SAIL ON THE SATGURU'S SHIP
There is a hymn of Guru Nanak in which He presents a vivid picture of the world drifting into illusion and oblivion, and how the individual can be rescued from this drastic plight if he so desires:
He describes the world as a huge ocean without beginning or end. Cosmogonists have made numerous statements regarding when and how it was created, but no definite information has ever been established. Some say it was created four billion years ago - but that only goes back to the last dissolution. There were many other dissolutions and grand dissolutions before that; so who can say when Creation started? So, Guru Nanak describes it as a vast, dangerous ocean containing mighty breakers and treacherous whirl pools. And what is the cargo of the ships that sail in this ocean? Poison! - and every ship overladen with it. One can picture each physical form as a ship or a boat drifting aimlessly on the vast ocean of life, laden with the poison of maya.
Maya, or illusion, is just another name for forgetfulness; and the cause of all our illusion is the body. We should have been the controller of our whole being, but instead we became the body - so much so that we now cannot differentiate between the body and its controller. Are we the house or the indweller of the house? But although we may rarely think of it, there will come a day when we have to leave the house. Even when we take a body to the cremation ground, and perhaps light the fire with our own hands, yet we do not stop to think that the same event will happen to us one day.
While drifting on the ocean of life, overcome with illusion and forgetfulness, attachments develop. When the indweller is identified with the body, so much so that he forgets himself and considers himself as a part of the world itself, it is but a natural sequence of events that many attachments develop. Birth upon birth, he tosses about in the storms of life. Sometimes the soul goes under - sometimes it rises to the surface - but it can see no end to this existence. Just consider: one knows nothing of the past, or of what will happen in the future. One is just going wherever the current carries one. "The ocean of mind contains limitless waves upon waves." Sometimes they are waves of enjoyment, sometimes of anger, or lust, or greed, attachment, and ego. And who can see this true condition of affairs? Only He Who stands on the edge, for he who is drifting is not conscious of what is happening, has no awareness of what is to come. Learned or illiterate, rich or poor, cultured or uncouth, yet all are in the same position. How to get out of that condition will be revealed as the hymn proceeds.
It is not a question of caste, creed, or color. It simply concerns all souls who are embodied in the physical form. Man is pushed from pillar to post - you can see for yourself that if a wave of enjoyment comes along, we quickly fall into it. We are steeped in anger, jealously, backbiting, all kinds of viciousness and prejudice, and indulgence in the condemnation of others. We are drenched in whatever color that comes along - dancing to the tune of the moment, saturated in forgetfulness. God is forgotten; self is forgotten - we just drift along aimlessly.
This condition is terrifying - like the danger from a huge hooded black cobra. It is a sea of fear. On board a ship, two things are most necessary: a captain and some radar or equipment to guide the ship away from rocks and shoals. Without these, what hope is there of saving the ship? It can never be free from dangers; and if one does not realize this today, then tomorrow or the next day one will see it in dire distress.
Without a captain or radar, there is no way of escaping the net. A Persian Saint says that God has placed us on a plank of wood in the middle of the ocean saying, "Beware! Do not allow even your clothes to get wet!" How can we possibly avoid getting wet? We will very easily drown, unless some help comes along. We have no idea how to save ourselves; in fact, we are not even aware of the danger we are in, being poisoned through and through with illusion. Even those with a little consciousness cannot help themselves; excuse me. Then is there any hope in life?
There is the need of someone to assist the distressed souls - to help them out and guide them onward - a boatman, even an oar, but they should reach the shore safely somehow. When the True Masters come into the world, They see the souls in these dire straits and Their prayer is: "Oh Lord, they are very badly trapped. Is there any way to release them?" If for a brief moment a man turns his attention from illusion and recognizes his condition, then in the suffering, torment, and agony of heart he cries out, "Oh God, take me out of here!" Such a sincere and heartfelt cry reaches the Lord; but the appeal should be true; we should realize where we stand - soul that we are, living like a log of wood, helpless, and floundering into further danger at every step. With this realization, the prayer goes forth from the depths of the soul - without any effort - and then God makes it possible to meet that saving lifeline, the Guru, the Boatman Who will guide the poor soul out of the torment.
Brothers, can you yourselves take your ship to the shore? How will you swim across this vast worldly ocean? When there is a storm at sea, the entire responsibility of the safety of the ship, passengers, and cargo lies with the captain. Even at the point of sinking, each passenger is given a lifebelt, and the captain will do his best to save each and every one. Similarly, in this ship of the physical form, some competent Master is desired to sit therein, to guide us and help us, and to be with us constantly. He is a great knower of the world with its snares and pitfalls, and is competent to pilot any number of souls across in safety. Through God's physical law, oxygen assists the fire to burn, and this same law of supply and demand has been at work throughout Nature ever since the world began; so when you meet a Guru, He showers His mercy and blessing upon you. Observe how the child forming in the mother's womb has all its needs supplied by Nature; even the milk is ready and waiting for its arrival. Those who are born in the future will enjoy the same attentive service. So, even the tiniest awakening and earnest desire to escape from this intolerable condition in the world will bring help from the Lord Himself.
There is an anecdote about Hazrat Junaid Sahib, Who was a Perfect Master. He was riding His mare one day, when she suddenly refused to continue in the direction He was leading her; so He thought, "Well, this is all God's land; I will allow her to go where she wills," and He gave the mare its head. She galloped like the wind and after a while stopped in a valley beside a hill. The Saint dismounted, musing that He would see what was God's will. A man was sitting nearby; so He asked him, "Who are you?" The man replied, "I am sitting here in this lonely place out of disappointment and helplessness, for I have searched everywhere for a True Master to give me a connection with God, but I could not find one; and I decided that I would go to the wilderness where no man could find me, and leave my fate in the hands of Nature." Hazrat Junaid Sahib smiled and graciously put the man on the True Path. When He was leaving, He gave His new disciple His address saying, "Whenever you feel the need, you may come to me." The disciple replied, "Why? When I was in need You came, and whatever Power brought You here will bring You again."
God sees and knows everything, including which child is truly yearning for Him. The true cry for help comes from the heart, not from the tongue. The loud cries from the tongue do not reach the Lord. The arrow which is drawn back to the chest will reach the target when it is released, but that which is drawn limply will not go very far. He Who has given salvation to millions will bring us to the feet of the Guru, Who places this tiny boat of ours on the mighty Ship of Naam. On very large ships, many tons of wood, iron, or stone can be carried without any danger of the ship sinking; so the Guru puts you on a spiritually unsinkable Ship, and He Himself is the Pilot.
The words, "the True Naam," indicate that there must also be some naam or name which is not true. God has many names, for He is known by those names which the Rishis, Munis, and Masters gave. Some called Him Brahm, some called Him Allah, some God, and numerous other names. The God-realized People gave these names to help humanity to remember God. They are words denoting the Lord by which the remembrance of Him draws us closer, but they do not connect us to Him. They are but names denoting the One Power.
Water, for instance, is known by various words- jal, neer, aqua, aab, etc. - according to the different languages, but they are mere words; they are not the element itself. We can quench our thirst when we come in contact with that element which the word denotes.
Repetition of words will not give us realization, but it is necessary to help our simran and prayer, for we have been doing the world's simran and have become the very image of the world. Doing the Lord's simran will help us to forget the world and remember the Lord. The sweet remembrance of God can cut off the remembrance of the world. But words alone are only a help; they are not a contact. Iron can only be cut by iron or something that is stronger.
The word Ram comes from Rama, which means "that which is permeating in all" So, the word Ram, and Ram Himself, are different. One is a word, the other is the Lord Himself - that Power which is vibrating everywhere. So, the Master puts the seeker on the Ship of the True Naam, that is above all senses. It is not an outer subject; one must withdraw, invert, and rise above the senses where one receives the Divine Link with God - a Power which has many different phases of work.
What are the waves which oscillate in the ocean of mind? This happens because the senses are boiling over. Through the eyes, 83 percent of all impressions enters our being and 14 percent enters through the ears. The remaining three percent enters through other sense organs. These impressions through the senses are so severe that they are perpetually at boiling rate; so our first lesson is to learn how to control the senses. When the senses are in control, only then will the mind be tranquil. When the mind is stilled, the intellect also becomes still, and the soul can have connection with the Oversoul. If you make three holes in a container, fill the container with muddy water, and then force air through the three holes, you will see that the water will churn and bubble. But, if you put a little alum in that water, it will become crystal clear and still. So, the alum of Naam will cut through the dirt of birth upon birth. In the Jap Ji Sahib, Guru Nanak says, "When the hands, feet, and body are besmeared, they are washed clean with water; When the clothes get dirty and polluted, they are cleansed with soap; When one's mind gets defiled with sin, it can be purified only by communion with Naam." He also says, "Naam has created Khand and Brahmand." Also, "The whole world was created by Naam, but without the Satguru there is no connection." Naam is the Power by which the whole of Creation came into being, and that Power's name is Naam. "Those Who became absorbed in Naam returned Home rejoicing; O Nanak, Their faces were radiant with freedom." Through these Radiant Souls, others gain freedom also. So, there is a vast difference between merely repeating the names of God and actually getting connected to the God Power.
By repeating the Naam, millions of suns will shine forth. But this does not happen by merely repeating His Name. In that Naam, which is the God Power, there is Music vibrating also; so, contact with Naam is proven by the experience of these two aspects of the God Power: Light and Sound. And, if the soul rides on that Naam, where will it be taken? Back to its own Source, the soul's source and the source of Naam. Understand that God Himself is Nameless; Naam is that Divine Link in each and every being. The nine hidden treasures of Amrit are the Name of the Lord; In this body does it reside. And the Giver of these nine hidden treasures is the Lord Himself, residing in the same form, the human body. When He makes inversion possible, the restless waves of mind are stilled and all is peace and calmness.
Why does the mind run around in outer things? Because it enjoys the taste of them. These enjoyments are mostly experienced through attractive sights and sounds: beauty, music, singing, etc.. Naam also has these attributes - beautiful sights and beautiful sounds; there is world upon world of beauty inside, of the very highest expression. The higher the plane, the more beauty there is - Suksham, Karan, and beyond. The Sound becomes more and more melodious. Seeing and hearing all this, the mind becomes attached to the higher expressions of life and ceases to desire the lower pursuits. When that taste comes, this taste is not to one's liking. So, first stop the outer waves, and you will get the inner taste of Naam, through which the mind will be stilled and the incessantly discriminating intellect will also be stilled. Out of this perfect stillness, the knowledge of self is revealed. When knowledge of the self is gained, then the subject of the Overself, what and Who He is, is taken up.
One Muslim fakir says, Close the eyes, ears, and mouth; If you thereby do not realize what God is, then you may laugh. In the Gurbani it is written, "He Who controls the ten senses (five outer and five inner) in His Soul is the True Light." The ten senses are the five organs of enjoyments - viz., eyes, ears, etc. - and five of knowledge through them. Whosoever controls them, so will the Light shine forth in him. Close off the outgoing faculties, withdraw inwardly to the still point at the seat of the soul, and you will see the Light of God. Because your attention is outgoing, always running away in outer expressions, you cannot see the Light within. Kabir Sahib says, "She who has forgotten herself in the nine outlets will never realize the priceless treasure." These nine outlets are those of the physical form: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, genital organ, and rectum. After suffering so much misery in the world, one begins to seek some safety and refuge; and when this true call comes out of the depths of the heart, God comes to the rescue. Gurumukh gives salvation to millions through the one and only Naam. Millions have been saved, which for Him is a simple matter; but when it happens to us, it is a magnificent event in our lives.
Naam has many names, although it is the One Power: Nad (Creator of fourteen regions), Udgit, Akash-bani, and various others; but the Masters have called it Naam or Shabd. The Muslim fakirs have called it Kalma, and they also say that through Kalma were the fourteen regions created. The Christians call it the "Word." Zoroaster named it Sarosha. But all these names denote the same Power which is the Truth, and the Satguru is that Personality in Whom Truth is personified. He has a physical form, but He has become the mouthpiece of the Lord. Naam is the Truth (Eternal), and the world is an untruth (changing). At present we cannot see that Naam unless we get a connection with It, but we can see the Satguru Who lives as we do in the world, but Who is Word made flesh and Who shows His sympathy and great mercy, and prepares us for emancipation from the worldly life.
So, take your place in the Satguru's Ship, the Ship which is made of that which the Satguru is made, the Ship which can take us across the treacherous ocean of life. Brahm speaks in the shadow of the human form, without which, how could He speak? There is God, and there is God manifested in the physical form, which are two things, but which are the same. That which is God manifested in man is the Satguru at Whose feet we may sit and receive the priceless connection with the holy Naam. It will take us across the ocean of life - drag us back to the Source - and is the only Power able to do so. Something like a powerful motor vessel, it is strong enough to ride any strength of wave which looms in the path. Those who have entered the Satguru's Ship have such a connection that can never sink in this world.
No physical or other fuel is necessary to drive this Ship - it is its own Power, driven automatically. Now don't start wondering what kind of Ship it is, what shape or model; this is merely a way to describe the Naam Power and Its functions. The Satguru Who is Naam personified does have a physical form, but at the same time He Himself is above it. He is not the body; He has a body.
Outer ships are run on coal, wood, oil, and sometimes electricity. Electricity is the lowest expression of Naam Power; soul is the highest, then prana (vital airs), then electricity. They are all actually lower degrees of the expression of Naam. The whole world runs on the same Power, but the soul can be connected directly to It and can return to the Source. Though God is Nameless, yet the soul can return to Him by contact with Naam or Shabd, by rising up above the senses, above the six centers, and being dragged on and beyond to the Source of all life, which is God.
Swami Ji Maharaj says, "Without the Shabd there is no way, no release from this earthen vessel." Imprisoned in the body, caught in the net of illusion, He says that only the Shabd can take us above all this. There are two kinds of Shabd: outer and inner. The former keeps us more firmly imprisoned in the world by singing holy songs and playing sacred music, etc. The inner Shabd is gained through the Guru. The yogi, after transcending the lower centers, comes up to the agya chakra and there contacts the Anhad Shabd (Perpetual Sound) and then goes ahead. Beyond this are other stages: Sar Shabd, Sat Shabd, and so on. We, as the image of the body, cannot rise above by our own efforts; but when the Guru gives a special sitting, He brings the soul above the senses and directly connects it to the Shabd Power, which is experienced in the two aspects of Light and Sound. From that moment on, the student is sustained by that Naam or Master Power.
What is the Truth? "O Nanak, consider a True Man as the Truth." A Person Who is True has become the Truth Itself; His name is the True Name. Any soul who comes in contact with Him will cross the ocean of life safely. Hafiz Sahib says, "No one knows where my Beloved's abode is; But yes, the Sound of the bell reaches us from there." We should catch hold of that and start our auspicious journey. The attention or soul has become one with the physical form, but the Guru separates it, that the God-into-Expression Power may be experienced. In the Ramayana, Tulsidas has highly praised the Naam. He says, "The Naam is beyond all my praise; Even Ram cannot sing its praises." Even Lord Rama cannot praise the Naam, for its attributes cannot be described in words. It is also said, "For ages have you wrangled in philosophy; But whatever was said, yet He remained that which He is." Rishis and Saints who have come have said that God is this, God is that - but the subject has never been completed. Those who praised Him got tired, and their song remained unfinished.
Beyond all explanation and description, Naam, though in each being, must be experienced by rising above the senses - the senses which, in their perpetual oscillation, are sinking us further and further into illusory oblivion. It is a man-problem; there is no question of caste, creed, or color. We all have the same malady: that of a drowning man. Those who succeeded in crossing this ocean all did so through one method only. This law has not changed so far, nor will it change in the future, for it existed before Creation began.
The God-realized People stand on the edge of the world and survey the scene with an all-encompassing eye; but the poor people who are being tossed about on the ocean of torment, what can they know of the true situation? Literate, illiterate, singers, lecturers, readers of the holy books - all are drifting in the sea of life. Lacking in realization, they have no knowledge of their futile condition. A sleeping man cannot awaken another; who will awaken those who sleep at the level of mind and senses? One can become learned through the help of a learned man, and a doctor can teach another medicine, an engineer can teach engineering, and so on. It follows naturally that only a God-realized Person can give an experience of the God Power.
He is now clearly stating who can cross this ocean of life. A Gurumukh is the mouthpiece of the Guru. He Who becomes a Gurumukh will never be a manmukh (mouthpiece of the mind) again. Guru Nanak's advice is to become a Gurumukh. The Guru has given you a berth on His Ship - go and occupy it, and make the utmost use of the golden opportunity. Whether awake or asleep, you are on that Ship; all trials and tribulations are the worry of the Captain (the Guru or Power that propels it). All difficulties can be removed or overcome with His help; each and every passenger is protected by His Power that is always overhead. We may at present be seen attached to money, children, property, and friends; but we will become attached to the Truth Itself. "This mind is one wherever it may be attached; Either in the Guru's bhakti, or in worldly enjoyments." To become attached to the Guru is like being near God, for truly God-realized Persons are not like mere so-called gurus. There is so much abundance of these in the world today - you can pick up a stone and find a guru, sant, or sadhu underneath.
We should seek enlightenment like Raja Janak sought from Ashtavakra: from a Personality Who can separate spirit from matter, give the soul contact with the Oversoul, and teach the secret of transcending the body, giving a first-hand experience of the science through opening the inner eye. That type of Personality can take one across the ocean of life. The Truth is already there within you; just withdraw yourself from outer things.
When Bulleh Shah went to Shah Inayat, Who was by worldly trade a gardener, he asked Him, "Master, how can we realize God?" Shah Inayat Sahib replied, "Just uproot it from here and plant it there." It means that one should withdraw from outside and concentrate inside. No matter who it may be, everyone must cross as a Gurumukh alone - no manmukh can cross the ocean of life safely. Guru Amar Das Ji has described a manmukh in this way: "He is a manmukh who has not recognized the Shabd; he has never known the fear of the Guru." Manmukhs are all those who are the mouthpiece of mind and senses: They have no contact with the inner Sound, and their consciousness remains always at the sense-level. Even if they happen to meet a God-realized Person, they have no respect, awe, or attraction toward Him. It makes no difference whether they are literate or illiterate.
Births and deaths, coming and going in the world, are all erased when we get the connection with Naam. Coming and going is finished when the Light is connected to the Light. Our Light - the soul - becomes connected to the All-Light, which is the Oversoul or God. Who can continue having a taste for worldly things when our attention enjoys the Nectar of the Lord? Our Light loses itself in that Light, and all inferior tastes gradually fade away. The Guru works in the world through the power of God's perpetual Light, which is in each one of us and which is brought out into stronger expression by the Guru. He is above the law of birth and death and is competent to release our souls from the same cycle.
In the first three stages, progress is very difficult; but by obeying the Guru one can cross these and reach the Fourth Stage where one attains the status of Gurumukh. From there one becomes the very image of Truth, with the Guru's help, because that drop which is our soul, when plunging into the Ocean of the Oversoul, becomes fully awakened in Him. But this cannot happen unless one first crosses the three stages below. When Lord Krishna unfolded the Gita to Arjuna, He told him, "O Arjuna, transcend the Three Attributes, for They are all regions of birth and death." What is this Gurumat which can take us above all this? The Gurbani describes two kinds of Gurumats, the first being outer and deals with ethical and social teachings for a righteous way of life; and each religion has its own methods. The inner Gurumat, however, is one for all. It also says in the Gurbani, "O Nanak, to unravel the Gurumat, become one with the All pervading Naam." The inner Gurumat starts with a connection to Naam. Man is a social being while dwelling here in the world, and correspondingly must live within some social formation or religion, and he should do so in a pure and chaste manner; but if he wants true spiritual progress, he should also sit at the feet of some Realized Soul and board the Ship of Naam.
The human form is likened to a basket in which the serpent-mind poisons in a thousand different ways, in a thousand forms of bad habits. We have, therefore, become very poisonous beings, forgetting our purity and correct understanding. When a snake bites, the senses become dull - the person does not know what he is doing; and this is our true condition. We can only be saved from the effects of this poison by throwing it out of our system. When we are receiving the due deserts of our own past actions, can we blame anyone else? "The blame I cannot pass to another; it rests with my own karmas." Another way of expressing the same thing is, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."
When one becomes a Gurumukh, one is truly capable of listening to the Guru's mantra. And what is the Guru's mantra? The Naam. By listening to Naam, you will enjoy the tranquility and the protection from poisoning; furthermore, the existing poison will leave the system. Free from poisonous traits, a man returns to his right senses. Go then and sit at the feet of a God-realized Person and hear His Garar. It is said that Lord Krishna overcame the hydra-headed serpent on the bed of the River Jumna with the sound of His flute. It is synonymous with the serpent-mind and the Naam Power.
In the Hindu caste system there are four main sections: warriors, teachers, those in service, and farmers and merchants. No matter what the caste, there is one message for all, and that is Naam. Hearing the Anhad Sound, the Perpetual Melody, the poison leaves and mind comes under control. There is no other way of controlling the mind, which is a gigantic obstruction between us and God.
Mind can also be compared to a crocodile which opens its mouth and swallows anything nearby. It eats up very big men, full of pride and self importance in their vast worldly knowledge. If there is a courageous person in this world, it is he who has killed his mind. What is there to boast of in killing lions, tigers, and so on? Really, he is courageous who catches the crocodile of mind by casting the hook of Naam, which is the panacea for control of the mind.
Man goes along in ignorance; and without the help of superior knowledge, by his own efforts, he wants to control his mind. How can he do it? He comes into the world crying and leaves it crying with so many regrets. "Alas, mind, where have you led me? - money , property, people." Enmeshed in the world where there is no peace - how can the soul make spiritual progress? So, go and get a fishing hook from some experienced Fisherman - One Who can give you the hook of Naam. Keep the company of God-realized People, for in that circle there is a charging, a radiation. Tulsi Sahib says, "His name is Satguru by seeing Whom the mind is stilled; Whoever meets Him is at once given connection with Naam." Swami Ji Maharaj says, "We know, O attention, that you have been unhappy since the day you deserted the Shabd and befriended the mind." If we want to reach a state of true happiness, we should begin by protecting our mind from the senses. All Masters recommend the same cure, although They express Themselves in different languages: that without the Gurumat the influence of mind remains, and so does the cycle of births and deaths. "Birth and death cannot be finished; the actions cannot be erased." Whatever actions you have performed must be faced and paid up.
Lord Krishna once asked King Dhritarashtra, "In which birth did you commit such sins as to warrant your present blindness?" The king said, "Through my yogic powers, I can go back one hundred births, and I have found nothing that would cause me to pay with blindness." But, Lord Krishna was the great Yogishwar of that age, and in one moment He made it possible for the king to see further back into the past, and there he found that one hundred and seven births back, he had done certain actions for which he had to pay with blindness. Just see how strong is the law of action and reaction! The only way of gaining freedom is to sit at the feet of a True Guru. There are many gurus, but very few with the right status. "O Guru of the whole world, what is your use if my karmas remain? What availeth the Iion's protection, if the jackals attack him?"
Brothers, take care not to violate the golden instructions from your Guru. Adopt non-violence, be truthful, save yourself from the degrading traits which drag you down. Protect your brahmcharya - lead a pure and clean life. Not even an impure thought should enter your head. Have no hatred or contempt for anyone; God is in every being and one should love all for His sake. Added to all this, do selfless service: make your life useful and be a help to others. While developing all these virtues, sit at the feet of some Realized Soul Who will take you above the senses and give you a contact with the God Power in you - the Perpetual Naam Power. Increase that contact daily, and though there be actions ahead, yet you will live through whatever destiny has decreed with flying colors. The soul's food is Naam, and your soul will gain strength, rendering the effects of karmic reactions powerless. Furthermore, through Naam practice the sanchit karmas which are stored up in your account will be burned-erased forever. This way a person becomes neh-karma (unaffected by karma), for seeds or grain once roasted will never sprout in the earth again.
Illusion started through I-hood or ego, for when the world was created, God implanted I-hood there. So, man is doing the actions and taking responsibility for them, thereby gaining their results - good or bad. However, by connection with the Shabd, man, who has been sleeping for birth after birth, will awaken. That Shabd is already within; It vibrates in every atom, but can be experienced only through the grace of the Satguru. He Who gives the contact is a Satguru Who can take one above all illusion and Negative control. For such achievement, this is the only path - the only way. It is an unchangeable law.
On the subject of Truth, Guru Nanak Sahib says also, "Before the Yug, yet was it Truth; Even now is it Truth - the Unchangeable Permanence." The Saints never say that salvation is only for those who are dead and gone, but rather it is for the living. Our Hazur used to say that the well-read in this life will be learned after death, but how can an illiterate man become a teacher by merely leaving this world and entering the next? Whatever one is now, so will one be when this life is finished. Merely passing a boundary does not change you. True knowledge, true freedom is life without ego - with no thought that one is the doer. This higher expression of life can only be lived when the inner eye is opened and one begins to see that God is doing everything. In this way, the devotee can become the conscious coworker of the Divine Plan, completely rid of all ego.
Freedom is not a matter of declaring oneself free; one must become the obeyer of orders and the knower also. Guru Nanak has also said, "O Nanak, he who obeys with awareness is not affected by ego; The world is tied with attachments and cannot discriminate. In ignorance manmukh has forgotten both birth and death; The Knower of Brahm has no attachment." The Realized Soul works in the world like other men but has no attachment in the world. The whole world is tied up in attachment, and will go on in this bound condition, for it is not awakened and cannot differentiate what is true from what is not true. At a blinding speed it is going headlong down, and must pay for all deeds; that is the law. Kabir Sahib says that all men are asleep. "Man awakens only when the hammer of death falls." When the end comes and the soul is leaving the body, then man begins to realize: "What have I done? What is happening?" But then it is too late; what can be done at that late hour? If while living he had learned about the Lord's ways - how to rise above the body consciousness and go into the other realms within - he would not have been in that ignorant position. As a conscious coworker of the Divine Plan, one's coming and going is finished; but as it stands at present one must pay the debts, which means coming again and again to the world. We eat the poison and lament over it, but we go on eating it.
You are so firmly attached to this house of the human body that it has become your religion, your God. You are not worried about leaving it one day, where you will go, what you will do. No one has ever lived in this world permanently and no one will in the future. All are lost men who never think of what kind of life they are living; but the same fate awaits everyone regardless, and that is the great final change called death. Such abundance of ignorance and forgetfulness is all due to not meeting a Master Soul, not becoming a Gurumukh. "With the Guru's protection, one is freed through absorption in the True Shabd." When the Guru raises the consciousness and opens the inner eye, the body is seen in its true perspective as just a mound of earth. "He Who gives the Sound that comes from above, He is my Gurudev." Guru Nanak also says, "He is a Satguru of the highest order Who can show the True Home in this house." It is also said that wherever the five Sounds are vibrating, that is the indication of the Shabd.
Tulsi Sahib says, "Four, eighteen, nine - reading this the Truth was lost. Without contact with the Shabd, he is like the chandool bird." Four,eighteen, nine: that is the four Vedas (basic Hindu scriptures), the eighteen Puranas (secondary Hindu scriptures), and the nine Vyakran (the sections of Sanskrit grammar, as well as knowledge of the shastras). The chandool is a bird which copies any sound he hears. The great Saint is indicating that no matter how deep the bookish knowledge may be, it is all wilderness; there is no way out. All the holy books say that God is within you, and that the soul is imprisoned in the mind and senses. The books also give the solution of rising above it all and contacting the Naam; but just reading about it is not sufficient. The Ship's Captain, the Guru, guides us across the ocean of life, and one day when we are immune to the effects of the worldly poison, we become as He is, realizing what He has realized. There is a great difference between a Saint and a touchstone; The touchstone turns iron into gold, but He makes us like Himself. Unlike the ordinary man, the Guru is free from mind, free from dominance of the senses, is not only connected to Naam, but has reached Anaam (the Nameless) and is the mouthpiece of God. The same potential is within us, but at present it lies invisible. "My Beloved is in each being, no place is without Him; But I worship that Form in which He is manifested." Man comes to the world starved and dies starved, for the soul and God, who both reside in the same house, do not meet each other - what a sorrowful state! God is not in books, although He is mentioned in them; He is, in fact, the very soul of our soul.
The body is like a cage; but if the cage becomes one of love, the soul will live on the Truth, the Elixir of Life, by connection with the Naam. The world is a two-edged sword, cutting in two whatever it falls upon; but when the sword of love descends, it binds the two in one. The very criterion of love is to absorb oneself into someone or something; so a lover is a true renouncer, renouncing all other thought save of that which he loves. He may be surrounded by thousands, but he is alone with his love. A man without love will never realize the Lord; so make this body a cage of love, and then talk. If no love is developed through outer practice, what is the use of it? Such practice is a mere performance of gymnastics. Unless we remember Him with tears, it is a dry remembrance; the remembrance that comes from a heart overflowing with love will bear fruit. The tenth Guru says, "Hear ye all, I tell you the Truth; God is realized by those who love." God is Love, and the soul is a drop of that very Essence, and is therefore also the image of love. What kind of love has he who boasts of loving the Lord but hates his brothers? Sheikh Farid says, "If you desire to meet the Beloved, injure not any heart." A true devotee of God will have no enmity toward any other being. Shamas Tabrez says, "Hundreds of years in prayer will not make you a namazi (true worshiper)." He in whom there is no love awakened cannot fathom the secrets of the Lord. So, live in a cage of love if you want to realize God, and that love will drag you to ward Him. Life will become an agony, a yearning, a restless lonely misery without Him, for love is a sea without a shore: there is no end to it, save in the all-encompassing absorption in Him when you give your whole life to Him.
How can this love be developed? It is not grown in fields or sold in shops. There are only two ways to develop love. One way is to sit beside One Who is love, from Whom you will catch an infection of that love. From life, so is life created. A glimpse of love can be seen only in a true lover's eye. These things are mentioned in books, but words cannot really express what lo ve is. The other way to develop love is through remembrance. If one loves someone, one cannot forget that person; his face is always before the vision, in the heart, in the mind, even vibrating in one's blood as it runs through the veins. One should remember Him so much that one can never forget Him, and that constant remembrance will drag one to Him.
The overpowering yearning to meet the Lord grows into a Oneness, a blending with Him. These are the stages of love. Kabir Sahib has explained it this way: if you go to a perfume vendor's shop, he may not give you any perfume but you will return home with some of the fragrance. However, if he gives a small bottle of that perfume, then? - Realized Souls are the true lovers of God, and we are the lovers of the world. A Gurumukh has forgotten himself so much so in the Lord that he has also completely forgotten the world.
The tongue of love is very sweet and full of humility. The sweet tongue of remembrance, imbued with humility, is the very basis of all virtues. The tongue of a Realized Soul is filled with sweetness; His heart is brimming over with the Nectar of Love. Out of the abundance of his heart, a man speaks, for the words are charged with whatever lies in the heart. Masters have love for everyone, and Their words are filled with love, and so have a particularly attractive quality. If the parrot talks in a cage of love, he eats and drinks the Naam; his soul leaves the body without effort, at will. If you sit in the Guru's company with single-pointed attention and listen to the inner Sound regularly, your soul will also withdraw without effort. When people complain that their mind is not stilled, it is due to lack of Love. "The True Lord can be realized through the Guru's bhakti, and with ease He will manifest." So, when you sit in meditation, forget the world and let the Guru alone be before you and you before Him - there should be nothing else. When our Muslim brothers sit for prayer, they spread a prayer mat in front of them to remind them that there is nothing between God and the devotee. Sit for practice in this way and you will not even be aware that you are withdrawing. This is the true way to realize God - to travel across the ocean of life.
There are various ways of separating spirit from matter - both difficult and easy. Prana Yoga and other yogas are difficult, especially in this age, for we are not fit for them nor capable enough. That is why the Masters have dispensed with those methods in this age. They saw that man does all the mundane things - eating, thinking,reading, writing, etc. - without any thought of prana or breathing, etc. All these things are going on automatically: the food is digested, the blood is circulated, the hair and nails are growing, and all this without our being conscious of it. So, the Masters considered that why should not God's work also be done without any thought of prana? To concentrate through the prana force, many difficult sadhnas must be performed, and during this present age man is not capable. Such practices are also very time consuming, taking many years, and in this age, man's life span is very short. So, the Masters left aside the prana-force and concentrated upon the attention, or spiritual current. Then They gave the extra boon of opening the inner eye, so that even a small child could do the sacred practice.
So, know that if you meet a True Guru, you have met the Lord. He is not only a Guru, but a Messenger from God, come to take you back to Him. Go wherever He leads you. If you obey Him, you will become what He is. If not, if your mind steps in and interferes, you will not be able to get anywhere near Him. Those who have met a Perfect Master are greatly blessed. Those who have not should go and search until they find one, for this is not a theoretical subject but one of practice - to rise above the mind and senses. The theory has its place, but it precedes the practice.
Some time before King Janak met Maharishi Ashtavakra, he held a holy gathering, and Yajnavalkya Rishi was the only one who stepped forward to give the king the desired information. But he could only explain the theory. In those days they were very honorable people; so he frankly admitted, "I know the theory of this spiritual science, but not the practice." King Janak called another gathering of holy men, and during this Maharishi Ashtavakra stepped forward and gave the king the practical experience.
Only an experienced Person can give an experience of higher knowledge. Outer practices and outer learning are not enough, although each and every one has his own mission in life, and my best wishes are with all sincere efforts in God's Name; but if one desires an experience of the Truth itself, it can only be experienced through One Who is experienced in the Truth. This law has ever been and ever will be.
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