The Master’s Talk: Right Understanding exalted
A human being can benefit from another to the extent of that person’s knowledge. First, we should remember that the whole world is at the mercy of the mind, which has four phases. One phase is absorbed attention; the second is the result of that, in mind-activity; the third phase differentiates, through the intellect; and the fourth draws inferences out of the differentiation, through which an intoxicated, intense sense of pleasure occurs – and this is pride. These are the functions of the four phases of mind whatever one learns, one can pass on to others. Those who have journeyed along the path of inference can in turn teach others whatever they have learned – again through inference. But they cannot through inference give any practical experience.
I once went to a gathering in Kanpur, where the people were listening to talks on the Gita. The secret teaching is mentioned in Holy Books, but for want of a realised person, the meaning is not understood. In the fourth and sixth chapters of the Gita it is clearly written that one must go to a God-realised Person and with all sincerity question Him and get the answers. It states, furthermore that when you are satisfied, you should follow the instructions of that God-realised Person, and you will also gain the realisation. Then in the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters it is explained even more openly that one must go behind the eyes, and so on. Now this obviously is something that can only be done practically, and if this scripture is not heard through the discourse of One Who has actually gained the knowledge in experience, how can one follow the correct importance.
So, in Kanpur one brother stood up and said,
Brothers, get ready, for I am just now going to give you the darshan of the Lord.
Naturally everyone was most impressed to hear this statement. He gave a very good talk – most praiseworthy. Intellectually he very beautifully explained the subject, and brought it to a conclusion that there is some higher Power. But – he had not seen that Power, and could not show it to the people. What I am illustrating is that a man can only guide others up to the level he has himself reached, and not beyond that. He who is surrounded by mind and senses, and talks on the same level – no matter how wonderful the talk may be – but has not himself risen above the mind, intellect and senses, how can he possibly take another beyond then?
It is very necessary to give some serious thought on this particular point. Reading, writing, and thinking are the first steps along the way. To read the Holy Books is not a waste of time, for they are the expressions in words of the Realised Souls Who really experienced the Truth. Do you understand?
Listen to the Master’s True Words; He speaks of what He sees.
Whatever the Masters see, They give out.
When They saw, They sang, and those songs gave forth fruit.
Those who were caught up in mere feelings – ‘God is ever existent, I feel Him to be so’ – and so on, were most voluble in describing this ever existent nature, but only be feelings. It is rather like the proverbial group of blind people who tried to describe the elephant. One man felt the elephant’s legs, and said, ‘Oh, he is like a pillar.’ One man felt the ear, and said, ‘Brothers, he is like a fan.’ Another felt the stomach and declared the elephant to be like a barrel, and one felt the trunk and insisted he was like a rope. Now none of these blind men had actually seen the elephant, so the judgement of them all was inaccurate; because they were relying on feelings only.
So those people who listen to the statements of those who speak from feelings, will remain themselves governed by feelings, and will ever be at conflict among themselves, supporting their respective guru’s versions. When the elephant is described by one with his eyes open, he will say, ‘Yes, his legs are like pillars, his stomach like a barrel’, etc. He will place the whole picture in a very clear-cut and accurate manner. It is worthwhile understanding this point very fully: that you can be guided only up to that point which your guide has reached; and if he is deeply involved in his feelings, he will preach what he feels is true, and in this way any number of conclusions can be reached whereby people will fight among themselves over the controversies.
God is One – but His Power is working in different ways. Some people worship God as Lord Shiva, and some as Lord Vishnu. The Shiva devotee will say, ‘I do not want to see Vishnu’s face,’ and the Vishnu devotee will not wish to see Shiva’s face. Oh brothers, this is one and the same Power from the same source, but working at different types of work. The person whose eye is open to the Truth sees clearly that these are different phases of the same God-Power. The power which comes from a power house is at one place heating through fire, and at some other location is freezing through ice. The man using the heat may be of the opinion that electricity can only produce heat, and the man in the freezing plant may stubbornly insist that electricity can only be used for freezing, but the expert from the power house sees and knows that electric power can do many things. Each man speaks from his own level of knowledge, be it restricted or comprehensive.
The mystery of life must be solved; but he who feels the solution will just describe his feelings, and he who reaches a conclusion through interference will just explain his theory of inferences; and what of the person who has walked the emotional path? He will start dancing, for he can only express himself emotionally. This is all due to the fact that none of them have seen – that is why their statements will differ, and that is why their statements will differ, and that is why their statements will differ, and that is why their statements cannot be absolutely correct. One can begin to see why there is always so much conflict on the subject of religion.
The Vedas, in this regard, say,
Truth is One, but people through intellect have explained it variously.
We should always remember this point: that this subject is such that cannot be completely grasped by intellect. And what does the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad say? It says that to bring God into intellectual term is as impossible as trying to quench the thirst with wine or extract oil from sand.
On this same subject, Guru Nanak says,
It cannot be achieved by thoughts, though the thoughts be millions.
It is not a subject for thinking, although thinking may take one a little nearer towards finding it; so when will the riddle be solved? When:
Senses are immobile, the mind at rest, and the intellect is stilled, then the soul perceives.
Without a Perfect Master, there is no right understanding, and therefore no real progress. Without the right understanding each one sits in pride, saying ‘My way is the right one’ and attempts to force everyone else to accept it. Why all the conflict and dissention when all these different phases have the same Source? Even in the matter of way of life, some say the householder’s life is the best, and some say the renunciate’s life is the best. So which is better?
The Master say,
Happiness lies neither in the home, nor in leaving it: happiness lies in the knowledge gained from the Master’s company.
Finding True Happiness does not rest with renouncing or not renouncing the worldly life, and can only be found by contacting the Truth at the feet of a Master. The Masters are Those Who have seen the Truth, and therefore are not Their statements more correct? The Holy Books contain the words of Those Who had right understanding – They saw, and They gave out.
Now that is right understanding? In a few words, there is someone who gave us birth – father and mother – but brothers, there must be Someone Who is responsible for the creation of all life, and through Whom all births comes about. This is an inference of the intellect, is it not? All worship the Maker in one form or another, call Him Ram, Allah, or God. Now Ram, Allah and God are not all different beings. The Creator of the creation is One, but was given various names by the Rishis, Munis and Mahatmas. In truth, He has no name.
Bow down to the Nameless.
But to help the people remember Him, the Master gave Him names. For instance, He was called Ram; this word comes from rum which means ‘reverberating in all creation.’ He is immanent in all forms, and to realise that Being with many names, we entered one or another of the religions.
Hundreds of lover, but the Beloved is One for all; religion and caste are different, but the work is one for all.
This statement is really the very basis for right understanding, and if right understanding develops, where is conflict, where is dissension?
The soul is conscious entity. God has given a physical form to each one, the outer and inner construction of which is the same in all – even the appearance is the same. The same sickness attack the physical form. Furthermore, each soul is under the influence of the mind and the senses, which in turn drag it outward towards the worldly enjoyments. So He Who separates the soul from mind, and mind from senses, and senses from enjoyments, get the right understanding in Truth. He is a devotee of the One Creator, and by sitting beside such an Enlightened Devotee of God, one can also gain this right understanding. For lack of it, man remains trapped in the world. All men, in all religions, are subject to this imprisonment, and if you want to release yourself from this depressing condition, then when
Senses are immobile, the mind at rest and the intellect is stilled, then the soul perceives.
You can see that even the cure for man’s misery is one and the same for all. Go to One Who has stilled His mind and senses. If you go to an intellectually learned person you will hear a very fine discourse, with perhaps five or ten different meanings to one point, the inference; but he will not have seen what he is speaking of, and what is more important, he cannot show it to you.
Swami Ji Maharaj says,
If you desire release from the world, listen to the True Master’s instructions.
When I spoke of these things in the West, they asked me,
You have described the Truth in very simple and clear words; why has it been so difficult to understand up to now?
I explained that those who described the Truth for them had themselves no experience of it, and could merely express some ideals at the intellectual level. In this context, Truth has been described so often and in so many different ways that whatever was known of it originally has been forgotten. No wonder it is now difficult for people to understand all these different theories. Those who had no first-hand knowledge were just beating about the bush. A person with even a little discernment will see the difference between the words of a Master and those of an ordinary man. The Gurbani describes this as the undeveloped words of worldly people and the developed words of the Spiritually Enlightened come directly from some higher Power. Actually all speech is sustained, but there are two types of sound: one being hidden and the other apparent. The hidden Sound sustains everything – since when?
This Sound started beyond the four yugas; It vibrated the Truth.
The sound which becomes apparent is sustained by pranas, the vital airs or energy; but the hidden Sound is not sustained by anything. We are all worshippers of the latter.
What should one do to gain right understanding? Enjoy Satsang – the company of One Who has become the image of Truth itself. Satsang is not the company of intellectuals, lectures, hypocrites, propagandist, or paid preachers. All Masters advice that to solve the mystery of life one should first develop right understanding: to understand in reality that we are soul in the body, embodied soul, no matter whether we are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or any other religion.
Recognise all men’s caste as one.
There is no difference between he who lives in the city and he who lives in the jungle; for all men are truly embodied souls, and all are sustained by the same Power: that which controls the soul in the body. Just consider that there are nine physical orifices, yet the soul cannot run through any of them. Only when the Sustainer or Controller withdraws does the soul also leave the body. The breath leaves the body; it could remain outside, but there is something controlling that, something drawing it back. This is the mystery of life, solving which you will gain right understanding. Without right understanding nothing worthwhile is achieved, but with right understanding you will have right thoughts, and right thoughts will give you right speech and right actions; from then on, Love for all mankind develops automatically. There will be no question of fighting with others over petty differences; you will express what you have seen, and not what has been inferred.
It is a Great Blessing to have been given a human life, and the aim of the human life is to solve the mystery of it. If you cannot as yet still the mind, intellect and senses, then keep the company of Him Who can do this.
Where the Satguru is, there is the company of the Truth.
Satsang is not where we hear stories about the past and the future for the sake of earning someone’s livelihood, where even the scriptures are explained in a thousand different lights of understanding. Right understanding cannot be developed like this. Excuse me, but the volume of preaching is at a peak in this age – I do not think it has ever been so rife before. And the result of it all is hatred for one another.
The steps we were taking were misdirected and still we are doing today.
So what is the remedy? As I have said: to sit beside Someone Who has the right understanding.
We will now take Guru Nanak Sahib’s hymn:
“When you meet a True Satguru, you get the jewelled Right Knowledge.”
Satguru is the image of Truth, Who has become the True Knowledge and Who sees that the Lord is the doer of all things and is working is all creation.
Know a Satguru to be One Who brings everyone together.
This does not mean a guru of any particular sect, but a Guru of the world: of all mankind. Such a Guru does not see your religion, but rather He sees you – that you are soul in the physical form. He has freed Himself from all shackles, and can free others also. The question of how the senses can be withdrawn from outer attractions, how the mind can be free from the mind, are all part of a practical science, of which the Satguru is a Competent Expert Who can give the scientific experience to the aspirant, who in turn, with the guidance and instruction of the Satguru, learns to increase that experience daily through regular practice. With such a method the disciple can become as expert as the Guru.
There is a great difference between a Master and a philosopher’s stone; the latter makes gold from iron, but the former makes us like Himself.
A philosopher’s stone cannot make another philosopher’s stone, but the Master can make souls realised. This is why all Master stress that reading, writing and thinking are something apart from Spirituality.
Reasoning is the help, and reasoning the bar. If you go on poring over books and drawing inferences intellectually, you will at least be taking the first steps with the help of the words of the Master found in the Holy Scriptures; but all this cannot be of any use in a practical science of withdrawing the senses from sense objects and releasing the mind. For this some higher bliss must be enjoyed, which up to now the mind has never had the opportunity to taste. It is all a practical matter, and he Who has realised the object practically can given the secret knowledge of it. One must seek His company.
When I was searching for Truth, I can tell you that my search was intense. I would start to read a certain book in the night, and without ceasing would study the whole night through; only to rise in the morning with yet no way out discovered. The books held very good thoughts – like green orchards, very refreshing. The heart starts to desire those things mentioned therein; but how?
The books say,
God is ever existent – no place is without Him – He is ever apparent.
But how to see Him? This is the burning question, is it not? I can only repeat that it is a practical subject.
In this regard, Bulleh Shah says,
Why read this pile of books? Burdening your head with all these thoughts! Read the words, leave all calculations, drive away these atheistic ways.
Is it not true that one becomes more confused by excessive reading – tiring the brain needlessly? Bookish knowledge is all wilderness – there is no way out. The Love of One should dwell in your heart; that is all. Is this not the purpose behind reading scriptures – to love the Lord?
Tulsi Sahib says,
Reading and reading, the whole world died, no one become a teacher; if you dwell on the word ‘Love’ and develop that in yourself, you will become a Real Pandit (a teacher).
The purpose of reading is to become a devotee of the Lord, and to love all beings, as the Lord is in each one. People do not do this. Instead, they become lectures, etc., but they do not develop Love in themselves. All the world’s conflicts are due to lack of Love. And all conflict is due to those who did not realise the Truth, but choose to become powerful through learning; and they are responsible for the discord and strife from which mankind is suffering. Had they realised the Truth, they would have spoken it out, but they said, ‘No, only our religion is the right one.’ In this way they built controversial conditions, and then sat down and watched while men shed their blood for these useless causes. We have a clear example in the partition of India and Pakistan which came about through suchlike conditions, and those who created them sat aside while approximately fifteen hundred thousands [1,500,000] persons were butchered needlessly. If they had had even a little right understanding this tragedy would never have happened.
Some years ago, during our Hazur’s lifetime, there had been some trouble in Multan – now in Pakistan –, between some Hindus and Muslims. Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj went there and held a Satsang, hearing which the people said,
If only You had come earlier, this trouble would not have arisen.
Masters come to the world to join the brothers and sisters together, not to break them apart. And They come to rejoin the souls back to the Lord. This is the work of the Masters.
In Love there is Oneness, Union; not aloofness.
Naam is the sustainer of Khand and Brahmand.
To realise this Naam is the right understanding. The only True Thing the only pure thing, is the Naam.
Tulsi Sahib says,
They chant the four Vedas, eighteen Puranas, nine Viakran, and six Shastras, but lose the Truth given out in them!
Such is the case with followers of all religions. They go on reading their Holy Scriptures parrot like, and do not follow the meanings underlying them. Not only was the Truth lost by reading all these, but He also says,
Without knowing the Surat Shabd, one is like the chandool bird, and can initiate all words without the underlying meaning.
While the attention or soul does not meet God, the Over-Soul, and surrounded by mind and senses remains a prisoner because it has not been analysed from them, then what is the value of book learning? Tulsi Sahib likens this to a chandool bird, which copies any sound it hears. It does not mean that one should never write or think, but alone they have no value.
The True Aim behind reading the scriptures, if one fully understands what one reads, is to gain the realisation.
Since the world began, Jiva did not leave the books, did not get True Happiness.
What a clear statement! We just cannot let go of the Holy Books and scriptures. Of course, outer knowledge is like a garland of flowers adorning a Realised Person Who will then explained the Path of Truth in many ways and thereby help the different types of seekers to understand; but a Realised Soul is a Realised Soul, with or without worldly degrees, and whatever He says is pregnant with meaning, overflowing with Love and Truth. Sheikh Saadi says, that if a learned man is unrealised, then reading and writing is like a donkey’s burden upon his head. On this very subject Guru Amar Das Ji says that it is like making a sweet dish without any sugar – stirring it with a spoon from morn to night, will it give any sweet taste? So Guru Nanak is explaining the importance of right understanding.
“When you meet a True Satguru, you get the jewelled Right Knowledge; giving your mind to your Guru, you get the imperishable Love.”
Right understanding will only come when the soul transcends the mind. Just think about it carefully: you are on the mind’s level, and as yet have not solved the mystery. If you remain at that level, how will you get full understanding?
When Swami Dayanand went to the Guru, he had his books under his arm, and the Guru said,
Dayanand, first throw away those books – into the river.
Dayanand asked the Guru the reason for this order, and the Guru replied,
That which I want to give you cannot be got through books.
They were Holy Books, but he threw them into the river; it is a very good expression of Gurubhakti. If it be considered a sin committed against the Holy Scriptures, yet he did not commit a greater sin: that of disobedience to his Guru. I read once that sometimes when Dayanand could not understand the True Import of the written words, his Guru would beat him with a stick.
On such occasions, Dayanand would say,
Maharaj, I am a great trouble to You.
What very fine Gurubhakti he had! Gurubhakti is a matter of Love – when heart speaks to heart.
When you go to a Realised Soul to get right understanding, go with all humility, put aside your views. What you know, you know. While you are with Him, try and understand what He is saying. Consider the level He is speaking from, and then compare your own knowledge. Many would hesitate to go to Him for pride of their own knowledge. The man of prominent worldly position will not go, for he is intoxicated with his own power; and a rich man will not go for he is lost in pride of wealth. Remember, the God-realised Person cannot be bought with money, impressed by power, pushed by force. When you go to Him, put aside your own ideas – after all, no one can rob you of them! We make the mistake of measuring what He is trying to say with what we already know: ‘We have heard that before’; ‘so and so said that’ – etc. Brothers, he will say all this and more, for he must speak on man’s level for fuller comprehension, and will quote many truths that others have said, that the seeker may find his way more easily. But the fact remains, if the seeker wants to receive, he must still his intellect for a while, and sit in all humility. If the cup is placed below the pitcher, it will be filled; but if it is placed above the pitcher, how can it be filled? That is why it is said,
When the mind is sold to the Satguru, such a disciple’s work is crowned with success.
When Ashtavakra gave the knowledge to King Janaka, do you know what He asked for? He asked the king for his body, his wealth, and his mind. Body and wealth are sustained by the mind, so wherever the mind goes, everything goes. Guru Nanak is telling us that if one gives the mind to the Guru, one gets the permanent Love.
Swami Ji Maharaj says,
Oh knowledge, you are very ignorant; you know not the value of a Master.
Masters are a surging Ocean of Love: Love for the Lord and Love for humanity. But man would test Them with his intellect; an impossibility, for
They are full of the Nectar of Love; in Their company, True Hankering for Thee bursts forth to have an overflowing cup of Love for God and humanity.
Put aside your intellect and become receptive, and then you will see. Once in Berlin, Germany, during my talk which was being interpreted from English to German by an interpreter, the audience told the interpreter to stop as the interpretation was not necessary – ‘We understand more from His eyes.’ Eyes are the windows of the soul through which the intoxication and the import thereof is conveyed.
Giving up the mind does not mean one loses one’s reason or intellect; it means, first of all, to still the mind completely and fully grasp what the Guru is saying. If you put aside the I-hood, you will get the right import, thereby becoming receptive to absorb the perpetual radiation of Power from the Guru.
Kabir Sahib has warned us what can happen:
Mind is given elsewhere, body is in the Master’s company; Kabir says, how can you dye an unbleached cloth?
Swami Ji says,
Do Satsang by being receptive – Someone!
It does not matter if you do not understand the words if you can be receptive, for His radiance will give you some intoxication. That precious jewel of understanding, which you gain when you meet the Satguru, is priceless, invaluable; but it is not received at the level of the mind. The mind must be stilled for a while, and then you will get such Love – Love like a surging ocean – it will surge within you. Your whole being will be uplifted by this overflowing Love. After this, your mind can be stilled at will.
Oh Lord, how can we leave the company of such a Saint, by seeing Whom the mind gets stilled?
You can say it is a judging criterion for a Master, for you cannot get this gift in the company of intellectuals. The waves of Truth are ever-flowing through the True Satguru, and those waves affect the sincere seeker. Even though the disciple is thousands of miles away, the same effect can be received by directing the attention. If radio can pick up transmissions from thousands of miles, why cannot our Surat become affected?
Swami Vivekananda was said at one time to have been an atheist. He would challenge people, saying,
Is there anyone who has seen God?
He finally found Sri Ramakrishna, Who in those days lived in Calcutta and Who was a Realised Soul although He was not learned academically. Learning is the mother of books, and knowledge is the mother of all. Ramakrishna had knowledge; if He had no special book learning, did that matter? Swami Vivekananda put the question to Him,
Master, have You seen God?
and Ramakrishna replied,
Yes, my child, I see Him as I see you – more vividly than that.
He was satisfied.
Later, when Vivekananda went to the United States, he was requested to represent the Hindu religion at a parliament of religions. Now, sitting among one’s own countrymen and giving a talk amid familiar surroundings is vastly different than addressing a selected gathering and discussing with distinguished members of the clergy. After speaking for about ten minutes, he suddenly became non-plussed – bereft of words. A speaker may pause for a drink without creating any misgivings, so he asked for a glass of water. While quietly waiting for the water, he put all his attention on his Guru. Now Guru-Power or you can call It God-Power, is working at that Human Pole and is ever present. As he concentrated upon Sri Ramakrishna, he contacted a wave of Guru-Power. He started speaking even before the water arrived, and went on to speak for more than five hours, causing eventually a good deal of anxiety among some of the clergymen. If Vivekananda had stayed in America longer, all would have been drawn to him.
So to achieve this jewel of knowledge, the Satguru is essential. One gets an intoxication from a truly Realised Soul just by focusing the attention on the Guru, thereby becoming receptive. A man who is proud of his mental development and advanced intellect may see the Guru on an occasion, but he gains no effect from that. This is the difference in men. Remember, the mind is material – not conscious; furthermore it is besmeared with the mud of ages past. A magnet can have no effect on dirty, mud-covered iron filings; but if they are clean and free from soil they quickly respond to the magnetism. The Master can be linked to a most powerful magnet, and our soul is of the same substance, but besmeared with the muddy experience of our past. Remove the mud, and it will naturally be drawn to its source. Put this to the test: sit beside a Master and put your mind together aside for a while, and see how much bliss and intoxication you receive. Love will then begin to grow and overflow in you, for God is Love and the soul is His entity – a drop of that Ocean of Love – although it is at present scattered widely in a thousand attractive outlets at the mind and sense level. Separated for a brief space from all this outer tinsel, and centred or concentrated, it will be dragged towards that Love which gushes forth from the perennial source. This is an established law. We read the words of the Masters, the valuable gems They left behind, but we rarely understand their True Meaning.
So He tells us:
“Giving your mind to your Guru, you get the imperishable Love; you receive the gift of salvation, which erases the dirt of all sins.”
With right understanding, the mind is cured from the state of diffusion that it suffers from, by the soul-filled glance of the Master. Is it not said in the scriptures that salvation is gained through the Naam or Word? What is the Naam? That is the Name or Word of God which sustains all creation. And when will you get this gift which erases all imperfections? When you sit beside a Master in a receptive mood. Even if you do not understand the language He is speaking, yet you will gain the benefit of the radiation. If you also understand His words, so much the better.
Guru Arjan Sahib says,
By coalescent Darshan all sins are finished.
Becoming fully absorbed and in union with someone is different than merely seeing a person. It must be a coalescence: the two hearts should become One, so that the soul is receptive.
I am the vine, ye are the branches –
only the Masters can understand this subject –
He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.
This is what is called Gurubhakti. If you are really devoted to someone, you will obey that person. Christ also said,
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Wherever Love is, a human being responds.