Practice of Surat Shabd Yoga
There are three phases of Surat Shabd Yoga, namely Simran, repetition or remembrance, Dhyan, contemplation and Bhajan. Simran consists in repeatedly remembering a certain specified thing. The full details of this practice can be obtained from a Perfect Master. In the beginning Simran is Varan-atmak, i.e. practised by means of spoken words. Later on, however, it is performed by means of the 'tongue' of thought. When it becomes firmly established and the power of remaining in concentration is developed, inner Light appears and also the beautiful astral Form of the Master the Guru Dev. This form pulls the soul towards it and in this way, contemplation is completed. The object contemplated upon, the contemplation and the contemplator become one. The ideal, the contemplation and the doer become one.
When a disciple remembers an ideal again and again and fixes the eyes of contemplation on it again and again, the Nirat, or soul's power of sight, will visualize its shape and absorb its effect. In this way, the soul and the soul's power of seeing rest in 'calm fixity' and the Divine Melody is heard during contemplation. The seeker should fix the attention of the soul on the Melody described by the Master. The power of speech should merge in Simran or repetition, the power of sight in contemplation, and the power of hearing in the Dhun-atmak or Unutterable Naam. The disciple should seal his tongue, eyes and ears with Simran, contemplation and the Divine Melody.
Close the three apertures (ears, eyes and mouth); make no loud recitations. Close the outer apertures and open the inner ones. Close the three apertures and repeat the Name of the Immaculate One; the inner apertures will open only when the outer ones are closed.
These three practices are done at the eye centre, also called the Third Eye and the eight-petalled lotus centre. The eye-centre is between the two eye-brows. For the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga, it is necessary to obtain initiation from a perfect Master or Saint. Progress in this Yoga is made in the company of Saints. When the Lord sends His Grace from His original Home, then only one gets the blessing of meeting a true Master and of being in His company. After meeting a Master, the disciple need not observe any formal religious rites or ceremonies. The Master, by His Grace, makes the disciple practise Surat Shabd Yoga.
By His Grace one meets a Master; and the Master initiates one into the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga.
Majh M3, 110-1
For the practice of this Yoga it is necessary to have a secluded spot away from noise. To achieve inner seclusion, the Masters teach a perfect method by which the disciple closes the outer doors and sits in one-pointed concentration. He is asked to practise at a fixed time, morning and evening. At that time, one has to gather one's attention at the seat of the soul, which is behind the eyes, mid-way between the two eye-brows. The Hindus call it the Third Eye or Tisra Til, and the Muslims call it Nukta-e-Sweda or the eye-centre. It is not necessary to put pressure on any vein or other part of the body. It is sufficient if you fix your attention at that point in the body.
This is the point which is referred to by Lord Krishna as being in the middle of the root of the nose. During this exercise one performs the simran, or repetition, as directed by the Master, and also contemplates on Him. He should not let any other thought enter his mind. In this way, he should gather together at the eye-centre the consciousness, which normally pervades every pore of the body, and fix his attention at the eye-centre. The full details of this practice and also of the difficulties and obstructions that may be experienced, are described by the Master at the time of initiation, so that the disciple may avoid them. The Master also helps the disciple internally and protects him.
The Master helps in overcoming difficulties; the devotee reaches his home safely and is happy.
Basant M5, 1185-15
It is dangerous to practise this Yoga without initiation, after merely reading books or after hearing about it from others. Maulvi Rum gives the same advice. He says that one should seek a Master because, without a Master, this path is full of risks and dangers.
Seek a Master for this journey; without a Master it is full of risks and dangers.
What is the sign of success in the practice of this Yoga? It is that one loses all consciousness of the body. In the beginning the hands and feet become numb, and then other parts gradually become numb. The currents of consciousness which flow downwards and give life to the body gather together at the centre of the soul – the eye-centre – and rest of the entire body loses consciousness. Unless one rises completely above the nine doors (the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth and two lower apertures), one remains ignorant of the divine vision.
Unless a man rises above consciousness, he remains without the divine vision.
Kabir Sahib also says that the soul which is wandering around in the nine doors cannot find the invaluable treasure.
Oh fair damsel, you have searched in all the nine doors, but have not found the precious treasure. Oh Kabir, the nine doors hold it not; it is inside the Tenth Door.
Kabir, Gauri 339-13
When the powers that normally operate at or through the nine doors gather together, the divine melody is heard and the inner light is seen. The connection with the gross senses ceases, and the subtler regions come into view. The soul, mind and intellect all become finer and purer.
There the soul, mind and intellect find their real and proper form.
All the faculties of the devotee improve. The faculties of his soul and mind become finer. The intellect is sharpened. On listening to the melodies of the divine sound, the mysteries of all the higher and finer spiritual regions are revealed.
When the soul by means of simran or repetition is gathered at the eye-centre and crosses the starry regions, the sun and the moon, it beholds the astral form of the Master within. This form accompanies the disciple to the ultimate Home. The attention of the disciple then becomes strongly concentrated. He reaches this stage by means of simran or repetition. Simran is not much needed thereafter. The disciple worships and meditates on the Guru, and by degrees the two become one. He becomes "Fana-fil-Sheikh" (one with the Master). He merges in the Master. The hint given by the Gurus when they say: "Leave yourself and merge in the Guru" refers to this state. In this way, the disciple automatically finds his way to the higher regions.
When one gets the company of the outer Guru, he looks one-pointedly at his form and into his eyes, and as a result of the wonderful light and magnetic attraction of the Master he reaches a high degree of concentration. His soul leaves the body easily and rises to inner regions and sees various scenes there. Besides this there is no other method for easily concentrating and seeing the beautiful sights of the inner regions. Simran and contemplation are now complete and the music of the Shabd, which was dimly heard at first, is now clearly heard. It intoxicates the mind and gladdens the soul.
The purpose of simran is to collect the soul behind the eyes so that this earthly vessel, the body, may be vacated at will. The purpose of contemplation is to hold the soul still in the upper regions. This results from fixing the attention on the radiant form of the Master. The function of the Divine Melody is to take the soul up to the higher regions. When a disciple has access to the radiant form of the Master, he may consider half the battle as won. After this, the act of rising to higher regions is both easy and joyous. The Master takes the disciple along with Him by the radiance of His light and the wonderfully sweet melodies of the Divine Sound. They enter the region of the thousand-petalled lotus, which is in the centre of the astral region and is very brilliant. Here they meet innumerable Rishis (wise men), Munis (seers) and Mahatmas (holy men), who are enjoying the light of the region. This region has been called by them Sahasrar, or the Region of the Thousand Lights. In this region the Negative Power places certain obstacles in the disciple's way. But the Master removes them and takes the soul across.
Guru Nanak has described them in the section of the Adi Granth called "Characteristics of the Faithful", and Tulsi Das Ji has described them in the Ramayana.
After passing through many other spiritual regions, the Master takes the disciple to Sach Khand, the True Region, which is beyond the reach of both the dissolution and the grand dissolution.
This is a very brief account of Surat Shabd Yoga. Only a devoted disciple gets this yoga from a perfect Master. Through it he reaches his original Home in Sach Khand, the True Region.
The devoted disciple realises the Lord in the body; to him the divine melody is the distinguishing mark of the Lord.
Asa M1, 414-6
The benefits of practising Surat Shabd Yoga are very great. The inner melody and light appear and one comes to know the True Reality.
Surat Shabd Yoga bears its own witness. The conch-shell horn is blowing and the devotee hears it.
Ramkali M1, 877-9
The way of yoga, of knowledge, of devotion, of Surat Shabd, of repetition and austerities – all point to Him. As warp and woof, they lead to light. Oh Nanak, the devotees are not subject to pain and sorrow.
Kalyan M5, 1322-10
All defects, doubts and egotism are destroyed.
You commit many misdeeds and sins, and remain in doubt without Surat Shabd Yoga. Egotism is a deadly disease; only by obeying the Master is it cured.
Ramkali M1, 906-16
One gains great happiness through the practice of this Yoga.
The Lord's Name pierced my mind; and now I do not need to dwell on anything else. One is happy when the mind is concentrated on the divine melody; attuned with the Lord, I am happy.
Sri Rag M1, 62-3
Those who practise Surat Shabd Yoga, by virtue of the spiritual power of the divine Melody or Shabd, get disentangled from the world, and thus they cross the ocean of the phenomenal universe.
Just as the lotus remains detached from water, just as a duck floats on the water's surface, cross the ocean of existence by means of the Divine Sound oh Nanak, praise the Name.
Ramkali M1, 938-15
Where there is no Surat Shabd Yoga, the position is just the reverse. One burns in the fire of sorrows, and one's birth in the human form is wasted.
You have lost the human birth in a gamble, because you have not practised Surat Shabd Yoga.
Bhairon M1, 1155-10
The gallows of the angel of death and the fearful chaurasi (cycle of eighty-four) is for everyone. One should, therefore, through the practice of Surat Shabd Yoga, make one's life fruitful, for one has obtained birth in the human form only through a great good fortune.