Excerpt from a talk in Hindi by Sant Kirpal Singh given at Sawan Ashram, Delhi
Matter is changing. The body and the world, which are composed of matter, are also changing. If two things are undergoing a relative change, that is not perceptible. Many a time, I have tried to explain this phenomenon through an example. Suppose a boat is sailing in a river with the speed of the water-current. The occupant of the boat is at rest. But, one who is standing outside, can clearly apprehend that the boat as well as the river are flowing with the same speed.
In other words, an awakened soul, out of sheer compassion, draws our attention towards our sad plight. But, caught up in the mighty maze of matter, we pay no heed to his clarion calls. We have taken the physical mould as something real and think that we have to live permanently in this world. All great souls, however, tell us that the world is unreal while the soul is real – something eternal, unchangeable and permanent.
There is an allusion in the epic Mahabharata that a question was once asked of King Yudhishtra by Yaksha, "What is the most amazing thing in the world?" The King replied, "Every day we see the people dying around us. Near and dear ones carry the dead body to the cremation ground or burial places. They even lit the funeral pyre with their own hands. And yet men think they will never die." It is, indeed, quite strange and ironical. Learned or illiterate, rich or poor, high or low – all suffer from the same delusion.
What do the Saints teach us? Learn how to transcend the tabernacle of flesh and you would be able to perceive everything in a proper perspective. Then you can clearly apprehend the ever-changing panorama of life and will realize the truth of scriptural precepts – the world is impermanent and the soul is eternal. All great souls, who came to this world of ours from time to time, endeavoured to draw our attention to these truths. Whether they expressed themselves through the Vedic mantras in Sanskrit or spoke in Persian or Arabic, but the essence of their teachings was the same – the world is not a permanent dwelling place for us.
Swamiji emphasizes that, in reality, we are a spirit clothed by the body. This (body) is our first companion when we come into the world. All our earthly relations are because of this body developed after its advent. At the time of death, this clayey mould is left behind and all worldly possessions cease to have any significance. Now tell me as to who is your true friend among all these? Saints have given the following answer:
They are our real friends in whose company
we may develop right understanding.
The very sight of them should dispel the veil of ignorance cast upon us. We treat the unreal as real. This is called ignorance. But when we meet an enlightened soul, he removes the veil of darkness and thus enables us to distinguish between real and unreal. Such persons alone are fit to be called as true companions. They are very very rare, but the world is not without one. As the physical body does not accompany us, we require the association of one who may abide by us at all times – both here and in the hereafter. Who can be such a one? Obviously, God alone. He is the soul of our soul. He is our life-principle. We live, move and have our very being in Him. Other than God, such persons, in whom He is manifest, are our everlasting friends. They are verily a human pole on which the Power of God works.
The great teacher emphasizes that we should sever all our earthly connections and search for the eternal friendship of some enlightened soul. The friends and relations do not stand by us in all vicissitudes of life. Some of them desert us in poverty and indigence, some in prolonged illness and disease, and yet some in adversity and misfortune. At best a few of them may help you to the funeral pyre and that is all. Even the most sincere stand by as silent spectators when one struggles for life but ultimately loses the battle against death. As such, you should seek the spiritual guidance of one who may reveal to you the mysteries of beyond and give out-of-body experience which one normally gets at the time of death. Further, he should abide with us when we shake off this mortal coil. This is the definition of a true Saint. But alas! Now-a-days the term given is being used for those who believe in external posing and are able to deliver sermons or preach scriptural texts.
We bestow all our love on the world and all that is of the world – wife and children, friends and relations, riches and possessions. All these worldly objects are subject to death and decay. They betray us some time or the other.
We should safeguard ourselves from this grand delusion. None is our foremost companion in this world. Everyone shall forsake us in due course of time.
This swan (soul) will depart alone.
Here a question arises as to what preparation we have made for the last journey. This is a subject which is before all social orders and religions. Seek the association of an evolved soul who is a human being like us but has attained Godhood. You may call him what you like. Call him a man of intuition, who may open your inner eye.
Great souls have always invited our attention towards vital things of life. They have endeavoured to explain the axiomatic truths through examples:
Know ye, o friend,
that the world creation is wholly unreal.
O Nanak, it is unstable like a sand-wall.
By "unreal" is meant what is not eternal and hence impermanent. Whatever we see around is just like a sand-wall having a very short life. It crumbles as soon as water dries up. It is said, "World is a mere dream and a juggler’s play." This magic show, with no reality, lasts only for a while.
Everyone of us is attached to the ephemeral things of the world. God is immortal. We have ignored Him. The entire world is subject to death and decay. The physical body is a heap of dust. It is said: "Dust thou art and unto dust thou turnest." One day we will be separated from the mortal frame. In such a predicament, what must we do?
We are building houses on sandy foundations. We are sailing in paper boats (body). We have to understand this. He who has understood that life on the earth-plane is short-lived and one day he has to pack up, would not tell lies, cheat anyone, slander or think ill of others. But alas – we never, for a moment, think about death.
These are the utterings of great souls; they are true today as in the bygone days. A spiritual luminary capable of giving inner contact with the saving life-lines is called a sadhu, sant or mahatma. The need for such Master-souls was felt in the past and will always be felt in the future. They are the saviours of humanity. One dyed in the colour of Naam remains immune from the glamour of the outside world. From where do the worldly lusts attack us? From the body level and the plane of senses. Only by transcending body-consciousness, one contacts the Light of Life. Naam is not subject to external vision. It cannot be experienced at the level of the senses. It is the knowledge of the beyond. "The elixir of the divine Word is too sweet." If you partake of it, the mundane pleasures would become insipid and valueless. In the association of an awakened soul, you would experience spiritual ecstasy of Naam and lose all charm for sensual pleasures.
This is the difference between an ordinary man and a man of realization. Both of them discharge their mundane obligations in more or less the same way. While one is completely engrossed in the world, the other (Godman) leads a detached life. He who remains neh-karma or actionless in action in all his doings is a liberated soul.
Actions, good or bad, keep us in bondage. Even the incarnations (avataras) are not free from the cycle of transmigration. Only by becoming a conscious co-worker of the Divine Plan, one is released from the karmic web. What is the criterion of such a great soul? In this context Guru Nanak says, "One attuned with His Will, o Nanak, is wholly freed from ego."
Dark and dreadful night lies ahead,
do something worthwhile during the day.
Night follows day. Human life is the only opportunity at our disposal for higher awakening. We are totally ignorant about the life after death. Therefore, make hay while the sun shines. Know thyself and Overself. One who is enlightened while alive would be so after death. A learned man would remain learned after he shakes off his mortal frame. An illiterate person would not become a pundit after death. Salvation during one's life-time has been the supreme ideal of all saints. Promise of salvation after death is of no value.
It is said,
O Lord, if thou art to give us salvation after death,
what is value thereof? O, none.
Human life is given to us for a specific purpose – self-realization and God-realization. If we do not do this here and now, we will have to repent in the long run. Weeping we come and weeping we go. But if we are able to solve the riddle of life while in flesh, we would depart happily (from this world).