Method of Simran
People perform Simran - Repetition - in a variety of ways and these are:
Some do it with the help of beads. This divides the attention, because a part of it is engaged in counting the beads, and the other in reversing the process on reaching the head bead. By this means complete concentration does not come. So long as the attention accompanies the process, some benefit accrues. Otherwise, while the fingers rotate the beads, the mind roams about.
The true rosary is the rosary of the mind. The rosaries of the world are false. If it were possible to have communion with the Lord by rotating outside beads, then the Persian wheel, round whose neck rotate water-holders, should have been the one to realize God.
The Chinese have designed a machine in which one rotation of the crankshaft makes a container revolve a thousand times. A piece of paper on which a prayer is written is put into this container. People then go to the temple and turn the wheel twice and are pleased with the feeling that they have repeated the prayer two thousand times. But how can one find peace by such means?
Some people repeat their prayers with the tongue. This has a certain value as long as the attention is concentrated on the repetition. But like the rotating of the beads, when the repetition with the tongue becomes automatic, the mind involuntarily wanders.
The practice where the rosary rotates in the hand, the tongue moves in the mouth, and the mind runs in all the ten directions, is not called Simran (Repetition).
By rotating the rosary, the mind feels elated but no real benefit results. If the hands are busy in rotating the rosary, how can the soul current collect within? If the soul currents concentrate, the hands cannot rotate the beads. If the soul currents have not withdrawn to the soul’s headquarters, nothing can be gained. Therefore, we make a rosary of the mind. There is no need for one of wood. Many people use their finger tips instead of a rosary for doing their repetition.
If you say the rosary of the mind, you can have communion with the Master. When the soul has not become motionless, of what use is counting on the fingers? You are counting on your fingers with the hand, but your mind is strutting about. This is all futile. If the rosary of the mind is repeated, then the inner consciousness is awakened and Light appears within. For ages people have rotated beads, but their minds have not changed. Therefore, giving up the counting of beads with the hand, rotate only the bead of the mind.
By so doing our hands and feet will become numb, so much so that the entire consciousness of the body will collect at the eye centre, and the soul will enter the inner realms and will behold radiance within.
Some people do repetition with their throat. This is beneficial so long as the attention is properly directed; otherwise the mind wanders aimlessly, as it does in the first two methods.
Some carry out repetition in their heart. This suffers from the same shortcomings as the other methods mentioned above.
There is yet another method of Simran, in which the Yogis produce a sound by raising their breath at the navel centre. This practice leads to a temporary control of the mind. Therefore, this method is also not without its defects.
Repetition by the tongue is better than that with a rosary, and that in the throat is superior to one by the tongue. Similarly, that in the heart is more beneficial than the one in the throat. The fifth, viz., that in the navel centre is attempted by the yogis alone. Simran by means of a rosary or by the tongue is considered to be the lowest form of repetition, that in the throat and with the heart being distinctly superior. However, all types of repetition, when accompanied by one-pointed attention, yield good results. They cleanse the mind and bring some measure of peace. But the soul currents do not collect at the eye centre, so there is little gain in spiritual development. It is for this reason that the Saints start from the very root of the thing. They advocate repetition by the tongue of the soul. This way we gain the means of making the mind still. Saints call this the Simran of the soul.
By following this method, the mind does not roam about. Here it is not a case that repetition continues and the mind strays out, as happens in the methods described earlier. The Simran of the soul awakens the inner consciousness and enables one to hear Shabd or the Sound Current - the Word -, which brings real peace and bliss.
Sheikh Farid-udin Attar has divided the various methods of Simran into three parts.
We do not understand their significance due to our ignorance. We are aware only of Simran by the tongue. There are only a few people who do Simran with the attention at their heart. A selected few, a very special type of devotees, do it by a secret method. Unless the Simran is done by this last method, the efforts are in vain. The reading of holy scriptures is the Simran by tongue. Those who do not even do this much are indeed extremely indolent. This secret method of Simran, the place where attention is to be focussed while doing it, and the manner of its conduct can be learnt only from a perfect Adept.
The Muslim Fakirs tell of five different methods of Simran or Repetition:
Lasani – that is by tongue. It is also known as Kalma-i-Shariat or Nasoot.
Kalbi – which is done through the heart, by putting pressure on the heart by means of breathing. This is also called Kalma-i-Tariakat or Malkoot.
Ruhi – repetition by the soul with attention at the Third Eye. This is known as Kalma-i-Marfat or Javroot.
Siri – which is obtained by means of inner revelation. This is also known as Kalma-i-Hakikat or Lahoot. In this, the practitioner becomes one with the Simran.
Sufi – by which one merges in the Lord. This is also called Hahoot. The practitioner loses his own identity and imbibes that of the Lord. This is the permanent and everlasting stage.
Another Saint says:
Repetition by the tongue gives temporary results; Simran at the heart is of an ordinary type; the spiritual Repetition is superior and is practised only by highly advanced souls.
Maulana Rumi says:
Do the Repetition so that you may manifest God, but not the repetition by tongue, the results of which are not lasting.
The Spiritual Repetition at the eye centre is the monopoly of Saints.
In the Hindu Upanishads we find:
According to the Vedas there are various advantages of repetition by tongue. Repetition done slowly and faintly is a thousand times better than that which is done quickly, and that by mind is ten million times more fruitful than that by tongue.
Repetition by tongue, without understanding the significance of the words, or parrot-like repeating of a name without much thought, is a mere show. The ordinary people who do this type of Simran remain bereft of any good.