Inn of Madness

Part II

Now listen carefully to Kabir Sahib’s hymn:

In the inn of the body, the jiva-traveller is staying; but why so enrapt in this madness ?”

The body is like an inn, and we are travellers in this world for but a few days. The senses or outgoing faculties through which the worldly impressions enter are firmly attached to this inn or house. The eyes alone absorb 83 percent of all impressions. The ears take in 14 percent, and the remaining 3 percent is distributed among the other senses. When we sleep, we dream of the impressions we have received in our everyday awakened state. As can be seen, our lives are very superficial; we have never taken a dip into our real self.

What is the purpose then of this inn-like body? Its purpose is to enable us to know our True Self and to realise God. If the soul does not do this, then?

If the life fades away without gaining the benefit, the advent of birth is wasted.

Lord Buddha said the same thing: that within human life the Truth can be realised.

Who knows when one will again receive the blessing of human birth? It was given for a definite use – so why get intoxicated with sense-pleasures? What will be gained this way? You go on seeing the world’s play, but the craving for more and more is never satisfied. The ears are always listening to the world’s tune but are never contented with it. One thinks one is enjoying these sensual pleasures, but it is not so. The sense-pleasures are enjoying you.

In the Puranas (ancient Hindu scriptures) it is related that the god of food complained to Lord Vishnu that he was tired of the people eating him mercilessly.

Lord Vishnu advised him,

Those people who eat you more than they need, well, you eat them up.

Over indulgence in food leads to degeneration of the physical organs. Indulge the senses only as much as necessity demands; do not create gluttony as a habit. If everything is used in a controlled manner, all things will be helping factors instead of doing harm. For instance, there is a certain poison which when taken in infinitesimal doses builds up the physical strength like a tonic; but when taken in large doses, it kills. All the pleasures of the senses were given for man to work through – but in perfect control. This house or inn was given for only a few days so that it should be put to the utmost advantage, but we are destroying it fast.

There are five senses of knowledge and five senses of karmas; and if only one sense gains control, what happens? A moth, for example, is governed by the eyesight, to the extent of burning himself to death in the heat of a flame or bright light. Fish, on the other hand, are governed by the sense of taste; and although happily swimming about in the water, yet they will rise to the angler’s bait – only to be caught on the hook and die in agonies of torment, flapping around on the earth. The large black bumblebee has a very strong sense of smell, and through this easily loses his life to a certain tropical flower that has the ability to close its petals over any insect entering within it.

The sense of hearing is overpowering in the deer. I do not know if you have spent any time in the forests, but I have seen a deer jump forward as much as twenty yards. Even the fastest horse cannot catch this fleet-footed animal, and yet he is easily caught. Deer hunters play a certain tune on a special drum, hearing which the deer is drawn helplessly towards it in ecstasy of that sound, until he quietly lays his head down upon the drum and, of course, is captured. He spends the rest of his life imprisoned in captivity.

In the male elephant the sense of touch is very strong, even though he has the strength to uproot huge trees with his trunk. I once lived in the jungle for four or five months and saw how they prepared to catch the elephant by digging a large pit and covering it with leaves, and then placing a female elephant nearby. When the male scents the female, he loses all caution and rushes toward her and falls into the pit which lies in his path. He is then starved for many days until it is possible for men to handle him and remove him. He then spends his life in captivity. So, you can see that when even a single sense out the five is ruling, it can bring death or slavery. What then is the condition of a being who is slave to all five senses?

Your whole life is being wasted and finally you will be withdrawn from the world – you have to leave this body – even if you have no knowledge of when that time will come. The great emperors, the learned intellectuals, famous philosophers, and even God-realised People – where are the bodies of all these persons now? They have all left the scene of action, and we must also leave sometime; there is no exception to the rule.

If only the thought remained uppermost in mind:

Who am I? Where am I going?

This could change the very pattern of our life. Just think for a moment: if you received a notice to tell you that you had to leave town tomorrow, how would you spend today? Would you not prepare yourself to? The time for leaving the body may already be fixed, but it is not known to you. It may come at any time.

Kabir Sahib says,

Become virtuous; repeat the Naam; tomorrow may never come.

What to speak of tomorrow; we have no guarantee of the very next minute! The breath continues to return to the body and the man remains there – but if it does not come back? Try to see what is sustaining it, for alone it is just a mound of matter that we carry everywhere.

The friend (body) is enlivened as long as the companion (soul) is there; 2hen the companion leaves, it is worthless matter.

When the soul leaves the body, four brothers pick up the inert form in a hurry and rush it to the cremation ground. No one wants to keep it for long. But, those with right understanding see the facts in true perspective. It is no new philosophy. Those who made the best use of the human birth and freed the soul from the rule of mind and senses gained knowledge of the self and also experienced the Lord, and for them there is no return to this world of action. But, coming and going is not finished for those who live only and always at the sense level, whether their actions be good or bad.

Lord Krishna says in the Gita that there are only two paths; pitriyan panth and deviyan panth.

Pitriyan panth is the path of the karmic wheel, and the soul which travels it cannot get off this wheel. But, the soul which travels the deviyan panth – the Path of Light – never returns. It is the custom in the Sanatan sect of the Hindu religion to light a lamp and put it in the hand of a dying person, for it is believed that the soul will not otherwise gain salvation. But, in fact, this light should be lit while living – the Inner Light – for only then can the soul become free from births and deaths.

Where is this Light?

The Light is effulgent in He Who controls the ten senses.

The Light is already within all men, but one must separate from the senses to see It. There is no need to create It, therefore; just invert. You can say to turn the face inwardly, or by self-analysis, rise above the senses.

Kabir Sahib says,

Why remain intoxicated in this inn of the body?

It is common sense to see that for the soul who is at the level of mind and senses and has become the image of the body and therefore is doing all practices at the same level, how can it be possible to rise above the body, mind, and senses? If anyone thinks he can do it, he is welcome to try. After all, what does a blind man desire? Just two eyes. But, if you cannot do it, admit the fact and go to seek help from Someone Who knows the science of rising above body consciousness. Such a Master-Soul may give a sitting to ten people, or fifty, or one hundred or more; but by His single fraction of attention everyone will receive Light. The proof of Light will be seen with one’s own vision. So, the path of the Saints is called the reverse path, for They teach the seeker how to invert the senses.

When you meet the Satguru, inversion starts; dying while living will unravel it.

When the soul inverts, the body becomes lifeless; he who dies while living becomes the one who experiences the Lord. Learn to die so that you may begin to live. Maulana Rumi says that if you desire to have Everlasting Life, then learn to die while living.

Dadu Sahib says,

Dadu, die before; everyone dies when the time comes.

All Masters have made similar statements on the same subject. That person who has unravelled the mystery of life has no fear of death.

Die you must, so why not now? Stand aloof from the world. Such a death one can die a hundred times a day.

To be able to rise above at will erases all fear of death. You are a guest in this inn of the body for a few days only – do not lose yourself in the madness of the senses and the sense-enjoyments. Do not forget yourself entirely in this outer madness, but try to reach the aim for which the human birth was given. If this opportunity to do the real work is wasted, then who knows when you will be given another?

Rest for the night, leave in the morning.

It is a place where you can spend the night; but when daylight comes, you have to leave. Who stays permanently at an inn?

Return to your own place, brother; why live in a strange country? Do your own work and ignore alien affairs.

This is not your country. You merely have connection with the physical form for a few days and will soon have to leave. It can never be your permanent place, but where will you go? Have you ever thought about that?

The house you must leave is tied in your mind; there is never a thought for your permanent Home.

You have imprisoned yourself in its environments and you have given it the status of a god. The True Home has been completely forgotten. Who can say you are intelligent? Perhaps you are learned through books, but the Masters say that one who does not realise his transient condition and has no knowledge of his Real Destination is either a fool or an ignorant child.

When a Spiritual Person is also learned in outer knowledge, he wears this like a garland of flowers and uses it to explain the Truth in a variety of ways.

For instance, when Keshab Chander Sen went to Sri Ramakrishna, the latter said,

If you want to understand this teaching in one word, then listen to me; if you would prefer to learn it through many words, then go to Vivekananda.

It is important that the mind should fully understand and be satisfied, for True Spiritual Experience can be had only when the senses, mind, and intellect are perfectly stilled. Nothing can be experienced while one is scattered at the sense level, whether it be in enjoyments or in intellectual expansion. We should make the best use of the intellect for our own or another’s understanding, but remember that reasoning can be a help and it can also be a bar. Through reason we can come to the point of accepting that God does exist; but having done that, why not realise Him? And, for that, the intellect then must be stilled.

Everyone must leave the physical form – and that includes you.

One Master says,

Where have the parents gone who gave you birth? You have no knowledge of their whereabouts.

The facts are clearly evident, but the world’s grease has covered you like a greasy cloth which does not retain water on its surface. We read books and scriptures, listen to numerous lectures; but the Truth penetrates neither mind nor heart: that we must also leave the world.

Those who know they must go, why worry and scheme?”

Why increase the worries and troubles more than necessary when we must all leave this place one day? If you knew you had to leave the world at the end of this day, how would you spend it?

A certain Master advises,

Spend each day thinking it is your last on earth.

If this advice was rigidly followed, a person’s life would be transformed. We go deeper into the forgetfulness because we do not remember death. Death is no bugbear, but is the name given to a change; or, you can call it a transfer. That person can truly be termed intelligent who prepares for this event. How wisely we start preparing ahead of time for some worldly event, like a marriage or an examination, etc. The change of death can also be called an examination which lies ahead of us, but we do not know the date. We do nothing to prepare for this. 

Wherever the attention is, so do we go and reside.

If one comes up above the sense-enjoyments and rises above the body consciousness, our coming and going in births and deaths will cease.


Good and bad karmas are both binding, like gold and iron shackles.

This is written in the Gita. On the path of pitriyan the coming and going continues, but the path of Light starts above the senses. Inside there are only two guides – Light and Sound – and They start when one rises above the senses. Where the world philosophies end, there religion starts. You can also say that the ABC of Spirituality starts from here. You will meet very few Masters Who have knowledge of this. If only those who teach customs and ritual would also teach the true meaning or basis behind them, there would be Love and harmony among men. We must love God, and as God is in each being, we must love all. If all men sincerely took this up as a principle, where would be the conflict? If each one had first-hand knowledge of the soul, and that the soul is the same in all, would we not respect each other?

Tulsi Sahib says,

The Guru Who bows down to the disciple is called a Sadhu.

The Guru Whose eye is open sees the Lord in each individual. However, he whose eye is not open cannot be blamed for not paying his respects to the Lord in others. But, what is happening today? Gurus stand proud and erect, and the disciples go on bowing down, bowing down, in all faith.

The Master is trying to help us understand that the time is now. It is night and we are staying at the inn; in the morning we must leave, and what have we accomplished up to the present? Man has achieved so much intellectually and physically, but what has he done for himself spiritually? We know little or nothing about the Truth or about our True Self. After all, material success is achieved and sustained through you, and you will have to leave it all one day. If you leave the body without solving the mystery of life, it will result only in paying the karmic debts of ignorance.

The worldly people will help and respect you only out of their own selfish desires. Even if one person may have all sincere sympathies and fine qualities, what can he do to help you when you have to leave? He can only stand and pray,

Oh Lord, have mercy on this soul.

At such a time only a God-realised Soul can be of help to you.

Oh Nanak, break from undeveloped company and seek the Realised Soul; they will leave you while living, but even after death He will never leave.

Worldly companions cannot be with you always; so why not seek One Who will be a constant companion?

And Who is that? He is what is known as a Master, Sant, etc. A Sant is not necessarily He Who is seen in a particular garb, but rather is He Who has realised the Truth and has become the mouthpiece of the Truth. Whoever goes to such a Soul will, on the first day, gain some experience in the science of rising above body consciousness, and will learn how to increase this daily so that the soul might leave the body at will – even one hundred times daily. All fear of death will be removed. And, remember this: the Truly Realised Person will never teach you outer practices, but will recommend that whatever you have been doing up to now should be made full use of by going ahead.

Salvation can only be achieved by rising above.

Put your attention on that Higher Place, where even Shiva is meditating.

That Higher Place lies above the senses, where it is said that Lord Shiva is meditating. This is why the Inner or Third Eye is sometimes called the Shiv Netra – Shiva’s Eye. Its position in the body is behind and between the physical eyes, but is above the senses. If one’s full attention can be concentrated there while living, then the soul becomes free from the wheel of life. With a little right understanding one can soon see that this life was not meant merely for eating, drinking, and gratifying all desires and passions. It has a far nobler purpose, and those who do nothing to accomplish this purpose in truth waste their lives.

This pure, priceless, bodily gown you have dirtied, spot upon spot.”

It is a priceless gift, this human form – king of all the species. It is written in the Koran that when the human being was made, the angels were ordered to bow before that form. It is the temple of the Lord: keep it pure and clean.

This body is the temple of God, wherein dwells the Light of Truth.

We keep the outer temples in spotless condition, but what happens to the Inner Temple? We may spend thousands on toilet requisites and beauty treatments, but inwardly the human form is filled with filthy passions of the senses. Even a dog sweeps the ground with his tail before sitting, and even for an insignificant caller one will quickly tidy up the home; and yet we want the Emperor of all existence to manifest in our heart. Can He manifest in a dirty heart?

Inside we are black with deeds, outwardly fair and attractive; yet we wish to copy the pure and chaste One.”

The enjoyments and passions have blackened our hearts – we are filled with jealously, greed, anger, lust, backbiting, and more. To all outer appearances, however, we are pure and clean and make a grand show by copying the God-realised Person. If you cover a dung hill with silk, will it then issue forth a sweet fragrance? Nature says no. If you cover a block of ice with a thick blanket, it will still give off its coolness. We have the human form in which we can realise God, but we are daily soiling our lives with more and more spots. Even the dirt alone will eat away the texture. An ethical life is the most important stepping stone towards Spirituality. Certain disciplines of the Hindus called yama and niyama were made for this, as was also the Eightfold Path of the Buddha, the four fasts of the Jains, and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

Oh Nanak, take the Name of the Lord when the heart is pure; you are trying to absorb the lies of the world.

His Name should not be on your tongue if you have a dagger in your pocket with which to kill someone. You may deceive the whole world, but can you deceive the Lord? Even for the world, the cat will be out of the bag sooner or later, for one cannot hide a lie forever; and in the end it will come out into the open.

Why light this worldly fire for only two days of life?”

Why waste the only two days of life in the fire of enjoyments? Soon you must leave it all behind. And, why were you given this life? Life is duty; Life is Love; Life is the Holy Gift of God.

Anger, envy arose in the heart of man like a serpent.”

These ugly things reside in the heart, but the soul is the image of Love; for God is Love, and He can be realised only through Love. The purpose of all outer practices is to develop devotion, to incite interest, and to establish regularity. It is part of the soul’s innate nature to attach itself to something, but unfortunately wherever it attaches itself results in misfit. The soul is consciousness; and if consciousness is to enjoy peace and happiness, it must attach itself to some higher consciousness. If it gains some brief enjoyment through attaching itself to matter, it does not mean that the matter is responsible for that; it is but a reflection of the soul’s own happy nature, a reflection of consciousness. While the attention is focused on a certain thing, it will go on enjoying; but when the attention is withdrawn the enjoyment ceases. Is this not true?

If this conscious entity – the soul – would rejoin the Greater Consciousness – the Oversoul –, become fully charged and come into expression, all happiness would manifest in the whole being. But, we do not enter that place where the happiness lies. Instead we spend all our lives searching in every other direction – North, South, East, West. Our Hazur used to say that we are like the weaver’s shuttle which goes back and forth.

We should have respect for all holy places, but why were they made? They are there for the health of the soul.

If one’s physical body is sick, people say,

Go to the hills and recuperate.

A few months’ carefree relaxation in the high altitude and fresh clean air is very beneficial and health-giving.

So, the holy places had an ideal purpose: to strengthen the soul by allowing it to withdraw from all the worldly affairs, leaving all worries behind, and sitting at the feet of some Realised Soul. This was the true purpose of the holy place, but today we have made them into holiday resorts and have started our worldly enjoyments there also.

I have been to Hardwar (a famous place of pilgrimage on the River Ganges) many times. Once a large number of Satsangis gathered and requested a Satsang be held.

When the Satsang started, I said,

Brothers, this place is very precious because many great Rishis, Munis, and Mahatmas have visited here at one time or another. Guru Nanak came, also Guru Amar Das visited here off and on over a period of seventy years. It is, therefore, a most auspicious site – but what have we done to it? When one travels towards town from the railway station, one sees two cinema halls.

A man stood up and corrected me:

No, Maharaj, there are now three!

Now tell me, is it the fault of the holy place? Consider why they were built: was it due to thousands of the country’s population flocking there? No, the holy places became holy because a certain one or more Realised Souls placed Their Holy Feet there.

Millions of people have been born in Jerusalem, but today it is held holy by the whole of Christendom due to one Man – Jesus Christ. The greatness of each place of pilgrimage can be accredited to at least some Realised Soul. Now, what has more value? The Realised Soul, or the place that became known because of Him?

We do become devotees of the holy books, but we do not want that which the books recommend. We decorate our houses with photographs or pictures of certain Masters, and surround them with artificial flowers, etc.; but we have no respect for a Living Master. When the Masters come to the world, we call Them atheists or madmen. Many Masters have been treated like this during Their lifetime, but after They leave the world we start worshipping the very ground They placed Their feet upon.

So, very lovingly the Master is helping us to understand that the body is ours for a few days only, and eventually we must leave it behind. God is Love. The soul is of the same essence as He, and is, therefore, also Love. A True Human Being is one in whom Love exists and is expressed. How can a man be truly human if he does not express Love? He should have been the very epitome of Love; he should have loved the Lord and the Lord in all beings; but instead he became like a black cobra. Do you know what happens when the cobra strikes. The place that he strikes upon starts burning; it is very poisonous. A wound from a sword, for instance, can heal within ten or fifteen days; but the wound from the human tongue never heals.

When I visited the West, some people asked,

How can we stem the danger of atomic war?

I told them,

By living up to what your scriptures say.

And, what do the scriptures tell us? They tell us to love the Lord, and as the Lord is in each being, to love everyone.