-- What it is
THE ORIGIN OF RELIGION
The quest for the Immanent and All-powerful
Entity began when self-consciousness dawned on living creatures. The endless
limitations with which the Spirit finds itself surrounded, the insufficiency
and incompleteness on all sides, the utter helplessness in the face of
death, and in illness and suffering, all combine to stir up in man a longing
to find out the source of all life, all light, all happiness and all Bliss.
He seeks a power with which to combat all evil, fight the dark forces of
the negative power, chase away pain and misery, and be established with
unchangeable permanence in this ever-changing universe. He wants to find
the central permanent point, around which the eternal dance of creation
and destruction goes on ceaselessly.
The roots of all religions are to be found in the attempt of man, from age to age, to solve this mystery of duality: life and death, light and darkness, truth and untruth, opulence and poverty. Dissatisfied with his surroundings, he begins the eternal search anew and turns to the why and wherefore of things.
He now tries to find the substratum of life itself, the source from which the creative life-principle springs, which enlivens the body and the bodily adjuncts and activates everything around him. Once this question takes hold of a person, it never leaves him, and he plunges himself headlong into the problem and seeks to solve the mystery in whatever way he can. He begins his search first of all in the creeds and beliefs of the age and the surroundings in which he lives. But when all these fail to satisfy him and he discovers himself in the wilderness of different ideologies, conflicting theories, heterogeneous postulates and conclusions, he feels bewildered and helpless to chalk out for himself the Way-out. Next, he turns to the scriptures and religious texts for the solace of his mind, but here, too, he is confronted with insurmountable difficulties: want of knowledge of the archaic languages in which they are written, the subtlety of the subject, lack of practical men of realisation to give him their correct and true import.
The momentous quest now takes another turn. He breaks through all the barriers of age-old traditions and customs, social and ritualistic observances and accepted codes of conduct, so that he may discover the hidden light and the Power of God - the lost Word - something greater and more powerful than what he has experienced hitherto in the outer world. From the search without, he gradually withdraws his attention and begins to concentrate on the thought of self within. In this way he comes to distinguish between Religion and religiosity, or religious beliefs and practices, all of which are connected with the sensory plane only. The seeds of life lie in the depths of life itself--the spirit or the soul-- in every living thing, even plants and flowers.
Spirituality is concerned with the most vital problems of the Spirit alone-what it is, where it dwells, how it works, how it can be concentrated to dwell upon itself, how it can be separated from the folds of the body and mind, where it goes after death, how it can voluntarily be withdrawn from the sensory plane of the body, the specific journey that lies ahead, the various spiritual planes that it has to traverse, its ultimate goal, and many other topics of an allied nature connected with its well-being. This, then, is the religion of the soul, quite distinct and apart from the social and moral well-being of an individual, both of which depend on his spiritual well-being. A sound mind in a sound body is a well known aphorism, but a sound soul at the back of them both is of paramount importance, because mind and body live by the soul, the great dynamo or motor power, in the life and light of which both these adjuncts work.
This search for the true self, though full of mysteries, and with untold possibilities and immense spiritual treasures within (of which the saints sing in glorious terms), now attracts the attention of the seeker. It is purely a subjective matter and lies beyond the pale of reasoning and imagination. It is a 'Wisdom of the Beyond' (Para Vidya) and can be experienced by the soul in its pure nakedness, released from all the enshrouding sheaths.
We cannot but repeat the memorable words of Guru Nanak, in this context:
One cannot comprehend Him through reason, even if one reasoned for ages.Once convinced of the futility of all outer knowledge and wisdom, performances and observances, the search within becomes a passion with the sincere seeker after Truth, for self-realisation is a key to God-realisation. St. Augustine, once sitting on the seashore with his great work 'De Trinitate,' saw a child taking the sea water into a shell and pouring it into a hole he had made in the sand. Asked what he was doing, the child naively replied that he was trying to empty the ocean. The great sage explained to him the futility of all his endeavours, since it was an impossibility. Exactly the same is the position in the case of God-knowledge, for He, the Infinite, cannot be known by the finite individual trying to grasp Him at the level of the intellect. How can a part know the whole? Self, the basis of all conscious life, cannot be cognised by the conscious mind or intellect. A thing not based on Realities, cannot be real and cannot know the real. Even of the yogic methods as means to still the mind for self-realisation, Gaudpada, the famous forerunner of Patanjali (author of the yoga systems, thousands of years before), spoke about such efforts as strivings of a person to empty the ocean drop by drop with the tip of a blade of grass.
One cannot achieve inner peace by outward silence, though one sat dumb for ages;
One cannot buy contentment with all the riches of the world, nor reach Him
with all mental ingenuity:
How may one know the Truth and break through the cloud of falsehood?
There is a Way, O Nanak! to make His Will our own,
His Will which is already wrought in our existence. - Jap Ji, St.1
RELIGION: OUTER AND INNER
While physical sciences deal with and
impart knowledge of the physical, sensate world, ethical codes of conduct
are concerned with an individual as a member of society, and these codes
lay down rules of social relationship between the two. Spirituality, or
science of the spirit, tells us about the soul's evolution or unfoldment
(a process of liberating it from the various sheaths or coverings in which
it is clothed): its identical nature with God, and how it can be linked
with the Divine Reality, its very Source and Fountainhead, and achieve
its Godhood and be blessed forever.
The science of the Masters is an experimental science and, like any physical science, is capable of yielding results with mathematical accuracy. These results can very well be verified from the transformations that one can witness in the life of a man of sadhan (or one who practices spiritual discipline). It does not mean book-learning or accumulation of knowledge, but it means the coming into its own of the spirit, and its taking a new birth in cosmic awareness and rising into supramental or Super Consciousness. This realisation brings with it a blessed calmness and thereafter the immanence of God is always felt and the actual working of the Divine Will becomes manifest. Reason and intellect fail to comprehend the infinite Reality. Even after realisation, words but beggar one's attempt to describe the indescribable. This experimentation in Godhood can only be attempted and achieved in utter silence and stillness, both of the mind and the intellect, when like a revelation, His Light and Sound dawn upon the soul.
The knowledge of the world is far different from that of God. We are wholly engrossed in Apravidya and are totally ignorant of Paravidya (or knowledge of the Beyond). We make all possible efforts to rid ourselves of physical ailments, but have never even thought of the subtle maladies that afflict the inner self, or how low we are in the scale of human values, and how helplessly we drift along the current of life whether we wish it or not. We spend our entire life-span in eating, drinking and dozing, but care not a bit to know the substratum of the very life itself. Ever engaged as we are in the objective world, we cannot introvert and witness the glories of the world within.
A person who for seeing depends on his outer eyes, for hearing, on his ears, for talking, on his tongue, is in reality, not a living person but a dead one, a breathing bellows with no life in it. As God abides within, we must peep inside if we want to meet Him, to experience Him, and to have His blessings. God pervades everything in the form of Naam or Shabd, but we cannot hear His voice unless we turn away from the turmoil of the world and enter into the deep inner silence of the soul. As we go in and recede, we walk without feet, work without hands, see without eyes and hear without ears. Guru Nanak therefore said in this context: "There one sees, hears, walks, works and talks without outer physical organs, viz., eyes, ears, legs, hands and tongue, provided he learns to die while living. O Nanak, know His Will and meet the Beloved." (Majh War M.2). Gosain Tulsi Das in the Bal Kand of the Ramayana also affirmed the same thing.
To know God, one must first know himself. Self-knowledge is possible only with inversion, or turning the attention from outer pursuits and directing it within into the deep silence of the mind- technically called the Divine Ground, behind the center of the two eyebrows. It is then only that the spirit experiences Naam, the Over-spirit, or God-in-action, which is the summum bonum of all religious quests after the Great Unknown. Buddha asserts that it is possible to ascend to the greatest heights of Godhood only within ourselves. Schopenhauer, a great German philosopher, declared that the fountainhead of all peace and blessed calm can be experienced within oneself. Christ emphatically declared: "The kingdom of God is within you." In the Sikh Scriptures it is stated: "The precious waters of Immortality surge within one's very soul."
One can undertake this inward journey without leaving one's hearth and home, forsaking kith and kin, or abandoning one's calling and avocation in life. This grand pilgrimage of the soul can be performed in spite of worldly pursuits. All that is necessary is to get instruction from some living Master who holds the key to the Kingdom of God.
"O Nanak! follow strictly the injunctions of a perfect Master of putting you on the right Path, You shall then gain salvation happily while living the life of a householder in the midst of your family and friends" -- Gujri War M 5One need not leave the world and retire into the deep recesses of the forests to achieve this goal. The entire mystery can be resolved in the solitude of the mind.
"There is no greater sanctuary than that of one's soul." -- Basant Ramanamd M.5An aspirant can, by practice, still the mind, even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, and can, at will, retire into the silent chamber of the Divine Ground. Unless the mind is stilled, an abode in a forest or by the side of a stream cannot be of any avail.
"I am the Light of the world, and he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness
but shall have the Light of Life." - John 8:12
Scientists think that religion
is just a bundle of superstitious beliefs, and that a person without religion
can be as contented, peaceful and happy as one with religion. Atheists,
or those who do not believe in God, assert that religion is the opiate
of the people. Religious people, on the other hand, maintain that science
has, by the invention of deadly and diabolical instruments of destruction
and devastation, sown in the world dragons' teeth of discord, discontent
and disruption. Scientists admit that a person is a complex of body and
mind, and if one were to take care of the mind, the spirit, if any, would
take care of itself. They are skeptical, both of spirit and of God.
For the Master-Souls, spirit alone is the real entity, but it is entangled in the prison-house of body and mind. Their mission is to liberate the spirit from the various sheaths in which it is enshrouded and to link it up with the Word, or God-in-action (Holy Ghost), about which they have personal experiences. This evolution of the spirit is real salvation, but very few understand the true significance of it. Some feel that it consists just in petrifaction, while others think that it amounts to nihilism or atheism, i.e., denial of all existence and rejection of all moral and religious beliefs. But each of these conceptions is far from the truth. In fact, mind stands as a connecting link between body and bodily relations, and this linking up is bondage; while breaking asunder of this relationship is called salvation. The primary step in this direction is Gurbhakti, or devotion to a living Master, and the next, is practice of Naam or Word, which ultimately leads to Sach Khand or Muqam-i-Haq (the abode of Truth). "O Hafiz! the Paradise or Heaven is our birthright and a heritage."
If one were to consider deeply and earnestly the advantages and limitations of both science and religion, one would find a close connection between the two. Environments exert a two-fold influence on all living objects, external as well as internal, both of which are universal in character. Man is endowed with intellect, reason and discrimination (which thee rest of the creation lacks), by which he is able to control his environment. A person remains happy so long as there is harmony between his internal and external relations. If things shape themselves as one wishes, one feels contented and happy. Experience shows that this state of harmony between the ever-wishful man and his environment is not static and does not last long. On the contrary, both of these are ever-changing.
It has ever been the endeavour of man to find a way that may assure a state of perfect and unchangeable harmony between himself and his environment. One way is to control the conditions without to an extent that may satisfy the needs of a person, whatever these may be. The other way is to regulate one's inner urges and inborn instincts in such a Way as to develop an utter indifference to the ever shifting environment without, so that one does not react to the influx of changing conditions in which all things are. The former effort is scientific in nature, while the latter is purely religious.
The realm of science extends from electrons to the stars. It embraces in its fold all objects of the world that can influence human feelings and emotions; in fact everything that is capable of being, comprehended by the senses. The inner world, on the other hand, is entirely different and unique in character. Our motor and sensory organs, which work so admirably in the material world, cannot invert easily and take stock of the mental world within. This inner, world is full of immense possibilities and untold treasures of spirituality, all of which lie within one's reach and grasp, if one could but know how to enter into one's own self.
Again, there are the relative values and measures of quantity in material objects. For instance, two halves of a loaf of bread go to make one whole loaf, but two half-wits cannot make one wise man. Further, we have instruments and implements that help us in material investigations, and the conclusions arrived at in the course of our experiments are verifiable in actual practice. These are some of the facts that contribute to the importance of scientific truths. Every day scientific experiments are being performed, and will continue to be performed indefinitely. What is true today may not be so tomorrow. But that is not the case with religion. Truth is Truth, ever the same, and shall be Truth always. It guarantees perpetual happiness and everlasting bliss by regulating the inborn instincts and the native urges of the mind, rendering it unmindful of the changing conditions without.
The path of religion is strewn with many impediments. All persons, including saints, are mortal, and after they leave the physical plane, their followers, in their blind enthusiasm, introduce and interpolate into their teachings things which they never uttered or, at least, they never meant. So-called philosophical treatises are so full of distortions and apparent conflict with each other that one feels as though lost in a wilderness.
In order that one may reach the spiritual heights of a Master-soul, one must, according to his instructions, enter into the laboratory of one's own body and carry on the experiments therein. Again, the results achieved may differ from one individual to another, owing to the separate make-up and background in each case. The conclusions thus reached and the time taken in each are therefore, of a purely personal nature and not of a universal kind, as in science. It is because of this that we cannot possibly have an experience of spiritual life, from the different types of worship conducted in temples and mosques, churches and synagogues, or from the sacred scriptures of various religions. A living Master, who has successfully transcended the body and the mind, and who has an actual experience of the naked Reality beyond all limitations and barriers, can tell us something solid of the Great Truth. By personal guidance and instruction, He can help in the withdrawal of the spirit from the physical and mental shackles and bring within one's actual experience that which He has experienced.
What a man has done, a man can do, with, of course, proper guidance and help. The Master's personal contact, His thought transference, His charged words and magnetized personality, all go a long way in the transformation of individual souls. Whoever comes and remains within the personal aura of a Master, is electrified and attuned to the Infinite Energy with which He is possessed and which He emits, transmits and injects into the aspirants. This benefit can also be had even from thousands of miles, if one develops receptivity with such a Master.
Life-impulse comes from life, and light from light, both in the physical and spiritual worlds alike. The technique of religion, too, is subject to certain fundamental laws, the same as is the technique of science, but with this difference only, that we are as yet unaware of the former, as we have paid but scant attention to it and cannot therefore harness it to our advantage. Purity of life and highly ethical conduct in thoughts, words and deeds is the prerequisite for a sadhu or an aspirant for the spiritual path. Mind has to be stilled, after freeing it from all kinds of outer disturbances, inner lures and urges, and environmental glamour or worries. Just as in the case of a scientific experiment, one has to enter a laboratory and see that all the instruments are thoroughly neat and clean, and properly sterilized. And again, before beginning the operation, all the doors and windows are closed, so that he may carry on his work undisturbed from outer influences, and with undivided attention.
It is a matter of common experience that people take pride in scrupulously following age-old customs and keeping up ancient traditions blindly, little knowing that out-of-date coins, however precious and of historical importance and archeological interest they may be, have to be melted in the red-hot furnace, minted afresh, before passing them as current coins for fresh circulation in the market. In the twentieth century, it is of paramount importance to prune off the unnecessary accretions that have, in course of time, gathered around the eternal spiritual truths. We should free them from the encrusted dust of ages that has settled on them, and present them afresh to the public in a positive and readily acceptable form as current coins of the time.
The present-day prejudices, internecine jealousies and narrow-minded bigotries that we see in the various religious bodies, were never intended by their founders. Such evils are purely of a later growth, due to extraneous influences of the zealous exponents, fierce commentators and controversialists, who twist and torture simple fundamental truths to suit their own ends and gain cheap peshwarship (leadership) that may bring them name, fame, pelf and power. The ancient wine of spirituality has, therefore, to be delved out from the old forgotten cellars and presented to tipplers in new bottles that may appeal to their imagination, so that they take it readily and willingly to quench their spiritual thirst, without any labels or brands.
IDOL-WORSHIP AND GOD-WORSHIP
Man is a compound of body and soul.
To the extent that a person has a material body, he is governed by the
laws of matter (e.g., gravity, cohesion, impermeability, conductivity,
etc.); and to the extent that he is an animal being he is governed by organic
laws (e.g., nutrition, growth, development, self-propagation, etc.). Again,
he is a conscious entity or a sentient being and, as such, the laws of
consciousness (e.g., producing a sense of hunger, thirst, discomfort and
self development) are also applicable to him, and he works for a happy,
carefree and comfortable living. So long as a person is attached to material
things and material comforts, he is subject to suffering and pain; but
when he submits himself to the organic laws of the soul, he becomes blessed
and happy. Kabir Sahib, there, says: "The embodied soul is never restful
and blessed. For man, wheresoever he may be, there is ever discomfort and
distress." Lord Buddha also declared that the physical life is all
misery. Nanak saw the entire world writhing invisible flames.
Idolatry consists in paying all attention to the nourishment and ornamentation of the physical body; but beautifying the soul and linking it with God is God-worship indeed. Woe be to us who are utterly ignorant of the living spirit in the body and how it can be decked, dressed and embellished. The physical body is the veritable home, and spirit is the indweller therein. In the fitness of things, one must first unearth the spirit and purify it, before cleansing the body. What does it profit a person to sweep the house, keep it neat and clean and embellish it with all sorts of decorations, only to keep the indweller, or the soul, famine-stricken?
Having forgotten our innate nature of God-hood, we have completely identified our self with the body, and always think, speak and act in terms of the body and bodily conditions and relations. When the very existence of the body depends on the spirit (or the life spark) in it, we must take care of the latter, think of It, and give It timely food to keep It healthy and strong, for on Its health and strength depend the glory and dignity of the body. The ever-changing body, which is subject to decay and death, may be looked after, just to keep it fit and going, as with any other vehicle of self-expression. But it should not be pampered and doted upon, so as to lose all thought of the self-enlivening life-flame in the body, the motor force that quickens the inert matter with life. Without that power it has no value at all and is considered fit to be consigned either to the flames or to the graveyard.
We must not forget that we are in reality sparks of Godhood, quite distinct from the material house in which we sojourn for the time being. It behooves us all to learn all about this Life Impulse surging through the entire creation, the Fountainhead or the Source of this life stream, and how we can reach the same and attain eternal peace and happiness, which is our heritage and our birthright. The great lesson of life can only be learnt from a Master-soul. Its alpha and beta begin with the voluntary withdrawal of the sensory current in the body, until a state of detachment is achieved by concentration at the seat of the soul; behind the center of the two eyebrows, called eye-focus or TiI. All this can be done only through the Grace of some perfect living Master-an adept, not only in the theory but also in the practice of the Science of Soul, who is capable of bringing the soul above the body consciousness and making others share His own experiences.
"Some Godly person may link us with God." -Jaitsari M,5When once the spirit is linked with divinity and engrafted in God, it gradually takes roots in its Native Soil, acquires and develops its natural attributes from the Divine Ground on which it grows and thrives from day to day. This is called by all the sages in the East and the West, taking a second birth, or being born anew, as Christ puts it. The incorruptible seeds of this spiritual birth are sown by some God-man when we live up to him and scrupulously follow his instructions, which in technical parlance is called Satsang, or company with Sat, the great Unchangeable Permanence in the midst of ever changing panorama of life and the kaleidoscopic universe in which we live.
"Blessed is the body in which the spirit dwells in union with her divine current;Again:
The true Beloved grants her eternal life, and one always lives in communion
with the Master's Word." --Suhi M.3
"A Master's devotee delves deep into the body and regards all elseOnce a spirit becomes aware of its native Godhood, and is dyed in the Divine colour, it becomes freed from the bondage of the world and forever escapes from the cycle of births and deaths. But all this comes not from learning, knowledge or cunning devices, but only from the grace of some Master-soul or God-man, who is competent to give an ingress into the Beyond by practical self-analysis.
as a mere delusion;
He alone finds the crest jewel who has been so ordained, for cleverness
is of no avail,
Blessed is the body that engages in the service of the Master,
the True One having made it,
Without communion with Word, there is no freedom from the wiles of Kal,
O Nanak! he glorifies the Word, on whom God showers His mercy and grace."
- Suhi M.3