Bhakti — Love, Light and Sound on the Path — Sant Mat Newsletter
Bhakti — Love, Light and Sound on the Path
Rumi says, “Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.”
“Meet a Satguru and receive his [or her] initiation. Surrender thine all and gaze within.” (Guru Nanak)
“We have only one consciousness stream. When we associate with Truth, we ascend upwards, and when we associate with untruth we fall down.” (Acharya Tulsi)
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Contents Below — In This Issue/Mailing/Blog/Digest
Sant Mat History: The Classic Nirguna Bhakti Sants of India, By Agam Prasad Mathur, from, Petals of Love;
The Essence of the Sant Mat Teachings of Maharshi Mehi Paramhans;
Ten Useful Tips for Success at Meditation, By Pravesh K. Singh;
Open A Window To God — Rumi (Excerpted from, Visions of Allah, By James Bean);
Mystic Verses from: Rumi, Guru Kabir, Sree Sree Thakur Anukulchandra (of the Radhasoami Faith), Sant Tukarama, Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi (Sufi Poet-Mystic), Gospel of Thomas (Saying of Yeshua), Swami Ji Maharaj (Sant Radhaswami Sahib), and, The Surangama Sutra (Quan Yin/Buddhist Scripture); and,
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Pictured Above: Monks looked up at the magnificent night sky filled with thousands of lanterns in awe: Floating Lanterns Festival — Yi Peng/Loy Krathong — Chiang Mai, Thailand
There is a strange tree, which stands without roots and bears fruits without blossoming;
It has no branches and no leaves, it is lotus all over.
Two birds sing there; one is the Guru, and the other the
The disciple chooses the manifold fruits of life and tastes them, and the Guru beholds him in joy.
What Kabir says is hard to understand:
“The bird is beyond seeking, yet it is most clearly visible. The Formless is in the midst of all forms. I sing the glory of forms.”
— Guru Kabir, Songs of Kabir
The outwardly appearance has absolutely no meaning if there is no love in one’s heart. It is useless even talking about it. Unless the love is truly in practice, wearing an outwardly appearance is meaningless and is a sure sign of ruin.
— from the Saakhis of Guru Kabir in the book, “1008 Kabir Vani”, compliled by Lalchand Doohan Jigyasu, translated by Kunwar Anil Kumar, Manoj Publications, Delhi
Love and Meditation (Prem-Bhakti and Yoga of Inner Light and Sound): “The practice of Surat Shabd Yoga [Inner Light and Sound Meditation] is dependent on the love generated in the devotee’s heart for the Supreme Being Radhasoami Dayal [Compassionate Lord of the Soul]. The Radhasoami Faith therefore advocates the blending of Yoga with Bhakti [love and devotion].” (Agam Prasad Mathur, Petals of Love)
“Devotion and faith are twin brothers. If one comes, the other follows. Remove doubt! Place devotion on the throne of faith! Let the Kingdom of Heaven be established in your heart! The effort to remain constantly attached to ‘Sat’ (the Eternal, Timeless Source of Existence) is ‘Bhakti’ (devotion). The devotee is the really wise man. Wisdom without devotion is merely verbal learning.” — Sree Sree Thakur Anukulchandra, Book of Satyanusaran (The Pursuit of Truth)
He who utters the Name of God while walking
gets the merit of a sacrifice at every step.
His body becomes a place of pilgrimage.
He who repeats God’s Name while working
always find perfect peace.
He who utters the Name of God while eating
gets the merit of a fast
even though he has taken his meals.
Even if one were to give in charity
the whole earth encircled by the seas
it would not equal the merit of repeating the Name.
By the power of the Name
one will know what cannot be known,
One will see what cannot be seen,
One will speak what cannot be spoken,
One will meet what cannot be met.
Incalculable is the gain that comes
from repeating the Name of God.”
Sant Mat History: The Classic Nirguna Bhakti Sants of India, By Agam Prasad Mathur, from, Petals of Love
Bhakti has been defined as “the worship of a personal deity in a spirit of love.” It has also been adjudged as “the personal faith in a personal God, love for him as for a human being, the dedication of everything to his service and the attainment of moksha [salvation, liberation] by this means, rather than by knowledge, or sacrifices or works.” In other words, Bhakti is nothing but an adoration and devotion fixed upon the Lord after acquiring a knowledge of the attributes of the adorable one. Thus, Bhakti is the emotional aspect of religion, its root lies in the feeling or affective side of human consciousness.
Those who followed the path of Bhakti and reached Ultimate Reality through faith and devotion may be called ‘Sants’ (Saints). In fact this word signifies certain qualities of head and heart such as benevolence, intelligence, humility and humanity. According to the original interpretation of the Sanskrit word, ‘Sant’ stands for pure existence that is eternal, identical and self-consistent and synonymous with the Highest Reality. In Sanskrit and Pali literature, it has been so often used to mean a calm and cool-headed person who devotes his life to the service of the world at large. Therefore, a real saint can only be visualized as a person who has attained the highest Truth and achieved the permanent values to become identified with the one and indivisible Truth through simple faith and devotion.
The Sant according to Radhasoami Faith is one who has realized the Highest Reality through love and devotion and has reached the region of eternal truth, bliss and light, that is, Sat-loka. Such Sants as were Kabir, Nanak, Dadu, Paltu and Tulsi Saheb inspired humanity and led it from darkness to light through their mystic revelations and easy teachings. The gospel of love was taught and preached by them to people in peoples’ language. The sublime thought was put in the garb of emotional poetry and thus gushing rhythm opened the floodgates of a self-evolved thought which can easily be styled as Sant-Mat.
Sant-Mat thus signifies the Bhakti side of Vedanta adorned by the layer of love more emphatically put by these Sants to provide solace to suffering humanity. The Sant-Mat expounded a clear conception of the Ultimate Reality and presented a clear cut way for realizing it. Such a realization is known as Sat or all Truth. The Ultimate Reality, therefore, has been styled as Sat. Many have called the same as Satpurush. The generation of love towards the Satpurush [True Eternal Original Being] is the devotion or Bhakti from the point of view of a [genuine] Sant.
This love for the Sat can be cultivated in man’s heart through his contact with one who has already generated this love and has become identical with it. He is the Satguru. The need of such a Satguru for the total redemption of the Jiva [soul] has been greatly emphasized by the leaders of Sant sects.
With the appearance of such leaders on the religious screen of medieval India, the stagnant and prosaic gyan (knowledge) was surcharged with the poetic dynamism of Bhakti. It was a Renaissance of its own type dawning on the Indian horizon of the middle ages which exhorted the Indians to rise from deep slumber, rethink the old values and devotee life in pursuit of the Supreme Being by shunning away the narrow differences of caste, colour or creed. ////////
The Essence of the Sant Mat Teachings of Maharshi Mehi Paramhans
The first point of importance in his teachings is to have a firm faith in, and love for, the Satguru. Without sincere devotion for the Satguru one can not make any progress in one’s spiritual development.
Maharshi Mahi says that the whole universe is like a mirage. He advises us to withdraw our consciousness from it and to unite it with the Supreme Being. We should have love (Bhakti) for the Lord who is all-pervading and infinitely more besides: unmanifest, unborn, originless and unlimited.
Jiva-atma [the soul] is a part of the Lord in the same sense as the air within any pot or within a temple is a part of the open air. When this delusion [of separateness] is removed, the jiva-atma [soul] is no longer merely part of the Lord. Rather, it experiences being one with the Lord Himself.
Both the natures (para and apara [earthly and heavenly]) come into being and merge into the Lord by His sweet will. According to him no suffering is greater than the misery of the wheel of births and deaths. To escape from it one should have devotion for the Supreme Being.
All human beings can have devotion for God. One should remove the veils by external (association with the Saints [attending satsang]), and internal (Dhyan) meditation practices.
First of all, we should firmly practice mental repetition of the Name given by the Satguru, or any mantra as guided by him, and then firmly practice the mental Dhyan [contemplation, meditation] of his form (face). By these two practices we should make our ears pure, i.e. progress in spirituality to catch the Divine Sound coming from within and above.
For the jiva [soul] there are three veils: Darkness, Light, and Sound. These veils should be removed by the practice of 1) Dristi Yoga [Yoga of Light: Inner Seeing, Inner Light Meditation]; and, 2) Nadanusandhana [Yoga of Sound: Surat Shabda/Nada Yoga Sadhana: Inner Sound Meditation]. By their removal, Maya [illusion] will also be transcended and the practitioner will unite with God. We should have firm faith that by doing so, there will remain no dualism.
By abandoning hypocrisy, egoism, and greed, and by being innocent, we should serve the Supreme Lord by surrendering our all.
We should daily: 1) have association with the Sants [attend satsang of the Masters/Saints] or study their teachings; 2) daily practice meditation sincerely, and, 3) should give up adultery, intoxication, violence, theft and falsehood.
These are the principles of all the Sants and they all have confirmed them. These fundamental principles should be firmly remembered.
Last but not least, he says that the essence of all these principles is to serve the Satguru without whom nothing can be done, i.e. no progress in spirituality is possible at all.
Ten Useful Tips for Success at Meditation, By Pravesh K. Singh
It is a very common complaint reported by most of us who practice meditation that it is very very difficult to concentrate our attention, to rein in our monkey-mind that keeps frequently jumping to a plethora of thoughts of all kind — from one to another — other than where we want to employ it. We sit in meditation with great zeal but very soon find ourselves cheated by none other than our own mind — we start ‘Jap’ (repeated mental recitation of a sacred mantra), for instance, very enthusiastically and are reciting some mantra and we can’t even know when the mind silently slips away to other thoughts and realize it only after some time has elapsed that we were overtaken by mind-chatter. We deploy it again and once again it dupes us and it goes on like that. The daunting challenge before us, therefore, is: What to do to ensure success in meditation?
Meditation in the tradition of Santmat as taught by Sadguru Maharshi Mehi Paramhans consists in the following four sequential steps:
i. Manas Jap (Repeated mental recitation of a sacred mantra taught by Guru)
ii. Manas Dhyan (Focusing the attention on the form of the Guru)
iii. Drishti Sadhan/ Bindu Dhyan/ Yoga of Inner Light/ Brahma Jyoti Dhyan (Trying to still gaze at the Third Eye/Tenth Door/Shiva Netra/Sushumna), and
iv. Nadanusandhan/Surat Shabd Yoga (meditating on a countless variety of inner sounds belonging to different planes of creation leading to grasping the Quintessential Unstruck Sound or anahat nada or sar shabd).
Now, as all of us will agree, success in any endeavour, made in any field whatsoever, depends upon, or is a function of the efforts — quantitative as well as qualitative — put in. This is true, in equal measure, to meditation, too. Meditation is no petty exercise. Drishti Sadhana (Yoga of Inner Light), if successfully accomplished, implies having transcended, and consequentially acquired control over, entire gross creation or sthool brahmand. Higher the goal, greater or more rigorous is the efforts that have to be made.
It is so very natural for the mind to stray from the target (not only during Bindu Dhyan or Drishti Sadhana (Yoga of Inner Light), but also during the very first preparatory stage namely, Manas Jap or mental recitation) because of its inherently restless or fidgety nature. Arjuna’s (of the Mahabharata fame) concentration in the outer world was of such a high order that he could see nothing other than the tiny eye of the bird perched on a tree. And yet, even he very poignantly pleads before Lord Krishna that he found it extremely difficult to keep his formidable mind in check. This should give us an idea about the enormity of the task at hand.
In this context, it is important to be borne in mind that what we do during the remaining period of the day is of crucial significance here. Suppose, for instance, we meditate for a total of 2 — 2.5 hrs a day; that means for the remaining time while we are awake or dreaming, the mind is constantly engrossed in all sorts of worldly things and activities. In such a situation, when we sit in meditation, it would very naturally have a tendency to go back to what it had been doing all the day round, to begin roaming to those very thoughts that it had been engaging in most of the time. So, we owe it to ourselves to be continuously on the vigil and keep pulling it back to the task of Jap, Manas Dhyan and Drishti Sadhana whatever we are doing at the moment. Whenever we come to realize it had flied away to other thoughts, we should immediately, without getting irritated, bring it back to its target — this process is known as ‘Pratyaahaara’. We have to be strong at Pratyaahaara, if we want to win the battle called meditation. Maharshi Santsevi Paramhans would remark, “All attention without tension is meditation”.
Here some useful tips are presented to maximize our productivity during meditation.
1. We should devote as much time as we could afford everyday to meditation. Success is directly proportional to the quantum of sincere efforts invested.
2. As far as practicable, we should practice meditation at fixed times and in a fixed place, a relatively calmer and isolated place removed from the outer din and bustle. The advantage of selecting fixed schedules and place is that when meditate everyday at those very times and in that very place, as soon we are approaching towards those timings and that place, the mind becomes automatically prepared or orientated for the task, realizing that the time has come when it has to apply itself to the target set by its master. So, it helps greatly to practice meditation, as far as practicable, at fixed hours of the day and in a fixed place.
3. We should read some spiritual article or recite Sant-vaanis (verses or compositions of sants) soulfully immediately before we are to practice meditation. This creates a mood conducive to mind-concentration during meditation. It is for this reason that it is always better to precede meditation with prayers.
4. Even during other times of the day, we should keep good company, try to read purely spiritual material including discourses of sants, and discuss such topics with like-minded friends (if such company is not available, maybe we could talk to appropriate acquaintances over phone to keep the inspiration alive).
5. When we are engaged in our routine repetitive activities (e.g. walking/strolling, sitting idle, cooking, eating, brushing, bathing, doing some routine office jobs not requiring much mental concentration etc) we should try to keep practicing manas jap (internally reciting the mantra given by the Guru) — the great advantage of this is that we can keep doing so without anyone around us knowing of it. The objective is to keep the mind constantly reminded of its main objective, to keep counselling or orienting it all the time during most of the day even when we are not formally meditating so that when we actually sit in meditation, the mind has already been cast in that mould and will offer much less resistance. In the Mahabharata, Lord Shri Krishna exhorts Arjuna to keep remembering him even while fighting (“maamanusmara yudhya cha”). If he can instruct Arjuna to practice constant remembrance in the face of such a fierce, intense and absorbing battle, we could surely practice it at least during our daily repetitive chores.
6. We should practice to sit in a suitable erect and easy posture for extended hours, without moving our hands, feet or other parts of body. It is common experience that when we try to sit silently without moving in a constant posture, we suddenly feel itching at nose-tip, forehead, scalp, neck etc, feel something creeping down the neck or backbone; somehow the urge to move our hands or feet is experienced by many — a tendency that goes away only if it is ignored sternly.
7. It is very crucial to take great care of our dietary habits. It would be great to follow the golden rule of ‘hit bhuk’, ‘mit bhuk’ and ‘rit bhuk’. ‘Hit bhuk’ implies that we should eat only those things that are ideally meant for us human beings, things that are in our interest. Vegetarian diet, which is not very oily and spicy, is ideal for those longing for spiritual progress. ‘Mit bhuk’ means that we must exercise self-control and not indulge in overeating even if it be purely vegetarian food; restraint is the keyword. Overeating is bound to induce lethargy, sleepiness, and a tendency to skip meditation. Finally, the principle of ‘rit bhuk’ commands that we should earn our meals through righteous, honest means and that the food be cooked in a pious and pleased state of mind. The food procured by money earned through dishonest or corrupt practices is bound to have, subtly, an adverse effect on the mind, inhibiting spiritual progress.
8. We should be steadfast in the practice of ‘sadachar’ (righteous living). Sadguru Maharshi Mehi Paramhans would say, ‘sadachar’ (righteousness) and ‘dhyanabhyas’ (meditation practice) are akin to feet and head respectively for those who aspire to surge ahead on the highway of salvation. He who is not firm in observing sadachar (which includes being truthful in conduct and abstaining from vices like lying, stealing, violence, taking drugs or other intoxicants, and adultery) can’t set move even one step forward on this path. What to talk of the one who is devoid of dhyanabhyas (meditation practice)! A headless body is a dead body. Therefore, sadachar and dhyanabhyas go hand in hand, supporting each other, strengthening each other.
9. Moreover, we ought to develop a detached way of living, and growing in it every day. Though exquisitely discharging our duties towards the family, the organisation or company we serve, the society, the nation and the creation at large with the utmost sincerity and honesty, we must always keep in mind that this is not our real home, all the things here are not ours or to stay forever, that our real abode is elsewhere, our real nature is altogether different. All this results in the desired orientation of the mind and helps in accomplishing our main task [of meditation aimed at Self (God) — Realization] most skilfully and most efficiently. This is the key to success in spiritual domain. When Arjun complained of the arduousness of mind control, Lord Krishna counselled him to practice rigorously with detachment: “Abhyasen tu Kaunteya vairagyen cha grihyate” (Regular practice and non-attached living are the keys to success).
10. And, the most important of all: we must not get disheartened or dejected, agitated or irritated if we are not succeeding in meditation. We MUST NOT GIVE UP. We must remember that perseverance pays. We don’t know for how many lives we have been indulging in worldliness, in sensual pleasures and, in the process, have accumulated how huge a heap of samskaras that we have to annihilate which is an extremely uphill task by any standards. We must keep walking towards our destination with utmost faith and rock-solid conviction in the efficacy of the path shown by our Guru. There is no reason why his grace would not fall on us, would not be with us. Hence, with utmost zeal, unwavering faith and a heart full of adoration and prayers to the Sadguru, let us keep striving; help is bound to come. JAI GURU! ////////
Open A Window To God — Rumi
(Excerpted from the article, Visions of Allah, By James Bean)
“If this screen – which is you – is struck from before your eyes, the Beloved will find the Beloved, and you will be entirely lost. Then you will hear with the Ear of your Heart. That Mystery, so long concealed is at last opened, the darkness of your night at last bathed in dawn!” (Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi, Divine Flashes, Paulist Press, a volume in the Classics of Western Spirituality Series)
Rumi put it this way, “Listen, open a window to God and begin to delight yourself by gazing upon Him through the opening. The business of love is to make the window of the heart, for the breast is illumined by the beauty of the Beloved. Gaze incessantly on the face of your Beloved! Listen, this is in your power my friend!”
Within our grasp is the ability to regain the Vision of our soul and the Communion with our Beloved Allah; both reside together in the mystical garden, the paradise of the spiritual world. Though the material sphere acts as a dense layer of overcast skies obscuring our vision of what lies beyond, Masters have revealed the Secrets of obtaining paradise to anyone who yearns to discover them saying to their students very much like Rumi did, “This is in your power my friend!”
The process of gaining a vision of paradise and mystic transport has been described as “stripping off old garments” and replacing them with a new heavenly robe made of Light. In his Persian Sufi classic, Divine Flashes, Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi describes the process.
“When the Beloved would exalt the lover, He strips from him the garments collected from all the worlds, and clothes him in the robe of His own attributes. Then the Beloved calls him by all his own attributes. Then the Beloved calls him by all his own names, and seats him in his own place. When the lover studies his new clothes he finds himself arrayed in different colors, and will wonder ‘what is this beautiful tint, this garment so unique?'”
This quote from Divine Flashes reminds me of Saying 37 in the Gospel of Thomas, one of the earliest collections of the sayings of Jesus.
His disciples said, “When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?” Jesus said, “When you strip without being ashamed, and you will take your cloths and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then you will see the Son of the Living One and you will not be afraid.” (The Complete Gospels, Robert J. Miller, Polebridge Press)
Sufism is a form of Islamic Gnosticism which really does have many affinities with earlier Gnostic mystical traditions of the middle east. Like other movements of the past that embrace spiritual experience and mystic transport through the Seven Heavens, Sufis have found it useful to compare out-of-body or ascension journeys to the stripping or shedding of garments. The above quote illustrates their view that each soul on the earth-plane is wearing several garments. We are souls wearing subtle bodies or coverings; our physical body is made out of the material substance of the physical universe. We are, as the late Dr. Carl Sagan put it, “star stuff pondering star stuff.” Our bodies are made out of atoms that once came from stars and other objects in the cosmos. When we enter into contemplation and mystical states, our awareness is elsewhere; we become “dead to the world,” have risen above body-consciousness.
In that sense, we have, for the duration of our meditation period, “stripped” ourselves of the garment of the body for the purpose of exploring other levels of our existence. The mystic traveler enters into what has been called “the fourth state of consciousness.” In addition to the waking state, the dream state, the unconsciousness state of deep sleep, the truly holistic explorer can also integrate into his or her experience the spiritual worlds.
Mysticism teaches that there are many layers of reality, that there are other garments that will eventually be shed during journeys of ascension. These garments or subtle bodies have been given names in Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and other languages. In addition to the “garment” of the physical body, each soul is wearing several other garments or bodies, other sheaths that surround the soul, allowing the soul to connect to the various regions of creation. Counting the physical plane as Level One, Level Two is called by many “the astral plane,” made of astral stuff — astral substance, existing at a slightly higher vibration in the astral region. Level Three is the causal body, made of causal or akashic substance, inhabiting the causal plane. Level Four is the mental body made of mind substance, and is part of the mental plane. The etheric body (Level Five) allows the soul to access that region. Above these worlds of mind and matter, the soul resides in the Timeless Spiritual Realm of Truth (Haq). Metaphysically speaking, we’re already in heaven, we just don’t know it! ‘Iraqi says:
“By day I praised you but never knew it; by night slept with you without realizing; fancying myself to be myself; but no, I was you and never knew it!”
Luckily for us slumbering souls, there are always a few Moses-types in the world freeing those yearning for a real promised land, an occasional Rumi or Shams, here or there, sharing their Secrets about the soul.
“With every breath the Sound of Love surrounds us, and we are bound for the depths of space, without distraction. Out beyond duality, we have a Home, and it is Majesty. That pure substance is different from this dusty world. We once came down; soon we’ll return.” (Rumi)
Moved by the pangs of separation from the Beloved, peep through the latticed screen. You are unnecessarily idling away your time amidst the mind and the senses which are the aliens.
The perfect Sat Guru gives you the secrets of your true home. Stop wandering. You have got an opportunity to escape, this time. You will not have it again.
Now press the Til (sesamum seed), extract oil and kindle the flame within you.
[If you penetrate third Til [Third Eye], you will be a recipient of the current of ambrosia and will be able to get Darshan (Vision) of Jyoti (flame, inner Light).]
Radhasoami says that this is the first stage in the process of ascension to higher regions.
— Swami Ji Maharaj (Shiv Dayal Singh), Sar Bachan Radhasoami Poetry, Volume One:
O Surat [Soul]! Who are you and whence have you come? This world is a net spread by the mind. Why do you get entangled in it? You are a ray from the Purush (the Supreme Being) and an inhabitant of the purely Spiritual Region. Kal [lord of time] has put a noose round your neck. Turn back and go to your Home, by the grace of Sat Guru and in the company of Sadhs (those who are engaged in Parmath [spirituality]). Listen to Anhad Shabd* within, says Radhasoami.
— Swami Ji Maharaj, Sar Bachan Radhaswami Poetry, Volume One
NOTE: *Anhad Shabd: The Unstruck Melody or Sound Current. Swami Ji was a spiritual Master/Sant Satguru who taught Surat Shabd Yoga: Inner Light and Sound Meditation.
Above: Photo of Santidas Ji Maharaj Saheb, Kabir Panth Guru. Have always liked this old photo. It’s found in the book, The Bijak of Kabir Sahib, Published by Shri Kabir Ashram, Jamnagar.
“There is nothing more important than meditation. Increase this practice from day to day; never decrease it.” — Baba Jaimal Singh
For many a Kalpa — as numerous as the particles of sand in the river Ganges — Avalokiteshvara Buddha, the hearer and answerer of prayer, has visited all the Buddha-lands of the ten quarters of the universe and has acquired Transcendental Powers of Boundless Freedom and Fearlessness and has vowed to emancipate all sentient beings from their bondage and suffering. How sweetly mysterious is the Transcendental Sound of Avalokiteshvara [Quan Yin]! It is the pure Brahman Sound. It is the subdued murmur of the seatide setting inward. Its mysterious Sound brings liberation and peace to all sentient beings who in their distress are calling for aid; it brings a sense of permanency to those who are truly seeking the attainment of Nirvana’s Peace …” (The Surangama Sutra)
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