The Sound Current
The Sound Current, the Shabd, Nam, the Logos is the flow of energy that comes from God into the creation. We are told it is that same current of energy that will take us back to God. Do any of us know what this mysterious divine force is? Maharaj Sawan Singh, in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV, attempts the nearly impossible – to give us some sense of what the Shabd is, and what it does. He writes:
The Shabd, Sound Current, Word, or Holy Spirit is not a subject matter for speech or writing. In order to make it understood, we can only say this much, namely that it is the quintessence of the Lord and that it sustains millions of universes and regions. It is the soul-current of consciousness. It is the celestial melody. It is the life-current which originates from the Lord and pervades everything. The Lord creates and sustains the entire universe through this current of power.… Shabd is a string which connects everyone and everything with the Lord.
While there are many names for this Sound Current – Shabd, Word, Tao – mystics in all spiritual traditions seem to agree that God is not a thing or an object. God is a current, a force, a power of love, light, and truth that moves in and around what we can see and experience.
When we think of currents, what might come to mind are tides, oceans, and rivers in the physical universe. Sometimes the image of water conveys the power of currents. Riptides along the beach can carry an unaware swimmer out to sea unless he or she knows how to swim with the flow of that current. There are also currents in the air. Hawks reach unbelievable heights by riding the thermal currents that rise vertically from the earth. One can try to measure electrical currents or electromagnetic currents. By looking at this material world, we may be able to grasp that essential forces move in, around, and through us.
Great Master uses the example of currents in this world to describe the Shabd. He says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV:
This sound or melody pervades all. It is even inside stones and wood, as these are made up of atoms and motion is inherent in them. Because of this motion, everything constantly undergoes change.… This world changes every hour, every minute, and every second. Whether we know it or not, a stone continues to change. There is motion in it. Sound is a necessary corollary of motion and, therefore, a stone is not free from the sound.… Sound is the essence of all.
How do we ride that Sound Current home to our true country where we will find this divine melody? Masters come into this world to teach us how to ride that current back home to the Lord. Whatever the mysterious pull of the Shabd is, most of us are at least a little conscious of the pull of the Master. To meet a saint, a Shabd Master, is to encounter the living water that bestows eternal life. The saints come to us to tell us how to merge into the Shabd. The Great Master says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV, “The waves of the ocean of Shabd are surging in each one of us. Those who drink of its waters are no longer troubled by thirst or hunger and gain eternal life.”
Thus, we are urged to listen. We are asked to meditate. We are encouraged to focus our attention at the eye centre. We have to go where the current is flowing to ride it home. We will not experience the Shabd while we are on our cell phones or watching a captivating TV series nor in the many outer distractions competing for our attention. We must turn inward to reach the eye centre. At least we must try – even though we discover that our attention keeps going out.
How do we get past the barriers of the mind and the resistance of the ego? Who is it that gets to ride this current and be carried back on the ocean of love? Great Master answers this very powerfully and directly in various parts of Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV:
The beneficent Master makes us hear the Shabd, which stills the wanderlust of the mind.… The Shabd is a boon from the Master. The Master makes it dwell in our hearts. It is impossible for anyone else to manifest it.… The Master points to this indescribable and formless Shabd and makes the disciple turn inward. With his power, he then connects the disciple with Shabd.
He gives us a glimpse of how to reach the Shabd when he tells us: “The unending music is wonderful. It cannot be obtained by our own mental processes or activities. It can only be had as a result of the grace of the Master. It is the supreme gift of a perfect Master.”
So, we arrive at the inevitable paradox of all spiritual practice – effort and grace. For us, the key is simran, and we have to work long and hard in meditation to move the attention to the eye centre where the pull of the Sound Current begins. At the very same time, we are reminded that only the grace of the Master can allow us to hear the Shabd. Human effort alone cannot take us home. It is his gift.
The supreme Lord [took] great pity on us in our extreme distress and misfortune. Seeing the soul, his beloved child, in such a sad plight, that Ocean of Mercy and Compassion surged in swelling tides and, assuming the human form, came to the world to save us.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, Science of the Soul
As initiates, we hope that we will be carried back to our original home in Sach Khand on the currents of the Master’s mercy and love. When we encounter the winds of karma, and the tides that seem to be moving us far away from the eye centre, our job is to keep rowing and keep doing our meditation. We must keep moving in the direction where he has told us to go – toward the Shabd – where our deep thirst and great hunger will be satisfied.