What can other people know of the condition of one’s heart? If the enigma of the mystery of life enters the heart, the person knows no peace until it has been solved.

Sant Kirpal Singh

Thief of your life's breath

By Sant Kirpal Singh from the book "The night is a jungle" – chapter 8
Translation of a talk given in Hindi at Sawan Ashram


Bhajan is imperative to right living, for the true meaning of bhajan is to go within and rejoin the Lord – nothing more nor less. It has ever been the aim of all true Masters to teach people this kind of bhajan: the inner bhajan through which, by contact with God within, the mind becomes intoxicated with His presence. The Music of the Spheres or "Akhand Kirtan" (perpetual melody) should be constantly audible to the devoted soul, thereby intoxicating it; for the soul is itself a part of that same Sound. The Audible Life Stream has power to render this world's odious taints totally ineffective, and so we are urged to regularly attend Satsang - the only place where we can be in company with Truth. Our soul is not free from mind and senses; it is not fortunate enough to have as yet achieved oneness with the Truth; so it desperately needs the company of one who is at one with Truth. "Get dyed in the colourless Naam." When the Masters dye the souls in the Sound of Naam, no other colour can take effect, but for the unfortunate undyed, the world's influence continues to apply stain upon stain. The cause of all our distress can be traced to the fact that we have not been drenched in the true colour of Naam.

From where does this colour come? "He is the overflowing intoxicating colour of Love; the company of the Saint infuses a real desire." In the company of him in whom the Love of God, God's intoxicating colour, is overflowing, one can absorb the radiation of this very nature. If then, through his mercy, we also get a contact or connection with the God in him, we will have that intoxication with us twenty-four hours a day. "The intoxication of Naam, O Nanak, inebriates night and day." And if we study the matter, we find that all the grumbles of the world arise from lack of this contact. When anyone would complain to Hazur about inability to still the mind, he would reply, "Your simran is not constant enough." And for the complaint of not being able to sit for long in meditation, the same reply was given. Our real difficulty is that the world's colour has drowned us! If it could be bleached out then we would become clean and ready for a new fresh colour to enliven us. A dirty cloth must first be washed clean before attempting to dye it. Our heart and intellect are stained with that colour coming from the level of mind and senses. We are stained with the actions of life, and added to this are the stains of the past – birth upon birth. Even if you put aside past lives and consider this life alone ... how many years have passed already? It might be, that through the mercy of some Master you were fortunate to be in his company and enjoy the benefit of a little of that Naam colour, but even so it is said that we must, "Do simran and serve the Satguru." We are dyed in the worldly colour through doing the world's simran, and it can only be washed out by doing the simran (remembrance) and dhyan (contemplation) of the Lord.

So you can say that the first step is simran – controlled thought – and it should be constant, without a break. This is the washing process, before the soul is ready to be drenched in the colour of God. "One jap (repetition), one thought. Think of One, sigh for One, sing the praise of One. Through mind and body, with love repeat the Lord's Name." With true service of mind and body, in love and devotion, one should increase one's remembrance of the Lord until there is nothing but constant sighing for Him. Then there is indication of awakening. We sigh for worldly things, but it is rare to find someone who sighs in remembrance of the Lord.

Simran is the first step. Logically, one will be drenched in the colour of the one in whose name the simran is done. "If you keep someone in your heart, you will reside in theirs." If the disciple remembers the Guru, the Guru will remember the disciple. And if there is remembrance on both sides, that creates receptivity, and the Guru and disciple become one. "Satguru protects the disciple with His life." In such condition, the disciple becomes suffused in the Guru's colour. In the clear heart, the true knowledge becomes apparent. Naturally, those who do Simran will be dyed in that colour. When Masters feel so inclined, they reveal themselves somewhat and great wisdom comes forth – for our benefit, in whom the colour of the Lord is not yet fast.

Realize that the soul is a conscious entity; it is ever-existent, all wisdom and perfect bliss. When the mind and senses are washed clean from their dirty colour, and the soul which is attention gets connected to the greater attention, then without effort it will radiate bliss. It is said that those who do not do bhajan will never be free from misery: "Lethargy will constantly torment them." They are always lazy. When does this procrastination come and when does it go? "For the negative work he is all attentiveness; while waiting on the Naam, he slumbers and slumbers." To gratify the senses, he is wide awake and ready, even at midnight. But for bhajan ... "not now, we will see tomorrow." This is mainly due to his regular association with outer enjoyments; he has inclination toward them. He has done little or no bhajan to speak of, has not drunk deep enough to enjoy its sweet nectar, and therefore feels disinclined. With lethargy, procrastination becomes the thief of time ... "not just now, wait awhile ... we will do it tonight, no, tomorrow morning ... let us just finish this work, and then ..." The tragic result? If you put off the moment, the other moment which one imagines will be more opportune, will never come.

If one becomes lazy, then laziness will induce sleep. If your meditation is not fruitful, how will you know what is inside? Even when at initiation, through the mercy of the Master, something is seen within, yet a man will start thinking it is all imagination. This is how the mind hoodwinks us, with the result that the soul recedes into the enjoyments and scatters its attention. Though imperishable and unchangeable, it is under the mind's influence; through connection with the mind it came into creation, and has suffered the cycle of birth and death ever since. Imprisoned in the illusion, its attention dispersed in the world, it falls prey to passions, anger, etc., becoming more and more diffused. Through passion, the soul can fall very low. The seat of the soul is high, between the eyebrows. And the seat of passion? Well, everyone knows where that is.

"Where there is passion, Naam is not there; where there is Naam there is true desire. Both cannot stay together; the sun and the night are each in its own place." Naam is the same as the ever-existent God, which is in each being and controls every soul in every form, but the link with Naam is made above the senses, behind and between the eyes, to where the soul withdraws at the time of death when it leaves the scene of life. This is termed the seat of the soul. If a soul is drenched in the Naam's colour, how can desires affect him? But when the attention is in the body, he becomes tormented by passions. Without the stabilizing force of Naam, the soul remains diffused in the world, subject to the constant agitation of the mind. Passion and anger have the same results. If an obstacle comes between us and our desire, whether apparent or concealed, then anger arises, followed by envy, criticism, backbiting, enmity, petty squabbling and other things – we drift from one bad habit to another. And all this is due to lack of substantial meditation.

Even if a little was done with deep sincerity, some intoxication would be enjoyed. "When this Nectar comes, other wine seems tasteless." Having tasted the real Nectar of Life, one will leave a thousand tasks to sit and enjoy it. Every free minute will be put to use; one will readjust one's life to make more and more time for meditation. When people are asked why they do not meditate, their excuse is that there is never any time for this precious work, although the "true disciple" is always ready and willing to attend to the worldly pursuits. We are not faithful to our bhajan because we have not had enough inner experience of Naam.

"Those in passion and anger's torment are drowned to death in a river of greed." Daily this greed increases: he who has a hundred dollars desires a thousand, and when he gets that he wants more. Added to this, people want praise without doing any good – they spend their lives in lies, cheating and cunningness – the life-span drifts away without an ounce of self-control.

Seeing this condition, the Master says, "Stop where you are! Look at your condition!" It is all through the lack of meditation, and the only cure is to join the soul back to the Lord. Even a little intoxication derived from steady daily practice will start to erase the taste for outer pleasures. These outer attractions are making it extremely difficult for the mind to withdraw and go inward. If we start to enjoy inner sweetness ... "When that sweetness comes, this other flavour is not to the liking." Naturally the sweeter taste will render others insipid.

The Master's work is to connect the soul with the perpetual Sound. He gives a connection with the Lord's very reflection – free, without charge. Having received this priceless gift of Nature, one should devote enough time to increase it, by daily practice. Then when one starts to really enjoy the Nectar, outer things will recede automatically without any effort. To gain control of one's being, to bring one's whole life under that perfect control, to help oneself to cut away from outer attractions, requires self- introspection. Start by consciously controlling a small fraction of your life. You will be able to succeed if you are also enjoying a little inner intoxication of Naam. All Masters say there is no success without meditation.

"Now that Kal (negativeness) has come, quickly sow the seeds of Naam; forget not yourself in illusion, now is the sowing season." 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, "O 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 Amardas. 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 titbits, 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 toward 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 slave 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 Bhagved (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 realize Me as quickly as in the company of a realized 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 realized 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. "If you haven't loved the Guru completely, you are not really near the Naam." The Lord within each one sees whichever of His children are yearning to meet Him, and makes the appropriate condition for them to come to the feet of one in whom He is manifested. It is a very rare privilege to meet a true Guru, and yet those who meet him do not love him completely. With outer show they touch his feet and sing his praises, but rarely do they obey his wishes.

All Masters tell the devotees to do their simran and bhajan. Hazur used to say, "You people give one tenth of your earnings, so you should also give one tenth of your time." One tenth of a day is two and a half hours. Some sit for merely five minutes, some for half an hour, and many not at all. Others sit when the occasion fits their mood. If the connection which is given at initiation is not increased, what happens? The attention remains outward and does not withdraw and invert. A person may sit hours on end and others may think he is a devoted meditator, but inside he sees nothing! The face he shows to the world is white, but in the court of the Lord it is black.

Oh brothers, awake! This is the time to understand what is what!

The Masters come, lift up their hands, and shout to the world, "Oh brothers, do your meditation, for without it you cannot be free." It is said, "Take the Guru's teaching, for without devotion many clever ones have drowned." Learning and high degrees are of no use in this sphere.

There was once a very learned man, who upon approaching a river one day, asked a boatman to row him across. The boatman agreed and while they were crossing the river, the learned man asked him, "Have you had any education?" The boatman replied that he had received no education at all. The learned man remarked, "Oh dear, you have wasted half of your life!" Halfway across the river, the boat sprang a leak and began to sink. The boatman asked his companion, "Did you ever learn to swim?" The man replied that he had never learned swimming, and the boatman remarked, "All your reading and writing is wasted here," and swam to the shore.

Now I am not suggesting that no one should study at all. Education is good in its place. But if the soul does not learn to leave the body at will, and has not derived intoxication from being drenched in the colour of Naam, no amount of speech or action will achieve success on the spiritual path. Remember this fact, for it is clear and simple. The Masters all explain the Truth in very simple terms:

The Masters in truth say, make your meditation.

Listen! Open your ears and listen! He who has made his meditation has made everything. He whose meditation is not made will enjoy no meaning in his life's achievements. There is great purpose behind this emphasis on the importance of meditation. If your daily life is not under control, try to bring it in control, or, give more time to meditation and you will be able to gain control quicker. He who becomes the conscious co-worker of the Divine plan will find that his righteous life is made. Whatever he does will be performed righteously; he will not be able to act otherwise. The reason behind your failure is that you have not truly loved your Master, but have merely made a show in various ways, physically or financially, or by lip-service. There is no one who has sacrificed his mind to the Guru. Without giving up the mind, there is no success.

The mind was sold to the Satguru; this server's work was correct.

Give the mind into his keeping. "This physical form is the Master's, this wealth is the Master's, this mind has been given too." Those who can do this will receive the greatest gift. The receiver may be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc., for all outer religions are merely labels; we are all simply human beings. A human being is a soul with a body, and the soul's caste is the same as God's. We are all the Lord's children, but unfortunately are going along in forgetfulness. And when we come to the Master, what does he teach us?

This possessiveness has gone, since I got the Master's company;
There is no enemy, no stranger, all now are very dear to me.

The change comes from within. We are human beings, but before that we are soul – the indweller of the physical body. Why is there so much dissention? When the people have right understanding, then peace will reign on earth. This is the only panacea for all ills; it always was and always will be. Whenever man forgets the truth – the unity already existent in all – then sorrow and misery descend. The most effective cure for all distressing conditions is to join the soul back to the Lord and realize in truth the unity that exists. "Naam is the panacea for all ills." Naam is no mere outer expression or show; it is a term given to the all-knowing and ever-existent Lord. "Naam is the Sustainer of Khand and Brahmand." It is the God-in-action Power which is controlling the whole of Creation (Khand and Brahmand) and to be connected to that Power means to meditate on the Naam.

Those who have meditated on the Naam, their toils shall end,
And their faces shall flame with glory; not only shall they have salvation, O Nanak,
But many more shall find freedom with them.

The most urgent work before us is being spoiled by slothfulness – all because the love for the Guru is not developed. Christ told his followers, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." We are also told, "He who obeys the Guru's wishes knows what God is." But do we obey? If we would obey implicitly for six months, we would see the magical change in our condition. You can get salvation in this very life! If the Giver is there, where is the pain in receiving? – but unfortunately, the one who was supposed to receive the priceless gift is deep in slothfulness, sleeping or drifting away in the clutches of the senses. Those who receive something decide to put it away and ignore it. How can you expect the worldly conditions to change if you are not changing?

I will give you an example from the life of Guru Nanak. A disciple named Bhai Ajitha once questioned the Guru, "Maharaj, you say that some have had but a fragrance of sikhi (true devotion to the Guru), and some live under the protective roof of a true disciple, but there are some who taste the Nectar from a true disciple. Please give me the darshan of these three types of followers."

Now listen carefully to this story: Guru Nanak took Ajitha to a certain house at night (houses in those days were made with inner courtyards). The owner said to his family, "There are some holy men outside, we must feed them." But they were very poor people, with very meager fare, and they collected a piece of bread from each one's share and with devotion offered it to Guru Nanak and returned to their places. Guru Nanak and Ajitha passed the night in singing praises of God, and in the morning the Guru sent Ajitha to tell the owner, "We are leaving now." The owner replied, "Brothers, you are going? Then go. Who asked you to come?"

As they walked on their way, Guru Nanak told Ajitha, "This man has had a little fragrance of discipleship. This type of person will listen, they will serve both financially and physically, etc., but they will remain where they are." You see, when someone gets a slight fragrance they are ready and willing to do anything, and yet when they leave that fragrance all their aspirations are forgotten. Ajitha then said, "Maharaj, I see this type of man every day; now please show me one who lives under the Master's protection." They went to a village and entered the house of a large family, who entertained and fed them with great love and devotion. When night came, they said, "Maharaj, have mercy on us. How can we control our mind? We are pitifully imprisoned in this world – show us the way to salvation." So the whole night was spent listening to the advice of Guru Nanak, until the sun rose at daybreak. When the Guru showed his intentions to depart, the family quickly cooked more food and packed it for their journey. As the Guru left, they pleaded for his grace and begged him to look after them and return soon to their home. So Guru Nanak explained to Ajitha that this was the type of people who live under a true Master's protection. How many people can you find who will spend the whole night talking about the Lord? Have you met anyone like that? Such people have hope of salvation. They may not go anywhere just now, but there is hope later.

Ajitha then said, "But what about those who have gained the Essence of Truth from a Master?" and Guru Nanak promised to show him such an example. Some days later they went to another house where lived a man, his wife, two sons and a daughter, who were imbued with the love of the Guru. They all received and entertained Guru Nanak with respect and devotion. To show true devotion to a Master is like showing it to God Himself. The wife immediately retired to the kitchen to prepare food. Her son came running to help her, but slipped on the floor, fell down and died. Of course she was distressed; but,thinking of the karmic laws, attributed it to give and take, and then thought of the Saint that had just come to her home. Resolving that the incident should not mar the occasion, she hid her son's body in a room under the covers of a bed, meaning to tell her husband only after the departure of the Saint.

Meanwhile, the husband had gone into the courtyard for something, accompanied by his younger son, who suddenly slipped, fell down and died. The father then had exactly the same thought as his wife, and hid his son's body in another room, after which he continued devotedly to help prepare the meal.

When the food was placed in front of him, Guru Nanak picked up the small daughter and placing her on his lap, asked her, "Where are your brothers?" She replied, "They are in the lap of the Guru. In life or death, we are all in his lap." Guru Nanak then picked up a morsel of food and put it in his mouth but could not swallow it. He said, "It will not go down my throat; they have bound me by their love and complete surrender to the Guru," and turning to the father said, "I want to meet your sons, so kindly call them." The husband and wife both became alarmed, for both were concealing the facts and did not know what to do. But the Guru insisted, so the husband called the names of his two sons. At once both boys came from the respective rooms where they had been lying. They told of their interesting sleep during which both were held in the lap of the Guru. Who can imagine the joy in the hearts of the parents! Guru Nanak turned to Ajitha and remarked, "Now this is the type of person who enjoys the very Essence from the Guru's presence."

This last example was one of true living, the kind of life that we must learn to live. You can see for yourselves where you stand at present, and the only reason for that position is the fact that you do not know how to truly love the Master. Why would he who rises above the mind and senses try to keep you imprisoned here in them? It is the fervent wish of whoever has tasted the real Nectar that everyone should enjoy the bliss.

Meet the Master, my brothers, and take the true Naam into thy keeping;
Tie this life's treasure to thee, here and hereafter.

The treasure of the Masters has value in both worlds, so where does the Negative Power stand in this? The Negative Power comes in when we do not truly love, we do not obey, or we obey only as far as our mind agrees. This is what is called the power of negativeness. We even go so far as to give advice to the Master, at times. Hafiz of Shiraz made the startling statement that if your Guru tells you to drench your prayer-mat in wine, then do so! Why? Would the one who has the intoxication of Naam wish to trap you in the worldly intoxicants? We should try to carefully understand the Master's teachings and what lies behind them – not waste time in intellectual wrangling and reasoning. When an officer gives the orders to fire, the soldier must fire, and the responsibility of the decision rests upon the officer. So our duty is to obey, and die if necessary! As long as the condition of our mind does not develop to this kind of obedience, we will not get the full benefit that the Naam has to offer us. The Guru is not ignorant of the pathways to Spirituality.

You have got the connection, then daily increase it. And if you learn to obey without question, the colour of this world will fade and you will be dyed deep in the colour of Naam. Disobedience results in being consumed perpetually in the fire of senses, not only in this life, but hereafter also.

When someone remarked to Lord Vishnu that he must be very busy always preparing the hells, etc., for so many erring souls, he replied, "No, I do nothing – the souls bring their own fires and are consumed in them." We go through life strictly according to the inner condition of mind. The Masters show a straight road out, but the worldly people object to it, being convinced that he is doing nothing but obstructing the fulfillment of their desires. The Master comes to give the true understanding of life, but the people chase him away, protesting that he has come to rot their roots by flooding them with water. They do not or will not understand the deep meaning of Satsang, although in all religions it is stated that there is no salvation without Naam or Word.

It is already within you; you have but to be made aware of it. That person who is already all-awareness can awaken you. He who has no Light radiating within cannot show it to others. It is a work impossible to be accomplished by intellectuals or those learned in sacred scriptures, etc. Get the full benefit of meditation, and increase it day by day. The more you increase it, the nearer will you advance toward your goal. If you refuse, the day will come when you will be filled with regret for the lost opportunity. It is all a very simple matter of fact, and outer show of respect will achieve nothing. Learn to obey implicitly – this is the secret in a nutshell.