Living Masters And Therefore Living Students (Disciples, Chelas, Satsangis, Initiates,), by James Bean

“Spiritual seeking has the not-so-modest goal of revealing nothing less than the Divine, the Truth or Ultimate Reality. For far less modest goals than this we would not dare attempt their achievement without a qualified teacher. Our universities and the degrees they confer bear witness to this fact. For example, we would never attempt to acquire the skills of a professional airline pilot with mere reading, nor would we dare take instructions from someone who himself had never flown*. Common sense requires that we approach subjects such as aviation or any number of other technical subjects with the help of skillful teachers and tried and true curricula. Why then would we assume that the highest and arguably the most difficult of all goals could be achieved without a Teacher or Guide?” (Don Howard)

*”Has Never Flown” — Theory vs. Experience

A note about “the blind leading the blind”. If a guru does not see inner Light or have inner experiences at the various levels or inner regions, his students probably won’t either, even if he does teach the theory of these things.

Rumi: “If you seek to know God, sit at the feet of the Saints”.

“Obeisance to the best in the world, the guides of the world, the benefactors of the world, the light-givers of the world, the enlighteners of the world.” (from a Sutra of Jainism)

“Without a Master all scriptures are like the whispering of ghosts.” (Sant Tukarama)

“Neither inherited beliefs nor those taken on hearsay can advance a seeker on the path of divine revelation.” (from, “Love’s Last Madness”)

Guru Nanak says the True Guru unites us with God, gives us a Godward Focus: “That preceptor is worthy who unites the aspirant with God.”

“The name of the Lord is to be obtained through initiation from a qualified Guru. Initiation, which is one of the core processes of all esoteric paths, is the medium through which the individual soul (jivatma) learns to transcend the fetters of space, time and causation, and gets transformed into the Noumenal world of the Param-atman. The Guru who initiates, is the one who is himself firmly established in the Noumenal experience.” (Mahant Purushottam Das)

“The Satguru-given Gnosis [direct experience] is lit up in the heart, with whose Light is dispelled the darkness of spiritual ignorance.” (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, English and Punjabi Translation, Manmohan Singh, Volume 3)

“When I arrived, I opened a path and taught people about the Way of Passage for those who are chosen and solitary, who have known the Father and have pursued Truth.” (Yeshua, Gnostic “Dialogue of the Savior”)

“This mysterious path is described in the holy books, but it cannot be found simply by the study of sacred texts. It is found by the grace and guidance of an Accomplished Teacher.” (Swami Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj)

No Living Teachers — No Living Students

“His disciples said to him, ‘Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you.’ He said to them, ‘You’ve ignored the Living One right in front of you, and you’ve talked about those who are dead.’” (Jesus, Gospel of Thomas, Saying 52)

Books falling from the sky did not create the world religions. Before there was “The Book”, there was the author of “The Book.” Without living Teachers there would be no Torah, no Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, no Sermon on the Mount, no Golden Rule or Gospel of Thomas, no Suras of the Quran, no ahimsa message of Lord Maharvira in Jainism, no sages to compose the Upanishads, no Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita, no Jap Ji of Guru Nanak, no Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, no Golden Verses of Pythagoras. If there was no Master Shams of Tabriz, there would have been no disciple by the name of Rumi. If there was no Swami Ji Maharaj, no Tukaram, no Tulsi Sahib, no Dadu, no Ravidas, no Mirabai, no Maharishi Mehi, no Sawan Singh, no Guru Kabir, no Sant Dariya Sahib, no living Masters, there would be no Sant Mat, no students, no initiates, no satsangs to attend, no school of spirituality, no clear and organized system of inner Light and Sound Meditation called Surat Shabd Yoga to be initiated into, nobody to give the initiation — no one to expand anyone’s horizons and awareness.

The essential reason for having a spiritual Teacher is not to worship the personality of the Teacher, but to learn from them the Methods of spiritual practice. The Living Teacher preserves the Methods of meditation and passes that Knowledge and Experience on to the next generation. A good spiritual Master also motivates his or her students to practice mediation and lead an ethical life in the context of a spiritual community or group of people (satsang). Books alone isolated from a community of others would not be enough to sustain spiritual practice, or cultivate inner mystical experiences. Satsang inspires, teaches, motivates, and group meditation helps to accelerate one’s own inner experience.

Flee If the Focus of a Path is Not God-Bhakti

“The false guru gives sweet words seeking popularity, but the Satguru bestows wisdom, seeking disciples, devotees of the Lord. If you love someone dearly, guide him again and again, to tread the path of Truth.” (Treasure of Spiritual Peace)

“The whole world makes an outer display,
whereas the practice of the Saint is within.
This is the difference between the two;
hence no accord is found between them……
There is a great difference between a Saint and a mimic,
the two are as far apart as earth and sky.
The Saint is absorbed in God, whereas
the mimic pins his hopes on the world.”
(Sant Dadu Dayal)

And of course, in the world are all-too-many examples corrupt leaders with a never-ending focus of consolidating their own power and influence. There is a section of the Anurag Sagar dedicated to this: “Yam Doots” — “Messengers of Death”. “In the name of Kabir he will establish his path in the world. The souls who go to him, being controlled by illusion, will fall into the mouth of Kal.”

Panths of Death — Dusty Cups Without Water Quenching Thirst — No More Light — No More Sound — Into the Mouth of Kal

It’s interesting to notice that this phrase “fall into the mouth of Kal”, the false god of time, death and illusion, also was used by Sant Dariya Sahib of Bihar:

“Listen mindfully, O Fakkar Das,
I explain this to you, says Dariya:
As long as the discipline of the Sound Current
is preserved unadulterated,
The line of succession will truly continue.
But when it is mixed with outer rituals
and display of external garbs,
My Sound Current will part company.
My Divine essence will depart,
And the souls will go into the mouth of Kal.
I shall then come to this world,
And shall proclaim the teaching
of the Sound Current again.
Proclaiming the teaching,
I shall found the line of succession.
And emancipating the souls,
I shall take them to my Abode.
For aeons I have been coming,
And imparting the teaching
of the true Sound Current.”

The Role of the Genuine Master is to Bring Us Into Our Own Experience of God

“All the world is entangled in meaningless rituals, and knows not the inner workings of God.” (Guru Gobind Singh)

When approaching a spiritual path, one should seek out authoritative, original sources of information directly from that path, and not mentally filter a path in light of other, outside belief-systems one may be familiar with, attempting to understand a path using a distorted “lens” of the new age movement, other occult/esoteric systems, some fundamentalist ideology, materialism, or other far-distant philosophies.

The reality is, the classic definition of the genuine Guru from a traditional Indian perspective is “Light-giver”. The Sant Satguru guides souls into a direct and personal experience of God here and now by teaching students to adopt the necessary methods of meditation practice, ethical values, and by cultivating a receptive attitude of God-bhakti (love and devotion).

In Sant Mat Mysticism the hansa is a soul that has been baptized in the Lake of Nectar and finds Its Original Nature restored — then it continues it’s upward ascent eventually reaching the Fifth Plane or Sat Lok. The Sants (souls have that reached the Fifth Plane or Above and are in Union with God) have composed, and continue to compose, descriptions of the Inner Regions, usually in the form of hymns (banis, bhajans) and mystic-poems, including about hansas in Sat Lok or Sach Khand (True Eternal Realm of Timeless Pure Spirit). We are all hansas or hansas-to-be as we journey back to the Beloved, the Ocean of Love and Oneness.

A Sant is a hansa-soul who, by his or her own spiritual Master, was mentored, and appointed to become the leader of a spiritual community. They are a Sant and Satguru as a result of their inward spiritual state of realization and oneness with God after countless hours of meditation, not based on an outward title, robe, turban, or image-making and public relations management. The Inward Reality is what counts.

The Sants of India have produced some of the most eloquent, ecstatic, God-devoted poetry, prayers and hymns the world has ever known. Below are selections from the Adi Granth (Sikh scriptures) as well as the mystic-poetry of Guru Kabir.

The Role of the Living Satguru According to the Adi Granth — Not a Book… According to the Book!

“By the Guru’s instruction the mind of the disciple is rendered immaculate and she keeps God clasped to her heart. She keeps God enshrined in her mind, arranges her affairs, and by the Master’s instruction knows her Lord.”

“My Beloved has fascinated my soul
and I have obtained the Lord,
the scribe of destiny.”

“Serving the Satguru she attains eternal peace and God, the enemy of ego and pride, abides in her mind.”

“By the Master’s instruction the name of God is contemplated. By the guru’s grace, soul and body are saturated with the Lord and the Lord’s name seems sweet to the mortal. The Lord’s name seems sweet to them. He liberates all their families. With their mouths they utter the Lord’s name. Their comings and goings cease. They obtain bliss, and their attention remains absorbed in the Celestial Music.” (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, English and Punjabi Translation, Volume 5, Manmohan Singh, Publisher: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar)

Kabir’s Ocean of God-Bhakti

Here the translator has preserved the numerous names for God that Kabir used in his mystic-verses. Guru Kabir:

The Remote, the Inaccessible
makes a fort for His dwelling,
which He illumines with His Light.
Lightning flashes — there is bliss
where the child Prabhu-Gobind plays.
My soul loves Ram’s name:
Old age, death, doubt flee. (Rest)

They who care about castes
are forever singing praises about themselves.
But sweet melodies play unstruck
where the Lord Prabhu-Gopal dwells.

The remote, unknowable One,
who established the earth, the spheres,
the three worlds, and the three virtues,
lives in every heart: None knows Dharnidhar’s secrets.

He reveals Himself in the blossom’s fragrance.
He dwells in the nectar of a mud-flower.
His mantra is in the twelve-petaled heart,
where the Lord Kamlakant dwells.

His Light is visible above and below;
He illumines the infinite sphere of silence:
Neither sun nor moon are found there;
the primal Niranjan enjoys Himself.

He knows the universe and each heart.
He bathes in Lake Mansarowar.
His mantra is, “I am He”;
He is not concerned with good deeds or bad.

He has no caste, nor is he caste-less;
He knows neither pain nor solace. He is in
the guru’s house. He cannot be avoided.
He knows, not birth or death: He is infinite silence.

Those who search for Him in their hearts,
and speak His words, will become Him.
They who place His mantra of Light in their hearts,
Kabir, say, “Those mortals will certainly swim across.”
(Songs of Kabir from the Adi Granth, Nirmal Dass, SUNY Press, NY)

“It is the mercy of my true Guru that has made me to know the Unknown;
I have learned from Him how to walk without feet,
to see without eyes,
to hear without ears,
to drink without mouth,
to fly without wings;
I have brought my love
and my meditation into the land
where there is no sun and moon,
nor day and night.
Without eating, I have tasted of
the sweetness of nectar;
and without water,
I have quenched my thirst.
Where there is the response of delight,
there is the fullness of joy.
Before whom can that joy be uttered?
Kabir says: “The Guru is great beyond words,
and great is the good fortune of the disciple.”
(Songs of Kabir, Rabindranath Tagore)

The Competent Living Teacher — Sant Satguru

“Saints and sages have unveiled all the mysteries of the spiritual journey and of self-realization in their discourses. All the techniques have been documented in books. But without an Accomplished Teacher, we will not be able to understand the correct technique of true knowledge just by reading.

“In the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna says that for learning spiritual knowledge we must seek help from an accomplished seer [male or female]:

‘For learning spiritual knowledge you should go to the
one who is a seer. Pay your respect to him, serve him
and question him and express your desire for learning.
Then he will fulfill your desire and answer your questions.’

“Consider for a moment the nature of knowledge you wish to learn. After high school, the student thinks his direction and chooses a field of study: liberal arts, commerce, or science. If, for example, the student wants to learn liberal arts but goes to a professor of science instead, will this teacher have much to offer? The student must choose a professor proficient in the knowledge he wishes to learn. In the same manner, if you want to learn spiritual knowledge, then you must go to a spiritually competent Teacher.

“The appropriate spiritual Teacher should be a person who has considered and discovered the realities of Atma and anatma (Spirit and matter, bondage and Liberation), and who practices a spiritual path. Such a Teacher should have attained direct experience of Truth through spiritual disciplines. This is Teacher you should take instruction from. The grace of Teacher is also necessary for success in the spiritual pursuit. When you learn the methods for inner meditation, you should practice diligently. Moral rectitude is also very essential in this pursuit.” (Swami Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj, The Harmony of All Religions)

“While we sojourn in this dark region of matter, we have to deal with the negative power. With him we must contend in our struggles for spiritual freedom. It is his duty to try to hold us here, while it is our duty to try to escape. The resulting struggle purges us and makes us strong, and fits us for our homeward journey. This everlasting fight, this struggle in a welter of pain and blood and heart cries, is designed by the supreme Father to purge us and make us clean, ready for our homeward ascent. Let us never become discouraged. All of this is designed by the Father for our benefit. It is much as if one enters a gymnasium to take exercise. If we meet these difficulties in the right spirit, we shall greatly profit by them. The idea of pain and struggle is to purge us and inspire in us a longing to rise above the regions of pain and shadow.” (Julian P. Johnson, Path of the Masters)

“The message of the Masters fills the world with hope, and at the same time it offers a rational foundation for such hope. It not only tells people what they should do, but it offers them a definite method of doing it. In the march of the ages, cycle after cycle, in every planet where human beings reside, the great Masters are the Light-Bearers of that world. Until the end of the ages, they will remain the friends and saviors of those who struggle toward the Light.” (Julian P. Johnson, Path of the Masters)

“Guru bin aur bina karni,
Mile kas kaho yah rahni.
Chaah anuraag jis hoi,
Bhaag barr gurumukhi soi.

“Swami Ji Maharaj says, “Even if you get a True Living Master and He gives you the initiation, if we are not doing our meditation and we are not following the practice and the Path, then that Naam again does not do anything.” So, if we are not doing our meditation and we are not following the Path and the Teachings of the Masters, then neither the Naam can do anything, nor the Guru can do anything for us.

“So, we should consider ourselves indeed fortunate if we have the pangs of separation of the God Almighty and of our Master within, and we follow that Path and we do our meditation with love and affection. That way, if we do our meditation daily with love and affection, our mind also becomes purer, the burden of karmas also is lessened, and the mind, which is scattered all over the place, also gets focused within, and the attention gets focused within.

“And if we do not do our meditation, then the mind, which is impure, continues to remain impure and keeps building up the karmas.

Naam naami dou gaay,
Abhedi bhed samjaaya.
Guru ki mauj mein sab kuchh,
Jise chaahen karen gurumukh.

“Swami Ji Maharaj says now that He has explained what Naam means, what are the types of Naams, and what is the credibility and what is the strength of the Master Who gives this Naam to us. He goes on to say that, finally, it is in the Will of the Master. All of this is contained in the Will of the Master. It is in the Will of the Master to shower His Grace on people who have come with impressions from the past, and He can convert them into gurumukhs. So, if we sit for our meditation every day, then our mind will also become pure and we will get the Grace of the Master also.” (Baba Ram Singh, from a talk titled, The Naam That Is Given By The Masters — Until Their Charging Is There In That Naam, It Is Not Really An Initiation)

“The only people who find this wisdom or Truth are those who delve deep into the waters of knowledge. Those who are afraid of drowning in the water of knowledge only sit by its banks and simply talk about the waters of knowledge.” (Guru Kabir, an Adi Guru or founding Satguru of Sant Mat)

My Ode to the Sant Satguru

In Praise of the Sant-soul of love
who has reached the Spiritual Realm above,
and merged in God.
Hail to the Competent Living Master,
the Qualified Teacher,
rare to find in this world,
so few and far between,
the True One,
a genuine mentor of souls,
righteous and worthy Guide,
a Fearless Being,
leader of a spiritual community.
With gratitude to the Competent Living One!
In a Sea of Samsara — illusion and world of changes,
of falsehood and posing,
there is a bright Light in the darkness.
A silent Music becomes audible.
At the feet of such a Loving, Radiant One,
the soul can not help but find inner Light and
slip into deep samadhi meditation.
In the eyes of a Saint are
love, wisdom, light, compassion, grace,
a reflection of God in this realm of the material plane.
The Master-Power connects the soul with the
Supreme Lord of Love.

— a Guru Purnima Ode to the Sant Satguru



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


This is a Living School of Spirituality: Sant Mat & Radhasoami: Meditation on the Inner Light & Sound of God: