Name, the Guru’s Grace
There is but one God;
true is his Name….
He is realized through the Guru’s grace.
Jap Ji: A Perspective
These three lines from the Mool Mantra of Guru Nanak’s Jap Ji express the essence of the teachings of the Gurus, which offer the promise of realization of the Lord’s Name through the Guru’s grace. A more beautiful and concise statement of the gift that all satsangis have been given is hard to imagine.
The first line, “There is but one God”, is a concept that doesn’t pose much of a problem for most people. However, while many millions of people embrace this concept, each has a slightly different image of who God is and how he interacts with his creation. We give God a gender and a place in our family. We give him human attributes and call him by countless names. A problem arises when we try to realize who God is and experience him directly. We might say we have a strong belief in God, but is our belief based upon a concept or a thought that we are very attached to? Sometimes our beliefs have no basis in reality. Our romantic notions of God probably don’t help us very much. The saints say it is impossible to contact God directly.
This leads us to the second line, “true is his Name”, a very interesting statement. What is Guru Nanak trying to tell us? He is certainly not referring to God’s spoken name. His spoken names are countless. While spoken names might inspire devotion in us, no spoken name could be God’s true Name. To be true, a name would have to be timeless and changeless. It would have to be unborn and deathless. Only God himself has these attributes. This indicates that the Name is an expression of God himself. The Name is, in fact, none other than God. The saints teach us that, although God cannot be realized directly, his Name can be realized. To realize his Name is to realize God.
As Sant Namdev has so eloquently expressed:
The Lord’s Name is his form, his form is his Name –
His Name is not apart from his form.
The formless One has taken the form of the Name
And within Namdev he has made his abode.
The saints have written volumes extolling the glory of the Name. So many saints have spent their lives tirelessly working trying to encourage us to take advantage of this great gift they have given us.
This brings us to the last line: “He is realized through the Guru’s grace.” This is such a beautiful and meaningful statement. It goes directly to the heart of our quest. Having been given the treasure of initiation by the Satguru, the Name is realized through his grace. Satguru’s grace is given through the process of meditation. How does this happen?
When we first see the Guru, we might have a feeling of warmth and friendship, or awe and mystery. When we recall his image, there are feelings and emotions that are attached to that image. If the Guru should give us the gift of darshan, we might have a glimpse of his divinity and love and have a deeper recognition of his Name. Now, when we recall the Guru’s form in dhyan during meditation, that same feeling arises with the form. For us, this is now the Guru’s Name. Contemplating on his form and Name deepens our concentration. It holds our attention. As we progress, the Guru will give us the vision of his Radiant Form and the accompanying Name. The Name at this level brings bliss and unwavering devotion and concentration.
All along the way, it is our practice to focus on the Guru’s Name and form. Though the Guru’s physical form may grow old and leave us, his Name, his essence, is true and timeless. Repetition of the names given to us by the Guru, over time, brings the recognition of the true Name by the grace of the Guru. Our meditation, which consists of our bhajan and simran, will accomplish this.
Guru Nanak says:
Meditate on the true Name
And reflect on his greatness.
Jap Ji: A Perspective
The Guru is our only salvation. Let us keep him in our mind throughout the day and “reflect on his greatness”. Let his presence be always felt. Let us always keep his Name in our hearts. There is no other way. Contemplation of the Guru will save us from the suffering of rebirth and bring us the bliss of his Name.
Sometimes we may not appreciate the great gift we have been given, but with practice we may obtain the treasure within and awaken to realize that the Guru is true. He is real and it is only by his grace that the Lord will be realized.
All he asks is that we adhere to the principles and give full time to our meditation. So little to ask, so much to gain. The treasure is ours. All we have to do is receive it. The Guru’s grace is raining down upon our heads. Let us have confidence that it is always there. Let us turn our attention toward it.