Translation and substance of a talk given in Hindi at Sawan Ashram
(There is also a collection of ‘circular letters‘ by the same name, and two chapters of the book “Morning Talks”)
We are most fortunate to have been blessed with a human birth. Man occupies a place at the top rung of the creation:
The whole creation is meant for thy service,
For thou art Lord therein.
Great is man. He is next to God Himself. Wherein lies the greatness of man? The God Power pervades everywhere. There is no place without Him. It is only in man that His Power is manifested in full. Thus it is in human form alone that one can realize Him. We live, move, and have our being in Him and yet are ignorant of Him. Why? Because we are all the while engaged in outer pursuits and never had an opportunity to come in touch with His Power within us. The God Power is our mainstay. The moment this Power withdraws, the body becomes lifeless. It is this Power that glorifies the body. We are simply an indweller in the body and not the body. We are not bound to it indissolubly. While living in the body, one cannot escape from it. Some Power keeps the body and soul together. This is nothing but the God Power that is holding together the entire universe in its proper shape and order. We are just a particle of this Power. Kabir says that our spirit is of the essence of God. Muslim divines also regard it Amar-i-Rabbim — the essence of God. Man is a rational being and can discriminate right from wrong. As such, he can hold on to Truth and reach to It by and through what is untruth (body and bodily adjuncts). It is only in the human body that one can come by Truth. This is why man is greatly blessed.
What, then, is God? — is the next question. He is an Ocean of Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss. All these three are His attributes. Our soul, being a spark of the Divine Fire, is endowed with the similar qualities. Love is the cementing force between the two. Evolution is the law of life. Every living thing grows, expands, and tries to embrace the totality of existence. Now, having attained the highest stage in the creation, man has no other purpose but to know and realize the Creator. But how? And by what means? The means are not different from man himself. They are already within him. As I said before, love is the link between the two. Love takes on many forms. It may take the form of devotion, worship, or affection. Self-absorption is a characteristic of love. A lover cannot live without the beloved. A part is ever restless until it rests in the whole. As at present, our attention is attuned with outer pursuits of life — the world and worldly attachments. As we think, so we become. The soul goes where the mind goes. The mind, in its turn, is attached with the sense-organs; and it is through the sense-organs that our attention is flowing outwards and downwards into the world. This, in fact, is not love but infatuation, for we are willy nilly being led blindly outside and dragged by sense enjoyments. We are quite ignorant of what real happiness is since we have never had a taste of it. Our love of the world has degenerated into hatred, recrimination, factionalism, enmity, narrow-mindedness, and the like. This may be termed as negative love.
In the realm of duality, we have our loves and hatreds, pride and prejudices, favors and disfavors, and what not. Unless one rises above a dual existence, one cannot come to his own and know the Reality much less to practice it. But for this, everything tends to reach its source. If we hold the lighted candle, its flame goes upwards. Even if it is held upside down, the flame still rises upwards because the sun, the source of light, is above. Similarly, a clod of earth, if thrown above, comes down to the earth by the law of gravitation. The soul wants to go heavenwards, while the mind does not. Hence the conflict between the two. By its siren-songs, it lures the soul out by means of motor and cognitive faculties operating through the nine portals with which we are provided. If we could but invert and tap within, we can know love in its true essence. Water will leak out from a pipe with many holes; but if all the holes except one were plugged, the water would gush out in a torrent from the one hole left unplugged. Likewise, we are frittering away our attention through the various channels of communication with the world outside.
With a heart torn between countless desires and covetousness,
How can one provide a seat for God Power to descend and dwell within?
Again it is said:
With a heart smashed to pieces, one cannot see God.
We have, therefore, to mend the heart before anything else. That is an essential prerequisite. God, it may be said, cannot be seen by eyes of the flesh. How can one love that one has never seen? So far so good. But how many things there are of which we have no direct and immediate knowledge and yet we speak of them and make use of them in our daily life. Let us take, for instance, the example of a powerhouse. Only a few of us get an opportunity to see a powerhouse, and yet we are in close touch with it by means of the switchboards in our houses and can tap the power at will as we may like. In the same way, if we come near a human pole where God Power is manifest in fullness, we can likewise contact the God Power through that pole, for a Godman is nothing but polarized God. So we have to search for a human pole where God Power works and attune ourselves to that pole. All the Saints and sages tell us to love God above everything else. Without some such anchorage the mind restlessly floats and flits about and finds no rest here or hereafter. If one could divert from without, love for God within will of itself sprout forth. How to invert within and stay there is our problem. We have to find something within to hook to our attention. This media is provided by a competent Master Who has in Himself God Power in abundance and is capable of manifesting that Power in us as well. As light comes from light, so does life from life.
God is the very soul of our soul, but alas we know Him not. We have, therefore, to seek God Power in a Godman Who has, by a practical process of self-analysis, been able to separate His Self from body and mind and has risen above both. Such a One alone can transmit His own life-impulse unto others and give them some experience of otherwise unseen Power of God already in them but never experienced before.
Dronacharya [guru of the Pandava princes of the Mahabharta epic] was a master of the art of archery. He could by an arrow from his bow sew down the lips of a running stag — A Bhil (member of an ancient tribe) was very anxious to learn this art, but Dronacharya would not accept him as he belonged to a low caste. But the Bhil, keen as he was to learn, made a clay image of Dronacharya and dedicated himself unto him. A daily worship of the image of the great teacher whom he had seen with his own eyes gradually melted himself into his likeness, and thereby he acquired the very art which was denied to him. It is said that one day Dronacharya came across a deer with his lips sealed by an arrow. Upon looking around, Dronacharya saw a Bhil at a distance who had sped the arrow. Coming near him he inquired of the Bhil as to how he learned this art. “From Dronacharya,” was his reply. Dronacharya was surprised to hear this, for he had never accepted any Bhil as a pupil. “I manifested the Dronacharya within me and I learned it from him,” said the Bhil.
Thus, you see, the mind has a great potential in it. It has the power to transmute itself into the likeness of one whom it likes by constant attention and devotion to his image:
One can love God by loving the Godman,
And Godman manifests God Power within.
Unless one rises to the level of God, we cannot know Him.
So when you come near a Godman, you come near God. We use the bulb not for the glass of which it is made, but for the light that emanates from it. Similarly, we love a Godman because of the God Power that shines forth from Him and helps us in our spiritual experience.
Herein lies the greatness of the Master. The Master has the power to reintegrate us, to make us a whole and undivided individual. When once the scattered attention is focused a little, peace and serenity comes in with the closing of bodily outlets; the spirit current gushes forth upwards through the inlet within. On the contrary, an ordinary person who himself is a victim to and a slave of his desires cannot possibly help another to get out of this sad predicament. So wherever a Godman sits, He radiates the Light of the spirit around Him, and whosoever comes in the field of His personal aura benefits from it. To go near the Master is just like walking to the shop of one who deals in scents. One may not have the intention to buy any scent at all; yet he cannot help having the fragrance of the scent, provided, of course, he is inclined to receive it.
As long as the mind is tossing about, one is carried away by egotism;
One cannot get any nearer to the Reality nor can know the glory of the Word.
Thus the first and foremost prerequisite on the spiritual path is to still the mind, to stop it from running outwards, and to develop silence within. This can only be achieved by coming in contact with a theo-centric Saint Whose eyes are overfull with Divine Intoxication. In the company of such a Saint, one feels inspired and aspires for higher values of life. This thing comes only from His radiation; and if He, by transmitting a little of His own life-impulse, momentarily makes us an undivided whole, one is sure to get a glimpse of the Beyond. It is an experience in practical demonstration. But for this, one must have at least some experimental faith and be prepared for the experiment.
This point has been beautifully explained in the form of an allegory. Once some foreign artists came to a certain kingdom and offered their services to the king, requesting him to give them an opportunity to show their skill. The king assigned one portion of a big hall to them for executing their mural design. This aroused the enthusiasm of local artists and they, too, requested the king for a similar opportunity to show their art. The king assigned the other side of the hall to local artists. To prevent on e party imitating the other, a curtain was hung in between. Both started their work in earnest. The foreigners diligently worked on delicate floral designs and did their best to bring out the best in them. The local artisans, on the other hand, started rubbing and scrubbing the wall, so much so that it began to shine like a mirror. After the work was completed the king was requested to have a look at what they had done. The king was highly pleased to see the beautiful mural paintings which had been executed so skillfully by the foreign visitors. He greatly commended their art. The local artisans also requested an inspection of the work done by them on the other side of the hall. The king who had from reports received so far, heard that nothing worth the name was done by his own people felt a little puzzled. But they insisted that the king should have a look at what they had done. When the dividing veil was removed, the king was surprised to see all that the foreigners had done beautifully reflected on the other wall without any blemish.
This, in fact, is what one has to do. Your job is only to clear the mind of all dust settled from ages upon ages; and when this is done, the radiation from the other side (from the Master) is bound to be reflected within you.
It is, therefore, said:
Sweep off the closet of thy mind for the sake of thy Beloved;
Keep aside all the thoughts of the world to enable thy Beloved to enter therein.
This is called weeding out the field of all thorns and thistles of the world. Without this you cannot engage in either bhakti or Jnana. Bhakti is the first step which enables you to come near Jnana. Bhakti brings about single pointed attention. When this is done Jnana shines forth of itself. The Light of God is in you and music of soul is your very life. Both constitute your very being and existence. Nothing is to be poured from without. The Master gives you an incentive and helps you to rise a little above body-consciousness. This steadiness of mind automatically brings about the desired result and Light of Life shines forth within. This is how a Godman makes the Light of God manifest in you. He lives in a state of perpetual intoxication (divine) without any intoxicant. The cup of His wine is ever full without any wine. We are yet the lovers of the world and come in a fit of stupefaction. A Godman, on the other hand, revels in His Godhead, for He eats nothing but manna and drinks nothing but the Water of Life. He is a King in the garb of a beggar. He lives in the solitude of His heart and yet has a vast Kingdom of His own. He sees the world as the manifestation of God. Apparently a drop of the Ocean of All-Consciousness, He is not separate from the Ocean itself. The Ocean in its fullness heaves in Him. If one comes in contact with such a One, he gets drenched:
A single glance of grace from Him is enough to do the trick (miracle).
Eyes are said to be the windows of the soul. His soul is at-one-ment with the Oversoul in Him and, as such, one can enjoy the Divine Bliss in His holy presence. In ancient times, there was prevalent the practice of doing Aarti (ritual of offering light). A disciple would move a lighted lamp or camphor circularly around his preceptor and would, along with the movement of the lamp, move his eyes in divine adoration before the eyes of his Guru. It was a symbolical form of seeing the outer light reflected in the eyes of his Master. The real Aarti is not the moving of lights, but it signifies complete absorption by the disciple of his attention in the attention of the Guru. It was a kind of communication between the two pairs of eyes. In fact, you have nothing to do at all. You have simply to sit all-attention before the Master forgetting everything else around you, even your own body and the mind. It does not matter whether you understand His language or not. You simply look towards His eyes; you would understand what He means. A really Great Soul by His one glance ferries you across into the Beyond. But remember that it is not in your power to gain His glance of grace. Grace comes as a grace only and cannot be harnessed with all your wits about you, nor can it be purchased.
The secret of this lies in receptivity. In Guru Gobind Singh‘s times, a disciple would dance from place to place as eyes of the Master moved from one side to the other. The Guru once remarked: “My friend, these eyes of mine are not so cheap, and you cannot have the benefit of my lyrical glances as you would like to have.” Do you know what happens when a young calf runs towards the cow? The udders of the loving mother automatically get filled with the milk to feed the young one. On the other hand, a leech sticking to the udders sucks only blood and not milk. Similarly, those who come to Satsang get from it what they desire most. Some are filled with love and devotion, while others, who are critical and skeptics, get nothing. “Unfortunate, indeed, are those who take the Master on the human level alone.“
A man who is a slave of his senses and roams in the fields of sense enjoyments is just like a dog running after bones and flesh. Herein lies a great gulf between men and animals. One who is a real man within and without, would, like Shams-e-Tabrez, cry out:
O Lord of Divine tavern, grant me a cupful from Thy wine.
He even craves for just a handful of wine as does Hafiz:
A draught of thy wine is worth a thousand barrels;
What a world of difference there is between the two.
The question is one of developing receptivity. Every God-intoxicated soul has his own slogan. Guru Nanak always spoke of Him as “Sat-Kartar” — the Creative Principle alone is the reality. Chaitanya Maha Prabhu always delighted in “Hari Bol” (repeat the name of the Lord). Once he called a washerman and asked him to say Hari Bol. The latter taking him to be a mere mendicant did not reply and paid no heed to his words in spite of his repeating the same twice or thrice. But when he saw that the man would not leave him, just to get rid of him, he involuntarily uttered the words “Hari Bol.” As the words were charged, he began to repeat the words “Hari Bol” over and over again and started dancing in tune with the strain. The magic of the words coming from one of their brethren infected the entire community of washermen. And they all began to dance in refrain — with the music of the words.
How then can we develop receptivity? The remedy for this lies with the Guru provided He is competent enough to do so. The world is full of so-called ‘masters’, masters of half-truth and of no truths at all. No amount of acting and posing is of any avail on this path. If a really competent Master comes our way, we should accept Him and be devotedly attached to Him. Of true bhakti it is said:
What is love after all?
To be slave of the Beloved,
to surrender your heart and soul to Him to be His.
Is there any person who would give his heart to another and go about without a heart? Once Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji said: “Is there any person who is prepared to give his mind to Him, for I would like to take him into the Beyond.” One out of the vast multitude stood up and said: “I am prepared to give my mind to You.” Hazur replied: “Are you sure that you are in possession of your mind? First make it your own and then come forward to give it to me.” This then is our state of mind. It is already broken into thousands of pieces. It has got to be made whole before it can be presented to someone. How to make the broken heart into a composite whole. It is said:
A perfect Master can set the mind right;
The remedy for the mind comes from the higher mind.
A perfect Master, by His well-directed attention, can join together the broken pieces of the heart and make it one. He applies a soothing balm to the lacerated heart and cures it of its malady. Thus, devotion to the perfect Master is a necessity. If we just withdraw our self from without, we go into peaceful quietude even though we may be sitting in a throng of people. How to develop this attitude of mind is the problem before us. All the sages and seers have in their own inimitable way dwelt on this subject. Soami Ji tells us:
Listen ye of the great value of love;
All the Saints have sung of it in Their own way.
The words of Soami Ji are simple enough. He tells us in easily intelligible language of the great merit of loving devotion of which all the Masters have said in Their scriptures.
Know ye for certain that love is the Path of Masters;
Everything else besides love is but trash.
The Path of Masters is the path of love. Without love we can do nothing. Love unites two souls into one; and when deeply absorbed, one becomes neh-karma (action-free). Jnana, on the other hand, gives us inferential knowledge. Thus there is a great difference between bhakti (loving devotion) and Jnana (knowledge). Again without bhakti all our actions (karm-kand) ring hollow. It does not mean that Jnana and karm do not bear any fruit. Each does bear one or other kind of fruit, good or bad as the case may be. They do not make us neh-karma, and we cannot escape from the karmic cycle. Unless we deeply get absorbed into bhakti (loving devotion), and this is possible only when we rise above body-consciousness. The reality will not dawn until we are lost to our surroundings and go into the solitude of mind.
Without devotion nothing rings true;
It is all chaff without grain.
Chaff is, you know, something useless. All spiritual disciplines (yogas), may be of any kind, cannot be of much avail unless they have a leaven of bhakti in them.
Take thou a strong hold of bhakti,
And leave off all thy learning and wisdom.
We must, then, take to the path of bhakti. The Upanishads tell us that unless the senses are subdued, the mind is stilled, and the intellect too is equipoised, there can be no vision of Reality. Bhakti is then the Grand Trunk Road to God. To rise on the wings of intellect is one thing, and to dip directly into the Divine Ecstasy is quite another. Even the great intellectual giants, when they just discover a glimpse of the divine, they go off their feet. Now Soami Ji tells us what is bhakti and how can it be attained:
Affection, love, and bhakti are one and the same;
These are three terms, but essentially one.
A loving devotion is the Path of Masters,
And all other paths are but the offspring of the mind.
In bhakti all the four phases of the mind — chit, manas, buddhi, and ahankar (memory, thinking mind, reasoning, intellect, and egotism) — at once get dissolved in loving devotion.
The soul and the Oversoul are both dyed in the color of love;
Devotion manifests nothing but Sat Naam.
The disciple and the Master are one;
The Perfect Master is nothing but love personified.
You too are an embodiment of love,
And so are all the jivas.
Man is a drop from the Ocean of Love. Apparently, you look individualized; but when you lose your individuality, you become part of the Ocean itself and you would feel nothing but intoxication around you. A Muslim Darvesh has very well said:
Thou are an Ocean of Love but without any limitations;
Without giving thyself unto Him, there is no other way out.
So this is the only way to find the Beloved. “I” and “Thou” are terms in the realm of relativity and so delusive. Buddhi or intellect may give you distant glimpses, but love or bhakti brings the priceless gem to you when you take the plunge as a diver.
The difference between the two is just of form,
As one would see the difference in a droplet and a high tide.
Soami Ji says:
You are just a small drop of the Ocean,
whereas the Master is a Tidal Wave in the Ocean.
A Muslim divine tells us:
O God, there was a time when our cups were full of the Divine Elixir,
but the cups have so gone out of use
that they have even lost the exhilarating flavor of the wine itself.
The fact is that even now the Ocean of Ecstasy is in us, but we are ignorant of It as our attention is turned outwards. It is just a question of attending to the divinity within. As at present we are attached to the world, and in return get only ephemeral pleasures which are short lived like fleeting clouds. If we could but invert and taste the vintage divine what a bliss it would be. It is therefore said:
Love He Who would stand up to last,
Without love thy mind shall not find restful repose.
Just take the instance of a flowing river between the two embankments. In the human body of the Master is flowing the Audible Life Stream called Satguru or Master of Truth. We love the Master because it is on His human pole that the Divine Power is manifest. This is the easiest way to get into touch with the Divine Power. All jap, tap and sanjam (penances and austerities) are undertaken with this purpose, but they are not sufficient in themselves. We resort to these practices so as to set in commotion the power of love already in us as our very inherent nature.
At one place it is like an ocean of light;
At another a mere drop or a wavelet.
Thus we see the same Light is pervading everywhere in one form or the other and in different measure. We are just like drops; and even as drops, we have lost our identity in the clayey-mold. We even do not know that we are really drops of the Ocean of Consciousness. We, however, get a glimpse of it when our attention is attached somewhere. It is only the attachment that gives us a sense of satisfaction. We get greater solace and comfort by joining a wave or a tide of consciousness. And if we merge into the Ocean, you can well imagine what our condition would be. The sages and Saints are high tides in the Ocean of Consciousness and, as such, nothing but Ocean itself flowing in between the seashores. They may be likened to territorial waters with a break-water where one can with safety take a dip, enjoy the bath, and come back to own. So what we have to do is simply to love that tidal-bore which would carry us in its upward surge.
At one place we are overtaken by desires,
And begin to ravel in the delusion of the world (Maya).
The essential ingredient in love is attachment. In course of time, attachments take on the form of desires. The more we indulge in desires, the more we create a delusion around us and get immersed therein. The result is that by the momentum thus created, we come into the world again and again. This is why Buddha laid emphasis on being desireless. If there is no desire to bind us with anything in the world, the process of birth and rebirth will end. It is in the silence of the heart (darkness behind the eyes) that Light naturally springs forth. And with that Light there would come Naad (Audible Life Stream) as well. It is this Audible Current that has a great uplifting power.
As one proceeds, delusion gradually vanishes.
As one approaches the Ocean, one gets more and more purified.
As one rises on the crest of the tidal-bore in the Master, one is shed of all his impurities one by one, and ultimately becomes desire-free. It is said:
I desire not paradise, nor salvation;
I desire love for Thy lotus feet alone.
We have to choose between two things — love of the world, and love of paradise — and ultimately have to discard both for love of the Lord.
The waves of the tides are free from delusive matter,
For it is a great sea of love that heaves up and down.
As one rises above worldly desires, one gets over all delusion. Matter is but another name for delusion (Maya). When you transcend the matter, you are in the realm of Reality, and thus above delusion. All material things stand by the Power of God. It is this Power of adhesion that is holding the world with its variegated forms and colors in proper shape and order.
He is a vast storehouse of love —
A storehouse that has no beginning and no end.
The Ocean of Love is boundless, says a Persian mystic. This is the place from whence Saints come and go. A Saint is a manifested God-in-man. In Saints God-Power works in fullness like a tidal wave. If you ride on the tidal wave, you rise into Godhead; and when you sink with it, you sink into the Ocean itself. It is really a beautiful way of explaining an abstract subject like this. A drop now lost in the dust is not aware of the great source from whence it came. It is only by transcending the human in him that one is trans-humanized and becomes a living soul. One gets the life of the spirit from a spiritualized soul (Saint), in Whom spirit currents are flowing in full. See what a great transformation has come in the drop that was once mixed up with dust. Gurbani says: “Even a dry rotten stump of a tree begins to vibrate with life.” So long as the branches continue to be attached with the vines, they bear fruit and bear it in abundance. All this comes from what is termed Gurbhakti.
This then comes from loving devotion,
Be thou lovingly devoted, and live on divine food.
It is by loving devotion to the Godman that one gets nearer God. God is Love and Love is God, and the way back to God lies through love. When you have realized this, you will love all creatures, for the Power of God is immanent in all His creation. All this and much more comes to the share of the drop of consciousness when that drop actually rises into consciousness and comes to know its real nature. It is only a perfect Master Who can bring a change in it.
Attention is stabilized in the company of a Saint.
Then alone, the mind finds some stillness. When we are sitting with a Sadhu or a Saint, we for some time get absorbed into Him and begin to understand things correctly. With the attention thus diverted to higher values of life, the mind gets disconnected from the motor force and ceases to run. And the senses also lose the power of attraction. The Master is All-Attention, or the highly attuned, and radiates Divine Currents that control individual consciousness. In this state while hearing, we hear not; and while seeing, we perceive not. It is, therefore, said:
In the company of a Godman, God comes nearer.
When we get out of this atmosphere, we are again lost into the wilderness of the world. It is, therefore, necessary to seek the company of highly advanced souls as much as possible, may be many times a day, twice a day, once a day or on alternate day, once a week or a fortnight, once a month, or three or six months, or at least once a year. Kabir says:
One who does not remember the Master in a year is nowhere.
I remember, once I was sitting with my Master. A gentleman came from Africa after five or six years and wondered at his plight in terms of the sayings of Kabir. Hazur simply said: “Kabir may have said so, but I have not.” The fact is that one gets leaven from another. It does not come from reading and writing or from discourses on Jnana. It is the fruit of upasna that is a compound word (aupasana meaning “to sit near“) — to sit near, to sit with undivided attention, forgetting everything else. In upasna there is communication between eyes and eyes. A body charged with the Divinity can charge you as well, no matter where you may be. If we can see things from afar by means of a television or hear voices coming from afar by means of a radio, we can certainly get radiation from One Who is charged with the Power-of-God, the Power which is pervading everywhere. The moment you think of that Power, the Power materializes Itself, and you can actually perceive His manifestation. There is nothing miraculous about it. These are hard facts and you can for yourself experience these things by a little bhakti or devotion. It is the Water of Life, by partaking of It, you will become blessed with life eternal. Without It all your efforts are of no avail. Bhakti will help you a great deal in all your endeavors whatever they be.
Thus Gurbhakti comes first and foremost;
It is by Gurbhakti that the Word becomes manifest.
Gurbhakti is thus the first step. It prepares the way for Naam-bhakti. It makes you all-attentive and all-attention and gives you an inner link. This is the advantage of Satsang. Satsang means close association with one who is Truth-personified. By sitting near Him you forget the world and all that is of the world. Be receptive to Him and you come by all His riches. It is, therefore, said:
Those who try to get absorbed in Shabd without Gurbhakti
are engaged in a wild-goose chase.
Gurbhakti is the be-all and end-all. Without it there is no way out. Life comes from real life. It is the company that makes a man. I do not advocate the contemplation of any form. When God is All-Pervading, He must manifest Himself. He Who can manifest Himself is Godman. That is the only criterion to judge a Godman. If you begin to visualize and contemplate a form, your mind force will bring before you that form, whatever it be; and you will take on to that form. Who knows that the said form is perfect or not. God alone knows the human pole from where He works. The form that comes unsought and drops into the mind is commonly most valuable. Gurbhakti is the easiest way for manifesting the Power-of-God within you. It consists in implicit obedience to what the Guru says:
If you love me keep my commandments.
This is Gurbhakti. The words of the Master must be taken as gospel truth. Accept His words, practice them, and make them your own if you want to benefit from His radiation.
The whole world sees the physical form of the Guru;
Salvation does not come by merely seeing Him,
but by communing with His Word.
Love and all things shall be added into you. It is love that makes you all-attention. It is love that gives you a place in the heart of the Beloved. It is by His love that we live. He lives in us and loves us the most. We do not know His love nor partake of it because our love is incessantly flowing into the world without. We have first to change the direction of our love. At present, we are in love with our body, with our bodily relations, with our family and children, with our riches and possessions, and above all with all kinds of sense-enjoyments. One cannot worship God and mammon together. A true seeker after Truth is always anxious to serve God at the altar of a Godman — hence the need for Satsang from where you get Divine Radiation directly. Deeds by themselves are not enough. They constitute the first step. Until one gets a glimpse of the inscape, one does not leave and cannot leave the plane of the senses. Introspection is the second step. Without self-criticism you cannot make any headway.
Thrice blessed is man. The first blessing comes from God. He has given us the human form. He has kindled in us the flame of His love. It is He Who guides us to the human pole from where He works. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are certainly provided with the Bread and Water of Life. Here ends the first blessing, the blessing of God. Next comes the blessing of the Godman Who accepts us in His grace manifesting in us the Power-of-God and links us with that Power. After devotion to God and Godman, there yet remains devotion to one’s “self.” Be true to your “self” is the last step. We must make ourselves worthy of our own “self.” Self-respect is at the bottom of everything else. It is an expression of discipline, of goodwill, of respect for others’ rights, comforts, and feelings as if they are of our own.
To be really blessed, first bless yourself, and then the blessings of God and Godman will bring forth rich reward, a reward beyond all measure. Take one step in the right direction and God Power will come nearer to you by millions of steps to receive you. It is always better to associate with the servants of the Lord rather than with those who are yet far away from Him. Again, do not even accept the words of a Master unless He is able to give you an actual experience of what He proclaims. When you are convinced of this, then be His forever and put faith in His words no matter how strange they may appear to you on the intellectual level. A Muslim mystic goes to the extent of saying:
Dye thy prayer carpet in wine if so ordained,
For the traveler on the way is fully conversant
with the turns and twists of the way.
A child disciple cannot understand the why and wherefore of what the Master says. As he gradually advances, he begins to know the truth of what the Master says. We have, of necessity, to accept the fundamentals of life and the Truths begin to dawn. Then we gradually advance on the Path. In the great epic of Ramayana, it is said:
Accept thou as truth whatever ye learn;
All that comes from mother, father, and the preceptor is nothing but Truth.
Apart from the human body, Guru is Word personified. The Word assumes the flesh just to teach mankind on the level of intellect. We love the Guru, not that He wants our love. We do so because we want His love, the love that He has for God; and we intend to benefit from that love.
You may have heard the story of Bhikha, a man of God. A disciple of his began to chant the name of Bhikha as if it were the name of God. In those times, to give any name to God was considered a blasphemy. He was accused of heresy before the Qazi or the civil judge. Questioned as to whom his God was, he replied ‘Bhikha.’ And when asked of his “Rasool” (Intercessor, messenger of God), he replied ‘Bhikha.’ Condemned by his own words, the Qazi sentenced him to death and passed on the papers to the Sultan (king) for confirmation of the sentence. The same drama was repeated before the king as well. The Sultan was a wise man and he, noticing a kind of divine intoxication in the eyes of the accused, asked him to pray to his Bhikha for a plentiful rain, as the country was in the grip of a terrible drought. With firm confidence the gentleman replied: “Yes, I shall certainly do so and get you rain from Bhikha.” The king ordered him to be released on parole and inquired as to when he would return. The Faqir (holy man) said that he would do so in a couple of days. The next day it rained very heavily and one could see large sheets of water spreading for miles and miles. On the third day, the Faqir appeared before the king. The king thanked him profusely for his kindness in getting water to the parched ground and offered him a Sanad — conferring to Bhikha proprietary rights in 21 villages as a token of his gratitude. The man refused to accept this property saying that his Bhikha could not accept anything temporal and impermanent. When he met his Master Bhikha, the latter inquired why he had not asked for something higher than mere rain; as at the time the request was made, he (Murshid or teacher/Guru) was in tune with the Mula (God), and he could do that quite easily.
Provided the Master is perfect, He certainly looks to all the needs of His disciples and gets them whatever they need. If, on the other hand, the master is a worldly-wise man, he would only give his disciples things of the world and keep them entangled in the world as he himself is.
Better it is to filter the water before taking,
And to test a Master before accepting Him.
It does not matter that one may spend his whole life in search of a true Master. This too goes to one’s credit and is counted as devotion. It saves one from so-called teachers with which the world abounds. How to judge a perfect Master?
One in Whose presence the mind goes under is, of course, a true Guru.
Again such a One demonstrates something of the Power-of-God within by revealing the Holy Light and the Holy Sound.
He Who brings down the Audible Life Current from above
is One Whom I adore as Gurudeva, says Kabir.
It is easier said than done. One can give lectures on outer disciplines, and talk a lot of Jnana, and expound the scriptures, and narrate stories from epics. But to give a practical experience is quite a different thing. Hazur (Baba Sawan Singh) very often used to say:
There is not of much consequence in the five names that are given to you.
You can have them anywhere, from books or anywhere.
The secret behind the Word lies in the charging of the life-impulse
that the Master gives at the time of initiation.
Coupled with this and of equal importance is Gurbhakti. It consists in obeying the instructions of the Master to the minutest detail. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. All that He requires is to spare some time for whole-hearted meditation and to introspect everyday so that we may know where we fail and falter in our daily life. How restless we become when we are hungry. Have we ever thought of satisfying the hunger of the soul? What a pity! We are served with the heavenly food but find no time to partake of it. Lack of time is the complaint of all of us. Time and tide wait for no man. Death knows no calendar. We have the medicine with us, but we do not use it. How then can we triumph over death that is the last enemy of mankind.
A real Master liberates us from all attachments and fears. In spite of the fact that we have been put on the Path, we have not yet escaped from these. This means that we are yet far away from the Master. A little trouble, may be personal or in the family, upsets us. We are afraid of poverty and we try to keep our head high up. We are ever in the midst of strife and struggle. All this goes to show that we are yet living the life of the flesh. It is only by rising above body-consciousness that we contact the radiant form of the Master and that, in fact, is meeting the Guru. Once we get to the feet of the Master’s luminous form, we get above all kinds of ailments — physical, elemental, and mental. So far we have simply seen the Master in the physical form but not met Him. We have seen Him, but not perceived Him.
Nanak, therefore, tells us that with the meeting of the Master nothing remains to be done. Once He takes charge of the disciple’s spirit on the inner plane, the disciple is freed from the giant wheel of life. When the erstwhile enjoyer becomes the perceiver, he escapes for good from the world of enjoyments. We simply read the scriptures but do not try to understand them and much less to practice them. By reading we read but do not understand. Wisdom is quite different from learning. Learning makes us egotistic, while wisdom makes us humble.
Once an ordinary grass cutter became a Prime Minister. He discharged his duties honestly and diligently, but he never forgot even for a moment as to what he really was. Whenever he was a little free from his arduous duties, he would retire to a small hut on the river bank. He would change his rich robes with his original torn rags and place before him his crude implements with which he used to work. He would then offer his humble prayers to God Who had raised him to the position which he ill deserved. The royal courtiers laughed at him and were surprised at the wisdom of the king in exalting him to this high office. The king, however, had a great regard for him because he had not forgotten his real and original position. We have all forgotten our real self — what we were before coming to a Master. Whatever we are, it is through the grace of the Master. It goes to the credit of the Master Who has given us so much and promises to give us much more. We must be thankful to Him for all His precious gifts and drive our own egotistic self from within us.
Win the grace of the Guru by losing your self in Him,
He shall grant unto you the treasures of love.
This is the true significance of the term Aarti. It consists in losing the “self” in Him. The moment you turn your back on the world and are completely in the eye focus, He will come unto you in His radiant form and take you along with Him.
With the advent of the Master on the inner plane, one becomes the king of kings. Herein lies the consummation of the soul with the Oversoul. In Gurbani we have:
The radiant form of the Master gives you Light eternal;
Gurbhakti being complete, all doubts vanish like vapors.
As the drop enters the wave, it along with the wave becomes part of the sea. This is the meaning of Aarti. You have to manifest the Light within you, get absorbed into that Light, forgetting all thoughts of I-ness. St. Paul proclaims:
I live, not now I, it is Christ that lives in me.
Gurbhakti then comes first and it eventually leads to Naam-bhakti. I would even like to say that, the Master being Word personified, a contact with Him is the beginning of Naam-bhakti. Water, rain, or vapor are, in fact, one and the same. They are the different phases of the same substance with different names at different levels. On the physical level, the Master is like any other teacher (Guru). He talks to you sweetly. He loves you. He comforts you. He joins in your joys and sorrows also. He gives you sound advice by placing before you the higher values of life. All these things He does so as to lead you within. And when you follow His instructions and transcend the physical plane, He comes to your aid in a radiant form to guide you on the path inwards. Here, in His luminous body, He is Gurudev. When you reach the final stage of your journey in Sat Lok, you find Him present as Master of Truth (Satguru); and now you realize the truth of the saying that it was the Power-of-God Himself Who was with you in fullness from stage to stage. He is God in the human pole from which the God Power works. It is His Power which, when working in and through the human brain, awakens consciousness. When it withdraws, the consciousness comes to an end. These are the things which you have to understand and realize for yourself, for these cannot be adequately explained in so many words. You may momentarily get a glimpse of it on the intellectual level, but cannot have intoxication and ecstasy which begin only when Gurbhakti is complete and Guru appears within in His radiant form.
The Lord of the soul now tells you finally,
Now shall you get the reward of Gurbhakti.
The above words are from Soami Ji Maharaj; the Power of God working in Him has given His final verdict. This, in fact, is the summum bonum of life, and it comes from Gurbhakti.
The love of the world will drag you down to the world, while the love of God will take you to the throne of God. Love is the attribute of our soul. It is already in us. We are simply to change its direction from one side to the other.
The eyes of a Sadhu bubble over with love of the Lord;
In His company we too get inspired.
This then is the only way for the soul to get merged in the Oversoul. We must, therefore, pray for the love of the Lord. Guru Amardas says in this context:
Cursed is the life wherein one does not have the love of the Lord.
It was after a long search of about 70 years that Guru Amardas came to this conclusion. It is in human birth that one can develop his instinctive love and fan it into a bright flame. He goes on to explain:
Whatever leads us away from the Lord is of no avail.
Herein lies the difference between good deeds and bad deeds.
Good deeds lead us to God, while bad deeds take us away from Him. So the love of God is the touchstone for all our actions.
No one asks you to renounce the world and go into the wilderness. While in the world, we have to attend to the mundane affairs of life. But they have simply to be attended to and not to overpower you. Be steady like the needle of the compass that always points northwards because of the magnetic pull it feels — God is our magnetic pole. We must inwardly be focussed in Him. Renunciation does not consist in leaving the world. We have simply to detach from one side and be attached on the other, even while living a worldly life. This is real renunciation. It comes by turning inwards and then to consider what is best for us.
In the conflict of the world, what is there which lasts? The Holy Word, Disciplined Soul, the Godman, and God. So, the Holy Word, the All-Pervading Power of God is Eternal. We have to get attached to It. Who can guide us to It? It is only a really disciplined person or a Godman in Whom the God Power is manifest. It is His job to make you quiescent.
We have, therefore, to get to the Reality which alone is permanent. Let us be in bond with the Reality and we will become real: Maulana Rumi pays a wonderful tribute to His Master (Shamas-e-Tabrez) by saying:
I could not become what I am,
Except through the grace of Master (Shamas-e-Tabrez)
Similarly, Raja Janak had a practical experience of Jnana from Maharishi Ashtavakar. Arjuna got a glimpse of the Divine in the blessed Lord Krishna. Swami Vivekananda got His life-impulse from Paramhansa Ramakrishna. The life of a disciple is cast in the Guru’s mould. When one gets attuned with the God Power in the Guru, one becomes the Guru’s mouthpiece — a worthy disciple.
Once Hazur, after the initiation ceremony at Lahore, told me: “I have planted the seed of the Holy Word in the heart of these persons. You will have to nurture them with the Water of Life.” I replied, what can poor conduit pipe do? Whatever life-giving Water comes will certainly be passed on. If no water comes, the pipe itself would get dry and nobody would get any benefit therefrom. Guru is, therefore, to be always kept in the forefront.
Maulana Rumi, therefore, forcefully says:
O Lord of the tavern, always shower Thy grace on me,
For I am Thy bondsman, and I glorify Thee.
In the glorification of the Master lies the glory of the disciple. A disciple is nothing without the golden touch of the Master. A real disciple is never tired of singing the praise of his Master. Whatever he does, he does in the name of the Master. He is a true worshipper of God in the Guru. Guru Nanak says:
There is no place of refuge for me except in the Guru.
One may be a Godman or man-God; there is no difference between the two. A drunkard always revels in the company of a drunkard. Guru Arjan, Chajju Bhagat, and Hazrat Mian-mir were great friends. Guru Arjan compiled the Holy Granth by collecting the writings of all the Enlightened Souls He could lay His hands on, irrespective of Their religion. It is a great monumental work in the form of a bouquet of flowers gathered from different places. It is a banquet-hall of Spirituality. This shows the catholicity of mind of the great author as Guru Arjan was. In contrast what do we find today — small watertight compartments here and there, each trying to run down the other. A really spiritual man will never do this. He does not and will not put any forbidding lines around his disciples. Hazur used to say:
I have given you the best I have.
Now you are free to go wherever you like.
If you find something better than what I have given you,
then let me know and take me along with you.
We are to be worshippers of Truth alone. Nothing would come out of political dealings. Those who have really a firsthand experience of the Power-of-God within cannot but love each other, for they are all moved by the Holy Spirit working in all hearts. We, on the contrary, take non-essentials as essentials:
The moment one comes in contact with a Sadhu,
One forgets everything except his own self
All enmities and jealousies bid a good bye,
And one becomes a friend to all.
This then is the greatest benefit which we get from a high-souled person. When Amir Khusro came to the feet of Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia, people began to dub him as an idolater because he considered his mentor nothing less than God. Do you know what reply he gave?
People laugh at me for being idolatrous;
Aye, I am so, what has the world to do with me?
Amir Khusro knew the greatness of his Master. It is only a real disciple who knows what his Master is. The people at large, however, are generally ignorant about this. The Enlightened Souls come into the world time and again with Their spiritual riches, but we are ignorant of Their greatness and begin to find fault with Them.
Spirituality is the science of self-analysis. We have to free the soul from the bondage of mind and matter before we can get a taste of Divine Intoxication. Maulana Rumi has beautifully explained the greatness of His Master thus:
One day I saw Kaaba turning round and round the corner of the street
where a godly person lived;
I asked of God as to what type of person he was, an angel or a Satan.
Only one whose inner vision is developed can talk like this. He who has tasted the nectar alone can know what it is. It is in the company of such a Sadhu that we feel an uplifting surge. Unless we come in contact with a Godman, we cannot have a taste of it. All our life we may do meritorious deeds, but we cannot get near the Reality. The scriptures are full of the spiritual experiences of those who traversed on this path. If we love a Godman, we love the Power-of-God in Him. A Godman revels in the love of God. We, on the other hand, love the world. We live and die for the world. Let us win His love or fail in His love. In either case we get to Him. Kabir says:
Stake thy body, mind, and soul for the Lord;
Stake thy all to win His love.
Everyone stakes his all for one thing or the other. One may do so to gain the possession of the world or for the wealth of God. Each one has to make his choice between the two:
I have thrown the dice to win the Lord;
I am in to win or lose Him.
This is the game in which Kabir is engaged. We, on the other hand, are playing for the world with the result that we are endlessly moving up and down in this gamble. Kabir goes on to say:
If I lose, I lose to the Beloved,
If I win, I win the Beloved.
So you see that in either case, we get on to Him — either by losing to Him, or by winning Him outright. In either case, you remain in the world and continue to live on the allotted span of life, but not as a slave, but as a master of the house — the house that has been given to us for this very purpose. It is in this house that we can get glimpses of the Eternal Light of Life, provided we go to One in Whom the Light of Life shines in full effulgence. It is the company that makes a man. A good company makes you good, while a bad company makes you bad. It is, therefore, said:
To sit with a Wali (a Saint) for a brief of time is much better
than to engage in selfless devotion for hundreds of years.
The question is one of receptivity. If you are really receptive, and the Guru is a real Guru, the change comes in immediately. Rare, indeed, is a perfect Master; and rare, indeed, is the disciple who sits before Him all-attention. The more you would love the Master, the more easy would become the Path and you can traverse the otherwise long journey in just this very life. To get out of the body-consciousness and to reach the feet of the Master’s radiant form is all that is required. Once you have achieved this, it is the duty of the Master to take you further up from stage to stage until you reach the True Home of your Father. No power on earth can drag you down unless you are sent into the world by the Master Power to help in the work of regeneration.