RIGHT UNDERSTANDING EXALTED
Originally published in Sat Sandesh – June 1972
A human being can benefit from another to the extent of that person's knowledge. First, we should remember that the whole world is at the mercy of the mind, which has four phases. One phase is absorbed attention; the second is the result of that, in mind- activity; the third phase differentiates through the intellect; and the fourth draws inferences out of the differentiation, through which an intoxicated, intense sense of pleasure occurs—and this is pride. These are the functions of the four phases of mind. Whatever one learns, one can pass on to others. Those who have journeyed along the path of inference can, in turn, teach others whatever they have learned—again through inference. But, they cannot through inference give any practical experience.
I once went to a gathering in Kanpur where the people were listening to talks on the Gita. The secret teaching is mentioned in the holy books; but for want of a realized person, the meaning is not understood. In the fourth and sixth chapters of the Gita, it is clearly written that one must go to a God-realized person and with all sincerity question him and get the answers. It states, furthermore, that when you are satisfied, you should follow the instructions of that God-realized person, and you will also gain the realization. Then, in the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters, it is explained even more openly that one must go behind the eyes, and so on. Now, this obviously is something that can only be done practically, and if this scripture is not heard through the discourse of one who has actually gained the knowledge in experience, how can one follow the correct import of it?
So, in Kanpur one brother stood up and said, "Brothers, get ready, for I am just now going to give you the darshan of the Lord." Naturally everyone was most impressed to hear this statement. He gave a very good talk—most praiseworthy. Intellectually he very beautifully explained the subject, and brought it to a conclusion that there is some Higher Power. But—he had not seen that Power, and could not show it to the people. What I am illustrating is that a man can guide others only up to the level he himself has reached, and not beyond that. He who is surrounded by mind and senses, and talks on the same level—no matter how wonderful the talk may be—but has not himself risen above the mind, intellect, and senses; how can he possibly take another beyond them?
It is very necessary to give some serious thought on this particular point. Reading, writing, and thinking are the first steps along the way. To read the holy books is not a waste of time, for they are the expressions in words of the realized souls who really experienced the Truth. Do you understand? Listen to the Master's true words; He speaks of what He sees. Whatever the Masters see, they give out. When they saw, they sang, and those songs gave forth fruit. Those who were caught up in mere feelings—"God is ever-existent, I feel Him to be so"—and so on, were most voluble in describing this ever-existent nature, but only by feelings. It is rather like the proverbial group of blind people who tried to describe the elephant. One man felt the elephant's legs, and said: "Oh, he is like a pillar." One man felt the ear, and said: "Brothers, he is like a fan." Another felt the stomach and declared the elephant to be like a barrel, and one felt the trunk and insisted he was like a rope. Now, none of these blind men had actually seen the elephant; so the judgment of them all was inaccurate because they were relying on feelings only.
So, those people who listen to the statements of those who speak from feelings will remain themselves governed by feelings, and will ever be at conflict among themselves, supporting their respective guru's versions. When the elephant is described by one with his eyes open, he will say, "Yes, his legs are like pillars, his stomach like a barrel," etc. He will place the whole picture in a very clear- cut and accurate manner. It is worthwhile understanding this point very fully: that you can be guided only up to that point which your guide has reached; and if he is deeply involved in his feelings, he will preach what he feels is true; and in this way any number of conclusions can be reached whereby people will fight among themselves over the controversies.
God is One—but His Power is working in different ways. Some people worship God as Lord Shiva, and some as Lord Vishnu. The Shiva devotee will say, "I do not want to see Vishnu's face," and the Vishnu devotee will not wish to see Shiva's face. O brothers, this is one and the same Power from the same Source, but working at different types of work. The person whose eye is open to the Truth sees clearly that these are different phases of the same God-power. The power which comes from a powerhouse is at one place heating through fire, and at some other location is freezing through ice. The man using the heat may be of the opinion that electricity can produce only heat, and the man in the freezing plant may stubbornly insist that electricity can be used only for freezing; but the expert from the powerhouse sees and knows that electric power can do many things. Each man speaks from his own level of knowledge, be it restricted or comprehensive.
The mystery of life must be solved; but he who feels the solution will just describe his feelings, and he who reaches a conclusion through inference will just explain his theory of inferences; and what of the person who has walked the emotional path? He will start dancing, for he only can express himself emotionally. This is all due to the fact that none of them have seen—that is why their statements will differ, and that is why their statements cannot be absolutely correct. One can begin to see why there is always so much conflict on the subject of religion. The Vedas, in this regard, say: Truth is one, but people through intellect have explained it variously. We should always remember this point: that this subject is such that it cannot be completely grasped by intellect. And, what does the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad say? It says that to bring God into intellectual terms is as impossible as trying to quench the thirst with wine or extract oil from sand. On this same subject, Guru Nanak says: It cannot be achieved by thought, though the thoughts be millions. It is not a subject for thinking, although thinking may take one a little nearer toward finding it; so when will the riddle be solved? When: Senses are immobile, the mind at rest, and the intellect is stilled, then the soul perceives.
Without a Perfect Master, there is no right understanding, and therefore, no real progress. Without the right understanding each one sits in pride, saying, "My way is the right one," and attempts to force everyone else to accept it. Why all the conflict and dissention when all these different phases have the same Source? Even in the matter of way of life, some say the householder's life is the best, and some say the renunciate's life is the best. So, which is better? The Masters say: Happiness lies neither in the home, nor in leaving it; Happiness lies in the knowledge gained from the Master's company. Finding true happiness does not rest with renouncing or not renouncing the worldly life, and can only be found by contacting the Truth at the feet of a Master. The Masters are those who have seen the Truth, and, therefore, are not their statements more correct? The holy books contain the words of those who had right understanding—they saw and they gave out.
Now, what is right understanding? In a few words, there is someone who gave us birth (father and mother); but brothers, there must be someone who is responsible for the creation of all life, and through whom all birth comes about. This is an inference of the intellect is it not? All worship the Maker in one form or another, call Him Ram, Allah, or God. Now, Ram, Allah, and God are not all different beings. The Creator of all creation is one, but was given various Names by the Rishis, Munis, and Mahatmas. In truth, He has no Name. Bow down to the Nameless. But, to help the people remember Him, the Masters give Him names. For instance, He was called Ram; this word comes from rum which means "reverberating in all creation." He is immanent in all forms, and to realize that Being with many names, we entered one or another of the religions. Hundreds of lovers, but the Beloved is one for all; Religion and caste are different, but the work is one for all. This statement is really the very basis of right understanding, and if right understanding develops, where is conflict, where is dissention?
The soul is a conscious entity. God has given a physical form to each one, the outer and inner construction of which is the same in all—even the appearance is the same. The same sicknesses attack the physical form. Furthermore, each soul is under the influence of the mind and the senses, which, in turn, drag it outward toward the worldly enjoyments. So, he who separates the soul from mind, and mind from senses, and senses from enjoyments, gets the right understanding in Truth. He is a devotee of the one Creator, and by sitting beside such an enlightened devotee of God, one can also gain this right understanding. For lack of it, man remains trapped in the world. All men, in all religions, are subject to this imprisonment; and if you want to release yourself from this depressing condition then when Senses are immobile, the mind at rest, and the intellect is stilled, then the soul perceives. You can see that even the cure for man's misery is one and the same for all. Go to one who has stilled his mind and senses. If you go to an intellectually learned person, you will hear a very fine discourse with perhaps five or ten different meanings to one point, through inference; but he will not have seen what he is speaking of, and what is more important, he cannot show it to you. Swami Ji Maharaj says: If you desire release from the world, listen to the true Master's instructions.
When I spoke of these things in the West, they asked me: "You have described the Truth in very simple and clear words; why has it been so difficult to understand up to now?" I explained that those who described the Truth for them had themselves no experience of It, and could merely express some ideas at the intellectual level. In this context, Truth has been described so often and in so many different ways that whatever was known of It originally has been forgotten. No wonder it is now difficult for people to understand all these different theories. Those who had no first-hand knowledge were just beating about the bush. A person with even a little discernment will see the difference between the words of a Master and those of an ordinary man. The Gurbani describes this as the undeveloped words of worldly people and the developed words of the spiritually enlightened. The words that come from the spiritually enlightened come directly from some higher power. Actually, all speech is sustained, but there are two types of sound: one being hidden and the other apparent. The hidden Sound sustains everything—since when? This Sound started beyond the four yugas; It vibrated the Truth. The sound which becomes apparent is sustained by pranas, the vital airs or energy; but the hidden Sound is not sustained by anything. We are all worshippers of the latter.
What should one do to gain right understanding? Enjoy Satsang—the company of one who has become the image of Truth itself. Satsang is not the company of intellectuals, lecturers, hypocrites, propagandists, or paid preachers. All Masters advise that to solve the mystery of life, one should first develop right understanding: to understand in reality that we are soul in the body, embodied soul, no matter whether we are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or any other religion. Recognize all men's caste as one. There is no difference between he who lives in the city and he who lives in the jungle; for all men are truly embodied souls, and all are sustained by the same Power: that which controls the soul in the body. Just consider that there are nine physical orifices, yet the soul cannot run out through any of them. Only when the Sustainer or Controller withdraws does the soul also leave the body. The breath leaves the body; it could remain outside, but there is something controlling that, something drawing it back. This is the mystery of life, solving which you will gain right understanding. Without right understanding nothing worthwhile is achieved, but with right understanding you will have right thoughts, and right thoughts will give you right speech and right actions; from then on, love for all mankind develops automatically. There will be no question of fighting with others over petty differences; you will express what you have seen, and not what has been inferred.
It is a great blessing to have been given a human life, and the aim of the human life is to solve the mystery of it. If you cannot still the mind, intellect, and senses; then keep the company of he who can do this. Where the Satguru is, there is the company of the Truth. Satsang is not where we hear stories about the past and the future for the sake of earning someone's livelihood, where even the scriptures are explained in a thousand different lights of understanding. Right understanding cannot be developed like this. Excuse me, but the volume of preaching is at a peak in this age—I do not think it has ever been so rife before. And, the result of it all is hatred for one another. The steps we were taking were misdirected and still we are doing it today. So, what is the remedy? As I have said: to sit beside someone who has the right understanding. We will now take Guru Nanak Sahib's hymn:
When you meet a True Satguru, you get
the jeweled Right Knowledge.
Satguru is the image of Truth, who has become the true knowledge and who sees that the Lord is the Doer of all things and is working in all creation. Know a Satguru to be one who brings everyone together. This does not mean a guru of any particular sect, but a Guru of the world—of all mankind. Such a Guru does not see your religion, but rather he sees you—that you are soul in the physical form. He has freed himself from all shackles, and can free others also. The questions of how the senses can be withdrawn from outer attractions, how the mind can be free from the senses, how the soul can be analyzed from the mind, are all part of a practical science, of which the Satguru is a competent expert who can give the scientific experience to the aspirant, who, in turn, with the guidance and instruction of the Satguru, learns to increase that experience daily through regular practice. With such a method the disciple can become as expert as the Guru. There is a great difference between a Master and a philosopher's stone; The latter makes gold from iron, but the former makes us like himself. A philosopher's stone cannot make another philosopher’s stone, but the Master can make souls realized. This is why all Masters stress that reading, writing, and thinking are something apart from Spirituality.
Reasoning is the help, and reasoning the bar. If you go on poring over books and drawing inferences intellectually, you will at least be taking the first steps with the help of the words of the Masters found in the holy scriptures; but all this cannot be of any use in a practical science of withdrawing the senses from sense- objects and releasing the mind. For this, some higher bliss must be enjoyed, which up to now the mind has never had the opportunity to taste. It is all a practical matter, and he who has realized the subject practically can give the secret knowledge of it. One must seek his company.
When I was searching for Truth, I can tell you that my search was intense. I would start to read a certain book in the night, and without ceasing would study the whole night through, only to rise in the morning with yet no way out discovered. The books held very good thoughts—like green orchards, very refreshing. The heart starts to desire those things mentioned therein, but how? The books say, "God is ever-existent—no place is without Him—He is ever- apparent." But how to see Him? This is the burning question, is it not? I can only repeat that it is a practical subject. In this regard, Bulleh Shah says: Why read this pile of books? Burdening your head with all these thoughts! Leave the words; Leave all calculations, Drive away these atheistic ways. Is it not true that one becomes more confused by excessive reading—tiring the brain needlessly? Bookish knowledge is all wilderness—there is no way out. The love of One should dwell in your heart, that is all. Is this not the purpose behind reading scriptures—to love the Lord? Tulsi Sahib says: Reading and reading, the whole world died, no one became a teacher; If you dwell on the word "love" and develop that in yourself, you will become a real pundit (a teacher).
The purpose of reading is to become a devotee of the Lord and to love all beings, as the Lord is in each one. People do not do this. Instead, they become lecturers, etc.; but they do not develop love in themselves. All the world's conflicts are due to lack of love. And, all conflict is due to those who did not realize the Truth, but chose to become powerful through learning; and they are responsible for the discord and strife from which mankind is suffering. Had they realized the Truth, they would have spoken it out; but they said, "No, only our religion is the right one." In this way they drove one religion against another, they built controversial conditions, and then they sat down and watched while men shed their blood for these useless causes. We have a clear example in the partition of India and Pakistan which came about through suchlike conditions, and those who created them sat aside while approximately fifteen hundred thousand (1,500,000) persons were butchered needlessly. If they had had even a little right understanding, this tragedy would never have happened.
Some years ago during our Hazur's lifetime, there had been some trouble in Multan (now in Pakistan) between some Hindus and Muslims. Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj went there and held a Satsang, hearing which the people said, "If only you had come earlier, this trouble would not have arisen." Masters come to the world to join the brothers and sisters together, not to break them apart. And, they come to rejoin the souls back to the Lord. This is the work of the Masters. They say, "Love." In love there is oneness, union, not aloofness.
Naam is the sustainer of Khand and Brahmand. To realize this Naam is the right understanding. The only true thing, the only pure thing, is the Naam. Tulsi Sahib says: They chant the four Vedas, eighteen Puranas, nine Viakrans, and six Shastras, but lose the truth given out in them! Such is the case with followers of all religions. They go on reading their holy scriptures parrot-like, and do not follow the meanings underlying them. Not only was the Truth lost by reading all these, but he also says: Without knowing the Surat- Shabd, one is like the chandool bird, and can imitate all words without the underlying meaning. While the attention or soul does not meet God, the Oversoul; and surrounded by mind and senses remains a prisoner because it has not been analyzed from them, then what is the value of book learning? Tulsi Sahib likens this to a chandool bird, which copies any sound it hears. It does not mean that one should never write or think, but alone they have no value.
The true aim behind reading the scriptures, if one fully understands what one reads, is to gain the realization. Since the world began, jiva did not leave the books, did not get true happiness. What a clear statement! We just cannot let go of the holy books and scriptures. Of course, outer knowledge is like a garland of flowers adorning a realized person who will then explain the path of Truth in many ways and thereby help the different types of seekers to understand; but a realized soul is a realized soul, with or without worldly degrees; and whatever he says is pregnant with meaning, overflowing with love and Truth. Sheikh Saadi says that if a learned man is unrealized, then reading and writing is like a donkey's burden upon his head. On this very subject, Guru Amar Das Ji says that it is like making a sweet dish without any sugar—stirring it with a spoon from morn to night, will it give any sweet taste? So, Guru Nanak is explaining the importance of right understanding:
When you meet a True Satguru, you get the jeweled Right Knowledge; Giving your mind to your Guru, you get the imperishable love.
Right understanding will only come when the soul transcends the mind. Just think about it carefully: you are on the mind's level, and as yet have not solved the mystery. If you remain at that level, how will you get full understanding?
When Swami Dayanand went to the Guru, he had his books under his arm, and the Guru said: "Dayanand, first throw away those books—into the river." Dayanand asked the Guru the reason for this order, and the Guru replied: "That which I want to give you cannot be got through books." They were holy books, but he threw them into the river; it is a very good example of Guru-bhakti. If it be considered a sin committed against the holy scriptures, yet he did not commit a greater sin: that of disobedience to his Guru. I read once that sometimes when Dayanand could not understand the true import of the written words, his Guru would beat him with a stick. On such occasions, Dayanand would say: "Maharaj, I am a great trouble to you." What very fine Guru-bhakti he had! Guru-bhakti is a matter of love—when heart speaks to heart.
When you go to a realized soul to get right understanding, go with all humility; put aside your views. What you know, you know. While you are with him, try to understand what he is saying. Consider the level he is speaking from, and then compare your own knowledge. Many would go to him for pride of their own knowledge. The man of prominent worldly position will not go, for he is intoxicated with his own power; and a rich man will not go, for he is lost in pride of wealth. Remember, the God-realized person cannot be bought with money, impressed by power, or pushed by force. When you go to him, put aside your own ideas—after all, no one can rob you of them! We make the mistake of measuring what he is trying to say with what we already know: "We have heard that before"; "So and so said that"—etc. Brothers, he will say all this and more, for he must speak on man's level for fuller comprehension, and will quote many truths that others have said, that the seeker may find his way more easily. But, the fact remains, if the seeker wants to receive, he must still his intellect for a while, and sit in all humility. If the cup is placed below the pitcher, it will be filled; but if it is placed above the pitcher, how can it be filled? That is why it is said: When the mind is sold to the Satguru, such a disciple's work is crowned with success.
When Ashtavakra gave the knowledge to King Janak, do you know what he asked for? He asked the king for his body, his wealth, and his mind. Body and wealth are sustained by the mind; so wherever the mind goes, everything goes. Guru Nanak is telling us that if one gives the mind to the Guru, one gets the permanent love. Swami Ji Maharaj says: O knowledge, you are very ignorant; You know not the value of a Master. Masters are a surging ocean of love: love for the Lord and love for humanity. But man would test them with his intellect; an impossibility, for They are full of the Nectar of Love; In their company, true hankering for Thee bursts forth to have an overflowing cup of love for God and humanity. Put aside your intellect and become receptive, and then you will see. Once in Berlin, Germany, during my talk which was being interpreted from English to German by an interpreter, the audience told the interpreter to stop as the interpretation was not necessary—"We understand more from His eyes." Eyes are the windows of the soul, through which the intoxication and the import thereof is conveyed.
Giving up the mind does not mean one loses one's reason or intellect; it means, first of all, to still the mind completely, and fully grasp what the Guru is saying. If you put aside the I-hood, you will get the right import, thereby becoming receptive to absorb the perpetual radiation of power from the Guru. Kabir Sahib has warned us what can happen: Mind is given elsewhere, body is in the Master's company; Kabir says, how can you dye an unbleached cloth? Swami Ji says: Do Satsang by being receptive—Someone! It does not matter if you do not understand the words if you can be receptive, for his radiance will give you some intoxication. That precious jewel of understanding, which you gain when you meet the Satguru, is priceless, invaluable; but it is not received at the level of the mind. The mind must be stilled for a while, and then you will get such love—love like a surging ocean—it will surge within you. Your whole being will be uplifted by this overflowing love. After this, your mind can be stilled at will. O Lord, how can we leave the company of such a Saint, by seeing whom the mind gets stilled? You can say it is a judging criterion for a Master, for you cannot get this gift in the company of intellectuals. The waves of Truth are ever-flowing through the true Satguru, and those waves affect the sincere seeker. Even though the disciple is thousands of miles away, the same effect can be received by directing the attention. If radio can pick up transmissions from thousands of miles, why cannot our surat become affected?
Swami Vivekananda was said at one time to have been an atheist. He would challenge people, saying: "Is there anyone who has seen God?" He finally found Sri Ramakrishna, Who in those days lived in Calcutta and who was a realized soul, although he was not learned academically. Learning is the mother of books, and knowledge is the mother of all. Ramakrishna had knowledge; if he had no special book learning, did that matter? Swami Vivekananda put the question to him, "Master, have you seen God?" and Ramakrishna replied, "Yes, my child, I see Him as I see you—more vividly than that." He was satisfied.
Later, when Vivekananda went to the United States, He was requested to represent the Hindu religion at a parliament of religions. Now, sitting among one's own countrymen and giving a talk amid familiar surroundings is vastly different than addressing a selected gathering and discussing with distinguished members of the clergy. After speaking for about ten minutes, he suddenly became nonplussed—bereft of words. A speaker may pause for a drink without creating any misgivings; so he asked for a glass of water. While quietly waiting for the water, he put all his attention on his Guru. Now, Guru Power, or you can call it God Power, is working at that human pole and is ever-present. As he concentrated upon Sri Ramakrishna, he contacted a wave of Guru Power. He started speaking even before the water arrived, and went on to speak for more than five hours, causing eventually a good deal of anxiety among some of the clergymen. If Vivekananda had stayed in America longer, all would have been drawn to Him.
So, to achieve this jewel of knowledge, the Satguru is essential. One gets an intoxication from a truly realized soul just by focusing the attention on the Guru, thereby becoming receptive. A man who is proud of his mental development and advanced intellect may see the Guru on an occasion, but he gains no effect from that. This is the difference in men. Remember, the mind is material—not conscious; furthermore, it is besmeared with the mud of ages past. A magnet can have no effect on dirty, mud-covered iron filings; but if they are clean and free from soil, they quickly respond to the magnetism. The Master can be likened to a most powerful magnet, and our soul is of the same substance, but besmeared with the muddy experiences of our past. Remove the mud, and the soul will naturally be drawn to its source. Put this to the test: sit beside a Master and put your mind altogether aside for a while, and see how much bliss and intoxication you receive. Love will then begin to grow and overflow in you, for God is love, and the soul is His entity—a drop of that Ocean of Love—although it is at present scattered widely in a thousand attractive outlets at the mind and sense level. Separated for a brief space from all this outer tinsel, and centered or concentrated, it will be dragged toward that love which gushes forth from the perennial source. This is an established law. We read the words of the Masters, the valuable gems they left behind; but we rarely understand their true meaning. So, he tells us:
Giving your mind to your Guru, you get the imperishable love; You receive the gift of salvation, which erases the dirt of all sins.
With right understanding, the mind is cured from the state of diffusion that it suffers from, by the soul-filled glance of the Master. Is it not said in the scriptures that salvation is gained through the Naam or Word? What is that Naam? That is the Name or Word of God which sustains all creation. And, when will you get this gift which erases all imperfections? — When you sit beside a Master in a receptive mood. Even if you do not understand the language he is speaking, yet you will gain the benefit of the radiation. If you also understand his words, so much the better. Guru Arjan Sahib says: By coalescent darshan all sins are finished. Becoming fully absorbed and in union with someone is different from merely seeing a person. It must be a coalescence —the two hearts should become one, so that the soul is receptive. Christ said: I am the vine, ye are the branches—only the Masters can understand this subject—He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. This is what is called Guru-bhakti. If you are really devoted to someone, you will obey that person. Christ also said: If ye love me, keep my commandments. Wherever love is, a human being responds.
The Masters tell us that the right understanding is: you are not the body, I am not the body, you are a soul, I am a soul; our Life Sustainer is God, and my soul is in unison with Him; by His mercy you will also be rejoined to Him. The God Power working in the Guru guides the disciple constantly; so if you receive this gift, all your faults and imperfections will be erased. Our biggest fault is that our attention is scattered—disseminated among outer things; this is our basic problem. But, when the mind starts tasting the higher Nectar, why would he revert to lower enjoyments again?
Oh brother, without the Guru there is no knowledge; Ask Brahma, Narad, Ved Vyas.
In the Srimad Bhagavat it is written that when Brahma made the four Vedas, he became very sorrowful. Do you understand why? Because reading, writing, learning, and the acquisition of letters are not necessary for realization of the Truth. He says: Go ask Narad about this, and Sukhdev, son of Ved Vyas. This thing cannot be realized without a Guru. When the mind is stilled, one receives the radiating waves of the Guru which are already emanating from the human pole of the Master, and have great charging. Those who are receptive enjoy these charged waves to the extent of each one's receptivity. The learned and the unlearned both can become receptive; but as long as the mind is not set aside, there is no spiritual advancement. He tells us to go and ask anyone in authority, and they will tell you that it cannot be achieved without a Guru. Guru Nanak also says: Without a Satguru, no one had knowledge of the Divine, and no one can have it!
Concentration upon the indescribable Sound Principle, the Nad, is the knowledge.
That Sound cannot be expressed in words but is given various Names: Udgit, Nad, Word, Naam. To experience it is true knowledge. And, of the greatness of the Guru who makes possible this knowledge, Paltu Sahib says: Whoever can make the Sound coming from the gaggan [seat of the soul in the body] audible, He is my Gurudev. Whoever can make it possible for one to hear the Sound at the gaggan, and connect one to it, is truly a Guru. He gives a little way up and opens the path. That great Light, which is God's, leads one's attention away from outer attractions. It is a small experience with God. My Guru gives me the Light of the Lord's Naam. In the Gayatri Mantra the same thing is mentioned: O Lord, take us to the Light of the rays of the Sun within. Go and search for such a personality who can reveal this Light to you—wherever you can find him. Why can we not have this knowledge without a Guru? Understand very carefully that we are surrounded by the senses and have become the very image of the physical form. We have forgotten our true selves. When one asks a small child who he is, he opens his mouth and eyes wide and tries to express what he is, for he has some awareness left of his true self; but when he grows up, he declares, "I am Ram Das, I am Ram Singh, I am Mr. Khan," etc. That small fraction of awareness has gone, and to regain that awareness we must have the help of a Guru. If one hundred moons and one thousand suns arose—With all this light, there is but dense darkness without a Guru. If the inner eye is not open, how can one see? This eye is called the Shiv Netra, the Third Eye, the Single Eye. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of Light. Also, If the ten senses are controlled, in that soul will the Light become effulgent. But, how to control and invert the senses? This secret the Satguru tells. All outer learning has connection with the attention when scattered, but the true knowledge is gained through inversion. It is the ABC of Spirituality. Where the world's philosophies end, there the true religion starts.
So, meeting the Satguru opens the path of right understanding, by experiencing the inner knowledge. When the Satguru is met, inversion occurs, brother. Even for outer learning we need someone's help; so naturally this more exacting type of knowledge cannot be achieved without the help of an expert. That small experience given at the beginning is then increased by daily contact. Death while living unravels the mystery. You become the one who sees. When the attention withdraws and the body becomes numb, then you can say, "Yes, I have experienced it." The one who receives the experience can acknowledge it as practical proof, even if it be but little. It is like a scientific subject, and not one on the level of sense or feeling, for the soul itself has the experience; and as it rises higher, through the astral and causal planes, the more experience will it get. Finally, the soul sees that I and my Father are one—He works through me.
Concentration upon the indescribable Sound is the knowledge; The fruit-giving tree of the Guru is green, and its shade is deep.
The Guru is likened to a huge shady tree whose leaves are verdant, whose flowers are full of fragrance. Those who sit in its shade receive the coolness. Maulana Rumi says that our heart should sit beside one who knows its condition. He then himself asks how that can happen, and replies that one should sit under the tree whose flowery fragrance permeates, and should not roam around the world aimlessly, but rather sit in the shop where honey is sold; for in the world many things are taught, in huge boiling pots, and one should not go there with one's cup without first giving thought. There is a lot of black marketing in the world, but more so where so-called spirituality is concerned. There was an occasion when Christ became very angry with the Pharisees for defiling the precincts of the temple with their money-changing activities, and he drove them out. Bulleh Shah has described this very clearly: In holy places live the cheats, in the temples live the thugs, in the mosques live the professionals, but true lovers live elsewhere. It illustrates the decline in man.
Religions are well and good, but they should have a proper teacher—a realized soul. Instead, one finds this poor soul who is earning money for his living this way. He must do this, or be cast out. Now, what can people get from such poor beings? All these social bodies were based upon a noble thought, but everything has gone down with corruption; they are not up to the mark now. They want offerings of money, flowers, etc., and then give their blessings, saying, "Go, child, your salvation is assured," giving some "holy food" to complete the transaction. The same good old custom has corrupted itself. The customs were made for the purpose of helping the people to gain freedom, but they have become binding chains in themselves. A man who belongs to a certain religion is afraid to visit another. This is the result of wrong teaching. Our Hazur, Baba Sawan Singh Ji, used to say: "This is a gift given to you; go where you like, and if you find anything better than that, then take it, and I will also go there." We are devotees of the Truth and should go wherever we can get it.
The fruit-giving tree of the Guru is green, and its shade is deep; In the Guru's bhandar, precious jewels are found.
The Guru's bhandar [treasure house] is a place where one gets something invaluable; go and sit in that refreshing shade. After trudging long in the hot sun, a man gets re-enlivened for a while when he sits in the cool shade of a leafy tree. Sitting at the feet of a Realized Soul, one becomes more conscious of what is real and of the world's unreality. In the company of the Master, there is awareness of the Lord. In his company, the Lord seems very near; and when one leaves that company, one reverts to the same condition. This jewel of knowledge, which is right understanding, is found in the Guru's bhandar and is gained at his feet.
In the Guru's bhandara you get the pure love of Naam.
First he told us we would get the precious jewels—the jewels of understanding. Gurbani is most praiseworthy, for not only does it contain the words of the Masters, but those words are such that they explain fully so that there is no misunderstanding. Then he says you will get the pure love of Naam: it means that there is such a Name which is pure. God is Anaam—Nameless. He has no name; He is Absolute God. When He expressed Himself, He said, "I am one, but will become many." In the Gurbani, it is written, From one source, millions and millions of rivers sprouted forth. The Koran says, He ordered, and all creation came into being. The Power which came into expression is called Naam, and various other names given by the Rishis and Mahatmas, but these are merely names; the pure Naam is that Power—the Truth—the contact with which is given in the Guru's bhandara. Anyone can give mere words, and tell the person to go and repeat a certain name they have allotted to the Lord—although every respect should be given to all His names. I sacrifice myself on all Thy names. Now, the question arises, "What is that Naam, repeating which one crosses the ocean of life?" Those who have not found the Guru consider that the words applied to God mean everything. The Hindus say that He is Om or Ram. The Muslims say that He is Allah, and the Sikhs say that He is Waheguru. Who is correct? Each insists that salvation is gained through their own choice of name; but, in fact, these are merely words given to that holy power of Naam. We should practice that Naam which is the Power itself—the Truth. Only through that Naam can salvation be received. The controller of the nine riddhis [supernatural powers] is the Lord's Naam—the Water of Life—which resides in this body.
This is not a subject for physical sight; you must rise above the senses to see these things in truth. This Naam has an enchanting sweetness. Anyone can teach outer rituals, prayers, mantras; but with prayerful thought I say that if only religious leaders would give out the correct teachings, there would be great love among all men; this is the basic aim of all religions. Why is there so much conflict? Because of the different levels of understanding. They regard everything from the levels of mind, intellect, emotions, feelings, and inference; and it is all due to the lack of right understanding. Remember that this type of people has always stood against the God-realized souls, and principally the learned priests, who were at the level of mind. The great Saint, Guru Nanak Sahib, was called an enticer and was said to be misleading the people. He was refused entry into one city, called Kasur. Some people have propagated that I am the representative of the Negative Power and that no person should look upon my face for fear or being misled. Just see, even today these things are still going on.
With the full mercy of the Guru, You get the true merchandise.
If in your search you have found a truly God-realized soul who has realized that which is written of in the scriptures—has actually experienced that—then there is no need to read the holy books which speak of such a Guru. You may put them aside. To get what they got, meet such a realized soul who will take one along the path that he has traveled. No one has ever achieved any real progress just by reading, and never will.
To see this worldly ocean is terrifying— having no beginning nor end; There is no boat, no raft, no pilot.
The world can be likened to a vast ocean frightening to regard; we can see no beginning nor end to it all. Furthermore, we can see no means of crossing this ocean safely; we have only the mind as a helper. The mind, with its four departments—its reservoir of impressions, its reasoning powers, its intellect, and its ego—all are blockages, keeping one from the Truth. Their help will extend only to considering the subject. Reasoning is helpful, but nothing can be realized through it. So, is there any real means of crossing this worldly ocean? Guru Nanak himself answers this:
The ship is the Satguru, whose gaze will take you across.
A single glance from the Satguru can put you on that ship. That is the ship of Naam, the connection to which is given only by the Satguru; it is the very key to salvation. In the book, Bal Kand, [part of the Ram Charitra Mansa], written by Tulsidas, it is said in praise of Naam, With or without attribute, both are Brahm's image; But I consider Naam higher. Naam Power is higher than any attributed or non-attributed form of God, but indescribable. That is why it is said, How much can I say in praise of Naam? Ram himself could not sing Its praises. This is a clear comparison of Naam and Ram, showing Naam to be higher; for even Lord Rama could not find the words to praise it. O Nanak, with devotion read hundreds of thousands of tons of paper; With limitless ink, write at the speed of the wind; But your description cannot be scribed, O Naam. The whole world's scriptures would weigh less than one hundred tons, but he speaks of reading many hundreds of thousands of tons of books; of writing as fast as the wind; but Naam cannot be expressed in words. Naam is Naam. All say Naam, Naam, Naam, but no one has got it; Naam is unique. If you want to start to understand what Naam is, go to the God-realized person in whom it is manifested. In his bhandar, that treasure is stored. All other treasure and wealth is perishable.
To cease His remembrance, even for a second— All happiness leaves, and misery results.
Why are we unhappy? O Nanak, the whole world is unhappy; Only he is happy who is sustained by the Naam. God is our Life Sustainer, and we are truly happy only when we turn our face toward Him. When we turn away from God, misery enters our lives. Swami Ji Maharaj says: O soul, you are unhappy, we know, From the day you deserted the Shabd and befriended the mind.
That tongue should be burned out, which does not repeat the Naam.
The tongue which has never tasted that sweet Nectar is, in fact, worthless—fit only to be cut out and thrown away. We should be grateful to He who gave us life and goes on sustaining us, but we never give this a single thought. Much loved are the gifts, forgotten the Giver; Knows not, gives never a thought to the awaiting death. With this tongue of thought, go on being thankful to Him. The thankless tongue should be burned out.
When the physical crumbles and Death makes his claim, there is naught but misery and regret.
If this important work is not done in this life, the misery will increase with the physical form's decay, when you will go into the keeping of Yama, the Lord of Death. You will then bear the fruit of whatever you sowed during life, and so around and around the cycle you will continue. But, if you rise above the senses and taste the sweet Nectar of Naam, then your coming and going will cease. Living at the sense level will keep you tied to the everlasting chain of births and deaths, no matter how many good karmas you accrue. The jeweled wealth is of the Beyond; it is separate from the senses, and so cannot be realized through them. The Guru who keeps and can give this treasure is very rare. During the life of King Janak, only one could be found in the whole of India—namely Ashtavakra. Sukhdev Swami found only one also—King Janak. Of course, the more there are, so much the better for the world. It makes no difference where a realized soul lives: in the jungles or in the towns. When you meet a Perfect Master with all attributes, salvation is gained while living, laughing, and wearing ordinary clothes. He will not advise you to leave home and household duties; but he will say that, out of twenty-four hours each day, set aside two to three hours for this holy purpose. This work must be done as well as the worldly duties; so earn your own living and stand on your own feet.
In olden days, those who renounced the world for the spiritual life never collected money for their sustenance, and they had no possessions. They ate whenever food was offered them. But, these days, this type of life has become a business, and they have started collecting not only goods, but money too. It is now something far different from the original purpose, and blind men are leading the blind. This is mainly why the name of gurudom is scorned by the people at large, who are saying that reading the scriptures at home is better than going to a guru.
"It's mine, it's mine," they say, but they left without body, wealth, wife, or family.
The whole human race is engaged in possessing; but when each soul leaves, he takes nothing with him—neither possessions nor people—not even the body, which was his first worldly companion, will accompany him. He has frittered away his whole life's attention.
Without the Naam, all outer riches have no value, Because they have forgotten the Path.
We are the indweller of the physical form, but have become identified with it so much so that we have forgotten ourselves. We see, not at the level of soul, but at the body's level. It is a very deep forgetfulness. Rich and poor, literate and illiterate alike are all in the same state of illusion. The body is made of matter; the world is made of matter; and both are changing at the same rate. Being identified with it, we consider we are still and unchanging. The whole world is suffering from two kinds of illusion—jar-maya and chaitan-maya—coarse and subtle types of illusion. We rise out of the clutches of these when some Master-soul brings us above them and opens the spiritual eye and puts us on the Path. Without this, there is no difference in having outer knowledge and not having it; the spiritual ignorance remains. Actually, the man without intellectual learning will succeed more rapidly on the spiritual path, for if he is told, "Go up," he will start without delay or question; but the learned man will stand and ask, "Why? How many steps are there? What is at the top? I hope I will not slip and fall." This intellectual hesitancy will keep him where he is; he will never climb up. However, it is true that he who has learning but does not allow it to stand in the way will be more valuable than others; but such cases are rare. Outer knowledge is like a garland of flowers adorning a realized person, who will explain the Truth in many ways. Such knowledge in an unrealized soul is like a burden on a donkey's head.
By serving the True Master, the Gurumukh will know the Unexpressed.
Become the one who serves him in whom the Ever-Existent and Imperishable Lord is manifested—the Master. Who can know Him? Only a Gurumukh. And, what is a Gurumukh? He who is one with the Guru. One fakir has said that the seekers of God have lost Him in the waves of the mind's ocean—in the thoughts of the intellect. Go and seek out some True Master for the right understanding.
Coming and going around the wheel of life according to the karmas—How can what is written be erased? The law is the law.
What is written comes from the Beyond—one must go through it. Those who have love for the world and its environments will return to it again and again. Good actions will bring them happiness and bad actions misery. Hell, heaven, again and again birth. By rising above the senses and experiencing inner knowledge, one can become neh-karma (free from karmas). For such a person the perpetual wheel of life ceases to turn. The only reason for our continual return to the worldly life is our attachment to it. When we love God a little, it is usually for some worldly gain, and not to realize Him for His own sake. When the God-realized person gives the right understanding, he teaches the true values of life and how to make the best use of everything.
Without God's Name there is no freedom, but the Guru's knowledge gives the connection.
We cannot realize this Name or Naam by ourselves, for whatever practices we do are at the sense level. We must depend upon the knowledge of the Guru, for life comes from life, and light is lit from light.
Without Him I have no one; He is my life and breath.
He is speaking from experience, for he has seen that everything is sustained by the Lord. Being outwardly scattered, we cannot experience that. The Masters do not speak of themselves, but their words come from the Lord directly; for they are in constant and direct contact with Him. They are joined to the Lord. One fakir explains that whatever the Masters say, the Lord Himself is saying, although the words may seem to come from a human throat.
All are consumed in ego, attachment, greed, and pride; O Nanak, meditate upon the Shabd and realize the supreme unity.
Shabd is the same as Naam. God is Ashabd, but His expression is Shabd. Creation and dissolution come through the Shabd; Through the Shabd comes re-creation. It is the Power behind all creation and dissolution. There are two kinds of this Shabd, Naam, or Word: one is outer, at the level of the mind and intellect, and one is above these. The latter is the one received by the grace of the Guru. Get the connection to that Shabd, and meditate upon it. The result will be that you will gain a wealth of knowledge; you will gain the greatest of achievements: to know the Music of the Spheres.
This was a hymn of Guru Nanak Sahib, who has very openly tried to teach us the way of right understanding and its incalculable value. Now, Dhani Dharam Das Ji, who succeeded Kabir, says:
O Lord, where have You placed me? That unchangeable place is where the hans lives, and this is but the play of the Negative.
It is a protest to the Lord. "I am a conscious entity, a soul, and my place is Sat Lok; I am a dweller of the True Home, and yet where am I now? That unchangeable place is where the hans live—those who can differentiate Truth from untruth. How have I become trapped in this negative illusion?" O loved one (soul), your place was one of all-consciousness, but you have tied yourself in the matter. Man, there was no matter in your home, for you were the dweller of the pure place; and yet here you are imprisoned in the mud and water. One hundred wise men will have but the same thought. Guru Nanak says: You are residing in the Imperishable True Home, and I am lost in perishable matter. So, learn to die so that you may begin to live. If you yearn for everlasting life, then learn to die before death. To learn how to leave the body while living has been the teaching of all Masters.
Through the play of nirgun and sagun, you got into the clutches of Kal, the Negative Power.
So many people are trying to gain good attributes, or are trying to reach a stage above attributes. Why not reach that which sustains both nirgun (without attributes) and sagun (good attributes)? To be without attributes is an attribute in itself; so we must go beyond nirgun and sagun, and get connected there. What high thoughts these Masters have—and just see where we are standing!
The Imperishable Nectar sustains, in the country of the Sat Purush [the True Being].
The place is beyond the circle of Kal and Maha Kal [the forces of the Negative and Greater Negative Powers] where dissolution and grand dissolution do not reach. His Name is Satguru, who knows the Sat Purush, In whose company the disciple gains salvation; O Nanak, sing the praises of God. Also, When the Satguru is met, the eye sees. The Master will make the soul reach to the same stage as himself. He who has become one with the Sat Purush will take the seeking souls there also. He who has passed only intermediate cannot teach the B.A. class. He who has transcended Pind is no doubt due some respect, but we should see how far beyond Pind he has gone. It is a great pity that the actual words of the Masters are not always found, for their words are usually collected after they leave the worldly scene. It is even possible that the words of some of the Masters who went on were never found at all. So, it is difficult to discover who has reached where. Kabir Sahib says: Do not say that these holy books are lies; Liar is he who does not practice what he reads. If you go within, you will meet those Masters, just as you meet the people here when you come to Delhi.
Dharam Das pleads with folded hands: O Lord, take me to Your country, I cannot bear this noose of the Lord of Death; Use any means, but keep Your attention on me.
The world is a place of birth and death—Take me to my True Home, O Satguru; it is in Your hands alone. That God Power, the Truth, is working in the human pole of the Satguru. It also works in us all, but has not manifested itself in all men. Wealth, attachment, all are illusion—all a play of Kal. Due to the never- ending disseminations of thought, the world is lost in forgetfulness. Wherever your attention is, so there you will be also, and that is why again and again you must come to the world. The Guru reveals the hole where the secret is hidden; by closing the doors, the Anhad [Unstruck Sound] is heard. When you come to know the Anhad, it means you have succeeded in your mission. This will be only when you have fully and completely withdrawn from all outer attractions and have risen above the mind and the senses.
Cut illusion, attachment, and give me Nirvana, That everlasting place of the hans, which only a few will reach; Dharam Das pleads with folded hands, to realize his aim and release him from this wheel.
"O Lord, bless me with that state beyond the three attributes. This wealth and attachment is dragging me here, again and again. Take me out of it all, and put me in that place which is ever-existent and permanent, where very few reach—only those like the hans, those who can differentiate the Truth from untruth." It is his plea to the Satguru's mercy.
This is the teaching of the Masters—the people who have realized
the true knowledge. Live wherever you wish; live in your own
religion; but make your life good, pure, and righteous. Stay away
from the outer senses, the enjoyments. Be fully controlled. Sit at
the feet of a realized Master and get the contact within. Day by
day do the practice and earn progress within. You will be a
success in life.