A Matter of Death and Life
This talk was given 12 April, 1970 at Sawan Ashram
and published in the October 1976 issue of Sat Sandesh magazine.
When Great Masters come into this world, They praise the human birth, but ask,
What are the values of life? Which things are more important and which are secondary?
For example, the oyster shell and the pearl have their own values; and if there were no pearl, the shell would be of little value. Similarly, the importance and value of the human being depends upon the soul, which drives the physical form. When the driver gets out of the physical body, it is then nothing but clay; and though the machinery is quite intact, it lies useless and lifeless because the driving force is no longer there. This is the mystery of life which has to be unravelled; we must come to know the Life-Impulse which is already in the human form and which leaves at the time of death.
Those Who have solved this mystery have opened up the subject in detail, and have described it in words. However, the people who came in contact with Them got a practical demonstration of the Truth. To talk about a thing is all right, and to have feelings or draw inference is something else; but to experience a practical demonstration is entirely different from either.
It is understandable that They say,
Oh listen to the True Saints – They speak of what They have seen.
It is a warning not to listen to mere intellectuals, but only to the words of the Saints. They speak the Truth, for They talk of what They have seen with Their own eyes. One who has seen gives accurate evidence.
Whatever Masters have said up to now is really in answer to the lamenting of the human being – the crown of creation – for next to God the human being is the highest. In all Holy Scriptures you will find the question arising,
How can man get experience of the driving force?
There is a reference in the Bible – and the answers, too. You will see it mentioned in the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’. Through the Holy Records one can have a true understanding; but to remain on the intellectual level brings nothing but confusion, for one person will say this and another will say that.
Just now the ‘Suniya’ was read from the ‘Jap Ji Sahib’. Prayers are normally read beside the bed of a dying person, but is the meaning ever understood? There are four stanzas of the Suniya, in which it is very clearly written,
Listen to the Naam!1
This does not mean to listen with physical ears.
What does Naam mean? It has been explained by Spiritual Masters. God is Nameless. It is the God-into-Expression-Power which is the cause of all creation and controls all the creation. In the Guru Granth Sahib is given,
Nanak says that the Naam is the Controlling Power, with which – through great good fortune – one gets a contact.
Everything is under the control of Naam which is the Controlling Power. Through this same Controlling Power our soul is controlled in the body. There are millions of stars and planets existing in such serene rhythm and order and do not clash with each other; they are all controlled by the Naam.
When God wished,
From One I should become many,
there was vibration, and this vibration had two aspects – Light and Sound. Both mean the same thing, and both resulted from vibration. You can call It the Sound Principle, or Nad, or Music of the Spheres.
So by listening to the Sound we get tied to God, tied to the source of the Sound. In the Guru Granth Sahib, on the subject of this Sound, it is written,
The proud Lord of Death cannot be killed, but he cannot come near to the Guru’s Shabd.
Shabd and Naam mean the same thing.
Through the Shabd, the cycle of creation, dissolution, and again creation, came into being.
It means that through the force of the Shabd, creation began, ended, and began again, through cycle after cycle. One gets contact with the Shabd through the Guru; and the Lord of Death when hearing the vibration of the Holy Sound within the disciple, is unable to come near. It is said that Death has no effect on those who listen to the Music of the Spheres, for the soul is a conscious entity, the same substance as God; and when the soul gets connected to the Oversoul, the Negative Power subjectively can have no effect. The soul is unaffected by the physical body or the body’s relationships. So, if you wish to understand any religious book, do so by reading and re-reading it. If you want to know what the Word is, consult the Holy Bible itself.
In that, it is written
Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet.
This means that the Word which is given to True Seekers, is the Light to guide their feet on the Path to Truth.
On my tour in the West, I advised people to look to their scriptures to find the answers to their problems. However, most of these answers are only thoroughly understood by those who know the Spiritual Science. For others, it is something like a covered treasure being handed down from posterity to posterity. To know the outer religious teachings is the first step, for they have been given by some Master and will awaken some interest in God within the seeker; but without an actual experience of what is written, we have done nothing towards achieving the same. This experience can only be had in the human life, and for a demonstration we must go to that Person Who has achieved it. By continuing this Science and keeping His company, everything will become clarified.
Throughout the human life we see the daily advent of birth and death. Some people die young, some in youth, and some in old age. At death, some writhe in agony and torment, and others leave in joy and peace. So what is it all about? They say that at the event of any birth the world rejoices, and the newcomer cries – but brothers, you should live such a life that at departure you yourself rejoice, and the whole world cries. This would mean that you had won the gamble of life. So having received the human birth, you should now get the contact with Naam, the God-into-Expression-Power, for that will lead you back to your True Home.
In the human existence there are two phases: one is the karmic evolution. Whatever the pralabdh karmas2 are should be accepted with cheerfulness, and one should be careful not to sow any more seeds. Then there is the Way back to one’s True Home – the Way of the Sound and the Light. The basic teaching is the same in all religions, and all Masters have given reference to the same facts; but because people do not come in contact with a practical Master of the Spiritual Science, the knowledge of the Truth does not go to the very core of one’s being. The Masters did not bring any new thing, for Truth is One; but They have tried to explain it in different ways according to the understanding of the people at the time. But without Inner Contact a complete understanding will not be achieved.
So the Masters enjoin the criterion:
As long as I do not see with my own eyes, I cannot believe even the Guru’s words.
Now, if one could consult the Masters about the state of the world, Their advice would be one and the same: rise above all isms and become a True Man. They regard all mankind as man, within whom lies the Truth, though not consciously connected.
Soul and Truth or God are in the same company and live in the same house, but never talk to each other.
Like two brothers, the soul and the Oversoul live in the same house, but tragically they never talk to each other. The reason is that the one who should start the conversation is restlessly tossing about. If he would withdraw and get to know himself, he would also see that God is residing with him.
This body is the temple of God, in which the True Light is shining.
He Whom you want to know is inside, and you are searching for Him from door to door.
What is the criterion of a True Master?
Oh brother, He Who is termed a Satguru or Sant will reveal It through the Inner Eye.
He Who calls Himself a Satguru should develop that eye in the seeker which is above the senses. This is the ABC or beginning of the Spiritual Science. To know oneself, one has to analyse oneself by rising above the senses and lower centres – perhaps through pranayama or kumbhak3 – but one must know oneself. Where the world philosophies end, there the True Religion starts. In the past, yogis spent hundreds of years to separate the consciousness from inert matter by reading books on the subject, but what is the natural course? There is Hatha Yoga to make the physical body strong, and there is Prana Yoga to increase the length of life. To know God by making an hypothesis comes under Bhakti Yoga, and in Gyan Yoga, inferences are drawn – but only an intellectual giant can do the latter system. Now what can the average human being do?
– Be he a child, aged, or young.
To fill the need, the Sants brought out the Surat Shabd Yoga, not merely introducing it, but giving a practical demonstration as well.
The Masters say that the yogis come to the aggya chakra4 after progressing through the six centres, and then through Anhad Shabd5 they became one with Sahasrar6. After rising above the six centres, then one gets the Anhad Shabd – which might take man many years. Now, the Sant Satgurus give some contact with this on the very first day of initiation. What a great concession is this! Under the benevolence and Mercy of Kabir Sahib and Guru Nanak, this simple science was started to meet the need of the age, for hereditarily we are not fit for lengthy processes. The Master gives some practical experience on the very first day and encourages continued development. His help is available throughout the journey, not only in life, but at the time of death and after death the soul is constantly guided. Go to search for such a Master.
In praise of the Master, it is written in the Gurbani,
Oh Nanak, leave the company of the imperfect and search out a Perfect Master. The imperfect will forsake you in life; but the Master will never leave you, even after death.
What is the meaning of this? The True Saints are rare, but when found, Their company is invaluable, for the fortunate disciple is with his Master outwardly, and on closing his eyes finds his Master within also. Such faithful companionship will bring True Contentment. One Muslim Saint has said,
Oh brave man, grasp the protection of He Who is the knower of this world and the hereafter.
The True Guru is He in Whom God has manifested Himself a Human Positive Pole, or the Word made flesh. For one who wishes to unravel the mystery of life, the company of such a Saint is essential. They give cash in hand. Those who want to live on loan have my best wishes, but a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. He who is awakened while living will remain awakened after death.
Listen, oh madman! Why do you forget what you know? You are clinging to illusory matter, which will wash away like the kusumbha colour.7
Just see how man is being addressed – he is called madman! This is because his intellect has been twisted and his consciousness is not in control, so he sees the right in the wrong light and the wrong in the right. What is right understanding? We should first remember that the physical form remains here in this world for only a few days.
Dust thou art, and unto dust returneth.
Whatever labels have been put on the body will also go with it. The body’s True Glory depends purely upon the soul. Everyone has to leave it at some time.
Prince or pauper, rich or poor, even the yogi – none remained here. Without exception, all left in their turn.
Whosoever came had to leave eventually, even the avatars8 and Spiritual Masters; so we should pack up and be ready to go.
The night has passed and with the dawn the traveller leaves his place of rest.
For how long can we stay in this world? That for which we have such pride – the body – will turn to dust one day.
That which we see, hear or feel in this world – what can one call it? – All is changing. The physical form is changing, and so is the whole world’s situation, like a panorama of life – nobody is at rest. We have fallen into a great forgetfulness, have become the body’s form itself; and although we are the operators, we know not the controller of the machinery. The tiny atoms in the body are constantly changing, and the world is changing at the same rate; so when two things change at the same speed and we are identified with them, it appears that everything is stationary. This can be called illusion or forgetfulness, and where did it all start?
This body is the root cause of all illusion.
We are the indweller of the physical form; and mistaking our identity for the body itself, we see everything from its level. Do we feel this mutation of the world and its species? Does anyone ever consider that death will come? Most assuredly it will, but why are we not more aware of the fact? Because the soul is permanent, imperishable, and never dies. It is all-wisdom, ever-existent, and eternal bliss. Daily we see death around us, sometimes cremate the bodies with our own hands, but it rarely occurs to us that we also have to die. Why? Because the reflection of the soul is with us. Even a fool will declare that he is all-wise – he cannot imagine that he has less intelligence than others. Though living in illusion, man yet instinctively feels he is all-wise and will never die; and this confusion can only be surmounted by rising above the consciousness to see the True Condition of life.
Through the reactions under the pralabdh karmas, happiness and unhappiness follow each other.
Unhappiness and happiness are like two modes of apparel worn by man.
These words are very clear, for due to the changing panorama of life, action and reaction continue perpetually. Even now, in the very present, some reaction is being formed. If we have to leave the body some day, why not learn to do so while living? The science of leaving the body at will has been made very easy by the Great Masters, when in the past it was so difficult that yogis spent hundreds of years trying to achieve it.
Why did the Master address mankind as Oh madman? Because only the Masters can express True Love and compassion for man who is caught up in the whirl of the senses, for They Themselves have stepped out of the illusion and see all things in crystal clearness. God Himself feels for His children – the lost sheep – and the Guru, Who is God in man, has the same compassion. God is Love, and the soul is of the same essence as God; it is also Love. By its own nature, it must attach itself to something, so it is very necessary for a devotee to have a Beloved. The soul was actually meant to be the lover of God, but became the lover of the world instead. Loving the world brings no permanent happiness; for due to the constant change, the soul is happy only when attached, and when not attached it becomes unhappy. Those who wish to realise permanent happiness should get a Beloved Who never changes and never dies.
That is why it is said,
He who desires permanent happiness should surrender himself to God.
The rest of life is just give and take – wife, husband, son, daughter, all other worldly relationships are just karmic give and take. Give freely and cheerfully – stop planting new seeds and take the road to your True Home.
The world’s scene is insipid. Leave it, my friend, and drink the Nectar of Naam.
We believe there is satisfaction in outer things, but it is not so. True Intoxication lies within us, for we are all-bliss. Satisfaction remains only while the attention is focused upon a certain thing; otherwise, it fades.
For example, a man may be engrossed in a theatre play – quite happy in the enjoyment. Suddenly he is informed that his house is on fire, and he immediately withdraws his attention from the play and rushes out filled with fear and anguish. The rest of the people are still sitting quietly engrossed in the show – there is no difference in the scene – but for one individual the play has no more reality. This goes to prove that enjoyment is derived through focusing the attention on something.
You have embraced imperfection close to your bosom, at the cost of rejecting the True Creator. How can you form a friendship with anything when all is impermanent in this world?
The illusion of trying to make a permanent home here, when deep down we know that we have to leave, is the cause of all our misery. Remember this, there is no point in starting to dig a well when you have reached the stage of dying of thirst. However, if the angle of vision is changed in good time and there is some awakening, then the pinching effects of life in the world will be reduced. The world is full of thorns, so put on some heavy boots. Even the tough shells of the walnut and almond were so tender once that one could pass a needle through, but when they ripened into full strength – then?
Those who have risen above body consciousness and know themselves do not live by inference or feelings. They know that they are the driving force themselves, and go through life’s ups and downs quite contentedly. If anyone near to them takes their leave in death, they wish them farewell, happy in God’s will. Do we ever truly have this attitude of serenity? Let us not deceive ourselves.
You have forgotten yourself in the falseness of the world, when you should be drenched in the permanent colour of the Naam.
You have given yourself to this world – which is not worth a seashell. Only God’s colour is permanent, but we are dyed in the colour of the world. When the True Intoxication comes, it will never wear off. How many people are truly intoxicated?
There was once a very proud king, who loved to reflect on how powerful he was, and how many subjects he had, etc. One day his Guru said to him, “You should realise that you have no value – if you like I will prove it to you.” The king was amazed and replied, “What are You saying, Master? If I lift my little finger, the whole country shivers; and You say I have no value!” The Guru said, “All right, do what I say; and I will show you your true value.” He made the king lie inert on the floor and then took his legs around his shoulders one on each side; and He took him into the town, shouting, “The king is dead; who wants to buy him? How much will you offer for him?” When the people heard this, they ran away, thinking He had murdered the king. He continued shouting, “I am selling the body for one rupee, fifty cents, one cent...” and came down to half a seashell; but the people fled from Him. The Guru brought the king back to the palace and asked him, “Now do you understand what your value is? No one would pay even a seashell for your body; so you must realise that as the value of a shell lies in the pearl within, so the body’s value depends upon the soul.”
Outwardly we go on dressing the body and making it look attractive, but it has little value.
This body is only beautiful as long as the soul and God reside therein.
The Lord of the soul is God, and he who gets that God-intoxication will radiate with beauty and happiness. In a worldly way, if a wife dresses in silken robes, but her husband is not there, what kind of situation is that? The Masters say that this type of finery should be consumed in flames.
There is a Punjabi saying which states,
If I have to spend years in the desert, but my Beloved is with me, I am happy in that.
Just as a woman shines if her husband is with her, so the soul’s husband is God and it becomes radiant when it is connected with its Lord. Awake to your value, for the minute you leave no one cares to keep the body in the house for even half an hour. They say,
Quickly, take it and prepare it.
The Saints are excellent observers; They see what state the world is in.
When the soul became absorbed in the sweet Shabd given by the Guru, it shone red with radiance.
It is said that when one’s soul tastes the Grand Elixir which comes from the Shabd, it becomes red with radiance. When a man is happy, his face shows the happiness; it shines through him. When the soul becomes radiant, then the brightness shines through the eyes. That body is the most beautiful in which God has manifested; otherwise, forgive me, but for how long can one beautify the body outwardly? If you do it in the night, it vanishes by morning. That colour in which the soul gets drenched never wears off. The Naam’s intoxication will continue night and day, and its dye will never fade nor run. Furthermore, no other impression can be implanted on that.
The words of the Masters are meant for all the world over.
They do not state anything which They have read alone – They tell of what They have seen. If the Master has academic learning, well and good, for He can explain the teachings in a hundred different ways. If He is not learned, then His description will be direct, simple, clear.
Shah Inayat said to Bulleh Shah,
What is the difficulty in realising God? Just take your attention from this side and put it on the other side.
When Keshab Chanda Sen went to Ramakrishna Paramhans, he was told,
If you want to understand this in a few words, then come to me; but if you want to hear it explained elaborately, then go to Vivekananda.
Both types of Masters will give the same thing – whether learned or unlearned. It is also true that a learned man will never take a step without thinking deeply over it and understanding the why and wherefore of things; and at times he is left standing, busy with his own thoughts. Bookish knowledge is all wilderness; there is no way out!
There was a Muslim fakir, and he said,
Oh seekers of God, you have lost your God in the waves of your mind and intellect.
What a clear-cut statement! God is already within you, and you have only to turn your face towards Him to realise Him. Now that I am looking at you, I cannot see what is going on behind my back. And who am I who is looking? I am a conscious entity; but the difficulty is how to withdraw, for we are at the mercy of the mind and the senses. When all actions are connected with the mind, senses, and intellect, just think, how can one withdraw oneself? All intellectual knowledge comes under the heading of Apara Vidya.9 As long as you do not leave the body, you can never know yourself or know God.
There are two kinds of devotion. One is through the mind, senses, and intellect. The other is through the Guru. In the Gurbani it is said that Guru Amar Das Ji spent seventy long, devoted years in endeavouring to realise God through the mind, senses, and intellect. He met many yogis and tried many practices. In the end, what was the result? He found that no matter what practices He performed, and no matter what knowledge He gained through the intellect, He could not rise above the body consciousness. One should give great thought to this. Through the intellect one can get glimpses into the subject, but it is not a living knowledge. Guru Amar Das Ji then said, Without any effort on my part, I came to the Satguru.
Give all full devotion to a Gurumukh.
What is a Gurumukh? He Who follows the teachings of the Guru and becomes One with the Guru. He is the manifested God in man, and can give a demonstration of the Beyond. To talk about Spirituality is one thing, but to give It is far different. The true criterion of a Guru is that He will give you the Light.
I like that Satguru Who takes the veil from my eyes and gives me an Inner Glimpse of the Truth.
The word Guru literally means ‘dispeller of darkness,’ and the eye through which one sees the Light within is different from those of flesh and blood.
When does that eye open? When one withdraws the attention from the senses; only then can one get a way up. How can a man who is involved in outer attachments and carries out his devotional practices at the level of the senses expect to see that which is above the senses?
Action and reaction never cease – if you do good you are rewarded, and if you do wrong you are punished. Duality is always present. As long as one thinks ‘I am the doer,’ one cannot leave the womb – the cycle of births and deaths. Lord Krishna said that happiness and misery are like two heavy chains binding us – be they of gold or iron.
Heaven and hell; again and again, birth.
The coming and going will never finish. The difference between Gurumukh devotion and other devotions is that, in the former case, the devotee is never told that after a month, a year, or even after death, he will have some enlightenment; but something is given to start with. The Masters deal in cash on the spot! Even if a little is given at the start, there are full hopes for much more to come in the future through increasing the practice, day by day.
That death which frightens the world means all bliss to me.
Everlasting bliss is only possible through death; and if this first step is taken in the right way, then the fear of death will go, even while living in the world.
The man who remains happy in adverse circumstances takes gold and mud as one.
Only a man who has become like a ripened walnut, whose kernel is separate from the shell, can live life in such a detached manner.
Through intoxication of artificial love, untruth is embraced and clung to.
What is this kind of love? It is a misfit love which has attached itself to falseness. The soul should have loved God, but loved the world instead, and such love will always change; it is not permanent. Attached to the world, the soul sometimes laughs, sometimes cries through all the joys and miseries – is that not a false attachment? It is all a lie. All that perishes is untruth and everything that we see, hear, and feel is changing; so just think for a moment of the level that the Master wants to take you.
Listen, oh madman! Worship the True Lord, which is your very life. He who has come has to go.
What painful words! Listen, madman, go and worship that God Who is the Lord of even the poorest of the poor. He is the Life-giver, and only in this human life can He be realised – and you can do it! Oh madman, he who comes has to go; no one ever stayed here; no one ever will.
Go to your True Home – why settle down in a foreign land? Do your work, brother, but do not ensnare yourself.
Why do you want to entrap yourself? Finish your give and take, but do not sow any new seeds.
My Beloved is the knower of all things, and when manifested in the man body, is called a Saint.
My Beloved, the Lord, the Knower of all – He is the God in man.
Any Saint, giver of happiness, can show me the way up.
It does not matter Who He is as long as He has realised God, has become One with Him, and can show the Way up to Him. Go to search for such a Master. Today, through misjudgement of what a Master should be, there are more so-called masters in the world than disciples!
If this human life which you are now enjoying slips from your hands, who knows when you will get another in which this great work can be done? The heart was given by God into your safekeeping, and only He should reside therein.
Give your mind, without hesitation – become a Gurumukh by leaving your pride and ego.
If you wish to realise the Lord, then surrender your mind, give it without any fear into His keeping. Become a True Disciple – a Gurumukh – by leaving all pride and self praise. This worldly play lasts for a few days only, and by giving the mind, everything follows: the heart, moral character, body, wealth, name and fame, etc. Givers of wealth can be found by the score, and many give the physical form in service, but it is rare to find one who will give his mind.
Once, during a Satsang in Beas, Baba Sawan Singh Ji said,
If anyone can give his mind, today he will get God-realisation.
One man stood up and declared,
Master, I am prepared to give my mind.
Baba Sawan Singh Ji replied,
How can you give a thing, over which you have no control? First, make it yours, then give.
Nanak says that the mind can only be controlled with the overflowing Grace of God.
With the Holy Naam, the mind can be controlled. There is an instance in Lord Krishna’s life when he jumped into the River Jumna. There he saw a huge snake with a thousand heads. How did he control and overcome that snake? By playing the flute.10 The mind can only be controlled with the Inner Sound; there is no other way. Outer things may still it for a while, but they can never control it. Many holy men in the past have lost everything through the mind. By contact with the Word and the company of the Word made flesh, the power of the mind can gradually be overcome. If you sit at the feet of a Perfect Master, you will enjoy the benefit of the radiation, for His attention is under His own control. There you will become absorbed in the stillness and forget the world for a while.
The wisdom of the Beyond lies behind the pupil of the Inner Eye. Gaze through the drape of darkness.
One might sit for hundreds of years unless one learns to penetrate through the darkness with the help of a Master of Spirituality. Only then will one begin to see how the senses invert to find the Truth.
Guru Amar Das Ji said,
When you meet a Master, the senses are inverted; but how cannot be described in words.
For this, you sit at the feet of a Master and see for yourself to have the experience of rising above body consciousness.
That is why Masters say,
Learn to die, so that you may begin to live.
Go deep down into it.
Oh Deliverer of the devotees, how can poor Nanak praise what he sees?
He says, Oh Lord, how can I praise Thy innumerable virtues? We are lowly and weak; only through Thy Grace can we achieve anything.
Through the good karmas, the Satguru meets us; through dedicating the attention, the Shabd enters the heart.
Between God and manifested God in man, there is a difference, though in essence they are the same. Through a manifested God in man alone, can one find the Path to God. How can one compare the sun and its rays?
Overcome with gratitude to his Guru, one disciple said,
God and my Guru are standing together – to Whom shall I bow? I am grateful to my Guru Who showed me the Satguru.
It means that without meeting the manifested God in man, it would not have been possible to reach God, and, therefore, all gratitude should go to the Guru. After all, the Master cannot be greater than God. No True Master has ever said, ‘I am the doer,’ but rather They say, ‘It is God’s will.’
I have already given an example of a proud king who was shown his true value, but through a Master’s Grace one can become so high that the earth upon which one treads will become a place of pilgrimage. Unfortunately, man rarely has value for the Living Pilgrimage; but after completing his life’s mission, the places he was wont to frequent are considered to be holy. During Their stay on earth, They are called heretics and are not allowed to enter town – many were crucified, hung, and tortured – but regardless of all this, the Masters are full of compassion and Mercy.
At His crucifixion, Jesus Christ said,
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
When Hazrat Ibrahim was once crossing the river in a boat, an atheist and his companion began insulting and making fun of Him; but the Saint remained serene and silent.
It is written that God appeared to Him and said,
I cannot bear these insults toward you, and if you wish I will overturn the boat and drown them all.
Oh Lord, it is not their fault, for their eye is not open; so why not open their eyes?
When they received that realisation, they fell upon His feet and begged forgiveness.
Such a Master is very rare; but for the benefit of those who have sincere yearning for the Truth, He Himself will arrange a meeting. It is logical that a blind man cannot seek one who can see without some aid.
It is through a rare good fortune that one learns to die while living, thereby getting salvation.
With special Grace from God, one can get a demonstration of how to die while living. At the time of death, a person normally fails to recognise the people around him. Then the life force withdraws from the lower extremities, leaving them numb and lifeless, and continues upward. There is a ‘death rattle’ or noise in the throat, and the eyes turn upward. Without exception, every human being must undergo this process; and if one can master it while living, the Inner Eye will be developed and the fear of death will vanish. It is a strange fact that though the whole world is frightened of death, the disciples on the Holy Path want to die. He who has mastered the science of dying with the Grace of the Master, will depart finally with laughter on his or her lips, as in the case of my earthly companion.11
With what an abundance of Love have these teachings been given and with what authority the words spoken. If we do not try to understand and follow, the loss is ours. Guru Arjan Sahib, Who spoke these words, was forced alive onto a hot plate, and burning sand was poured upon Him. My Master used to say that he who wishes to understand the subject of Spirituality should sit beside the death-bed of some True Disciple – not the type of disciple who takes initiation and does not practice it, mind you, although he is also taken care of – then he will see how joyfully that disciple accepts death and leaves his body with rejoicing. Swami Dayanand’s disciple, Pundit Guru Dutt, was never fully convinced of his Master’s teaching; but fortunately he was with the Swami at the time of His death, and conviction of the power came when he saw his Guru leave the body in joy.
With God’s blessing, very easily a person can withdraw his attention inside; he then lives in the world and yet is out of it. His boat is in the water, and the water is not in the boat! This valuable gift is given without payment; it is free, as all gifts of nature are free. However, it is not enough to accept a Master alone, one must give all one’s devotion to Him. Live according to His instructions.
If you love me, keep my commandments.
From those who follow a True Master, few will truly keep His commandments; but those who do will receive the Elixir of Life. The people who are attached to the world do not realise that their consciousness slowly diminishes day by day by coming in contact with the material world, and when reborn often retrogress into lower species of life.
Oh Nanak, through His feet, I reached the gate of the Lord; I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Him. Listen, madman, do not think I have realised Him through my efforts.
Whatever you have, came through the Master’s blessing – do you think, oh madman, that you got it through your own efforts? If He wants to give, He will give; and if He does not want to give, He will not; but He will never say that He is the giver or the doer, because He sees the Truth. To realise God, humility essentially follows. The cup that is lower than the jug will be filled. A tree when laden with fruit bows down to the earth with the weight.
The Masters – Who see – never forget that God is the doer. They come to the earth as sons of man, and humility is Their most becoming adornment. They live in the world as ordinary persons. When Guru Arjan Sahib – Who wrote this hymn – was made to sit on the hot plate, a great Muslim leader named Hazrat Mian Mir approached Him and said,
Please give me the orders, and I will take Delhi and Lahore, brick by brick, and break them together.
Guru Arjan Sahib replied,
The Lord’s orders are the sweetest to me.
Even if you take a knife to Their necks, such self realised Souls will not think evil of others.
Listen, oh madman! Become like dust if you want to realise God.
He says that you should remember one great thing: if you want to realise God, then become like dust at the feet of the Guru. A connection with the Naam means that the attention is withdrawn from outer things and the soul merges in the Oversoul. Become dust unto the feet of He Who is capable of making this connection.
Only with great destiny can one have a glimpse of He Who has absorbed Himself into God and has realised True Happiness. Arise, Farid, go around the world in search of such a One; if you find a released Soul, you will also get released.
Where are the True Men? If only man would become a True Man, he would find himself in that enviable position that Kabir disclosed to us:
God is running after me, calling Kabir, Kabir.
We are more like animals though our form is human, for we have the animal spirit. If we do not rise above the lower impulses, we are not entitled to be called human beings.
There should be no ego – always consider, Oh God, it is Thy Mercy. To surrender the mind is the greatest and most difficult thing to do. To give everything else is comparatively easy.
Guru Amar Das Ji once gathered His disciples and expressed a wish to make mounds of earth. They all became engaged in digging the soil and making huge mounds. The Guru viewed the work after a while, and said that it was not good enough and must be remade. This happened a number of times, when He then decided that the site was not good, and directed them to another place. After attempting to remake the mounds many more times, Guru Amar Das Ji again shifted them to another site, because the mud was not suitable. It is said that the mounds were made and broken seventy times. Throughout all this, the disciples one by one gradually left the scene, until finally only one, named Jetha Ji,12 remained. He unceasingly continued the work; but the others said to him,
What is the purpose of all this making and remaking? We feel that through old age, Guru Amar Das Ji has lost His reason.
With tears in his eyes, Jetha Ji replied,
Our Guru is the only awakened soul among us; and if He gave me orders to make and break mounds my whole life through, I would be happy in the work.
During the performance, the Guru had given careful observation to see which man had that heart in him in which no mind remained, that He might give the treasure of full enlightenment to such a worthy soul.
The Masters are very careful and test Their disciples in many ways before extending the priceless gift. It is not given to anyone, and They have Their own methods of testing, known to Them alone. As long as there is I-hood in the disciple, there can be no real awareness of God. That I-hood must be removed – for instance if you take the single letter ‘l’ from the word ‘World’ it becomes Word, which has a very different meaning.
We bow down to the great destiny of He Who has realised God, and to Him we completely surrender ourselves.
We surrender ourselves to He Who, after getting the human birth, realises God – without His buying us, we are His. Strong extremes of gratitude have been expressed for the Godman:
In gratitude I will cut myself in pieces, with which to shower Him.
Every time a Master comes He drenches thousands upon thousands in the Spiritual Colour, like the clouds which announce the rain. When the rain comes, the water and the earth become all drenched with water.
Oh Nanak, keep this lowly being at Thy feet, where the everlasting happiness flows like an ocean, and Thy constant protection lies.
You are the Great Ocean of Mercy, and we are lying at Your feet. We are Your children – have Mercy on us – extend Your Grace and protection. This was Guru Arjan Sahib’s hymn, showing us the sorrow of the world, our condition in it, what our aim should be and how it can be achieved. Every father wishes his son to be even better than himself. Every king wants his son to become a king – not a minister, mind you. Every Master wants His followers to become Masters. With what beautiful words has He explained our woes! If you have understood them, bring them into practice, for it is your own work which can be done only in this human life – a great part of which has already been wasted away. Try to get out of the illusion, and remember always that only He Who is already free can take you out of it; so implicitly obey His wishes.
With the Grace of God and my Master, I bade farewell to my two young sons, my mother and father early in my life, my two elder brothers, and my earthly companion, joyfully in all gratefulness without a speck of grief or sorrow – and I wish you all to live up to the words of the Master so that you may meet suchlike events smilingly.
Explanation: 1) Suniya means literally ‘to listen.’ 2) Reactions of the past which form the basis of the present life; fate karmas. 3)Ashtang Yoga practices. 4) Sixth or commanding centre in the body, behind the eyes. 5) Unstruck Sound. 6) Sahans-dal-Kanwal, the stage of the thousand-petalled lotus. 7) Sunfast dye from the Kusumb flower. 8) Those who come to put the world’s affairs in order. 9) Exoteric religion or teaching. 10) The form of the snake represents the mind; the flute the Inner Sound Current. 11) This talk was a special Satsang marking the completion of the funeral rites of Mata Krishna Vanti, the Master’s wife. For a full account of the extraordinary circumstances of Mata Ji’s final departure, see ‘Farewell to Mata Ji’ in May 1970 Sat Sandesh. 12) Later Guru Ram Das.