The Message of Guru Nanak
(continued - Part 3)
Guru Nanak says that Creation is divided into three main Grand Divisions.
Here the spirit reigns supreme and there is total absence of matter. This is the region where the Lord Himself dwells and may be defined as the purely Spiritual Region. This is free from the haunt of death and destruction. Whoever reaches its domain, obtains true Salvation. The Master says:
The Second Grand Division consists of Pure Spirit and a subtle form of matter combined in varying degrees. The upper part of it is called Par Brahmand, wherein the spirit is more to be compared with the subtle forms of matter. In the lower parts called Dasam Dwar, both are in equal part. This is the region of the universal mind and is termed by various names by various Masters. Here the Spirit is mixed with matter in its subtlest form, the latter being totally subordinate to the former. Spirit in this region predominates and is pre-eminently the ruling force. This region undergoes a change at the destruction of the universe in the Grand Dissolution (Maha Pralaya), and in Dissolution (Pralaya). A man in this domain is safer than in the one below it.
The third region is the Grand Division of spirit and matter in its grossest form and is called "And." It is comprised of Trikuti and Sahansrar planes. It is the sphere of Maya or matter. In this region matter has the upper hand and spirit is subordinate to it, so much so, that the latter feels dependent on the former for its manifestation. In this region the spirit, on account of its association with matter, undergoes untold miseries and is subjected to the law of transmigration. Both these divisions are referred to as Kaal and Maha Kaal respectively.
In going upward, after rising above the body-consciousness, we first find ourselves hemmed in by matter all around in the And (the Third Grand Division). Then we have to rise into the Brahmand, the region of the Universal Mind. There we feel much better, but still we are not immune from danger or destruction. The first region or haven of safety is the Sach Khand, or the Realm of Truth, which is above the reach of Maha Kaal or the Grand Dissolution. This, in brief, is a sketch of the macrocosm--the Great World Universe. These three divisions also exist in man on a miniature scale. If you want to know about macrocosm, you must first know about the microcosm.
Guru Nanak says:
Another saint also has said the same thing:
This very truth is also enunciated by the Muslim saints who state:
In the human body, we trace the three divisions referred to above on a miniature scale:
2. Mind or the mental plane, refers to that of the universal mind.
3. Physical body or the material planes, consist of three
bodies: the causal,
the astral and the gross.
The gross body is the fleshy sheath we have. It consists of the gross matter and gross organs of actions and senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and excretory and generative organs. It is shaken off at the time of physical death.
The astral body consists of subtle matter and subtle organs and is active in dreamland state. In this is located the mind.
The causal body is the root-cause of the other two bodies. Its activity is confined to the deep sleep state. The latter two bodies along with the mind continue to exist after death and create a new form or physical frame at each rebirth.
Macrocosm thus exists in the microcosm of the human body. The knowledge of the latter serves as means to the comprehension of the former. If one could succeed in attaining the Region of the Spirit within himself, by shaking off these sheaths, he can cast off all pain and misery and enjoy incessant Bliss and Peace untold. A life of matter is all misery which one cannot escape until one is able to separate oneself from it.
The attainment of the Region of Spirit then is the thing that is required, for it can lead to the abode of Perpetual Joy and Supreme Happiness, even while living in this physical body, It is only by riding the current of the Holy Naam, (the eternal Music in man), that this state is reached, with the help of the True Master. The Holy Naam--The Word--comes down from the highest spiritual planes, the region of Truth, into the material planes. It is the saving lifeline that can carry souls into the plane beyond the reach of dissolution. All other means fall short of the goal.
The kingdom of God is within you; you may seek it there. It is within your finite body that communion with the Word can be held. This ultimately brings you to the Region of Infinite Truth--the Sach Khand.
Now we will see whether there is a possibility of communion between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Man is an epitome of the macrocosm. There are in Man nerve centres, lying in a dormant state, and these can be quickened by the practice of the Divine Word--the Sound Principle.
There are six reflex centres in the Pind or the body, corresponding to the six centres in the Brahmand or Cosmos. These in their turn, are reflections of those in Par-Brahm or the purely spiritual region.
The lower six centres are the ganglions at the rectum, the generative organ, the navel, the heart, the throat and the sixth midway between the eyebrows, which is called Til or Ajna (see stanza XXI of the Jap Ji) and is the seat of the soul in man. It is from here that the spirit-current descends into the body, giving life and strength to the physical frame and its respective limbs. This spirit-current plays an important part in the nourishment of the body and if this is cut off from any part, it loses all vitality and forthwith ceases to function.
The six centres of the Brahmand and of the spiritual regions are also to be found within us. When the spirit-current is brought into play with these centres, one can have contact with their corresponding planes.
These centres correspond with those of the macrocosm in the Brahmand and spiritual regions. The spirit-current enables one to peep into those grand divisions. The development of the elementary powers of spirit is, therefore, most necessary. It is the concentration of this spirit current which plays the greatest part in the achievement. If it is applied to the physical body, one gains strength. If it dwells upon the intellect, one develops great mental powers. In the same way, if spirit is made the object of concentration, spiritual life inevitably follows and supreme bliss is attained. There is an unseen nerve that connects all these centres which is called Sushumna Nari or Shah-rug. It is through this that the spirit current passes from the lowest region to that of the highest region of Truth.
The concentration of the spirit then is the opening process, so that the spirit may progress to the higher regions. Until all outgoing faculties are self-centred or inwardly focused, the spirit does not gain strength enough to go up. There are ten outgoing faculties or Indriyas: --five are the gross-- eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin through which the five others --the subtle indriyas-- of sight, audition, smell, taste and touch keep man attached to the outer world. It would thus appear that it is the constant thought of these faculties which externalises man.
We constantly think of the world through three main sources. First, we have the eyes that visualise the outward phenomena and bring them within the mental gaze. Through the eyes we gather in no less than 83 percent of our impressions from outside. The second source is that of the ears which pull our attention to outward sounds and remind us of things in the objective world. Through the ears we get 14 percent of our outer impressions. The third source is that of the tongue (palate) which, through taste and speech, keeps the memory of the outward world always afresh. The remaining three percent of the outward impressions are received through tongue and the rest of the sense organs. It is through these three main faculties that man remains constantly in touch with the outer world and is ever engaged either in receiving impressions from without or impressing others with his own thoughts. The energy of the mind is thus drained away, leaving one bankrupt. The Master tells us not to exhaust our energy. We must accumulate and preserve our energy, so that we may be able to rend asunder the various sheaths of matter which encase the self within us.
The spirit or soul is attached to the objective world outside, on account of objective impressions. Unless the outgoing faculties are controlled and the spirit is freed from the bondage of life, it cannot rise above body-consciousness. The three faculties of speech or taste, sight and audition cause a constant outflow of energy through their respective sense organs. For the depersonalisation of the soul, it is necessary to channelise our energy inwards and upwards through the processes of inversion and self-analysis.
The Master explains the process in these words:
Boo Ali Qalandar, a Mohammedan saint, speaks of this process, as follows:
Kabir also describes the same thing in his own inimitable way:
Guru Arjan says:
These organs of tongue, eyes and ears, etc., are at work in the physical frame, while one is in a wakeful state and they work likewise in the astral plane when one is in a dream state. The faculties of these organs get enhanced and become powerful if one were to restrict their outward flow. It is then that one gains strength to fathom the subjective world, for without the quickening life-impulse of the soul they lie dormant.
The three restraints are to be exercised by training the faculties to work inwards. The first restraint, that of speech, consists in doing Simran or the constant repetition of the name of the Lord with the tongue of thought. The agency of lips and tongue is not needed. The use and the effect of simran have been dwelt upon in the previous pages. The second restraint refers to the faculty of sight, and consists in contemplation of the spiritual patterns within, which open out in full effulgence. If you practise Tratak or concentration at some black spot outside, with your eyes fixed on it, your own inner light is projected outside. Accordingly, when you fix your inner gaze just midway between and behind the two eyebrows (the seat of the soul in man), you see your own light inside. That light is yours and is already there and you have to fix your inner gaze on it. Where there is the Word --Holy Naam-- there is Light; where there is Sound, there is Refulgence for the two are inseparable. The Light patterns are of five kinds corresponding to the five different kinds of Sounds, which are seen and heard as the spirit ascends upwards into the five different planes. The Monduk Upanishad speaks of these as the "five fires in the head."
Some scriptures prescribe the fixation
of the inner gaze on the facial form of the Master, so as to make the mind
stable. But you do not have to meditate on the flesh and bones of the Master's
face, but on something shining forth through it. The face, especially the
eyes and the forehead, constitute the seat for the full play of the spirit
of the Master. Hence, to meditate upon the Master's eyes prepares a soul
for the dawn of Divinity, by imbibing His Nature. This helps the devotee
a good deal. As you think of the Master, you rise in the Master Himself.
As you think, so you become.
The Master's form is the nearest approach to Divinity, for He is the Son of God. One who doth not know the Son, cannot know the Father. Therefore, it is said:
By meditating on the Form of
the Master, thou shall be honoured both
here and hereafter. --Gond M.5
Here we have to be on our guard. If, however, the Master, on whose form you meditate, is not really spiritual, you will become what he is. This course, therefore, is dangerous, unless you are sure of the perfection of the Master. But you cannot differentiate the right person from the wrong. It is, therefore, safer to fix your inner gaze on the Light which a Competent Master will give you at the time of initiation. The true Master will gradually appear within, in His own radiant form, after some practice, the genuineness of which you can always verify by repetition of the charged words given by the Master. Only a competent Master can appear within at the time of initiation or later on in meditation after some practice. This will save you from any deception or temptation.
The third restraint relates to the
faculty of audition. This is to be attuned to the Eternal Song reverberating
in and through all. The Sound is the real essence of the Lord. The Master
It does not mean that we are to neglect the use of these organs in relation to the outer world. But these are to be so trained that they may become positive aids in the way of spiritual development, thus conveying a two-fold benefit. The training is meant to make the mind self-centred and prevent its stuff from needlessly flowing outside. The first process, Simran, forms the basis of spiritual pursuit. It has to be continued till the goal is reached. The second and the third, Dhyan and Bhajan, follow of themselves one after the other.
Wajhan Sahib saith:
These three restraints help in concentration to the highest degree. The first, Simran of the charged words given by the Master, brings back the mind from outside and withdraws the spirit from the body to the seat of the soul in the body. This is first sinking from the circumference of our being to the centre of our being. This also keeps reminding us of the highest ideal set up before man, which is self-knowledge and God-knowledge. The second process --Dhyan-- also helps in concentration and fastens the soul inside. The last process --Bhajan or listening to the spiritual music in man-- carries the soul into the beyond, to the source from whence the life current or sound principle of the Holy Naam or the Eternal Song, emanates. Just as in a pitch dark night when one sees naught or knows nothing before or behind, the bark of a distant dog or the far off flicker of a candle light helps one onward in his journey, so does the Spiritual Song and the Refulgent Light help a probationer soul on the Path in its solitary ascent to the true Home of the Father.
The long process begins with concentration at the seat of the soul in the body, situated just, between and behind the two eyebrows, where mental Simran is done in full earnest. This enables the withdrawal of spirit current, at present diffused in the body, and concentrates it at the seat of the soul, with the result that confines of the gross matter of the body and of the outward world are cut off. The spirit once unfettered and disimprisoned from the finite existence, now gets an ingress into the Til, Nukta Sweda or the Third Eye, and from here proceeds further, with the help of a God-Man, to higher planes within. After passing confidently through the astral planes, one reaches the Dasam Dwar, with its Sacred Fount of Nectar, the true Amritsar, Mansarover or Prag-Raj in man. The Muslims call it Hauz-i-Kausar. A bath or baptism therein frees the spirit from the sheaths of the astral and the causal bodies and finer matter. This is the real baptism with the holy-waters of immortality. The spirit now left to itself, is fully refulgent with a Light brighter than that of several suns. Now cognisant of the true essence which is none other than that of the Lord Himself, it proceeds further with the help of the Master in His Radiant Form until the spirit reaches the pure spiritual region: the Sach Khand, New Jerusalem or Muqam-i-Haq, where Sat Purush --the Formless One-- resides. Therefrom with the help and through the Grace of the latter, the Spirit is passed on to the Nameless One, stage by stage. This aspect of the ascent of the soul from material planes to spiritual-material regions and thence to purely spiritual regions, forms the subject matter of stanza XXI of the Jap Ji. Therein the Master has dealt with the three most important stages out of the five spiritual stages: Til (the starting point), Dasam Dwar, and Sach Khand. The five regions are also explained at the end of Jap Ji.
The man who has access into Til and bathes in the lustre of the luminous astral figure of the Master, is called a Sikh or a disciple of the Master (a devotee). As he progresses upwards, he reaches the Dasam Dwar, the third in the stages of development, and becomes a Sadh (a disciplined soul). When he reaches the Region of Pure Spirit, he is given the epithet of Sant or Saint. One who has reached the highest Spiritual Region of the Nameless One, the Unknowable and the Imperceivable, becomes a Param Sant, the saint of saints. These expressions occur in the text of the sayings of the Masters. These are specific terms with significant connotations and have no reference whatsoever to those engaged in the outer pursuits of forms and formularies, or in the performance of rites and rituals or observance of fasts and vigils, etc.
Guru Nanak was a Saint of the highest order, the Param Sant who reached the Region of the Nameless One, as will be evinced from His own words:
Fly above the region of Truth,
of the Pure Spirit, then reach the stage of the Unknowable and the Imperceivable.
Above this is the abode of the saints, and lowly Nanak dwells there.
With all that has been said here, or may be said, the mystery of the soul remains a sealed book. No expression can reveal the Truth at the back of the creation. The ascent of the soul to the higher regions is impossible unless one is ushered into those planes. Of course, one may be able to withdraw the spirit currents into the eyes from the body, through Simran or see some Light at times, but there is nothing in there to take or guide him upward. Many were held in these elementary stages for ages and ages, and no help came to guide them up. Some have called this stage the be-all and end-all, but they still linger at the outskirts of grosser matter and in the stronghold of the finer matter. It is here that the help of some competent body is needed to extricate the devotees from the iron-grip of subtle matter. That somebody should be the man who has gone through the different stages of spiritual development and has made a pilgrimage to the region of Pure Spirit, Sat Naam, far beyond the hold of matter. The Master says:
There are three essentials for the progress of the soul to unite with the Lord. These may be summed up as:
A True Master cannot be known all at once. He is a God-Man. A God-Man alone can truly know a God-man. He may be described as one who ia brimming over with spirituality far above the life of the senses. He has freed Himself from the various sheaths of grosser and finer matter, and has seen the All-Truthful with His eyes, within and without. He is competent to unfold the spiritual possibilities lying dormant in man. All are provided with the same stuff inside them, like the stuff of a battery already charged. But He is the one who has connected Himself with the great Magnetic Battery of the Lord, and receives direct messages from Him. He is the mouthpiece of the Eternal. We, each one of us, have the same stuff in us, but our batteries are disconnected. We need reconnection so that we may also serve as live batteries and be able to receive messages of the Lord. We need such a One who is Himself connected, and who can also connect our batteries with the Lord. He has in Him the Refulgent Light of the Infinite, and is competent to re-light our extinguished lamps. An unlighted lamp is incompetent to light other lamps. All are spiritually blind, when they come to the feet of a Master. He opens their inner eyes which are latent, and enables them to see the Light of God. He opens their inner ears and makes them hear the sweet Melody of the Divine Music of the Word or Naam.
Be ye perfect as thy Father in Heaven is perfect, said Christ. All are destined to be perfect and in the end they will attain the state of perfection. Whatever we are now is the result of our past acts and thoughts. Our future is being moulded and determined by what we now think and do, but this shaping of our future does not preclude us from receiving help from outside. A fruit tree that ordinarily if left to itself bears fruit in five or six years, would, when treated scientifically with fertilizers etc., bear forth fruit in abundance and more quickly by two or three years. Similarly, the unfoldment of the spiritual life is quickened by the help of a Master. This help is of immense value. Such outside help quickens the inner possibilities of the soul; It awakens the spiritual life in us and leads us to the highest goal in the end.
This quickening impulse cannot be derived
from sacred books. As light comes from light, so comes life from life.
A soul must receive live impulses through the lyrical glances of some Master-Soul.
Mere book knowledge, or any intellectual development, fails to awaken spirituality.
Through book learning, the intellect is certainly fed but the spirit gets
no food. This is why each one of us can speak wonderfully of spiritual
matters, but the actual life betrays not a speck of it.
A living spirit can be quickened into life only through the living impulses from a Master-Soul. You may call such a Man by any name you like, but such a Man is a necessity. Each religion has testified to the need of such higher help.
We do not deny the need of help from
outside in all our objective pursuits. We usually look to someone who is
expert in a given subject. Why should we then be ashamed to seek the help
of somebody in the pursuit of what is purely subjective--the Spiritual
path--and what is hidden from our objective vision and is wholly shrouded
in mystery ? How grateful we should be, if somebody were to lead us into
the inner recesses of the subjective world? Whoever has risen to the highest
heights of spirituality, above the ken of both gross and subtle matter,
can transmit power and lead us safely across the ocean of illusive matter.
Maulana Rumi, a Muslim divine, says:
All-round deterioration is the main feature of our time. Literal words of the scriptures without the spirit or meaning behind them, have taken the place of living-the-life with most of us. Immersed in ignorance, some feel that they know everything and offer to take others' burdens on their shoulders. Thus, with the blind leading the blind, both fall into the ditch. The world is full of so-called teachers. Such teachers have steeped the world in ignorance. These creatures of darkness, wise in their own conceit, pretend to give away untold treasures of Divinity. They are just like a beggar who wants to make a gift of a million dollars! Thus, without the help of One who has truly imbibed the Truth beyond, no progress can be made in the way of Spirituality. The Master has said:
The Master again says:
Maulana Rumi says:
The saints are competent to change the course of our lives from beginning to end and are the means for leading us Godwards. They receive revelations from the Most High and whatever they say is veritable truth.
The Master says:
You need not care for their outer appearance. Remain at their feet out of devotion. All who love the Lord--Hindus, Muslims, Christians and men of all other denominations--are one to them. They have the Sun of Divinity hidden within their physical bodies. They are the Music of the Eternal Song.
The Master explains this very Truth in the fifth stanza of the Jap Ji. Such are the Masters, then, who manifest the Eternal Song within us and make the same audible to us. All illumination and perfection is in them. All that is good and excellent is in such a Master. He is a God-Man, nay, a polarised God -- a pole from which the power of God works in the world.
In the terminology of the saints, the saint who practises and teaches the science of the Word, is called a Guru.
The word Guru is a Sanskrit
word which comes from the root 'Giri' which means "to sound or speak."
The word Guru is, therefore, held to mean one who practises the
Sound Principle, who communes with It, and who makes It audible within
man. Paltu Sahib defines the Guru, as the Being who brings the Word--the
Eternal Song--from the heavenly spheres and makes It audible to us. Guru
Nanak also says:
Swami Shiv Dayal Singh Ji defines the Guru as:
Kabir also says:
All Sadhus are great, each in his own way. But He who communes with the Word is worthy of adoration.
But to meet such a Guru is through
Divine Dispensation alone.
Without instruction from a God-Man, the Word cannot be communed with, and when this communion is received, it leads the soul to the Lord, from whom the Word emanated. Then all our efforts have their full reward.
When you, through immeasurable good fortune, find such a holy person, stick to Him tenaciously with all your mind and all your soul; for you can realise through him, the object of your life--self-realisation and God-realisation. Do not look you to His creed or colour. Learn the Science of the Word from Him, and devote yourself heart and soul to the practice of the Word. Guru is one with the Word. The Word is in Him, and incarnates in the flesh, to give instructions to mankind. Truly the Word is made flesh and dwells amongst us. In the Gospel, we have:
When we learn to shake off the mortal coil at will and are able to rise above the body-consciousness and enter into the Astral World, the Guru appears in His Radiant Astral Form to help us on in the planes above. He does not leave us until we reach the Almighty. Christ has said in clear words:
In the words of the Master:
There in the inverted well,
a Light is ablaze without any oil or wick,
And from the Refulgent Light, there flow symphonies sublime. --Paltu Sahib
Now comes the question: Where can we find the Sound and Light? It is far away from the mortal gaze, encased in sheaths upon sheaths of matter. We must rise above the stronghold of matter if we are to find it. It can be seen and felt, but with eyes that are different from the mortal eyes of flesh. We have full respect and regard for all the holy scriptures, because we find therein the teachings of the Word--the Bani. Strictly speaking, ink, paper and the print, do not form the object of our worship, but with them the word, the Word-teacher, written large. Similarly, in the physical body of the Saint, we worship the Word personified in His person. And as such the two are inseparably respected. It is just like a beloved, sitting inside a house with the doors closed. We want to bow. How can we? We know for certain that it is the beloved to whom we like to bow and not to the mud, lime and mortar of the house in which the beloved resides. We bow down before whom? Do we bow to the mud walls? No, but before the indweller of the house behind the walls; however, to all appearances we may look as though facing the mudwalls.
The Word, or Bani, is the True Teacher
for all mankind. It is the one for all. It was the True Teacher in the
past. It is the same Teacher now. It shall ever be the Teacher for all
times to come. There is no second Teacher or Guru of mankind. The man who
has found Him (Word-Guru), who has become one with Him-- the Word in Him--is
related to us in the same way as the beloved referred to above. It is the
selfluminous Radiant Figure within the physical body of the Outer man,
who is our True Teacher, and who is one with the Lord. It is none other
than the Lord Himself as He Himself appears in the Form of a Sadh, for
verily appears in the form of a Sadh. --Gauri Sukhmani M.5.
The great treasures of Guru Granth Sahib, as all other holy scriptures,
sing paeans of such a God-Man who can unite us with the Lord and lead us
across the ocean of matter. In this context we read:
The God-Man and the Lord, consider
them as one,
And struggle not thou in ignorance. --Gond M.5
All ye that hanker after a
state of inner silence, called Sahaj,
Know thou for certain that without a God-Man, there is no admittance.
--Sri Rag M.3
Whosoever glorified the God-Man,
knows the Lord.
All pain is annihilated, all pain by discerning the true Shabd--the Word.
Meeting the God-Man the mind
leaves off all ramifications,
And one obtains an ingress into the True Home within. --Asa M.3
Great is the God-Man, the Sat
For He gives satiety and satisfaction.--Wadhans War M.4
To taste the precious ambrosial
water for which you came into the world,
That you can taste only through the Grace of a God-Man. --Sorath M.1
The service of the Master makes
the Sound-Current audible,
And then one gets to know Salvation. -- Sorath M.3
The Word of the Master manifests the Divine Light. --Bilawal M.5
When the True Master is served,
the Eternal Music becomes audible;
and then only is the mystery resolved. --Sorath M.3
The God-Man lights the lamp of the Word. --Bilawal M.5
When a God-Man is met, the Lord makes His appearance. --Bhairon Nam Dev
Through the favour of a God-Man,
you will see the temple of the Lord
within you.--Parbhati M.3
With all the dexterities at
Thou cannot commune with the Naam,
For It comes as a gift from the God-Man. --Malar M.5
Consider God-Man and Lord as
one and the same,
For whatever pleaseth one is acceptable to the other. --Gond M.5
The treasure of Naam--the Spiritual
Current--is in the temple of God (body). The ignorant do not recognise
It. Through the favour of the Guru,
It is realised and the Lord gets embedded in the core of the heart.
The prophet says that God had said : 'The earth, the sky and the higher regions are all quite insufficient to accommodate me. I cannot be contained in them all, know thee, O dear ones. But strange as it may seem, I abide in the heart of a Saint. If you seekest me, seek me in Them.' --Maulana Rumi
Therefore learn to worship the Satguru. Guru Amar Das Ji says: