The Sound Principle
SHABD SIGNIFIES SOUND PRINCIPLE
What is the sound and how is sound produced, are the natural questions in this context. Some say that sound is produced when two things strike, one against the other. Others say that where there is vibration, there is sound. It is, of course, true that sound does follow concussion and vibration. But the Sound of which the saints speak is different from what we ordinarily mean in common parlance. It is something very subtle and is characterized by Consciousness as exhibited in fecundity and growth principles. It is the very life of life that permeates in all things, visible and invisible. It is an active and live agent of Godhead and may briefly be described as God-in-action. This Sound Principle is Jnana or the real knowledge of the Rishis of old, the Cult of Eternal Life of Zoroaster, Logos of the Greeks, Tao of the Chinese, Budhi or enlightenment of Gautama and Sphota or Sound-essence of the philosophers.
Dhun or the Sound Current is both true knowledge and true meditationThis Sound is in Its fullness in everything, though the measure of Its manifestation may vary from one thing to another. It is even in stones and wood, apparently insensate things. The fact is that all things in Nature are of atoms and atoms are full of energy as the phrase "atomic energy" denotes. It is because of this energy that the atoms are always in a state of motion and as they vibrate, a natural rhythmic sound is produced. Recent researches in science testify to this truth.( Cf. Andrews, Donald Hatch, "The Harmonic Dimensions of Nature," MAIN CURRENTS In Modern Thought, Vol. 11, No. 5, May 1955). "Change" is the law of life and it does follow vibration and motion, all of which ultimately depend on the Sound
and remains indescribable all the same. 31
Every second, every minute and every hour, the world is in a stateScientists have found that even the mighty Himalayas are growing from age to age. The growth may be imperceptible, but surely it is there - it may be a fraction of an inch in the course of a century or so. Thus all things in Nature are characterized by vibration of rhythmic movement and this in itself implies the presence therein of the Sound Principle, whether the things are moving visibly or not. This Sound Principle is the essence or "Jauhar" of one life in all things.
of continuous flux.
Things full or empty are yet filled with Music,This Sound Principle is all-pervading and is the very soul of all that exists. This current of life-consciousness is so subtle that It cannot be heard unless one acquires transcendental hearing. A mystic has beautifully described It as follows:
See! how the sound comes from out of the drum.
Dry are the strings, the wooden body and the stretched leather,Sound or Word is in fact the Creator of the Universe. All this manifestation is because of Him.
How do they give out the divine melodies?
Had not the Nameless assumed a name,The beloved Lord God has been calling us back from time out of mind, but the pity is that we do not attend to Him.
The world would not have come into being.
My friend is ever in converse with thee,The Sound of the Friend or Beloved (God) is reverberating everywhere. A Muslim mystic poet says of It:
What a pity! ye listen not to the ancient call.
All the seven heavens are echoing with the Sound,The Sound is by Itself and of Itself. In the material or physical region and materio-spiritual realms (Pind and Und), It is mixed up with and enclosed by matter. The Master makes It manifest in the Sukhman or Shah Rag in the region of the forehead.
The ignorant do not hear It nor catch the strains.
By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;
and seeing ye shall see and shall not perceive. 32
Hear ye the Music in the Sukhman, and get absorbed in the unending song.Again,
And thine ears shall hear a Word behind thee saying, this is the Way,For spiritual knowledge and self-realization, the practice of the Sound Current (Shugal-i-Naghma-i-yazdani) is very necessary, for it is by hearing the Divine Music that the soul is pulled out of the material and mental clogs of the body and is led to higher spiritual regions from where the Sound whose reverberations are heard below in the body emanates. It is a continuous and unending Music, of which Maulana Rumi says,
Walk ye in It, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 33
Catch hold of the Music that lasts through eternity,Again, the people of the world are quite ignorant of It. A rare individual practices It after It is made manifest by some Master-soul.
Search for the sun that never sets.
Enter ye the temple of the body and listen to the divine melodies,In the noisy swirl of the work-a-day hurried life that we lead, we cannot hear the soft and gentle echoes of the Music floating down from afar. All those who practiced the Sound Current, in whatever time and in whatever clime, have spoken of these melodies, of course to the extent of their approach and mental apparatus. Even now, those persons, whether young or old, who are put on the Way by some competent Satguru with authority from above, do bear testimony to this sempiternal experience.
Those sitting around thee, shall not hear them.
In the Upanishads we have an account of these musical notes. These resemble to a certain extent the gentle murmurs of the vast sea, low rumbling thunders of the distant clouds, the continuous splash of a waterfall, and ultimately merge into the sound of a conch, and develop into the blast of a trumpet, a thundering drum, sharp violin and a flute. 34
Mahatma Charan Das, in his book "Bhakti Sagar," has described ten types of melodies - the sweet warblings of birds, the chirping of green hoppers, tinkling of bells, sound of the gong, conch, playing of cymbals, thunder of clouds, the roar of a lion, violin and flute.
In Hath-yoga Pradipka we have an account of ten kinds of Nad, like the buzz of flower flies, tinkling of anklets, sound of conch, bell and cymbals, flute, drum-beat and other musical instruments, and the roar of a lion, etc.
In Sar Bachan, 35 Swami Shiv Dayal Singh Ji gives a wonderful account of the divine orchestra, comprising ten musical notes resembling what has been said above, as one enters into Sahansdal Kanwal or the region of thousand petaled lights.
Madame Blavatsky, a Russian theosophist initiated into theosophy in 1856 while in Tibet, the founder of the Theosophical Society and the author of a controversial work, "Isis Unveiled," writes in her book "The Voice of the Silence:"
The first is like the nightingale's sweet voice chanting a song of parting to its mate. The second comes as the sound of silver cymbals of the Dhyanis awakening the twinkling stars. The next is as the plaint melodies of the ocean spirit imprisoned in its shell. And this is followed by the chant of Vina. The fifth like sound of bamboo flute shrills in thine ear. It changes next into a trumpet blast. The last vibrates like the dull rumbling of a thunder cloud.Amir Khusro, a great scholar and mystic poet (disciple of Kh. Nizam-ud-Din Chishti), has described these sounds thus:
First is the hum of the bees and the second is the sound of anklets,
The third is that of the conch and the fourth that of a gong,
The fifth is a trumpet-blast and the sixth that of a flute,
The seventh is of a Bhir, the eighth of a mardang (drum beat)
and the ninth of a Shahnai (Naferi).
And the tenth doth resemble the roar of a lion,
Such indeed is the Heavenly Orchestra, O Khusro.
In these ten melodies a yogin gets absorbed,
The senses get stilled and so doth the mind, saith Khusro.
With the flourish of limitless Music within,
All the lusts of the flesh and the deadly sins fly off,
The Master too has a wonderful world of his own,
Khusro is now fully engrossed within himself. 36
All these melodies come swarming within as the pilgrim soul starts on the Path; but of all these, one must catch the sound of a gong or a conch for these in particular are connected with the higher spiritual realms, the various mansions in the house of our Father,
None knows where the abode of the Beloved is,Shabd has divine melody in It:
But sure enough the sound of the gong comes floating therefrom.
True Word emanates the melodies of Sehaj, and the mind gets absorbed in Truth,
Ineffable and wonderful is the Word of the Immaculately Pure,
and only a Guru's devotee implants It. 37
GURU AMAR DAS
WHY DO WE NOT HEAR THE SOUND PRINCIPLE?
Though Shabd is ever reverberating in each one of us, we do not hear It. The reason for this is not hard to find. So long as the mind stuff is in a state of perpetual storm and stress, is torn by countless conflicting passions and desires, feeds fat on the food of egotism, and is tossed about on the endless waves of worldly life, it cannot possibly catch the slow and sublime rhythmic vibrations of the subtle Sound, nor acquire any love for It.
As long as the mind is in a state of perpetual flux and unrest,Maulana Rumi likewise says:
and is filled with thoughts of I-am-ness,
Shabd fails to impart its sweet fragrance and Naam fails to inspire
love and attraction. 38
GURU RAM DAS
Your ears cannot listen to the Music of the Sound;In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Christ says:
Perverted as you are, you have lost the very sense of hearing.
For this peoples' heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing,Shabd is the Voice of God and His primal manifestation. It is pervading everywhere in and out of space.
and their eyes they have closed; lest any time they should see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be
converted and I should heal them. 39
The Word of the Master shows the Way to God-realization. 40This Sound Principle has often been referred to as "Bani" as well:
Bani has been reverberating through the four ages,The Bani pervades everywhere. It is known as Shabd or Naam, and has sweetness in It.
Emanating from Truth, It sings of Truth. 41
GURU AMAR DAS
In every age, Bani has been known as Shabd,What a pity! for the Jiva, clogged as it is and hemmed in by mind and matter on all sides, has lost the angel in him and as such cannot listen to the subtle and sublime Sound of the Beloved.
Sweet is the Naam and mind longs for it. 42
GURU AMAR DAS
Alas! Ye are imprisoned behind the walls of the finitude (body and bodily adjuncts),
And listen not to the sublime Sound of the Merciful.
This sound is an eternal call for a return home:
There comes a perpetual call from afar,The Sublime Sound cannot of course be heard by the physical ears. There is a way for our listening to the divine Music which can be heard by the inner faculty of transcendental hearing, and this can be trained, developed and pressed into service through the grace of some Master-soul; for no amount of worldly knowledge, wisdom and ingenuity can help in this. Though science has not yet been able to probe into this mystery, yet it can be resolved and experienced by actual experimentation in the laboratory of the Self with the instruction and guidance of the Saints. The results of recent scientific investigations have now revealed the presence of rhythmic motion even in atoms, and scientific findings are every day coming closer to reality.
Calling thee back to thine own home.
HOW CAN WE LISTEN TO THE SOUND PRINCIPLE?
The next natural
question is how the Shabd can be contacted and attuned with. The saints
tell us that we can listen to the Sound Principle if we can introvert and
stop listening to the outer sounds of the world around us. In other words,
we must learn to recede into our own Self by a process of inversion and
become a Pure Self by releasing the soul from the prison of the facts of
life, before we can qualify the Self for Self-realization, which comes
by listening to the Sound Current. A holy communion with and practice of
the Sound gradually disenfranchises the soul of all that is of the world
and reveals the cult of love, life and light that is at the back of all
creation. We have, in brief, to stop the energy flowing out through the
organs, particularly the eyes, ears, and tongue and concentrate it at the still-point in the body, the center of the soul, leaving the mind high and dry, before we can listen to the Music of the soul in Its fullness.
Close down the three outlets and attend to the cease less Music,Kabir says:
O Nanak! in the deep silence of the soul, there is a perpetual light
with no sunrise and sunset. 43
Close down thine eyes, ears and mouth,Shah Niaz tells us:
And hear ye the unending melody of the Shabd.
Sound is pervading the whole world in Its fullness,
Ye can surely listen to It with transcendental hearing,
This ye can do by closing the outer bodily ears,
For surely then shall ye hear the endless song,
And It shall take you beyond the sway of destruction and dissolution.
Apart from the physical senses, we have with us subtle senses much more powerful than the physical. At present these subtle senses are lying dormant and unused. They can, by regular practice, be wakened into consciousness and pressed into use in the astral world, where we can
witness and experience supra-mental patterns and colors just as we do on the physical plane; nay, with much more clarity and understanding than we do here.
Along with the five physical senses, we are endowed withShabd can thus be heard by the ears of thought. Both the soul and the Shabd are of the same spiritual essence and as such soul can, without the aid of physical senses, apprehend the subtle Sound.
five subtle senses as well,
These are of solid gold when compared with the others of copper.
Soul is of the essence of God and is His very own Self,In the holy Koran also it is stated that soul is the fiat or decree of God. It is His authorization that pervades everywhere, upholding the sky and the earth and all that exists.
And It can sing His praises in an unspoken language
without any outer aids (tongue, lips or palate).
WHERE DOES SHABD
DWELL AND HOW CAN IT BE CONTACTED?
There are ten portals of the body, of which nine are visible
while the tenth is invisible.
The citadel of the body has nine open doorways,
while the tenth is closely shut in secret,
None can have access through the tenth, the Way in,
except through practice of the Guru's Word. 44
GURU AMAR DAS
Enter ye in at the Strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
because straitis the gate and narrow is the Way, which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it. 45
Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you,
will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 46
As long as the soul is wandering in and out of the nine portals of the body, it is always unwillingly being drained of its secret energy or Johar. With this constant flow of energy outside, it remains a complete stranger to the Reality within its own self and does not know the latent potentialities of Godhood lodged in its very nature.
A whore (mind ridden soul) madly in love with the nine portals
can hardly get to Reality. 47
Guru Amar Das also advises that we should close down our nine portals, still the mind and then "tap inside" (as Emerson puts it) and push our way into the mansion of the Beloved from where unceasing Music is flowing down day and night, which can be contacted through the practice enjoined by a Master-soul.
Closing down the nine doors, seek ye the tenth that leads to thy True Home,Guru Nanak describes this so beautifully:
There the ceaseless Music plays round the clock and can be heard
through the Master's Dispensation. 48
GURU AMAR DAS
Sukhmana, Ida and Pingla cannot be known unless the Inconceivable
makes one conceive,
O Nanak! the True Master makes the Word audible by bringing
one above the three. 49
This means that one cannot fully commune with the Word of the True Master unless one completely transcends body consciousness. In the realm of mind and matter, as far as the five tattwas reign supreme, the Sound Current works through them for the benefit of the physical creation; but
beyond them is the Word in Its primordial form unalloyed by any of these things.
The Sound Principle stands by Itself and is independent of everything for It is self-existing. The siddhas once asked Guru Nanak,
Where does the Sound abide that ferries us across the ocean of delusive matter?Guru Nanak thus replied,
Whereon stand the Pranas (vibrations), as they extend out ten fingers from the nostrils?
The Sound Principle abides in us; though indescribable,Shabd is the very life of our life. It is a part of our being and we cannot do without It even for a single moment. But we cannot contact It unless we rise above body consciousness.
yet I find It immanent everywhere,
The Pranas are rooted in the region of silence, but the Sound Principle
is All-pervasive in Its fullness and is self-existent. 50
Search for the Sound (the soul essence) in the body,
and thou shalt be saved,
By devotion to the Master, I enjoy perpetual peace,
for in me is Sound, the crest jewel of all virtues. 51
Our human body is a receiving set for catching the Sound Current and like a radio, has to be adjusted properly to bring it in tune with the ethereal waves. The Master, at the time of initiation, connects the spirit within with the lowest link of the All-pervading Sound and this contact can be developed by day to day practice, to any length one may like.
SOUND AND LIGHT
In the world there are two things that serve as guides to a weary traveler on a lonesome journey in a pitch dark night; to wit, Sound and Light (Kalam and Nur). These are the two aids also on the Path of Spirituality. Each of them has Its own purpose. We have the divine Light in us and from within It emanates Sound, and the two together have been described as Flaming Sound or Sounding Flame.
The mind when attuned with the Sound becomes detached
and gets engrossed,
In the heart of the Light within is a delectable Sound,
that makes one fully absorbed in God. 52
Incomprehensible is the real thing. 53
Without the Light of Shabd, darkness prevails within,
Nor do we get to the Reality, nor end with the gyres. 54
GURU AMAR DAS
Without Shabd it is all darkness,
With Shabd manifested, the world came into being. 55
GURU RAM DAS
All life and all power come from It. From the sun to the candle flame, all light comes from this grand powerhouse. The energy of the scientist and the pranas of the yogins are but manifestations of this life-stream which, like electricity in the air, is all-pervading and all-powerful.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of man.St. Augustine tells us of the manifestation in him of the Light in this way:
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not. . . .
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world. He was in the world
and the world was made by Him, and the world
knew Him not. 56
I entered even into my inward self. Thou being my Guide
and able as I was: for Thou were become my helper.
And I entered and beheld with the eye of my soul
(such as it was), above the same eye of my soul above
my mind, the Light Unchangeable. Not this ordinary light
which all flesh may look upon, nor as it were a greater
of the same kind, as though the brightness of this
should be manifold brighter, and with its greatness
take up all space. Not such was the light but other,
yea, far other from all these.... He that knows the Truth,
knows what that Light is and he that knows It, knows Eternity.
Sant Kabir tells us that the soul without Shabd is blind and does not know the Path:
Without the Word one is blind and knows not theWay,Thousands of years ago, Zoroaster taught the worship of the cult of Vital Fire and even today we see its traces in the symbolic fire that the Parsis keep burning in their homesteads. Gautama, when he became Buddha or the Enlightened One, taught the Path of Life to his followers. All the Prophets of the East or the West, who practiced the process of inversion and recession or withdrawal of the Soul Current at will, speak of both the experiences of Light and Sound. As soul proceeds on the spiritual path, the gazing faculty precedes that of the hearing, for light is faster than sound.
With no way out, one endlessly wanders in the gyres.
Soul, though imprisoned by mind and matter, is yet endowed with the gift of subtle faculties of seeing and hearing independent of the sense organs; and when one develops them both, one can withdraw the life-current from the body and then can move freely on to higher spiritual realms, thereby escaping forever from the bondage of the world.
With the guidance of the gazing faculty, I shall reach Sat Lok.In the beginning Light appears first and Sound comes afterwards. In practice, we do Simran and Dhyan in the beginning, the reason being that these prepare the ground for further development. Though each has Its own individual purpose, yet both of them are practiced for the advent of Sound or Shabd, from where the real help comes. Shabd then is the control keystone in the archway of Simran and Dhyan, the two sides of the arch. Again, in the spiritual journey, there come stages where the soul gets bewildered in the blinding Light that descends around it from all sides, and there nothing but the Sound helps to pull it through.
SWAMI SHIVDAYAL SINGH
And thine ears shall hear a Word behind thee,Again, there are stages on the Way where utter darkness prevails and there are regions of deep silence and solemnity where one is struck with awe and dismay, and there too, the glorious Voice of God comes to the rescue as an unerring guide and a never failing friend, saying,
Saying this is the Way, walk ye in it. 57
Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide,The importance of sound as a guiding factor is recognized on all hands. A traveler on a desolate plain in a dark night with no habitation in sight, anxiously and wistfully tries to catch some sound, maybe the bark of some distant dog, wherewith to guide his weary footsteps in the right direction; for the bark announces to him the proximity of some wayside hutments and encourages him on till he reaches them. So do benighted stragglers try to catch the claptrap of a horse's hoof or the tinkling of a bell round an animal's neck. This is the power of sound; unfailing and deadly sure as it is, it acquires even more significance in the inner journey of the soul.
In thy most need to go by thy side.
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