I had an inkling from my childhood about God. Each man has his particular background. When reading the Sikh scriptures, I used not to ruminate over them, but read them carefully. I used to open the Sikh scriptures and read only one hymn – not many pages – and put it in writing. I kept it before me all throughout the day, thinking that "this is the lesson given to me". The more you read something again and again, the more you will find in it. Generally, when we read scriptures, we ruminate over them: we read two or four or ten pages and go on reading; and we do not know what we have read, even after we have left the scriptures. We forget. But I didn't do that. The result was this: All scriptures tell us that there is a God. That very conviction I had in my innate self, I would say. I was never in doubt about God. But the scriptures also referred to the need of the company of someone who knows God – you may call Him a Guru or a Master or a teacher or anything: "If you want to see God, meet someone who sees God" – that's common sense – "and to whom you can devote your whole self: mind, body and soul. The more you can surrender, the greater the achievement you can have. The first thing is to meet someone who knows God and who sees God, as I see you and you see me."
He who knows God – sit at His feet
The more I went into the Sikh scriptures, and into the scriptures of other religions as well, the more truth of this I found. When you go to a place of pilgrimage, it is better to take along someone who had already pilgrimaged there. Then it becomes easier, does it not? How confidently we can go! Suppose you have to leave your country and go to some foreign land. What would you do? Generally you would open directories to find out what are the means to reach there, how to go, where to stay and where not to stay. Suppose you have to go to a place where you do not know the language. What should you do? How much money will be required? What things do we require to take along with us? All these things you consider. This information is given in the directories, of course; but they don't speak. By going through them, you might find one thing here, another thing on the tenth page, and another on the fiftieth page. If, while searching through the directories, someone comes up to you and says, "Look here, do you want to go to that place? Here's a man who has come from that place", what would you do? You would close the directories and run to him.
Why? It is but natural. Scriptures tell us: "He who knows God – sit at His feet." Read through them, and you'll find the same thing. But many things are not clear: the books have not been written in a graduated way: there are some references here, some there; some are given in the form of parables; some are direct; but you don't find the whole thing explained in one place. The way I am now explaining it to you is not given there.
So naturally you will run to that man. When you go to him, he says, "Oh yes, I've been to that place. Do you want to go there?" – "Yes." And if you put a question to him, he will say, "Oh yes, you can go to such and such a place; you can stop there; and on the way, you can have food." You are convinced that man has seen it – but he's not going back. And next week you hear that this very same man is going back to the very place from which he has come and to which you want to go. You ask him, "Will you take me along with you?" "Yes, most gladly!" How confident you feel, naturally! You have nothing to worry about where you go or where you will stop, because that man knows – he has been to that place. Similarly, in this quest, I read the scriptures, first of all, in the family in which I was born. The Sikh scriptures are a very big treasure house: they comprise about 1400 big-sized pages. And the beauty of them is that you have the findings of so many God-men together. The oldest scriptures of the world are called the "Vedas". The Vedas include the sayings and findings of many rishis, not one. You'll find that later scriptures give only as much as the one particular Master, who came at that time, said – although all the teachings are parallel; I'm just describing the beauty of these. So, the latest scriptures, those of the Sikhs, written four hundred years ago, contain as many Masters' findings as could possibly have been collected at the time. It was Guru Arjan (1563 – 1606) who collected all the sayings of the four Masters before him. He was the fifth one in the reign of Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539); and Guru Nanak was a contemporary of Kabir for forty-eight years. He collected all these sayings and added his own: about half he collected, and half he added of his own. He was a very good, God-inspired person. He said, "I and my Father are one. The Father and son have been dyed in the same colour. They have formed an alliance." Suchlike things he has in the scriptures. Then he left some pages blank and closed the book with them. He said, "This is the reservoir of Divinity: the more you will go into it, the more you will find priceless jewels", and left some pages blank. People asked him, "Why are you doing that?" He said, "Here the sayings of the ninth Guru (Guru Teg Bahadur, 1621 – 1675), who will follow me, are to be recorded." And there is one couplet of the tenth Guru (Guru Gobind Singh, 1660 – 1708) there, too – one couplet. So, these were the last scriptures. The oldest scriptures of the world and the latest contain sayings of so many Masters together. That's a "banquet hall" of spirituality.
Then naturally I was led to other scriptures. I was reading in a missionary school, so I was in touch with the missionary teachings. But what they said, I did not follow. The teachings appeared to be very clear to me; but perhaps, to those who were preaching them, they were not so clear. They said, "You must be born in Christ." I said, "How can I be born in a man?" Common sense! "God is Light." And they said, "Well, intellectually: God gives us the intellect to understand Him."
Then I read other scriptures – Mohammedan, Hindu – the most I could lay hands on. All said the same thing: "There is a God. If you want to see God, sit at the feet of someone who has seen God; who not only has seen God, but is competent to make us see God." You'll find that Christ said, "The Son knows the Father and others whom the Son reveals." The sonship continues. All Mohammedan literature and scriptures tell us the same thing: "You must find some means to reach God." Hindu scriptures are full of them as well. In every scripture you will find these sayings.
There were so many Masters – to whom should I go?
Naturally, when I looked all around, there were so many Masters. To whom should I go? We were three brothers. Two of us helped each other: "If you find any Godman, tell me; if I find one, I will tell you." We were searching, you see. So many men were having meetings of this kind. Once it so happened that my brother wrote me, "Here's a very great man; a very great Master has come. Will you come?" I went there. I told him, "I have intoxication that continues day and night; but sometimes, after three, four or five months, it breaks for a day or two. And I am very much puzzled. Can you help me in that?" What did he say? "You'll have to lay down everything – your body, mind and soul – to me. Only then I can, I will give it to you." I thought, "The man is after my body and possessions; my intellect and everything is to be blindfolded." I paid him homage and returned.
Well, you see – surrender comes only when you see some competence. Devotion and love – one who loves, is something else. When you surrender, you have control of the one to whom you surrender: he has to take care of you.
So many came and passed by. I used to see one who was very God-intoxicated; but he lived in a way that nobody dared come to him. We used to meet all our friends, in the evening, outside. We were talking, "Is there any Godman we can find?" Then I told them, "I've seen one man. He's God-intoxicated, but he's a hard nut to crack." You'll find that some are God-intoxicated, but they won't let you go near them. You people have the privilege to talk (to me), question, cross-question and criticize; this man would not suffer that. So I told them about that man. Our Master (Baba Sawan Singh) also used to refer to him; He also met him; his name was Baba Kahan. He lived in a naked state; there a fire was burning, amid filth; when there was heat, he was just fanning the other way. I told them, "He's got some intoxication." Anyone that went to him, he would call them names. If they didn't leave, then he would beat them. But there was something there: he would call them names, and people would still remain there. Sometimes they would get a beating, too. But for whatever purpose they went, that purpose was served: they had it.
In those days I was reading in school. I also used to go to him. He was just sitting on a platform here, in a half-naked way; I used to stand over there, watching people whom he called names going away. I stayed on until everybody left. Then he called me, "Well, Sardar, what do you want?" I went to him: "I came only to see you." – "All right, go!"
That's how I had that connection with him. So I told one man, "He has something; but he's a very hard nut to crack, mind that." Nobody suffers, you see. This is a very valuable thing. Who is going to give it to you?
"Well, all right; what shall I do?" he asked. "Go and sit at night with him. Even if he says anything or calls you names, don't mind it." He went that night; he stayed there. After eleven or twelve o'clock, Baba Kahan called him names and also beat him with his fist. He ran away. The next day our party met together again, and I asked him, "How did you find him?" – "Oh, he called me names and beat me with his fist." – "Well, don't mind," I said. "He's got something. Don't mind – go!" So the next night, he again went there. Instead of only beating him, Baba Kahan took that burning wood and struck him. Then he left. The next day he did not strike him with the wood, but put him underneath a well. Again he went away. On the third day, I asked him what happened. "Oh yes," I said, "but don't mind – he's got something. He's guarding that wealth; he'll not let you have it. Don't mind." The night of the third day he also went there. He did as I described you: he made a little wound with the burning wood. He did not leave him. In the middle of the night, after one o'clock, Baba Kahan asked, "What do you want after all? Why are you coming to me?" He said, "Well, Master, give me something." Then he made him hear the Sound Current. Some people have it; they keep it very close-fisted. They don't give it out.
So it went on like that. I used to pray: "Oh God, I'm convinced that without one who knows You, nobody can reach You." It is a practical matter of self-analysis. God cannot be known by the outgoing faculties, by the vital airs or by the intellect. It is a matter of seeing: whoever sees can make you see. "I know there's a need – definitely: all scriptures say so. I'm quite convinced, but where am I to go? Suppose I go to somebody who has not met You – what will be my fate?" I used to pray like that. "If You could reveal Yourself to the old Saints" – sometimes there are stories like that – "why can't You do it in my case? I am convinced, I've great regard for that need; but there are so many Masters – whom shall I select?" With this, my Master (Baba Sawan Singh) began to appear to me when I sat in meditation or when I was doing something. I thought perhaps it was Guru Nanak. He used to talk to me. In those days there was the First Great War, and my brother was on the Indian front along the Persian side. I used to traverse along with Him and went to those places, here, there and everywhere.
The Guru appears when the disciple is ready
I was very fond of rivers, ponds, water. Even in my young life, I used to go and sit by the waterside or some river, the whole night through, in a calm and quiet place. The running water helps a little to concentrate. So this went on for some time. In the meantime, I was first at Peshawar, and then I was transferred to Nowshera station: a river runs by there. I used to sit by that riverside for hours. Then I came to Jhelum side. That is also by the riverside, and I sat there for hours on end. I was very fond of swimming, too. (Just enter the river: if you're not afraid, nothing will happen; it's only fear that kills you. If you simply shake your foot a little or move your hands a little, you won't drown.)
In the meantime I was transferred to Lahore: that was also by the riverside. I passed my days there. There was also the river Beas: "Let me have a look at that!" One Sunday morning I left by train and detrained at Beas station. There was an old man there; he was the station master. I asked him which side the river flows. He was (Bua Das), a devotee of the Master: "Do you want to see the Master?" – "Does a Master live here?" – "Yes!" "Where?" – "On the riverside." I told him, "I have two things now. I'll enjoy the river scenery and also see the Master at the same time." Then he directed me there. Master was sitting upstairs; He was taking His meal inside. I went out and sat outside. After half an hour or so, He came out. I was wonder-struck: He was the same man who had been appearing to me for seven years before, from 1917 to 1924. I paid homage to Him: "Why so late?" He said, "That was the most opportune time that you are to come."
So this is how I met the Master. "The Guru appears when the chela (disciple) is ready" – even to the most sceptical mind. Perhaps none of you has been so sceptical as I was; I was afraid, you see, lest I go to somebody who had not met God; and my life would be spoiled.
When I went to Him, then – once or twice, every Sunday I used to go – He looked after me like a father looks after his son coming: "All right, arrange this room, bring this bedding", this and that thing. I requested, "Well, Master, don't You worry, I'm here, at Your feet." – "All right, now, you'll have to look after this Dera (Ashram); go on with it. Those who come, you'll look after them." These were the words He expressed, the very first time.
The next time there was initiation – this was early February – and all were sitting in initiation. Master said, "You sit inside." I will coming. He gave initiation there; I was inside, sitting in His room. This is how I was initiated! I was waiting for Him; perhaps He will call me. I was sitting inside. Then He returned. I asked Him, "Will you kindly initiate me?" – "Oh yes, surely." What the mystery of life is – what is a man, what is a soul – was solved in little or no time.
A qualification of a Master is given as one who can give you some experience. Some say, "All right, go here; here are maps to show you the way; go by this road, or turn right, then left; this or that." Sometimes you have to hunt for hours, and you do not find the way. But a Master is one who gives you some experience to start with, who can appear and remove the dark veil by giving a sitting; and you can testify that it is so. You are not to wait until after death or until after many years. He does not tell you, "All right, go on; you'll have it in due course." You'll find that it is so with most of the teachers: "All right, do some regular meditation; some reaction from the past might help you." But the competency of the Master lies in the fact that He is able and competent to give experience to the learned or the unlearned, to a man off the street.
It so happened that there was some controversy when our Master became a Master – I mean, took up the role of the Master. (He was a Master, but He took up the role of the Master.) When others asked, "Why, how can you become a Master?" He was very polite and very humble. He never liked to get into a controversy. After they kept pushing the point, He said, "All right. Catch some five or six people off the street, make them sit, and give them some experience. I will also catch some, and then we'll see who can carry it out!" That's all: to give the ultimate goal and what to do to reach it. So this is how I met my Master.
Generally, when people ask me, "What is Your date of birth?" I tell them, "I have three birthdays: first, when I was born in the flesh; second, when I met Him inside seven years before; and third, when I met Him physically.
These are the gifts of God. I was very afraid because generally you'll find that Masters simply tell you, "Go on reading scriptures." That is right; that is the first step. But you cannot have the right import of the scriptures unless you meet somebody who has that experience: he alone is able to give you an experience, to give you the right understanding and the right import of the scriptures. Because, what are the scriptures? They are the fine records of the experiences that the Masters had in their lives. Then, perform one ritual or the other; that's all right for the preparation of the ground. But seeing is something else: it only arises when you analyse yourself, when you rise above body-consciousness and you testify that there is Light. A Master is also defined as one who can make the Music of the Spheres audible. Who can give you Light and Music of the Spheres? What are these two? These are the two aspects of the God-into-expression Power. God has no equal, no father, no mother – nothing of the sort. Only He who is Word personified can give you the experience of that Power, the very first day. Even the blind man has that inner eye, called the single eye. Scriptures tell us, "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light … If you shut the doors of the temple of the body, you'll see the light of heaven." That is called the third eye, or shiv netra; there are so many names for it. These are the basic teachings that give you the ultimate contact with that reality. Philosophies deal with theories. This is what is called mysticism: it gives you a contact with reality – that reality which came into expression. Psychology works at the level of the intellect. This does not work at the level of the intellect; it works only when you are intellectually stilled. In psychology and philosophy you have two: a subject and an object. And in mysticism, there is no duality: you have direct contact with the God-into-expression Power. The more you are unattached from outside, the more you have an ethical way of living, the more you come in contact with that Power; and, like an electric lift, it will take you to the place from where it emanated.
God came into expression from the wordless state as Light and Sound: "The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us." That Power which manifests in some human pole is called the Godpower or the Masterpower or the Gurupower: Christ lived before Jesus, mind that, and lives forever. This is what St. John said. But we only ruminate over the scriptures, we don't follow what is what. Once a man starts with the wrong thing, others follow him blindly. How many are there who can give you a first-hand experience? They may say, "All right, go on meditating," and some may get an experience, but others may not. This is where the competency lies: because of the God in Him, not the son of man.
Someone asked our Master, "How should we address you?" He said, "Take me as your brother, as your father, as your friend, as your teacher. Just act up to what I say. When you rise above the body and you find Him inside, too, and there He is also competent to guide you, then you will call me by any name you like."
So all Masters say, "Take to the feet of such a person, in the human body, at whose pole the Godpower works, who can guide you while in the body and also when you transcend the physical, astral and causal bodies. Take to the feet of such a Master."
How many are there? There have been few in the past, and even now there are few. I wish there were hundreds and thousands, then there would be no conflict.
Take it as a Grace of the Master. Masters give you a digest of all this knowledge, which is called Paravidya. So I found only one man there. The world is not without them, but there have been very few in the past, and even now there are few. You'll find that most of them will give you only: "Read this mantra, this shabda, this scripture daily." They'll simply perform this ritual in this way or perform that prayer by lighting a candle or ringing a bell – whatever is the custom. Everyone has his own rituals and rites. That is right; prayer is a very good thing: the prayer that gushes out of the heart, God hears, and He makes some arrangement to bring you to Him. And some people direct you to make your body fit. That's good; but that's not spirituality: that's a helping factor for spirituality. Some teach you how to prolong your life – that's all right. Some teach you how to mesmerise others, how to hypnotize others, how you can read the mind of others. But all this is not spirituality. How many are there who really give you an experience of how to rise above body-consciousness? So this is the state of affairs. I wish there were hundreds and thousands of that category who see (the reality). If they see, then why don't they sit together? If all men know Him, there's no question of jealousy, no question of competition. They're made brothers; they embrace each other. The very fact that they don't want to meet each other shows they don't know Him. Each man is blowing his own pipe: "I am the highest." And what do they do? They simply ask us to "visualize this face." Naturally you will derive something for the time being, for there is some concentration there. But what do you become? "As you think, so you become." Is it not dangerous? Most dangerous! That is why I never advise visualization. If you visualize the right person, all right. Otherwise your whole aim is spoiled. So this is what is going on in the world.
The first condition, I would say, of a Master, when he meets another Master, is that he will embrace Him; he will rejoice. There's no question of high and low.
There was one instance in my life in which my Master Baba Sawan Singh met one follower of Rai Saligram, named Shivbrat Lal. He was a very advanced soul. At the first meeting, when they met, I was there along with them. He was bowing down to my Master, and my Master was bowing down to him. They were embracing. Why should not those who are on the way embrace? Why should they not feel joy? The very fact that they do not want to meet together shows that they are blowing their own pipes – they have not seen God, I tell you.
I'm very frank sometimes, with due deference to all. When they've seen the same thing, where is high and low? I see the God in you, you see the God in me; that's all right!
So please, go to somebody who can give you something. What other proof can there be? And it must be in a conscious state, not under mesmerism or hypnotism, mind that. Some say, it is hypnotism, then all would have the same experience. Each man has his own inner conscious state. They see, they rise above the body, they see Light. Each man has his own experience. This is what is the Truth – without any exaggeration. These are facts given by all Masters.
I will now tell you one more event in my life. I was very fond of reading biographies, even as a student – I think I read more than three hundred lives of Saints, East and West. The first book that came into my hands while I was reading in the seventh class was a life of a Saint (called) Ramanuj. What did I read there? It was written that he went to a Master, who gave him initiation. Then Ramanuj came around, stood on a mound, and called all the people around him. People asked, "What are you going to do?" – "I've got something I'm going to give to you." – "Oh, you are disobeying the orders of your Master." Without the permission of his Master he should not have done it. "Never mind. I will go to hell – you'll be saved! I'll suffer hell, for your sake. You'll be saved, after all. I don't mind." At that time it came to my mind, that if I get this thing, I'll give it out like anything. But fortunately, I've given it out at the order of my Master, not without it! And that is His Grace working, I tell you. Never for a moment have I dreamed that I am doing it: it is He who is doing it. Some people ask me, "You have given the initiation, then why does Your Master sometimes appear with You or all alone?" What should I reply? Tell me. I tell them, "It may be that He is in me." And that's all I can really tell them. Even to those who have not seen. His physical form, that form appears, without visualization. They have never seen Him. They recognize Him by showing them His photos.
This is the true state of affairs. This is common sense talk: no inferences are being drawn. There is no intellectual wrestling. I wish all would sit together, embrace, and give out what they want. Why are so many formations going different ways, one leading one way, the other leading the other way? Let them sit together and digest and give out the higher thing. Why should they waste all their lives in performing only the elementary steps? Of course, each thing has its own value, and you may take the best use of what is required. But this is the highest thing.
Lives are short, and this is how I got it, and how my Master ordered me to vouchsafe this to you, for you to carry on. Have a common ground for all. But all "masters" don't say that. They say, "Carry on this very line." But Truth is not the reserved right of any religion, country or family, mind that. It is the reserved right of each man. Wherever that Power manifests, from there you can get it. But what do people do? If there is a Master, those in His household try to keep the Mastership in that very line. Excuse me, with due deference to all – they want to keep it in that very house and that very lineage and family, because it becomes a source of income, I tell you. Do you see?
So that is the result. The son may be equal to the father: it might not be, not necessarily. If it is there, well and good – that's the criterion. Wherever you find it, go there. Moths will go to where light is burning. So this is the cause of what is going on in so many religions. They become only formations. Formations result in stagnation, and stagnation results in deterioration.
Truth is one. Socrates was asked whether he loved Plato. He said, "I love Plato. But I love Truth more than Plato." Do you see? We are searching after Truth. Truth is like that: wherever Truth is, and you find it, go there. What did our Master tell us? "This is the Truth you have been given. If you find more than that anywhere, go and tell me: I will also go there. We are worshippers of Truth, not of personalities or this or that thing. If you find Truth here or on the street side or on the riverside or in any congested place, go there.You might find it in a cobbler. He used to mend shoes. And Mirabai, went to his feet. And what did he do? He had a little cottage over there. Naturally he used to earn his money and he lived on that. She left him one ruby and said, "Here is a ruby, just make your home sweet." – "Oh, I don't want it", he said. She pressed it on him. "All right, put it anywhere you like!" She put it somewhere. After six months had passed, she came again. He was still only mending shoes. She said, "I left you a ruby!" "Oh, it might be there where you left it", he said.
Truth is one. The criterion of a Saint is that he's not after show. He does not live on the donations of others. He earns his livelihood. He stands on his own legs, and helps others. He does not charge anything for his teachings. This is given in the Sikh scriptures. Otherwise that becomes a business.
This is the digest of what I found in scriptures, with due deference to all. I have respect for all, even for those who are that way. Because by love only can you turn somebody, not by hatred, not by criticism. If you sit together and love together, then naturally you'll understand each other. If you want to enforce on him: "You are right, you are wrong", nobody's going to listen to you. Truth is Truth.
This is how I got to my Master.
Sant Kirpal Singh