Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 1955, the fourth in a series of four talks.
(The Night is a Jungle, chapter 4)
Ladies and Gentlemen: In continuation of my talk of last evening, I proceed further. Yesterday I told you that we were here to understand and to have a wider and more purposeful knowledge of the teachings of Christ and other Masters who came in the past. They taught the truth in a simple and unvarnished way which is possible for everyone to understand.
This subject relates to the practical science of the soul which is to be practiced and experienced by all. Even a child, if he is put on the way, can see things for himself. It is not a matter of intellectual unraveling but of first-hand experience; for seeing is believing, and “Blessed are they who see.”
True religion begins with the opening of the inner eye to see the Light of God, and of the inner ear to hear the Voice of God. This was the conclusion we arrived at last evening. As to how to open the inner eye and the inner ear, quotations were given from the Bible and from other scriptures. Truth is one, and the way leading to it is also one. You will find these parallel thoughts in almost all the scriptures that we have with us today.
For the opening of the inner eye and ear, ethical culture is of paramount importance. Ethical life is a stepping stone to Spirituality. Right conduct is a prerequisite for spiritual progress.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Purity of heart is very necessary for a pilgrim on the Path, for without it one cannot see the Light of God and hear the Voice of God. All scriptures speak of it. The Sermon on the Mount is clear enough on this point. In it Jesus deals with the realities of life. References to the “single eye” and the “Kingdom of God within,” etc., pertain to the inner life. The inner and the outer are interdependent. Jesus has dealt with both the aspects of life: outer as well as inner. We have therefore to go step by step.
Buddha also laid great stress on right living and enunciated the Eightfold Path of righteous living for his followers. In fact, he never uttered a word about God as he knew that the God experience would follow of necessity when the ground was prepared. The Hindu scriptures too say the same thing.
I came across a book the other day which a Buddhist scholar brought to me. The author tried to show that Jesus Christ was not unacquainted with the teachings of Buddha. This is a matter for research and not for discussion. Nevertheless, the Christian teachings are almost parallel to the teachings of Buddha, so much so that the two seem to be almost identical.
Ethical life, as said before, precedes spiritual life. It consists of righteous living with life dedicated to the highest ideals: to wit,
- Chastity or purity in thought, word and deed, for chastity is life and indulgence is death;
- Universal love or love for all living creatures — in this way the self expands and tries to embrace the totality in one single sweep;
- Selfless service, or service before self, which stems from the great reservoir of love for God, the very source and fountainhead of life;
- Love and service naturally lead to Ahimsa or non-violence, even in thoughts and words, what to speak of deeds;
- Truthfulness — It comes in as a natural efflorescence from the above, for then one begins to be true to one’s self.
Of truthfulness or true living, Guru Nanak says,
“Truth is higher than everything
but higher still is true living.”
These, then, are the five cardinal virtues or the five aspects of ethical life and these above all else pave the way Godward. Christ emphatically speaks of these in his beatitudes for he himself was an embodiment of purity and love and truth.
Suppose you said that you had reached the higher spiritual planes, that you were the mouthpiece of God, but you were having the qualities of an ordinary man, then how could anyone believe you?
That is why Nanak says,
“True living is higher still.”
True living is the stepping-stone to having the spiritual experiences which are recorded in the scriptures.
All Masters who came in the past were the children of Light. Whenever they came, they gave light to all the world. They came not for one nation, for one country, for one social religion or another, but for all mankind, to lead them back to their Father’s Home. Whatever they found helpful on the Godway, they recorded in their scriptures.
“I am the light of the world,
and he that followeth me
shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life,”
All these scriptures are with us. They are all true and contain the experiences with Truth which these Masters had in their lives. When you look into them, you will see that their thoughts are all parallel and at places even the wording is similar. Of course, they used different languages; but the import is the same.
These scriptures or holy books we have to understand.
We can do so only at the feet of those who have had the same experiences described in the scriptures.
Suppose some people come to visit Philadelphia from abroad. When they return to their different countries, they record in their own particular language what they have seen. If you were to read their accounts, you would find that they agree on the salient features, but in certain matters there may be differences in details — one giving a full description of one particular thing and another omitting the details altogether. If you have seen Philadelphia yourself, you would find no contradictions at all in the various accounts, but if you have not, you may be confused and bewildered and be unable to reconcile the differences in the different accounts.
Similarly, the scriptures we have with us are travelogues of those who trod the Inner Way, describing how they rose above body-consciousness, what they experienced on the Way, what helped them in their journey, and what retarded their progress. The description of all these things is given in the holy scriptures. Now the man who has himself traveled on the Godway knows what the scriptures are speaking about and can explain them to us, logically reconciling what may appear to be inconsistencies to the novices on the path who have not yet learned to delve deep beneath the surface.
In our last meeting, I told you something about the Light of God and the Voice of God, both of which reside in the temple of God which we are. This is what the man of realization would say, for he has actually experienced these within himself. But it would be quite different with the man of intellect, with no face-to-face realization of the Reality. He, with all his learning and knowledge only of outer forms and formalities, rites and rituals, knows next to nothing of spiritual matters and talks of things empirically on the human level. The man of inner attainment, on the other hand, besides ironing out apparent differences, grants us an experience of the Reality, dispelling all doubts; for when one actually see things for himself, one gets a deep-rooted conviction born of practical experience.
Christ tells us,
“If thine eye be single,
thy whole body shall be full of light.”
The Light of God is within each one of us and so is the “single eye.” But how to develop the single eye and how to witness the Light of God is the problem within us, and none can solve these problems for us but a living competent Master who, like Christ, has had an actual living experience of them in his own person and makes it manifest to us by means of actual experience.
All the scriptures at the most relate to us the spiritual experiences of the Masters: what they have seen within and how. Those who have not had the same experiences cannot even correctly interpret the scriptures to us. They would simply ramble and miss the most important part, for it is not a matter of intellectual grasp. The intellectuals often gather round the Masters, put silly questions to them, but what does the Master tell them?
Once some learned people came to Shamas Tabrez, a Persian Saint. He plainly told them,
“My friends, if you see the Midnight Sun,
you are most welcome.
If not, do not waste your time and mine.”
The people were bewildered. What could he mean by “Midnight Sun?” They said, “The sun is only seen at daytime, not at night!” The sage replied,
“The sun I speak of never sets,
and they alone behold its glory
whose hearts are pure.”
A very similar anecdote is recorded in the life of Guru Nanak, the Indian mystic. One night he declared that the sun was ablaze in the heavens. His family thought that he had gone crazy. When his beloved disciple, Bhai Lehna (who was to succeed him as Guru Angad), came to him, Guru Nanak repeated what he had said earlier: “The sun is ablaze in the heavens.” And Bhai Lehna at once said, “Yes, my Master it is so.” . . . “How far has it risen?” was the next question, and he promptly replied, “As far as you make it.”
These instances I have quoted from the holy books. Now I will tell you a similar incident that occurred before my very eyes. My Master, Baba Sawan Singh Ji, once during his last illness asked those around him if people in the neighboring towns could see the sun that he beheld. Everyone thought that he had lost his reason and the doctor in attendance, an eminent Swiss homeopath, declared that the Master was suffering from uremia, i.e., urine poison was affecting his brain.
When I visited Him in the evening, he laughed heartily and asked me the same question:
“Look here, the sun is ablaze in the heavens.
Do the people living in other stations see that?”
I told Him: “Master, distance is immaterial. A man may be living in America or in Europe. If he were to turn within, he will see the Light of God.” . . . “That is right,” said my beloved Master.
References to the same Light may be found in the most sacred of the Vedic hymns, the Gayatri Mantra. It speaks of the savitar or the sun shining within, and exhorts the religious-minded to attend to the all-absorbing influence of “that glorious orb,” but how many of us who daily recite this mantra ever know its significance and practice what the Vedas speak of?
God is Light, more brilliant than the light of countless suns put together, a Light that is at once uncreate and shadowless, very sweet, very soothing,
“A light that never was on sea or land.”
It is always there. But externalized as we are on the plane of the senses, we cannot see it. To see it, we must invert and rise above the body consciousness. This is a practical subject.
An incident in the life of Kabir brings out the difference between a merely intellectual and a practical man very clearly. Once a learned pundit came to him for the sake of pointless argument. The sage put him off, saying,
“My learned friend, why argue
when we can never hope to agree?
You speak of something you have not seen,
of something you have only read;
while I speak only of that which I have seen.”
Jesus Christ once said,
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
we speak that we do know,
and testify that we have seen.”
One of the Sikh Masters also said the same thing:
“Listen ye to the true testimony of the Saints,
for they speak of that which they have seen.”
Of course the man who has seen the Reality himself will say, “I have seen it and I know what it is!” He speaks with confidence and conviction. There is force and weight in what he says. When one has experienced what he describes, the words spring from the abundance of the heart and they carry their own testimony. They have about them an air of certainty and definiteness that does not admit of any doubt and suspicion.
Kabir further says,
“I tell the people to wake up from their slumber.”
It means that we are asleep. But how?
The fact is that we are asleep as regards the Reality that is within, because our inner eye has not yet been opened and we have not witnessed the Light of God. We have never risen above the body consciousness, never developed the “single eye” that alone pierces into the Beyond. We are, as it were, asleep from within, and are identified with our bodies and the bodily impressions. We are leading a superficial life on the sensual plane. It is because of this that Kabir asks us to wake up from the deadly spell of the senses.
The Vedas also say the same thing:
“Awake, arise and stop not until the goal is reached,”
meaning thereby that our goal is elsewhere and we are not even aware of it; and that it is high time for us to know of it and strive for it.
Thus we see that even the rishis of old used the very same words as Kabir.
Again the fifth Master (Guru Arjan Dev) of the Sikhs stresses the same thing:
“Awake, O Traveler! and hasten
toward thy destination which is a long way off.”
What a long journey we have before us! And yet we have no knowledge of it.
We are all the time confined to and concerned with the physical bodies. But we have to reach the True Home — the Home of our Father. We must first come above the physical consciousness. It is from there that the long journey homeward begins.
“Strait is the way,”
but when once you are put on it you have to traverse further and further.
“My Father’s house has many mansions.”
There are many planes and sub-planes in the Kingdom of God, which you have to pass through, one by one, before you reach your Home. That indeed is the ultimate goal of human life, and all our endeavors must be directed to that end.
It does not mean that we should neglect our duties of daily life. It only means that we must wake up from our self-complacency and gradually try to rise to the reality of things and devote some time to knowing the Self (soul) within us. This can be done, no matter where we are, what we are, what religion we profess; provided of course we have right direction and proper guidance from a real adept in the line.
This is the point that Kabir raised in his discussion with the pundits:
“My friends, you think that just by being a Hindu
you will reach God. But that is not enough.”
No doubt, allegiance to a particular religion is no bar to entering the Kingdom of God. All social religions are good in themselves and serve a useful purpose in their own way, yet each will have to work out his own salvation by himself and nobody else can do this for him by proxy. The ultimate aim toward which all religions converge is salvation; but the means to salvation lie within, and we shall have to traverse the way back to God, and that way back is one and one only for all mankind — the way of death in life.
All the Masters who came in the past spoke of this way — the way of inversion or entering within. If we traverse on this way, and “learn to die at will” — as Kabir puts it, “hundred times a day” — or as a Christian saint tells us that he “died daily,” then death can have no terror for us and we will not be taken unaware when it comes and will not get lost at the last moment, but smilingly kick off the mortal coil and march ahead as a matter of routine.
Sant Kabir further told the pundit: “I tell the people to remain in the world and go to the wilderness. I only tell them to face life and to fight the battle. I only say: Maintain your bodies well, for they are the true temples of God. Maintain your families, for they have been given to you by God’s grace. Maintain them. God resides in every heart. Have love for your family, for all the social religions, nay, for all mankind as a whole. This is what I mean when I say: ‘Remain in the world and yet out of it.’ ”
From where do our attachments arise? They originate with the body.We are attached so much to it that we cannot distinguish our true self.
When we have to leave it all of a sudden, we feel lost. Therefore, Kabir says: Remain in the world; but enter into the Kingdom of God, see the Light of God by opening the third eye or the single eye within. When you rise above body consciousness, you will find this physical frame to be mere dust, a clod of clay.
“Dust thou art, and unto dust returneth.”
You are then cut off from the body from within, and consequently from the outer environments. You will be in the world, yet out of it.
Sant Kabir compares such a life to that of the stately swan (Hansa) that, living in the water, takes to its wings, soaring high and dry.
Nanak speaks of it thus:
“So we should live in the world and yet out of it.”
But we are simply attached to the body itself. We know nothing beyond this life. We say: “Right here now and forever, eat, drink, be merry, for this life is all in all.”
At times the Masters have to tell the truth, bitter as it may sound, in very clear terms, because they have love for humanity and they wish all to reach the goal.
When Christ entered the temple, do you remember what he said to the money changers there?
“Take these things hence;
make not my Father’s house
a house of merchandise!”
Similarly, Kabir said to the pundit: “O learned man! You are like a maid that has no husband of her own and yet goes about telling other people that she can give them what she has not known all her life. You just try to work upon their emotions by high-sounding words and hypocrisy. But how can you show them the Reality when you have not seen it yourself? If you want to see God, come and follow me.”
The truth of the matter is that those who have not seen God themselves cannot make others see. When their own inner eye is not yet opened and they do not see the Light of God within, how can they open the eyes of others or make manifest the Light of God?
Sant Kabir further told the man of learning: “You have frittered away your life and lost life’s purpose. The human body occupies the highest place in all creation. It was given to you to know yourself and to know God. That opportunity you have frittered away. You are not only deceiving your own self but deceiving all those who come to you. Had you kept to yourself, it would have been much better; for then you would have lost life’s game only for yourself, and not made others lose theirs. You have never married — how can you tell others what marriage is? You have lost your opportunity; why waste that of others? Why are you making others lose their golden opportunity?”
In the Upanishads, a story is told of King Janak, a seeker of Truth. He gathered together all the sages of the time and said, “My dear friends, I want to know the way back to God. Can you teach me its theory, since theory precedes practice?”
It is said that one Yajnavalkya, a rishi, satisfied the king on this account. He got the price fixed for the purpose. But then another sage, Gargi, who had realized the truth, questioned Yajnavalkya: “Look here, O Rishi! Have you seen the Reality that you have spoken of, and expounded so well, with your own eyes, just as you see those cattle grazing in the meadow?” And what did he say? Yajnavalkya, true to his own self, unhesitatingly admitted, “No. I have only understood the theory; I am not a man of realization myself.” Naturally, Janak had to search elsewhere for the practical solution to the problem.
We must be sincere. If you have seen the Truth, only then ask the people to follow you. “Dear friend, come and see and have it!” But if you have not seen the Truth yourself, then why, like the proverbial blind man, lead others into the pit along with you? We must be sincere to our own selves and to our fellow men and women. If you only know the scriptures in theory, say so. If you have seen the Light and can rise above body consciousness, and are also competent to give others some experience of it, well and good. Go and tell the people so.
You see, that is the difficulty. People speak so much about the scriptures. You must have heard so many speakers holding forth on the subject. But how many of them are there who have had the first-hand experience of Truth, and are competent to give you also that experience? To talk of Spirituality is just like giving a learned discourse on the principles of business without having any capital or practical capability to start the business.
While here, each morning people sit for meditation and get some experience of the inner Truth. When you get experience inside, however elementary it may be, you are convinced of the Reality and can develop it to any length you may like, by regular practice.
Preaching was meant to be done only by those who had the first-hand experience of Truth. But preaching has become a source of income; and paid service in all social religions has made matters worse. I am not talking of any particular religion, but what I say is true of all religions. People have made a business of religion and so many have taken to it just as a means of livelihood.
But God’s gifts are all free. They pretend to serve Him, but at bottom it is all mercenary. The world is full of them and that is why we are fed up with the very word “Master.” But a real Master does not seek worldly gain. He gives God’s gift — Spirituality — freely and free of cost. He has realized God. He is the perfect man. He has transcended the physical consciousness and has seen the Light within. What did Kabir tell the pundit?
“O learned pundit, if you want
an experience of the Reality,
go to some competent living Master.”
“What sort of Master?” asked the pundit.
Then Kabir went on to define “Master” as one through whom God speaks. This is what all the Saints, including Kabir, have said.
Thus we have in the Bible:
“Holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
— II Peter 1:21
Guru Nanak says,
“Poor Nanak only speaks what he is bidden,”
“O Lalo! I only say that which my Lord speaks through me.”
A Muslim divine also says the same thing:
“The records of the Prophet
are the records of God,
though they may seemingly appear
to drop from a human tongue.”
You too have the same possibility in you. But you have not yet come in contact with the Power working in you, because you are still bound to the physical body. As long as you do not lose this body consciousness, you cannot enter into the Beyond. The Bible says,
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.”
You must seek out one who has risen into cosmic awareness and is a conscious co-worker of the Divine Plan. He will no doubt be a man like any of you. But he has realized his own Self and experienced God within. When you sit with him, you will find him quite a different being, full of love and compassion for all: a radiating center of the Divinity in him. The very atmosphere around him is charged with the radioactive rays of spiritual bliss.
A man who has attained the highest degree of mastery in any field of activity will at first appear like an ordinary man. He is essentially a man first and last. But he has developed in his own particular way. When you sit with him, you will find him a giant in his own field. This is exactly the case with a Master-soul. When you meet him, you will find him just like any other man at first sight. He himself will tell you : “I come to you as a man to man. I am a man just like you. I had the good fortune to sit at the feet of my Master and progressed in the spiritual way. Those who are in search of the Godway are most welcome.”
A doctor is a man first and then a doctor. An engineer is a man first and then an engineer. Similarly, a spiritual man, a Master, is a man first and then a spiritual guide.
All possibilities are within man. Great is man. He who has developed in a certain line and has an experience of it, is able to guide you also if you are seeking the same way.
I told you in our meeting the day before yesterday:
“Is not life more than meat, and body more than raiment?”
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”
That is what I emphasized: “Seek ye first,” i.e., that this is the most important thing in life, the thing that concerns you most.
“Know thyself” has been the theme of all the Masters who have come so far. Know about yourself and not about others, they said. Know thyself: who you are and what you are. That is the most important thing before us. Those who have known themselves — call them by any name you like — will be able not only to put you on the way but give you some experience of the way. Then you can go ahead.
That is why Sant Kabir asks us to seek such a man. That man is not an ordinary man, I tell you. He has of course a human body like any of us. But he has come in contact with the Truth within and become its mouthpiece.
“Holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
What they say is not premeditated; it is all unthought of from the human level, and as Emerson puts it:
“The thoughts which come of themselves
from within are always perfect.”
The Master is not the physical entity. He is the Divine Power working at the human pole.
What did Jesus say?
“Lo, I am with you always
even to the end of the world.
I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
This is what all the Masters say. I am not going to quote you references from the various scriptures, but am only giving references from the Bible because you are so conversant with it.
The Master Power never leaves you. It is not the human body but the Power working through it that remains forever. Christ Power has been working through the ages and shall continue to work; but through different divine instruments and according to the needs of the times. The body alone perishes, but that Power remains. Those who have really seen the Truth within can open your inner eye and make you see it. If they give you some inner experience, however little it may be, you can develop it.
One of Christ’s parables illustrates this beautifully: A rich man going out on a journey distributed among his servants some talents — twenty to one, ten to another, five to the third. When he came back, the man who had had twenty talents had made them thirty, the one with ten had made fifteen of them, and the last who had gotten only five had never touched them but had kept them safe buried underground. As no use was made of them, the Master thought it prudent to withdraw them.
What I mean to say is, that when you are given some experience, you have to develop it as you do your learning in a school. Initiation does not mean observance of any ceremony, or ritual, or anything of the sort. It is just a practical experience of the science spiritual. The theory is explained first, and then the experience is given, and that is to be developed from day to day. That Master Power overhead which gives the experience protects both within and without, and keeps a constant watch over the disciples.
You will find that such people have been coming to the Masters and asking them as Philip asked Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us.” And what did he reply? He grew indignant and said,
“Have I been so long time with you,
and yet thou hast not known me, Philip?
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;
and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
Believest thou not that I am in the Father,
and the Father in me?
the words that I speak unto you
I speak not of myself:
but the Father that dwelleth in me,
He doeth the works.”
Christ was a conscious co-worker with the Father or Divine Power within him. Only he who is conscious of the Power working through him can bring you in contact with the Power within. That contact is possible only when you rise above body consciousness and not otherwise.
It is something quite apart from intellectual activity. Intellectual attainments may serve as an additional aid to a practical man, for then he can explain to you the same thing in so many ways, very graphically.
But the man who is only intellectual with no practical inner experience is, as Sheikh Saadi, a Muslim Saint, rather strongly puts it, “an ass carrying a heavy load of books, quite ignorant of their value.”
A Sikh Master has said the same thing in a milder way. He says, “The ladle moves briskly in the pudding but never tastes its sweetness; even so you revel in an intellectual knowledge of the scriptures, but have never experienced what they describe.”
This does not mean that you should not read the scriptures. Reading is a help. Those who have entered the field of the intellect and are determined to know the why and wherefore of things, ultimately find the way. But the way that they have to follow is the same that the unlearned follow. The path is the same for all mankind and it begins when you rise above the physical plane and that, as said so often, is a practical subject.
To have intellectual attainments is also a blessing. Once it so happened that Keshab Chandra Sen, the learned head of the Brahmo Samaj in India, went to Ramakrishna, a man of realization. He went to him just for the sake of understanding things, and Ramakrishna told him, “If you are ready to learn by a few words, then come to me. And if many, go to my disciple Vivekananda.”
Intellectual knowledge is a good thing in itself. It is a feather in the cap of a practical adept, but with some people it becomes an obsession and they not only deceive themselves but they also deceive others, for they have no access inside.
When the Masters come, they tell us of God and the Godway. They remind us of the Reality within. Man is the teacher of man.
Can past Masters help us?
Yes, we do need them. They are helpful in their own way. We have respect for them, because they gave out the Truth and their experiences of it. Those who came in contact with them were put on the way, and they also realized the same Truth. The scriptures are the treasures of the experiences that they had with their own Selves and with God and we are fortunate to have them with us today.
If we had come two thousand years earlier, we would not have the New Testament with us and I would not have given you these beautiful quotations from it. All scriptures deal with the same Truth. But we are familiar with one or another scripture only.
When I quote the Bible to you, you have no difficulty. So it is with people of other faiths. They follow easily what is said, when I offer quotations to them from their respective scriptures. All these scriptures make my task easier, as well as that of my listeners. The sacred books are just handy aids in the hands of a man of realization for they all deal with the selfsame subject, viz., Godrealization.
What we need is someone who has the experience within himself of what is spoken of in the scriptures, and who is competent to give us some taste of that experience right now. Call such a man what you will — pir, murshid, Saint or Master — that is immaterial.
We have respect for all such persons who came in the past or who are here now in the present age. Those who have seen the Reality can put us on the Path and give us a first-hand experience of it. The need of such a Godman has been felt ever since the world began.
Some people say that they don’t need any Master. Well, they will have to rely on books, the holy scriptures. These scriptures are, of course, more reliable than the intellectual commentaries on them by the learned. If the commentators have seen the Truth, they will interpret the scriptures correctly, but if not, they will confound and confuse the reader in spite of all his wits and will lead him nowhere.
When you rely solely on books, you ultimately rely on some Master, for the scriptures were after all written by somebody. Instead of this indirect approach, would it not be better if you could meet a man of realization directly? He has practical experience of what the scriptures describe and can give you much more than you can ever get from books; he can give you first-hand experience of the Reality itself. This aspect has been stressed by all the Saints. They enable us to understand how we may have that experience in our lives.
In the Gospel of Matthew we have,
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father.”
“No man knoweth the Father save the son,
and he to whomsoever the son will reveal him.”
Thus, the son knows the Father and the Father knows the son, and all others to whom the son reveals Him, for he becomes a conscious coworker with the Father, on the Divine Plan. This is why Christ said:
“I and my Father are one.
It is not I that am doing it.
I am the way, the truth and the life.
No man cometh unto the Father but by me.
If you had known on me,
ye should have known my Father also.”
In what a forceful way he has put it: Through the man who has known the Father (God), you can also know God.
The alphabet of the teachings of the Masters starts where the world philosophies end. That is the beginning of true religion (inner re-connection with God). It begins when you come above body consciousness and not before.
Naturally, the man who has experience of the Truth is the only one competent to put you on the way. You may be able, in the company of such a righteous man, to understand the true nature of things, the real significance of what is highly abstract.
So all Masters who have been coming from time to time have been giving out the Truth. The question now arises: what sort of yoga (spiritual discipline) do they teach?
We have so many yogas, so many ways of coming to the Home of our Father, to reach the state of unchangeable permanence, all peace, all joy, all happiness, which never decays and is not subject to Dissolution or Grand Dissolution.
That was the goal which we set before us in our first meeting. I also gave quotations from different scriptures.
The ultimate goal of all religions is God. We are worshipers of the same God, no matter whether we belong to one country or the other, East or West, to one religion or another; for that makes no difference. All religions say the same thing. “Love God,” and further, as God resides in every heart, “love all humanity.” This is the best way of leading our outer life. If followed naturally, the Kingdom of God would surely come on earth — for which we so often pray but are disappointed.
Next we have to enter into the Kingdom of God, reach our True Home. The way to it starts when we rise above body consciousness. But how are we to achieve this? All scriptures speak of the Way that leads back to God. We have to find this Way.
There are so many different methods that we may follow! But which of them is the most natural, the most easy and can give us the quickest results? — so that we can realize the Truth in this very life and not have to wait till after death.
I met a man in California who came to me and told me that his Master had said that his inner eye had been opened. I asked him if he saw anything within, to which he said, “No.” I asked him, what made him believe this? He replied that his Master had said so and therefore it must be so. I advised him not to follow blindly but to see things for himself.
Another man came up and said, “My Master says I will have salvation after death.” But I asked him, “Where is the proof that you will have it?” People are after Truth, I tell you. I quite see the search for Truth everywhere in the world. Men have been seeking for Truth for years and years, through books, through rituals, and through countless other means. But they have not gained practical experience of the Reality.
I met a very learned man in San Francisco; he is the organizer of all the international religions conferences that are being held now in Japan, France, Germany, and other places. He heard one of my talks in which I dealt with this subject. At the end he admitted that what I said was true and that he had not seen the light within. The people are after it, no doubt, and many of them are quite sincere, broadminded and open to conviction.
The question arises:
Of the many yogas, which is the best, the quickest and easiest, and the most suited to our times?
The Masters teach you the most natural way. Natural ways are always the easiest. Easy things can be followed by anyone anywhere. Even a child should be able to see the Light of Heaven within.
There are so many yogic practices.
We have Hatha Yoga. It gives us physical fitness, a strong body, for one thing; and for another it prepares the way for another type of yoga, the Prana Yoga.
Prana Yoga gives control over the respiratory system in the body, and enables one to withdraw the motor and sensory currents together to the seat of the soul within. The body is simply left as a clod of earth, without breath or motion; this is technically called kumbhak. When we achieve this withdrawal of the pranas (vital airs), we see the Light of God and hear the Voice of God within. This is a difficult and arduous way. Everyone is not fit for it. Everyone cannot follow it. The body must be sound and strong. For this we have to take to the Hatha Yoga practices for a long time to make our body fit, and then we can take it up. Those who are physically unfit, if they take it up, they fall a victim to different diseases.
Next there is Laya Yoga, which is concerned with the awakening of the kundalini or the serpentine power. That is also practiced through controlling one’s breathing. We have to awaken all centers in the body and go up step by step.
There are other forms of yoga as well, which enable one to control his mind. They ask us to visualize within some outer object so that we may have something to concentrate. our thoughts upon.
Then there is Jnana Yoga for grasping the reality within by the sheer force of intellect — a very difficult path indeed, I may say. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, “To grasp the infinity by the finite intellect is as impossible as to quench thirst by taking wine or to extract oil from sand.” How can the finite intellect grasp the all-pervading Reality within its narrow compass? That is a sheer impossibility. This is why Confucius said: “The reality is something which cannot be grasped, cannot be understood and cannot be comprehended.” This is why he turned from the spiritual to the ethical side of life.
Can we possibly come in contact with that Reality?
All the Masters with one voice emphatically say, “Yes!” Guru Nanak says,
“The Lord God of Nanak is visible everywhere.”
Swami Vivekananda, who came to America some years ago, began life as an atheist. He would challenge people to show him God. He would question: Is there anyone who has seen God? He was told to visit Dakshineswar (in Bengal) and meet Ramakrishna Paramhans. He went there, all puffed up with his intellectual attainments. Ramakrishna appeared to him like an ordinary man. You see, the Masters do not act and pose. They do not believe in any show. They just behave like ordinary individuals. He found the sage first on the grassy plot adjoining his hut and put to him his oft-repeated question: “Master, have you seen God?” And what was the reply? “Yes, my child, I see Him just as I see you — only more vividly.” At these words coming from the heart of a man of realization, Vivekananda bowed down. And throughout the rest of his life he always declared, “Only through that Godman was I saved.”
How then is salvation possible? All Masters say,
“If thine eye be single,
thy whole body shall be full of light.”
For salvation then we must develop our “single eye.” But how to find it and how to develop it?
Guru Nanak tells us that the “single eye” spoken of is not of flesh and bone, as are our outer eyes. It is the inner eye — the eye within you. And this is to be opened. But how?
One who has his own eye opened and has seen the light of God is also capable of giving you first-hand inner experience of it. Seeing is believing, and when you see for your own self, you will require no further testimony.
On the other hand, the blind cannot lead the blind. An awakened soul alone can awaken souls slumbering on the plane of the senses. As light comes from light, so does life from life. A man of realization can grant an experience of the Reality to others. He who has risen in Cosmic Awareness, can make others rise in that Awareness. So it is not an impossibility. All Masters have testified to this.
Shamas of Tabrez says:
“We should be able to see God with our own eyes
and hear the voice of God with our own ears.”
This is no new thing. It is the most ancient science and the most authentic.
Another Muslim Saint, Moieen-ud-Din Chishti, tells us,
“You have to open the inner eye
to behold the glory of God within.
It is already there.”
A true Christian must know how to cross over the body consciousness to see the Light of God.
A true Muslim must witness the glory of God from the top of Mount Toor, which is our body.
The prophet Moses used to go up Mount Sinai to hear the Decalogue in the midst of lightning and thunder.
Similarly, a true Sikh (Khalsa) is one who sees the light of God in his own person.
The scriptures tell us that Guru (Master) is one who can dispel darkness in man by revealing the Light of Heaven.
The Christians figuratively call this spot (where the light is seen) the mount of transfiguration.
This is the goal before us. It is possible and within the reach of everyone. When? When you come in contact with some practical adept. He will be a man as any of you are, but he has inner experience of Truth and is competent to give the same experience to you. If he gives you some experience at the very outset, you can expect more from him.
What type of yoga do the Masters teach?
I have just mentioned certain types of yoga. There are other types as well, which enable us to concentrate and dwell on the lower ganglions (chakras) in the body. They aim at awakening the different supernatural powers (riddhis and siddhis) thereby. But the true aim of life is to know one’s Self and to know God, and not to have supernatural powers.
To one who practices the highest type of yoga, by following the path of the Masters, all such powers come of themselves: one has not to work for them. But a true seeker of God bypasses all such temptations.
What then is the most natural yoga? What do the Masters teach? The Path of the Masters is known as Sehaj Yoga (the natural yoga) or the Surat Shabd Yoga (the yoga of the Sound Current).
What is surat?
It is the soul within each one of us, the outward expression of which is the attention or what is known as consciousness, awareness or wakefulness. When you open and close your eyes successively for some time, you will feel a kind of wakefulness and consciousness behind the eyes. This wakefulness or consciousness is the “Self” in you, and that you are. In the waking state it is diffused in the body and is engaged in outer pursuits of the world through the agency of the senses. But it can be withdrawn and concentrated within. The Master helps in withdrawing the sensory currents, collecting them at one center, and gives an inner contact with the “Word Power” within — the divine link in each one of us.
This God Power is known by different names. St. John speaks of it as the “Word.” It is the “Holy Ghost” of Christ. The Muslims call it Kalma or Ism-i-Azam, while the Hindu Rishis called it Sruti or Udgit. Zoroaster gave it the name of Sraosha or the “Creative Verbum.” Guru Nanak speaks of it as Naam. It is the great Creative Power of God which is controlling the Universe.
This Sound Principle or “Divine harmony” is the core of all that is. And what is God? You find the same thing mentioned in the Bible. St. John begins his Gospel with the memorable words,
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him,
and without him
was not anything made that was made.”
Dryden, a great English poet, in his poetic fancy calls it “Harmony,” and ascribes the creation to the great “Power of Music.” This Word existed even before the Creation came into being.
God the Absolute is Wordless and Nameless. When that Absolute came into manifestation, it was given different names as said before: Word, Kalma, Naam, Sruti, Udgit, etc. This first and primal manifestation of the Absolute (in the form of the Sound Principle) is the Divine Link within each one of us, and this Power is all-pervading and everlasting.
“Forever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in heaven.”
The Bible further tells us:
“By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made.”
That is the creative Power:
“Upholding all things by the Word of his power.”
The Bible calls that creative principle the “Word.”
As I told you yesterday, unless you know the specialized terminology of the Masters, you cannot know the true import of the scriptures. The Word, as used throughout the Bible and especially by St. John, is one example of such terms; and so are many others in different scriptures. That Word is lasting, everlasting and abiding forever and forever:
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth,
but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”
The “Word of God” does not mean the words uttered by the Masters. Their words of wisdom simply express the Word of God and its creative, controlling and sustaining Power over all that is visible and invisible. This Power existed right from the beginning.
“The Word was with God
and the Word was God.”
That Divine Link is within every man. The Epistle to the Hebrews (in the New Testament) speaks of the Word of God as:
“For the Word of God is quick
(which means living) and powerful
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing
asunder of soul and spirit
and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.”
That Power is denoted by the term “Word.”
So God is the Nameless or the Wordless One. When that Power came into being and assumed a manifest form, “God-in-action” — it became the primal cause, the Causeless Cause, of all creation in the higher and lower spheres. And that first manifested form of the Absolute is the only Way back to God.
What we have to do is to contact that Divine Link which is the supporting power of all creation. We owe our very existence to this powerful link within us, which is uniting the radiant soul with the gross physical body. When that Power is withdrawn, the connecting link snaps and the soul departs, leaving the body a lifeless clod of clay. This we call death — the dissolution of the microcosm. When this Power is withdrawn from the world, there follows Grand Dissolution.
This Divine Link is in every heart. With that we have to establish contact — a real and living contact. But how? You can find it by transcending physical consciousness.
The Bible says;
“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
One who is Word personified will naturally be able to join you with the Word within. That Power ever abides in us. It is the Bread of Life, and verily we live by it, though we have never recognized it.
Christ tells us,
“Whosoever partaketh of this bread
will have everlasting life.”
He never meant his body but the Word personified and within him.
It is often described by the sages as the Water of Life.
“Whosoever drinketh of the water
that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him
shall be in him a well of water
springing up into everlasting life.”
But how to get this Bread of Life or Water of Life, that bestows life everlasting? How to sip this elixir? All the scriptures tell us in one voice that it can be had from a living Saint who is an embodiment of this active life principle. It will not cost you anything, not a farthing. It is as much a gift of nature as light, air and water. This experience of Truth you can get through the grace of a living Master, competent enough to contact you with the Divine Link within.
What is this experience like?
The Bible says:
“If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
And further it says:
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
That shows there is some experience of light within.
And then there is something else as well — the Sound Principle.
“Being born again
not of corruptible seed
but of incorruptible,
by the Word of God which liveth
and abideth forever.”
You will have to rise above body consciousness before you can come in contact with that Word Power within. It means an experience of light — the Light of God within you. And this is the beacon light that saves:
“The righteous runneth into it and is safe.”
To those who are just put on the Path of the Masters, there comes a marvelous change in their life and conduct. Steadfast in the Power of the Word, they are saved by it and escape from the cycle of births and deaths. The Dissolutions and Grand Dissolution have no effect on them.
It is then said:
“Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth
out of the mouth of God.”
Mark the words “out of the mouth of God.” This experience (revelation of light) comes about by the grace of an adept in the science of Spirituality. The Master has to transmit his own life impulse when he puts us on the Way and gives us a contact with the all-powerful, live and vibrant chord within. With this manifestation within, we learn the significance of the words of the Master Christian:
“The son knows the Father and those to whom the son reveals.”
“The wind bloweth where it listeth,
and thou hearest the sound thereof,
but canst not tell whence it cometh
and whither it goeth;
so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What I mean to say is that the Word Power has two aspects: one is of Sound and the other is of Light.
This is the natural way. The Masters do not touch the breathing system. They do not invoke the aid of pranas, for the simple reason that pranas have an independent function in the body and do not in any way interfere with our daily pursuits like walking, talking, eating and drinking. If we can ignore the pranas otherwise, they can safely be bypassed in spiritual sadhnas as well. The work of God can as well be performed without the intervention of pranas or vital airs. They have eliminated that part of the show altogether to make the system easier and in accord with the present times. Even a child, if he is made to sit, is given an experience. He begins to see light and hears the tinkling of bells.
This then is the natural way that is given by the Masters. It is the most suitable for these days. The secret of success lies in the conscious entity (soul or attention) within us. The concentration of attention is all that is needed. Whenever a thing is done with undivided attention, the result is sublime. Even physical exercises with an eye on body-building processes will make you strong and healthy. Similarly, when your attention is directed to the centers of the brain, you become intellectual stalwarts. When you fix your attention or soul on the Divine Link within called the Word, you become spiritually great. Everything can be achieved by the direction of attention. It is why Emerson said, “The key to success is one’s own thought.” All that is required is the proper direction and guidance. For this, you need no outer ceremonies and rituals; you can remain wherever you are. The way is within you. The easiest way, the natural way, to go back to God is therefore by means of contact with the Sound Principle.
This is the most natural yoga which befits our times. On account of our short span of life and other inherent infirmities, we are not hereditarily and temperamentally fit to take up the harder yogic ways. There are other ways as well, but this is the simplest, easiest, and the most profitable.
I visited a village in India where a man had been engaged in Prana Yoga practices for over forty years. I went to him. He was a thin and emaciated figure. (That type of yoga requires a stout and strong body, for which you must have Hatha Yoga practices and others to make you strong before you take to that way.) His body was so weak that he could not even talk or move easily. On being questioned as to the results achieved in forty years of Prana Yogic discipline, he informed me that at times he would see a streak of light and occasionally hear some sound (indistinguishable) within. Just compare the strenuous labor with the insignificant results achieved! When he was told of the natural way and asked to experiment, his joy knew no bounds and he discovered quicker and better results in shorter time.
What I mean to say is that the natural ways are always easier. The natural yoga does not interfere with the pranic system, which is a complicated affair. I do not deny the efficacy of the prana yoga. But are we fit for it?
As explained above we are not. The Masters, therefore, simply taught: “Let pranas do their own function in the physical frame. Ignore them altogether as one does when engaged in various activities. Withdraw the spirit currents and see within.” That is all.
The Surat Shabd Yoga or Yoga of the Sound Current needs Initiation or first-hand experience from some competent Master in the line who is capable of giving some spiritual experience. When he puts you on the way, you see things for your self. If you can have a little from him in the beginning, you can also expect more from him later.
Moreover, the Master being in tune with the Infinite is an unerring guide on the Godway and an unfailing friend both within and without. He has the competency to appear to you within, as some of you had an experience of this morning, and guide you on the inner spiritual planes as well.
A Mohammedan Saint says:
“He who can give you instructions outside
when on the physical plane,
and go up voluntarily while alive,
as at the time of death,
has the competency to appear to you within
and give you guidance there.”
Such indeed is the Master!
That is what I have told you. I have not given you any rigmaroles, but facts from the scriptures. Until we come to and sit at the feet of some practical Master, we do not see things for our own selves. When we see our own “Self,” no further testimony will be required.
Of course, for that certain prerequisites are necessary. And what are these?
To restrict ourselves to a strict vegetarian diet, for the reason that we should have normal lives. The diet which excites passions has to be avoided altogether. It is better to have a light, simple and natural diet, which is an aid to spiritual sadhna or practice.
Those who take up the practices concerning the lower centers in the body, do take meat — the Mohammedans and people of other religions also. But those who are anxious to rise above body consciousness and go into the Beyond have of necessity to eschew all that. This is the Path that I have put before you. Liberation or salvation is something which starts only when you rise above body consciousness. For that reason, vegetarianism is the first essential.
Another is that of abstention from intoxicants. You are a conscious entity. You have to rise in cosmic consciousness, and go beyond into the super consciousness. The things which go to muddle your consciousness or make you morbid and lose your consciousness are to be avoided; therefore, leave off all intoxicants, liquors, narcotics, smoking and all kinds of drinks unnatural and artificial.
The third requirement, of course, is good character and ethical life, in thoughts, words and deeds.
These are the essential requirements which qualify a man to tread the Godway. If you do not detach yourself from the above things, your further progress on the way will be retarded. Moreover, even in ordinary life, if you observe these instructions, that will give you a blessedness unknown hitherto.