Extract of a public talk by Sant Kirpal Singh, 7 October, 1963 at Jesuit School, Boston, Massachusetts
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am a man like you, but I had the good fortune to sit at the feet of my Master in India and learned about the mystery of life – what it is and how it can be solved. The fact remains that God made man. Man is the oldest of all philosophies and religions. Religions were made by man for his spiritual and moral uplift. The religions were made for man and man was not made for religions. We have to make the best use of them to achieve the ultimate goal of a man's life, and all Masters are unanimous in saying that the highest goal before us – as a man – is to know God, and to know God we must know our selves first.
That is why all Masters who came in the past gave out, "Man! Know thy self." Christ did say so. The old Greeks also said it the same way, Gnothi seauton! And the books of the Hindus also say, "Know thy self!" Guru Nanak (1469-1539) says, "Unless you know your self, you are in a grand delusion."
What is meant by "knowing one's self"? For this purpose we have joined the various schools of thought, which are called by different names – religions, and we have taken on the badges of those schools of thought to denote that we belong to some particular school or college. That school is creditable from which many lovers of God turn out: those who can see God – know God – just as I see you and you see me. That is the ultimate goal set up before us by all the religions which you have joined. So, all religions are blessed. To remain in some religion is a blessing; if not, there will be corruption and all will have to raise up a new religion.
There are already so many religions. What is the use of raising up any new ones? The fact remains Masters came in all religions. History shows that. And by a parallel study of their teachings, we find that they said the same thing. They all said our souls are of the same essence as that of God. We are conscious entities. Our soul is made of consciousness, made of one substance only and as such it cannot be decomposed – so it (soul) is eternal. God is also made of one substance – all-consciousness – that is also everlasting. We are divine in nature, we are everlasting, but the bodies that we work through are made of elements. And elements are made of atoms, with a composition of so many things (protons, neutrons, etc.). Whatever is the composition, the time will come when they will decompose. So we (as souls) are everlasting, of course, but the bodies that we live in are changing – matter is changing.
Our souls are under the control of the mind, the mind is under the control of the outgoing faculties and the outgoing faculties are given up to outward (sense) enjoyments so much so that we have forgotten or selves. If we could control our outgoing faculties and could liberate our mind from the clutches of the outgoing faculties and analyse our self from the mind, then we would know who we are and what we are. So this (process) is a matter of practical self-analysis.
You will find the same teaching in almost every religion in which you are, and all Masters who came in the past gave out the same thing, of course in their own religion, in their own words, in their own language which was prevalent at the time. In this respect you will find that all religions Masters did come up and gave out the same thing: we should know our self first, in order to realize and know God. God cannot be known by the outgoing faculties, it cannot be known by intellect, or by the vital airs (pranas). It is the soul that has to know God. So, the first thing we have before us is to know our self.
The reason we have joined a religion is as almost all Masters have said. In the Bible, you will find, "Do ye not know this body is the temple of God wherein is the Holy Ghost?" (I Corinthians 6:19) God is everlasting and the spirit is everlasting and we are spirit in the man-body. So all Masters say that the soul is the one which is everlasting, being of the same essence as that of God. So our purpose in joining the various schools of thought is to know God – and to know God, we must know our selves, because it is the soul alone that can know God. "The like knows the like."
This is a problem for us: How to do it? You will find all of these religions came into being – into existence – after the Masters came from time to time. When the Masters came, they gave out the same truth. And what was that? That they had experience of God, that they were conscious co-workers of the divine plan. So, whatever Master you refer to, you will find they always say that it is not they who are working, but it is the Father behind them. Simon put a question to Christ and Christ asked him, "Do you know who I am?" And Simon said, "You are the living son of God." Then Christ said, "No outer thing has helped you to say that. It is God's blessing, of course." (St. Matthew 16:15-17) So, some people told Christ, "It would have been much better, or it would have sufficed, if you had let us know your Father." Christ grew a little indignant over that and said, "So long as I have been with you, did you not know that it was the Father working through me?" Christ went so far as to say, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. No man can go to the Father except through the son." (St. John 14:6 and 8-10) So these Masters who came in the past are the "children of light" – they are the "sons of light." When they come, they are light and they give light to the world – all Masters.
We are fortunate in this twentieth century that we have got scriptures, which are a fine record of the valuable sayings – words of wisdom – which the various Masters gave out in their times. Had we come before them, then we would not have had all these scriptures together. Before 500 years back, you would not have found the valuable, voluminous treasure we have got in the Sikh scripture (the Adi Granth Sahib). About 1500 years back, had we gone back we would not have the scriptures of the Mohammedans (the Koran). If we go still further back, the Bible would not have been with us. Similarly, if you go back 5000 years ago, even the Buddhist literature would not have been with us. So, my point of view is that we are fortunate in this twentieth century that we have got the valuable words of wisdom, which are worth tons of emeralds and gold, with us today.
What do they contain? The scriptures are a record of the experiences that the Masters had with God and with knowing one's self – what things helped them on the way and what things stood in the way. By reading the scriptures, we develop an interest to have the same experiences that the Masters had with God in their lives. If we belong to any religion, the first thing enjoined on us is to read the scriptures daily and attend to them. By reading the scriptures, we find that whatever accounts are given in them are the first-hand experiences that the Masters has with God. They saw God and they gave out what they saw. Now to understand the right import of the scriptures, we need somebody who goes on the way, who has also got some experience on the way. Only he will be able to give you the right interpretation of what is meant by the scriptures. Those who just give an interpretation at the level of the intellect won't be able to do full justice to the work. That is the reason so many commentaries have been written on the same work and one differs from the other. Had the commentators seen, had they been on the way, had they had the same experiences that the Masters had, then they would have given only one meaning to the words. Now when we say a word, there is one meaning attached, not two, three, or four. I say, "This is my watch." I mean this is my watch, not by hearsay from everywhere.
Similarly, when the Masters gave out whatsoever they had to say, they saw (within) and gave out in their language. In languages, sometime one word has so many meanings. So those who have not had that (inner) experience will give the meaning from their own level. That is the reason why so many schools of thought are there. Had they seen and had the same experience that the Masters had, they would have given only one issue.
Those who have seen this town of Boston – where we are now – some people who have come here are from different countries. When they go back, they will give some account of this town – in their own languages, of course. The man who has not been to this place (Boston) will find that their accounts do not agree one hundred percent. The salient points will agree, but one man may have given more details of a certain thing and another may have given only a little about it. A third man might have omitted something altogether. Those who have not seen this place will react, "What is this? It cannot be reconciled!" But if at all he has been to Boston and those books written by the others are placed before him, he says, "Oh yes, it means that. I have seen that!"
So what I mean to say is that the scriptures are there and by my experience of the scriptures of the various religions, I find the basic principles are the same. Of course, they give a different version, but they mean the same thing. And what they described, the Masters said that can be even now experienced. So, we can read scriptures, but we can only have the right import thereof when we sit at the feet of somebody who has been on the way back to God, truly speaking – not as a matter of inference, or a matter of feelings, or a matter of emotions. Do you see? So that is the cause of the differences of the so-many schools of thought that we have got – because they have not seen.
I will give you another example of how it is in general. I will put two examples before you. Once, it is said, certain blind men passed by an elephant and they were told, "Here is an elephant." Each one of them just tried to touch the elephant – to know what an elephant is like. Somebody's hands fell on the legs and he said it was "pillar-like". Another's hands fell on its belly, "Oh, it is barrel-like". A third blind man laid his hands on the ears and said, "It is fan-like". Each one of them was right in his own way. They were zealous and they said, "No, I know." As it were, "God is fan-like". One man came by who had eyes to see. He said, "Well, dear friends, you are all right. You have described different aspects of the elephant, not the whole elephant." Similarly, had we seen God, or had experience of God – as the Masters did when they saw God – if we had the same experience with the same inner eye open to see that reality, then we would agree with the same thing, as I just said. So, naturally the Masters see the reason for the differences of the various schools of thought.
When the Masters come, they resolve these differences. They say, "Well, that is not the meaning that was originally intended in that saying." Truth is one. "The target is one; the archers are many." The statements given by those who have seen Him (God), they are one; those who have not seen Him have got their own versions according to the different levels of thinking they have been allowed.
So, philosophies deal with theories and mysticism deals with reality. These are the sayings that the mystics use. Did not Christ say to his disciples, "Blessed are ye because you see things that the old prophets and righteous men, with all their efforts, could not see. You hear things that the old prophets and righteous men could not hear." (St. Matthew 13:16,17)
Can we see? That's the point. Can you see God? The Masters say that there are two kinds of statements that we have. Some say, "Nobody has seen God at any time," and others say, "Yes, we have seen Him." We have two different statements – diametrically opposite – but they are correct, because they are given from different levels. That God which is wordless, nameless, which did not come into being – absolute God – that nobody can see. When it came into being, into expression, into action – that God-into-expression-power we can see and we can hear . What is that you see? "God is light – God is life – consciousness – God is love." This is according to those Masters who were the mouthpiece of God.
God is in everybody, I tell you, no heart is without it. Our bodies work so far as we are in the body and we are in the body so far as some controlling power is keeping us in the body. This man-body is a wonderful house we live in; it has nine apertures – two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, mouth and to underneath – but we cannot run away out of it. Breathing goes out – some power is bringing it back, controlling it back into the body – it (the breath) cannot remain outside. Surgeons perform operations on the stomach, or on the brain, that last for hours together, but we cannot run away out of it. That very controlling power which is keeping us in the body, that is what is called God. That very power is controlling the whole universe. You see so many galaxies of stars; there are so many planets going around on their orbits. Scientists tell us that there are suchlike planets that have been seen on their orbits only once in 5000 years. How grand this whole cosmos is that you see! Our thought is baffled when considering what is that power that controls everything in harmony so that no one can conflict with the other. That power is called God. That power can be known by us when we analyse our selves from the mind and the outgoing faculties. That is a matter of self-analysis.
All Masters, when they came, realized this and said, "I am the light." When they come, they give light to the world. They said, "It is not I speaking, but it is the God-power speaking through me." And this statement you will find in a parallel study of all religions. And at the same time when the Masters saw God, they saw that the macrocosm is in the microcosm of the man-body.
There are three planes in the macrocosm: physical, astral and causal. God has given us three bodies to work through these planes. The pity of it is that we do not know how to leave this physical body. God has given us that concession, but we are not able to use it. But at the time of death this physical body is shaken off. I say this is my hat, this is my turban, this is my coat and I can take it off. I say it is my body, too. Can I take it off? If we learn how to put it off, then this is what Masters say, "Learn to die so that you may begin to live." If we can shake off this body-consciousness – to be ‘"born anew", to "die daily" – if we rise above body-consciousness, we enter the kingdom of God and there are so "many mansions" in the house of our Father, so many planes. When you traverse the physical, astral and causal planes and go beyond these planes, you see in God, "Well, there is a new land in God."
"I and my Father are one." These are the statements we find in the scriptures of many Masters. Christ said so, "I and my Father are one." (St. John 10:30) Guru Nanak says, "I am speaking the same as what God speaks through me." Guru Arjan says, "I and my Father are one." Of course, they spoke in other languages. Similarly, the tenth Guru (Gobind Singh) says so: "You are my son. Go into the world and do this work!" So, all Masters who realized God – who rose above the physical, astral and causal planes, knew them-selves and saw that the Father was working through them and they were in the Father – knew they were the two persons through which that God worked to give guidance to the child-humanity. So this awareness of being a conscious co-worker of the divine plan arises when we learn how to rise above body-consciousness, which is the first thing. It is the first "iron curtain" we have to transcend. Further, we must also transcend the other two coverings (astral and causal) and when we take them off, we see we are the soul, truly speaking.
We have some experience of God within us. And what is that experience? As I told you, in the beginning, "God is light." When you learn how to rise above body-consciousness, you find light. You are not to visualize it, mind that, not to premeditate it. Simply by inversion, by opening the inner eye, do what Christ said in the Bible: "The eye is the light of the body. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." (St. Matthew 6:22; St. Luke 11:34)
How do the eyes become "single"? It is a very clear statement. He (Jesus) alone has not given that statement; it is given in other scriptures, too. Tulsi Das says, "When you look within (between) the two pupils of the eyes, you find the light and that light sprouts forth. When you withdraw from the outside within and then rise above the senses, that eye will open." That eye is called the "third eye", or the "single eye", or the "latent eye", or the Shiv Netra.
This is the mystery of life that we have to solve. Whenever they come, Masters say, "Learn to die so that you may begin to live." All Masters say that. Guru Nanak says, "Learn to die daily – a hundred times a day – at will." This is what is referred to as "to be born anew". Christ said: "You must be reborn." Nicodemus asked Him (Christ), "Master, we are old. How can we re-enter the womb of the mother?" Christ told him, "Well look here! Flesh is born of the flesh and spirit of the spirit." (St. John 3:1-7) This question of being "reborn" or "twice born" also exists in the teachings of other Masters. We say, "We must be born in Christ." They say, "We must be born in (some other) Master." (Chuckle)
So Christ-power, or God-power, or Guru-power is the same power. That is God-power working through a human-pole. Human-poles do leave us, but that God-power never leaves us. That power is working through us and we can become conscious of that only when we first withdraw from outside, "tap inside" as Emerson says and then rise above body-consciousness – above the senses. Then you see the light is there. "If you shut the doors of the temple of the body, you will see the light of heaven." Other Masters also say the same thing: "If your outgoing faculties are inverted, you find light there." All of these things – parallel findings of the Masters – are there in their scriptures, of course in their own languages.
Now we want somebody who knows the way. He will be able to give you the right import of the sayings from the scriptures. The intellectuals say, "Well, it is only intellectual light. There is nothing like that." But it is substantial light; even a child can see it. We have to meet somebody who is on the way.
So, truly-speaking, most of us who belong to the various religions are being set adrift into atheism – not for the reason that we have taken the first step to read the scriptures, but because there is nobody to tell us the true import of them. I don't mean to say the world is without them (true Masters), but rare they are. Generally, religious leaders just give interpretations from the level of their intuition or intellect of the various things there in the scriptures. They interpret the scriptures at the intellectual level.
I had a good chance to talk today with a professor in charge of the religions here (at Boston College) and they have to admit it. The truth remains the truth. One truth is given by all Masters: "God is light." The Masters saw this light and even children – even now – can see this light. Everybody can see this inner light if there is someone who has the competence to raise your souls – which are now bound down by the outgoing faculties and body – with one Word of His. This does not cost anyone anything. If there is an ocean and hundreds and thousands of animals drink water, that ocean is not depleted. That soul which is attached to the perennial source, God, who is the mouthpiece of God, has got great competence. You see?
You will ask, "What about us?" I think each one of us has got competence. God is the oversoul – highest soul, you might say. God has got so much competence and strength that with one Word of His the whole creation came into being. As our souls are of the same essence as that of God, we have also great spiritual strength in us. But our souls have been divided in so many ways through the outgoing faculties that they feel very feeble. Just as the rays of the sun do not burn anybody, but if those rays are passed through a convex lens, any thing on the other side will be burned – will be set aflame. Similarly, if our attention, which is the outward expression of our souls, is withdrawn from outside – from the outgoing faculties – and is concentrated at the seat of the soul in the body – it has great strength. And that soul which has become the mouthpiece of God can work wonder.
So, if we do come across such a person, He is able to raise us above body-consciousness to be "born anew" and open the inner eye. We will bear testimony that there is the light of God. So these have been the teachings of the various Masters who came at different times in the various religions.
We have taken the outer elementary steps and we are blessed. These are good actions: to say prayers, to perform certain rites and rituals. They are good actions because they are meant to develop in us love and devotion for God. But we have to take a further step which is called spirituality – which is called mysticism. If we develop that way, after the preparation of the ground, we will rise above the senses and have the same experiences that we find mentioned in the various scriptures we have with us today. This is what I have found by the parallel study of religions. And that can be experienced even now from suchlike persons (true Masters), of course with the grace of God.
True Masters were rare in the past and even now they are rare. But with God's grace, for those who are truly seeking after God, God makes some arrangement to bring him or her in contact somewhere where he or she can be put on the way.
So this is what I have found from the various religions I have studied and it has been put you for your calm consideration.
Host comment: You have an opportunity now to ask our guest any questions that many occur to you. And when you ask your questions, would you please stand?
Question: You don't say straight out the name of any religion in India that does teach this now. You only talk about those which just teach spiritual thought. If there is any particular one that teaches what you say, I am trying to find out about it.
Sant Kirpal Singh: I tell you, I can only give you a digest of the thing. In half an hour you cannot expect everything. That to which you refer is, as I have told you, the exoteric side of religion: the first step. The reading of scriptures, performing certain rites and rituals, saying prayers, having chastity in life, purity of heart and ethical life – all these are a stepping stone to spirituality – all of them together, not separately. Not one of them alone, but all – to the best I know.
The first part of your question concerns ethical life: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The Mohammedans say so, the Hindus say so, the Sikhs say so, the Jains say so, the Buddhists say so. The "Sermon on the Mount" is for the same purpose. The Jains have got four fasts that serve the same purpose. The Buddhists have the "Eight-fold path of Buddha", and so on. So, purity of life is a stepping stone to spirituality. Without that purity of life, you cannot go on. Those who are given up to the outer sense enjoyments, they must have a normal life, self-discipline, to withdraw from outside. Those who are given up – addicted – to the outside enjoyments cannot invert their attention.
So, purity of thought – ethical life – is the stepping stone to spirituality.
Host comment: Are there other questions here?
Question: I am concerned now and I am trying to find the relation between Christianity – and also Judaism, of course – in its doctrine of man, with man's relationship to God. It is the doctrine of sin and separation. What view do you hold of man's separation form God? How did he (man) achieve this relationship (separation), if it was through sin – as I understand?
Sant Kirpal Singh: Well, I think the basic question will arise: "How did man come into the world?" Is this the question?
In that case, we were sent down to the world. Why were we sent down? Well, it was His order. If He wanted to create the world and He wanted to send us to that, we came here. When we came here, we were to abide by the rules of the plane where we are working. "As you sow, so shall you reap." This is the history of why He sent us to the world. And it is revealing.
Our Master (Sawan Singh Ji) used to reply in a very simple way. As to why He sent us to the world you will have to go to God Himself and ask Him why? He sent us to the world. When you go to Him, this mind won't be there – this question won't be there. All these questions won't occur there. You see? Was there a seed before, or a tree before? Was there a hen before, or an egg before? These kinds of questions are the concerns of what you call the three gunas (qualities of the mind), or of the three planes (of the mind). When you rise above it (the mind), you will have the right import of why He did it, but it is very long.
So, why are we here? "As we sow, so shall we reap." All the Masters say that. If we sow thorny bushes, we cannot hope for grapes. This is what the law says.
Question:: How would the Master define the spirit?
Host comment: He wants to know, Sir, how you would interpret what is the spirit? What is the spirit?
Sant Kirpal Singh: What is the spirit? Well, it doesn't matter that I am here and talking with you. It cannot be given out in words. You can analyse (separate) your self and know it – know what it is. When a man eats some sweetmeat (candy), if you ask him to explain a sweetmeat, he can only taste it or make others taste it.
That inner eye is not of the outer senses. That inner eye can experience the spirit. But as the inner eye can see the spirit only when that eye is opened – "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light" – when we invert, when our attention is withdrawn from outside within and rises above the senses, we can see the spirit. "Blessed are those who see." (St. Matthew 13:16) Seeing within arises by rising above body-consciousness. Until then, we simply look at our self from the level of the man-body, or the level of the senses. You cannot even dream of what is above. And Prophet Mohammed says, "Unless you rise above these senses, you can have no thought of what is going on above."
So, the first thing is to know our self. And we will know our self only when we rise above – analyse our self from mind and matter and from the outgoing faculties, peep in, and experience. As I told you, such persons (true Masters) were rare in the past – even now they are rare – but the world is not without them. If you come across any such person, you will bear testimony that it is so.
Host comment: Is there another question?
Host relay of a question: The lady wants to know what the Christian scientists mean, when they say, "All is mind."
Sant Kirpal Singh: Yes, yes. "All is mind." Well, on the subject of mind, there is a difference, you see, between the East and the West. Westerners say that the mind is conscious. And the Eastern peoples say that the mind is not conscious – that it is the soul that gives consciousness to the mind. The soul is under the control of the mind and the mind is under the control of the outgoing faculties. The mind is a link between the soul and the body, and God made it (the mind) with some purpose in view. The mind is so subtle that it joins the soul and it so gross that it joins the body. Another soul cannot be connected with the mind, as the mind is a connecting link between the two – body and soul. The mind takes strength from the soul and I will give you an example of that.
Suppose you are absorbed in some thought – your attention is absorbed in something altogether so that your mind does not rake up any questions. It is the mind that rakes up questions. What is mind? Mind is the modulations in the subconscious self. So the mind grabs strength from the soul (spirit) that works. When the soul is withdrawn from there, the mind cannot work and, also, the outgoing faculties cannot work. As an example of that, sometimes you are really so absorbed in some thought that if somebody calls you – even though your ears are open – you do not hear. Somebody comes and sits by you – touches you – and you are absorbed so very much in thought that you do not know who came or touched you.
Newton was just sitting by a roadside, solving certain mathematical problems and a musical band went by him playing. Later on some man came up and asked him, "Well, did a band pass by this way?" Newton said, "I do not know."
So, our attention gives strength to the mind and, further, both give strength to the outgoing faculties.
Now back to the question of "All is mind". First of all, there are three aspects of the mind. One aspect is that mind which is controlling the physical body – that is called the physical mind. Another aspect works in the astral plane. And the third aspect works in the causal plane. The Brahmandi man is what that is called next – and it is something beyond the three planes. This mind is necessary to carry on the work of the world. For that purpose God created it and those who have just reached that point of mind, after the three planes, by controlling the mind, they say, "It is all mind". That is true in the three worlds. When you transcend it, then there is no mind – that is pure spirit, from which it draws strength.
Now, our mind is just attached to the outside things – the mind is given up to the outside things because we feel some pleasure out of this attachment, but really that pleasure is within our own self when or attention is absorbed into that outer thing. When that attention is withdrawn, there is no joy or happiness. So the mind is like a parasitic plant which grows on the tree but does not have its own roots and it dries up that portion of the tree on which it is spread. Similarly, the mind is some thing that gets its strength from the conscious self, and just retards us by being between our self and the overself. If we analyze our self from mind, and know our self, then we become the mouthpiece of God. That is what true philosophy says, and all Masters say so.
Host comment: As a closing comment, it seems to me that one might say – since you asked about the question of the spirit – that all of man's religion arises, I think, from his capacities for self-transcendence, that is to say, of being able to stand apart and be aware of him-self as some thing not physical, yet at the same time is aware of himself as a physical being. And the crux of the meaning of human existences arises out of this.
Sant Kirpal Singh: By being separate from under the control of mind and matter, he rises above it and he sees that "I and my Father are one".