A talk given by Sant Kirpal Singh at Sawan Ashram, New Delhi, India
The purpose of human life
Man is in search of happiness but has no peace of mind. Even if he succeeds in achieving his objectives, he remains dissatisfied. His search for peace and happiness, therefore, never ends. Saint Augustine says that God gave us the senses for using them properly, but we misuse them by indulging in sensual pleasures; whereas the bliss for which we should have striven remains enshrined in scriptures only.
Man is an ensouled entity gifted with body, mind, and intellect. He takes good care of his body for the sake of his domestic, social, and political well-being. Intellectually, he has made strident advances. He has successfully explored the earth, oceans, and space and has made atomic bombs. A single atom bomb can destroy millions. Strangely enough, with all his achievements he remains ignorant about the prime source of energy from which his body and mind derive their strength – soul – his true self. He has so much identified himself with the body that he is unable to distinguish his soul from the body.
Soul is a conscious entity. Just as any essence has its basic source, soul too has an ultimate source – the Oversoul – a vast ocean of All-Consciousness. The entire universe is His manifestation. The soul is identified with the material body by constant association with the senses. Man does not know that he can have true happiness only when he is able to disfranchise the self in him from the outer vestures. He is so much entangled with the mind and body that he ever remains unhappy and restless. Soul being conscious and body being material, these cannot coexist amiably.
We pretend to be religious by reading the scriptures without knowing their true import and by offering ceremonial prayers at the places of worship. All that we worship is physical health and worldly riches. We aspire for material well-being and not for God-realization. It is said that once Majnu, a legendary lover, was told that God wished to see him. Majnu replied if that was so, God must come in the form of Lila, his beloved. Most of us offer our prayers to God only because we want to fulfil our worldly ambitions. We seek God‘s blessings to become physical and intellectual giants. Thus, to us, God is only a means to worldly ends. Consequently, we get only that we crave for; i.e., the material world and not God.
To know God we must first know ourselves. From time immemorial many have tried to define God philosophically. But He remains undefined as ever. God cannot be realized by the body or intellect or senses. He can only be experienced by the soul. Unless we know ourselves, the question of knowing God does not arise. Thus, the first step in this direction is self-knowledge which precedes God-knowledge. „Know thyself “ has been the call of Saints and sages. Guru Nanak was once asked by a Muslim holy man to define His faith. The Guru replied that He neither claimed to be a Hindu nor a Muslim in the ordinary sense. He explained that His body was Composed of five elements – ether, earth, fire, water, and air – and the God Power was pulsating in Him.
Hazur (Baba Sawan Singh Ji)was once asked as to which religion He belonged. He replied: ‚If God is Hindu, I am a Hindu; if He is Sikh, I am a Sikh; if He is Muslim, I am a Muslim; if He is a Christian, then I am a Christian.“
All religions are man-made. God has not put a stamp of religion on anyone. To know the Controlling Power of the universe, it is inevitable and essential to „know thyself,“ as Christ has put it. Guru Nanak has also said: „Until and unless one analyses one‘s self, it is not possible to shed delusion and realize the Reality.“ Unless your Third Eye is opened, you cannot realize God.
How various Saints have solved the mystery of life is the subject for today. The fact is that Truth is one, but the ways of expression may be different. Our ideal is Truth. Let us see what Swami Ji has to say on the subject: „Link your soul with Naam.“ We are advised to connect our soul with the Word. It implies that our attention is presently linked with something other than the Word. What is meant by attention? It is consciousness, a state of awakening or awareness. We may call it attention, spirit, or soul. It is this life current emanating from our self (soul) which acts as a driving force within us. Swami Ji asks us to link this current with the Word. Now, where is the source of these currents? It is at the seat of the soul between the two eyebrows. What happens at the time of death? Life withdraws from the feet and rises to the back of the eyes. The power which is concentrated behind the eyes is our real self. After that power is withdrawn, the body is of no significance. This is the most important and mostly ignored subject. In order to probe further into this subject, one has to realize that soul is an entity distinct from the body. We have to learn and practice to withdraw the soul currents from lower centres of the body to the eye focus. This process is similar to the one undergone by the soul at the time of one‘s physical death. We have to rise above body-consciousness. The theoretical knowledge of this process is not enough. The practice is far more important. An ounce of practice is more than tons of theory.
So we have to link our soul with the Word. Let us now consider what the Word (Naam) signifies. The Word has two aspects. One is an epithet and the other is that ultimate Power to which the epithet refers. For example, water itself is one thing, but it is referred to by many names; e.g., water, aqua, H20, etc. Similarly, Truth is one; but sages have described it in various ways. Guru Nanak says: „I want to sacrifice myself on all Thy Names, 0 Lord.“ Guru Gobind Singh (the tenth Sikh Guru) compiled hundreds of Names of God in His work „Jaap Sahib.“ These Names are in addition to those already mentioned in the various scriptures. Despite hundreds of Names, God is one. Similarly, there are many religions; but their goal is one.
We have to understand the God Power with the help of spoken Names. This is our first step. Though the name is not different from the Named, yet it seems so until the Named is actually contacted. A person tastes a mango and declares that it is sweet. But one who has neither seen a mango nor tasted sugar, cannot know how sweet it is. Thus, to realize God is of utmost importance. We have to make a beginning with spoken Names. It is unfortunate that people quarrel over the different Names of God as given by the founders of the various religions. All the Names refer to the supreme Lord; and, as such, They all deserve our respect. The real thing is the Power-of-God to which these Names refer. That Power is eternal Truth. It is One, will ever remain One, and is called Naam or the Word.
The Word is the source of the entire creation and can be experienced only with the help of a Satguru (true Master). Guru Nanak has explained this point lucidly in the Jap Ji: „Whatever has come into being is the creation of the Word.“ The Word is the Power that exists in the minutest speck in the universe. That is the Divine Link that connects the body with the soul. When this Link breaks, it brings about physical death. It is the same Link which sustains the universe and higher spiritual planes. When this Divine Link is withdrawn, there is total dissolution.
Now, the question arises, if we are connected with the Divine Link, which is the point in the body at which the two meet? Guru Nanak tells us that the Word can be contacted after one transcends the six chakras (ganglionic centres) and has reached the Agyay chakra (behind and between the two eyebrows). The Divine link can be established only there and not anywhere else in the body. Rishi Patanjali as also other past Saints have explained this process. When one reaches the Agyay chakra after rising above the six lower chakras, one is connected with the celestial Sound Current, the Anhat sound, and merges into Sahasrar, the first spiritual plane. The Anhat sound is the Divine Link; it is the Word, or the Divine Power, which is manifested in every human being. This is the primary source of all existence. Naam (the Word), says Gurbani, is invisible, unfathomable, limitless, and sweet beyond description. It has an everlasting divine intoxication and bliss. Whosoever experiences it forgets all worldly pleasures. The soul is a drop of the Ocean of All-Consciousness but is covered by numerous sheaths of body, mind, and senses. So long as a man is engrossed in the material world, he remains unaware of the Divine Naam within him.
What does the Naam signify? According to Gurbani, communion with Naam opens within a grand vista of Divine Light – the Light of God. Naam also refers to the Sound Principle – the Sound of unabounding joy. Thus, there are two expressions of Naam – the God Power – Light and Sound. In the Vedas, Naam has been described as Udgeet or Naad – the music of the Beyond. According to the Vedas, Naad has created fourteen spheres.
Muslim sages call it the Kalma. They also believe that the Kalma has created fourteen tabaks (spheres). Maulana Rumi once prayed: „0 God, lead me to the place where the conversation goes on without words.“ Christ says: „In the beginning was the Word, Word was with God and Word was God.“ The Gurbani says: „Naam has created the earth and the heaven. All light has emanated from Naam. All creation has come into being from Naam which is resounding in all human beings.“
The Word was there even before the universe came into being. The Word is thus the source of all creation.
Saints of all the religions have expressed parallel thoughts on the subject: “The Word has been the source of salvation to human beings during all the four Yugas.” Gurbani God is Wordless, Nameless, and beyond description. When He came into being, it was called Naam, the Word. the Light-Sound Principle. One who communes with Naam is able to establish contact with God. Hafiz Sahib, a great Persian mystic poet, says: „No one knows the abode of the Beloved, but it is certain that sound of bells comes from there.“ If you follow the strain of sound, you will reach its source. Thus, the Word – Light and Sound – is the safest means to the end – the way back to God. To get in contact with the Divine Light, one has to rise above body-consciousness by self-analysis. Only then a contact with the Divine Sound is possible. By contacting Naam one gets peace and eternal bliss. „Blessed are they who are linked with the Word, 0 Nanak! Whosoever listens to the eternal music attains salvation.“ Gurbani
People generally get lost in various Names of God. The whole world talks of Naam, but there are only a few who know the real significance of Naam. It is a practical subject. Unless we realize ourselves by rising above body-consciousness, the soul cannot establish contact with the Oversoul. We have, therefore, to link our soul with Naam: „Those who have communed with the Word, their toils shall end; Not only shall they have salvation, O Nanak, but many more shall find freedom with them.“ The Jap Ji
Again we have in Gurbani: „A Gurumukh (beloved of the Master) can liberate millions of souls by imparting just a particle of His life impulse.“ Gurbani
Emerson says: „The keynote to success is one‘s own thoughts.“ To make a mark in any walk of life, you have to concentrate your attention on that particular aspect. Similarly, if you concentrate your attention on Overself, you will become spiritually great. Bulleh Shah, a Muslim Saint, inquired from His spiritual guide as to how one could find God? The guide replied: „It is as easy as withdrawing the attention from here (world) and connecting it there (the Word). Our ‚very self ‘ is our attention. We are soul and not the body, but we are engrossed in our bodies. Swami Ji tells us: „Let any one of us connect his attention with the Word. This body and wealth will not be of any help when confronted with the negative power.“
The human body is the soul‘s first companion. It comes first with the soul when the child is born. But even this companion leaves us at the time of death, not to mention other worldly associations acquired by us. Our own being, having constant attachment with the physical world, has fallen to the latter‘s level. As a result, we have to come to this mortal world again and again. Gurbani says: „Soul goes where there is attachment.“
If we are able to analyze the self in our lifetime and learn to rise above body-consciousness by getting a higher contact with Naam, we experience such a bliss as to forget all worldly pleasures and attachments: „Worldly pleasures are nowhere before the Divide Bliss.“ Gurbani
That is why Saints have taught: “O friend, give up the insipid sensual pleasures, and drink the sweet elixir of Naam.“ Gurbani
When one gets a taste of the real bliss, the pleasures become insipid. The real bliss is either within our inner being or in Naam – God-into-action Power – since the soul is its essence. The soul is a spark of the Divine Essence. It is bliss in itself, and it is a conscious entity. It is the soul which is the source of all bliss and not the body and worldly things. Saints have warned us that worldly objects, in which our attention is engrossed, are not going to be of real help to us. Not only that all these worldly objects will stay back at the time of death, but their constant attachment will bring the soul back again and again to this world. „What does it profit a man to gain possession of the whole world and to lose one‘s own soul.“ The soul resides in this house (body). it has to go out of this mortal frame leaving everything behind. When the time comes to vacate this body, one is greatly distressed because of man‘s attachment to the body. Repenting then is of no avail. If during one‘s lifetime the soul establishes a contact with the Beyond, it attains perfect peace. But, we never think of the world beyond. We generally follow the maxim: „Eat, drink, and be merry.“ If someone reminds us of death, we just ignore it by saying that we will face it when it comes. This is not a wise approach. If a pigeon closes its eyes at the sight of a cat, the cat is not going to spare it. Everyone has to leave the body. There is no exception to the rule.
„Emperors or kings, rich or poor, All have but to go in their turn.“ Gurbani
We all have to go, but we do not know when. We should be prepared for the change. Are we? „Everyone is scared of death and wishes to live till eternity; With Guru‘s Grace, if one learns to die while alive, one can become a conscious co-worker of the Lord. Whosoever so dies, gets salvation.“ Gurbani
If you learn to die by rising above body-consciousness, you will attain life everlasting. All Saints tell us that God has bestowed us with three forms: physical, astral, and supra mental or causal. We are already active at the physical plane (Pind) through the senses. After leaving the physical body, the soul acquires the astral form. With the astral senses, it can traverse the astral plane (And). Similarly, after attaining supra mental form the soul can enter into the causal plane (Brahmand). It is beyond these three planes that the soul gets self-knowledge. It is only at that stage that you will be able to know who you really are. Swami Ji says: „This is the most opportune time to attain peaceful bliss by avoiding the fire of ceaseless desires.“ The world is being consumed by invisible flames of fire. Guru Nanak has prayed: „This is the fire of desires that has spread all over.“ Although we are its victims, we are unable to perceive it. Only Saints know the real magnitude of this fire. Yet only human life is capable of getting away from this blazing furnace. That is why human life is considered to be the crown of creation. But without sincere effort in the right direction, there can be no salvation. For instance, if we have to avoid scorching heat, we have to find shelter in an air-conditioned room. In our context, the air-conditioned room is within us. We shall have to withdraw from outside and enter into it to find blissful solace from all the miseries of the world. This is high time that we introvert ourselves. If we miss this God-given opportunity, we are no better than beasts. The human body has a worth so long as the soul dwells in it. We should make the most of it while it lasts.
Man is enveloped by flames of passionate desires, anger, greed, attachment, and vanity. One can escape himself from delusion only by contacting the Word within. The most important task before us, therefore, is to withdraw our attention from outside and get attuned with the Divine Melody within. Then comes eternal peace in the form of the Word. Whosoever has accomplished this essential task is really successful in life. Otherwise, any amount of learning, name, and fame have no real meaning. It is high time that we learn to rise above body-consciousness and know the real self in us.
„Contemplate the form of Satguru, and serve Him true, and He shall lead thee away from all harm.“ Swami Ji Swami Ji now tells us how to link the soul with the Naam Power. He says that three steps should be taken to rise above body-consciousness. First is Simran (contemplation) – continuous remembrance of the Almighty. Second, service to the Master. Third, control of all desires. We are always busy in contemplating worldly affairs. If we have to establish contact with the Word of God, we must first constantly remember Him by any Name of our choice. This should be our first and foremost ideal by inculcating the habit of His contemplation every moment of our life. We have to replace worldly thoughts by contemplating the Word.
Contemplate on Him alone ceaselessly; so much so that you begin to feel the pangs of His separation. Thus, the first step is His remembrance. Remembrance leads to love which, in turn, results in pangs of separation. This creates a strong urge for the Beloved. „Only One to remember and to sigh for; sing ceaselessly His praise alone. Meditate on Him with all the love in thee.“ Gurbani
Simran should be undertaken with an intense love for God. Love brings concentration. One forgets the whole world while contemplating one‘s beloved. Another purpose of Simran is to identify the soul with its real form. Yet another aim of Simran is to enable the self to know itself. As it is, the soul is completely identified with the physical body. It has to be withdrawn from the body and concentrated at its seat in the centre of the eyebrows. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says that Great Ones traverse into the cave starting from a place above the nose. There are various methods of doing Simran – with the help of a rosary, or with tongue, or in throat and heart. However, Saints do not advise these methods as these are apt to become mechanical and allow the mind to wander away. Thus, concentration of attention through those methods may not be possible. Saints have, therefore, advised the practice of Simran with the tongue of thought. All Saints, including Maulana Rumi, Guru Arjan, and Swami Ji, have indicated this Spiritual Path. Guru Arjan prayed: „O Saints, take pity on us; we have yet to learn to serve our souls. „
We are working on the mental and sensual planes. Until we learn to rise above body-consciousness, our plight remains unchanged. Yogis tried to control breathing through Kumbhak to achieve concentration of attention. It is a difficult process and everyone cannot practice it. Saints, therefore, do not interfere with the breathing function. They concentrate Their attention at the seat of the soul, behind and in the center of the two eyes, by means of Simran with the tongue of thought. If it is done with rapt attention, the soul will cease to flow out through the body pores. The body will then become senseless. It is only then that the concentrated soul gets the contact of God.
However, Simran with the tongue of thought is not as easy as it appears to be. It can be accomplished successfully only through the blessings of a competent Master. Now, there is a difference between practicing Simran by repeating the Names given by a competent Master and the name or names taken out of scripture of one‘s religious belief. The Names given by a competent living Master at the time of initiation are charged with His thought transference and have tremendous force in them. This type of Simran, therefore, is above all other forms of Simran. The Vedas and other scriptures have stated that in order to seek God, one must seek the guidance of a true Master. Besides giving the charged Names, the Master also gives a practical contact with the Divine Power. Now, the question is how to get that competent guidance?
Swami Ji tells us to serve the Master; One can serve the Master in many ways – physically, financially, intellectually, and spiritually. One should lead a chaste and clean life. Keep the body ever engaged in selfless service. This is a physical service. As for monetary service, spend a part of your income for charity. After fulfilling your family requirements, you must keep aside a part of your earnings in the name of God. This is a duty one must not neglect. Service by heart and mind means love for all, hated for none, and observance of Truth. The service of the soul is of the highest order. To do this one has to rise above body-consciousness and to open the inner eye. Hazur used to say that a Master may keep a servant or two to serve Him. He does not need our services in the normal sense. If we only obey His commandments, keep our lives chaste and pure, we not only serve the Master but also our own „self.“ The Master loves them most who serve their own souls and lead a pious life. So, Swami Ji exhorts us to imbibe the feeling of service and to refrain from sensual desires. All desires are included in sensuality. The observance of celibacy is most important. Just as light and darkness cannot stay together, the Word and sensual desires are not compatible. Therefore, we must observe celibacy. Married people need not despair. They ought to live a disciplined life in accordance with the scriptures where marital relations are permitted only for procreation. Grihastashram (family system) is a great institution. Most Saints or great souls (mahatmas) were householders and fulfilled their family obligations. Hazur has said that those who wish to bring up their children pure and chaste should themselves become so. Children tend to emulate their parents. Swami Ji thus asks us to take three steps if we want to rise above body-consciousness and to get in contact with Naam: to practice Simran, to serve Satguru, and to lead a chaste life. Swami Ji says that you can have a taste of the Divine Nectar with the help of a true Master only after you have brought your mind and sensual desires under control. At present, the soul is flowing out through the senses. Discipline your senses and keep your mind steady. You will then know who you are. When you have realized yourself, only then the question of realizing the Overself will arise. Those who have disciplined their senses can free themselves from the influence of enemies like lust, anger, greed, attachment, and vanity. These five deadly enemies attack us through the five senses. You can escape their fatal attacks if you rise above body-consciousness.
The Upanishads state: „The soul is riding a chariot of the body driven by horses of the senses with the mind as its reins and the intellect as its driver in the field of sensual pleasures.“ Swami Ji, therefore, stresses the need to discipline the senses and the mind. When this is done and the soul rises above body-consciousness, the Master is there inside to offer the Divine Elixir of Naam. Now, are these teachings meant for any particular sect? The teachings of all great souls are meant for the entire humanity and not for the followers of any particular religion.
Hazur used to say: „Go to the door where Satguru, full of compassion and mercy, is waiting to receive you.“ Which is that door? This door is in the center and behind your two eyebrows. Once the soul gets in opportunity of testing [an opportunity of tasting ?] the elixir of Naam, it has a starting point for its spiritual journey to the ultimate destination. Moreover, this will bring about freedom from the dragnet of the mind.
Mind is a tremendous hurdle on the Spiritual Path. The world at large has always been its victim. Even Mahatmas and Rishis (great souls) in the past who tried various methods to control the mind often succumbed at some stage to its powerful impact. So, we have to control the mind. How can it be done? The mind cannot be controlled by outer pursuits like learning or studying the scriptures. Even if it is under check for a while, it again goes out of control, for it is always after sensual pleasures. There are mainly two types of attractions for the mind – beautiful things to look at and sweet melodies to hear. Just now, if you happen to hear melodious music, your attention will be diverted to it. The only way to keep it under control is to link it with Naam that has both these attractions. At various spiritual planes within, you have wonderful visions to see and also enchanting melodies to hear. When the mind has a more fascinating experience within than it has outside, it is automatically subdued.
Thus, only by establishing contact with Naam one becomes desireless. According to a parable, once Lord Krishna plunged into the river Yamuna where a thousand-headed cobra used to live. Lord Krishna performed a dance on the cobra‘s head to the tune of His favorite flute and subdued the deadly snake. What does the parable signify? The thousand-headed cobra is the mind itself. The mind poisons us in innumerable ways. By attuning to the Celestial Sound Current within, mind can be subdued. There is no other remedy. A Muslim mystic has said that if you have firmly resolved to reach God, put one step on your mind and your second step will be in God‘s court.
Swami Ji now advises us to give up procrastination and to start meditation without delay. Sehaj Yoga, the path shown by Saints, has three aspects: Simran, meditation, and catching the Celestial Sound Current. Simran lifts the soul above body consciousness. Once this is done, meditation or contemplation with rapt attention provides a resting place for its stay there until it catches and listens to the Celestial Sound Current.
Shamas-e Tabrez says: „Every moment a Divine Sound is calling my soul to come to the Lord.“ Tulsi Sahib also says: „Listen with rapt attention at the archway of the real Kaaba (body) and you win hear a call from the Beyond.“ This body is the temple of God and the forehead is the archway of the temple as described by Tulsi Sahib. Procrastination is the thief of time. We tend to postpone meditation on one pretext or the other. Start meditation forthwith so that we may come out of the mortal body which is the domain of negative power. After all, this body has to be left behind. If we learn to leave it while alive, death will not perturb us. You will then be carefree. Swami Ji says that only the Satguru is capable of pulling the soul above body-consciousness. Therefore, pray with every breath for the Grace of a true Master. I have already discussed the functions of Simran; i.e., it brings the soul above body-consciousness. Another equally important point is that the soul is attached to the body; and unless a competent Master helps with His thought transference through personal attention, the soul cannot be separated and lifted above body-consciousness. Here lies the greatness and importance of the Satguru. As a matter of fact, the real test of a Guru is that He is capable of pulling the soul to its own seat. We must, therefore, pray for His Grace and help. All great souls have prayed likewise. Maulana Rumi testifies it by asking: „Who is capable of saving humanity from this mysterious box (world)? Only either a prophet or a Master commissioned to do that.“ We have thus to seek the help of a Realized Soul, but He must really be a Realized Soul. When a so-called Master cannot lift his own soul above body-consciousness, how can he help others? The responsibility of a competent Master is great indeed. Not only He guides and helps us in this world, but He is also a torchbearer in our journey within. Swami Ji, therefore, emphasizes that the only way out is to pray to a competent Master. Out of compassion, He will give you an experience of super-consciousness. Thereafter, follow His commandments, remember Him constantly with all your heart, and ever remain eager to serve Him.
Tulsi Sahib also asks us to look through the veil of darkness behind the pupil of the eyes. How to do it? He tells us to go to a God-realized Soul. Such a Master will give you some inner experience, pull you above body-consciousness, and tell you how to see through the darkness within. Your inner eye will thus be opened. All Saints agree on this point. Swami Ji has advised us to seek the company of a true Master with love. Go there with devotion, leaving behind all worldly ideas. You should then have only one thought – the thought of your Master. Sit there with solitude and listen with full attention to what the Master has to say.
Swami Ji now explains the importance of Satsang. He says: „Attend Satsang in all seriousness.“ We have to solve the mystery of life and death. Grasp and imbibe what is taught there. We are fortunate if we get in touch with a true Master and get inner experience through His Grace. If we do not act on His commandments, our spiritual progress will be retarded. That is why so much emphasis is laid on doing away with unnecessary worldly things. This way one‘s spiritual experience will continue to grow until a luminous form of the Master appears within. He will talk to you and guide you. On getting proper guidance from the Master, devote adequate time to meditation and mold your life according to the Master‘s teachings. We must have tenacity of purpose as we cannot afford to slacken our efforts in our present state when we have yet to rise above body-consciousness. Finally, Swami Ji explains what is Naam (the Word), what is the destination, and what is our ideal? He says that our aim is to merge our soul with Sat Naam (true Word), the Eternal Nameless God Power. We have first to rise above body-consciousness and get the lowest link. After gradually traversing the various higher planes, the soul will finally reach where there is nothing but All-Truth. The three regions – primal, subtle, and causal are destructible. Beyond these three regions is Satlok or Sachkhand which is the abode of the Almighty. This is our goal and we must achieve it. Jesus Christ a the time of leaving His immortal frame, instructed His disciples first to accomplish what He had taught them. The human birth has given you a golden opportunity. Make the best use of it.
A talk given by Sant Kirpal Singh at Sawan Ashram, New Delhi, India