From the book "Jap Ji – The message of Guru Nanak", written by Sant Kirpal Singh
Jap Ji is the beautiful hymn of Guru Nanak which appears as a prologue to the Guru Granth Sahib, the voluminous scriptural treasure of the Sikhs, which comprises over 1400 pages. The Jap Ji lays down the basic principles of his teachings and explains the means to achieve at-one-ment with the One Being, the Creator of all.
The title "Jap Ji" is composed of two words – "Jap" and "Ji." "Jap" stands for meditation on a certain object to a degree that one loses his consciousness and merges into the very object of meditation. By this Japa the meditator is transformed into that very object, losing all sense of his own separate existence. Here this word conveys the idea of deep concentration or internal repetition of the Word, to the extent that it will efface the tint of ego in man, letting in Divinity which already exists in him with full expressive effulgence – spiritual life taking the place of physical existence. "Ji" means a new life – life achieved through meditation on the Word – which brings us in closer communion with the Ever-Existent Source of Life. This title thus contains within itself the solution of the mystery of life. It is really life-giving – True-life giving – by contacting the Divine Word within.
Only he is alive, O Nanak, who is attuned with Him; all else are dead. Majh War M. 1
Therefore if you wish to have life worth living, unite yourself with the Divine Word that is already within you.
Without realisation of God within, the body is but a bellows that breathes in and breathes out without any purpose. To live in communion with Him is the chief object set forth by the Great Master. The Jap Ji commences with the basic principles of life, and concludes by giving the substance of his teachings: Equality of man in the sight of God, all beings endowed with equal privileges; their approximation and separation due to their respective actions; their final emancipation through communion with the Divine Word, the Eternal Song; and competence of the Master-soul in raising others to find the Ever-Active-Will diffused in the world. It deals with the views of different schools of thought; and through questions and counter-questions, it seeks to establish the One Reality working at the back of all creation.
Guru Nanak begins by laying down the principle (in Stanzas I, II and III of the text) that we must make His Will our own. in order to achieve oneness with Him. Communion with His Holy Naam – the Divine Word, which is an emanation from the One Being – reveals to us His Will. The Holy Naam is the Eternal Divine Song, reverberating throughout the whole creation.
The one thing which helps communion is Simran, the constant remembrance of the Lord. This, and the elementary steps ensuring success towards this end by meeting the qualifications befitting an aspirant for taking up the path of Truth, and the different spiritual planes through which the soul has to pass before achieving oneness with the Lord, form the subject matter of the thirty-eight stanzas of the text of Jap Ji.
The Jap Ji is a compendium of the teachings of the Master. Guru Granth Sahib, the supreme treasure of Sikh sacred literature, is, in a sense, an elaborate exposition of this preliminary statement. We will take up each subject as dealt with by the Master, in turn, and try to explain how He solved the riddle of life which has perplexed so many. Let us have the patience to study it carefully. Then we can see to what heights of spirituality the Master is calling each one of us.