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Sant Mat: A Comparative Analysis: Part Four

by Peter Holleran

   “The inward and outward are indissolubly united and fom a single great eternal Current.” - Anandamayi Ma

   "Nada, the first Sound of Creation, the Breath of Brahma who can never sleep, can never rest, otherwise the Creation will disappear into Nothingness." - Irena Tweedie

   18. A Few Words on Samadhi versus Satori

   One point of clarification of a quote the astute reader may have picked up on. My dear Sant Kirpal Singh is said to have once criticized devotee Russell Perkins for editing out a reference in his book NAAM, where a Buddhist monk said the sound of a bell caused his awakening into satori (which was described as a samadhi, although it was clearly a satori). Russell edited it to read that the person heard an INNER sound, but Kirpal Singh said to leave the quote alone, because that’s the way the sutra read, but also said that the person was mistaken, and that he only THOUGHT it was an outer sound, for how could an outer sound ‘DRAG one into samadhi?” In this case, the monk went on to describe this satori as apparently initiating a series of deeper mystical experiences for him. Now, satori and samadhi are very distinct experiences. As D.T. Suzuki explains:

   "When a man's mind is matured for satori it tumbles over one everywhere. An inarticulate sound, an unintelligent remark, a blooming flower, or a trivial incident such as stumbling is the condition or occasion that will open his mind to satori. Apparently, an insignificant event produces an effect which in importance is altogether out of proportion....When the mind is ready for some reasons or others, a bird flies, or a bell rings, and you at once return to your original home; that is, you discover your now real self." (1)

   An example of a satori awakening was that of a nun Chiyono who studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku. For a long time she was unable to succeed in her meditation. At last one moonlit night while carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo, the bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail. At that moment Chiyono was set free, moving her to write this poem:

   “In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
   Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
   Until at last the bottom felt out.
   No more water in the pail!
   No more moon in the water!”

   Similarly, Daniel Odier states:

   "No one has ever attained awakening while meditating, but always when face to face with the real. Even the Buddha experienced awakening at the end of his meditation when he saw the morning star." (1a)

   In the above instance, then, either one of two things was true. Either (1) Kirpal Singh apparently did not recognize the way countless Zen practitioners achieved satori through their ripe minds being awakened to reality in a moment through an outer sight or sound, and strictly adhered to the Indian belief that only inner (trance) experience was spiritual, and didn’t understand other schools or experiences which contradict that and was using this monk's account only to support the philosophy of Surat Shabd Yoga (all of which I am inclined to doubt, for a number of reasons: Kirpal was a scholar of the traditions, had read 300 biographies of different saints and sages and great men as a young man, and was friends with numerous Buddhist teachers), or (2) he said what he did because he didn’t want to confuse his meditating followers with more sophisticated, non-dual teachings. Ramakrishna was the same way when he was with Vivekananda in contrast to most of his followers. He put the advaita books such as the Ashtavakra Gita away when Master Mahasaya (“M”) was around because he knew the latter was keeping a diary and didn’t want him to confuse many of his disciples who were not ripe enough to understand such things. My experience with Kirpal suggests this was the case.

   On the other hand, Kirpal was not wrong in pointing the initiate towards the stage of merger with the personal God within. Or some might call it the Soul. In many Soto schools of Zen, after attaining the 'absolute samadhi', or 'great death (corresponding to stage eight of the ten famous oxherding pictures), in which one attains to the self-essence or void in meditation, with body and mind stripped away, upon coming out of this state, he is then open to the spontaneous arising of a final kensho or satori, sometimes called the 'positive samadhi', where by he sees reality as-it-is with 'open eyes'. This would be what is called realizing Brahman and not just Atman, or knowing Atman and Brahman as being one. This I understand to be the Buddha's enlightenment. And I believe the same can occur on the path of Sant Mat for one who has first achieved 'Sach Khand' or higher and then reawakens to the outer world in full consciousness. And such may in fact be a deeper realization within Sant Mat, although it seems not to have been made explicit in the literature.

   It is also sometimes taught in Sant Mat that one who achieves full absorption in the Sound Current 'within' and then comes 'out' or 'down' will experience an amrit or nectar of bliss saturating every pore of his body. My experience with Kirpal suggests to me that he was in such a condition, the fruit of this noble 'ancient, eternal, and authentic' path. And he was therefore doing his duty in teaching the all important first stage of devotion to the majority of his disciples. Even Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita said, "To those whose minds are united with Me and worship Me with love, I grant that understanding through which they may attain Me." It is something like that in all true paths. 'Die', and then be 're-born', usually in stages, unto the true Self, beyond mind, matter, and illusion.

19. The Concept of Perfect Masters

   The idea that a "perfect Master" never makes a mistake, or that every word he utters is absolute truth, is often a stumbling block for many initiates on the path. It must also be understood to generally be an erroneous conception of enlightenment. For instance, Brunton states:

    "The first and last illusion to go is that any perfect men exist anywhere. Not only is there no absolute perfection to be found, but not even does a moderate perfection exist among the most spiritual of human beings." (2)

   He distinguishes between a master having a perfect consciousness of the inner divinity, but not be perfect in terms of his human conduct. He will certainly be a morally superior specimen of a human being, but not 'perfect' in every degree as we imagine that to be. Now, what are you going to do - look for a Master's every imperfection?! No, that would be as wrong and inappropriate as to go looking for everyone else's imperfections. It does mean, however, that one will not necessarily be shocked or disheartened by such observations.

   The assertion here is that masters, no matter how highly evolved, are not, from the human point of view, omniscient or perfect. A review of their many spiritual teachings reveals that the many opinions and doctrines are in fact very different. It is hubris for any human being, however advanced, to believe he can pick out from among them the one, true teaching for all time, for everyone, or even have unerring intuitive guidance in every instance. He may go a long way in that direction, however, and be more than adequate to guide and assist us.

   There is a specific definition of perfection in Sant Mat, however, which has nothing to do with whether or not he can make ordinary mistakes or not. A master on this path is considered a "perfect Sant" if he can go, or transfer his consciousness, at will to the fifth plane Sach Khand (the 'office of the Master') and lead others there, and a "Param Sant" if he has further been absorbed into the eighth and final 'region-less region', Anami, by the Sat Purush and becomes Its embodiment. He is also said to be "perfect" in the sense that his astral, mental, and causal bodies are clear of worldly or egoic taint. He is also a conduit for what appear to be God-like powers, when so directed by the Divine Will. It doesn't mean that while in his human body he never make what looks like a mistake, or necessarily have absolute relative knowledge or wisdom regarding all doctrines, including those he has never studied, for instance and especially the path of jnana. He might "drop his fork" or spill food. He may make mistakes of fact from time to time when he speaks, in spite of seemingly having total knowledge of his disciple's needs and circumstances the rest of the time as it is required. He may even make ‘teaching mistakes’. This is, of course, our working opinion, and is only mentioned because some seekers have held the naive view that such should not happen if a Master is perfect.

   An important fact to keep in mind is that a Master may evolve and deepen his realization over time. That is to say, he will become 'more and more perfect' in his human incarnation, even after this inner realization(s). In which case, one could say that, for the devotee, his Master may not be perfect, but he will always be perfect enough!

   A further word needs to be said about cultural influences. As mentioned above, these can color one's articulation of realization. Or even his approach to truth. Kirpal Singh, in one of his childhood notebooks, once crossed out a discussion of various paths to truth, and scribbled "No Way Out!" I venture the possibility, because of his Sikh background, that he was inclined to consider the need to mystically leave the body and the 'wilderness' of the physical world as paramount in pursuit of truth. Whereas in vedanta, on the other hand, the 'wilderness' is chiefly one of ignorance, not exclusively an actual place, and meditation is considered a helpful means or preparation in the pursuit of truth, but not its direct, final means. And I suspect that Kirpal came to this perspective later in life. (Please don't consider me blasphemous for suggesting this, or that I feel it implies any lessening of his spiritual stature).

   The Masters, it should be mentioned, would probably be the first to say they are not perfect, even while maintaining the view that their own Masters were perfect. This is out of respect and humility. "Don't call me perfect," said Christ, "only God is perfect." It is a human concept, after all. Let us leave it at that. None of these aforementioned examples of so-called imperfection, where present, or by themselves, are evidence that a path or teacher is false or not genuine. Osho - who seems to have a lot of problems, and moral imperfections, still said some worthwhile things, saying:

   "The experience of enlightenment is such that you can still commit mistakes. This is something to be understood. People ordinarily think that the man of enlightenment cannot commit mistakes. That is their expectation, but it is not reality."

   "The East has been very concerned for ten thousand years with the phenomenon of enlightenment. It certainly brings you great light, great clarity, great ecstasy and the feeling of immortality. But even though it brings so much, existence is so vast that your enlightenment is just a dewdrop in the ocean of existence. However transparent and clear your understanding may be, there is always a possibility to commit mistakes. And this has been recognized in the East. Even Gautama Buddha is reported to have said that existence is so vast, so infinite in all dimensions, that even an enlightened man may commit mistakes. This is true religiousness and humbleness. The idea of infallability is just ugly ego."

   "In fact the enlightened man becomes so humble that if you point out his mistakes he will accept them. He is so detached from his own personality, it does not matter...He is not hurt. And he accepts that there are possibilities where he may become too one-sided, may lean into this multidimensional existence more towards certain dimensions, may become averse to the dimensions which are against his own experiences and feelings. Existence contains all contradictions,and even at the highest point of enlightenment it is very difficult to contain contradictions."

   "Man, after all, is man, asleep or awake. It is very difficult to conceive contradictions existing not as contradictions but as complementaries. The easier thing seems to be to choose one side and go against the other. But that does not mean that the enlightenment is not complete; it simply means even an enlightened man can have a partiality. And it is because of the vastness of the universe."

   Sant Kirpal Singh once said, "I don't appreciate art." Disciples no doubt took that to mean that they shouldn't appreciate art, but is that right, or was it simply a confession of a preference or partiality of his? Are we to assume that if you are 'perfect' you will not appreciate art? Now, if he was referring to much of what passes as 'modern art', I agree with him (!), but the reference in this instance is to a strictly personal preference.

   An illumined master may appear ignorant as the case may be when dealing with his disciples, saying one thing and then seemingly changing his mind a minute later, or speaking words to one disciple that are meant for another, all part of his need and nature to be unpredictable in order to break the student's fixation with the dualistic mind and its expectations and egoic tendencies.

   Yet, one cannot help but wonder if the notion of 'perfect master' is outdated and due for substitution by a better concept. Even the 10th guru of the Sikhs famously declared, "those who consider me to be God will go straight to hell!" Jesus said, don't call me good; don't call any man good; there is none good but God. And don't call me master, I am not your master." If these illustrious personalities felt this way, maybe we should take note. Or at least publically tone down the hyperbole.

   This leads to the notion that a perfect master can automatically produce a perfect 'successor' to his teaching. In Sant Mat it is taught that the power of initiation (its particular form of shaktipat) is handed down from master to successor through the eyes. This may be so, but it does not necessarily mean the successor or acclaimed successor has reached the attainment of his master - be he in his direct family or not. The annals of spiritual history are filled with stories of the progeny of the masters that are not even interested in the path, what to speak of enlightened itself.

   "The belief that a fully enlightened master or religious prophet can be succeeded generation after generation by a chain of equally illumined leaders following the same tradition, is delusive. He cannot bequeath the fulness of his attainment to anyone, he can only give others an impetus toward it. He himself is irreplaceable." (3a)

   Does this then mean that it is completely the luck of the draw if a particular master has a genuine successor? Not necessarily, as we are told by various sources - the Sufi tradition, for one - that there are many ready candidates, so to speak, in the spiritual 'queue' awaiting promotion. This is in the play of the divine, however, and not by virtue of any magic a master may personally employ. If he were capable of just conferring enlightenment on anyone he chose, would he in his great compassion not do it? Would not Christ or Buddha or Ramakrishna or Ramana have done it if they could? So in this matter the quester is inevitably forced to fall back on his own faith, as well as judgement and discrimination.

   Perfect? Dogen uttered this mysterious statement:

   "A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake." ?!

   Finally, Bhai Sahib, Irena Tweedie's guru, cuts to the chase by saying:

   "If it fulfills its purpose, it's perfect...This chair is perfect because it fulfills its purpose...The Master is perfect because he can make others perfect." (3b)

   And then we have this quote from PB; it may not be Sant Mat gospel, but for me, it puts a feeling in the heart:

   "There is one master to whom the seeker is predestined to come and before whom he is predestined to bow above all others...He may not be a perfect master, he may commit previous errors of judgement and display regrettable deficiencies of personality, yet still he will be your master. No one can take his place, no one else can arouse the feelings of affinity and generate the harmony that he does. If because of his defects or lacks you reject him for another man, you will be sorry for it again and again until you return." (Vol. 16, Part 1, 5.12, 5.130)

   So it might be said that at the very least we can retain some common sense while still retaining awe for the Guru function in human form.

   Fenelon had this to say on the notion of faults and perfection:

   “Don’t be surprised at the defects in good people. God leaves weaknesses in all of us. In those who are advanced, the weakness is out of proportion to their otherwise mature life. In a field, a workman may leave a pillar of earth to measure the amount of material removed. God leaves similar pillars within those He is perfecting. A person with visible shortcomings can be more spiritually advanced than someone who is free from such defects. “Perfect” people often want to find fault with others for not being perfect. God’s way is entirely different. He sometimes allows people to remain deeply flawed in order to keep them from being too satisfied with themselves. It would be easier for them to be corrected for their failings than to feel conquered by their weakness.”

   “People must learn to bear with their own weaknesses as well as the weaknesses of others. Why are you so upset by your neighbors’ faults when your own are still uncorrected? Your motives are not entirely pure in wanting to see people perfected for God’s glory: People’s faults bother you because you are too fussy and hard to please. You can often help others more by correcting your own faults than theirs. Remember - and you should, because of your own experience - that allowing God to correct your faults is not easy. Be patient with people - wait for God to work with them as He will do.”

20. Is the Saint or Master Omniscient?

   This question is related to the previous one about 'perfection', and is also a stumbling block and conundrum for many seekers. As most things, there is a childish, immature, or incomplete view, and a more straightforward truth, offered to three grades of students. In the school of advaita vedanta, and the view of many sages, "omniscience" does not mean knowledge of everything the mind can think of, but rather the permanent and continuous knowing or recognition of Reality. This is especially significant in that the highest form of knowing has so frequently been described as a kind of "unknowing" or "divine ignorance." A little story will illustrate this. In 1991 I met Sant Rajinder Singh for the first time when my friend William Combi pushed me up to the dias to meet the saint. I was writing a book of biographies of spiritual teachers at the time, which William was quick to point out. I was a little embarrassed, and simply said, "I really don't know what I am doing," to which Sant Rajinder's instant response, faster than anyone else could notice, was, "Join the club!" Rather than causing doubt to arise, for me it was an instiller of confidence in him and my own guru. To me this meant his knowledge arose spontaneously or intuitively as needed from deep within. Later, I have heard Master Rajinder say, "God-Power does everything, I don't do anything." Many saints and sages have confessed to this, that while many wonderful things happen all around them, apparently related to their presence, yet they generally take no credit for it, having become the still point at the center of the wheel. Swami Saradananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna writes:

   "The Vedas and other scriptures say that a knower of Brahman becomes all-knowing. This saying of the scriptures is proved to be wholly true when we notice the present behavior of the Master firmly established in the knowledge of Brahman. For not only did he now become directly acquainted with both the Absolute and its relative aspect, with Brahman and its power Maya and rising far above all doubts and impurities was abiding in a state of everlasting bliss, but, ever feeling his oneness with the universal Mother in Bhavamukha,he could undertake any hidden mystery of the realm of Maya any moment he wished to know...All the ideas arising in the universal mind appear clearly before one who has crossed the limit of his little I-ness and has become identified with the universal I. The Master could know the events of all the previous births of his devotees before they had come to him, only because he had reached that state. He could know the particular Lila of the universal Mind for the manifestation of which he had assumed his present body. He also knew that some very high class Sadhakas were born by the will of God to participate in that sport...[However] from what the Master told us on one occasion...it is clear that all truths do not always remain revealed even to the minds of incarnations of God. But whatever truth of the spiritual world they want to know and understand, comes very easily within the range of their mind and intellect." (4)

   Thus, this tells us that a high degree of knowledge may be available to a realized Master, but generally on a 'need to know basis' for his work. His all-knowingness lies primarily in his realization, but along with that often come spontaneous siddhis that bring him access to 'detailed files', so to speak, that appears like omniscience. But we cannot expect a Master to know everything there is about nuclear physics, for example, if he has not trained in that field. Such is a limit on his relative knowledge. More important is his ability to read one's condition and offer highly individual guidance, but sometimes even without his conscious awareness of it.

   This also brings up the issue that when one is 'born', or when spiritually 'born again', onto the quest or into its final goal, one is not born as an adul!. He is born as a babe, so to speak. Therefore, a new master must grow into adulthood. He is not automatically equipped with all power and knowledge. This is quite evident upon observation. It doesn't mean he is not perfect according to the aforementioned criteria. But it certainly means he still grows in understanding and capability.

   It must be admitted, however, that there is a paradox here. For the true master, as portrayed in Sant Mat in any case, is not the physical form, but the Master-Power or God-Power or Oversoul behind the 'breakwater' of the physical Master. And that Power is infinite, and can, for example, manifest the Master's Radiant or subtle form (and even physical form) to millions of people simultaneously, even beyond or over the head of the human Master's awareness, which is the more common occurence. It is also always capable of giving one the advice he needs in any situation, according to the Divine will - even if the physical Master does not know it - and even if he Himself is not yet capable of acting in such a capacity. This is, granted, hard to understand. But in a sense this may be considered an attribute of omnipresence and omniscience, if one likes. What it amounts to is that the infinite Self knows everything because it is everything, but has a special focus in the Master, using him as necessary.

   The concept that a human Master is omniscient and omnipotent, while useful perhaps at a particular stage of development of a disciple, is simply too often misconstrued. It need not be a stumbling block for anyone. If it is an aid for ones devotion, so be it, but it must be understood rightly. A fifth-plane master is fully 'Overself' conscious at all times, and able to look into the deepest heart of the disciple. The scriptures of every tradition are full of stories about having full faith in the words and actions of the Master, especially when directed at the individual. He is, so-called, in tune and one with the Sat Purush, the universal Soul, and thus is His mouthpiece. Yet it doesn't lessen the grandeur of a Master and his scope of influence to see him in his humanness, but, rather, should seemingly be a guide to strengthen ones faith. If one is in internal conflict because of a discord between his faith and his reason, that is not too useful. Doubts must be cleared before one can move on. Sant Darshan Singh once replied to a disciple's question of whether a saint always knows of the existence of all of the other other saints alive in the world or on higher planes at the same time. Master Darshan replied, "Of course, saints are all-knowing." Now, to this writer's limited understanding, for a true saint to know that there are other saints alive at the same time does not necessarily imply being "all-knowing" - nor would he automatically have to know of the presence of ALL of the saints or liberated masters so existing in order to be worthy of the name 'Master', but, then again, perhaps he could do so if he 'researched' (on inner and outer planes) this matter. But would he also be able to distinguish between a saint and a sage? For there is a difference between the two, in most understandings. A sage has been traditionally been described as "trackless, like a fish in water, invisible even to the gods," and knowing reality, that everything is Brahman, at all times. This basically means that his essence, with which he is constantly aware, is noumenal, not phenomenal. It cannot be 'seen.' And such beings are often rather hidden, therefore how could one know them unless they wanted to be known, or were among those sharing in the 'same line of work'?

   It is a little know fact that there is often a 'veil' of sorts between Masters working in higher dimensions such that one master may NOT know what another is doing unless it is part of his own work and experience. This is difficult to explain, but, my sense of it is that it has something to do with the fact that one can be conscious on a plane, but not yet be able to function on that plane, and further, one may function on a plane, but not fully understand on that plane, or be able to translate perfectly in language or to the brain what he actually knew while on that plane. It is somewhat like if a master in the tenth century had a vision of the future. Again, would he be able to explain the intricacies of nuclear physics to his audience? Not likely. It takes time, then, to fully acclimate in those dimensions. Furthermore, as for a Master's articulation of the teaching and his own experience, there is this to consider:

   "The inspiration may be pure Spirit but because it must come into a particular man, he receives it in a particular way, interprets, expresses and communicates it in a personal way, so that the purity is at least a little adulterated, the integrity a little lost. His character may be as selfless as he can make it, but the coloring of his mind can only fade out to a particular extent because his body is still there, his entire past history is there graven in the subconscious, and body is interfused with mind. All this will vanish with death." (4a)

   As Master Darshan's statement about omniscience is different from Master Rajinder's enigmatic comment to me above, I would like to explore this idea a bit further. The gist of the common understanding is that the ignorant soul 'knows nothing', but the 'Lord knows everything'. But this is the 'understanding' within the dream of a dreamer. So, of course, to the extent that it is true at all, it is of necessity paradoxical.

   Ramana Maharshi once remarked somewhat sarcastically after certain guests left, "people think if I can not answer every question that I am not great, etc." The great Zen Master Dogen once said, "the life of a Zen Master is one continuous mistake." When further asked if he as enlightened, he replied, "I do not know." When questioned if he did not mean that literally, he said, "No, I really don't know!" Now that one can really make one think if he takes it too literally. One simply can't get ones mind around such a comment. Held in contrast with that of the "perfect master" and it can't help reduce one to an absolute state of ignorance, which is a great achievement! Paul Cash, further, in an article he wrote about his time with Paul Brunton (PB), who many consider to have been a sage, wrote thusly:

   "Once PB asked Paul what his idea of what it is like being a sage. Paul answered that he thought one thing would be that one loves everybody. PB answered, "I'm not that advanced; I don't love everybody." Another time the question of omniscience came up:

   One afternoon I asked him, "What exactly is it about a sage's mind that makes that mind so different from the rest of us?" It was one of many questions I asked that he didn't originally seem to intend to answer. But I persisted and finally he asked me, "Well what do you think it is?"

   I said that I had never been able to believe that it could be omniscience in the sense of knowing everything at once; but I didn't think it unreasonable to conceive that when a sage wants or needs to know, he could turn his mind toward it in a certain way and that knowledge would just arise.

   PB laughed heartily and answered, "It's not even that good!"

   "Well, how good is it?"

   "It has really nothing to do with knowledge, or continuity of intuition, or frequency of intuitions. It's that the mind has been made over into the Peace in an irreversible way. No form that the mind takes can alter the Peace."

   "You could say it's a kind of knowledge," he continued, "in this sense. If the mind takes the form of truth, the sage knows it's truth. If it doesn't , then he knows that it's not. He's never in doubt about whether the mind has knowledge or not. But whether it does or not, his Peace is not disturbed."

   I asked if that meant that someone could go to a sage for help and the sage would be unable to help them. He replied that sometimes the intuition comes, sometimes it doesn't; he explained that when it doesn't come, the sage knows he has nothing to do for that person. The continuity of frequency of the intuitions has to do with the sage's mission, not with what makes a sage a sage.

   "You must understand," he said, "that there is no condition in which the Overself is at your beck and call. But there is a condition in which you are continuously at the Overself's beck and call. That's the condition to strive for."

   As he spoke these words, he was the humblest man I had ever seen before or since. For all the extraordinary things about him, all the glamorous inner and outer experiences, all the remarkable effects his writings and example have had on others, that humility is what seems to be the most important fact about him."

    Speaking on Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo once remarked:

   "Because he is a great man, does it follow that everything he thinks or says is right? Or because he lives in the light, does it follow that his light is absolute and complete? Living in the true consciousness is living in a consciousness in which one is spiritually in union with the divine in one way or another. But it does not follow that by so living one will have complete, exact and infallible truth about all ideas, all things and all persons. [Maharshi] realizes the divine in a certain aspect and he has knowledge of what is necessary for his path. It does not follow that he will have knowledge that is beyond what he has reached or is outside it." (4aa)

   To which David Godman noted,

   "I should point out..that although Sri Maharishi often gave forthright answers to questions, at no time did he insist that he alone was right, or that all people should follow his teachings." (4b)

   My co-writer offers this explanation:

   "A great learning the 'world sangha' is experiencing in these times is the gradual recognition that there is a significant difference between Self-Realization and the development of relative wisdom. In this understanding, being a 'true master' or SatGuru will not mean relative omniscience, especially in the physical consciousness, which is more veiled than the higher bodies. So even though the physical consciousness of a jivanmukti or liberated one, might be more permeable to the influence of higher planes, it is likely, one might say, still more veiled than the same master while in their vijnanamayakosha alone. So the full liberation of an adept, the 'true' nature of their 'mastery', is true in the sense that they have been reborn fully into the light of a nondual realization that eclipses their tendency to act out of self-interest based on dualistic perceptions and, therefore, separative needs. This is different from their 'knowing everything.' But even this living realization may be mildly tainted by the veils of the lower bodies, but usually, with a more complete master, not very much. But again, as far as their relative wisdom goes, that is very subject to conditioning from the state of the world at large, human culture at large, the gene pool they incarnated into, their personal karmic history and education, the lineage they may be a part of, and the type of training and practices they received. The relative aspect of an initiate's nature and understanding is a combined product of all these factors interacting with their inner realization. So they are only 'perfect' in their liberation, not in their relative wisdom. Recognizing or accepting this can be a challenge for spiritual seekers, who have for a long time wanted to believe that masters are perfect in all ways. It is a kind of long romance, and the fantasy is fading, and practical truth is emerging. Masters and disciples, it seems, may both need to adjust themselves to this wiser and more mature understanding of the true nature of the situation. Masters are profound in their core realization - which to us is of most importance - and still in varying degrees human in their relative wisdom. It will most likely take time for the great lineages in the world to adjust to these truths."

   And PB writes this about the sage:

   "He does not claim to be a walking encyclopedia nor ask for a halo of infallibility. There are many questions to which he does not know the true answer. He is neither pontifically infallible nor deifically omniscient."

   Finally, for the Jnani there is simply a different notion of omniscience altogether than that claimed by some great mystics.” All-knowing" for the jnani means "knowing at all times that all is consciousness" - not knowing every conceivable possibility in an infinite universe of ever-increasing relative knowledge.

   My hope is that these examples will provide food for thought and help clarify this matter of perfection for the aspirant. Again, perfection as such is a concept of the human mind. It has limited usefulness. I can say this with confidence - that is, to my own satisfaction - simply because even sages have disagreed on what it means! Yet, having said that, I will also say that a perfect saint can 'read' your soul better than you can, and is therefore able to give better advice - i.e., what it is that you need to hear - when it is karmically or divinely appropriate - than anything that we can say here.

   There is also something to be said about the power of a lineage of masters, whose grace flows from one to the next in an unbroken stream, with each humbly deferring to his teacher as the source of grace, and himself being backed up - and his 'imperfect' aspects 'backed-up' - by those who came before him, and whom he is at one with in the Divine reality. For from the point of view of truth, all Masters are One. An example of this sustaining power is given in the Mahayana text, the Lankavatara Sutra, where it says:

   "What is this twofold power that sustains the Bodhisattvas? The one is the power by which they are sustained to go through the Samadhis and Samapattis, while the other is the power whereby the Buddhas manifest themselves in person before the Bodhisattvas and baptise them with their own hands...This is in order to make them avoid the evil ones, karma, and passions, to keep them away from the Dhyana and stage of Sravakahood, to have them realise the stage of Tathagatahood, and to make them grow in the truth and experience already attained. For this reason, Mahamati, the fully Enlightened Ones sustain with their power the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas...Thus it is said: The sustaining power is purified by the Buddhas' vows; in the baptism, Samadhis, etc., from the first to the tenth stage, the Bodhisattvas are in the embrace of the Buddhas." (5)

   Something to think about.

   There is also the issue that, in general, Sant Mat schools say that it is a fixed divine design that he Master is always a man. The reason given is usually because, esoterically considered, all souls are female, and the divine is male. This is not universally held to be true, however, even within Sant Mat. I believe that Sant Darshan Singh said that was the case, but I have heard Sant Kirpal Singh mention that there have been women saints (such as Mirabai and Rabia Basra, for instance). Then there was Anandamayi Ma, universally recognised as a great saint and spiritual master. There are other traditions, such as that of Tibetan Buddhism, where woman saints and siddhas have been held in great regard and many disciples of great male masters were sent to them for 'finishing school'. See the book, Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984) for the amazing story of one Ayu Khandro, a famous woman adept. Some may say, well, it is the divine will on the path of the Shabda that requires a male to be a master, but it is suggested that the custom may be more traditional than divinely ordained. In earlier ages when there was a matriarchal society no doubt the roles may have been reversed. And, even now, in some traditions the divine is considered female, the Great Mother, and not male. So, while this may seem a minor point compared to the deep philosophy we have been covering, it nevertheless had to be mentioned to make our discussion complete.

   Returning to the discussion of the difference between the paths of jnana (the "direct" or "short" paths) versus paths such as Sant Mat (which might be called indirect" or "long" paths, I was privy thirty years ago to the confession of one satsangi, Ed Wallace, with an ecstatic demeanor, and blood-red, tear-filled eyes, who said that after literally having to "drag himself to satsang" for five years he finally achieved by the grace of the Master entry into the first of the inner planes, the experience of which at first scared him, but which appeared to have had the result in him of a marked change of character. When asked, "Is it a place or a state," he answered me, "it's both; it's so perfect - you die, and are born again! And once you are through, you are through forever." Thirty years later, Ed confesses to witnessing Kirpal Singh coming on the inner planes to take charge of numerous souls at the time of death, a testimony to the faithful discharge of the promise of a Godman. Now, such a positive result may have been true for him, but for others whose inner journey was a more gratuitous passage, a temporary gift, they often come out with the vividness of the experience fast receding, and all that is left is a dream-like memory, as the ego re-identifies with the body and consolidates its hold over the being again. That is certainly true for nightime transports. But for others, such as the gentleman mentioned above, his confession was an inspiration to behold. Judith Lamb-Lion's tale of going to Sach Khand, a much higher state, at her initiation, however, was related to me in a much more calm and balanced way. Based on these two honest accounts of death-in-life on this path of ascent it should not be dismissed by the beginner or seasoned advaitist or non-dualist student that the possibility exists of a progressive death and absorption of the ego-soul at succeeding inner plane after inner plane leading to a progressively more integrated form of non-dual realization that is valid in its own right. For that, in effect, is what the Sants and the greatest of the historical mystics are saying.

   An interesting take on this form of path is given by one Swami Satprakashananda:

   ”Knowers of Saguna Brahman [God with form or attributes], according to Sankara, do not have full knowledge (jnana) and their souls depart from their bodies at the time of death, although they do not have to be reborn. The jnanis (knowers of Nirguna Brahman - God without attributes), however, merge in Brahman, and their subtle bodies (souls) dissolve at the time of death....Knowers of Saguna Brahman realize Nirguna Brahman and attain final liberation at the cosmic dissolution, along with Hiranyagarbha, the presiding deity of Brahmaloka. This is called “Gradual Liberation” (krama-mukti), as distinct from “Immediate Liberation” (sadya mukti), achieved by those who realize Nirguna Brahman in this very life.” (6)

   This gradual liberation has also been discussed clearly by Swami Krishnananda, disciple of the reknown Swami Sivananda, whom Kirpal Singh respected. He argues that one can reach Brahmaloka or union with Puroshottama and, thus purified, gain a relative liberation, and then attain final, unconditional mukti from the after-death realms. Paramhansa Yogananda was of the view that most souls achieve final liberation from the higher regions after death.

   Since a chief claim of Sant Mat is that Sat Lok itself is beyond both Brahmaloka and the “three worlds”, as well as cosmic dissolution and grand dissolution, and is eternal, it would most likely agree that the above statement only implies a relative liberation in Brahmaloka, although it would not disagree on the general concept of gradual liberation or the non-necessity of rebirth for as yet unliberated souls, which it, and even some schools of Buddhism, are also in agreement with. It is just that it will likely take longer on the inside than here on the physical plane. Alot more. [we also acknowledge that in Vedanta, any such talk of time, rebirth, or dissolutions are quite secondary - imaginary and illusory - from the higher perspective (i.e., when the ego is taken out of the picture). But as they are mentioned in the traditions we bring it up here.

   21. What does Self-realization and God-Realization mean in Sant Mat?

   This is an important source of much confusion when comparing systems. To clear up a question of the different concept of Self-Realization in Sant Mat and some other schools, in Sant Mat when the soul leaves the mind behind in Trikuti, the realm of the universal mind or Brahma and the home of the 'individual mind', the soul arrives in Par Brahmand, the super-causal regions, and can be said to know itself. How does it know itself? It knows itself as free of the three bodies and of the same essence as God. It metaphorically utters the famous Mahavakya, aham Brahm asmi, or "Oh Lord, I am of the same essence as thou art," or "I am That", and, according to the Sants, is actually at the level from where the Vedic rishis derived that Mahavakya. The soul, free of the mind or mental vehicle, now is said to glow 'with the light of sixteen suns'. This is the 'Self-Realization' in the terminology of the Sants, which the reader can see is quite different from the vedantic realization of the Atman, for instance as given by the sage Ramana Maharshi. The soul is free from the need to incarnate in the lower worlds. However, dualistic impressions of karma still are impressed upon the soul, and the soul has yet to know its place or dimension of origin. Three regions remain between the soul and the home of the Father, Sach Khand, the first eternal spiritual region of Sat Lok and considered the first stage of the God-realizing stages.

   The super-causal regions are Daswan Dwar (which has several stages), where the karmic impressions are wiped clean, then Maha Sunn, or a great Void of vast and impenetrable darkness (at the threshold of which the soul is said to be instructed in the knowledge of its four hidden regions), for which the soul needs the superior light of a master who has gone further in order to cross, followed by Bhanwar Gupta, or the "whirling cave" separating the soul from Sach Khand. The Sants claim that the highest region that mystics of the religions have gone to is Trikuti, and which they have mistaken for the highest. Once the soul is reborn in Sach Khand, which is the first wholly nondual plane (from the point of view of ignorance), there is progressive absorption by the Sat Purush or the Father into the Nameless and Formless Absolute God. The sound current of God, the Soul, and the Father are all one in essence. After this level of realization things are turned in side out, in the sense that, as all planes ultimately interpenetrate, no longer is God only to be found within, as such terms as 'within' and 'without' cease to have real meaning. Not only has the drop merged into the ocean, but the ocean has merged into the drop. The later, said Kabir, is 'para-bhakti'. It is an altogether higher order of experience. As the Zen Master Tozan remarked:

   "Everywhere I am able to meet Him;
   He is me now;
   I am not Him.
   When we understand this
   We are instantaneously with the Truth."

   Part of the confusion between Sant Mat and advaitic philosophies is that the latter may not realize that there is, in a sense, a void or zero-point not only between each successive plane of being, but also various void-like regions s along the way that may be mistaken for 'emptiness' or ultimate realization. And part of the confusion in Sant Mat is that many do not realize that one may realize the truth of non-duality on any plane, without profound inversion, as is the case in schools such as Zen, Advaita, or Dzogchen. However, this is not an inherent limitation, as traditionally one first detaches from the world, realizing what is not oneself and what is the inner reality, and then one goes back into the world to realize that from which one separated oneself as also the same reality, or inseparable from it. So there is an ordered logic to the approach.

   On the path of Surat Shabd Yoga meditation, one must first enter the silence, in order to contact the Sound of Brahman, which is the sound of the Greater Silence and to which it leads. The advaitists think they have a short-cut, while the Sants hold that one must pass through all of the hierarchical and archtypal phases of creation and the mind, before the great nondual truth with all its great paradoxes may actually be realized. At least, most of them feel this way. We will return to this point later on. Important to note is that the soul, upon merging, retains its capacity to unmerge and become soul. it merges, yet is still in some sense separate. Charan Singh said, while this is so, nevertheless one is not ‘conscious of one’s consciousness, individuality, or even conscious itself, that all is the love and bliss of the Supreme Being’. However, when one re-emanates, he continues to know this is so, but experiences it in a somewhat lesser way.

   For vedantic pundits such as Iyer, a strict vedantic analysis would hold that liberation is truly not release from the cycle of births and deaths, but knowledge or gyan alone, that is, freedom from even the concept of birth and death. [Ironically, the mystic Paltu Sahib said that one 'listens to the sound while in gyan samadhi', thus implying that this practice and realization is a much higher one]. In any case, the point is that the sage, if he so chooses or is comissioned to do so, will perpetually return just like everyone else for the sake of others. His freedom lies in that he knows all is Brahman, and his sympathies and identification are with the benefit of all. That is why he will come back. He is no longer motivated by the hope of a personal salvation, bliss, or peace. Incidentally, the term Brahman for the Sants signifies a lower level of realization than what the term connotes for the Vedantists, furthering one's possible confusion. But we will not go into that now.

   One point to be noted is that one may become certain by an inner psychic or mystical experience that he is NOT the body, but he doesn’t necessarily also know what the ego is, or what the world or God is, nor can he necessarily make sense out of the world when he comes out of meditation, without some other sadhana of purification and metaphysical understanding or inquiry. That is because the mystic believes that what he perceives or feels is real, and is apt to dismiss the discriminative use of the mind prematurely. But what is the world, for instance? Vedanta and Buddhism says that it is, and can only be known as, an idea, or a series of sensations and perceptions arising within consciousness or Mind. Thus, the body also is an idea, and the ego is an idea, or series of relatively fixed but changing ideas. [Sorry to say, but this concept is also paradoxical and not complete, because as the Sants point out, the soul and mind are also diffused within the body, for when the conscious principle leaves the physical forms it dies and disintegrates. Thus, the body is in the soul and the soul is in the body. Generally, to know the former the later must first be realized]. When the 'mentalistic' knowledge of the body and world has been made one's own, then one is said to be fit to inquire into the soul or Atman, and then Brahman, the All. Otherwise, upon returning from ones inner meditation, the lesser mystic is confronted by a world he does not understand, and he feels a need to return to his samadhi to maintain his peace. That is what is encouraged in most mystical schools in general, where it is assumed that meditation alone is the only means necessary to realize truth. That has always been strongly denied in Advaita and some schools of Buddhism, however, and other branches of philosophy, with strong warnings not to be misled by the ecstasy and even absorptive oneness of trance states but to go beyond them. Jagat Singh, as mentioned, said “90% of spiritual life is clear thinking.” I have wondered precisely what he meant by that. Could it be remotely similar to the following remark by Ramana Maharshi, who said, "Deliverance is just the clarification of the mind, the understanding: 'I am ever in my own real nature; all other experiences are illusory.' It is not something that has newly come about." (David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part Three, p. 193) Sant Mat generally, however, teaches that vivek or discrimination will take place automatically by the progressive absorption that occurs from plane to plane on the way to the final goal of Anami. In my understanding, Paul Brunton and other sages might be in disagreement on that point, even though PB did say that he got the mentalistic understanding of the world after it was first made vivid by the mystical experience.

   Some of the difficulty between reconciling practice of "Long Paths" such as the progressive stages of mysticism with "Short Paths" such as Advaita or Zen, lies in: one, the fact that some form of "long" path of moral and concentrative development is a requirement for successful pursuit of a "short" path of inquiry and insight, and, two, the form of the master or teacher one requires on either path. Brunton writes:

   "The Short Path [which it must be warned nevertheless requires its own forms of discipline and preparation] can succeed only if certain essential conditions are available. First a teaching master must be found. It will not be enough to find an illumined man. We will find peace and uplift in his presence, but these will fade away after leaving his presence. Such a man will be a phenomenon to admire and an inspiration to remember, not a guide to instruct, to warn, and to lead from step to step. Second, we must be able to live continuously [or for a sufficient period] with the teaching master until we have finished the course and reached the goal." (8)

   A great deal of misunderstanding among mystic paths also arises over their definition or use of the term "mind". It is common to refer to mind as "the slayer of the real", and as something that must be destroyed or eliminated. Yet this is strongly denied on paths of jnana or advaita vedanta, where the intellectual sheath itself is a primary means of realization of the Atman in the waking state. "It [the Self] is always shining in the intellectual sheath." In yoga, however, the goal is often conceived as kaivalya, or separation of consciousness from all limiting adjuncts, but in advaita it is not. The One is to be realized, and that necessitates self-cognition, not destruction of the mind. There is both Being and Knowing. Franklin Merrell-Wolff writes:

   "It is often stated in mystical literature that the activity of the mind is in a peculiar sense a barrier to the Realization of the Higher Consciousness…”

   “In general, the mystical and occult use of the word "mind" does not carry the same connation that western philosophy or the most authoritative usage gives the term. If for "mind" we substitute the word "manas," at once the mystic's statement becomes more correct. "Manas" is commonly translated as "mind" since there is no other single English word that approximates its meaning. The word "mind" today comprehends much more than the Indian philosophers and mystics mean when they say "manas." Unless this distinction is born in mind, confusion is almost inevitable. For my own part, this confusion caused me some years of needless misunderstanding. What I read violated what I felt intuitively and subsequently demonstrated to be the case. It was not the competent mystics and philosophers who were in error, but the translators and the western students of mysticism and occultism.”

   “I have entered into this point at some length, partly for the reason that in my earlier studies the mis-translation of "lower manas" seemed to require of me a crushing of faculties of the soul that are vitally important for even the Realization itself, for I was quite familiar with what the word "mind" meant in western usage. Others may be facing the same difficulty. Literally, to crush or suppress "mind," giving to that word the meaning it has in western thought, is to crush or suppress the soul. No true mystic means that, whatever he may seem to say as a result of not being familiar with the English term.”

   “Actually, with the mass of men, cognition is bound to egoism, but a divorce of these two is possible. Cognitive activity of a higher type is most emphatically not a barrier to Recognition, and if my experience is any criterion, may well prove to be one of the most powerful subsidiary aids for those who can make use of it. In any case, I must conclude that if by "mind," cognitive activity is meant, then it is not true that the mind must be stilled in order to attain Recognition. But it is true that the cognitive action must be within a matrix of a high order of dispassion.”

   “The higher affections, such as love, compassion and faith are also most emphatically an aid. But upon this point I do not need to dwell, for here agreement among the mystics seems to be practically universal. Further, this phase of the subject has been much clearly presented and better understood. This is the Road through Bliss, the Way most widely appreciated and most commonly followed by Those who have attained God-Realization.”

   “By means of pure cognition, it is possible to enter through Intelligence (Chit). Or, again, one may Enter through various combinations of the higher affections and pure cognition. Such a course is naturally the most perfect. The individual may be more developed on the one side or the other at the time of the Entering. But once he is grounded in Higher Consciousness, there is a tendency for the nature to unfold toward balance, so that finally a Man is symbolized by the "Great Bird" which has two wings equally developed. And these two are Compassion and Intelligence."

   James Schwarz (Ram) argues that one must think or use discernment before during, and after enlightenment:

   "There is a strange notion that when one permanently experiences the Self the intellect is switched off for good and you just remain forever as the Self in some kind of no thought state. The fact is that the intellect keeps right on thinking from womb to tomb. God gave it to us for a good reason. Clear logical practical thinking is absolutely necessary if you are going to crack the identity code. It is called inquiry. You want to think before realization, during realization and after realization. Realization is nothing more than a hard and fast conclusion that you come to about your identity based on direct experience of the Self. Only understanding will solve the riddle....No experience will eradicate vasanas born in ignorance and reinforced with many years of negative behavior.”

   Question: Is self-realization a discrete occurrence in time...or is the removal of self ignorance a gradual process over time?

   Ram: It can be either or both. Usually one realizes who one is, falls again under the sway of ignorance, applies the knowledge again, realizes again and so on. It goes on over and over until one day there is absolutely no doubt and the process of enlightenment/ endarkenment stops for sure. Ignorance is persistent and aggressive and one needs to practice the knowledge until the last vestige is rooted out. I have a friend, a self realized person, who said, “I realized the Self five hundred times before my seeking stopped” to illustrate that point.”

   Obviously, during a process of dhyan type of meditation one tries to stop thinking. That is where the mystic schools derive the admonition for one to still the mind. This generally refers to manas, the discursive mind and intellect. However, outside of such a particular exercise philosophic schools argue that one needs the complementary practice of contemplation on the nature of the Self and reality for realization to occur. This requires a faculty of cognition. I personally know of one disciple, Judith Lamb-Lion, who had gone to Sach Khand at her initiation, but still asked, "who am I?", to which Sant Kirpal replied, "Who is asking?" This was akin to Ramana's inquiry, but for the ripe soul only. And his response to the question, "do you still meditate?", being "once you get your PhD, do you have to go back and learn the ABC's?", suggested that he, the Master, enjoyed going inside for refreshment, but it was not necessary anymore for his realization. He admitted as such, that "I, too, like to go inside and enjoy." Maharaj Charan Singh confirms, much like the earlier reference to Sawan Singh' going to Sach Khand in the blink of an eye', that for a realized saint, it is not necessary for him to pass through the inner stages to be one with the Lord - and what is this but a confirmation of the actualization of non-duality through this emanationist path? :

   "[The saints] have short cut in the sense that they have immediate access to the Father. After having reached sainthood they do not have to pass through all those stages on their way to the Father. Christ also indicated that he could leave the body when he wanted to and he could take it up again when he wanted to, so he was always with the Father and he and the Father were one.. ["Does this mean that he sees him through the physical eyes or does he mean that he sees him at the eye center?'] This is spiritual seeing. He is one with the Father. He is at his level. When he sees him within, he sees him everywhere in every part of creation. The Father is not a man. He is a power, a state of consciousness. So Christ says he is always at that level, at that state of consciousness where the father is. Therefore he sees him everywhere and in every part of creation, within him and outside of himself. Not with his physical eyes. That is a different eye. This involves a different understanding of the whole situation." (11)

   PB writes:

   “Sahaja Samadhi is not broken into intervals, is permanent, and involves no special effort. Its arisal is instantaneous and without progressive stages. It can accompany daily activity without interfering with it. It is a settled calm and complete inner quiet....There are not distinguishing marks that an outside observer can use to identify a Sahaja-conscious man because Sahaja represents consciousness itself rather than its transitory states....Those at the state of achieved Sahaja are under no compulsion to continue to meditate any more or to practise yoga. They often do--either because of inclinations produced by past habits or as a means of helping other persons. In either case it is experienced as a pleasure. Because this consciousness is permanent, the experiencer does not need to go into meditation. This is despite the outward appearance of a person who places himself in the posture of meditation in order to achieve something....When you are engaged in outward activity it is not the same as when you are in a trance. This is true for both the beginner and the adept. The adept, however, does not lose the Sahaja awareness which he has achieved and can withdraw into the depths of consciousness which the ordinary cannot do.'' (25.2.138 & Persp. p.350)...It would be a poor thing for the sage if he had to sit down and squat in meditation in order to lift himself into peace. This is why he may or may not make a practice of meditation. For whether he meditates or not he always enjoys his inner peace.'' (12)

   PB gives a hint a the stage of sacrifice of the sage:

   “The escape into Nirvana for him is only the escape into the inner realization of the truth whilst alive: it is not to escape from the external cycle of rebirths and deaths. It is a change of attitude. But that bait had to be held out to him at an earlier stage until his will and nerve were strong enough to endure this relevation. There is no escape except inwards. For the sage is too compassionate to withdraw into proud indifferentism and too understanding to rest completely satisfied with his own wonderful attainment. The sounds of sufferings of men, the ignorance that is the root of these sufferings, beat ceaselessly on the tympana of his ears. What can he do but answer, and answer with his very life, which he gives in perpetual reincarnation upon the cross of flesh, as a vicarious sacrifice for others. It is thus alone that he achieves immortality, not by fleeing forever--as he could if he willed--into the Great Unconsciousness, but by suffering forever the pains and pangs of perpetual rebirth that he may help or guide his own.'' (13)

   Kirpal Singh, again, when asked if he meditated anymore, once answred, "If a man has his PhD, does he have to go back and learn the ABC's?" This terse remark, in my opinion, points towards the realization of sahaj samadhi, wherein the adept can meditate if he wants to, for refreshment, to perform special service, or sheerly out of prior habit - but not for the sake of realization itself. Brunton explains:

   "Those at the stage of achieved sahaja are under no compulsion to continue to meditate anymore or to practice yoga. They often do - either because of inclinations produced by past habits or as a means of helping other persons. In either case it is experienced as a pleasure. Because this consciousness is permanent, the experiencer does not need to go into meditation. This is despite the outward appearance of a person who places himself in the posture of meditation in order to achieve something. When you are engaged in outward activity it is not the same as when you are in a trance. This is true for both the beginner and the adept. The adept, however, does not lose the sahaja consciousness which he has achieved and can withdraw into the depths of consciousness which the ordinary man can't do."

   22. Instruction in a meditative technique is one thing. The gift of a brief experience of subtle light and sound is another. Establishment of the soul of a disciple in a position to fruitfully engage such subtle meditation via the master's siddhi or power is yet another, and even greater gift. As far as the matter of realization goes, however, Asvaghosa clearly states in his Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion:

   “The more you wish to attain Enlightenment, the clearer you see the need for your Guru to be a Buddha.” (14)

   If it is ones own divine Soul which paradoxically and mysteriously gives him the inner image of his Master as well as grace (even if mediated through a Master), and at the ultimate level the true Master is one with ones own Soul and the Absolute Soul (both transcendental and of the nature of voidness - and thus far beyond what is commonly understood as soul in occult or mystic circles), then certainly contemplation of a form which comes of itself in meditation, that is, not through the discursive imagination, is an authentic practise and imbedded in the divine structure of the worlds, and has been pronounced as such. Even Ramana Maharshi did not disparage it. The lotus feet of the guru, or the “dust of the guru’s feet”, the radiant gurudev, appearing in the disciple’s heart is supposed to be a great vision, boon, and aid, during life and at the time of death and beyond. It is a cornerstone of Sant Mat. Even Kabir, in his devotional ecstasy, procaimed, “now I see nothing but the radiant form of the master!”

   An additional question, briefly mentioned before, however, is that the Sant Mat lineages divide on whether one should continue contemplating only on one’s initiating guru after that guru’s death, and/or whether it is necessary to take his successor as ones guru. This controversy began after the death of Shiv Dayal Singh. All recommend seeking the company of a true successor, but differ on what to do with ones contemplative practice. Sant Darshan Singh also said that matters pertaining to the disciple's pralabd karma (current destiny) could only be handled by the successor, because that would required a physical body. Many initiates of Rajinder Singh have seen the forms of the preceeding three masters before him coming to them unbidden during their meditations.

   This is an extremely important point that raises a number of issues. First of all, in Sant Mat, at least in the lineage after Sawan Singh and Kirpal Singh, the dispensation has been offered or promised that once a disciple is initiated it will take a maximum of four lives for him to reach Sach Khand or be so liberated. The Master is said to take it upon himself to erase the pool of sanchit karmas from time immemorial that the disciple would otherwise have to bear. This is significant, for, as taught in, for instance, Dzogchen Buddhism, it is these very tendencies, karmas, or habits of uncountable lifetimes that prevent our abiding in the Ground Luminosity of Clear Light which dawns after death, if ever so briefly for the average person. A question arises, however: if responsibility for exhausting the sanchit storehouse of karmas is taken over by the Master at the time of initiation, what would prevent an initiate from only needing one lifetime to realize the truth? The answer must be, only his creating more destiny or kriyaman karma by not living up to the teachings in this life. Even so, Sant Mat says that the decision of a further birth into this earth realm lies in the hands of the Guru. anadi says that it also depends upon if the soul has reached completion of its inborn destiny during this life whether or not he need return. Kirpal said that if one has no remaining desires towards this life one needn’t return, depending on the grace of the Master.

   The spiritual Master is said to take charge of the sanchit or storehouse karmas of the disciple from yama or the lord or karma or death, thus guiding the disciple's future development, and also to be able to assume, as appropriate and in accordance with divine laws, some of their pralabd or fate karmas on his own body. A body, as stated, is essential for this particular task. The latter assertion is not a unique article of faith in Sant Mat. (See article, "Karma and Grace" on this website).The following beautiful account of the death of the Gyalwang Karmapa illustrates this phenomenon:

   "By the time that I saw him, His Holiness had already had many operations, some parts of his body removed, things put inside him, his blood transfused, and so on. Every day the doctors discovered the symptoms of some new disease, only to find them gone the next day and replaced by another illness, as if all the diseases in the world were finding room in his flesh. For two months he had taken no solid food, and finally his doctors thought the life-supporting systems should be disconnected. But the Karmapa said, "No, I'm going to live. Leave them in place." And he did live, astonishing the doctors, and remaining seemingly at ease in his situation - humorous, playful, smiling, as if he were rejoicing at everything his body suffered. Then I thought, with the clearest possible conviction, that the Karmapa had submitted himself to the cutting, to the manifestation of all those diseases in his body, to the lack of food, in a quite intentional and voluntary way: He was deliberately suffering all of these diseases to help minimize the coming pains of war, disease, and famine, and in this way he was deliberately working to avert the terrible suffering of this dark age." (15)

23. Kabir’s Anurag Sagar claims that Kal the negative power always produces imposter masters to fool the “unelect”, and that part of the search is for the seeker to find the gem among the dirt. Kirpal Singh said there is always at least one true master alive on earth, and clearly said that there may be more than one. Sant Darshan Singh said on at least one occasion that there was only one. Shoonyo, successor to Dr. I.C. Sharma, said that there could conceivably be many.The founder of the modern Sant Mat or Radhasoami lineages, Shiv Dayal Singh, implied there could be more than one, with both Rai Salig Ram and Jaimal Singh becoming gurus after him. Sant Mat often mentions that contemporaries Kabir and Nanak were both perfect masters.

24. Returning to the main discussion - which is one of mysticism and emanationism (including kundalini, Kriya, Sant Mat) versus non-duality, jnana, Ch'an, or Zen, etc. - once out of the body (and from an absolute point of view, even while in the body), don't ideas of high or low, inside and out, essentially lose their ultimate meaning, as they are only concepts or ideas in the mind? We have already discussed this in part, saying that the subtler bodies being still within subtle space and time (Kal) have their relative dimensions, although ultimately there is no such thing. Sant Rajinder Singh succinctly explains that this is indeed the case even on that path:

 Q: Where are the inner realms?

Master: “When we withdraw our attention to the single eye, we become absorbed in the inner Light and Sound. Then, after we meet the radiant form of the Master and rise above body-consciousness, we find inner realms. These inner dimensions or realms exist concurrently with our physical universe. For lack of better terminology we speak of inner and outer, or higher and lower regions. These realms are not exactly descriptive because we are talking about states of consciousness. They do not exist in time and space., but we have the illusion that our physical world is in time and space. The physical region with the earth, sun, planets, and galaxies  exists simultaneously with spiritual regions. We measure time and space in this physical universe because that is the only frame of reference that we know. But all these regions, from the physical to the spiritual, exist as states of consciousness. When we talk about traveling to inner or higher regions, we are not actually traveling anywhere or going up or in. We are actually refocusing our attention to a different state of consciousness or awareness.”(16)

   From the point of view of Advaita, as mentioned, even the body is essentially nothing more than an idea or collection of sensations, perceptions, and beliefs in consciousness. Therefore, from the point of view of truth, does it matter, as some of the Tibetans maintain, how one ‘leaves’ the body? What if an initiate is murdered or killed in a horrible accident and is suddenly jerked out of the body, as has happened? I have already spoken of one such case. We are told that no matter how we die we will be instantly with the Master within. "The Master always resides in the disciple's innermost heart center," said Kirpal Singh.

   Saints and yogis have said that one can leave the body through different centers: the navel, the heart, or the head, etc. They generally feel that a conscious exit via the head is most fruitful, and some have said that if one exits the body or dies via the anahata chakra, for instance, one may be lost until the next life in lower reflections of the true higher planes. In Sant Mat, barring the case of terrible accidents, all initiates when exiting the body, generally through the crown of the head, are directly in the presence of their Masters within.

   Sants argue for the superiority of the head or third eye (sixth chakra or divya chaksu') over the heart as the main portal to the beyond, but generally do not address the the spiritual heart spoken of by sages such as Maharshi, which is not a chakra. They simply say that the heart-lotus of the saints is between the eyebrows. That is their portal into the Beyond. Whereas sages such as Ramana say the entire inner journey through the subtle, psychic realms via the divya chaksu may be avoided by absorption of attention or mind via the jnana chaksu in the heart, the subjective source of the separate self or ego. Traditionally, such as in the Upanishads, the heart is considered to be the seat of the soul in the body. Presumably this may account for the apparent exception-to-the-rule in the case of Lakhshmi the cow, whom Ramana said attained mukti upon her death. If the soul is in the heart, the lack of a man-body or human form, chakra system, and lack of a third eye as located in the sixth chakra, may not be an absolute impediment to liberation. An objection might be raised that in the case of Ramana, who by his own admission had little experience of the overhead planes, cannot speak for the realizations of the Sants. That seems reasonably true. Comparisons between the two positions are difficult. Sri Aurobindo made a similar comment about Maharshi when a disciple asked him questions concerning differences between their philosophies. Maharshi in turn criticized Aurobindo's experiences of the Supermind, Overmind, etc., in effect saying they were all within the Self only.... When such sages disagree, we should feel little doubt over seeking answers to our own questions.

   Sant Mat sometimes describes Sach Khand as the realm of atman, in the same terms of “the light of a million suns” that Maharshi mentioned as the experience of atman reflected through mahatattva (cosmic consciousness); even more, according to Sar Bachan at least, there are scenes and sounds there, with gushing fountains of light. But could this be atman? Atman is usually described as the light which makes seeing anything possible. The disciple of Sant Mat, true, eventually attains to a realm of no sound and no light (Anami), which it calls Absolute God, could this then be atman? Sages like Paul Brunton, Ramana, Nisargadatta would probably even isagree with the idea that even that is the end of the path. Sahaja samadhi, they might say - which may or may not be the “radhasoami state” - still awaits the mature soul. It should be noted that Hazur Baba Sawan Singh was attracted to advaita, but after study of Kabir's Anurag Sagar decided the path of shabd was higher. In Sant Mat, the state of sahaj is supposed to happen more or less automatically, through the infused power of the shabda-brahman. But that may or may not be true in any particular case.

   "Seeing" in Sach Khand

   Ishwar Puri seems to feel that in Sach Khand one has reached "Sar" Shabd, which, being beyond the mind, is also beyond time and space and unmanifest, and therefore beyond light and sound; rather, it is the essence of light and sound. Any references in Sar Bachan to "turrets," "Islands," "lights," and "millions of suns" would be purely allegorical. He states:

   "THE REAL SHABD IS NOT A SOUND BUT YOUR SELF. When you go beyond the causal to our spiritual region there is no sound as such because there is no space-time at all. It's a totally different indescribable state. So the sound becomes Sar Shabd, which means  the Real Shabd, which means your Self. There you discover the Sound was your Self, not emanating from the Self. You find it WAS the Self. Great experience. That comes only with the help of the love of a Perfect Living Master” (The Ultimate Secret, Ishwar Puri, Sep 2017, Rice Lake, WI, Part 3 of 5)

   So it is kind of confusing. Sach Khand could either be formless (but manifest) infinite light - the 'full effulgence of the Nameless One'; or it may be such visible light only metaphorically, as variously described according to these teachers.

   In any case Sach Khand is a wholly positive experience, not a negative void or a nothing as the mind might conceive it. It cannot be imagined. Puri elsewhere states:

   "The stage at which the Ego merges with it's Totality is in the second region of the Universal Mind [Trikuti, lower Brahmand]. There one is alone and "indifferent"! Most Yogis Yogeshwars and other practitioners of various types of Meditation have thought that to be the Highest level of Consciousness! Only Perfect Living Masters have taken us beyond that stage to pure Spiritual realms where the Bliss and Happiness is incredible!" (source misplaced)

   The former might be said to be similar to "the ‘night’ of indifference before the positive event of satori" spoken of in Zen.

   25. Ramana, it must be noted, was of the view that all types of experience are unnecessary - even while many of his disciples had all sorts of classic yogic and mystical experiences in his company. He also made gentle fun of those of his disciples who wanted to see “the light of a million suns.” Brunton called that "the penultimate experience." A rare yogic text called it , great as it was, "maya". Interesting, isn't it, that Maharshi made fun of what most Sant Mat disciples would die for, and what, in fact, sound alot like descriptions of Sach Khand! Ramana also said that one could not really say it was not light, however, that the metaphor was appropriate, but it was the invisible light of understanding.

   The highest mystical experience is generally considered in the standard yogic literature to be nirvikalpa samadhi (samadhi without form, the source of subjectivity), with anything perceptible still in the realm of the psychic or subtle. Thus Sach Khand would not be “spiritual” in this traditional understanding. It is described in Sant Mat as the "full effulgence of the light of the Creator." Yet it is not Atman as traditionally defined, which is without attributes. Kirpal Singh once did mention, however, that the description of Sach Khand as being that of millions of suns, etc., was in fact an allegorical description, but the question remaind, is it realization of Atman, and, if not, what is it?

   According to Sant Rajinder Singh, the Theosophical schema, in a addition to various subplanes in the astral world, outlines seven subplanes in devachan, the lower four constituting the mental plane, and the higher three the causal plane. In Sant Mat, the soul is free of birth and death when it reaches the super-causal plane, where only a thin layer of the anandamaya kosha is said to cover the soul. After that is Sach Khand, or Sat Lok. As mentioned, Dr. I.C. Sharma called Sach Khand “the office of the Master”, and Param Sants are said to go higher, to Alak, Agam, and Anami. There is no doubt that these planes are intoxicating compared to ordinary life in this sublunar earthly sphere. However, while Sach Khand may possibly be beyond a so-called cosmic dissolution and grand dissolution of the lower created worlds, as these masters teach, it, once again, seems at least paradoxical to call it spiritual, in a philosophical sense, inasmuch as there is said to be light and sound and visible beings there, living on their “dweeps” (islands) and enjoying nectar, as the Sar Bachan of Soamiji says. We cannot ignore what Anthony Damiani emphasized, that “no amount of superlatives” will take away from [the] fact that if there is a perceiver and a perceived there, it is not the Reality." No matter how intense and high the bliss and ecstasy, these must be gone beyond before the Soul as consciousness in itself is realized. This at first glance seems not to be the case in Sach Khand, but perhaps not. If one considers Sach Khand to be a profound re-birth into non-dual realization, where one is 'beyond' the so-called three bodies, mind and maya, and if this 'perception' of infinite light is similar to what is described in Buddhism, i.e., a pure spontaneous 'Sambhogakaya manifestation of the Dharmakaya', with non-separate souls dwelling in unity, then the word spiritual would apply. The words "spiritual planes" is then valuable within the sense it is used in Sant Mat. In Buddhism there is, in fact t, mention of glorious Dharmakaya realms, where only buddhas and bodhisattvas of the highest realization may dwell.

   Yet, once again, the highest mystical experience is supposedly beyond all objectivity, as the realization of ultimatesubjectivity, and can then, it seems, only be found in the Sant Mat experience in the Anami state or region - if that is understood and experienced as beyond subject/object distinctions as nameless and formless would seem to imply. Some in Sant Mat, in fact, feel that not only is the Radhasoami state higher than Anami, but that it itself is just the beginning. Anami and even Radhasoami are described, however, in terms such as "the wonder region," into which, according to Baba Jaimal Singh, Sawan Singh's Guru, the gurumukh disciple will "get merged", which, however, is supposedly beyond subject and object. This is a contradiciton only if we are talking about a separate ego that merges into God. But we must remember that here we are talking of a process of the Soul, which is eternally in unity with the divine One, the I AM, and not that of an 'ego-soul wanting to 'save' itself. There is also a death as the emanant of the Soul quits each inner plane. Even the mind is transformed until it merges in the universal mind in Trikuti. This is a radical insight and requiring a radical shift in one’s view of the world and sense of identity. Ramana called an approach of assuming the reality of an ego-soul that gets purified to finally enjoy or even get merged with an Oversoul or Paramatma a "deceitful stratagem," but he was not talking about the true soul. Here is what he said:

   "...devotion is nothing more than knowing oneself. The doctrine of Qualified Monism [i.e., Ramanuja] also admits it...Their traditional doctrine says..that the individual soul should be made pure and then surrendered to the Supreme; then the ego is lost and one goes to the regions of Vishnu after one's death; then, finally, there is the enjoyment of the Supreme (or the Infinite)! To say that one is apart from the primal Source is itself a pretension; to add that one divested of the ego becomes pure and yet retains individuality only to enjoy or serve the Supreme, is a deceitful stratagem. What duplicity is this - first to appropriate what is really His, and then pretend to experience or serve Him! is not all this already known to Him?"......"all lokas, even Brahma loka, do not release one from rebirth. The Bhagavad Gita says: 'Reaching Me, there is no rebirth...All others are in bondage'...so long as you think that there is gati (movement) - as implied in the word gatva (having gone to) - there is punaravritti (return), also. Again, gati implies your Purvagamanam (birth) What is birth? It is birth of the ego. Once born you reach something; if you reach it, you return, also. Therefore, leave off all this verbiage! Be as you are. See who you are and remain as the Self, free from birth, going, coming, and returning"....."People would not understand the simple and bare truth - the truth of their everyday, ever-present and eternal experience. That Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone not aware of the Self? They would not even like to hear it (the Self), whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond - heaven, hell, reincarnation. because they love mystery and not the bare truth, religions pamper them - only to bring them around to the self. Wandering hither and thither, you must return to the Self only. Then, why not abide in the Self right here and now?" (17)

   Adyashanti argues similarly to Ramana:

   "The taste of no separate self is totally liberating. "No separate self" does not mean there is a spiritual experience that goes something like, "I have extended myself infinitely everywhere, and have merged with everything." That's a beautiful, wonderful experience for a separate self to have, but that's not what Oneness is. Oneness is not merging. Merging happens between two and since there is only one, then any experience of merging is one illusion merging with another, as beautiful and wonderful as that experience may be. Even when I experience having merged with the absolute, with the infinite, with God, it simply means that my fictitious self has merged with another fiction. Mystical experiences aren't enlightenment." (18)

   "The merging experience is very pleasant and very beautiful, and you may or may not ever have it. If you have a particular type of body-mind, you might experience having it every five minutes. If you are another type of body-mind, you might have it every five lifetimes. It means nothing whether or not this happens or how often.”

   “I have met many people who can merge at the drop of a hat, and they are about as free as a dog chasing its tail in a cage. Merging has nothing to do with being free or actually having any idea what Oneness really is.”

   “Oneness simply means that everything is the One. Everything is That, and everything always was That. When there is a very deep knowing that everything is One, then the movement of the me trying to find a past experience ceases. Movement is cut off. Seeking is cut off. The seeker is cut off. Realization cuts everything off all at once.”

   “Every experience that you will ever have is the One, whether that experience is merging or having to go to the bathroom. Even when it's beating a stick on the floor and saying, "This is it. This is the Buddha. This is enlightened mind. It doesn't get more enlightened than this!" It is all God.”
(From Consciousness -- Everything is That, by Adyashanti)

   Sant Darshan Singh, by contrast, described his ultimate experiences in the following manner:

   "He has taken me above body consciousness...to the higher planes, leaving the stars, the moon and the sun behind, making me one with him in his radiant effulgent form. He has taken me into moments of eternity; beyond the limitations of time and space, and then, giving me a glance of love, a boost...he has taken me...into the highest realms of spirituality. On the way he has introduced me to the various Masters who have blessed this earth since time immemorial, and arranged for our conversation. We have conversed in a language which has no tongue...no words...no alphabet...in a language which is eternal. We have conversed in the language which was in the beginning..which was made Word, in the language which [divine] lovers even now speak. This is the language which will continue to the end of all time...And after taking me to our Eternal Home, Sach Khand, he has taken me to higher realms known as Agam and Agochar, those regions which are fathomless...beyond human imagination. And after that we reached Anami, the ultimate vast region which has no shores...no limitation...no name..." (19)

   "We cannot possibly reach our goal of union with God without the help and constant guidance of an Adept. The distractions and pitfalls that line the way are unsurmountable, and one would be lost a thousand times even before one crossed the first inner plane. But the Guru's task does not end even after the soul has realized its own essential divinity. He takes us to the region known as Sach Khand, or the True Home. Here the soul comes face too face with its Creator and is finally in the realm of the Absolute, the Unchanging Permanence. From now on the spiritual journey is the story of progressive merger, to a state where the creature cannot be said to behold the Creator for they have at last become one. Such indeed is the inner journey which the spiritual Adept makes possible and which he enables us to traverse successfully." (20)

   And from Sant Kirpal Singh:

   "The soul has been imprisoned for ages and it is only through the kindness of the Master that it can be released. There is no other way." (21)

   On the other hand, Sant Darshan said:

   "Properly understood, our surrender to and ultimate merger in God is not a denial, rejection, or annihilation of the individual self. Rather, it is an affirmation that the macrocosm is in the microcosm, and that however limited we may believe ourselves to be, we are, in reality, infinite and eternal." (21a)

   So perhaps this metaphysical divide is not insurmountable. Perhaps Anami is the same as the Self of Ramana, or the Absolute of Nisargadatta. Anadi said that when Ramana realized the Self he actually realized the Soul. For him the Soul and Self are two sides of the same coin, the Self being the ground in which the Soul exists. Or perhaps the Sach Khand realization is the same as the I AM spoken of by such sages. Perhaps Maha Sunn is the macrocosmic equivalent of the 'black hole' of causal unknowing/darkness prior to the super-causal clarity of the "I am Truth' identity before the I AM or Sat is realized. These are possibilities. As for the amrita nadi associated with the causal heart on the right, perhaps it is not necessary for all to experience it. Perhaps the 'heart-lotus of the Sants', the agya chakra or eye center, can, with their grace, lead to the same realization in a different way. [For more on this, the reader may see "Kundalini: Up, Down, or ?" on this website]. For now, this excerpt from the book, Ramana Periya Puranam, should help allay any worry one might have over whether he is lacking in the correct and necessary experiences on the path:

   "1942, a Tamil scholar had a lengthy and detailed discussion with Bhagavan on the amrita nadi, believed to be the nerve associated with Self realization. Bhagavan showed interest in the discussion and answered all the pundit?s questions, giving a detailed description of the functions of the amrita nadi. Nagamma felt out of place as she did not know anything of the subject matter. After the pundit left, she approached Bhagavan and began to ask him about what was discussed. Before she could complete her sentence, Bhagavan asked, “Why do you worry about all this?” Nagamma replied, “Bhagavan, you have been discussing this for four days; so I thought I should also learn something about it from you.” Bhagavan answered, “The pundit was asking me what is written in the scriptures and I was giving him suitable replies. Why do you bother about all that? It is enough if you look into yourself as to who you are.” Saying this, Bhagavan smiled compassionately at her. After another two days or so, there was once again another dialogue on the same subject. This time Bhagavan said that it was only a notion, a mere concept. Nagamma intervened to ask whether all matters relating to the amrita nadi were also only concepts. Bhagavan replied emphatically, “Yes, what else is it? Is it not a mere notion? If the body itself is a notion, will that not be a notion as well?” Bhagavan then looked at Nagamma with great kindness. That very moment, all her doubts were laid to rest. In narrating this incident, Nagamma wanted to make known how important it is to go back to the source when spiritual doubts arise."

   anadi offers what may seem to be a solution that will satisfy the bhaktis and the gyanis, or advocates of both the 'Soul' and the 'Self'. He states:

   "In transcendence the soul merges with the universal self - individuality dissolves into the ocean of universal being. To realize the state of oneness is to transcend self while remaining an indivisible part of that realization. Though dissolved, the soul continues to exist, but now in a new, transcendental way; the beloved allows her to return to a state of conscious unity with the undivided whole so that she may continue her everlasting evolution as an angle of perception within that unity. Oneness is not an inert entity, but the eternally recurring reunion of the soul and her creator within the space of totality, an everlasting journey of love and individual expansion into the divine reality.... the soul in transcendence no longer owns her own her individuality - it is owned by her creator....the soul no longer knows herself by her presence but by her absence." (22)

   The methodology given at the outset in Sant Mat appears dissociative, as if it teaches only inversion as the goal. However, this may only be temporarily so as it is also the case in other oriental paths, where reunion with the subjective essence by separating from the gross plane is the initial attainment desired. Then one is supposed to integrate what he previously detached from into a higher synthesis with the ultimate transcendental or universal I Am, the infinite Subjectivity of the One. anadi recognizes this progression:

   "The outer world is not outside the universal I Am, but contained within its boundless space of pure being. Since creation dwells within the universal subjectivity of the self, there is no way to experience oneness with the external reality unless one becomes unified with the inner realm and the soul."

   He says that, therefore, in initially creating and stabilizing a state of presence or conscious awareness, or depth of being, one may feel more dissociated than when he started. Thus he teaches in somewhat of a traditional manner. There are other paths that do not each this way, claiming to be able to realize the ultimate reality without such a depth of meditation. anadi and Sant Mat, and generally PB, do not feel this is possible. In any case, the 'natural state' is boundless, with no 'in' or 'out':

   "Because the natural state is not external to the one who knows it, there is no movement of energy and no direction of absorption. Natural absorption is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is not within or without, up or down, here or there. In natural absorption, no one is absorbed into nowhere. the natural state just is. This stateless state is neither the soul nor the beyond, but their undifferentiated unity." (23)

   Some teachers of Sant Mat say that this discrimination comes automatically as one progresses on the path. Yet this does not appear to be universally the case. If we keep in mind, however, as Paramhansa Yogananda pointed out, that 'within' the Holy Sound, so to speak, lies the 'Christ Consciousness', or the consciousness of the Soul, then this may in fact be so. If we recognize this, we will not get lost in the mystical states as being objective to our essence. This is an important point, and holds the difference from 'relatively enlightened' mystical experiences and 'unenlightened' ones. anadi further says:

   "It is the evolutionary level of intelligence that inhabits the inner state that determines whether its experience is translated as personal or impersonal. A seeker in touch with the light of pure subjectivity will recognize the sense of I Am inherent in the inner state, while one unawakened to the soul will experience the state beyond the mind as an external, objectified space of abidance. Without the consciousness of I Am to illuminate it, the inner state is no more than an empty shell." (24)

   This would account for the trouble with the correspondence between the two initiates mentioned earlier over their inner experiences. Both were clearly not in touch with the I Am principle, which is consciousness of the soul and not just the inner experience.

   In other words, as Ramana pointed out, listening to the sound is good - and we add that the shabda-brahman IS a liberating presence within relativity, although perhaps not the only one - but listening is better with vichara or inquiry, as that keeps us conscious along the way. This does not mean the traditional shabd yoga practitioner must or should do mental inquiry along with his concentration practice, for that may hinder his absorption. It is only suggested that at intervals in such a process, and especially during the day, contemplation/inquiry in all its aspects is a useful accompaniment to meditation in order to both develop discrimination and the ability to stay in touch with the I Am, the true soul principle, thus avoiding the pitfalls of ordinary mysticism which objectifies its inner experiences and also finds a great divide between the world and the spirit. This is not always a problem in Sant Mat; it is, finally, a matter of the evolution of the practitioner. For in the final analysis it is not the experience one haves, but the one having the experience that is of primary importance.

   26. The branches among Sant Mat, as stated, are divided on whether Anami is the highest realm, or whether there is something beyond, called “Radhasoami”, which may or may not be a region, per se. This is where there is a lack of preciseness or limitation in our language. Some of this may be unavoidable, yet if Radhasoami is not a region, but a more universal, transcendental realization, similar to that described by sages like Ramana Maharshi or the Buddha, beyond even the formless state represented by Anami, then it should be made explicit. It may not matter much to beginners but overall it is important. And perhaps not all Sant Mat masters have attained the highest philosophic realization, but only the highest mystic one. Even in cases where they have, because so much theologic tradition has been built up around Sant Mat, it might not be possible for the gurus to teach differently, even if they have the radical insight, without undermining the faith of thousands, if not millions of disciples. And perhaps they help more people by simply teaching the way they do. Perhaps it is more practically effective to teach an initial dualistic search, with more advanced instruction demonstrating higher stages of the path being given by those of their gurus with the specific capability. But, as Kirpal Singh was fond of quoting from Socrates, “I love Truth more than Plato.” At some point, Truth is better.

   In other passages Sant Darshan speaks more radically, however, about the true condition of the soul:

   "If we think that the Master is in one physical location, that is the most erroneous way of looking at things. The Master is always with us. He is nearer to us than our throat; he is within us. He is within our eyes; he is within our forehead; he is within every pore of our body...The Master is with us all the time. We are caught in the tresses of the beloved and we cannot wiggle out of them. We cannot even move our finger we are so tied up in our Beloved's tresses. Only if we look inside ourself will we find our Beloved master with us. Our Master can even be with us physically all the twenty-four hours. He is not gone. He has not left the earthly plane. He is here - now! [words similar to those of the dying Ramana Maharshi: "where could I go? I am here."]... We should call him from the core of our heart. He has not gone anywhere. He is with us; he is within us; he is without us; he is in every pore of our body. He enlivens us in our voice; he is in our breath; he is in our looks; we only fail to perceive him...Be one with him and he will be with us all the time. There is no magic in this room. It is only the oneness of our attention." (25)

   And, interestingly, Sant Rajinder Singh recently has also appeared to modify the language of Sant Mat to move one step closer to the advaita or non-dual position, as well as that of modern science. While touring Budapest in 2007 one woman expressed that when she sat for meditation she sometimes felt afraid. The Master responded by saying that we often feel fear because of the language used such as “rising above body-consciousness.” The words, he said, do not clearly define what is happening. The spiritual regions are going on concurrently with this physical region. We are not rising “out” of the body, he explained, but are "tuning into different frequencies." This is a radical departure from the explicit message in all of Sant Mat to date, whose appeal to suffering seekers is exactly that the soul does rise out of the body, 'exactly as at the time of death', with the ability to return guaranteed because the 'silver cord' mentioned in the Bible remains intact, etc.. But if we are just tuning into different frequencies, then what if, in any moment, we choose not to tune in to them, or just to stay tuned to this one, are we not then still who we are? So the question then becomes, "what is the problem?"

   Ishwar Puri teaches that we should understand that Sant Mat uses stories that are not to be taken too literally in order to speak on things that really can't be described. Thus, he says, it is not that there is really a 'journey', or a 'one' who is making that journey, but in the beginning we cannot understand things except in a human manner, and the saints indulge our ignorance. At some point, however, we find that all of the drama of creation and the soul's experiences have taken place within Sach Khand, and when we 'reach' Sach Khand we actually find we are only awakening from a dream. In this he sounds very much like the current non-dual teachers. Brunton would say that there is an eternal Soul, which he termed the Overself, which never incarnates, but which puts forth an eminent of itself that goes through all the realms of experience, and upon enlightenment it is this eminent re-unites with its eternal parent, the Soul. This Soul, being beyond the mind, or time and space, can never actually go or journey anywhere, such things being only apparent. So one can see such language is a concession to our limited understanding or point of view.

   One can then see a difficulty faced by a traditional sort of Sant Mat teacher. If he, in this instance, is trying to tell someone that 'we' are really not a 'something' that goes anywhere, but that 'we' only deepen in the experience of more and more dimensions within our self, then the traditional teaching as given might lose its comparative uniqueness. And for some people that is very threatening. Moreover, saying that we are really not leaving the body but 'tuning into different frequencies', still leaves unanswered the more basic question, " 'who' is doing the tuning in?", as well as "what's wrong with this dimension?" Without resolving that question, say the gyanis or sages, self-understanding has not yet occurred and the potential for fear will remain, as well as the potential for misunderstanding one's experiences. If this is answered according to advaita, it will be argued that in fact there is no 'separate one', no fixed entity, to tune into anything (and also no fixed entity that is born or dies), in which case the motivation to meditate in this specific manner itself is called into question and needs further consideration: what is the goal one exactly is trying to achieve? This is now not so clear. Is this ascent a necessary and direct means to enlightenment, or, as traditions such as advaita would argue, are the practice and samadhis only preparatory, in some cases, to prepare, clarify, and sharpen the mind for direct inquiry into the Self?

   If there is no leaving, or no one who leaves, the body in meditation, then is there any one who leaves the body at the time of death - and does this also need to be understood in a radically different way? Thankfully this matter is eventually taken out of our hands. Non-dualist or not, a power takes the soul out of the body at death.The teachings of the advaitists purporting to speak from the position of absolute truth, however, even deny incarnation itself, and speak radically differently about death and the state of consciousness of an "I" after death - or in life, for that matter - some denying it any intermediate reality at all. There may be limitations in their point of view, which they will admit is not for beginners, but what they say must be considered. If the Masters say that the body is just a thought, or perception arising in consciousness, however, which even the language, "we are not really rising out of it", suggests - or at least is compatible with - then the concept of "leaving" the body would also need to be re-explained, and the books possibly re-written, a difficult and perhaps thankless task for those charged with upholding a tradition with countless followers at many levels of understanding. [This issue of leaving the body has been discussed in detail in Part One when comparing the nature of the centers or chakras in the body and brain with the planes of creation and the terms used in Sant Mat as compared with other yoga paths. And also extensively in Part Two when discussing the planes creation and what happens after death].

   Sant Mat is a bhakti path, and few are likely to be interested in questions like these. Just sit in the silence, receive the love, and don’t worry. I pray for a cool breeze from the Masters to soothe my overheated brain, and I, too, wish above all for pure love.... But such questions have been around in some form for hundreds of years and will not go away. They are not mere mental hair-splitting but inquiries that affect the very means, intention, and understanding of one's sadhana and the guru-disciple relationship. If the soul or power of the soul called the attention does not really rise up and leave the body during meditation, but only appears to, what are the meaning of heart-felt statements like the following from Sant Kirpal Singh, quite representative of Sant Mat:

   "You cannot imagine with what longing the Master Power awaits you at the eye focus ready to receive you with open arms."

   As the reader will find under Biographies: “The Death of a Dream and a Gift of Truth”, I have a personal and not merely intellectual interest and need for such answers, having been 'cast down from' the eye-focus by the Master Power many years ago for what I hope (!) was my soul's own ultimate good, but which does at times strain the faith and endurance to the limit. If I think of the fallen state of the soul, for example, I can suffer immensely. If I inquire, however, " who wants to leave the body", or " who thinks he must leave the body", or "who thinks he is a 'thing' that must leave a body?", or, "do I know this is true?" and the Soul responds with an intuitive glimpse, there is relative peace. So this entire article thus represents not just a philosophical investigation but a continuing prayer to the Masters for guidance and grace.

   I respectfully ask, therefore, what exactly was the Master pointing to here? It seems to speak directly to the heart of Sant Mat as a distinct philosophy or path.

27. "Kal" - psychological, allegorical, philosophical perspectives. Is Kal the Demiurge or not? What is he and what does he represent?

   In the article Sophia's Passion: Sant Mat and the Gnostic Myth of Creation, Neil Tessler within the framework of Sant Mat attempts to explain their teachings within classic creation stories wherein the realms of creation allotted to “Kal”, the negative power (himself an eternal emanation of the Sat Purush or creator God, actually said to be “created out of the finest hair of the Sat Purush”), are lower than the highest, uncreated Heaven of Sach Khand. While Kabir's Anurag Sagar is very interesting, beautiful and enigmatic, it is debateable whether it should necessarily be a taken as a metaphysical and literal description of conditional and absolute realities. It should be mentioned, however, that the reknown saint, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, considered Anurag Sagar as essential for understanding the difference between Sant Mat and other paths, so its reading should not be lightly dismissed. Again, see the biography of Kabir on this website for more on this.

   Tessler writes:

   “The several creation myths developed by the Masters serve to describe the relationship between the Absolute in its non-attributive formless essence, known in modern Sant Mat as Anami or Radhasoami, and its manifested attributes. As Kirpal Singh has written, "In one there is always the delusion of many, and the totality does signify the existence therein of so many parts. The ideas of a part and of the whole go cheek by jowl, and both the part as well as the whole are characterized by the similarity of the essential nature in them.”

   “The essence of a thing has its own attributive nature and the two cannot be separated from each other. Just as the essence is both one and many, so is the case with its attributive nature."
[Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life; A Study in Yoga]

   “These attributes first appear in their purest and most realized form as the primordial "creation", known in the East as Sach Khand or in Gnosticism as the Pleroma or Fullness, (terms which will both be used synonymously throughout this paper). Creation is, however, a misnomer, for Sach Khand is not created as such, but rather it is the expansion into distinct being of the eternally perfect and fully elaborated attributes of the Absolute. These cosmic attributes are known as the Sons of Sat Purush in the East and the Aeons in Gnosticism. Sat Purush or the Only-Begotten is the Aeon that is the Being, the mind, as it were, of the Absolute; pure consciousness and consciousness on all planes, thus also the bridge to creation proper. As Hans Jonas has written,

   "The Only-Begotten Mind alone, having issued from him directly, can know the Fore-Father: to all the other Aeons he remains invisible and incomprehensible. 'It was a great marvel that they were in the Father without knowing Him.' (Gospel of Truth 22.27)”

   “The number of these eternal emanations of the divine varies according to reference. The gnostic version described by Hans Jonas gives four Aeons with their consorts to make eight, "the original Ogdoad", who then further elaborate to make another seven pairs for a total of thirty. The Kabiran version gives sixteen with Sat Purush being the first emanation.
The myths now run in two distinct directions, at least in the gnostic forms. The Kabiran version and one gnostic version tells us that there was an Aeon that cherished a desire for its own creation as an inherent part of its nature. We could say that the potential for separation from God is in itself an Aeon. This leads ultimately to a creation existing in negative polarity with eternal Sach Khand, spinning the attributive universes that exist in Time. This separative Aeon, known as Mind or Time (Kal), is Sat Purusha's first expansion in the gnostic version and fifth in the Kabiran version. Kabir's Anurag Sagar states that "He is created from the most glorious part of the body of Sat Purush". Thus Sat Purush is cosmically linked to the "lower" creation, which eventually develops through Kal's activity. In this we are warned away from value judgements, and reminded that this entire process is under Divine Will (Hukam).”

   This last statement is important, because how many nevertheless do think of Kal in value judgements? But how can this be the true perspective when one has realized Oneness? Answer: It is the paradoxical nature of reality. As Rabia of Basra said, however,

   “In love with God, I have no time left to hate the devil; My love to God has so possessed me that nothing remains but Him.”

   Here is an illustration where the editors or assistants working on Kirpal Singh's book, Godman may possibly have stretched a bit to maintain the traditional dualistic negative power/positive power dichotomy. One must keep in mind that Kirpal Singh wrote this book, as a devotional gesture to his guru, Sawan Singh, when he was still a disciple, twenty or more years before he was a Master, although it was not published until 1967. Speaking in glowing terms of the oneness of the Master and God or God-Power and how such a state is possible, Kirpal states:

   In discourse 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna thus sets to rest this question:

   "Not knowing my transcendant, imperishable supreme character, the
   undiscerning think me who am unmanifest to have become manifest.
   Veiled by the delusive mystery created by my unique power,
   I am not manifest to all; this bewildered world does not recognize me,
   birthless and changeless."

   Then he writes:

   "Blessed indeed is the man who is ready for immediate transformation into God, for to such an individual he at once reveals his Godhood; as Krishna revealed his oneness with Kal to Arjuna..." (26)

   Krishna, previously implied to be one with God, is here relegated to the lesser avataric status or "oneness with Kal" the negative power as considered within the Sant tradition. All very confusing. Explainable, no doubt, but still confusing - certainly for a Hindu who would consider Buddha or perhaps Christ or even Ramakrishna to have been avatars. I am certain that Kirpal or his editors had sound esoteric reasons for using this phraseology, but in any vision of Oneness, whether it be the ‘oneness’ of the soul, or the ‘oneness of the ultimate, "Kal” must be taken back into one's being and no longer projected outside. It must, however, be kept in mind that Kal is not really claimed to be a person or being, i.e., Satan, but a principle, but who can apparently manifest in form. Judith Lamb-Lion, disciple of Kirpal Singh, described a mystic encounter where she met Kal, who "was black and had feathers. She removed a feather and saw light and God behind him and no longer was afraid." This is also essentially what the Tibetan Book of the Dead tells one to do: recognize everything as a projection of one's own mind. This non-reactivity and acceptance must be habitually practiced every day, however, to be effective at the time of death. What this all suggests is that the dualistic vision of the cosmos, described metaphorically in many spiritual and religious teachings, is ultimately to be transcended. Yet within relativity, up to at least the causal plane, respect must be given to the polarity of positive and negative powers. Yet for the initiate of a Saint there is no reason to fear. The key is, however, as Zen Master Dogen wrote, to strive to always be in the nondual state:

   "Birth and death continue and both are within samadhi. There is endless sight and sound...All are part of the constant movement of the Sea of Truth..If someone does not know that everything is in samadhi, he cannot understand the fundamental Truth. Therefore the power of the devil was destroyed." (27)

   The more positive aspect of the Kabirian myth is where the aeon Kal is not inherently evil or sinful, but power is granted to Kal as a concession by the Sat Purush so that the cosmic play will go on for some time and souls will not immediately return to the Forefather as soon as they are incarnated for the first time, but be trapped in the lower worlds until rescued by the manifestation of the Positive Power, the Sant Satguru. Needlessly to say, advaita (i.e., sources like the Mandukya Upanishad) do not accept such cosmological theories of creation at all, except as a temporary expedient for the ignorant. But it can be argued that they have their own version of Kal, being that of perceiving duality due to the arisal of a separative 'I'-sense. And the way out of the Kal predicament is non-duality.

   deCaussade writes:

   "The soul in the state of abandonment knows how to see God in the proud who oppose His action. All creatures, good or evil, reveal Him to it."

   "Of what use are the most sublime illuminations, the most divine revelations, if one has no love for the will of God? It was because of this that Lucifer fell. The ruling of the divine action revealed to him by God, in showing him the mystery of the Incarnation, produced in him nothing but envy. On the other hand a simple soul, enlightened only by faith, can never tire of admiring, praising, and loving the order of God; of finding it not only in holy creatures, but even in the most irregular confusion and disorder. One grain of faith will give more light to a simple soul than Lucifer received in his highest intelligence."

   "Who is Lucifer? He is a pure spirit, and was the most enlightened of all pure spirits, but is now at war with God and with His rule. The mystery of sin is merely the result of this conflict, which manifests itself in every possible way. Lucifer, as much as in him lies, will leave no stone upturned to destroy what God has made and ordered."

   Kal is one of those topics that has many layers. Kal can take many forms, but certainly can and does manifest as a personification. The name Kal in the Sant Mat tradition (and names and images of him will be related to cultures and traditions) being based on 'time' is probably based on the experience that Kal has power of a person to the extent that they have karma (cause and effect is a time-based notion), unless they are free enough from karma that through an act of will/aspiration and/or grace, they are freed to move beyond the realm of Kal, which, of course, Kal does not have. Kal has no power beyond the causal plane (or sometimes spoken of MahaKal to the supercausal plane) because this is where a level of dualism ends, an aspect of which is the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong. This concept is transformed in such a way in planes beyond that it no longer reflects a separation into such crude categories, which are not relatively wrong at the level in which they operate, by can be transcended if the consciousness is advanced enough. At this point, and with enough freedom from Karma, the individual can pass beyond Kal's dominion. This can be experienced in various ways, including by the sheer power of a realization that transcends Kal (as long as one has also balanced enough of one's karma as well). Kal is said to be a stickler for not releasing anyone from his classroom unless they have paid their dues. Some even say he is still a bit resentful. One person described an experience in which he was was seeking to pass beyond him. He said he was rising up, but waves and waves of judgmentalness came down upon him, pushing him back. Then he realized he did not have to give into these beliefs, that he was unworthy, not ready, etc. As this soul force arose within him he ascended back and Kal then personified and confronted him face to face, much as described by Judith Lamb-Lion previously. He was very testy and demanded to know what he felt gave him the right to pass beyond him, as he was limited to this realm and had longed to be free of it for a very long time. This person said nothing but held his ground, his state of presence, and he dissolved and let him pass. In the next plane above there is not judgmentalness, within oneself, collectively or as a personified figure. Kal at this level is more like the notion of a wrathful deity, not one serving the dissolution of ego as in Kali. More like some of the Old Testament Deities. In this sense, Kal is fulfilling a natural function, embodying an aspect of the personification of karmic law. We say personification because some experience that there are other beings gradually taking over Kal's work on our planet. Enlightened beings who bring more compassion and wisdom to the dispensing of karma. Kal seems more like a kind of bureaucrat who plays it strickly by the book, does not care about the individual, does not care about the enlightenment of the individual or the world, but simply does his job. And it seems that he is rather impersonal in doing so, unless you try to get free from his realism, and then he can get jealous. At least that seems to be the experience of some. In any case, said Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh,

   "Even the devil [Kal] can do nothing to a man so long as he can laugh."


   Something to keep in mind.

   One of the key aspects of passing beyond Kal, besides the Grace of the Master, which is the chief factor, is settling enough karma, which arise from judgments/desires/aversion, so that one's nature is beginning to be free enough from judgment so that one can rise above the Lord of Judgment. But also one's state of consciousness in that moment must transcend judgment to actually pass beyond. This can, of course, happen in two ways according to which style of practice one is doing (this is assuming that the main power of a moment of transcending Kal is not grace, which also can liberate a person at least temporarily, as in peak moment, but also permanently). But if at least part of the power of a path is the individual's own effort, then this must take the form of having the ability to enter a state of presence beyond judgment. This is one of the ways  intuition is defined, as the next basic level of consciousness beyond the judgmental mind. This does not mean that intuition cannot 'evaluate' things. But this is done more holistically, with a great dose of understanding, acceptance and compassion. Anytime someone is expressing these qualities, they are passing to some extend beyond Kal, inner and outer Kal. In an inversion path, one uses method to move beyond judgment such as the sound current, inquiry, grace, etc. And one will experience this process as a liberation from a basic level of dualism, judgmentalness, and separation. If one is doing a practice like vipassana, even if ones eyes are open and one is just sitting on the couch, or driving a car, waking down the street, the context does not matter. If one can be very present (not distracted, day dreaming, anticipating), if concentration is strong but relaxed, and one is basically or fundamentally accepting of one's experience moment to moment, not wishing one was not experiencing what is there, a situation, a feeling, a memory, and so, then one is integrating a state of mind beyond Kal in one's ordinary state. It is really not that hard to do this for short periods of time, or especially when the contents of our experience are not too challenging - ones we are inclined to judge, such as pain, loss, mistakes, blame from others, and so on. Then our freedom from Kal is tested!

   Also, even without these challenges, which varying in strength from person to person and moment to moment, to sustain this level of presence for increasing periods of time (not just a minute or two here and there) will cause all the karma that is unresolved in our subconscious and conscious mind to be stirred up to be released. Because all of that stuff was more or less created by judgmental consciousness/intentions and are incompatible to this state of presence. Also, we separate ourselves unconsciously from this karma by repressing it, which is also a form of judgment! So if we enter into a non-judgmental state of mind, even to a partial degree, our repressions will begin to be lifted to that extent, and the karma will begin to flow to the surface. If we enter into a fully trans-judgmental state of mind, our subconscious will become profoundly open, and we will be flooded with all our unfinished business. Most people have a decent amount of karma yet to resolve, so it would be overwhelming to release it all so strongly. So, they must not try to sustain such a profound state of presence to too great a degree or for two long periods of time if they do not wish to get swamped in painful karma.

   Developing increasingly non-judgmental presence liberated karma not only by de-repressing the subconscious/storehouse karma, but also by a mechanism whereby, as karma arises as elementals of desire, aversion, thoughts, emotions, judgments, attachments (they are all judgmental!), then these elementals get their life, their ongoing vitality to be active or become active again through the judgmental/desire energy that we charged them with in the first place, whether we created them consciously or unconsciously (which is most common). They will resurface periodically if they are active in this life to get recharged. If we experience them (as sensations in our bodies, emotions, desires or thoughts) and we remain aware and equanimous toward them, then they will fail to be re-energized, their vitality will be discharged and they will be neutralized. Even if our equanimity is not profound, they will be somewhat de-energized, and their vibrations upgraded according to the state of mind we had in that moment. Awareness and equanimity are key qualities, but these qualities are inherent in others as well such as forgiveness, compassion, love, surrender, openness. But often it is not possible for many of us to hold these qualities, but at least we can shoot for trying to be present, enduring our karma, and being as accepting as we can. Then we resolve our karma (and our relationship to Kal, if we wish to think of it that way) and by freeing our karma and cultivation non-judgment (however we approach that), then we move beyond Kal, whether we remain in this realm or not.

   When an individual is initiated, the masters said to be able to replace Kal's function as far as becoming responsible for the working out of one's karma. But that does not mean we are 'free to go'. The master must still basically abide by the rules of the game, as these rules are ultimately there not as reward and punishment, but to serve an educational process. Those who have more consciously signed on to a spiritual path and will share in the process or working out their karma can be 'transferred' to another system where the lineage of enlightened souls can take over from Kal's role, but with greater personalized skill, wisdom, compassion and grace. And, as our planet becomes more evolved, some say, this system will spread to effect more and more people, that a new order in this regard is being 'negotiated' in our times, and is one of the implications of a new level of planetary consciousness that is claimed to be emerging gradually at this time, if such is true at all. We did not all ascend because it was 2012! Kal will not get on board with that plan! Nor would anyone who really understands the beauty of the system. But it is natural for it to move from stage to stage, system to system.

   Now that we have discussed Kal from a more or less psychological and philosophical perspective, let us examine him/it from a theological/spiritual one.

   Many advanced systems of nondual teachings like various forms of Hindu tantric lineages (Kashmir Shaivism, for instance, or Swami Rama's lineage), many forms of Mahayana and Vajrayana, Taoist schools, Shankara, and Blavatsky-Theosophy etc. embrace cosmologies that include various personifications of Cosmic Intelligences, including benefic and malefic beings. As a general classification, many traditions that would even be considered advaitists in particular and nondual traditions in general embrace, on a relative plane, the undeniable presence of a 'negative power', although theories of what they are and their origin may differ. Namkhai Norbu, for instance, describes doing practices designed to ward off and neutralize 'Dark Forces', Yogananda told Kriyananda at one point that the Forces of Darkness were 'thinning the herd' (their sangha), which would leave a healthier, stronger group when finished. One can glibly say its all one, there is not good or bad, but that is just 'bad' nondual philosophizing. Having said that, the drama between this type of polarity of light and dark, good and evil, does not extend beyond the causal plane. But below that it is a 'real' one and can't be ignored.

   Some think that the more one gives weigh to the thought of Kal, the more real he becomes, which would be true if Kal was not already real. But if Kal in some way or another represents something that is relatively real, then ignoring it may sometimes be like seeing a truck coming down the street and thinking that if I don't feed the idea, it will go away. On the other hand, undo dwelling on these things, not to mention paranoia and such about them, or delusions of heroic participation in battles and all, that is feeding or relating to the issue in problematic ways. The initiate has only to place his attention and heart with the Master; his days cavorting with Kal are over.

   Kal and the Sant Mat conception of the avatars

   As the reader may or may not already know, in Sant Mat an 'Avatar' is a manifestation of the 'negative' power, their sole job being to keep the lower realms of creation in balance and order. It is the Sants, the manifestation of the 'positive' power, whose job it is to attract and liberate souls. And because of this conceptualization, spiritual figures such as Ramakrishna are often relegated to a lower plane than that of a Sant. Or, as mentioned above, Krishna is considered to be an agent of Kal, and not the Supreme Lord as worshipped in Hinduism. But on inspection there are some problems with this Sant Mat distinction. Perhaps if one admits 'degrees' of avatars then the problem will dissolve. But for now consider. According to Pandit Arya (and others), there are two types of Avatars in Hinduism: direct incarnations of cosmic enlightened Beings, or reincarnating jivan muktas who, having attained union with God and are also now simply direct manifestations of God when they reincarnate, with no other purpose or will than God's. Ironically, that does not sound much different from the Sant Mat definition of a Sant or Param Sant! So the avatar business appears as possibly a straw man deal, where it is defined in the lineage's own way (not in line with the Hindu perspective) and then relegated it to a lower status. Seems kind of silly.

   Similarly, the 'inner planetary and cosmic hierarchy', or 'Trans-Himalayan lineage' (i.e., Babaji, Koot Hoomi, Hilarion, Serapis, Neem Karoli Baba, Buddha, Christ, Sanat Kumara, etc.) also appear to define liberation as attaining the realization of the 'fifth plane' (depending on how one counts the planes), beyond the bodies, beyond time and space. Certainly then also beyond karma and 'Kal'! So once again it appears inconceivable and absurd to believe the Sant Mat masters of the highest order do not understand and realize this. Further more, this was all talked about long ago in books like "The Voice of the Silence" in the context of using nada yoga to realize liberation as the 'atman', and so on.

   But - not so fast! On closer inspection one finds this extreme dualistic conception of the cosmos in Sant Mat to be perhaps a provisional teaching. For instance, as mentioned above, Kirpal Singh did mention that Krishna was acting as an agent of Kal in his role as an avatar. Elsewhere, however, Kirpal said:

   "When He [God] expressed Himself, from one He became many, and from the grand Sun in the Maha Brahmand came the Sound. This teaching was given by Ingris Rishi to the son of Devki, known as Krishna [as told in the Ramayana of Tulsidas, chapter called "Bal Khand"]...From the life of Lord Krishna we learn how he once jumped into the River Jamuna, where lived a thousand-headed poisonous snake. Lord Krishna won over the monster with the music in his flute, that is, the Music of the Spheres. It again indicates that to control the serpent-mind there is no other means than the Sound-Principle. The Lord is Soundless, but when He expressed Himself, this song came out of Him, and that Song will never cease." (Sat Sandesh, Nov. 1970).

   So here we find the implication that Krishna was a Master of the Sound Current. Is this a contradiction to the teaching that contrasts Sants and Avatars, or Positive and Negative Powers? Not necessarily. Sants and Avatars have different roles, but both roles are played by advanced, enlightened souls. Kirpal explains, "The Avatars themselves have a deep respect for the Saints, for they also followed a Guru, they also traveled the one path...Saints and Avatars respect each other, for both carry out the Lord's work in different ways. The Negative and Positive are both created by the one Lord...Both are necessary for the furtherance of the world's purpose..." (July, 1974; Ibid) And, one may add, sometimes even by the same being! As Kirpal tells us:

   "The Tenth Guru [of the Sikhs - Guru Gobind Singh] played the role of a Saint and an Avatar." (Sat Sandesh, Dec. 1974)

   This concept is entirely in line with the esoteric teachings of an 'inner Planetary Hierarchy', in which advanced fifth-stage and beyond Masters, and beings such as Christ and Buddha, are said to hold prominent positions. In fact, Guru Ramdas of the Sikhs was said to have been Master Kuthumi of the theosophists, as well as Pythagoras and Nagarjuna.

   The function of guiding and controlling of the universe is not just a negative one, of 'holding back souls', but a great sacrifice made on the part of cosmic beings for maintaining the environments necessary for universal evolution and the realization of the embryonic souls. Souls which are alternately said to: have 'fallen from heaven out of disobedience to God' (truly a beginner-level teaching when used in Sant Mat, and borrowed whole-cloth from the theistic religions), or souls/monads evolving their consciousness for the very first time, after a long passage through the kingdoms of Nature. [We confess, it is likely neither of these explanations is completely accurate due to the limitations of our dualistic language and fundamental ignorance, but the latter explanation is at least more in keeping with the maturing scientific intellect of modern man].

   28. Kal, Karmas, and Non-dualism

   Kal does make sense even in a nondual context. One way to look at the idea of dealing with Kal, karmas, vasanas, or samskaras is through the notion that basic spiritual cosmologies or sensibilities can be categorized into three general types. The most basic is the type that distinguishes human experience, especially human traits, into good and bad, the foundation of morality and right choice on the path. Understandings of what these values are, why we should believe in them, and how to practice them vary widely from one tradition and individual to another. But they are all based on a simple distinction of good and bad (or unwholesome, sin, evil). A basic sign of the maturity of a version of this level of spiritual understanding is how much this quality of discriminating wisdom is balanced with other qualities like acceptance, understanding, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. And how true is its understanding of the actual karmic significance of a given action or motivation. This is a vast subject, just understanding the ins and outs of this aspect.

   The next level can be called transformation, and is more 'esoteric', and in India and is most commonly associated with tantric teachings, including Tibetan Buddhism. In this view, the key thing that is different is that although the practitioner must have a clear foundation in the first level of distinguishing virtue from vice, ignorance from enlightenment (this cannot be over-emphasized), the distinction here lies in how that aspect is viewed that is considered 'evil', bad, unwholesome, problematic, a hindrance, obstruction, ego, or fetter. In the first stage view, these energies are seen as needing to be renounced, neutralized, detached from, let go of, and so on (less mature versions harshly judge, condemn, or damn these energies or those deemed to have too much of them). In the tantric view, however, these negative attributes are seen as not needing to be rejected or let go of, but rather can be transformed, which process alchemically release the soul within them, their hidden qualities, which subsequently enrich the practitioner. It's a bit like recycling or composting - no need to discard, lets get something out of it. Only with the tantric vision, we get wisdom and virtue out of it, not just recycled unwholesomeness.

   As a person matures on the path, they may transition to a more tantric vision (and sometimes corresponding practices) if either this naturally emerges, or they are taught this point of view. And it becomes not just a theory or philosophy, but something that is intuitively experienced. But there must be maturity. Chogyam Trungpa warned that tantra was a dangerous practice to teach, particularly the popularized version of sexual tantra (which traditionally required proficiency in kundalini yoga), especially in the West.

   In the third stage, which few people reach in a given lifetime, one can gain access to the non-dual view, at least in meditation, in which nothing is being perceived as needing to be changed, rejected, fixed, transformed, healed, or confronted (such as postiive and negative powers). Not that these were wrong views, but just that when the time is ripe, one can transition to allowing the last stages of realization to happen through resting in the non-dual view, which not only liberates one from further karmically unwholesome actions, but also transforms karma/elementals that remain as they arise in one's consciousness, as the power of non-dual realization illuminates the arising phenomena in each moment. As they say in Dzogchen, each vasana or samskara is 'self-liberated' as it arises in awareness. But the practitioner themselves does not focus on the need for this to happen, since, being in the non-dual view, they are already 'there' and feel no need to liberate karma. But on a relative level that can be said to be what is naturally happening anyway.

   In mature practitioners in the non-dual traditions that understand this type of process, one will continue to appear to function in the world as one who on a relative level is still mindful of the discriminative moral and tantric levels of experience (typically, except for the historical 'crazy' adepts), as a deep non-dual realizer is in a state that is not against these relative levels of one's nature. Just as they do not reject the body, but allow it to play out its nature, so they do not reject the personality of the practitioner, continuing to be mindful of morality, relative good and evil, dark forces, spiritual practices, the drama of gurus and students, everything. Nothing need be rejected of other stages and aspects of the path once non-dualism has been realized. There is no need to reject 'the path' (as folks like Krishnamurti claimed to), or 'teachers', or practices, or effort, and so on. Non-dual realization rejects nothing. It seamlessly integrates with and illuminates all of that. So inwardly the non-dual stage of the path is one of not identifying with all of that, while a mature actualization of it (rather than a personality that is not yet fully illuminated by non-dualism, and so has various reactions of misunderstandings about it) allows the outer expression of spirituality to go on as before. This also insures that you don't get realizers who think they have transcended everything falling back since there are still tendencies or vasanas that are not yet liberated that could pull them back.

   Namkhai Norbu made a succinct observation when he say that 'the highest practice is not the deepest one that one can conceive of or has heard of, but rather the practice that is most suited to one's stage'. That is to say, 'the highest view for each individual is not necessarily the non-dual, but rather the one that is most organically emerging for them, and can therefore most powerfully be integrated in their experience and practice. One of the most basic problems with the western non-dual scene is that many of the people running after that vision do not understand it well, are misapplying it in counterproductive ways, and really would be more skillfully practicing if they focused on one or both of the other two views as the primary vision, and cultivated non-dualism as a philosophical context and goal, rather than a current focus. Many are attempting to practice over their heads. Anyway, that's how I tend to see it. But, who is to say? Maybe I am just arguing for my own limitations....

   29. Kal: a few additional theological considerations

   As to how this all started, the Masters in all traditions generally steer disciples away from such questions, considering them as 'not conducive to edification,' 'first get out of the house before it burns down,' but let's be daring. There are two gnostic views, one positive and one negative. [Also two Garden of Eden views, which Garden of Eden story is found throughout the world. Only in Judaism and Biblical Christianity, interestingly - very interestingly -is eating of the tree of knowledge considered negative - no wonder there is so much guilt in that tradition and people! Everywhere else it is considered to be a good thing]. In gnosticism, which would include Kabir's Anurag Sagar (which there is even debate as to whether he actually wrote it - the Beas lineage has always made a big deal of its truth; Sawan recommended all satsangis read it), there are two views. One, we did something wrong and 'fell' down to this world as punishment, and, two, there was 'no fall,' the whole affair was one of getting knowledge and realization. Sant Mat, publically at lest, tends to hold to the view that we disobeyed God and fell from a certain inner plane - after which the Sat Purush cut a deal with Kal (who was made from him and works under his authority) to keep souls from immediately returning home: the guru could not do miracles, only hold satsang, etc., to win over souls to the path of truth, which ultimately is the triumph of non-dualism over dualism - which from the highest point of view might be viewed as still a relative teaching.

   Charan Singh, interestingly, answered someone saying that when we first 'came down' here, we had no karma, that God sent us here. Why, he couldn't say. The answer of Charan Singh may be slightly different than the punishment theory of Sawan Singh, although it is not uncertain. Some versions of the Kal story have suggested that the souls had a choice if they wanted to stay in Sach Khand or go down to explore the lower world, and 90% said they wanted to go. This suggests that the lower realms already existed before the 'disobedience,' and the giving of authority over the lower worlds to Kal. Thus, in this view Kal or MahaKal would not be Isvara or the creator of maya or relativity itself, but a power within relativity.

   The type of view that Kal or even Sat Purush is the Creator of maya or relativity itself is actually dangerously close to falling into dualistic scenarios that try to give meaning to relativity. This is inconsistent with radical nondualism, although many who have aligned themselves with non-dualism fall into this trap. Ken Wilber for instance has suggested that the nondual is transcendentally lonely and so projected relativity so that it would have something to love/relate to. This is not non-dualism, at least not according to the Dzogchen school. In Dzogchen they use a metaphor of a mirror. The essence of the mirror is emptiness, its nature is to continuously reflect, and its energy is the reflections that constantly appear and disappear in the mirror. The reflections are spontaneous manifestations that are inseparable from that which reflects them and from that which is the basis for reflection itself. There is no creation as is commonly (dualistically) understood. There are dozens of these concepts in various cosmologies, many of them embraced by those who in other ways consider themselves non-dualist. They just don't seem to realize that such creation or emanation or projection scenarios are not really compatible with their non-dualism. At first people beginning to see this will often feel a loss, another thing to let go of. But if one completes the process of surrendering these attempts to make positive sense of the whole thing and just settle more deeply into transcendent Being, one may find that this state is even more sublime, empowering, liberating and loving than the other scenarios. This is the opinion of some, and a difficult point, perhaps the most difficult point in philosophy and religion, one which the reader must deeply ponder for him or her self.

   A 'problem' with the view of Kal as the Creator of maya and relativity is, basically, that it is based on a Creationist view (!), which does not make sense from  a pure nondual perspective, but the above one is even more odd than others. It seems to take the view that all the universe came from a transcendent Reality in two manifestations, Sat Purush, the Positive Power, and Kal, the Negative Power. In this view, Sat Purush's nature is to liberate beings, draw them back to God, and Kal's function is to create the world of maya, and then try to keep beings trapped there. What is not clear in this philosophy is the notion that Kal is under Sat Purush's power, both of which are 'created' by the Transcendent Reality beyond. So what is their view of why all this would happen? The answer given is the usual one of 'lila', or divine play. And that may be as good as any for now. But why would the Negative Power be under the control of the Positive Power? Would that not mean that basically they are one? One gets the sense that, as Sant Mat arose in India in the context of India's Advaita traditions, yet is a bhakti movement that traditionally favors more dualistic or qualified Advaita views, that there is a mixing together in Sant Mat of elements of each in a not always very coherent or integrated fashion.

     If this being is the 'creator of maya' or the lower worlds as some schools of Sant Mat seems to believe (whereas others just say he was given dominion over the lower worlds, with Sat Purush being the real 'Creator'), therefore, it may not be considered to make sense to a nondual-oriented intuition. That does not mean that this being does not exist, but, viewing things in a non-dual light, things may inevitably be more complex than some of the Sant Mat philosophy suggests.

   Kal, by most Sant Mat explanations, is not strictly the creator of maya, but the 'regent' in charge of it. Therefore, if by 'Creator' with a capital 'C' they mean (and they do) the Primal Reality from which and within which all of the play of emanated levels of being and worlds takes place, that is, a Prime Reality which in its aspect of Supreme Power 'creates' out of itself both consciousness and phenomena - and, in a 'delegated', emanated fashion, souls, archangels, gods, beings of all types, higher and lower worlds, etc. - then there is room in this teaching to portray a most inclusive form of non-dualism, and the word 'Creator', stripped of its Middle eastern associations of a tribal God creating something out of nothing, is acceptable.

   All of this Kal talk may be relevant to other discussions, such as free will versus determinism, for instance. Eastern Orthodoxy explains our predicament as follows: God knows everything that ever was, is or will be. Therefore he knows, in fact, that a certain individual, for instance, may commit murder when he is thirty years old. But God does not force him to do so, i.e., we have a modicum of free will to choose good over evil. Elder Porphyrios says of this paradox that, in brief "...these things are very delicate matters and require divine illumination for a person to understand them.They are mysteries. What is good in nature is a mystery."

   So there is probably not much more that can be said. Elder Sophrony does add this, however, for us to ponder:

   "The ontological unity of humanity is such that every separate individual overcoming evil in himself inflicts such a defeat on cosmic evil that its consequences have a beneficial effect on the destinies of the whole world." (Elder Sophrony of Essex, St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 222)

   End of Kal discussion

   Two metaphors, therefore, seem to exist for the path to Truth. The most ancient is the emanationist one of the "ladder" or "ascent" to the highest or deepest realm of consciousness. The non-dual metaphor currently in vogue is that of the "bottom falling out of the bucket" or "the bubble of ego bursting" wherever one finds himself. Both of these in actuality are true, and represent different stages and aspects of the path, of which many aspirants and teachers ignore. Does the "Radhasoami" realization in Sant Mat produce a non-dual enlightenment? It seems that in some cases it may, in some case maybe not, as they seem to some extent, some of the time, to derive from different antecedent causes. The Gyan samadhis so criticized as only as "the highest human realizations" by the Sant Mat masters may not automatically become the experience of these Masters just because they fulfilled the complete course of inner inversion, and, therefore, only the rare Master in that lineage may have the means to make an accurate comparison, in my humble and hesistantly introduced opinion. On the other hand, Paltu Sahib, as mentioned earlier, spoke of listening to the sound while 'poised in Gyan Sanadhi'. And further, however, does the 'non-dual' enlightenment in traditional or popular Buddhism, Zen or Advaita last any longer than the body, unless the deep course outlined by the Sant Mat or completed Dzogchen Masters is fulfilled?

   Realization certainly doesn't seem to remain unbroken in its continuity, in either case, except for the most exceptional being, as even the masters and sages who choose to return to help others temporarily sacrifice their enlightenment when they assume a new body, and must spend some time regaining it (Sant Kirpal Singh called it a "refresher course"), although in their case the regaining is relatively assured.

30. The very way Sach Khand is described is paradoxical, however, so its claim to be a “spiritual” region may not be dismissed outright. Our language is a poor guage of reality, in the final analysis. Sach Khand, as a divine realm where souls see by their own light and recognize other souls and their Creator, is very much like the following description given by the great Sufi, Ibn Al ‘Arabi:

   ”A final spiritual intuition will show you our forms manifest in Him, so that some of us are manifest to others in the reality, know each other, and distinguish each other in Him. There are those of us who have spiritual knowledge of this mutual recognition in the reality, while others have not experienced the plane on which this occurs. I seek refuge in God lest I be of the ignorant.” (28)

   And also by Plotinus, on the realization of the Nous or Intellectual Principle, the image of which is the Soul:

   "A blissful life is theirs. They have the Truth for Mother, Nurse and Nutriment; they see all things: not the things that are born and die, but those which have Real Being and they see themselves in others. For them all things are transparent and there is nothing dark or impenetrable, but everyone is manifest to everyone interiorly and all things are manifest to the most intimate depth of their nature. Light is everywhere manifest to light. There, everyone has all things in himself and sees all things in others, so that all things are everywhere and all is all and each is all, and the glory is infinite." (29).

31. Generally, in Sant Mat there is no recognition or proposal of what Paul Brunton called "Short Path" practices to cultivate insight, as complementary to concentration practice, and to supplement the often long and dreary years of attempts at purifying the ego-soul so it can go "within" - such attempts which can in spite of themselves - without love for the guru - often reinforce the identification with the ego itself - prior to actual experience of the higher realms themselves, which through the power of the Word will progressively annihilate the earth-bound soul's fetters until it shines in its primal glory.. This is less likely for those who make themselves accessible to the company of a true master and develop love for him. Sometimes in Sant Mat this is difficult, due to the great number of disciples. This is one reason many are turning to non-dual teachers for what they feel is to be more direct, accessible, and practical guidance. The Upanishads themselves were the product of a few students sitting at the feet of the master until all doubts were resolved. This turning away from the path could be unfortunate, however, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Again, however, Paul Brunton explains that the mystical schools above all are the most likely to offer one method for all, whether that is suitable for an aspirant or not. There are several reasons for this:

   "The average teacher takes from his own personal experience what helped him most or what his own teacher led him to, and passes it on to the student as being "the Path," the only way to God, the sole method of arriving at truth - whether this particular way or method suits the individual type or his degree of development or not. He almost forces it on the student, even if it is contrary to the latter's entire temperament or need. The poor student finds himself locked up in his teacher's personal opinions and practices, as if nothing good existed outside them."

   "It is the mark of a well-qualified teacher that he adapts his advice to fit each disciple individually. If everyone is recommended to practise the same method irrespective of competence, his personal history and temperament, his grade of development or capacity, his character-traits and tendencies, in a number of cases it will be largely ineffectual."

   Again, the antidote is to go in all humility to the Master-Soul and tell him your problems; if he is a true master the help will be there. And if one reads closely, it will be found that in many cases an individual disciple may be put on a 'different path' by their master at the appropriate time. For instance, the paths of 'self-effort' and grace, and that of 'self-surrender' were plainly spoken of Kirpal Singh, and individually tailored paths were sometimes given out. It is also little known that Paramhansa Yogananda did not just teach Kriya Yoga, but also jnana yoga and others, depending on what was needed by a person. One advanced woman disciple of his was never initiated into the Kriya path, which he said was unnecessary as she had attained realization through jnana alone. Read the biography of Kirpal Singh on this website and the author's own story for examples of this sort of thing.

32. So at some point sages say that one must move from the practise of pursuing concentration on a projected ultimate object (i.e., God), with attention extended outside of the heart, and inquire or find the subject, and then the ultimate Subject. Supposedly this happens automatically through Naam bhakti. Zen Master Bassui (1338-1500), however, echoed Ramana:

   "What is this mind? Who is hearing these sounds? Do not mistake any state for Self-realization, but continue To ask yourself even more Intensely, What is it that hears?"

   There are hints here and there that even some of the Sant Mat masters recognized this. As mentioned previously, a disciple I knew, Judith Lamb-Lion, who confessed in Kirpal Singh’s company and was acknowledged by him to have gone to Sach Khand at her intiation, still asked him in private, “WHO am I?” to which Kirpal replied “WHO wants to KNOW?" It should be mentioned that Kirpal did not suggest this inquiry or practice to just anyone. This was a ripe soul who had also been taken to Sach Khand, and for whom the question still arose. Therefore we are talking of very high spiritual states. This would make sense of Ramana's comment:

   "It is said in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the first name of God is 'I'. 'Aham nama abhavat' ['I becomes the name']. Om came later." (31)

   'Om' here refers to the creative vibration or life-current, similar to Naam or Shabd in the Sikh or Sant tradition - except that, in the teachings of the Sants, the scope of "Om" is attributed to that of the lower three worlds only, which are the purview of the vedas and vedantic sages. Sar Shabd and Sat Shabd are said take one much higher and lead to liberation. On the other hand, the True Name is said to have come from the Nameless One as movement, which became vibration, out of which came Light, the Sun of Maha Brahmand and out of that came Sound, which could give weight to teachings whereby the Sound actually emanates from the supercausal region, and not nondual Sach Khand, per se. Ramana was quite adamant that eventually the quest into the truth of the Self is alone the direct path to the right awareness of the Self or realization. He affirmed that meditation is a preliminary aid to this quest for breaking up the idea of the body as the self, but that in all yogas, or stages of yoga, other than that of enquiry, it is assumed that there is an entity called 'the soul' pursuing that quest, which he says is a false assumption. In summary, for Ramana all yoga and meditation is just preliminary to the ultimate path of vichara or enquiry, wherein the source of the apparent ego-soul is realized as the Self. However, as shown in Part One, he also did concede that meditation on the sound could 'take you home'. In addition, as previously argued, the view that the subject discovered through inquiry is the ultimate Subject, instead of the Soul, is a traditional assumption of advaita vedanta, which may not be true. It may simply be a traditional inheritance we have received from an age when the teachings of truth were presented in only impersonal terms.

   Here is an example of how Ramana would direct his listener from a relative to an absolute viewpoint:

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Individual human souls are not the only beings known."

Question: "And the sacred regions Kailasa or Vaikuntha, are they real?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "As real as you are in this body."

Question: "Do they possess a phenomenal existence, like my body? Or are they fictions like the horn of a hare?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "They do exist."

Question: "If so, they must be somewhere. Where are they?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Persons who have seen them say that they exist somewhere. So we must accept their statement."

Question: "Where do they exist?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "In you."

   [Didn't Baba Sawan Singh say much the same thing?
   "Everything, including the Creator, is within you." ]

Question: "Then it is only an idea, which I can create and control?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Everything is like that."

Question: "But I can create pure fictions, for example, a hare's horn, or only part truths, for example a mirage, while there are also facts irrespective of my imagination. Do the Gods Iswara or Vishnu exist like that?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Yes."

Question: "Is God subject to Pralaya (cosmic dissolution) ?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Why? Man becoming aware of the Self transcends cosmic dissolution and becomes liberated. Why not Iswara who is infinitely wiser and abler?" [In Sant Mat, Iswara is situated lower in the scheme of creation than the Sat Purush]

Question: "Do devas (angels) and pisachas (devils) exist similarly?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Yes."

Question: "These deities, what is their status relative to the Self?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Siva, Ganapati and other deities like Brahma, exist from a human standpoint; that is to say, if you consider your personal self as real, then they also exist. Just as government has its high executive officers to carry on the government, so has the creator. But from the standpoint of the Self all these gods are illusory and must themselves merge into the one reality..."

   "Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non- existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?" (33)

   While that is so, the ego is not the soul. To realize the soul one must transcend the ego and co-operate with its death. So what some jnanis say is only half-truth and not gospel.

   33. Sant Darshan Singh said in one of his books that one doesn't get the first glimpse of true happiness until after transcending the fourth plane. In the highest and most true sense this may be so. At the fourth plane the soul stands with only the anandamayakosha veiling it. No doubt there is great bliss as one ascends to such a heavenly realm, and as the ray of the soul returns to its origin it partakes more directly of the nature of that source. Still, one may find it difficulty to accept or simply agree with that comment, no matter how pure and illumined Sant Darshan Singh was, which as far as I can tell few have walked the earth with as much sanctity as he. It is simply that other sages have disagreed with it. Therefore the question arises. True, it is certainly harder to be happy here, and it appears that there is a limit to human happiness, due to its transciency, but it also seems that the communication of such a view could reinforce suffering, in so far as the more one believes or thinks he must get out of the body, the more fixed the belief in the reality of the body becomes, for one thing. Japanese Buddhist Master Fuji, who sat with Kirpal Singh a number of times, was in obvious ecstasy, with a smile as wide as the room, while in this very plane. Kirpal was often that way, too. There is also the example of the emotion-filled exclamation Kirpal made to His master, "Huzur, the peace and security found while sitting at your feet can not be had in higher planes!" Unless this was just a devotional gesture one must question the nature of happiness itself. Does it shine forth while being without ego in the moment, or is it only attained in some far-off inner plane, in the psychological depths of consciousness? If one believes strongly in the reality of the body and world as real, which the very drive to get out of the body must reinforce (not that one should never pursue it), then necessarily one will project his ideal of happiness in that direction only and not recognize it any other way. According to some, that very disposition is a big stumbling block to liberation. Again, we refer to Brunton who wrote:

   "The notion that the truth will be gained, that happiness will be achieved, that the Overself will be realized at the end of a long attempt must be seen as an illusory one. Truth, happiness, and the Overself must be seen in the Present, not the future, at the very beginning of this quest, not the end, here and now...It is an error, although a reasonable one, to believe that attainment comes only when the whole distance of this path has been travelled. This is to make it depend on measurement, calculation - that is, on the ego's own effort, management, and control. On the contrary, attainment depends on relinquishment of the ego, and hence of the idea of progress which accompanies it. it is then that a man can be still; then that he can, as the bible promises, "know that I am God." (34)

   Ramana also declared:

   "What is meant by liberation? Do the heavenly worlds and heavenly bliss exist somewhere else in the sky? Are they to be experienced in some other world and some other body after leaving this world and the body? The heart alone is the supreme world. Tranquility, in the form of supreme silence, is alone the supreme bliss or the happiness of liberation...The cessation of all worries is the attainment of the supreme truth. By the state of inner consciousness the great life of supreme bliss can be attained at all times in this very world and in this very body." (35)

   Even Master Darshan spoke enigmatically about this, in apparent contradiction to his words mentioned above:

   "Eternal rapture is within reach in this ephemeral world:
    Devote your life to serving in the tavern."

   Perhaps we can understand Kirpal's statement above, however, as implying that a Master who has fully integrated his higher plane realization while in the physical body is by that attainment greater than those who have not yet done that, and for which he had reverence and respect for.

   It is possible that some of the Sant Mat gurus, then, might be generally and honorably classified according to the Lankavatara Sutra as "Transformation Buddhas", but not necessarily "Dharmata Buddhas" (such as perhaps Buddha, or Hui-neng), that is, those who do not publically teach the ultimate truth of the One Mind, but methods to help the most people they can from the level at which they find them (or simply in the capacity of initiating them into the practice of Naam, and guiding them to Sach Khand). Many of the greatest sages in history have mixed mysticism with philosophy, trying to help as many people as they could, such is their great compassion and universal vision. As vedantist V.S. Iyer wrote:

   "In Brahma Sutras Sankara says that Brahman is the cause of the world, whereas in Mandukya Upanishad he denies it. This is because he says that at the lower stage of understanding, the former teaching must be given, for people will be frightened as they cannot understand how the world can be without a cause, but to those in a higher stage, the truth of non-causality can be revealed." (37)

   As Hung-Jen (eighth century) said:

   “Throughout the canon, the Tathagata preaches extensively about all types of transgression and good fortune, causes and conditions, and rewards and retributions. He also draws upon all the various things of this world, mountains, rivers, the earth, plants, trees, etc. to make innumerable metaphors. He also manifests innumerable supernormal powers and various kinds of transformations. All these are just the Buddha’s way of teaching foolish sentient beings. Since they have various kinds of desires and a myriad of psychological differences, the Tathagata draws them into permanent bliss according to their mental tendencies. Understand clearly that the Buddha Nature embodied within sentient beings is inherently pure, like a sun underlaid by clouds. By just distinctly maintaining awareness of the True Mind, the clouds of false thoughts will go away, and the sun of wisdom will appear." (38)

   Comments like Sant Darshan's, however, that 'the Buddhists only go to the third plane' seem rather unjustified. With all due respect, one might ask, did he know 'all' Buddhists? Or make a deep study of the Buddhist teachings? The answer must be, "Not likely." Further, how would one recognize a Buddhist on the third plane? By his robes? To say that the Buddha, considered in some schools to be a planetary bodhisattva of the highest order, only had access to the level of what the Sants call the causal plane, seems unwarranted by any evidence, and may even suggest a certain degree of ignorance at the level of relative knowledge. Coincidentally, the Sants refer to the Surangama Sutra, where the Buddha tells of his realized disciples how they attained the "golden samadhi" through the process of 'intrinsic hearing', as evidence for the Buddha teaching about the sound current. The Buddha, moreover, went to great lengths discussing the realms of form, the formless realms, and the realizations 'beyond' these. It is highly unlikely that he would be fooled by a visionary experience on an intermediate plane such as the causal - as defined by the Sants (which would be 'the mental ' or higher mental' according to some schemas such as in theosophy). We have it on reliable authority that, curiously, in higher planes Master Darshan was in full agreement with the doings of ascended masters that he so criticized down below.

   Further, how could a master know everything there is to know of the vastness of the inner regions, and of the advanced beings there, without spending much time and specific 'research' therein - and even then? How hard if not impossible to know everything here on earth. Is it so cut and dried a matter of simply visiting and understanding everything? The inner regions are said to be not only vertical but even horizontal - and perhaps 'quantum'! The mind reels at such a conception. (Can we be certain that the sage knows anything more than that "everything is Brahman" wherever he goes? - as if that is not enough).

   The following quote is going to hurt. PB states:

   "The sage has conquered separativeness in his mind and realized the ALL as himself. The logical consequence is tremendous. It follows that there is no liberation from the round of births and rebirths for the sage; he has to go through it like the others. Of course, he does this with full understanding whereas they are plunged in darkness. But if he identifies himself with the All, then he can't desert but must go on to the end, working for the liberation of others in turn. This is his crucifixion, that being able to save others he is unable to save himself. "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, `And he was numbered with the transgressors.' Why? Because compassion rules him, not the ego. Nobody is likely to want such a goal (until, indeed he is almost ready for it) so it is usually kept secret or symbolized. Again: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (39)

   Ramana Maharshi and others, even Darshan Singh, have said the same, that they would come back again and again to help apparent other souls.

   As Kirpal said, "one bulb is replaced with another." Sant Mat believes the Satguru is an incarnation eternally present on the earth, "giving food for the hungry and water for the thirsty," as Christ said.

   There is some merit to the concept of a lineage, where each master watches each other’s back, so to speak, thus maintaining the purity of the transmission, even when a particular master is not fully developed. A teacher or Master may in fact still be a true and effective agent of Grace without the ability to advise one in all areas of life or practice; in such cases, one will inevitably be moved out of inner necessity to exercise and develop his intelligence in many matters and seek guidance, with all due love and respect to the primary master of his heart, from other sources as required, and without fear or paranoia about "Kal" or anything else. In traditional devotional paths this independence and self-reliance has usually been considered taboo, but in the age we are living in that is increasingly becoming a no longer viable or believable point of view. The Divine Mind seems to be leading us on a path of evolution and to develop all of ones faculties is part of that evolution. And there is a higher purpose behind this.

   To teach outside the religious and cultural expectations of tradition when needed requires skill, knowledge, and courage. Sant Kirpal did so, with some. Sant Darshan Singh, to his credit, seemed to be moving in that direction, but once admitted, bless his soul, that he “was old-fashioned”. Perhaps he was referring to personal moral codes and such, perhaps not. I was not his personal disciple so I cannot say. He did write that when all is said and done, one must come to the point of surrender. With that there can be no argument. But there is no question that the public message of Sant Mat in general continues to be simply “go in and up”. For some this works, but for many, apparently not so well. There are many, many souls who have meditated faithfully for years and been disheartened with the results. This may not all be attributed to a lack of patience and perseverance or the difficulty of the ordeal, although that can’t be ruled out. Hazrat Inayat Khan told a story of a man who had meditated for years and was disheartened with his progress.The man’s father told him that he practiced for forty years with the same result and was told to pray for a miracle. One day the miracle occured and he broke through into the light. In Sant Mat a big emphasis is placed oon the stage of man-making and the working off of karma. It is sometimes said that ninty-five per cent of the grace is withheld until the time of one’s death, and that is when one will see the full glory of one’s Master. Still, some ‘cash in hand’ is promised even from the beginning.

   In the July 2007 issue of Sat Sandesh magazine Sant Rajinder spoke about how we should meditate because we will see the glorious inner realms and have bliss and peace, and that another benefit is that we will see our relatives and realize that they, too, are in a better place of peace and joy. Now, at first glance, forgive me, when I read this I felt like saying, "What is this, how could he say such a thing? Doesn't it contradicts everything Sant Mat teaches about life after death, especially for the uninitiated? Kirpal Singh's book, Mystery of Death, does not promise that everyone just by dying is in a better place, at least not for good. You have some vivid but dream-like experiences for a while (with those not under the protection of the master and not very 'conscious' during life, passing in and out of the dream), perhaps as taught in certain schools do some past-life processing and even current karmic integration, but then eventually pass into a pleasant sleep, and then are reborn until you get it right or wake up. One isn't in the clear just by dying!" But after further contemplation, realizing the promise of the masters for protection of your dear ones for up to seven generations, I was also reminded of a story about Ramana Maharshi. A man came to him distraught about a son who had passed away. He wanted Ramana to tell him if he would see his son again when he died. Ramana didn't answer him, and the man relentlessly implored him to promise him that he would again see his son when he died. Finally after a long time Ramana said, "yes." When the man left, Ramana turned to one of his advanced devotees and said, "what could I say? If I had said "no" the man's faith would have been shaken to its roots."

   Sri Nisargadatta, in the midst of speaking about the point of view of the jnani, also confessed to using such consoling words when dealing with souls of less understanding:

"Q: Imagine you are ill -- high fever, aches, shivers. The doctor tells you the condition is serious, there are only a few days to live. What would be your first reaction?
M: No reaction. As it is natural for the incense stick to burn out, so it is natural for the body to die. Really, it is a matter of very little importance. What matters is that I am neither the body nor the mind. I am.
Q: Your family will be desperate, of course. What would you tell them?
M: The usual stuff: fear not, life goes on, God will protect you, we shall be soon together again and so on. But to me the entire commotion is meaningless, for I am not the entity that imagines itself alive or dead. I am neither born nor can I die. I have nothing to remember or to forget...
Q: How does the jnani fare after death?
M: The jnani is dead already. Do you expect him to die again?
Q: Surely, the dissolution of the body is an important event even to a jnani.
M: There are no important events for a jnani, except when somebody reaches the highest goal. Then only his heart rejoices. All else is of no concern. The entire universe is his body, all life is his life. As in a city of lights, when one bulb burns out, it does not affect the network, so the death of a body does not affect the whole."

   How many of us are interested in hearing the truth of the self for its own sake? Let us not judge masters too prematurely, for their message is given to many, many people of different background, understanding, and readiness. Paul Brunton wrote, and this may sting, too:

   “This goal must not be mistaken, however, for the orthodox Hindu or Buddhist goal of liberation from the cycle of rebirths. The philosophic aspirant seeks liberation only from mental and emotional bondage to the experiences of these rebirths. He does not hate earthly life nor desire to disappear utterly in the universal life. Unlike the ordinary Oriental ascetic or mystic he is content to come back to earth again and again, provided he can come back with wisdom, understanding and compassion, and participate effectively and selflessly in human affairs. For he knows that death and birth, earth and heaven, are but changes in idea, and that in reality there is one unchanging existence which is birthless and deathless and everlasting. The world is for ever changing, but the flow of changes is itself permanent. Therefore we can find the Eternal here in this world as well as in the supra-mundane realm...”

   “Ultimately we may continue to exist no longer as finite beings, only as the Absolute itself. The person is absorbed into its impersonal source. This deprives immortality of all human meaning. The instinct of self preservation holds us all in so powerful a thrall that we demand its satisfaction even after we have renounced the transient mortal life. For then there is no impress on the universal life, nothing to show in the vast void of the Absolute that the individual has even existed at all. But we as egos shall not pass into nothingness when we finish this pilgrimage from outward existence to inward Essence. We shall pass inwardly into a state where we shall not be involved in time space change as humanly known, a state where they become meaningless terms. This state is as undeniable by a being in it as it is impenetrable by those who stand outside it. But it exists. It is not annihilation, it is the fullness of being.”

   “From this final standpoint there can exist no such process as the cyclic whirl of reincarnation. All births on earth are then seen to be appearances of one and the same thing. The thing is known to be the reality, and its appearances are known to be its shadows. But before this high level is reached man thinks in his ignorance that he has a wholly separate existence from all other men, that he is a finite individual who must be born again and again on earth until he attains the being of the Overself, and that the Overself and he are two things, separate and apart.”

   Rajinder Singh also has said that merger in God is not the annihilation of ones identity, but rather immersion in all the love, joy, and wisdom of God.

  . So I sense that Sant Rajinder was speaking to someone or some particular group of people in his talk for which such a consoling message was a help. Sort of like "Mr. Rogers". Watching Mr. Rogers (God rest his soul) was a humbling experience. A cynical person like myself could never pull off what he did. He was incredible. So, too, the Masters have their amazing play and often there is little to say about why they do what they do. Sooner or later master-teachers say almost everything, to one person or another. In this instance, however, was such a statement of Sant Rajinder's the literal "truth" ? The answer is, for the Sant Mat initiate, it is said that their close relations and loved ones (even to seven generations past) are also given the boon of the Living Master’s help, and are not at the mercy of Kal, or the angel of death, the Lord of the three worlds within which souls recycle endlessly until they meet the Master.

   We are fully aware that some will cringe at what seems like the exclusivity of such a teaching, while others will shed tears of joy.

   From the point of view of the higher philosophy, it is all illusion. But it is as real as we seem to be.

   "Nobody is born or dies at any time; it is the mind that conceives its birth and death and its migration to other bodies and other worlds." - Yoga Vasishta

   33a. "Mystic Anubhava" vs. "Samyagnana"

   An important section - forthcoming

   34. Eradication of Karmas in Sant Mat

   Once more, there is the issue of purification of karmas, and/or vasanas or egoic tendencies to clear up. The general Sant Mat answer to this is rather unique. In the lineage it is sometimes said that the sanchit karmas, that is, the vasanas and karmas, from time immemorial are eradicated forever by the Master at the time of initiation. However, upon a closer look it is clear that this is a wrong interpretation. What they promise is that at the time of initiation the sanchit storehouse of karmas is transferred from the control of 'Dharam Raj', the Lord of Death, or the 'Lords of Karma', to the Master-Power for future dispensation, and the promise given is that the initiate will have no more than four more lives until he reaches Sach Khand. This in itself is a stupendous boon, as even the Buddha said that the "stream-enterer" would usually have up to seven more births. Obviously, if the sanchit karmas were completely eradicated, no future unenlightened births would be possible. The pralabd karmas, those making up this lifetime, are left alone, otherwise one would die at the time of initiation. The kriyaman (in Hinduism called agami) karmas are those one accumulates in this life from day to day by wrong living, and are supposedly kept to a minimum by meditation, moral actions, selfless service, and eating a vegetarian diet. It is said that if one does this adequately with full faith, then either during life or after death when the Master takes one through the pool of Manasrovar in the upper or supra-causal plane of Daswan Dwar where one sheds his causal body, all one's karma from time immemorial (already in the process of being burnt out or scorched by communing with the Shabd or Naam) are then said to be definitively wiped out forever. Otherwise, if this has not been reached, the accumulated kriyaman karma may require another birth to be purified.

   This will, no doubt, raise the hair on the neck of the confirmed advaitin, who may not even believe in the concept of karma. So be it. To them it might be said, "see you next life." Vedanta, however, usually does believe in karma. Additionally, however, on the path of Sant Mat it is also said that if one has no overwhelming desires left and is devoted to the Master, he may decide that you need not take another human birth, but can continue progressing from the higher planes. However again, it is also said that one can progress more rapidly on earth than up above (the analogy usually given is hundreds of years up there compared to a few years down here), and that is one of the reasons the Master may choose another more congenial-to-spiritual-progress human birth for the disciple. And there is a necessary preliminary process of "scrubbing" undergone by most disciples through the agency of the Master and Life itself:

   "The Guru may give happiness or misery, for he has to make a beautiful form from a rough piece of stone and therefor has to wind up the karmas; but a true follower will never complain, no matter what condition he has to face in life - no matter what hardships the Guru allows...The Guru does allow a long rope, in order to test the disciple's depth in the water, but he never leaves him." (Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, February 1972)

   The importance of the waking state

   Advaitic sages like Ramana Maharshi speak differently about this issue of karmas and samskaras: they say it is an (often long and drawn out) affair that must occur in the waking state, whereby the vasanas (tendencies or complexes) of egoity are scorched not exclusively by mystical inversion but rather by checking them in consciousness as they arise and returning consciousness to its source. That is, a process of recognizing that one's desire are fundamentally ideas, then, understanding that ideas arise from mind, and therein gradually overcoming attachment, objectification, and compulsive extroversion. This process, it is said, may and usually needs to go on even after the attainment of mystical experiences. That is to say, the consciousness, and oneness, must become stabilized or known under any and all conditions. It is easy to feel 'detached' from the basis of enjoying mystical states, but not so easy when in the body and not having access to such 'sweets.' The Sants often give the argument that the very reason for having a contact within, or mystical experiences, is to detach one from the 'outer enjoyments'. However, the world must then also be known (to be not separate from the Self), and not just avoided. So mere introversion is not a permanent solution. According to vedanta this is the purpose of yoga: to purify the mind and render it fit for inquiry into the Self. One can see how, in a way, the exclusive pursuit of inner experiences does not automatically purify the habitual tendencies, but may bypass of a necessary transformation of the lower nature. It depends entirely on an individual's particular needs how far that process has to go, but it seems likely that the important fixed habitual tendencies (vasanas) must be scorched while here in the body - even while the entire sanchit storehouse may be eradicated, as the Sants say, when the soul passes through Daswan Dwar on its upward assent. The point is that something is missing in our understanding if we think that there will be an automatic purification of all karmas simply be mystic meditation.

   The world is not separate from Atman, Self, or God, and it must be realized as such. How can one realize that it is not separate from oneself if he is always tending towards dissociation from it? This is the problem. Not only does the desire nature can transformed, but the cognitive tendencies or mental habits of objectification must be undone. That is to say, in blank trance there is nothing to know; only in the full waking state can one learn to see everything like a dream, as the mind's own creations, and then fundamentally as not other than oneself, i.e., that there is 'no second thing', or, as Kirpal said, "what you see is you." One other way this might be expressed, somewhat paradoxically, is to say that 'if you know the body is not real while in the body, then you really know it.' Or, 'if you know that you are not really in the body while you are in the waking state, then you really know it.' If you only know it when in trance, then the knowledge is not firm or clear knowledge. Might this all be one reason the Sants say it takes hundreds of years inside to accomplish what can take much less time on earth, that it is harder to see everything as a dream on the inside - as in fact there everything seems more real?! But is it? Here there seems a divergence: mysticism often portrays the inner realms as more real than the physical, while vedanta argues they are equally unreal. This is a huge topic....

   Everyone may face this in differently, we do not say one way or the other is exclusively true or the only way. I only acknowledge that in my own case, the freedom from desire experienced early on in my 'mystic' career pales in comparison from what has been growing from a lifetime of direct encounter, feeling, transformation, and understanding while really in the body, courtesy of my guru (for more, see "death of a Dream" in the biography section of this website). On the nature of desire,Vedantist V.S. Iyer states:

   "The reason of hunger or desire lies in the memory of the past satisfaction of the hunger or desire. This is repeated continuously. This is the process of the vasanas. There is no new creation really. The vasanas cause you to repeat the desires. Repeated imagination makes you a slave of the desire which has been re-echoed from the past; the desire is only imagination deeply rooted. This karma is created. When a man realizes at last that his desires are only ideas he is able to get rid of them. Until then they will go on repeating themselves."

   One can easily see that this is a somewhat different view on eradicating vasanas. However, maybe not so different if one considers that the Naam or Word itself to be of the nature of consciousness, and also experienceable both inside and outside of the body. The 'living flame of love' the mystics have spoken of can be said to drive out and package the impurities so that what was once an impenetrable mass of resistance comes out more and more in manageable, discrete chunks. Moreover, this purification process itself is only carried to fruition by the God/Master - and the entire cosmos, it is not something that the disciple or sadhaka can do by himself; the latter needs only to learn to cooperate with it. it is largely a matter of endurance. It is a humble and humbling process, as well as an art that takes time to get the hang of.

   Iyer also gives a philosophic interpretation of the bath in Manasarovar (Sanskrit: "manas-sarovar", or "lake of mind"). For Iyer, the world in front of us, including the body, is the lake of mind that one must be immersed in until he has firmly established that all is an idea, or a mental appearance. The epistemological argument goes: reality of matter is a guess; we can only known what appears in consciousness; therefore, everything is an idea. This understanding, he says, when adhered to moment by moment effectively dissolves the world into Mind, and one realizes in his understanding that he is Atman. This, he says, is equivalent of the religious pilgrimage to Lake Manasarovar where one takes his ritualistic bath before going on to Kailas. For Iyer, Kailas signifies Atman.

   To 'return to samsara', for Iyer, means 'to take this world as real.' Simply by dissociating from it or negating it may tell you something about the 'I', but does not eliminate this assumption of substantiality, nor will it tell you what the world is or in what it arises; only seeing, facing, and understanding it will accomplish that, according to vedanta.

   This interpretation of the importance of the waking state goes hand in hand with the meaning given by vedanta for the value of the human birth itself: only in such a birth is reason or Buddhi active, i.e., the faculty that discriminates truth from falsehood, the real from the unreal.

   Iyer makes no mention of the mystic interpretation of vasana-eradication as given in Sant Mat. Of course, because he was not a mystic, nor had mystic access to those transcendental realms, one might say that, as great a pundit as he was, perhaps his view was rather one-dimensional. We do not know the answer to this, neither having achieved permanent gyan nor having gone to Daswan Dwar. To truly 'eradicate' karmas is a great task, no doubt; even the path of true gyan is very steep with real requirements asked of its aspirants.   For more perspective on the nature of karma on the path of Sant Mat, please see this series of letters and quotes, by Sawan Singh, Kirpal Singh, and others, with explanation and commentary by this author.

35. When I sat before Kirpal Singh, one disciple complained that she couldn’t still her mind. On this path concentration (dhyan) is the sine qua non. Kirpal replied, ”that’s all of our problem!” Some would take that as a matter-of-fact reply, the point being that achieving stilling of the mind was difficult for everyone. Yet perhaps there was an additional meaning to Sant Kirpal’s remark. At the time my “dhyan” was being demolished! Later, I remembered this incident when I read the following words of the chinese master Hung-Jen:

   “The triple realm is an empty apparition that is solely the creation of the individual mind. Do not worry if you cannot achieve concentration and do not experience the various psychological states. Just constantly maintain clear awareness of the True Mind in all your actions.” (42)

   In the Dzogchen tradition the same approach is taken. Not concentration, but letting the mind be open and vast as the sky, neither rejecting or accepting thoughts. The only problem is that if one relaxes the mind prematurely, he will go into the subconscious mind and stagnate. That is why in most traditions the development of mindfulness or concentration, among other practices, such as the cultivation of the virtues, service,character building, are preliminary exercises or practice, and Sant Mat and even Dzogchen are no exceptions. Pure Dzogchen is a pinnacle practice for one who is already established in a steady state of non-dual contemplation; therefore, it is quite avanced.

   My experience with Sant Kirpal Singh was unique, to my understanding, and led me to feel that he himself may in a sense have transcended the conventional teaching of his lineage and realized Sat and Sahaj, for instance, independent of exclusive inversion. He once asked me if I wanted anything, if I wanted to leave my body, and when I replied (unknowingly, without much intelligence at the time, as I was a young man), “no, nothing,” he immediately got excited and said, “You're an emperor, I’ll kiss your feet, God is nothing!” A couple of days later I had a satori or kensho type of experience at his ashram, which he seemed to recognize and acknowledge, even though I didn’t yet know what had happened at the time. It was not mystical or psychic, or even an experience, but an instant of realization of the ego or person's unreality, even while in the body. Nothing had changed, and everything negative in me remained to be purified, but yet, everything was different. It was one of those infamous "non-events" the non-dualists are so fond of talking about. I knew this was something that never arose in any of my inner meditations before that moment, and could not have arisen as long as my attention was only rivetted on inner phenomena or their expectation. Kirpal, as stated, after giving a long and detailed description of the path to the final goal, once said, "you already are there, you just don't know it." To me this confirms he had a more complete realization than that conventionally elaborated in Sant Mat, and that Kirpal, like Rumi and Kabir, was among the higher gurus in that lineage.

   Ramana spoke of a tiny orifice in the heart which is normally closed, but when opened led to realization of the Self and happiness, here and now. This causal "knot" (granthi) is not automatically opened by the path of ascent, it seems, but rather the knot at the ajna doorway is opened. That is, the “divya chakshu” is opened, but not necessarily the “jnana chakshu” that Ramana talked about. That may or may not open depending on one’s background, prior understanding, etc. Otherwise the ego on the path of ascent "takes a bath" and is purified of gross attachment, but still remains intact as an ego-soul for some time until the soul shines in its pristine glory. Further, on return to the world ignorance to a degree reasserts itself, perhaps not in all, but in many cases. In Sant Mat, it is indeterminate when the knot at the heart opens. It is likely that the greatest of these Masters, such as Kabir, Nanak, Kirpal, and a few others knew the Truth, but this major distinction between the teachings regarding the heart versus the third eye (ajna center) is simply not given much recognition. Rather, the path of the sages is just dismissed as a lesser path, and left at that. This leaves many experiences unexplainable. On the other hand, it is likely possible for the jnana chakshu to open, on the path of knowledge, without the divya chakshu or the heart chakra opening to any significant degree. Perhaps for both to open would be best.

35b. A brief exploration of some other differences between yoga and Vedanta

   This section is not well-honed or fully worked out, but just some observations and suggestions for further consideration.

   It has been said by some that in the yoga schools as well as Samkhaya [one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy] thought is only given to the experiences of the waking state, whereas in Vedanta thought is given to all the three states [waking, dream, and sleep]. Thus, in Sant Mat, for instance, attention is given to the eye-focus, ‘the center of wakefulness’ the body, whereas in the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, for instance, the ‘I’-feeling or ‘I’-thought, individuality or ego is to be traced to its source in the heart, where it is said to arise, rather than let it be re-born or escape to higher worlds via the ajna-center. In the process one attains to a condition of ‘wakeful-sleep’, which is said to be sahaj samadhi, self-realization or liberation. And in this realization it is suggested that the entire ‘inner subtle tour’ of the Sants may be bypassed, all of the inner planes as such being various states of wakefulness.

   The example is given (The Power of the Presence, Part One, p. 77-78) of the death of a disciple of Ramana named Palaniswami:

   “Palaniswami was in the throes of death, gasping for breath. Bhagavan sat near him with his right hand on his chest. Palaniswami’s breast became soft and Bhagavan took off his hand when he felt a quivering within Palaniswami’s chest. This, Bhagavan has said, is the sign of life becoming extinct in the body. But when Bhagavan took off his hand, at that very moment, Palaniswami’s eyes opened. ”I thought he would subside at the heart, but he escaped,” Bhagavan remarked, adding, “That is said to be the sign of one going to higher states of spiritual experience, though not immediate merger at the Heart.”’

   “Bhagavan later declared that Palaniswami had taken birth in one of the higher deva worlds….Having learned from this experience, Bhagavan successfully brought about the liberation of his mother in 1922 by using the same technique. Bhagavan described what happened when he put his right hand on his mother’s chest and his left hand on her head:

   ‘It was a struggle between mother and myself. Her accumulated tendencies of the past (vasanas) rose up again and again, and then and there got destroyed. Thus the process was over and peace reigned supreme. I feel the last quiver of the heart, but did not take my hand off until it completely stopped. This time I was careful, thanks to my experience with Palaniswami, and saw that mother’s prana (life) got completely merged at the Heart."'
(The Mountain Path, 1975, p. 206)

   Some questions arise from this:

   The quote says that the mother’s prana was completely merged at the Heart - what of the consciousness (attention), which the Sants say is distinct from the pranas?

   (2) What about all the souls that Ramana didn’t serve in this capacity? Including those who had realized the Heart - were all their vasanas eradicated? So here, as in Sant Mat, the grace of a Master are certainly required

   (3) In Sant Mat, the departed soul is not alone ‘in a deva world’ after death, but accompanied/linked with the sound current and the Master

   (4) The process in Sant Mat is one of death-by-stages: physical ego to astral ego to causal and so on. There is a death ‘at each stage quit by the soul’, the ‘sun setting here and rising there,’ - the usual ego does not simply ‘escape’ to higher worlds as it is.

   Still, the example does imply Heart-realization can bypass the inner journey through subtle planes.

   But, is the reality that much different? Kirpal Singh said some initiates would go ‘direct to Sach Khand,’ not stopping along the way, and also, that ‘once one had implicit faith in the Master, He was commissioned to at once take that soul to Sach Khand.’ Is not Sach Khand or Sat Lok actually then the Reality beyond the waking, dream (subtle), and sleep (void) stages? Or not?

   For Vedanta, Brahman or the Self is the substratum of all three states. It exists through all the three states, is their basis, and in fact is them upon realization, and also remains when these states are no more. Whatever is, always is. Therefore, in deep sleep when there is no individuality, the Self still is, and therefore, individuality is not real. This means the soul that would venture into other worlds is also not real - now, not just after it reaches a God-World after a long course of ascended meditation.

   This may or may not be in conflict with a correct interpretation and experience of what Sant Mat proposes, but it does appear to vindicate the idea that realization can be had here and now, without leaving the body.

   Sant Mat teaches that in sleep the attention or soul as it were, goes down to the gullet and one is in an unconscious state. However, Vedanta would say this spatial reference is so only with reference to the experience in the waking state, and not in sleep per se. In sleep one does not say or know that he is in the gullet or anywhere else. Vedanta says the waking state cannot be used as a proof of the sleep state, and therefore, the logic of Sant Mat on this point is lacking as it does not take into account the three states.

   This is very important point but it is also very very subtle to grasp.

   In sleep there is no individual, no world, and no God; so it is with the Self or Brahman. And Brahman, being always the case, can it not be realized anywhere and anytime, and to after a long passage through various stages of experience?

   We are not saying one system is better or higher or more complete than the other, only that some explaining is necessary to correlate them. Vedanta will not easily be dismissed, in our opinion, by stating that in sleep attention goes down into the body somewhere - the question is the nature of the experience in all three states, and what that tells us about reality.

   For Vedanta the waking and dreams states are both considered waking states - as are all the higher plane experiences, at least until the so-called ‘causal’ level. But here is another apparent problem: it is quite clear that ‘causal’ in Vedanta and ‘causal’ in Sant Mat are not equivalent. For Vedanta [and traditional Yoga], ‘causal’ is equivalent to the void of sleep, whereas in Sant Mat ‘causal’ is described in terms that imply it is a higher subtle plane. And after that there is the ‘super or supra-causal plane, and a void. Perhaps the meaning or significance of the void of Maha Sunn in Sant Mat is the same as the causal void of the other systems. If so then in the transition to Sat Lok a last act of discrimination or vivek turns this apparent void of non-being into the Self. This is a different way of looking at things than the idea of a soul reaching a higher world that is distinct from its own being. In other worlds, for Sant Mat it seems as if the emanated worlds are taken to be real, whereas for Vedanta all emanation is an appearance of the Self, and non-existent when the Self is realized. All so-called bodies including the mind are not more or less adventitious vehicles, but rather upadhis or adjuncts of the Self, not real and even non-existent (for the realizer) upon realization. The same logic goes for the mind. When enquired into it is seen as non-existent or unreal. In Vedanta, therefore, the mind is only a function of the Self, it is not a real thing. For Sant Mat, the mind is real, as it is said to be ‘left behind’ in Par Brahm, the mind’s ‘true home.’ This doesn’t seem to be a trivial distinction, for the sadhanas differ significantly.

   On the other hand, the task of the jiva is to reach total surrender, i.e., ‘death’ - we may worry about what comes next after that, whether higher planes or ‘only’ the Self!

   So the question arises: “are there real differences, or only temporary differences, in perspective, points of view, and languaging, as one approaches definitive and lasting realization?”

   We go no further here as this is much beyond our capacity.

   36. Siddhis, and a discussion of Sant Mat's place among other traditions: a proposed model

     First, I acknowledge that I had help on this section, from the same person who helped me with Part Two of this four-part series of articles.

   It is common knowledge in many traditions that powers will arise spontaneously as the result of spiritual practice. In addition, one can engage in specific practices (again which many major traditions teach, but not all) to develop siddhis. Jack Kornfield says in Living Dharma (Living Buddhist Masters) that of the dozen or so teachers he studied with in Asia, virtually all of them were also reputed to have not only mastered all the jhanas, but also the various siddhas as well, most teachers and bodhisattvas finding that siddhas, when used without ego, enhance ones ability to serve. Of course, great debate rages about the appropriate place of siddhas on the path, but most traditions embrace a willingness to cultivate them when motivation and wisdom are mature enough.

   Although the development of siddhis or supernormal powers are warned against in all traditions of authentic spirituality as something not to be cultivated by yogic means for their own sake, there is also a belief that on certain paths that the siddhis are not only possible from 'ordinary' practice, but that also by a certain stage they will all be fully available spontaneously. Sant Mat would be an example of this. Sri Nisargadatta's way would not, as he acknowledged that such powers 'require further training' - although, even in his case, as in many holy persons, seemingly miraculous things happened around him. Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda's guru, asserted this view of the automatic development of the siddhis in the Holy Science, but many others schools and teachers have also said something equivalent. In particular, the more 'tantric' orientations that embrace the notion that the deepest realizations are those that will come from fully integrating realization into the lower bodies, transforming them profoundly so that gradually various phenomena will arise like: glowing, changes in need of food or sleep, slowing or stopping aging, unfoldment of siddhas, and the Body of Light. Not everyone will get all of these at advanced stages. Many people have also intentionally rejected their development. You may have heard that when Ramakrishna began to glow significantly, he asked Kali to make it go away, for he wanted people to seek beyond the surface. The Buddha is reputed to have rejected the development of many signs of deep transformation as he did not want to be deified. The Sants are said to be bound by the Sat Purush not to win over souls through the display of miracles, although it still manages to happen from time to time! Ramalingar allowed these phenomena to arise, but became disappointed when his followers become focused on him and his 'divinity', telling them that they should not, that he was just one of them, and to not get distracted from their own awakening. he then locked himself inside of a room and disappeared! So clearly we cannot use the emergence of these signs or not as a sign of realization, for many without them are very realized.

   Many and perhaps any genuine path can lead to these developments, but some are more likely than others. Paths including a tantric or transformational and descending/integrating approach, as well as an interest in service, tend to be ones more likely too. One of the reasons for this is that the siddhis are powers latent in human nature, and are generally part of our body (including subtle ones) nature, as opposed to our consciousness aspect. They are Shakti rather than Shiva manifestations. Those paths having a strong leaning towards Shiva or realization, consciousness, wisdom paths, are among those less likely to as easily generate siddhis spontaneously. But paths that include or emphasize the Shakti aspect such as Hindu tantric/kundliini paths, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Qi gong (which has spiritual levels), Daskalos (a western Greek master with extensive knowledge and teachings about the inner realms), and such, work more directly with bodily energies on various levels, and are therefore more likely to awaken their latent powers. Coming back to Sant Mat, not only would Sant Mat masters be likely to have siddhis (even if they chose not to display them openly) because not only do they achieve the levels of realization where they would come spontaneously, but they also approach the path by a method that has elements in common with classic tantric paths. This is a vast topic, and a risk of misunderstanding is taken by treating it so cursorily here, but the inner light and sound, in some of the more esoteric tantric traditions, are considered Shakti/kundalini expressions. So those that meditate on them will be attuning to the Shakti or emanatory aspect of the Absolute.

   Now we propose a model for comparing/classifying different teachings and schools. Imagine a triangle with the Unnameable, Inexpressible Absolute, the Tao, the Dharmakaya, Anami on the top, then Shiva and Shakti on the bottom left and right. These are the 'relative' principles of Consciousness and Energy, Purusha and Prakriti, that for now we may consider as 'emanating' or manifesting from the Absolute. Some paths lean one way, some the other, and some are more balanced. Shiva paths emphasize wisdom, discrimination, realization, mind, knowledge, consciousness, awareness, awakening, and enlightenment. These, in what might be considered a 'watered-down' form, are currently very popular in the Western world among many of the newer teachers of non-duality. Shakti paths (first introduced in a major way the West in the 1960's-1970's) emphasize energy, body, feeling, passion, phenomena, love, and so on. Most advanced tantric inclusive paths like Tibetan Buddhism or Swami Rama's lineage, marry these two aspects in a more integral approach. If the emphasis is on things like realization, wisdom and inquiry, then siddhis are slower to develop because that aspect of our nature is being detached from, or 'seen through'. But with Sant Mat, not only is the leaning towards devotion/love/surrender, but the form of the practice is to attune to the essence of the nature side or Shakti. In the difference between mind and body (shiva and shakti), mind has insight, realizes, while body feels and does. In our feeling aspect, in our senses, we emphasize three major senses to experience nature, whether physical or subtle - we touch, or see or hear. So there are two types of Shakti practice - active, such as pranayama or tai chi, and receptive, which would be sensory. We know that Sant Mat does not prefer to emphasize the active, motor currents, so the emphasis in on the sensory currents. These are reflected in the three meditations of that tradition - gazing, bhajan and shabd (the one active method is simran).

   The finest manifestation of shakti is inner light and sound - where meditation on these will lead to unity with the Positive Power, or the Shakti aspect of God. Then the Sat Purush or Positive Power will take one beyond into the Realization/Shiva aspect within, with the Eternal then spontaneously revealing itself as It is, and also, if allowed, re-integrating itself deeper and deeper into all of the bodies and planes as it descends. It is as if the light and sound are the outer form of Saguna Brahman, with its pure Realization (Nirguna) aspect being 'behind' that, just as our minds and souls are within our bodies. This leads to the pure, complete non-dual realization. So, tantric traditions also use the light and sound, but rather than having a bhakti emphasis and so focusing primarily on these are expressions of Deity, they also include seeing them as kundalini and may work with them in other contexts as well. For instance, Swami Veda Bharati, a successor of Swami Rama, taught that in the Himalayan Advaita/Tantric lineage that he and Swami Rama were part of, the first stage of initiation was raja yoga practices like yama, niyama, asanas, and pranayama, along with mantra initiation. The second initiation, after adequate purification, would begin work with kundalini. He said that in their tradition 'the kundalini is a force of divine light and superconscious sound', and that beyond that stage, meditations would focus on 'light, sound, and chakras'. The third initiation would be their equivalent of direct transmission of nondual realization as in Dzogchen, leading to advanced meditation. He described this stage as beginning with direct transmission - 'the tremendous explosion of consciousness on a cosmic scale that takes place in such initiations has to be experienced to be believed, and the power to confer such Light resides only in a few hands. The initiation my be given by the touch of the hand, with a glance, or with a burst of mental energy. The degree of the height and intensity of initiation depends on the disciple's ability to withstand, contain and later slowly assimilate into his nervous energy the shock of the divine energy.' During this stage meditation on inner light and sound transitions to being beyond the body, and continues into higher worlds. There is also a four stage of initiation as well, which they don't talk about openly. The goal in this tradition is sahaja samadhi, and comes from a blending of Advaita/realization and shakti/kundalini approaches. Again, in a path like this the siddhis are more likely to arise at an earlier stage, especially since they are latent in the body/feeling/shakti level, and they are using practices that attune to these in various ways including chakras and subtle light and sound.

   Sant Mat may not explicitly embrace the tantric philosophy, and many of the elements that are associated with the various and many more tantric styles (chi gong, Taoism, Vajrayana, hindu forms) such as breathing practices, chakras, and so on. But they do meditate on what these traditions (at least many of them) would consider to be a manifestation of Shakti or kundalini (which does extend into the subtle world all they way up to its emanating source, whether we call it MahaShakti, the Holy Spirit, Sat Purush, or Shabd Brahman. So, in the context of this perspective, an advanced practitioner of Sant Mat would be expected to inevitably also develop all the siddhis because not only do they get them from adequate God-consciousness in general, but also that they are absorbing themselves in the Positive Power that is Shakti that is the source of all the power of nature, normal or paranormal, physical or subtle.

   How a master manifests their realization, however, will in considerable part be dependent on the type of path that they are practicing/embodying for that incarnation. Each path has its strengths as well as areas that are less developed. So it becomes very tricky to compare masters of different paths. And just because a path does not explicitly focus on some element like nondual wisdom does not mean its adepts will not come into that realization in a round-about sort of way. It may not be the most efficient way to be directly initiated into that aspect of spirituality, or to cultivate it. But it is not necessarily going to be totally lacking, though it might be given a different spin depending on their philosophy and approach.

   To fully compare paths requires working from a comprehensive understanding of spirituality as a context, one that will allow us to put each path in perspective. In doing so there are many, many components that have to be evaluted in order to look at each path and how it is a unique combination of various components. Then in that context we can also have a better understanding of what 'type' of masters are the product of that path. This is further complicated by the fact that people will bring to a given path components that are built into their own nature, which are not strong or explicit on that path, and so give their own unique spin to that path. For instance, clearly Sant Mat is not particularly a jnani path, yet some within it (both masters and students) have that inclination in their nature. So they bring that to their involvement with Sant Mat, which some people feel enriched by, and others confused or threatened by. So there is the basic soul or nature of a given path, and then there are those who bring a different spin to it, so they that break the mold. They may be reformers, or outcasts! Or both.

   Some of the components that one might use to evaluate and compare paths would include: primary philosophy (like Dvaita, Advaita, Vishishtadvaita); and Shiva leaning, Shakti leaning, or balanced; jnani, bhakt, tantric, karma, etc. Also whether emphasizing inversion, integration or both. Outstanding virtues emphasized like wisdom, discipline, technical skill, love/compassion, devotion, surrender, creativity/expression, equanimity/detachment, and so on. At another level there are more comprehensive archetypes that underly a spiritual path, which bring together some of these different characteristics.

   Although Sant Mat includes elements from the Shakti aspect, it is not as rich in that area as Dzogchen or other rich tantric paths, so the emergence of siddhis may not be as efficient (also less dangerous therefore), and generation of the Body of Light is unlikely, and so on. But, another component of a path is the depth to which they appreciate the central component of grace, and it significance on the path. Tibetan Buddism/Dzogchen does deeply appreciate this, but there are many facets to it, to this wonderful attribute of the divine. Shabd yoga is a profound and unique contribution to the appreciation of this aspect. But the tradition of the realized guru's grace is a very ancient and universal one.

   None of the existing traditions have it all, and they all need to be matured further, part of which comes from blending with other truths. There is a profound place, for instance, for 'inversion' practices in a larger, planetary spirituality. And the Buddhist versions are a good contribution to these, but perhaps not their greatest strength. Sant Mat may understand certain truths about this much better than Buddhism.

   The central strength of especially Mahayana Buddhism is its penetrating insight into nondualism, its appreciation of the power and greater enlightenment embodied in balancing love and wisdom, and its middle path and integrated presence (rather than trance) approach to spiritual development. On the other hand, the significance of the inner light and sound is profound. It is one of the great under-appreciated truths in our times. Sant Mat is carrying a relatively clean, simple but profound version of that truth in the context of the world's spiritual traditions. That is its world Dharma. There are other pieces that are not as well expressed in Sant Mat, or perhaps some at all, really. But that does not diminish the beauty of what it does express. In the centuries ahead there will be an increasing blending of these truths into a greater world spirituality.

   37. A Summary of Non-Dualism as the Heart of Any Path

   What characterizes a profound 'integrated' nondual realization? In our opinion, it is an experience of the relative dimension of matter and mind (even very formless mind), and its gross and subtle forms of dualism (distinctions of planes, elements, mind and matter, soul and bodies, etc) from a profoundly integrated nondual state in such a way that a type of 'realization' arise that 'rebirths' one's interpretation of all that in the light of nondualism. Put simply and 'mystically', it would be to say 'all is one', or 'it is all God' or 'Buddha-nature'. Put in a way that naturally cannot really be put into words, it also can include a way of realizing all of that in an integral wholeness where it is all comprehended in a new way but without dualistic categories. There is no longer an experience that mind and matter are distinct - yet one sees a continuum of continuity of a reality that is both mind and matter, so there is a simultaneous realization of its oneness (a single substance neither mind or matter) and a spectrum of manifestations. In such a state one does not need to 'go out of one's body' to be deeply present to all 'planes', and can still appreciate the 'levels', but in a radically different way. Separative dualism is liberated into a new state of realization. Some have tried to talk about this by picking one side of a polarity and saying that is the only reality, and the other side is unreal. Ad example of this is the 'Mind-Only' school. But that is just a limited attempt to put in human concepts and terms something that transcends all that. But it does help get the idea across that there is a state where it is integrated. The 'Matter-Only' school is a bit like saying 'it is all empty' - which is to say, that even mind and individuality is like matter, a bunch of 'heaps', stuff with no real 'mind/soul', etc. One says matter is really just a form of mind, the other says mind is just a kind of matter. But the radical nondual truth is that you cannot reduce one to the other, and they are both dualistic ways of looking at something that, when viewed nondually, retains the essence of both yet translates them to a level at which those essences are fully integrated into a total reality. Perhaps the closest one can come is to say it is a 'unity-in-diversity' realization while simultaneously realizing the nondual foundation of both unity and diversity - a 'three-in-one' realization. Then 'planes' (which is a view that tends to lean towards 'matter') are not places to go to, but also 'states of mind' and can be accessed from anywhere, and all at once or 'separately', though in the later case, their nondual nature will still be foremost, so a given plane will still be experienced as interdependent with all the other planes, and inseparable from the primordial Reality.

   38. Sant Mat visualized as a true Non-Dual Path

   This subject has been discussed in some depth in Part Two, but there is a bit more to be said. The current impression among newer teachings is that paths such as Sant Mat are indirect, dualistic and other-worldly, and therefore not truly non-dual. That they assume a separate self, and its meditation only reinforces that assumption, and also proposes a superhuman task that few are capable of. There are several reasons why this conception is invalid. Briefly, the notion that bhakti and devotion are ultimately illusion, as there is only the One, ignores that from the plane of relativity they are not illusion, but a natural means for most people to transcend self and connect with Truth. Even the venerable late Shankaracharya of Kanci frequently admonished students of his not to shake the faith of simple bhaktas by asking too technical of a nature of questions in their presence. This staunch Vedantin recognized the power of faith and devotion. Kirpal Singh used to say, when referring to the many poor villager Satsangis in India, "I love them, and they love me: no technology required." This delicate quandry regarding faith is, in fact, is a dilemma for me in writing this entire, long dissertation - it is my appointed task, but then this is not for the simple, but for those with many questions whose need draws them to find this website, as all questions must be fulfilled eventually once they arise. They are not wrong or just a distraction. They are part of the divine plan, too. The divine wants to be known and loved. All true desires and questions must be fulfilled in due course. In the meanwhile, bhakti is somewhat out of vogue in the West to a large degree, due to the current rise of non-dual jnana-style teachings, but its human naturalness and efficacy is all too often simplistically overlooked.

   Second, all great traditional masters, including Swami Sivananda, Sankara, Ramakrishna, Ramana, Milarepa, Gampopa, Huang Po, Anandamayi Ma, and Sant Kirpal Singh, to name a few, have proposed basically a two-stage process of inward concentration and aspiration towards an ideal, achieving disidentification with the world and merging with a higher principle - the divine soul - to be naturally followed by realization of a wider, omnipresent reality - Oversoul - wherein one reintegrates and includes all that has been disidentified with. The first stage is establishment of a higher center than the dispersed condition that has become habitual, but which is not the final stage, and is moved beyond once attained. This stage or its equivalent on different paths can not be bypassed, as many seem to think these days. Otherwise one is left with a 'husk without the kernel', and disparagement of the realization of the soul or inner essence as those of the 'talking schools' often are, glibly dismissing it as just 'ego'. And third, the 'Divine Intermediary Liberating Presence within Relativity' - the Shabda-Brahman, whose embodiment is the Master, is the great means that makes this possible and relatively easy for the apparently 'separate' aspirant. In truth all that is required is faith in its beneficent grace and all-accomplishing power.

   Moreover, in Sant Mat there is a great, almost hidden paradox involved that is worth recognizing. While it is taught as a path of inversion and ascent to other planes, the mystery is that as one aspires to simple devotion, and higher, ascended realities, in actuality the divine grace descends, more and more. Even if one has not actually and literally 'ascended', the divine grace really descends and assumes, overtakes, or infuses the very body-mind of the devotee! In the process inner and outer, higher and lower become one and inseparable, as one blissful intensity. The Master Power, given a fair chance, by simple co-operation and faith on our part, quite naturally creates, evokes, and establishes divine knowledge and understanding in the disciple, in stages. And if one in fact has gone inside to any degree, he returns with an amrit, not unlike the 'amrita nadi' spoken of by Ramana Maharshi, where there is felt to be present an eternal and infinite spire of Light and Sound while the mind lies formless in the heart. Thus, this is a non-dual path when understanding or devotion is fully established. The fundamental tasks appear many, but at heart there is only the surrender in trust to that Power and Being which in turn transforms the disciple and from which he is inseparable. As Soamiji Shiv Dayal Singh wrote:

   "Into my own head have I taken thy worry; so do not thou worry but cherish thou love. Leaving all doubts, thy love do thou make firm, and have staunch faith. This practise [of shabd] I'll get done myself, and into the Durbar [court] of the highest Absolute Lord shall I take thee. This I do as and when it is my Mauj [Will]." (43)

   The mystery is that this 'Durbar' is both a realm and an ever-present reality.

   39. Conclusions

   With respect, we humbly implore the Masters that any remaining mystique surrounding Sant Mat should be let go, that they speak openly and plainly, as was done in ancient days, for the good of all. The Tripura Rahasya states:

   "The best among sages can, without hesitation, give complete answers on matters relating to Realization and the sublimest truths. He seems to be spontaneously animated when discussing matters pertaining to jnana (knowledge) and is never tired of their exposition." (44)

   Similarly, the sage Yajnavalkya has been taken as a model of the ideal teacher since the earliest times:

   "He exemplifies a major characteristic of the guru, namely, to teach fully, holding nothing back. Although different teachers use different methods, the authentic guru holds nothing in reserve; he teaches all that he knows and experiences. According to the texts, Yajnavalkya exposed principles relentlessly until understanding took place. These early teachers, though their teaching was frequently obscure and esoteric, were not part of a closed society. There was no fear of a free exchange of ideas even among the teachers themselves. Above all, they were concerned for the lineage of sacred wisdom and the necessity of its transmission." (45)

   V.S. Iyer writes:

   "Sankara was extremely precise and careful in his choice of words. He was no fool in writing...[He] stressed the great importance of freeing our use of words from all ambiguity...Sankara himself has warned us not to use ambiguous words." (46)

   In contrast, the history of the Radhasoami movement, unfortunately, since the time of Soamiji has often been one of being encouraged not to ask difficult questions (although I have to admit that my master, Sant Kirpal Singh, said, "bring me your worst question!"). Yet too often the advice is, "we shouldn't ask such things," "we can't know such things," etc.. I will give but one example to illustrate my point, a very important one, in my opinion. In Sant Mat, there is mention of there being "marked souls," those with a moharchap on their foreheads, indicating they are to be chosen for initiation and eventual return to Sach Khand. There is even at least one mention in the New Testament of such a stamp on the forehead of the elect. While this is surely not entirely untrue, although, one may well ask, it begs to be understood in a modern way. Kirpal Singh often said, "the man in whom the question of the mystery of life has arisen is fit, I tell you." That is the essential requirement. The following, however, is an example of a statement on this point, with references, made by an angry Beas follower about this topic and its consequences. One will see its essentially drastic message:


   "In this argument we want to look at the "Mission" that the Masters claim to be given by God  and also look at certain defining characteristics of that God which we can infer from statements  by the Masters. We will use two quotes from Radhasoami (RS) books as the source documents:  The first is from the book "The Master Answers" by Charan Singh from 1984.  The second is data attributed to Sawan Singh from the book  "With the Three Masters - Vol. II" (1967) Pages 68 and 176. Q. 310. The first question referred to the Supreme Lord as sending  us down here: Now sometimes in the Radha Soami literature,  may be in some of the discussions, I forgot which, we have  referred to as being prodigal Sons, which indicates that we came  down here by our own choice, rather than being sent down by the  Supreme Lord. Will you comment on that?  A. How could we have a choice, when we were with  the Lord? Choice comes through the mind, and  there is no mind there. We have been sent. We  have been given mind, to be pulled to and function in  this world. But we had no mind there. The question  of our choice did not arise there. If the universe had  to be created, some souls had to be sent, whether they  liked it or not. It is not advisable to discuss many  things. For example, you may have heard or you  may have read but I do not want to give much  importance to it that some souls were quite willing  to come, and others were quite reluctant to come.  Generally, it is said that saints come for those souls  who were reluctant to come into this world, and that  is considered to be one-tenth of the number of souls  sent here. So, only one-tenth will make their way  (p.310 THE MASTER ANSWERS (1964 Charan Singh) back to the Lord and nine-tenths will stay back here  to carry on the universe. That is why everybody will  not be attracted towards the Lord. Some souls are  required for the universe to go on, unless the Lord  wants to finish this whole play. Otherwise, if all the  souls were to go back to Him, there would be an end  to this universe. So the Saints come for those marked  souls. The one-tenth are the marked souls for which  the Masters come, to take them back to the Lord.  They are known as the marked souls. I did not want  to discuss this question. (below dated June, 1945 and attributed to Sawan Singh)"

     "Last night Huzur said, The real secret is that  when this creation was created for the first time it was  most beautiful and fascinating. It was shown to all  the souls and they were asked whether they would  like to live in Satlok or go down to this new creation.  Eight-ninths of the souls said they wanted to go down  to the lower creation, and only one-ninth of the souls  said they wanted to stay at the feet of the Lord. This the all-merciful Supreme Father asked the souls  who did not want to go down, to do so, and to enjoy  the new creation. He added, however, that He would  call them back later on. So it is this group comprising  one-ninth of all the souls that is now going back to  Satlok. Since the creation is infinite, this one-ninth  part is also infinite, and some of these souls will always  be in this world to be taken back. The rest of the  eight parts will always remain here as a part of this  creation."

   "On June, 1945, someone asked why this universe was created. Huzur  replied, This can be understood only after reaching  Sat Lok, but the perfect Saints possess this secret, which  is not to be found in any books, that this entire universe  was shown to all the souls on the day it was created.  Eight-ninths of the souls said that they would like to  live forever in the material. world; but the remaining  one-ninth said that they did not want anything else  except God. At this the Supreme Lord said, "All of  you go down to the material world. Those who have  asked for me only, I shall come to take them back in  the form of perfect Saints." I said that it was really  surprising that these souls liked this material world  in exchange for the bliss of Sat Lok. Huzur replied,  "These souls were then not in Sat Lok, but were in a  passive or dormant state. They liked this material  world because they had not seen any other universe." The Masters claim that their "mission" is to find "marked souls" and bring them back to God.  It is further claimed that each Master has been assigned a specific number of these "marked souls" 
[marked with a "moharchap" on their foreheads] to locate and return. This is their stated mission throughout the many RS books. Many RS books contain glossaries, but the term "marked soul" is not defined in any of them. So, just what is a "marked soul". From the above quotes we can see that a "marked soul"  is a soul which came from Sach Khand. It is a statement of fact or citizenship - marked souls  are citizens of Sach Khand and so have the right to return there. You cannot earn the right  to be a "marked soul". You either are or are not. Either way you cannot change it. The  concept of karmas or good or bad works has nothing at all to do with being a marked soul.  The Masters then state the number of marked souls at about 10% of all souls. So, what if you are not a "marked soul". Well, if you are a member of the 90% of non-marked  souls, according to the Masters, there is no hope for you regardless of how good you are.  In the model for the Universe as given in the above quotes, non-marked souls never reach  God. When they are not being "used" to animate life forms in the creation, they are "stored"  in a "dormant state" until needed. I do not believe that I can find, in the language that we use here to communicate with one another,  the words to adequately express the gravity of what is being stated in the above quotes.  Please read them carefully."

   "We begin at a point where the material creation had not yet been  conceived. Souls lived in the Spiritual realms. Now it is time to create the lower or material  worlds. It is desired that these worlds be populated by animate creatures which necessitates  that these creatures have souls. The souls used for this purpose are not souls from the spiritual  planes. They are souls from "a dormant state" - souls who "had never been in Sat Lok".  These souls are destined to "always remain here as part of this creation". They will have  lifetime after lifetime - hopes and dreams - good and bad times, but the most they can hope  for (although they do not know this) is to be put back into "a dormant state". They will  never reach God - they will never see God. Saints will not help them. Only the special  10% who came from an active existence in the Spiritual planes have the right (divine right ?)  to return to those high planes. They have the passport - "the mark" by definition or  divine right or whatever. It is irrelevant what they have done or do now or will do in the  future. None of this has any effect on the fact that they are "marked souls" and therefore  have the right to access the Spiritual worlds. Similarly, those 90% who are "not marked"  have no right and no hope of gaining any right regardless of anything they may do. Now, this is a simply horrible model for the Universe and for God's intentions. If true, we might  as well all hang it up because we are dealing with a God which is vastly different from what  is generally believed. This is a model for a totally non evolving Universe - a stagnant place  where souls spin around but accomplish nothing ruled by a God who creates souls for "utility"  and not out of Love that they might develop and grow and achieve fulfillment. It also suggests an elitist or "master race" type attitude on the part of the Masters. The Masters  and their students, of course, are members of the "marked soul class" and the "masses" or  the general population is the "non-marked soul class" which is doomed and does not count.  To accept this RS model, then, is to worship a God who does NOT have "unconditional love"  but who instead has very conditional love for specific souls and no regard for others. The most likely possibility here is that the god of RS is not the ultimate God but rather one  of the many "gods" which are worshipped by the various sects in India. In fairness, I wrote to Gurinder Singh and asked him to explain or clarify the quotes used  above. As usual, he refused to give any meaningful answer and simply stated that "our  limited minds cannot understand these things". He also added some advice saying, "I  would advise you not to activate the mind unnecessarily". It is good advice, of course.  If you are a mindless zombie you will have no trouble accepting anything.  However, my "limited mind" has no trouble seeing what is being said in the above quotes-  and I do not agree with it and I do not feel that the "god" being described here is the  ultimate and "for real" god."

   In Sant Mat, while there is Absolute God, there is its expression, a personal God, the Sat Purush, of whom it has been said from time to time that the "mauj" or divine will has been 'changed'. Soamiji mentioned this theological concept on at least one occasion. In more modern times, the following statement was made to a friend of mine by Sant Darshan Singh. Things have seemed to be loosening up in recent years - perhaps out of necessity, it is hard to tell - see this provocative explanation of Sant Mat 2.0 - and the following is a much more universal proclamation which is in line with that of many saints (although not sages, who language things differently):

   "I was with Master Darshan in his living room at the ashram in 1988 when he said ecstatically to maybe forty of us,  “In fact all the souls in the universe are destined to go back to God!”  I do not know if the mauj has changed since Master Sawan Singh made the statements above, but I think that may be the case, since the living master can ask for these things and the inner circle of past masters will listen to the living master."

   This is what Paramhansa Yogananda also had proclaimed, that "eventually all souls will go back to God - because there is nowhere else to go!"

   Yet the issue raised was whether there is a God whose "mauj" can change at whim. For example, just before his death Soamiji raised his surat and came back down saying that "the mauj had changed" and that he was not to die right away. For another view Brunton writes:

   "It is impossible for a rational mind to believe that the Infinite and Eternal Deity is subject to momentary changes of mind or suffers occasional lapses from continuance of the cosmic laws."

   "The Greek conception of the world being directed by Intelligence is surely higher than the Hebrew belief in a capricious, jealous, and angry despot of a personal God."

   Sri Nisargadatta sides with Brunton:

   "What we call the will of God is not a capricious whim of a playful deity, but the expression of an absolute necessity to grow in love and wisdom and power, to actualize the infinite potentials of life and consciousness." (48)

   As far as the notion that souls initially fell from Sach Khand out of choice, is that really philosophical? What kind of free will could exist for souls or consciousnesses prior to manifestation of vehicles of mind and matter, i.e., entitiveness or ego? Is there in fact a divine matter of an actual evolution of consciousness or simply one of a mythological 'fall' and return to Paradise? anadi argues for the former:

   "Why would a Soul decide to leave his original condition of pure oneness with the Divine, to experience forgetfulness and separation? This decision was not made in a conscious way and there was no one, in the first place, to decide. This decision comes from the impersonal wisdom of the Source itself - it is not made on the personal level." (Transmission of Awakening, p. 71)

   According to teachers like these, something new is added upon realization: a recognition that was not there before. Something the Soul never knew before. Thus it is not simply a realization of what was already the case.

   In either case, the need of a master, or one who has realized this condition, is not negated. It is still of paramount importantance in seeing one's process through to completion.

   As for as the idea of marked souls, teacher Ishwar Puri said that the concept of being marked specifically means that one is destined to be under the care of a particular master, not that he is one of the only ones 'chosen' by almighty God Himself. Although, to the devotee the difference may be immaterial, and further, such destiny is certainly not to be undervalued or dismissed as trivial.

   Kirpal Singh once said, "I tell you, the man in whom the need to solve the mystery of life has arisen is fit," and "When a true Master accepts a disciple, that person’s status changes. We were lost wanderers whom not one befriended; accepted by the Satguru, we were then recognized. He becomes an “accepted” soul, under the care of the Master."

   We do not claim to know more than the masters, but suggest that the articulation of this line of thinking may be raised to a higher octave - as suggested by Kirpal himself - and that whoever is interested in their spiritual nature can be said to be 'marked', and destined for more rapid transformation, especially if they have requested it.

   We say then, with our limited understanding and countless faults, that it is getting time for secrecy and old language to be abandoned, and truth to be made plain. There are inevitable mysteries and paradoxes on the path to be sure, words as such being but pointers towards wordless truth, but also many 'unnecessary mysteries' due to philosophical provincialism and doctrinal obscurity. Even under genuine teachers, many initiates have suffered from a lack of clarity and understanding.

   All this being said, Sant Kirpal Singh often said that if one wished to be convinced of the greatness of this path, he should go see an initiate dying. Many have attested to the radiant form of the Master coming for them at the time of their passing. However, this has been true, or promised, not only in Sant Mat but in other paths, and not even every Sant Mat master promises this. Hopefully, blessed assurance is granted the faithful soul even before this final event. The promise given by true Sants is that for the devoted disciple indeed there is not only such assurance but also much help. Sant Kirpal Singh said:

   "Satguru is the fountainhead of grace. Strange are the ways in which he works his grace. With just a single kindly look he may bless a jiva forever." (49)

   "Having received the protection of a God-realized man, do you think he would ever forget you? The Master always holds his disciples in the innermost heart center." (50)

   Just do not refuse this possibility of grace to your non-initiate brother. God is in charge, and no one is lost!

   Back to Part One

   "The Death of a Dream and a Gift of Truth" (Being an intimate account of the lifelong trials, tribulations, and unique experience and insight of the primary author in his encounter with this path)

   Appendix: Intense Longing for Darshan, excerpts from a letter of Baba Jaimal Singh to Hazur Baba Sawan Singh:

   "You say that you are writhing like a fish out of water for Darshan. Well,such was the Will. Even after a hundred years of Bhajan one does not get so purified as by an intense longing for Darshan, provided that the longing is real and true,and that love for Sat Guru is from the innermost heart. That is why a disciple is given bireh (physical separation and longing during separation from his Guru). Bhajan does not purify so soon as does true love for the Master and a true longing for His Darshan. Rather, Sat Guru Himself is Sat Purush...."

   "Do not look upon Sat Guru as a human being. True longing for Darshan is the principle means for God-Realization. When the mind accepts these things firmly and inwardly, only then is the dirt wiped off the mind. Then the jiva can realize the Shabd form of the Sat Guru. Therefore, take hold of the Shabd Dhun. Then the Dhun will itself take you home."

   "Whoever has true love for his Guru in his mind, has done everything (that is, he need do nothing more). Sat Guru is empowered to take him at once to Sach Khand, the region of the Saints..."

   Bearing in mind that this is a portrayal of a devotional path, and not necessarily the only way, what does this mean? Tears. Oceans of tears. Kirpal used to give the example of the flowering tree. First there is rain, then blossoms, then fruit. But if there is no rain, then? No room for dry philosophy here. One must first long for God in whatever form or manner is heartfelt for the devotee. Then be concerned about higher things. Even the great vedantin Sankara wrote in one of his devotional hymns:

   "O God, I know there is no difference between You and me, but I am Thine, Thou art not mine, because a wave can be of the ocean, but the ocean cannot be of the wave."


(1) D.T. Suzuki, from The Gospel According to Zen, 1970, p. 39
(2) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York, 1988), Vol. 2, p. 267
(3) Osho, Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master (Pune, India: Osho Media International, 1979/2011), p. 162-164
(3a) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 4.115
(3b) Irena Tweedie, Daughter of Fire (Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 1986), p. 539-540
(4) Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master (Mylapore, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 6th edition, 2008), p. 1014, 813
(4a) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 14, 2.88
(4aa) Godman, David, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 2002, p. 248
(4b) Ibid, p. 2459
(5) D. T. Suzuki, trans., The Lankavatara Sutra (Boulder, CO: Prajna Press, 1978), p. 89-90
(6) Swami Satprakashananda, The Goal and the Way (St Louis: The Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1977), p. 179
(7) Jiyu Kennett, Selling Water by the River (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), p. 172
(8) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.112
(9) Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Chapter 77, "The Higher Consciousness and the Mind", from Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness
(10) http://www.shiningworld.com
(11) Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. 1 (Beas: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 2010), p. 446-447
(12) Brunton, unpublished, bv/255/3
(13) Brunton, op.cit., 25.4.17
(13a) Ibid, Vol. 14, 3.61
(14) Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion (Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1976), p. 19
(15) Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (New York, N.Y>: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), p. 224-225
(16) Rajinder Singh, Spiritual Thirst, p.
(17) Talks with Ramana Maharshi (Carlsbad, California: Inner Directions Publishing, 2001), p. 141, 118, 99
(18) Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing (Los Gatos, California: Open Gate Publishing, 2004), p. 199-200
(19) Arran Stephens, Journey to the Luminous (Seattle, Washington: Elton-Wolf Publishing, 1999), p. 249-250;
(20) Darshan Singh, Streams of Nectar (Naperville, IL: SK Publications), p. 263
(21) Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixir - Chapter 20
(21a) Darshan Singh, Streams of Nectar (Naperville, Illinois: SK Publications, 1993), p. 174
(22) anadi, book of enlightenment, p. 293-294
(23) Ibid, p. 145, 245
(24) Ibid, p. 158
(25) Darshan Singh, op. cit., , p. 106-107
(26) Kirpal Singh, Godman, p. 148, 153
(27) Kennett, op. cit. p. 206
(28) Ibn Al ‘Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. by R.W.J. Austin (Mahwah, New Jersey: The Paulist Press, 1980), p. 93
(29) The Enneads, v. 8, 4
(30) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 6.513, 524
(31) David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 2000), p. 233
(32) Talks with Ramana Maharshi, op. cit., p.
(33) Ibid, p.
(34) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 5.216, 5.233
(35) David Godman, op. cit., p. 133
(36) Darshan Singh, Love's Last Madness, p. 75
(37) V.S. Iyer, Commentaries, Vol. 1 (edited by Mark Scorelle, Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, 1999), p. 197
(38) John R. McRae, The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism, 1986), p.
(39) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part One, 4.42
(40) Sri Nisargdatta, I AM THAT
(41) Brunton, unpublished essay
(42) The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism by John R. McRae 1986
(43) Soami Shiv Dayal Singh, Sar Bachan, Poetry, 220:20
(44) Tripura Rahasya, or the Mystery Beyond the Trinity, trans. by Swami Ramananda Saraswathi (Tiruvannamalai, South India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1971), p. 187
(45) William Cenkner, A Tradition of Teachers: Sankara and the Jagadgurus Today (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1983), p. 11-12
(46) V.S. Iyer, op. cit., p. 196-197
(47) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 3, 1.22, 1.23
(48) Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I AM THAT (Durham, North Carolina: Acorn Press, 1988), p. 85
(49) Kirpal Singh, Godman, Chapter 28
(50) Portrait of Perfection: A Pictorial Biography of Sant Kirpal Singh (Bowling Green, VA: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1981), p. 189