This talk was published in the Nov. 1973 issue of Sat Sandesh.
Joy abounds among the righteous, but fellowship of evil breeds misery.
Kabir says go and get the company of some Saint;
Keep the company of He Who has controlled His mind,
Without measure will He give the wealth of Naam.
O Kabir, He may have but a crust to eat,
Shun the company of the worldly who may give you milk and honey;
I ask not for powers miraculous,
Kabir says give me the Master’s darshan daily.
This is a short hymn of Kabir, the first line of which is stressing the importance of Satsang. Satsang means the company of the Truth, the place where Truth is differentiated from untruth — where the wheat is separated from the chaff, where discrimination reigns supreme, where that eye of discrimination is awakened.
If a certain Person’s company is praised, it means that He is wise; He is One Who knows the difference between that which is true and that which is untrue. In such company, one can also learn such power of differentiation and develop awareness. Such a Personality is the very image of the Truth. He is the Satguru, Whose soul, after gaining emancipation from the mind and senses, experiences itself and gains connection with the Ultimate Truth, becoming the very form of that Truth. He is then only termed a Satguru.
Guru Arjan Sahib said on this subject, “He Who knows the Sat Purush (Ultimate Lord) has the Name of Satguru.” He is one with the True Lord. In such company alone, can the soul achieve salvation. Who sees the Lord praises Him. He whose mind’s eye is open to see the Lord, he only praises the Lord. If a soul has not realized the Ultimate Lord, it means he is still at the mind and sense level, just like others who are asleep within and are the image of the world without. How can a sleeping soul give a connection with the Lord to anyone else?
What happens when one meets a Satguru?
By meeting the Satguru, one’s own inner eye sees;
Within the house (body), the Truth is found.
One will see the Truth for oneself. “Nanak’s Emperor is apparent.” He sees, of course, but His disciples also come to see. “The Gurumukh sees with His eye.” The disciple can also see — by becoming a Gurumukh. What is a Gurumukh? He Who has constant awareness of the Guru. Therefore, one should start by sitting with full awareness in the company of the Realized Soul.
By meeting the Satguru, the gift of initiation is received.
Through which inner knowledge is attained.
Whomsoever looks intently into the Satguru’s eyes gains life, for life comes from Life, with which He is overflowing, because His soul is fully developed — He has complete control over His whole being.
Intellectual knowledge uplifts only the intellect. If you keep the company of those people who are involved in outer enjoyments which are experienced through the senses, then your senses will get heightened. On the other hand, in the company of One Whose soul is strong, your soul will be uplifted, and you will start seeing for yourself.
When you have seen, then sing;
Such song will bear fruit.
Sing the Lord’s praises after seeing something of His attributes. That will give an intoxication and will help you progress further. Anyone can chant from the books, or repeat something from hearsay — this is not truly praising the Lord. To see, and to bear witness to what you have seen, is something very different. The very tongue of such a Person will be charged with Nectar, and the words uttered by that tongue will immerse one’s heart in the depth of tranquility. “Satguru is He, meeting Whom the mind becomes still.” Pray for the company of such a Soul.
In the Saint’s company, the Lord is seen within;
Then how sweet is His Name.
It is not a loose promise to be fulfilled after death. He says you will see the Lord in the Saint’s company — you will taste the sweetness of the inner Nectar — the Naam of the Lord. “Drink that intoxicant of Naam.” The Satguru is also called Sadhu. “The Lord issues forth from the Sadhu’s tongue.” We get many wonderful things in His company.
In the Sadhu’s company,
the countenance becomes radiant;
the dirt is washed away.
Many thousands of words have been written on the greatness of the Satguru and the wondrous things that happen to us in His company, the precious gifts we receive. From His very presence there is a magnificent charging emitting, surrounding Him and permeating the whole area. “That overflowing Love is colored with intoxicant; the true yearning is created in the Sadh’s company.” Masters are the overflowing cups of the Lord’s intoxicating color — overflowing vessels of Love. Just by enjoying His company the yearning for God is born within one’s being.
This human birth we accept so casually comes only with great good fortune. Why? “You have got the human form — it is thy turn to meet God.” In the human form alone can God be realized — “No other action will be of avail.” The soul cannot reach God through any type of actions; these only cause one’s attention to become more dispersed. One can make the best use of all one’s facilities, but what will really help us to realize the Lord? “In the Sadh’s company, only contact the Naam.” And,
Those who repeated Naam got salvation;
O Nanak, their faces radiated with glory.
Those who meditated upon Naam succeeded in that purpose for which they were born into the human body. Their faces radiate in the Lord’s House. Through Their company many others also gain emancipation.
Gurumukh frees millions
by giving a spark of Naam.
What is that which is called Naam? There are two kinds of Naam. First, God is Nameless and Formless and Soundless; but when the Absolute God became from One to many, He came into expression, and that God-into-Expression Power is called Naam. It sustains the whole of creation. It has been given many different Names by the advanced souls to help mankind understand. Some called Him “Ram” because He is vibrating everywhere (from the Sanskrit root “ramma” meaning perpetual vibration.) Some called Him “Wahguru,” and there are many other Names, all of which we respect, no doubt. “I rejoice in all Thy Names.” But, what is that Naam or Name which is the Naam? —
That Naam, repeating which
you will cross the Ocean of Life.
If every religion declares that it has such a Name, then how can one know which is the true Naam?
As a guiding criterion, we should remember that, while words are all right, it is only a contact with that true Naam that can give the sought — for salvation. That is the Power which the words describe — the Naam which links you to the Named. One must get the connection with that Naam. This is why meditation upon Naam is very necessary; for although one can gain a little peace from other practices, yet after a while the mind will start its racing again. One Muslim Saint puts it this way: that we are repeating mere names, when we should catch hold of the Named Himself, with Whom all names are but empty words of description. How can a person have peace by repeating some words in a parrot-fashion? If one repeats the word “Ice, ice, ice,” can one thereby experience its coolness? Repeating the word “water” will not quench the thirst. How indeed can the spiritual thirst be quenched by the repetition of words or by repeating the various Names of the Lord?
Where then is the Naam which is Naam Power, which is God-in-Expression?
The Water of Life,
giver of the nine pleasures of Amrit,
is the Lord’s Naam;
It resides in this body.
Naam is the giver of all kinds of happiness, and It resides in this human form. And so It is not a subject of outer manifestation — It requires inversion. Naam is intoxicatingly sweet and beautiful, and can be experienced above the senses only. And what indication is there that one has gained experience of Naam?
When in contact with Naam,
the Light vying with millions of suns is manifested.
You will experience the radiation of that Light. All you brothers, in whatever religion you are, do you experience the Light within your own body? If you do, then know you have got something. If not, you are merely repeating words and have no connection with Naam.
“The Lord’s Naam is the Music of the Spheres.“ There is Music in the Naam — the Sound which vibrates from above. If you hear the Sound of the Lord within and see the Lord’s Light, then know that you have got connection with Naam. It is experienced only above the senses.
In the company of the Sadhu,
you receive the Imperceptible Gift.
It is all in the hands of the Master, Who will simply present this Gift to the true seeker. Do you see how valuable is the company of a Satguru?
What is the difference between the Master and other men? Physically He seems the same as others, just like doctors and patients; but the doctor has studied anatomy. And similarly, those People are specialized Who have got self-knowledge and God-knowledge. However, They always say that They are men just like other human beings. Guru Nanak said, “In this form of man, Nanak is my name.” But, whom will they address as Nanak? That is the point. Sometimes Masters do give an indication of what They are — in addition to man. “God’s word, which comes from above, is given out as knowledge.” The Guru is the mouthpiece of God. As the flow comes from God, so the Guru expresses it out. This is the principal difference. So seek the company of the Realized Souls Who are the very form of Truth, the mouthpiece of Truth. They are developed Souls, although They seem to be just like us.
The whole world is sleeping — rich, poor, intellectual, illiterate, alike. Why? Because they have no awareness of themselves. Each man’s soul is at the mercy of the mind, which is itself at the mercy of the senses, which, in turn, are dragged around by the sense-enjoyments. We have become identified with the body and the world — we have forgotten ourselves. Those who pursue the intellect lose themselves even more than the others; for although the illiterate are lost in the senses, yet through intellect one can get more deeply involved in the senses and the intellect both. We do work through the intellect, and it can help us to understand the true state of affairs — which is that the soul is a conscious entity, and our greatest aim as human beings is to realize God. The soul must rejoin the Lord.
God is in every form. He is the sustaining Power in all life. Due to this, our soul stays with the body; but when He removes His sustenance, the body is finished and returns to its various elements. Furthermore, if He withdraws His Power from creation, then dissolution or grand dissolution occurs, in different degrees. There is nothing nearer to us than this Power of God, which is the very soul of our soul. “Our soul has become jiva (soul in creation) through connection with the mind, and so the sense-enjoyments drag it around. It has forgotten itself in this depth of indulgence.“
Together, the Beloved and the soul;
The soul sleeps, but the Beloved is in full awareness.
The influence of the senses and the outer attractions keeps the soul asleep to the Truth, while the God-husband is constantly awake, waiting for the soul to open her eyes. In this pitiful situation, how can we awake? How can one sleeping person awaken another? Only in the Satsang can one sit in the company of an Awakened Soul, and one Awakened Soul can surely awaken thousands who are sleeping. An Awakened Soul does not mean a lecturer or reader of books — those who have knowledge at the sense level only — for he who has developed his intellect is also asleep.
The world is sleeping at the level of the mind. Mind is most powerful at the physical level where it takes our attention further and further into physical expression. Mind has stages also — physical, astral, causal — it operates in all three. It is not something simple. Many great sages have left this world crying because of the mind. So first we must learn to control the physical mind by withdrawing it from outer senses. You will find in some Eastern books the story of Habil and Cabil, and it is the story of the lower mind (Habil) killing the higher mind. Mind is a very strange phenomenon, and if it is controlled it will show the happenings of the three worlds. Remove yourself from outer distractions, and you will awaken unto your true self.
Has it never occurred to you that you must leave this world one day? Even in the presence of death, or accompanying the body to the cremation ground, do you never stop to think that you will also be in this position some day? We do agree that we have to go when reminded about it, but we then promptly forget the matter. It is a very sad condition we are in. Guru Arjan Sahib says, “Arise, awake, O traveler — why this delay?” Beloved soul, why are you sleeping? The sun of human birth has risen, and this is the time to awaken.
If this opportunity slips from your fingers,
it will never come so soon again.
This invaluable birth will be wasted.
Similarly the Upanishads say, “Awake, arise; and stop not until the Goal is reached.” It is like a sleeping sickness; and if you go to the root cause, you will understand what is happening; and then you will know how imperative it is to gain release from all this illusion and forgetfulness.
Listen now to a hymn of Guru Arjan Sahib, in which He tells us more on this subject. You may ask, “If we are sleeping, then how are we able to talk?” But do we not talk in our sleep? You haven’t got the awareness, but you have the intellect; so try to understand. We are the soul, the indweller of the body. And we often say, “This is my body; I am soul,” etc. As I have taken off my coat and placed it here, can you remove your body? Can you — rise above it and analyze yourself from mind and matter, separating yourself from the body? You would then see clearly who and what you are. Now listen to the hymn, which tells us how we went to sleep and how we can awaken.
Inner eye sleeps, while one covetously envies the possessions of others;
Inner ear sleeps, yet one eagerly hears all slander and scandal.
The Master’s message is for embodied souls caught in the web of mind and senses, unable to release themselves. Masters make no distinction between religions and sects; Their message is for the whole human race. O soul, since you took birth into the world, you have developed the habit of seeing things; and so your outer eye is open, but the eye which is used to see within became more securely closed. Although awake from without, you are asleep within; and by greedily envying the goods of others, your inner eye has gone deeper and deeper into this slumber.
Our outer awakenedness is busy coveting the wealth, property, bodies of others; and this creates impressions which are taken in and absorbed into one’s being through the eyes. Remember, 83% of all impressions we absorb enter into man through the eyes. Whatever you see is registered in you. This constant intake of impressions closes the inner vision more and more as the years go by. Furthermore, the impressions we absorb from outside are reproduced into our thoughts and dreams; and in this way a superficial life is built up. Up to now, you have never had the opportunity to dip inside yourself.
The ears are perpetually listening to the scandalizing and slandering of other people’s characters. Their virtues are underrated and their faults exaggerated. If something is worth repeating, it should also be one hundred percent accurate. Otherwise, it amounts to slander. Test this fact for yourself. Just sit quietly and listen to any conversation going on around you, and you will find they consist of gossip, criticism, and scandal principally.
Fourteen percent of all impressions comes through the ears. Eighty-three and fourteen amount to 97 percent of all impressions through two senses alone — awake or asleep. All this attention going out, all these impressions coming in, and never a single glance inwardly toward one’s real Self, which is in deep, heavy slumber, unaware of all this.
Inner taste sleeps, through greedy outer enjoyments;
Mind slumbers on in the wonders of illusion.
This is our daily life: this thing is very sweet, that thing is very beautiful. Strong in man are these senses of sight, hearing, and taste. He is always busy seeing, hearing, eating, and drinking — tasting something attractive today and wanting more and more of it tomorrow. During my tour of 1955, I was invited to meet a Father Divine in the U.S.A.; and at the dinner there, more than sixty different dishes were served, both sweet and savory. Just think of sixty different things to be tasted! There is a limit to what the taste can distinguish. What is seen, heard, and eaten are all reproduced and recorded within one’s being; and this is how our superficial lives are made. “Illusion started with this body.” You can see how this physical form has encouraged this forgetfulness in which we exist. We are embodied souls, but we have become only the body, and we can see only at the sense level. Now is this not superficial?
Mind is also asleep in this illusion. It has also become the form of the outer attractions, when awake and asleep both. What an accurate picture Guru Arjan Sahib is sketching! The Masters are constantly trying to draw man’s attention to the true state of affairs. One Muslim Fakir points out that one should close the eyes and ears to shut out these impressions, and also close the lips. This renders the tongue out of action and it is then also impossible to eat anything. Whatever the method, we must stop these three kinds of impressions coming inside from without; and then we should invert within. The Fakir adds that if the Truth does not then awaken in you, you are free to ridicule the method. It is a very definite statement and a fair offer.
Only the Awakened Soul can help one to invert these rebellious senses and withdraw from the outer attractions. At present one sees outwardly only; but then with His blessing of inner vision, you will see within and the path will be opened for you. At present one hears only outer sounds, but one will hear the inner Music, the Sound of the Truth. At present you enjoy outer actions, but by inversion you will start to enjoy the delectable inner Nectar of Naam. “When that Nectar comes, this taste is no longer enjoyed.” And who makes all this possible? “When the Satguru is met, inversion starts.” If you die while living, you will solve the riddle.
He who is awake in the house of the body
Can receive that inherent Perfect Gift.
If you awaken while living in this physical house, the Lord’s Gift is yours. He is already within, but one must withdraw the attention from outside. “What is there to realizing the Lord? Just uproot it from here and plant it there.” It is a simple matter of where the attention is focused.
Break away from family and acquaintances;
Then our Savior will come.
If you receive the Perfect Gift, you will also become perfect, as God is perfect. Just start withdrawing from outer attractions. But if the lecturers and scriptural authorities are sitting on the outer perimeter, at the sense-level, then who will help us awaken?
Our near and dear are intoxicated with their own enjoyments,
Having no knowledge of their True Home.
Our friends, relations, etc. are embodied souls like us, intoxicated by the outer enjoyments and having no awareness of themselves, dragged by sight, hearing, taste, and touch, suffering from one sickness or another. Remember that enslavement to a single sense alone can bring death, imprisonment, or slavery for life.
Take the moth, for example, which burns itself to death because of the ruling sense of sight. Through its strong sense of taste, the fish gets caught on the fisherman’s hook. A certain insect has a very strong sense of smell and is attracted to the scents of flowers; it loses its life when it enters that flower which closes like a clam. The sense of hearing is overpowering in the deer and in serpents. The deer is attracted by the beating drums, and he is so fascinated that he is helpless to move and is captured. The snake, a fearsome creature, is enchanted by the sound of the bina, is captured, and spends its life in a snake charmer’s basket. The sense of touch is dominating in the elephant; and through trickery they attract the male to the female and thereby capture him, starve him for days to weaken his strength that he may be controlled, and from then on he is a slave to man. If for the prevalence of a single sense these creatures lose their freedom or their lives, then what hope for man, who has five? It seems an impossible situation. “With so many enjoyments in this body, how can Naam reside therein?“
Everywhere people are in the same condition — brothers, sisters, husbands, children, parents, friends. There is a sleeping state and a drunken state. And whereas a sleeping person can be awakened, what about he who is in the drunken condition? You can shout at him, but he is without consciousness and will not respond. These are hard facts; it is a very accurate picture of mankind. Even the few who try to find the cure in the scriptures are helpless, for one cannot awaken the consciousness by reading a book.
Five dacoits have entered these sleepy dwellings,
And have looted the vacant house.
Everyone is sleeping and the dacoits are looting wildly. Who are these five dacoits (thieves)? They are anger, lust, greed, attachment, and ego. They are looting the people who are sleeping in a drugged state. Like this, man loses his most valuable possessions, and tragically does not realize this is happening, because he is so engrossed in the enjoyments that whatever knowledge of right he had is pushed aside.
A little awareness of the predicament he is in comes only when he has lost everything he possessed. The house is unprotected; the thieves can get in, for the owner is in a deep sleep. You are the owner of your physical house, are you not? Know it or not, you are in a drunken state. And although you have been awakened innumerable times, yet you merely say, “Yes, yes, I am awake“; but this is only from outside and you promptly go to sleep again. You have never awakened from within. There is no answering reply from your true self. If the point does not go home, the whole thing is superficial.
Father, Mother, cannot protect you;
Nor can friends and relations.
These people may suffer for or with you, but they cannot help you, for they, too, are asleep and are helplessly being looted like you. All are helpless sufferers at the hands of the five dacoits; and this includes the read and unread, the rich and the famous alike.
Riches and knowledge will not give self-protection.
It is a not a condition that can be improved with money or with intellectual knowledge. Do not the intellectuals fall also? The thieves cannot be controlled by the intellect, nor can they be bribed. Swami Ji Maharaj has also given a very lucid explanation on the subject, so we will take a little of His hymn now and then return afterward to Guru Arjan Sahib.
How can the sleeping mind be awakened, brothers?
Tell me, what steps must I take ?
If we have understood that we are now asleep, that the mind is sleeping within us, then what steps have we taken to ensure that we awaken? Even one hundred wise men will have the same wisdom, and Swami Ji is explaining the same thing as Guru Arjan Sahib. Those Who are awakened see everything in crystal clarity and know what safeguards to take. He explains how to awaken and also why we have not awakened to date through the various practices we have been doing.
One went on pilgrimage, even kept fast;
Became filled with bookish knowledge.
What is the meaning of pilgrimage? Places of pilgrimage are kept up because some soul at some time received his awakening there. Kabir Sahib once asked God to remove a great doubt that He had in His heart, and that doubt was whether the place of pilgrimage is better than the Lord’s servant, the Lord’s servant being the Guru. Of course, the Lord’s servant is the greater, for the holy place is founded because of Him. If an Awakened Soul sat in ten different places, then all ten became holy; so He is the Great One. The place where Guru Nanak Sahib was born, the village of Talvandi, is now a holy place and has been renamed Nankana Sahib. Guru Nanak once sat under a particular Reta tree, and that tree is now known as Reta Sahib. If you taste its fruit even today, you will find it very sweet and not bitter as the fruit of the Reta normally is.
The whole world’s holy places have been made because of some enlightened soul. Millions of souls have been born in different places, and millions have died; but who remembers the coming and going of all these? And yet a single Awakened Soul can put a small place on the map. Hazrat Mohammed Sahib was born in Mecca. Millions of others have been born there before and since, and yet only He is remembered. Jerusalem is a holy city to the Christians because Christ was there. What about all the others before and after Him? The original purpose of going to a holy place was to sit at the feet of the Awakened Soul there, and to learn His teaching.
Leave your troublesome, busy home life for a little while and go to sit at the feet of some Enlightened Soul. You cannot awaken by merely taking a dip in some holy river. This is not the fault of the places of pilgrimage; they are what we have made them, places of enjoyment, holiday resorts, attractions to sightseers. Take Hardwar, for instance. This is a place where the great Rishis and Munis stayed, Guru Nanak Sahib also, and Guru Amar Das Who for many years visited Hardwar every year. What is the place like today? Some years ago I saw that two cinemas had been built there, and since then many more. In the evening especially, you can see nothing but eating, drinking, and people at large seeking amusement. There is nothing else. This is not the true purpose of making a holy place of pilgrimage. And what can a dip in a holy river do for you?
If the mind is dirty, everything is dirty;
By washing the body, mind cannot be cleansed.
This world is an illusion of forgetfulness;
Only a few can find the Truth.
So how can the mind be purified?
O my mind, repeat only the Naam.
The Satguru has given me this wealth.
Through the Naam one can become pure. One is highly fortunate if one meets anyone who is a true lover of Naam, for purity starts when one is joined to It. Kabir very bluntly says:
A fish from a rivulet came, floating down the Ganges;
It washed itself in every way, but its smell remained.
By washing one’s body, one cannot wash away the dirt from the mind. Guru Nanak in His Jap Ji Sahib says:
When the hands, feet, and body are besmeared, they are washed clean with water;
When the clothes get dirty, they are cleansed with soap;
When the mind gets defiled with sin, it can be purified only by communion with Naam.
No one can get salvation merely by visiting some holy place until the purpose of the visit is fulfilled. Our Master used to say that those in the East go on pilgrimage to the West, and those in the West go East; the people of the North go South, and vice versa. They are all like a weaver’s shuttle going back and forth. Yet they do not find what they are seeking.
I once met a sadhu who told me he had walked from Amarnath to Rameshwar fourteen times. These two places are almost the northernmost and southern most points of India, respectively. Well, I asked him what was the condition of his mind; and he said, “Oh, the mind is the same.” Actually, the mind is more inclined to disperse even further by such journeys, for it dwells on the different places and scenes and happenings, etc., here, there, and everywhere in the form of thousands of impressions which have entered the mind and go on revolving round and round. If one stayed in one place only, there would be fewer impressions.
Swami Ji says that thousands have gone on pilgrimage and thousands have performed practices of various kinds, but in the end they lost. The purpose of fasting is that the body should not be overloaded with food and should rest sometimes. Have you ever given your stomach a holiday? People go on pushing food down every hour, every half hour — this renders the digestive system ineffective and the result is one disease or another. The true purpose of fasting is to gain good health. To overload the stomach before a day’s fast, and then reload it again after the fast is finished, accomplishes nothing but more moans and groans. If there is a little space in the stomach, and it is not completely filled up with food, then that space can be filled with the Light of God. There are many different kinds of fasting. For instance, one can fast on fruit and milk alone. But what happens? They start eating and drinking it by the kilos.
Food was made for man’s needs — eat in moderation, and you will be successful. Only the food that is digested will give strength. We are ambitious for more consciousness, but overeating makes us lazy — we sleep longer. Some people are under the impression that they were just born to eat. You will remember, in the Puranas it tells of Food going to Lord Vishnu with the complaint that the people were eating him mercilessly, and what should he do about it? Lord Vishnu said that if anyone eats Food more than necessary, then Food should eat them! You can see this very result around you: the majority of people are sick, the cause of which is principally an excess of food in the system and irregular eating habits. One should take a little less than is necessary at each meal; that will give a buoyancy and aid one’s efforts in becoming more awake. Furthermore, the health will improve, and one will be able to tackle a larger share of work. However, even if one goes to the extreme outer practice of fasting, what is the result? Swami Ji tells us:
By remaining hungry, the hunger has not gone;
You have failed in your purpose.
People have kept fast upon fast, and have not achieved anything really worthwhile because the consciousness does not awaken thereby. This is due to these outer practices being performed at the sense-level. If some higher purpose or result was achieved thereby — if one thereby gained an inner contact with Naam, for instance, or the company of the Satguru — then fasting, or pilgrimage, austerities, etc. would have some value. Fasting for fasting’s sake alone is spiritually worthless. This applies also to reading the scriptures, which merely increases intellectual knowledge.
Tulsi Sahib says,
Four, eighteen, nine, were read;
Reading all this, yet the point was lost;
Without contact of Surat with Shabd,
one is like the chandool bird.
The four Vedas, the eighteen Puranas, the nine Shastras — these are the ancient Hindu scriptures. But what is the use of absorbing the whole world’s scriptures if they have no value in the light of one’s purpose or goal? He says that one becomes like the chandool bird, which goes on imitating all the sounds it hears. No one ever got salvation through reading — understand this carefully.
The Upanishads tell us that the senses, the mind, and the intellect all should be stilled; and only then will the soul perceive. Reasoning is a help — for understanding — and reasoning is a bar also. The Vedas say,
The ignorant will go to dark regions at death;
Those drenched in knowledge will go to darker regions.
To still the intellect is most important, for that very intellect is at sense-level, and the mind is already asleep because of its connections with the senses. None of these outer practices can awaken the sleeping mind.
Repetition, austerities, restrictions, and many more —
The ignorant even kept silence.
The tongue goes on repeating God’s Name, but the mind is running around all over the place. What is achieved like this? To rise above the senses means that the body becomes dead — including the tongue. Some people go to the extreme of not speaking — even for years — in the belief that this will give them some spiritual advancement. Similarly, having a silent tongue does not still the mind’s endless chattering. What is more, such an individual must fill his daily needs; and so he resorts to making signs and writing notes. How can spiritual awakening take place in this way? He who truly keeps silence is he who silences his mind. “Mind has not been shaved, so why shave the head?” All these practices come under Apra Vidya — study of scriptures, teaching the scriptures , fasting, giving alms, etc.- they are all under the rule of the senses. And the soul, connected to the mind as it is, is sleeping within.
Resorted to many means;
Even then the mind did not awaken.
A learned pundit once went to Hazur, and upon hearing Hazur’s Satsang talk was inspired with a keen yearning for initiation. Hazur gave him initiation; and when he was leaving I was standing nearby, and he said, “Maharaj, according to whatever instructions You have given, I will achieve everything in three months’ time; and I will then return here to you.” Hazur said, “That will be marvelous.” But it was nine months before the pundit returned to Hazur, and again I was present as he sat before our Master. He said, “Maharaj, before You initiated me I used to do my worship and prayer for six or eight hours at one time and my mind would never wander; and now it will not remain still for even two minutes.” He was very distressed and could not understand the difference. This happens because with outer worship the mind is getting food — it is occupied, just as it is when reading or writing — but for spiritual experience the mind must be stilled and remain inactive.
Taking a simple example, if a man owns a number of horses, and they are securely locked up in the stables, he sleeps without a care knowing that his horses are safe. However, if any night he has doubt as to whether the stable door is securely fastened, he cannot rest in peace. And then, if by chance the horses do get out and run away, he will do everything in his power to recapture them and bring them back. So the Negative Power does not interfere with the souls while they remain docilely in His domain, in which a web of sense-enjoyments is spread to trap them and bind them, and from which there is no escape.
Good actions therein bring rewards, and bad actions take the soul to the lower regions. The poor soul is bound to an ever-revolving wheel of existence in the various expressions of creation, and, therefore, the Negative Power is not the least worried. However, when the soul meets the Master, it is taught to rise above the senses; and the pathway of escape is opened up — through the grace and greatness of the Satguru Who is the pole of the Positive Power. When He sees that a soul is threatening to leave His Kingdom, the Negative Power becomes concerned and endeavors to keep the soul in His clutches.
Salvation, then, is achieved only through Para Vidya, which means the soul’s knowledge of the Oversoul: and that is to free one’s self from mind and senses, to have knowledge of self and knowledge of God. We must become infinite, for, “One as high as the High One will know Him.” As high as the Lord Himself — Infinite, Inconceivable, Ineffable.
Indian mythology tells us that Lord Shiva is sitting in meditation; and Parvati, his wife, keeps feeding Him intoxicants. In this way, the soul is being intoxicated by the mind. When this intoxicant wears off the soul wants to awaken; but before it gets the chance, the mind again feeds it more intoxicant. The world’s population is suffering from this drunkenness, and only those who are awake can see this condition clearly.
After a long search I found the Satguru
Who gave this scientific method.
At last the true seeker finds that Personality Who is one with the Truth, Who gives the means of the soul’s awakening.
Keep the company of the Master and serve Him;
Sacrifice body and mind unto Him.
What does it mean to serve a Master? It means that with respect, yearning, and devotion, one should keep His commands. Guru Amardas says, “Greatly fortunate is he who serves the Satguru, For the Sound of God’s Naam is awakened within.” He has mentioned nothing of those who touch His feet and show great respect to His physical form alone. Those who do not place the Master’s words on the altar, accepting them as God’s commands, will not succeed. “We know how to talk, but do not know how to do.“
There is a cure to the condition: keep a spiritual diary, just as if you were in school doing your lessons. With the aid of this diary you can search out your faults and failings and note down your weaknesses. Slowly, gradually, these weaknesses will be weeded out. Along with this there is meditation. How much time do you put in? And through meditation, what progress have you made? In this way, you will yourself know where you stand with spiritual advancement and with ethical life alike. Without keeping a diary, interest and concern for these two important factors cannot be upheld. Following disinterest, meditation ceases altogether.
What else do I ask you to do? Only to keep your life pure and good, and to weed out the weaknesses. Then, food of the soul is your meditation; so meditate regularly. Do not feed the body until you have fed the soul.
Furthermore — to attend Satsang is like having a protective hedge around your meditation. It also increases the incentive to meditate. Attend the Satsang, even if your time is limited. Cancel some other appointment in order to do so, if necessary, for the benefits of Satsang are invaluable. All I ask you to do again and again is to be pure and chaste and keep your diary. Do you know of any means by which you will obey the Master’s instructions?
There is a cure for our failures; but if you do not take the cure, then what is the cure for that omission? There is no cure for not doing anything. Sometimes you fight like dogs — when people see such behavior, will they not wonder what kind of teaching you are receiving? This brings disrepute upon the name of the Satsang. “A bad dog brings curses upon his Master.” The pain in my heart is speaking when I ask you of any means whereby you will follow the commands. Having tried all means, in defeat I can only say that you should try for yourself and see how that invaluable gift will increase. If after doing what I ask you do not gain progress, then you may come and complain.
Start from today. Where there is a will, there is a way. You can find the time if you really want to. You have got the greatest of good fortune to be linked with a Personality Who is the form of the Truth.
King Janak was one soul who got something from Ashtavakra in those days; but each and every one of you has had experience from the very first day. If you don’t continue it, how do you expect to progress? Attend the Satsang and have the advantage of a protective hedge around your meditation. I once asked Hazur Maharaj, “What are Your orders regarding Satsang?” He told me, “If you are very sick in your bed, but you can move then attend Satsang.” Just note that He did not say that if you have the strength to walk, then attend Satsang. From this single instance, one can see how important it is.
Master removes the veil from the eye;
He gives the inner darshan;
O friends, that Satguru is most attractive to me.
The cause of not following the instructions is just laziness and concern for bodily comfort. Remember that this is the path of inner intoxication, so why worry about the body’s comfort? Do not drift away on the waves of the mind; do the work which you have to do. When the lion wants to quench his thirst, he goes straight to the river. Become lion-like — you are soul, the entity of the Lord. Make the keen aspiration you had in the beginning into a reality. Leave the consideration of bodily comforts and the demands of the mind for the sake of that aim. Instead of obeying the mind, place the Master’s commands on the altar of the Lord. “If ye love me keep my commandments.” Would you not wish to obey the one you love? A true lover is more afraid of disapproval than he has consideration for body and mind. Go all out for your goal. “Listen to the Satguru’s Sound — by rising above.” Put all your attention, in full consciousness, upon that inner place, upon the Naam. The intoxications of the senses will start wearing off, and you will awaken to a new life.
Through striving and striving, the mind has now awakened,
And the world has become transient.
When one rises above the senses, one can see that the body is but a piece of clay. You yourself are detached from it, and the world is an insipid thing. In this way, the question is answered and the problem solved; for the soul can see that her Lord is God, and all outer things are unreal. Masters do not tell us to leave our homes and flee to the jungles, for we have got the duties of the body and mind and their responsibilities; but the soul must be rejoined to its Lord, and this is the greatest and most important task in this human life. The only true helping factors in this work are the company of the Satguru and the contact with the Naam.
Attention got help from the mind
And both reached their homes.
Separated and freed from the pull of the senses, the mind begins to taste the sweetness of the inner Nectar. “When that Nectar comes, this becomes distasteful.” From then on it is willing to cooperate with the soul, and the soul is able to fly. Death of the physical mind makes the work easier, for it is the physical mind which is deeply involved in the worldly actions and keeps dragging the soul back. Until there is something to hold the attention, it is most difficult to go within; and this is why the Master gives the contact with Naam on the very first day. “Join me back to the Lord — anyone!” That contact must then be increased daily.
Without the Shabd, the mind will never awaken;
Though numerous different practices be performed.
This hymn of Swami Ji’s is very long — I have just taken a few verses, as it covers the same subject as Guru Arjan’s hymn; and it shows how all the Masters say the same things. Now, Guru Arjan was telling us how the Awakened Soul can give us help and protection:
Riches and knowledge will not give self-protection;
The enemies are controlled only in the Master’s company.
Seek the company of the Guru, if you wish to control anger, lust, greed, attachment, and ego. There is no other way, no matter how much knowledge you have or deep thinking you do — these five will remain. The bigger the person gets, the more is he consumed in the fire; and the only saving factor is the Master’s company. You wish to enter a house, but the owner’s five big dogs are guarding it and start barking as soon as you approach. A true guard dog will not even accept food as a bribe. All dogs are famous for their faithfulness. In the Gurbani it states that one should become faithful like a dog. Now, how can you control these fierce dogs? You cannot. You can only shout for their owner who will himself call the dogs back so that you may enter and meet him. So it is that in the company of the Master the barking dogs — these five enemies — will one by one run away by themselves. “At the death of the five boys, only the Lord’s love remains.” They recognize that such company is no place for them.
God is already within you. He is Light — and the perpetual flow from the Beyond is going on. Connected to Him, the sins of the mind are gradually washed away. If you want to be a doctor, keep the company of a doctor. If you want to know the science of the soul, keep the company of one Who has mastered it — call Him by any Name you like. “Keep the Guru overhead, and live in His commands.” Keep His word — above all else. He will never leave you until He has taken you to your True Home. Guru is not just a physical body, although we have respect for that body in which that God Power is manifested. He is that Power — call It God Power, Christ Power, Guru Power — and He is there to help you experience that manifestation within yourself. If but His single glance falls upon a person, that person is saved. Be obedient, that is all; do not ignore what He tells you. “Kabir says, such a server has no fear in all three regions.” If one was aware of His presence constantly, would one be likely to sin?
I remember, Hazur once sent me an order. Sometimes it happens that if an individual is heading straight for his target, others create propaganda against him. Due to this type of propaganda, Hazur ordered that I should attend only the Satsang at Ravi Road Lahore, and should not visit anyone. I said, “All right, whatever are His orders.” I got a lot of rest during those days — something like a servant who normally cleans twenty rooms being told to clean only one and leave the rest. I had more spare time, so I wrote the book “Gurmat Siddhant,” a big book of over 2,000 pages. I strictly curbed all visiting; in fact, a relative’s son died and I did not attend them at their house, but went only to the cremation. There was another case of a Satsangi dying, and he sent a message for me to go to him for the Guru’s sake before he died. I had a strong desire to go, and the pain of sympathy was so great that I cried; but I had to send the message that I sincerely wished that he have full protection and all my good wishes were with him, but that I was helpless for I could not disobey the Master’s orders. He died, and when Hazur came to Lahore, His widow complained that her husband had died in torment because of his desire to see me, and my refusal. Hazur turned to me and said, “Kirpal Singh, in this type of condition, you should go.” From then on, when people summoned me to sickbeds, I would attend, and they would die. It became very difficult, but His orders were to go only wherever the person was dying.
Never ignore the Guru’s commands. If you obey, you will have nothing to fear — here or in the Beyond. Hazur told us that if a person gets initiation and has to go into the hands of the Lord of Death, he should politely turn from both such initiation and its guru. Just giving some words — that is not Naam. The words given by the Satguru have a powerful charging; that is your protection. Guru is He Who brings Light into the darkness, and He remains with you forever. Hazur would say that if a five year old child is present, can you commit any sin before him? When you truly realize His constant presence, you will do no wrong. Also, be truthful before Him, not just when people are present in a hypocritical way. Remember, He is sitting within you; so hold the awe of Him in your heart and you will do nothing bad in His presence.
A disciple of Baba Jaimal Singh once told me that when Baba Ji gave initiation, He would tell the initiate, “Now I am residing within you, so do nothing to put me to shame.” Masters use many different ways to help the children keep Their commandments. This is the time for you to understand these things and live up to them. If you do not feel so inclined, then you will continue to lament, birth after birth. Only if you are fortunate enough to get the human birth again will you have another chance of doing this spiritual work. Those who have got the Naam — not only do they have the good fortune of the human life, but the inner path has been opened up for them. Work hard for your progress.
Have mercy and give me the Water of Life;
Bless me with the dust of the Master’s feet.
O Lord, I am like a beggar, yearning for a drop of that Nectar, wanting only the Master’s company. Bless me with a small particle of that priceless Gift. Give me His company. How rare are such People — where can I find Him?
After the great Mahabharata battle between the Kauravs and the Pandavs — it is a very long story — they held a yug [a gathering of many holy men to perform various rituals until the Voice of God is heard] — the Ashav Med Yug — and at the completion stage no Sound of God had been heard. They approached Lord Krishna and told Him, “Our yug is a failure; what shall we do?” Lord Krishna said, “It is because no Realized Soul has been in attendance there.” They protested and said, “But we have invited all the Sadhus and Mahatmas — how can that be?” He said, “No, you may have all the Sadhus and Mahatmas, but no Realized Soul is there.“
Finally He advised them to approach a certain Sukrat Ji, and told them where to find Him. When they explained their desire to Sukrat Ji, He said, “Yes, I will attend your yug, but not until the fruit of 101 Ashav Med Yugs is given to me.” They were astounded and cried, “But how can we give You that when even our single yug has been a failure?” But He was adamant, and so they went home. When they told their wife, Draupadi, she said, “All right, let me go.” She was a queen and a very wise soul; but she forsook her carriage and went on foot all the way to Sukrat Ji, with sincere humility. She told Him that she had come to give Him the fruit of 101 Ashav Med Yugs, saying, “Maharaj, in the Shastras it is written that if you go to a Realized Soul in all humility, then each step you take gains the fruit of one Ashav Med Yug, so great is the value of this blessing. So you can take the fruit of 101 Ashav Med Yugs from my journey to you and give me what is left over.” He was so pleased with Draupadi that He agreed to go, and the yug became successful. So you can see how rare and invaluable is the presence of the Realized Soul.
In the days of King Janak, there was only one Soul to give him the connection — Ashtavakra. In the days of the Kauravs and the Pandavs, only Sukrat Ji could make the Sound audible. To go to such a Master and to have His darshan gives much more blessing than the fruit of 101 Ashav Med Yugs. If you can find more than one such Soul, then the more fortunate are you. He is a man like us, but He is an expert in the Science of the Soul. God is All-Wisdom; wherever He manifests, that pole becomes His mouthpiece. That mouthpiece is called the Satguru. This Name is not given merely for wearing a certain type or color of clothing. Satguru is He Who has the highest degree in God.
There is a story of a King who held a bazaar, in which many beautiful and valuable things were displayed. He proclaimed to his people that each subject could select one gift from the bazaar for themselves, and that the bazaar would last from sunrise to sunset. Hundreds of people came and went away with their selected gifts. When it was almost sunset time, a young girl entered and wandered around the bazaar. She seemed a very simple girl, but inwardly she was very wise. Praising everything as she went around, she thought if the bazaar was so beautiful, then what must the creator of it be like? Meanwhile people advised her to select some gift before the bazaar closed. She walked to the very end of the bazaar where the King was seated on a dais. When he saw her approaching, the King rejoiced in his heart that at least one person was interested in him. “Gifts are loved, but the Giver is forgotten; the poor mind does not realize its error.” Outwardly the King showed anger, saying, “Mad girl, why do you come here ? Go and choose something and take it home.” Without any hesitation she placed her hand on the King’s head and said, “Now tell me, O King, to whom do you belong?” He said, “Now I am yours.” She asked him, “And whose is this bazaar?” The King declared it to be his; but she said, “But now, to whom also does it belong?” and he had to admit that everything in the bazaar belonged to her, too, since she had chosen him.
We see everything in life with a superficial sense of value. If you give yourself up to Him, then God becomes yours, and so does all His creation. “If you become mine, then the whole world will be mine.” True Masters are very rare, and the world has started ridiculing the words “Sadhu” and “Gurudom” because so many are acting and posing; and their teachings reach the sense- level only. They have themselves never risen above the senses, and they cannot take anyone above. When people learn this, they have no option but to turn to the scriptures, which feed the intellect only. Have mercy on us! Without the Master we cannot reach the Lord — it has never been possible, nor never will be.
A Muslim Fakir tells us that God Himself said that He is so great He cannot be absorbed — from the lowest depths to the highest peaks, in all the skies or all the earth; and even under the earth, the whole of creation is not capable of containing Him, so great is He — and yet He can dwell in the heart of His true devotee. If anyone desires Him, they should seek Him there.
That true devotee is a living pole — a human being in whom God is apparent. He is also in others but is hidden. “From the lowest, I became pure, brother.” And how did the Realized Soul become pure? “Since I got the knowledge of the Guru’s teaching.” God is not far above in the skies, nor sleeping in the holy scriptures; He is already within you. Those holy books are records of how the Realized Souls found God, reading which a yearning or incentive to meet God is created in the seeker. But Naam is within man — the radiance of God’s Light and the beauty of His Sound, the Music of the Spheres.
Just differentiate between the outer Naam and the inner Naam, and then get the connection. Those who live only for enjoyments cannot walk on this Holy Path, for one must cut away from all such expressions. Ethical life is a stepping stone to Spirituality. If you awaken, no dacoit will be able to enter your house; for if even a single person is awake in a house, the thieves will think twice about breaking in. Thieves like to find a house full of deeply sleeping people — some even administer chloroform to ensure that the people remain in deep sleep so that they can work at leisure.
In the Satguru’s company one gets the Perfect Gift,
And awakens, O Nanak, to the color of Par Brahm.
The Master’s company protects you from losing that precious Gift He gives; and through His mercy you will awaken to the extent of enjoying the intoxication of Par Brahm. That intoxication is already within you. “The intoxication of Naam, O Nanak, inebriates day and night.” It is perpetually vibrating everywhere — radiance, intoxication, and bliss.
He awakens, whose Lord is Kirpal; (the Merciful One)
With His Gift, one gets the entire wealth.
Whomsoever He awakens, will awake. The Merciful Lord Himself awakens the soul. If He showers His mercy, the Satguru is met. And when the Satguru is met, He connects you with God’s Naam. Naam is above the senses; It is in your own house (body). This Gift you can take with you when you leave this world, for It has the Satguru’s protection. Our attention is ever going into dispersion — sometimes on financial affairs, or on children, or property, etc. When one dies, where does one go? One goes wherever one’s attention is centered. In this way we again and again return to the worldly life because that is where our attention is — where our attention has been fastened. Since the day our soul separated from the Lord, it has never returned to Him up to now.
If one were to try to describe what Spirituality is in a single word, one could say “Naam” or “Satguru.” Get connected to either, and your whole spiritual future is established. Maulana Rumi says, “Know that to be near the Realized Soul is to be near God.” That is where God is manifested, and that Perfect Being will make the connection for you. Those who are connected should take the rare opportunity to make the best use of it. “Those with good karmas from aeons past get connected to the Lord’s Naam.“
The soul that has an accumulation of good karmas, which constitute the mercy received from God for many past ages, gains the special mercy of the Naam, which gives all-happiness, all-peace. How does one know one is connected to Naam? “In that house (body), the Unstruck Sound is vibrating.” The indication of the presence of the Perfect Master in the student is the music of the Sound or the radiance of the Light — whichever is manifesting at the time.
This has been Guru Arjan’s hymn. Merely listening to the words will not give you emancipation from this world — you must live up to what you have understood. If you have not obeyed in the past, then start from today: do your meditation; do not take any food until you have sat for a while. If you are not getting much experience within, then look to your diary; and you will find the reason or cause lying in your everyday life. Do not use harsh words to others — keep a sweet tongue in your head; that will solve many problems of life.
You may remember that with a single bitter word, the great Mahabharata battle was started. The Kauravs were visiting the Pandavs in the palace of Draupadi, the Pandavs’ wife. The floor there was so beautifully made that it reflected the light and gave an impression of a shallow pool. When the Kauravs picked up their long clothes to step through what they thought was a pool, Draupadi very mischievously called out, “Blind son of a blind father!” mocking the blindness of the Kauravs’ father, King Dhritarashtra. The whole of India’s civilization was destroyed in that great war, and you find similar things happening today on a smaller scale. So live up to the Master’s teachings and make your life peaceful, and you will have success in every way.