Thief of your Life’s Breath
They tell us that the direct way out is not through karma – action, past or present – or dharma – religion or ritual correctness – for these are related at the level of senses only. While the soul is without connection with God and is not drenched in the colour of Naam, it has to return to this world.
In the Gurbani it is written,
To meet a Gurumukh, to have the company of a Sadhu, and the colour of Naam; this is the True Meeting, beloved, and whoever got these truly spoke Thy Name from his heart.
The treasure can only be received from one who has it. When a drunkard meets another drunkard, how they dance to the same tune! Similarly, when those who drink the Naam’s Nectar meet, how high their souls fly together! Whatever company you choose to keep, you will become the same.
Those who see the Truth describe the same thing in different languages. Maulana Rumi has said that to be fortunate enough to have the company of a God in man for twenty minutes will give more benefit than dedicating one hundred years of full devotion to the Lord, sincerely and without show. This unique colour cannot be made or manufactured, it can be received only from the direct source of supply. It is already within man, but covered with the filth of ages, and can only be ignited through the company of Him Who is in complete control of His attention – Who is overflowing with intoxication. You may call it the alms of Naam.
Meditation is most necessary, for only by meditation will all things come of their own accord. There are those who steal the time away from their meditation –
The thieves of Bhajan will be daily afflicted with misery.
And we have,
Oh Nanak, the whole world is unhappy.
What is the cure for this dreadful plight? Only those are happy who are sustained by Naam.
Man in physical form flitters, how can he sing the Lord’s praise? Great are the senses’ torments, passion and anger torture him daily.
These are the words of Guru Amar Das. A hundred men if wise will say the same thing. Pitiful is the condition of those whose mind restlessly roams among nine doors – nine orifices of the human form –, who are dragged around amid the vices of worldly life. The poor soul sometimes falls in passion or diffuses itself in anger. To learn the accurate and most definite way to reach God, one must keep the company of an Enlightened Person, and in His company one will be able to have True Remembrance of the Lord. He can teach one how to hold this remembrance throughout every phase of life: working, walking, eating, sitting, etc.
This sphere of vices is insipid, discard it, friend; drink the Nectar of Naam.
Because of the senses, the whole world is drifting into vice of one form or another. If even a single sense is prominent, how damaging that can be! For instance, in moths the sense of sight is so strong that they burn themselves to death through the attraction of light to the eye. In fish, freely swimming in oceans and rivers, the sense of taste is so great that they allow themselves to be baited by various tidbits, are caught, and lose their lives. The poor fish, with the hook stuck in its throat, gives up its freedom after much torment of thrashing about in an effort to escape its captor. Consider the black bee, whose sense of smell drags it from flower to flower, until it is swallowed up by that certain blossom which closes tight at the minutest touch.
We have talked of sight, taste and smell. What of the remaining two senses, hearing and touch? The deer is an animal so fleet of foot that it is most difficult to catch. Even when jumping backwards, its stride can measure thirty or forty feet. How do they catch this will-o’-the-wisp? Its weakness lies in its strong sense of hearing, and when a certain beat is sounded on the drum, the deer forgets everything, and comes close enough to place his head on the drum, and so the rest of his life is spent in captivity – imprisoned by man. Now take the elephant, whose strength is so obviously impressive that a man may feel terrified just to look at him. But during the mating season, the elephant’s desire for the touch of the female is so dominant that he loses all control and runs amuck, even uprooting huge trees in his path. While he is in this state of passion, having lost all his better instincts, man can devise his capture. A huge pit is dug out and covered over with branches and grass. A female elephant is tied nearby as an attraction, and as he rushes towards her, he falls into the intervening pit. After starving him for many days, he is weak enough to be bound and taken away into slavery for the rest of his life, which may amount to one hundred years.
These are sample conditions of creatures who are slaves to only one sense. What about him in whom all five senses are dominating? It may be a simple matter to discuss these things, but think of this difficult task! It would appear impossible to gain control of these five senses. So it is only by the Grace of a True Master that one can be guided away from the dark edge of these powerful senses – for a while.
With indescribable strength the mighty Guru pulls the attention.
And inside is the ever-existent Lord, described as Naam.
By repetition of Naam, the Light of millions of suns is apparent.
There is Light within, and the Song of the Lord, that Everlasting Song, is playing. The Guru gives a connection with this – that is His greatness, the God in Him. And when his precious gift is given, it must be increased. When the taste for it grows, the lesser tastes will fade away.
In the Bhagavad, a Vedic scripture, it says,
Not with repetition or austerity, nor by rites nor prayer nor scripture; not by giving alms nor by pilgrimage […]
There are countless other things mentioned, and finally it says,
Not even by control of the senses can the jiva realise Me as quickly as in the company of a Realised Person.
The company of the Master is gained through great good fortune, and only in His company will the mind cease its perpetuation and be perfectly still for a while.
Who is the Master? He is born in the same way as other men, taking on the human form, and we can daily see Him eating, drinking, working in the world, and yet …
Sadh and the Lord, there is no fraction of difference, oh brother.
These are the words of Guru Arjan.
So where does Mastership begin? He who transcends the nine doors and goes into the beyond, in full control of his whole being – he can know what a Master is.
The nine doors? The two physical eyes, two nostrils, mouth, two ears, and the genital and excretory orifices. He who can withdraw his attention and go out through the tenth door at the back of the eyes, is well on the way to becoming a Realised Soul. But where are we? Whoever has lived all his life at sense level and whose religious practices are on the same level, can hardly be expected to have knowledge of rising above all these things. He will definitely get rewarded for all his good actions, but he will come again and again into creation, as he considers he is the doer. These are the gold and iron chains described by Lord Krishna when speaking of good and bad actions.
Salvation comes only through the Holy Naam itself. In the Ramayana it is likened to lighting a lamp in a hallway, whereupon the light will fall both inside and outside. This illustrates the effect of the repetition of Naam on one’s inner and outer life. To repeat Simran is the first step. The appearance to the devotee of the one whom the repetition is for, is another matter.