A grand Delusion
Human birth is a rare privilege to which one comes by an immense fortune. We should make the most of it. Sooner or later, we have to wish good-bye to this mortal world. But before that, if we are able to solve the riddle of life, we can know what is beyond this body or life after death. Only then would we get Everlasting Life or Kingdom of God where there is all bliss, peace, and ecstasy. If we can experience life in the beyond right here and now, all fear of death would be eliminated.
He who can, by the Grace of the Master, learn to die while living can know the Divine Will.
One who becomes a Conscious Co-Worker of the Divine Plan visibly sees the invisible hand of God working at the back of all creation. What do the Saints enjoin upon us?
Oh Nanak! a death like this is a gateway to Life Eternal.
Swami Ji says:
This (human life) is a golden opportunity given to us.
In this we have to accomplish the task of self-realisation and God-Realisation. Our sole aim here is not to remain busy with body and create bodily relations, but something higher towards which we do not pay any attention. Suppose there is a pigeon who closes his eyes at the sight of a cat. That does not mean that the cat has vanished. He comes to know of it only when he is caught in the cat’s trap. Similarly, death is a must for everybody. It is, therefore, imperative that we should prepare ourselves for this eventuality. How can this be done? For this, we have to know our Self. We are not the body but its indweller or the Power enlivening it. We can know this secret only when we rise above body consciousness. Then our angle of vision would change.
At present, we see the world from the level of the body. But both the world and the body are changing at the same rate. Mathematicians have calculated that our body cells get totally renewed every seven years. When two things are moving at the same speed, they appear stationary with respect to each other. Suppose there is a boat flowing in the river in the direction of the water. If the speed of the boat and water is the same, to the occupants of the boat it would appear at a standstill. But one who is standing outside can very well see that the boat and the river are flowing at the same speed.
An Enlightened Soul sees that all are rudderless on the mighty sea of life. They try to awaken the humanity from the deep slumber – of mind and senses. But alas! worldly people pay scant attention to Their clarion call. This is a grand delusion in which every one of us is being carried away. Unless one rises above the physical level, one cannot come into his own and know Reality.
Right understanding comes only with Inner Awakening. From the soul level one can see the changing panorama of the world. We consider our body and bodily relations as the be-all and end-all of our life. But, when we develop the Inner Vision, the entire system of the creation appears in a different form. If we can experience life in the beyond while alive, we would escape the painful effects of the ups and downs of life. Secondly, the fear of death would no longer haunt us. Through the higher Spiritual Contact, all external lusts would lose their charm and become insipid. Only then would we begin to see things in their true perspective. As a result, we would achieve success in every walk of life. When attention is controlled, we can direct it at will. All Great Souls draw our attention to the basic factor that we are human beings first.
Maulana Rumi says:
An animal with his head downward may well think of eating and drinking all the time, but fie on man, with his head erect, if he were to look downward.
Man occupies a place at the top rung of the creation. He should always look upwards – for higher values of life – and try to know his greatness. Further, man has been blessed with Nar-Naraini-Deh or abode of man and God. We should realise God while living in the body. If we accomplish this task, we have derived full benefit from the human existence. Once a drop of sand becomes a pearl by entering into the shellfish – soul has realised God –, the shell may break at any moment. There is nothing about which to worry. Contrarily, if one shakes off the mortal coil before attaining God-hood, it proves to be fatal. In the Gospels, it is called death of the soul. This is the reason why the horror of demise haunts the entire world. But those who have solved the mystery of life are least afraid of it.
Death from which the whole world shrinks is welcome unto me; I rejoice as it is a harbinger of perfect peace and joy.
The very name of death makes Him (Kabir) happy because the veil of matter – body – would be rent asunder, and consequently He would merge in the Lord once and for all. It is mentioned about Maulana Rumi that in His last days He was seriously ill. So many Muslim Faqirs came to see Him and started praying for Him.
Maulana Rumi Who was in a state of trance, woke up and said:
Oh brothers! may this prayer bless you. Do you not want that this body which constitutes a veil between myself and God may vanish forever? And thus I may rest in Him?
This is the expression of an Awakened Person Who had realised God in the living body. The Lord is not separate from us, and we are not separate from Him. But because of extroversion at the plane of senses, we have lost our identity. What is required is that we should disengage our attention from worldly pursuits and tap inside, as Emerson calls it. This is the act of receding back. This does not mean that we should suppress our senses. But they should be channelised in such a way so as to assist the spirit on the physical plane as well as on the inner.
Our physical eye can see only physical things. The moment we close our eyes, there is no Inner Vision. Are we not spiritually blind? Likewise, our ears are open only to external music and cannot hear Sat Bani – True Word – or Udgit – Music of the Beyond – reverberating in each one of us. Are we not deaf? If not, then what else? While the Elixir of Naam is within, we are running amuck after external objects. What a pitiable condition! Enlightened Souls, therefore, tell us that every individual has Divine Light within. See It with your own eyes, but presently we cannot. This is because our attention is engaged elsewhere.
I have granted Inner Vision to thousands who were born blind by which they can see the Lord omnipresent.
Even now so many (blind) people are being initiated. They feel very happy and are overjoyed to see the Light within. When you have developed Inner Vision, your purpose is served. It does not matter whether you have eyes of flesh or not. We are ignorant about this science. This is ancient wisdom that we have forgotten. Great Souls have always appeared from time to time and revived this Science Spiritual. After a Saint ends His earthly sojourn, another Mahatma comes to do His Divine Work. Master-Souls are very, very rare; but the world has never been without one. The law of demand and supply is eternal. There is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. A Guru appears when the disciple is ready.
This world is like a dream; understand, oh mind! nothing here is our own.
God created man. He is an ensouled body. Soul is the essence of God. The same soul is enlivening each one of us. It is a drop of the Ocean of All-Consciousness. But, unfortunately, our spirit is identified with the body at the sensual plane, so much so that we have lost our identity. The life we have spent so far looks like a dream. At the time of death, when soul leaves the body, our past actions would be like a sleeping vision. So Kabir says that the whole world is like a dream. Whatever we see around us appears to be something true or unchangeable. What is the reason for this? This is because we are living in the realm of relativity where everything is constantly changing. When two things are changing at the same speed, they appear to be stationary with respect to each other. From the body level, we cannot apprehend this change. What a grand delusion! But, one who has developed Inner Vision by transcending the body limitations can clearly see that matter is changing every moment. This world is like a mirage in the desert. Whatever we see in the dream may seem to be true at that moment. But when the eye opens, all is gone. One feels the same when the hour of death approaches. But awakening at that time is absolutely of no avail, as the time has run out. Secondly, we have to see that nothing shall accompany us from here. By the term ‘us’ we do not mean the material body but our very self which is a conscious entity. So Awakened Souls always draw our attention to the fact that we are being deceived. If at all there is anything true or eternal, it is either soul or the Oversoul.
Oh seekers after Truth, know ye that this body is false and perishable; and recognise ye alone the Ram (All-pervading Spirit) dwelling therein as true.
Kabir here advises us that in the changing panorama of life, we should seek a True Companion of the soul:
The whole world is being carried away by waves of blind infatuation.
As we are identified with the body, we see the external world from the body level. So attachment is the natural outcome. Kabir, therefore, says that the entire world is in the grip of infatuation irrespective of the fact whether one is learned or illiterate. So long as the mind-driven spirit identifies with the body at the sensual plane, both – learned and unlearned – are sailing in the same boat. Only by rising above body consciousness one gets to Truth. Reality is one thing but it appears to be another. All are chained in the bondage of matter.
There is a story of a great devout named Chhajju. It was customary with him that whenever death took place in his neighbourhood he used to dance before the funeral, singing praises of the Lord. His own son died. As usual, he started dancing before the dead body. The people were not too late to point out that the old tune was missing in him.
Unless we learn to transcend the mind and senses as a matter of routine, we cannot get rid of the waves of infatuation. We must come to our own and be able to see the world from a higher level as distinguished from the physical level. Those who do are least affected by ups and downs of life. They behave alike under all circumstances.
Once my Master, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji, went to meet His Master, Baba Jaimal Singh. He was accompanied by His ailing son whose condition was a bit serious. Unfortunately, the son expired before they reached Dera Beas in Punjab. Hazur used to say that He looked at the dead body and then searched His heart to know the reaction of this calamity. As described by Him, this death had practically no effect on His mind. This is the state of Perfect Beings.
Just as a pitcher of water once broken cannot be reassembled, likewise, a leaf fallen from a tree cannot be reunited.
Now the Great Teacher elucidates this allegory. Suppose there is a pitcher containing water: sooner or later it will become empty. Similarly, our body contains a definite stock of vital airs according to Pralabdh Karmas.
Every breath and food are fixed for everybody. When their stock is exhausted, we have to vacate this house (body). But, by the restricted use of vital airs, we can prolong the allotted span of our life. For instance, you will experience that normally we breathe 14-15 times a minute. But if we lead a life full of passion or indulgence or anger, our breathing is accelerated to the extent of 28-30 times per minute. Consequently, life would be reduced by one-half. You must have heard a universal proverb that vices shorten a person’s life.
Through a life of continence and meditation, one respires only three to four times a minute. With the result, that life is increased three times. A yogin, by proper control and regulation of vital airs, can remain in a state of trance for years. Likewise, one can prolong his life span by thousands of years. In 1930, I met a Sikh gentleman named Kishan Singh. He was about 125 or 130 then. He told me that he used to remain in trance for two years through Kumbhak – a yogic exercise involving pranas. His vision was so sharp that he could even read in moonlight. Also, he had all his teeth intact. Kabir, therefore, says that every day, every hour, nay every minute our stock of vital airs is being thinned out. This is bringing us nearer to the ultimate end known as death.
A person came to a Mahatma – Great Soul – and informed Him that a particular man was breathing his last. The Mahatma asked that person:
How old is he?
– Seventy years,
replied the stranger.
Thereupon, the Mahatma said:
The dying man has been exhausting his store of vital airs for the last 70 years. Now it is only a question of his last breath.
Time and tide wait for no man. Human life is a golden opportunity for us. We should make the most of it. How can we do it? For this, we should get up at the ambrosial hour of the early dawn, rise above body consciousness and know our Self. Further, Kabir says that just as a leaf fallen from a tree cannot get to it again. In exactly the same way, once we miss the opportunity of human life, who knows when we may come to it again? It is only in this garb that one can come by Truth and not in lower births. Man is a rational being and can discriminate right from wrong. As such, he can hold on to Truth and reach to It by and through untruth – body and bodily adjuncts. Great Souls always have been awakening mankind, are awakening even now, and will be doing so in the future. They invariably stress upon the importance of human birth.
Thy human life is going in vain; awaken thou, oh proud man! from the deep slumber.
The Great Teacher says that everyone of us is frittering away this golden opportunity – of human life – in useless pursuits of the world. All are immersed in ignorance. We have neither known our Self nor the God-Power in us. We have not seen the reality of the world from a higher level. What a great deception! Enlightened Souls, therefore, exhort us to awaken to Reality and thus make a fair use of the limited time at our disposal.
Further, we should seek the active guidance of a Spiritual Adept Who may assist us in self-realisation. If we look at our present plight, we would find that from dawn to dusk we are either busy in feeding the body or concerned with bodily affairs. We are simply an indweller in the body and not the body. Sooner or later we will have to vacate this house under His will. Take a worldly example. When an eviction order is issued by a court, all belongings of the house are immediately thrown out. Likewise, we have no alternative but to carry out the Divine Injunction and quit the tabernacle of flesh. Now a question arises: ‘Are we prepared for this eventuality known as death?’ Peep inside and see what we really aim at. Soul is the driving force behind the body.
It is, therefore, said:
The body lives so long as the God-Power is in it; the moment the God-Power departs, the body becomes a heap of dust.
This house (body) remains beautiful so long as that Power (soul) is in it. The moment it is withdrawn, who cares for the body?
Nobody likes to keep the dead body at home even for a short while; everyone is in a hurry to dispose it of at the earliest.
This then is the value of this mortal frame. Alas! we are totally ignorant of the Life-Principle in us or the Power enlivening the body. If at all we know a little, our knowledge is purely theoretical and confined to what is written in the scriptures. Practically, we have not seen that Power nor experienced It. If we are unable to withdraw our spirit from the body at will, what is the hope for us? That means we have not yet developed the Single Eye by which we can see Reality. Consequently, this realm of relativity appears to be something eternal and unchangeable.
Oh man! don’t be deceived by the beautiful faces; thy stay in this world is very brief.
The Great Teacher says that we should not confine our attention to the glamour and beauty of the outside world. Whether one has fair complexion or dark, all are subject to death and decay. It is just like a display of fireworks in which there are various types of crackers, which may be models of horses with deformed noses and houses with bent walls. But the moment a burning splinter is shown to the crackers, all are reduced to ashes after a momentary show. This exactly is the case with our clayey moulds. Death is a great leveller. It does not discriminate between the rich and poor, white and black, high and low. All mundane things are connected with the physical body. Everything on the material plane, including our body, is subject to destruction and dissolution. What then is everlasting or eternal? It is our own Self or individual soul. We should know and experience it. One who has gained self-knowledge would permanently escape the cycle of births and deaths.
In this context, Swami Ji says:
Oh Soul! sky is thy dwelling place; but alas thou are trapped by the bondage of matter.
Soul’s True Home is where there is complete absence of matter. But strange as it may seem, it has been caught up in the mud of the world – mighty maze of mind and matter. Unless we come to our own, our spirit cannot enter the Lord’s Mansion. Only by attaining the Kingdom of God can we have Life Eternal.
Thy mind is attached to the house (body) which ultimately has to be abandoned; thou carest least about thy True Home where thou shalt dwell permanently.
One considers the body and the worldly things that have to be left behind as the be-all and end-all of human existence. But, we feel least concerned about the place – Kingdom of God – where we have to live forever. How can we regard such a one as wise?
The Vedas say:
Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.
This evidently means that our attention is engaged elsewhere. In other words, we have lost our Self in the attachment and delusion of the world. This is because we treat our spirit on par with the material body.
Guru Arjan says:
Awake thou, oh traveller! of the way; thou art late for thy destination.
The pilgrim soul after transcending the physical has to traverse the regions of And – astral –, Brahmand – causal – and Par Brahm. Beyond all these lies our True Home in Sach Khand or Sat Lok. The journey is long and arduous. But alas! we are asleep in the mire of sense-gratification. The True Preceptor, therefore, warns us that the world is not a permanent abode for us. While here one should engage oneself in those pursuits that may benefit our soul.
It is, therefore, said:
By great good fortune thou has got a human birth; this is the only opportunity for thee to contact the Lord; all else of worth avail thee naught; seek ye the association of Saints and learn to commune with the Holy Word.
Human birth is a rare privilege to which one comes by in the fullness of karmas. In this, we can accomplish the task of self-realisation and God-Realisation.
The Gospels say:
It is thy turn to meet God.
We should avail this opportunity to our utmost advantage. But it is distressing to note that we are only engaged in useless pursuits – of the world. They are least connected with our soul. All our time is being consumed in the affairs of the body. Man is a three-fold entity, comprising body, intellect, and soul. We have achieved tremendous progress in different spheres of life – physical, social, political, and intellectual. We have made wonderful inventions. Man can swim across the mighty oceans and fly in the skies. We have also manufactured disastrous weapons like the atom bomb. One atom bomb can destroy millions of precious human lives. While we have achieved all this and much more, we have sadly neglected the most important aspect of our life – spiritual. Body and intellect derive their power from the soul about which we have no knowledge. Man should develop in all respects. One who attains perfection from the levels of body, intellect, and soul could alone be called a Perfect Being.
Having been blessed with a human life, we should conduct ourselves in the business of the world in such a way that we can get to the crest jewel of our life. How can we do that? We should sit in the company of an Awakened Soul Who has liberated His spirit from the shackles of mind and senses and analysed His Self by transcending the body consciousness. Then He should have the first-hand experience of God-Power within and be able to impart the same to others. In the association of such Persons alone can we gain self-awareness and then rise into cosmic awareness. What do the evolved souls enjoin upon us? We should commune with Naam or the Holy Word. This Power is sustaining the entire creation. Naam has two aspects. One is just a syllable. The other is the Power that this syllable denotes. One is the name and the other the named. Mere knowledge of name is of little significance unless we know its attribute. Naam is the Power with which we have to establish contact. Mere repetition of names or Holy Words constitutes an elementary step. Starting from this we would unite with the Naam Power. In other words, when our soul transcends the body after freeing from the impact of mind and senses, it would contact the Word and then reach its very source. The Naam Power has originated from the Nameless.
So two things are very essential. Firstly, the association of an Enlightened Soul and loving devotion towards Him. Secondly, communion with Naam. It is also known as Shabd. The Vedas call It Sruti. The Upanishads refer to It as Udgit – Music of the Beyond. Muslim Divines call It Kalma and declare that 14 Tabaks or divisions were created by It. Hindus term It as Nad and ascribe to It the manifestation of 14 Bhavans or regions. Both speak of the same thing. That Kalma or Nad is wordless.
At one place Maulana Rumi has mentioned:
Oh God! show me that place from where the Kalma proceedeth without words.
The Gurbani says in this context:
Naam or the Holy Word is sustaining the various planes and sub-planes in the creation.
Again it is stated:
The whole creation sprang from Naam.
It is the primal manifestation of God that is responsible for the entire creation. Naam is the Controlling Power behind all that exists. We should commune with It. All other pursuits in which we are presently engaged are of no avail on the Path Godwards. We are to make a fair use of the things at our disposal and not get lost in their enjoyment. The supreme ideal of human life is to attune our Self with the Word through the active guidance of a Word-personified Saint. How can we achieve this?
Leave off egotism, avarice, and cunningness; and then live like a free and fearless man in the world.
Who can comprehend Reality? Kabir says that one who has rid himself of all the above three vices would then see everything in its True Colour. First, egotism. Some are swayed by the intoxication of power. Some are proud of their learning and knowledge. Some take pride in their wealth and think that they can do anything. So the Great Teacher says that such people cannot get to Reality at any cost. Further, they never seek the nearness of a man of intuition or realisation because of their vanity. As such, elimination of egotism is a must. Only then would you develop right understanding and correct vision. Secondly, whenever you do something, be free from avarice. A greedy man views everything from a selfish end. He is least bothered about the reality of a thing. Keep a servant. Just pay him fifty rupees and get any type of statement in your favour. If the same man is paid one hundred rupees by another person, he would readily speak against the first man. How could such a person know Truth? Thirdly, refrain from cunningness. Knowing full well that a thing is wrong, one tries his best to hide the fact through cunning talks and hypocrisy. If you speak one lie, you have to speak fifty more lies to conceal the truth. This is what most people do.
The result is that we are far from Reality. Only by discarding the three evils – egotism, avarice, and cunningness – can one witness the Divine Glory and see things in their true perspective. Such a person has nothing to fear in the world.
All friends, all relatives, wife, and children must part one day.
Kabir says that all the worldly connections are of ephemeral nature and are severed at the time of death. Our earthly relationship takes place strictly according to the Pralabdh Karmas. We come over here simply to settle our past accounts with each other. When this is over everyone of us must depart. We should, therefore, seek a true companion Who will not leave nor forsake us until the end. Now the question arises as to who can be such a friend?
Oh Nanak! snap all the ephemeral ties of worldly relations and find the company of a True Saint; the former shall break away in this very life, while the latter shall abide with thee even after death.
Nanak exhorts us to sever all connections with the people of the world and search the Eternal Friendship of some theocentric Saint. The term Saint here has been used for a really Awakened Soul well versed with the theory and practice of Spirituality and not for any particular guise or external label. The friends and relations in the world, howsoever near and dear they may be, do not stand by through thick and thin. All have selfish ends. Some of them leave off in poverty, some in prolonged illness and disease, and some in adverse circumstances and misfortune. At the most, a few may help you to the funeral pyre and that is all. Even the most sincere stand by helplessly when one is at death’s door and gasping for breath. None can come to our rescue at that moment save the Master-Soul. He is ever with us and protects us, no matter where we may be, in the forests, on the snowy mountain tops, in the burning deserts, or in the wilderness. And again, on doomsday when all the worldly connections are broken, He appears in the Radiant Form of the Master to escort the departed soul into the beyond.
It is, therefore, said:
Serve the True Master and develop the Holy Word; the Master receives them on death, those who have done their best to follow Him.
The Master remains steadfast with the initiate unto the last. If we rise above body consciousness, He leads our spirit gradually from plane to plane as a True Guide. He abides forever and forever and even stands by to help us before the judgement-seat of God.
But my beloved Master, Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, used to say:
If after death one has to accompany the Angel of Death, then one should wish good-bye to such a master and his word.
What good does it do you to have given up Love of the world, if you have not given up pride! Their pride utterly consumed them!