The Flute Has Suddenly Burst Forth
The flute has suddenly burst into melody!
On hearing it I have forgotten all other things.
I am shot with the wondrous shafts of Unstruck Music;
And the world appears fake, false its pursuits.
Bulleh Shah, the eighteenth century Punjabi mystic, is enthralled by the music that he hears within himself. The Shabd or sound current is our direct link with the Creator, and it is possible for us to make contact with it inside ourselves. Saints and mystics say that once we are able to hear the Shabd, the experience will be so delightful that we will fall in love with it.
If you have ever fallen in love, had a new baby, bought a wonderful new home, or achieved something very important to you, you’ll perhaps have had the experience of returning mentally, again and again, to these peak experiences and feeling a thrill of joy each time. Imagine that feeling, but fuller, more complete, eternally enduring, because it will not be a sense of possession, but of complete giving and complete receiving. It will be perfect, reciprocal love.
When our conscious connection with the Shabd becomes established, we will continue to do our duty in the world – if we are an accountant we will be at our computer with our databases and spreadsheets; if we are a factory worker, we will be on the factory floor. But whenever our attention is free, we will run, fascinated, to this source of intense and pure happiness within us. We will be able to hear that Sound, full of meaning, making life beautiful, whenever we are free to listen to it, even during the working day. But in particular, we will make a habit of listening to it every night or early morning when we do our regular meditation, and we will be transported to ever deeper mystic experiences. The mind will become more refined, more noble, more loving.
To reach and know the Shabd, it is essential that we have a guide who is familiar with its course. This is why the saints have always taught the necessity of learning the mystic practice from a living Master. The Master welcomes us into his student group when we are accepted for initiation by him. He gives us a complete programme which, if followed, will ensure our spiritual development. If we enrolled at university and all we got were the assignments or the final exams without any tutorials, seminars, lectures, reading lists and so on, we would flounder. In the same way, to undertake the complex subject of raising our consciousness without a teacher and the teacher’s course of study would be fruitless.
“The saints are the dear sons of the dear Father” said Maharaj Sawan Singh.“He has entrusted them with all that he has.”
At initiation, the living Master establishes himself as the permanent inner guide for the disciple. From then onwards, he will not only give the disciple outer help and advice, he will be present in subtle form within the disciple. At initiation, it is explained to us how we can live so as to bring about the raising of our consciousness. We promise to keep strictly to a lacto vegetarian diet and to abstain from alcohol, mind affecting drugs and tobacco. We also vow to observe a truthful, moral way of life, restricting sexual activity to the bond of marriage. On this foundation of a sound, clean way of life, we promise to carry out a minimum of two and a half hours meditation each day, consisting of simran (mental repetition of names), dhyan (contemplation on the Master’s inner form) and bhajan (listening for or to the sound current).
It is simran which is the key that opens the door to mystic transport, because simran overcomes the mind’s habit of constant thinking. Thinking binds us to the earth whereas simran gives us the wings that will carry us above earthbound thought to where “the wondrous shafts of Unstruck Music” (Shabd) can reach us. Reliance on our own willpower is not enough.
Reliance on the gifts the Master gives us – repetition of the Holy Names and devotion to the Master – is the only sure way forward.
What happens in the morning when a disciple awakes, thinking of the meditation that he has promised to carry out each day? If he just thinks about it, he is likely to fail to even get out of bed. The mind is so strong that despite its higher intentions, it is likely to find excuses – seemingly good reasons – for missing meditation that day. By thinking, we can never succeed on this path. This is the difficult lesson we must learn. For everything else in life, we rely on reason and thought. But when we talk about training the mind on the spiritual path, we mean training it to rest completely quietly. We mean training ourselves to be able to leave thought behind temporarily. When we can focus on the Names to such an extent that they are automatically in our mind as we wake to start the new day, then on that flow of positive energy, we will automatically arise to carry out our meditation.
The Granth Sahib mentions the following ways of trying to realize God but concludes that the path of the sound current is the way for us:
This is the essence of the wisdom of the Four Ages.
Celibacy, self-control and pilgrimages were good for Three Ages.
Nam is the only proper means for the Iron Age.
To celibacy, self-control and pilgrimage one could also add the path of good works and self- sacrifice, the path of knowledge – scientific or intellectual – and the path of prayer. These practices were good for the Golden, Silver and Copper ages, but in this Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, they don’t take us beyond the physical and mental levels of experience.
In this current age, only the Shabd or Nam is effective in taking us back to our true home in Sach Khand. Soami Ji Maharaj says:
Accept that humility, submission, and devotion to a Master are the way for the present age With a pure and still mind raise the banner of Shabd to the sky.
The Granth Sahib tells us: “The unending music is the hidden treasure. The saints have kept the key with them.” Once initiated, the living true Master connects us to this “wondrous” Sound. Through our effort in meditation and living the Sant Mat principles, he opens the inner gate, our third eye, and the sound bursts forth to transform us forever.