent.

Shabd has two other important dimensions. First, because God is love, God’s expression through Shabd is also love. As we become more attuned with the light and sound within ourselves, we realize in them the love of God. As we advance in meditation, we know bliss not only during our practice, but our hearts expand through contact with that love-laden light and sound, and our daily lives become imbued with love. We see this in countless records of near death experiences, in which people’s lives are entirely transformed by even brief contact with divine light.

Another aspect of Shabd is this: for spiritual Masters who have fully merged their consciousness into Shabd and traveled that current back to God, they become embodiments of, and indistinguishable from, divine love. We see this in the statement that opens the gospel of John: the holy trinity—God and Word and Word made flesh—are one and the same. That same love and unity awaits each of us as souls, as drops of the Ocean of God.

Here is how Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj describes this remarkable phenomenon. He uses the term “Naam,” a synonym for Shabd.

What is Naam, or the Light and Sound? It is not a principle of physics. It is love itself. It is the love flowing out of the heart of God in the form of Light and Sound that created all. It is the God power or the Master that is actually love itself. The Master is one with that power and exudes that love in all directions. It is the soul that is a drop of that love.

When we strip away the world and the mind, we find ourselves as a drop of love. We are soul, and as such we, too, are made of love. When the love of the soul meets the love of God, there is no duality. Two become one. It is love meeting love. When the disciple meets the Master, it is recognizing the love within us is the same love that is within the Master, and all separateness is gone. Love meets love and there is nothing but love.

Meditate Better with a Checklist

by John Wolf

I just finished Atul Gawande’s bestselling book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. As a cardiac surgeon, Gawande became alarmed at the rate of deaths following surgery. Apparently, despite rising surgical training and ever-finer specialization, over 150,000 post-surgery Americans die each year. That’s triple the number of traffic fatalities. Experts say that simple mistakes cause half of those deaths.

Gawande’s book investigates how checklists can help. He cites an early experiment at Johns Hopkins, for example, that targeted one of the most insidious hospital problems—central line infections. An analysis showed that most infections result from experienced staff skipping a necessary step, such as washing hands or wearing a mask. Borrowing from the aviation industry, the hospital implemented the simplest of tools—a mandatory, written, five-step, no-brainer checklist. The rate of infection fell immediately to zero.

Most of the book explores the power of checklists in the medical world, with harrowing accounts of death and near-death and back-from-death surgeries that resulted from failure to perform a routine step. But the book also examines checklists in other industries. The author visits pilots, builders of skyscrapers, Homeland Security, venture capitalists and investment managers. All swear by checklists. Remember the US Airways pilot who safely landed a passenger plane in the Hudson River, despite having lost both engines? He was celebrated as a national hero. The pilot, however, credits those saved lives to a routine emergency checklist.

What does all this have to do with spirituality? Think of it this way: when the meditation instructions are read out at a Science of Spirituality program, what you are hearing is a checklist. Meditation is not like transplanting a heart, but it is a process. All the steps must be done, and done right. Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj says:

The meditation technique is a science. It is a defined instruction that one must do. Each part must be accurately carried out in order to achieve results. If any one part is not done correctly, it will affect the entire process. Let us take a look at each part of the meditation process in detail. When you see there is a blockage, it means there is some aspect of the process that is not being performed correctly. Because this is a science, the proper performance of the task will yield results. It is like math in which two plus two equal four. The science is perfect. It is we who do not perform it accurately.

Gawande interviews revered mutual fund manager Mohnish Pabrai, who makes a particularly insightful comment about his use of checklists. Pabrai tests every investment decision with a few-step checklist because, he says, a good checklist makes us more successful without being any more skillful. That’s a powerful notion. In other words, we can improve our meditation practice simply by rigorously doing what we should do and already know how to do.

What would a meditation checklist look like? As soon as I started the book and realized its applicability to meditation, I wrote the checklist below for myself. You can make your own by going through your Jyoti Meditation handbook or meditation instructions and identifying the vital steps. The key, Gawande’s research says, is to keep it simple: five to nine steps written out in concise, precise, active language.

Meditation Checklist

  1. Before you sit, do whatever it takes to be fully awake and alert.
  2. Assume a relaxed pose and review your body. If there is tension anywhere, readjust now. For the duration of the sitting, don’t move.
  3. Invoke God’s blessing in a spirit of devotion, humility, and self-surrender, knowing the results of your practice are in God’s hands.
  4. Close your eyes and direct a relaxed, loving inner gaze into the center of the darkness, about eight to ten inches in front of you.
  5. Repeat the names of God slowly, continuously, in an unbroken pattern.
  6. Always remain conscious of what you see. If the gaze breaks or thoughts intervene, bring the attention back, re-center the gaze, and resume the repetition.
  7. Whatever visions or vistas appear, keep a relaxed gaze focused in the middle.
  8. After the sitting, give thanks for what you received.
  9. Review this sitting with your checklist. Identify how to make your next sitting better.

Of course, we all know that meditation is more than technique. Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj writes: “Meditation is not a dry set of physical steps, such as sit down, close your eyes, and look within; meditation is an act of love. It is the dance of love between the soul and godly love within us.”

Still, we need to master the steps, especially in the beginning. A meditation checklist just might slow you down, get you focused, and ease you into the rhythm of that dance.

New Jyoti Meditation Classes

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj recently completed a tour of the Maharashtra state of India (near Mumbai), where he taught Jyoti and Shabd Meditation to many thousands. Shown here in Pune, India he indicates where to focus the inner gaze during meditation.

The Science of Spirituality Meditation Center in Naperville offers many meditation outreach programs and regular spiritual group meetings in Chicago and the suburbs. They provide opportunities to learn meditation and offer ongoing support for practitioners at all levels. Check the Around Town menu item for Jyoti Meditation training and support in your area.

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj has taught Jyoti Meditation to hundreds of thousands of spiritual seekers around the world. Practiced regularly and accurately, Jyoti Meditation not only relieves stress, but can bring deep peace, bliss, and joy.

For those who wish to go further in their practice, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj offers Shabd Meditation, in which the spiritual Master links one’s consciousness to the current of divine Light and Sound, the creative expression of God that permeates all creation. We find this power referred to variously in the world’s scriptures as Word, Naam, Shabd, Jyoti and Sruti, and by many other names. Although these terms are sometimes understood to suggest outer forms of religious practice, mystics of many traditions know them as expressions of the manifested power of God that is characterized by inner Light and Celestial Music.

Science of Spirituality offers Jyoti Meditation training for free. It can be practiced with great benefit without pursuing initiation and Shabd Meditation. But it also builds a solid foundation for more advanced practice. No special asanas or postures are required. And this meditation practice can be undertaken within the context of one’s own faith.

Jyoti Meditation training is currently underway at the Naperville meditation center. The next class is Monday, February 21, and you can still join in.

An introductory session will be offered in Chicago on February 23 in a program entitled Meditation: Gateway to Lasting Fulfillment. It will be held at the Cenacle Retreat facility on Fullerton. Details on both can be found in the Events section.


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