We are all lovers, devotees of a higher Power —
Thousands of lovers, but the Beloved is One for all.
He Whom we desire is the Beloved of the whole world and is the one God for all men — not specifically for Muslims only, or for Hindus only, or for Christians only. God is One, for man — for all creation — and all His devotees have the desire to meet that very same One. Those who really desire Him in the true sense are actually His true relatives, and that person who tells us about Him is truly our brother and our friend.
Within each Master-soul is great devotion for His Guru, and without this devotion none can reach realization. For instance, Christ told His followers,
I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing.
The devotee cannot do without the Guru. It means that as long as one is not truly joined to one’s Guru, one cannot really be His devotee, and, furthermore, cannot become a true devotee of the Lord.
Guru precedes God, for we have not yet seen God; and we must become as subtle or as fine as He is to be able to do so. Each person views life from his own level. To illustrate this, if we study the atmosphere, no life can be seen there by the physical eye due to the extremely fine substance of the atmosphere and the very coarse level of the eyesight. And yet, if we raise our level of vision by using a microscope which magnifies 700 times, bringing everything to the eye’s coarse level, we then see that the atmosphere is filled with forms of life — tiny microbes which are ever in existence even though we cannot see them with the naked eye. That eye has not developed the ability to perceive these more subtle expressions of life. So if man is not as high as God, then what is his first step?
Guru precedes God, for God manifests in the Guru; and from man’s level He, therefore, comes before God. He is God-man — God plus man. If a disciple truly becomes a Guru-man, He also becomes Godman. Unless one sees, how can one meditate upon it? How can a person put all his attention on that which he has not seen? So first, devotion to the Guru is very necessary.
Guru is not the body; Guru is that Power which is manifesting upon a Human Pole and, as such, is never born and never dies. All Masters have taken up the body and then left it, and we must also do the same. That Power works through the physical form.
Brahm speaks out through the body,
without the body, what can Brahm say?
But the Pole through which He is manifesting is also called Guru because He is manifesting there.
Devotion must of necessity start with the body. We see Him, and further we see a glimpse of what He is manifesting in His eyes. This raises us to a higher level, and so the importance of this Guru-bhakti or devotion to the Guru has been stressed by all Masters. Christ taught the same thing, and St. Paul echoed this when He said, I live: yet not I but Christ liveth in me. Hafiz Sahib explained that His heart was so full of His Beloved that the thought of Himself being there was gone. He became One with His Beloved. He also says,
I have become the body; You have become the life;
They should not say afterwards that You and I were different.
All Masters say the same things in various ways. Hafiz Sahib says also,
I have been grafted to my Friend [the Guru].
When you graft two branches, what happens? The fruit from that appears to be the same, but the color and fragrance is that of the mother tree. When one is grafted to the Guru, there is no fear of anything. From then on there is no birth, no death, no more coming and going in creation, no illusion, no Negative Power; for one has been drawn into the very Nectar of Life — one is plunging into it. Anyone who has done this has no fear of death. So devotion to the Guru is the first step, and those who become One with Him become One with the Lord. This is the simplest way of realizing Him.
In truth, we are soul. The soul is of the same essence as that of God — Who is All-Consciousness. And so we are a conscious entity — a drop of the Ocean of All-Consciousness. That Ocean is swelling full, and can be called the Lord or God. Every drop of essence desires to return to its Source — it is a natural inclination, and this natural yearning remains with us, in one form or another: we want to be happy, we want lasting peace, and so on. We seek the goal in all manner of ways, but the search is always outward. If we come to realize that the goal lies within us, sorrow overcomes us with the knowledge of that wasted time.
The natural yearning to meet the Lord is innate in every human being, although most people seek Him outwardly wherever His Name is represented. If a man is disappointed in his search, again he turns to seek elsewhere; and so his life becomes a series of wasted efforts. As a child, man just plays. Then he goes on to indulge in all the sensual pleasures and the intellectual pursuits. Finally he begins to realize that there is no true happiness or lasting peace in all this, and starts searching for something else. If his yearning is strong enough and his search sincere, established within him, then the Lord Himself knows this and makes arrangements for the seeker to find Someone to help him — Someone Who has already realized the Lord, Someone Who may be called by any Name you wish, but is, in fact, a Guru.
I will now take a hymn of Guru Ramdas Sahib, Who was an extraordinary devotee of His Guru.
The Lord’s arrow of love has pierced my heart.
There is a certain type of arrow which has a hooked head, and when it enters the target it cannot be removed. The Master is explaining that His yearning for the Lord has become a consuming desire, a tormenting yearning of devotion and love which has developed within the heart, and like the hooked arrow, is there to stay. When this arrow strikes, one cannot remove it even if he wants to.
My mind is in torment for a glimpse of the Lord —
Like a man athirst, without water.
Without a glimpse of the Lord, there is no peace — no satiety — and each second is agonizing. The condition of a man parched with thirst is bad; he gasps and pants, and there is no relief for him until he gets water to drink. God is Love, and the soul is His entity and is, therefore, also Love. Its nature is to be attached to something, but at present the soul’s love is attached to the physical form and all its various environments like wife, husband, children, friends, property, money, and so on. It is natural for the soul to love; and yet all these worldly things are perishable, and they change. What is more, one cannot remain with them: either we must leave or they must leave. The day of separation will come eventually. So the soul gains no continuous happiness through these associations. Guru Arjan says,
Attachment develops for whatever is seen;
How then will I meet You, O Imperishable Lord?
It is a prayer of the soul asking how it can become connected to the Lord when it is tied to the worldly things. We are all in the same condition, yet we ask for perpetual happiness and go on to seek it among the perishable things, which in a single second can be gone from our sight. So the Masters advise us:
Those who want lasting happiness
should live in God’s protection,
which is permeating in all creation.
Remember, all Masters are True Devotees, and They teach this devotion to the world. They rejoin the souls back to the Lord, for They are Themselves One with Him and desire others to enjoy that Oneness; They want to rejoin them to the Lord, not to Themselves. Kabir Sahib says,
By my doing, nothing happens but only by His wish.
Take any Master’s words; you will find they sing the Lord’s praises. Guru Ramdas says that
. . . the Lord’s arrow has pierced His heart.
Only a wounded man can know another’s wounded condition.
One Master describes the condition thus:
The place where my Beloved reposes is on top of a gibbet;
How then can I meet Him?
When that strong yearning develops within, the soul cannot rest until it meets the Lord. His desire is only to go to God, or that God should come to him. When the Lord does come, he wants only to gaze at Him — neither he nor the Lord should see anyone else but each other. These are expressions of True Love. Khusro Sahib described His yearning by wanting the Lord to reside in His eyes, that the world may not see Him and He may not see the world. And Kabir Sahib says,
I make a room of the eye, and spread the bed of the pupil;
I draw the veil of the eyelashes, and woo the Beloved.
It is another expression of True Love for the Lord. The True Devotee has tremendous love in His heart for realization of the Lord; and He in Whom such love is developed becomes an overflowing cup of Love. Such a Person can safely be called a Guru, in Whose company others gain a small portion or an infection of that Love — you can say a little awakening of it — so that they become dyed in a little of that color. Even one who gets no direct contact with the Guru, and yet absorbs the atmosphere which surrounds the Guru, does get somewhat affected and he feels that there is something there.
So the burning love to realize God seems like a parching thirst. God cannot be realized without this love. It is an impossibility. As God is Love, and our soul is His entity, it can happen only through Love. All outer practices, rituals, and devotions are performed to help the development of this Love. But we perform them like gymnastics and, therefore, no love or sincerity awakens in the heart. A Muslim prophet tells us that should we do this for a hundred years, even then we would not become a true disciple; for without the Love awakened and the flame within kindled, how can the Lord be realized? In such a condition, the Lord’s secret cannot be revealed; for Love is a consuming flame, within which only the thought of the Beloved can remain. That is written in the Koran. Such Love is something like a hawk — wherever it comes to sit, all the other birds fly away. The tenth Guru declares:
Hear ye all, I tell you the truth: God can be realized by those who love.
The pain of this inner torment, only the Lord knows.
No one else can know of the suffering of the soul that is separated from its Lord, except the Lord Himself or one who is also suffering similarly.
I can tell you of my own condition, around the year of 1914. Background does have some bearing on one’s life. One in whom this yearning for God takes root has some impressions from the past which come to the fore and develop during this birth, in those days while working in the office, the tears would flow without reason, spoiling the papers on the desk. Within myself I would ask, “O God, what is happening?” At home the family also could not understand what was happening; but I had recently been transferred to the place of my parents, and they thought the tears were due to this. What can other people know of the condition of one’s heart? If the enigma of the mystery of life enters the heart, the person knows no peace until it has been solved. The questions continue to repeat: “What is life? Who am I?“
I have often mentioned the mood of deep thought that I experienced at a young person’s deathbed at Lahore. If an individual’s life is pure and chaste, the inner knowledge awakens without effort. This is a natural function. Having all this, yet I had not solved the mystery of life; and while sitting beside that dying person it occurred to me, “This person is dying; there is something in him which is also in me, but it is leaving his body — then what is that something?” I could not at that time perceive the answer, for I did not have the knowledge. What is it that is working in everyone and yet leaves a dying person? I sat there and witnessed this individual call all those near and dear and ask their forgiveness for any wrong or any act that may have displeased them. After this the eyes closed and the soul left the body. I was wonder struck to witness this amazing thing. Before my eyes the body was lying there, and yet that which had motivated it was gone. It was still in me, but it had left that body. Where it had gone I did not know. All the way to the cremation ground I fathomed this puzzle, and on arrival I saw that an elderly man had died and was being cremated. Within a few yards of each other, the young person and the old man — the two extremes of life, youth and old age — were consumed in the flames. My heart was deeply affected with the realization that there is no escape from this death for any one of us. Learned or unlearned, all men are imprisoned in gross ignorance. This mystery of life entered my heart and did not leave. From then I started searching day and night for the answer in all the scriptures I could find. Whole nights were spent reading avidly, but I could find no solution in the holy scriptures and philosophies. Yes, there were indications and references, but they gave no practical solution. Of course, the solution cannot be written; for it is a scientific practical self-analysis, the experience of which can be had only by sitting at the feet of some Master-soul Who will put one on the Way, in order that the experience may be increased daily. When I finally reached Hazur’s feet in the year 1924, the understanding of this inner knowledge came.
There are many tears for worldly things, but who cries for the Lord? People who have never done so do not realize what kind of torment that is. It is not something within our control — it either comes or does not. It is pain — black clouds which bring the promise of rain, the blossoms of the fruit tree which bring the promise of fruit to come. This tormented condition indicates a heart wherein lies the hope of the Lord’s coming — you can say it heralds His coming. And Guru Ramdas says that only the Lord Himself knows the pain of that heart, the inner torment.
Guru Amar Das once said,
One second without You, O Lord, seems like fifty years.
A certain poet says,
O statistician, you have calculated much,
but can you reckon the nights of separation —
how long they are?
The whole world cries incessantly — for the world. The Lord’s Devotees cry only for the Lord. If by laughter and play the Lord could be realized, then who would be without Him? Tears are very necessary, for without them the deeply buried sanskaras [karmic impressions] of aeons of births cannot be washed away. The water from the eyes has a marvelous cleansing power.
Maulana Rumi has a very beautiful way of putting it when He says that if one wishes to do the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca), then he should go by “waters of the sea,” for the road by dry land will never take one there. The “waters of the sea” are the tears flowing down in torrents from the eyes.
He is my true brother who will tell me something of my Lord, the Beloved.
It is but natural, being in such a condition, that one would appreciate anyone who could speak of his Beloved with real knowledge. God is loved, and so is he who can tell of Him. Then what about the One Who can take us to Him? One should sacrifice oneself upon such a Person, and live faithfully according to His wishes. In True Love one becomes rich and great, and surrenders all the world and the worldly things. Guru Arjan says, I will give myself to He Who will take me to my Beloved Love. The yearning is for Someone, and yet He is prepared to give His whole life to One Who will take Him to that Someone. Why? The yearning is for a glimpse of Him. He yearns for a glimpse of the Lord, and for that is prepared to enslave Himself for life. What do worldly people know of this? Does the question of religion arise here? If there are four drunkards, they will develop love for each other without a thought of their different religions, because of the single attraction of intoxication.
Brothers, we are all devotees of the Single One; why not have love for each other? If we do not love each other, I can only say that love for the Lord has not awakened within us. Love for our fellow men is the first lesson for those who walk the path of Spirituality, for God is in each being.
Since I got the company of the sages,
none is an enemy, none a stranger;
I developed love for all.
The company of the Master teaches us that God is in every being and one should accept everyone, in love. The subject of caste or religion does not arise here. He is a Satguru Who brings all children of God together. When sitting before the Master, no thoughts occur that one person is this, another is that, etc. Remember, all worldly relationships will be left behind, and only the True Relationship will accompany you. He says that the True Brother or Friend is He Who tells of the Beloved.
During the time of Hazur, a similar question arose: that among the initiated, some have reached the goal by their practices, and some are still learning in school; so where does this True Relationship apply? Baba Sawan Singh Ji explained that everyone has to cross the river, but some cross in the first boat, some in the second, and so on. After all, the landing stage on the other side is the same for all boats, and all the travelers will meet there.
The True Relationship made by the Guru cannot be broken.
Like beads on an unbreakable string, the Guru strings us together. Even on the worldly level, one feels very friendly and amiable to anyone who speaks of one’s Beloved; so, ignoring all castes, religions, social orders, and differences, the devotee’s Friend is He Who tells of the Lord. The soul’s caste is not Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, but is the same as the Lord’s. This True Relationship has ever been in existence, but we have forgotten It. When the Master come, He enlivens that relationship and makes one into a conscious coworker of the Divine Plan. He sees the same nature lying in all. It is a part of Nature’s character that each aspect reverts to its source, and each species blends with its own. Man’s inclination is to love — to love his fellow man, and to love God. This nature is innate within him.
Let us meet, O sakhi, and sing the Beloved’s praises;
Take the Satguru’s knowledge.
We are all sakhis [female friends] — One Male, all others are female. All souls are female, and God Himself is the sole Male, meeting Whom the everlasting marriage takes place. Worldly marriages can last perhaps ten, fifteen, or even a hundred years; they could reach a thousand years even; but the soul which meets the Lord realizes the marriage which is true and permanent. He says that true friends should sit together and talk about the Lord. How? By taking the knowledge from the Satguru, for meeting the Satguru prepares the way for access to the Lord.
There are two ways of praising God. One is by seeing and getting intoxication from what is seen so that the words of praise naturally overflow; the other way is by repeating words of praise from books and visualizing. The latter is like cooking a flavorful dish in one’s imagination. There is a great deal of difference in the two methods. True devotees enjoy the Lord’s Nectar — by seeing Him. Their eye is opened; they sing the Lord’s praises out of intoxication.
Get the Lord’s Nectar from the Satguru, and then sit together and speak of Him. Meeting the Satguru, one’s mind becomes tranquil — the mind and the intellect. He teaches us how to still the mind. Otherwise, we may take the Lord’s Name in praise incessantly and yet the intellect will not be stilled — the mind’s ramifications will continue perpetually.
What does Lord Krishna say in the Gita?
Both good and bad actions are binding to the jiva,
like gold and iron chains.
Good thoughts are very well, but they are outgoing, and they disseminate. What does the Satguru give then, so that the mind is stilled? He gives something within, the sweetness of which charms the mind into stillness for a while. In this way, the ground is prepared for future opening of the Way. There is no other true cure.
All conflict should be thrust aside — all should sit together and sing the Lord’s praises. All mankind is one; who is good; who is bad?
With a single Light, all creation came into being;
Who is good and who is bad?
Who then is rich and who is poor?
All have been given the same attributes by the Lord.
Physically also, the outer and inner construction is the same. The Hindus are not better favored than the Muslims. The Christians are not better favored than the Sikhs. God made the human being. The soul is a conscious entity, a drop of the Ocean of All-Consciousness, and it desires to return to its Source. This is the simple Truth, but man has no desire to face it until he has been pushed around from pillar to post. Some souls have reached this Path via great suffering, and some have yet to suffer before they reach it. Perpetual repose lies in nothing else but meeting God.
O fulfill the yearning of Nanak’s child:
Peace will descend in this body, with a glimpse of the Lord.
He concludes with a prayer. The yearning for a glimpse of God is the highest aim in human life.
Receiving this human form, it is thy turn to meet God.
This is the right time when the soul is in torment for the Lord, and this torment is expressed in deep yearning for Him. When that yearning is fulfilled, it gains perfect peace and stillness — the peace that passeth all understanding, the everlasting peace. This can be received only through One Who is One with the Lord, and is the image of the Truth. Only such a Personality can take the soul to God. How can he who has never met the Lord take another to Him? A learned man can give outer knowledge; that is all. An Awakened Man can give the contact, and with practice one can gain that which He is. There is really no difference between the disciple and the Guru; but the Guru has that Power manifested in Him and is commissioned to give It out; and It has yet to be made manifest in the disciple. A man learns all through life. We should go to He Who is competent in the field where one’s desire lies. You may call such a competent person by any name, for these days the words Guru and Satguru have been defamed, due to those who were not qualified but were merely acting and posing. They met their inevitable downfall in due course. Without the True Mahatma, salvation never can be achieved. This has always been so, and ever will be.