Interview With Meditation Master
By Dr. Jay Kantor, Ph.D.
Rajinder Singh is the grandson and successor in the lineage of Sant Kirpal Singh, and an internationally recognized expert teacher of meditation. He was elected President of the World Fellowship of Religions and heads the Science of Spirituality, a non-profit, non-denominational organization with 300,000 members worldwide. He has written numerous books, including Inner and Outer Peace Through Meditation, Vision for Spiritual Unity and Peace, Education for a Peaceful World, and Ecology of the Soul.
Jay Kantor (JK): Please give us some background on where these practices come from and what your tradition is about.
Sant Rajinder Singh (SRS): This tradition is called the Sant Mat tradition. It is a tradition which is based on the teachings of the saints, and started 500 to a thousand years ago. The saints came from various religions and walks of life, and their teaching are all geared to spirituality, rather than being focused on religion. These teachings basically deal with the experience of our souls, which is the mystical side of the teachings of the various religions.
JK: What does it mean to be a spiritual being? What is our place in the spiritual world?
SRS: To be a spiritual being means that we are recognizing ourselves as we truly are. God is totally conscious. God is an ocean of all consciousness. God is an ocean of all love. So, our true self, being a part of God, is also conscious, is also full of the love and light of God. Being spiritual is recognizing ourselves at that level: of being conscious. Generally, what happens is that we live on the level of our senses, and think of ourselves as the human body, or the mind, or the intellect, or the profession that we are performing. What is very important is to recognize that there is something beyond the existence at the level of our senses, and that is our spiritual existence or the existence of our soul. As we recognize ourselves at the level of the soul, then we are able to look at our spiritual dimension. So, being spiritual is recognizing the connection that we have with the divine, and recognizing that we are not distinct from God, that we have a place in God.
JK: How can meditation, a spiritual master, or the Supreme Being help us with suffering?
SRS: As we meditate we get connected with the divinity within ourselves. As we connect, there's a cleansing of our soul. As our connection is focused on the divine, then we are oblivious to the suffering and the pain that we have. As we connect to what is called the Naam, the Shabd, the Holy Word, or the Divine Nectar, we get so much bliss from the connection, we are in so much ecstasy, that our attention is away from everything else. Not only are we not feeling the suffering for the time that we meditate, but that effect goes on and on and on. When we have a master, then we get guidance to be able to meditate properly. You know, the flight of our soul goes from the physical to the divine, and so you need guidance to be able to get to your goals. If you are sitting in New York and need to go to Chicago, you need a plan, you need maps, or you need a pilot to take you on a plane, or you need a bus driver to take you there. But the more complicated the journey, the more difficulty in being able to take it. Since we are all novices in being able to take a flight into the inner spiritual regions, a master who is well versed in that journey is definitely needed, otherwise we will be lost along the way.
JK: What is meditation, and what is its purpose?
SRS: Meditation is a means by which we can experience ourselves at the realm of our soul. Now, to us, meditation is a means by which we take our attention, which is the outer expression of our soul, and, instead of our attention going out into the world which it usually does through our senses -- of sight, our sense of hearing, our sense of smell, our sense of taste, and our sense of touch -- we bring our attention back into us, and we collect our sensory currents at what is called the seat of the soul, which is the area between our two eyebrows (also called third eye). As we collect our attention there, as we collect our sensory current there, we are at the doorway or the gateway to the spiritual regions within us. So, meditation is a means of being able to experience ourselves at that level. We have physical consciousness -- we feel the body, we pinch the body, we know that it is there. We have mental consciousness and mental capabilities, but we also have spiritual consciousness. So, meditation is the means of recognizing ourselves at the spiritual level we are at. As we meditate, the true purpose of meditation is to have our soul merge in God. There are many byproducts, like people who meditate have less stress in their lives. People who meditate, which is another word for concentration, are much more efficient, so they are more efficient at the workplace. Students get better grades because they can assimilate more of their studies. Diseases which are stress related, like heart disease or breathing diseases or migraine headaches, are positively affected by meditation because meditation has a calming affect on us. So, there are many benefits of meditation, but that's not the reason to meditate. The real reason for us to meditate is for us to able to fulfill the purpose of our existence which is to have our soul get out of the cycles of life and death, and get back to its own source.
JK: Please describe the steps of the meditation practice that you teach.
SRS: In the meditation practice we follow, you first still the body. To do that we find a quiet place to sit down and meditate. There's no sound in the area, so the sense of hearing is withdrawn. We don't change the atmosphere, so we don't light incense. We feel the whole earth is created by God: it's spiritual already. When we don't use incense, the sense of smell is easily withdrawn. We're definitely not going to eat as we meditate, so the sense of taste is withdrawn. We generally sit by ourselves, even though more than one person can sit in an area and meditate, but we don't hold hands and no part of our bodies touches the person next to us, so the sense of touch is withdrawn. Basically, by finding a quiet place and sitting down and closing our eyes, we're ready to meditate. By closing our eyes, we've withdrawn our sense of sight. As we sit our eyeballs should point straight ahead. They should be focused right in front of us. Many people raise their eyeballs in the hope of getting to the seat of the soul, the third eye. What we need to recognize is that these eyeballs are made of flesh and blood. They are only to see physical objects. If we raise our eyes, we only put ourselves under stress, and we get a headache. Our eyeballs should be straight because what we're going to see within is not with our physical eyes, it is with our single or our third eye. When we close our eyes, what generally happens is that we are bombarded by thoughts -- thoughts about the past, thoughts about the present, thoughts about the future, thoughts about our family life, thoughts about our business. Any thought is a distraction. To get to state where there's no thoughts, we make use of a characteristic of the mind which is that it needs to do something all the time. Now, we want to go on a spiritual journey, so we focus our mind on God by having it repeat God's name. This we do mentally. If we did it out loud, our ears would hear it, and we would be distracted. So we do a mental repetition of God's name. As we close our eyes and repeat God's name mentally, what happens is that senses have been withdrawn, and our mind is then occupied and focused on God, and it's not sending thoughts to us. In that state we start to connect with the Light within. These are the steps that we take to meditate.
JK: What sorts of things hinder a personal from having a successful meditation practice?
SRS: Generally, if we are in turmoil, it is a great hindrance. There are five thieves that take our resources for meditation away from us. There are lust, anger, ego, attachment, and greed. As we are more and more entangled in these, we find that we are getting further and further away from our true self. For us to be able to meditate, we need to be calm, we need to live a life of humility, we need to live a truthful life, and we need to have ethical virtues. As we get more and more virtuous, then our meditations get better. When we get away from virtue, our meditation is hindered.
JK: Are there other spiritual practices which are necessary to support a successful meditation practice?
SRS: Having an ethical life is important, living a life of love is important, living a life in which you are caring for others and sharing resources with others is important. A life of humility is important. When we bring cheer, happiness, and joy into the life of others that affects our spiritual life. So a life which is virtuous is one which is going to help us do well in our meditation.
JK: One of the things you stressed today was the importance of being a vegetarian. How is this related to spiritual growth?
SRS: We feel that being a vegetarian means that we are not taking the life of the animals or the birds or the fish or anyone else. We feel that God created life and God should take it away. There has always been a belief that the body needs to be cleansed. If we put the dead bodies of animals in our system, then we are making our own body a burial place. We want to keep the body as clean as possible. Now, we need to eat something. If you don't eat, we're not going to be able to survive. We feel that the vegetables, and fruits, and legumes are the things that God has put into this world which involves the least amount of destruction when we eat them, and this is why we recommend the vegetarian way of life -- so that no more destruction is done in the world, and our body is cleansed so that soul has an opportunity to soar into the regions of heaven.
JK: What is your vision for humanity's future, spiritual and otherwise? Where are we going?
SRS: I think we are going into what is called the Golden Age. I think more and more people today are experiencing the benefits of living a calm and peaceful life. There's much more interest in spirituality today even than there was 25 years ago. More and more people for health reasons and other reasons are going toward vegetarianism. More and more people are looking at what they're eating, not only from the physical point of view, but also from the spiritual point of view. As more and more research is going on in all these areas, we all want to live healthy lives, we all want to live lives which are calm and peaceful. So in the next millennium which is coming, there will be tremendous interest in the spiritual arena, and we'll find that people will recognize that even after all the economic gains, we can't be totally peaceful, we are not happy, we still have our own problems to deal with. It's only when we are excelling in the spiritual arena that we find fulfillment, that we find happiness and joy, that we find ourselves to be in ecstasy and bliss. So I see a very bright future in front of us.
JK: Is there anything else you'd like to add at this time?
SRS: We are caught up in the activities of our own lives. All of us are very
busy, we seem to be involved in many activities, and those things seem very,
very important. But, if we do not take the time out to really know about our
True Self, then this life will go away, this will just pass us by. So I pray
that God's grace is on each and every one, so that they do focus on the real
important part of our being which is to find out who we truly are, and what is
the purpose of life, and where are we going. As we do that I know that God will
extend enough grace so that we'll be able to get to that goal. If we take some
time and ponder on these questions and dig deep into them, I think we'll find