No matter which hymn you study from the great Masters, you will find that the subject is the same. Bite on any part of a sugar toy and it will be sweet! The theme of all the Masters is the Naam or Shabd--the God-into-Expression Power. There is a hymn of Guru Ramdas to which is worth giving considerable thought; for when the subject is unfolded clearly, it is easier to understand. So, listen with love and full concentration:
To be given the human birth is a great good fortune, for it is the highest of all the eighty-four hundred thousand (8,400,000) species of creation. All species are born to serve you. Yours is the highest birth. O man, all the earth's species were created to serve you. Having gained the human birth, your destiny should awaken and become great; otherwise, the life is wasted away in enjoyments along with the rest of mankind. Having been born a human being, then what does he do if his destiny is awakened? He will then meditate upon God's Naam. What is God's Name? It is That which all Saints have spoken of--God's Name is the greatest--That which created all. Nothing can be greater than the Naam of the Lord, which gave birth to everything. It is not just a mere word in any language; it is the very Power of God which created and which continues to sustain all Creation. And, he who meditates upon that Power has the very highest destiny.
So much praise has been sung of those who meditate on Naam. Those who meditated upon the Naam had all worries erased; 0 Nanak, Their countenances were radiant, and those in Their company gained freedom. Whoever meditated upon the Naam, fully, made a complete success of life; all life's burdens and difficulties faded away. Not only were Their faces radiant, but others, too, got salvation through Them. The Gurumukh gives salvation to millions with a little ray of Naam.
So, when the Masters come, millions who enjoy Their company are carried across the Ocean of Life. Guru Ramdas Ji also recommended a daily program for the disciple; He said, He who calls himself disciple of the Satguru /Should rise early and meditate upon the Naam. Anyone who calls himself a disciple of that Personality Who is the Truth Personified--the daily routine of such a disciple should be to rise before the dawn every day and contact the Naam Power. To meditate upon Naam and to repeat the word Naam are two entirely different things. Repetition of the word is merely to get one started.
It is said also, Rise before sunrise; Take a bath in Amritsar. Now, what is the meaning of this? -- for those people who live in Kabul [in Afghanistan], for instance, would not be able to travel to Amritsar every day for a bath! -- for Amritsar is in Punjab, India. It is the city which was started by Guru Ramdas Ji and completed by Guru Arjan Sahib, and we have great regard in our hearts for this sacred place, the residence of the great Masters. It is not surprising that it is a famous pilgrimage. But, to which Amritsar does Guru Amar Das here refer? The true Amritsar is within the physical form, / Tasting which purifies the mind. The true Amritsar, which has the precious Nectar, lies within the human form. Whereabouts? Beyond Pind, And, and Brahmand--the physical, astral, and causal planes. It is also referred to as Daswan Dwar. Sometimes it is called Sarovar [Pool] of Amrit, and the Muslim fakirs spoke of it as Hauz-i-Kauzar, and the Hindu Rishis named it Prag Raj. When bathing in this Sarovar, the soul becomes immortal--free from all dross. So, this is why that soul who calls himself a disciple of He Who is Truth-Personified, should rise early, meditate upon the Naam, and take a bath in Amritsar daily. He should get that far at least, with Pind, And, and Brahmand left far behind. What else does Guru Amar Das say? After rising, sing the Gurbani [words of the Masters]. Having been in communion with Naam, we are then fit to read the Master's words; but we have long forgotten all this. We have forgotten that meditation upon Naam means to rejoin it.
Where is Naam? The Giver of the nine varieties of happiness is the Lord's Naam, which can be found within the human form. It actually exists within us; It is not merely a spoken word. Ultimate, beyond the senses--Naam is limitless. It is not an outer practice, for one can contact it only when above the senses. Very sweet is the beloved Naam. He says there is a great sweetness in the Naam, and those fortunate ones who meditate upon It are the highest souls--those who meditate with full concentration.
What is gained by such meditation? Why are those who meditate upon It so fortunate? Who gets connection with It? The answers to those questions are found in the Gurbani. Those with good karmas from ages past got connected to the Lord's Naam. Only those souls can receive Naam upon whom, O Lord, Thy merciful Hand has rested. The whole world may be engaged in the verbal form of Naam, but connection with Naam only comes with the shower of God's mercy. And, what is gained? Nanak says happiness rules in that home where the Anhad [Unstruck Sound] resounds. Happiness and peace are realized through meditating upon the Naam. A man gets tranquility and complete satisfaction when the Anhad Sound is awakened within him. The Jap Ji Sahib gives clear details of the advantages in contacting the Naam:
These are some of the benefits afforded to those who meditate upon the Naam. Communion with Naam (Sound Principle) is like a blind man's guiding stick; Through communion with Naam the spiritually blind find their way to realization. It is the only true way to reach beyond the hand of man. God is really Nameless, but through Naam we can reach to Him. This is why all Masters have sung the high praises of Naam all through the ages in various languages. So, Guru Ramdas asks, After gaining the human birth, then whose destiny is highest? Those whose destiny has come to fruition get to meditate upon the Naam.
This is how the soul can realize the Lord, and the very sweetness of contact with Naam has been described by many Masters. Sheikh Farid explains it this way: Sugar, golden sugar, raw sugar, sugar cane juice, honey, milk; All are sweet, but the Beloved's sweetness is incomparable. It is very difficult to describe the sweetness of God's Name, for it holds a special kind of intoxication. The intoxication of Naam, 0 Nanak, inebriates day and night. It makes a man forget the intoxicants of the world, for it is the only intoxicant that brings true happiness and lasting peace. So, contacting the Naam is the means to the end: blending with the Priceless Treasure, the Nameless.
God is Nameless. But, when He expressed Himself, that Expression was described as Naam or Name. The lowest divine link of that Naam is within each being, but conscious contact with it can be experienced only when the soul is above the senses. If one then gets a connection to Naam and holds on to that string, naturally one will travel back to the Source from whence it came--the Nameless Godhead. It is a true and direct way back to Him, a true method of becoming one with Him. Hafiz Sahib gives some indication when he says, No one knows on which story my Beloved resides; But the Sound of the bells comes from there. If the soul hears that Sound and starts following It, naturally it will eventually arrive at its Source. So, this lowest link exists in each and every one of us, and in that link is the Light and the Sound. You may also call it Udgit, Nad, Akash-bani, the Music of the Spheres--whatever term you prefer. The work of the Sant, Mahatma, or Master is to elevate the soul above the senses and give the connection. This is then increased by daily practice.
The Nameless state is the aim of all Masters, and Naam is the means to realize it. I bow down to the Nameless. But, the difficulty is that people do not understand what Naam is--some do not even know It exists. They think the outer practices are all in all, but this is wrong. Outer practices are useful; they are like a nursemaid or governess, and the best use should be made of their training, for this helps one along the way toward Spirituality. But, if one desires true and lasting happiness, and peace of heart and mind, and the release from births and deaths, all this can be gained only through regular contact with Naam. If you remain enamored of the body and the surrounding environments, you will not be able to enjoy the Naam; for to experience It fully, one must rise above the body through self-analysis. The secret of this spiritual science can be learned only in the company of a Realized Soul. While in His presence one receives a little experience, which is then increased by daily meditation, and one progresses further. One will oneself admit to experiencing this. It is not like an unproved promise of gaining something after death. Logically, there is hope of more if one gets a little to start with.
Always do the Gurumukh Bhakti--O all living beings!
Everyone should do bhakti [devotion] through the Gurumukh. This indicates that there is another kind of bhakti done at the level of the outgoing faculties and mind. Guru Amar Das Ji defines the Gurumukh as, He Who is the mouthpiece of the Guru. Then He says, in further praise of the Gurumukh: Through Gurumukh bhakti the Sound becomes audible; Then immortality is assured.
There are nine different kinds of devotion, and all are meant for preparing the ground for Spirituality: Tulsidas said in His Ramayana, If you want the Light to be lit within and without, then meditate on the Naam Power with your life. All the nine types of devotion are at the level of the senses; and although they help to prepare the way, yet you cannot get release from coming and going as long as the doership stands. As you sow, so shall you reap. For complete release it is necessary to follow Gurumukh bhakti, which starts above the senses. This is the Naam-contact. This is why it is said that where the world's philosophies end, there religion (re means "back," and ligio "to bind") really starts. How to win over the senses--that is true knowledge. Outer knowledge does help, just as the midwife helps in bringing the child into the world, but she does not give birth to it. To realize the Truth, you must get a higher contact than the outer knowledge; and this is received above the senses.
It is very clear; there can be no misunderstanding. The devoted heart--that is full of devotion to the Gurumukh--will be full of Light. By meditating upon Naam, the Light of millions of suns becomes apparent; The darkness of illusion is dispelled. In this way, true love for the Lord is born. Meditation on God's Naam comes with the Guru's knowledge. It means that everything depends upon the Guru's bestowing His knowledge upon one. If one does not get that knowledge--the connection--then the secret which came hidden with us at birth will remain hidden and never be realized. Only the attention and help of a Realized Master can reveal that secret of bringing the attention or soul above the body and the senses. So, Guru Ramdas says that we cannot gain that without the Guru's help; this is a fundamental principle. So, take this principle into your heart.
In one section of the Gurbani, Guru Amar Das says, The Beloved's orders have come from the Beyond: That without the Satguru there is no realization. It is a statement that the Lord Himself has declared: until the soul meets the Realized Soul Who is the Truth Personified, the Lord will not come into that soul's consciousness. Only One Who is not governed by, or under the control of the senses, can perform this spiritual task. Otherwise, how is it possible that one who is under the control of the senses can do it by himself?. The Light cannot be revealed by one's own efforts or by any other practice, save that of devotion to the Gurumukh. If through some previous background one has already some experience, it is well and good; but without further help one cannot go ahead and will remain in the same position.
You can only love something you can see--how can love develop otherwise? There is outer knowledge and inner knowledge. Outer knowledge comes in the form of scriptures of the different religions man lives in, according to his birth; but this does not give any inner knowledge. Inner knowledge comes only with the Guru's knowledge--and that is Naam. In the Gurbani we have: O Nanak, the Guru's knowledge lies in the fact that our attention is absorbed in the Naam that vibrates everywhere. This Guru's knowledge is mentioned in all religions, but the peace does not come until the knowledge is fulfilled--from within. Why otherwise do all Masters sing the praises of Naam? Naam vibrates in every atom; yet we ask, "Where is It?" The Master describes this very beautifully:
One inestimable Existence is overflowing in the whole of Creation--there is no place without It. Whatever is created is all Naam; There is no place without Naam. To be connected to such a Power is a priceless gift.
If one does not meet the Satguru, the knowledge remains hidden. No one is beggarly or hungry, for each has a Ruby in his bundle; But it is never opened, the Ruby never seen, and he is penniless. Most people are not interested in higher knowledge, and so never meet the Guru; and the Priceless Treasure remains hidden and unknown. It is not a question of religion or a matter of caste. Drunkards never consider each other's birth or character--they all drink together. So, in the name of Naam all are equal, whether born a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, etc. Simply, whoever has the high destiny or good fortune to learn how to bring out the Truth from within is greatly blessed. Otherwise, he leaves this world in ignorance: he came hungry, lives in hunger, and will leave hungry.
It lies in everyone, but, When the Satguru is met, you see with your own eyes /And realize the Truth within the house [body]. Whoever gives a little experience of the Truth is a True Guru indeed. He will not say, "Go on doing what I tell you, and you will get salvation after death." The True Teaching of the Masters is to give salvation while living in this world, for whatever you have learned here will remain with you when you leave at death. Do you think that an illiterate man will become a learned teacher just by going through that change which we call death? The Masters believe in salvation--freedom from the wheel of births and deaths--during one's lifetime.
Namdev very frankly declares, If salvation comes after death, / Then this type of salvation is valued less than coal. What value can it have? The whole life is spent in sorrow and misery, and one dies unhappy too--what is the use of salvation when the life is endured and finished? If we can get some peace and contentment during life, our whole outlook and actions change. It is another criterion of judging whether one has got the contact with Naam. A man must change. If one sits near a fire, one will enjoy its warmth; and if one sits near a block of ice, he will feel the chill. When one enters a salt mine, everything seems salty. Is the Lord's Naam so, that even after contacting It no change has occurred in you? Rather it means that you have not had the true contact. We go on saying Naam, Naam, but the fact is that we do not know what Naam is. If you meet a truly Realized Soul, He will give you the experience of Naam--do not accept anything less than this criterion. If you listen to propaganda, you will be misled, for anyone can speak fine words with a little training. One can pick up a stone these days and find a guru of some kind or other. Gurus, you will find many--but disciples, none. An actual inner experience does not really need any words of support.
When Maharishi Ashtavakra asked King Janak, "Have you received the knowledge?" the King replied, "Yes, Maharaj." The receiver should freely admit of his own accord that he has received something. He can do this only if he gets the experience: it is not a question of mere praise for an individual--"He is a very big Master"--etc., etc. What proof is there that he is by a mere flood of praise? If the seeker gets some experience that he can acknowledge, then there is a definite indication that more can be had; but if he receives nothing, by what indication can he judge?
So, the teaching of the Masters is free from bondage, and it makes others free. Service to a free person brings freedom. What can he who is bound do for another? In the Gurbani it is written, If the master is hungry and naked, how can his servant eat his fill? After all, we are healthy enough to take our food--we are very clever about many things; but when it comes to our spiritual work, we are suddenly very naive--almost ignorant, you might say. Is this an intelligent attitude? An awakened seeker will never be satisfied until he gets something substantial--an experience--be it but little: to give the prospect of greater things ahead. So, if you seek employment from one who is himself starving--just tell me, what will you have to eat and drink? The world is blind and works blindly; Without the Guru the way is not found; When the Satguru comes, the eye can see; And within the house the Truth is realized. How clear these words are! Why is it that those who read so avidly the words of the Masters allow themselves to be so easily misled? One is misled when one does not fully understand the meaning of the words.
Socially we must live in some religion or other, but the real work must be done. True Masters have always been very rarely found. In the days of King Janak, only one Master could be found capable of giving the knowledge: a first-hand experience. Why expect there to be hundreds available today? The more there are, naturally the happier the world will be. It is not a case of choosing a certain religion or sect; a moth will rush toward any light, be it in the house of a cobbler, a merchant--any class or caste. Spirituality is a matter of life--and life comes from life.
Those without the special good fortune--the manmukh--remain empty of the spiritual wealth. Guru Amar Das says this of the manmukh: He is a manmukh who does not know the Shabd; He knows not the fear of the Guru. The manmukh is ignorant of the value of Naam--he has not met a Realized Soul; or he has met one and yet his mind has no awareness of His (the Guru) being the knower of all things; and so he has no fear. Excuse me, but even after meeting the Satguru, we can still remain manmukh, for if His Love has not entered our heart, we have no faith that He knows everything. This faith is the thing upon which Spirituality is founded. Faith is actually the root cause of all religion. How can a strong house be built without a proper foundation? Get your heart in tune with the Heart of any truly Realized Soul, and daily you will progress spiritually. Those who remain the mouthpiece of the senses, whose attention is scattered in outer attractions, remain manmukh, even though they may follow the Guru: they will never become gurumukh. Such people remain in ignorance of the real Truth and the wealth of Naam.
The Ruby was hidden behind the point.
Now, if even a small object is held in front of the eye's pupil, it can see nothing beyond that object. So, the curtain of ignorance must be removed; and when the Guru gives a sitting and removes that curtain even a little, the Light of God is seen. The more He removes, naturally the more Light will be seen. The wealth already exists behind that curtain, but that curtain cannot be removed by one's own efforts. If anyone thinks he is capable of such a task, then let him try. But, if we can rely on the words of the Masters, Who all say the same thing in Their own ways, No one receives without the Perfect Guru, / Even if one earned millions of good karmas.
The inner eye must be opened. Even though we can open the physical eyes, yet the spiritual eye remains closed; and while having everything within, yet we cannot see: there is only darkness. Guru Nanak says in the beginning of Asa Dewar, If hundreds of moons and thousands of suns shone / Yet with all this light it is dense darkness without a Guru. All Masters have declared that God is Light. By meditating upon Naam, the Light of millions of suns becomes apparent. The sun may be risen, and yet if a person is blind and cannot see it, all is darkness for him. So, the matter of greatest importance is to first have the inner eye opened by the Realized Soul, Who opens the eyes of thousands. Maulana Shamas Tabrez says that we have blessed thousands with eyes who were born blind. He is speaking of the inner or spiritual sight. Even if a physically blind man is given a sitting, he will see the Light of God within, for he will see with the inner eye. Those are not blind, 0 Nanak, who have no eyes on their face; Those are blind, 0 Nanak, who do not see the Beloved. In the opinion of Guru Nanak, the blind are not those without physical sight, but rather are those who have broken away from God and who have not developed the eye with which to see the Lord. In such cases, the literate and illiterate alike are blind if their inner eye is not open. Hazur Swami Ji says, The Guru says that the whole world is blind, / For they have not seen the inner world. It is a very sweeping remark--the whole world is blind. Why? Because most of the world's population never see this inner or spiritual path which goes across the physical, astral, and causal planes. In the Gurbani it states, O blind man, you did not know of the Path. This is the hidden pathway which takes the soul beyond all planes and leads it to the Lord. Guru Ramdas has clearly told us:
It is a very minute curtain behind which an immeasurable wealth is hidden, and the removal of this curtain is the work of a God-Realized Master. When the Satguru comes, the eye can see; Within the house the Truth is realized. One then needs no confirmation from others, for he will see for himself.
Maya (illusion) and Brahm (the Lord of Creation) are not separate, for Illusion is the reflection of Brahm. Brahm's expression is Maya; so see Brahm in it and do not forget Him. Gifts are loved, but the Giver is forgotten; One knows not and thinks not of death. If our angle of vision is turned toward the Truth, then Illusion cannot affect us. But, those who serve Illusion are eaten up by it. The worldly people throw themselves, nay, give their very lives up to the torments of Illusion, and never give a single thought to the Truth. The whole of a man's life goes to waste like this.
One can meet a Satguru only if that special destiny is written on his forehead. And, what is the Satguru? Satguru is the image of Truth. Satguru is One Who can bring His Soul above the mind and senses at will: One Who has become One with the Truth. His Name is Satguru Who realizes the Sat Purush; In His company the disciple is uplifted--O Nanak, then sing the praises of God. One can sing the praises of God truly, only when in the company of a God-Realized Soul.
So, Guru Ramdas has told us that if great destiny is awakened, then one meets a Satguru and one has the double good fortune of serving Him. The third good fortune is gained by those who keep His commandments. He who sacrifices everything will decorate the altar of the Guru's commands with flowers. The heart should be receptive to His Heart. It is God's special grace then to be able to meet the Satguru; it is a great thing. When you meet Him, you can be connected to the Naam, and, from then on, enjoy the dally contact through meditation. In this way, both devotion and faith will develop. When the disciple becomes receptive, all the earnings of the Guru will descend upon him.
The saddest part is that even after meeting the Guru, we do not become obedient; this is why we remain empty. The Satguru can be served only through devotion, faith, and receptivity. Without the development of receptivity, the full benefit is not derived. Guru Amar Das says, The Lord is realized through devotion to the Guru; Then easily He resides in the heart.
All praise be to the Guru's knowledge [Gurumath--the teachings of the Guru] through which God was realized. And, with His knowledge what is received? The invaluable Jewel, the Treasure of Naam, through which the Lord is realized. With great good fortune one receives contact with Naam, and then one works hard for it. In this hymn, Guru Ramdas has explained which, among all souls who have got the human form, have the highest destiny and meditate upon the Naam. With such awakened destiny, he develops all around, giving his physical form in service, increasing the scope of his intellect, and along with these he meditates upon Naam. Such a person truly makes his whole life a success and thereby finishes the succession of births and deaths. This is the Teaching of the Masters.