Man is in search of happiness, but has no peace of mind. Even if he succeeds in achieving his objectives, he remains dissatisfied. His search for peace and happiness, therefore, never ends. Saint Augustine says that God gave us the senses for using them properly, but we misuse them by indulging in sensual pleasures; whereas the bliss for which we should have striven remains enshrined in scriptures only.
Man is an ensouled entity gifted with body, mind, and intellect. He takes good care of his body for the sake of his domestic, social, and political well-being. Intellectually, he has made strident advances. He has successfully explored the earth, oceans, and space and has made atomic bombs. A single atom bomb can destroy millions. Strangely enough, with all his achievements he remains ignorant about the prime source of energy from which his body and mind derive their strength – soul – his True Self. He has so much identified himself with the body that he is unable to distinguish his soul from the body. In fact, he does not know that his Real Self is something separate from the body. Have we ever thought about the propelling force in us? Have we recognised the indweller of the house?
Soul is a conscious entity. Just as any essence has its basic source, soul too has an Ultimate Source – the Oversoul – a vast Ocean of All-Consciousness. The entire universe is His manifestation. The soul is identified with the material body by constant association with the senses. Man does not know that he can have True Happiness only when he is able to disfranchise the self in him from the outer vestures. He is so much entangled with the mind and body that he ever remains unhappy and restless. Soul being conscious and body being material, these cannot coexist amiably.
We pretend to be religious by reading the scriptures without knowing their true import and by offering ceremonial prayers at the places of worship. All that we worship is physical health and worldly riches. We aspire for material well-being and not for God-Realisation. It is said that once Majnu, a legendary lover, was told that God wished to see him. Majnu replied if that was so, God must come in the form of Lila, his beloved. Most of us offer our prayers to God only because we want to fulfil our worldly ambitions. We seek God’s blessings to become physical and intellectual giants. Thus, to us God is only a means to worldly ends. Consequently, we get only that we crave for; i.e., the material world and not God.
To know God we must first know ourselves. From time immemorial many have tried to define God philosophically. But He remains undefined as ever.
God cannot be realised by the body or intellect or senses. He can only be experienced by the soul. Unless we know ourselves, the question of knowing God does not arise. Thus, the first step in this direction is self-knowledge which precedes God-Knowledge. Know thyself!, has been the call of Saints and sages. Guru Nanak was once asked by a Muslim holy man to define His faith. The Guru replied that He neither claimed to be a Hindu nor a Muslim in the ordinary sense. He explained that His body was Composed of five elements – ether, earth, fire, water, and air – and the God-Power was pulsating in Him.
Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji was once asked as to which religion He belonged. He replied:
If God is Hindu, I am a Hindu; if He is Sikh, I am a Sikh; if He is Muslim, I am a Muslim; if He is a Christian, then I am a Christian.
All religions are man-made. God has not put a stamp of religion on anyone. To know the Controlling Power of the universe, it is inevitable and essential to know thyself, as Christ has put it.
Guru Nanak has also said:
Until and unless one analyses one’s self, it is not possible to shed delusion and realise the Reality. Unless your Third Eye is opened, you cannot realise God.
How various Saints have solved the mystery of life is the subject for today. The fact is that Truth is one, but the ways of expression may be different. Our ideal is Truth. Let us see what Swami Ji has to say on the subject:
Link your soul with Naam.
We are advised to connect our soul with the Word. It implies that our attention is presently linked with something other than the Word. What is meant by attention? It is consciousness, a state of awakening or awareness. We may call it attention, spirit, or soul. It is this Life-Current emanating from our self, soul, which acts as a driving force within us. Swami Ji asks us to link this current with the Word. Now, where is the source of these currents? It is at the seat of the soul between the two eyebrows. What happens at the time of death? Life withdraws from the feet and rises to the back of the eyes. The Power which is concentrated behind the eyes is our Real Self. After that power is withdrawn, the body is of no significance. This is the most important and mostly ignored subject.
In order to probe further into this subject, one has to realise that soul is an entity distinct from the body.
We have to learn and practise to withdraw the soul currents from lower centres of the body to the eye focus. This process is similar to the one undergone by the soul at the time of one’s physical death. We have to rise above body consciousness. The theoretical knowledge of this process is not enough. Practice is far more important. An ounce of practice is more than tons of theory.
So we have to link our soul with the Word. Let us now consider what the Word – Naam – signifies. The Word has two aspects. One is an epithet and the other is that Ultimate Power to which the epithet refers.
For example, water itself is one thing, but it is referred to by many names; e.g., water, aqua, H2O , etc. Similarly, Truth is One; but sages have described it in various ways.
Guru Nanak says:
I want to sacrifice myself on all Thy names, oh Lord.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, compiled hundreds of Names of God in His work Jaap Sahib. These Names are in addition to those already mentioned in the various scriptures. Despite hundreds of Names, God is One.
Similarly, there are many religions; but their goal is One.