The Yoga of the Audible Life Stream is the Path of the Masters
By James Bean
Copyright November 2004
The Sant Mat tradition, also known as the Path of the Masters, very much sees itself as a modern-day continuation of the Teachings of the Saints of old, a Living Perennial Philosophy with living Saints. The author Julian Johnson in With a Great Master in India says: “The Teaching of the Saints [which is what the term ‘Sant Mat’ means] has been one and the same system since the first Saint ever set foot upon this planet…It is a science [method] based upon natural law and personal experience. The Creator Himself is its author and founder.”
According to the Masters of the East the ‘electricity’ of the Godhead that flows through all creation, and that’s present within every living thing, is called ‘the Shabd.’ Shabd or Shabda is a term for the Inner Light and Sound of God, sometimes referred to as ‘the Audible Life Stream.’ This Current can be seen as well as heard. This is the Sound of God if we did but know it, and is the Light of Eternity if we could only recognize it within ourselves. Surat Shabd Yoga, the spiritual practice of Sant Mat, literally means: “the attention-faculty of the soul (Surat) becoming one (yoked, yoga, or in union) with the Inner Light and Sound Current (Shabda) of God.” The inner Light-Sound Stream can be encountered during the silence of contemplative meditation when we directly open ourselves up to It. Here’s a list of other mystic-terms for this same imminent Power of the Godhead used in various world religions and languages: the Sound Current, Holy Stream of Light, Ein Sof, Vadan, Holy Stream of Sound, Holy Spirit, Word, Logos, Christ (as in, “In the beginning was the Word…” Gospel of John, and, “Who else is Christ but the Sound of God.” Acts of John), Saunt-e Sarmad, Tao, Music of the Spheres, Nada, Ek Ong Kaar, Hoooooooo, Ism-i-Azam, the Voice of the Silence, the Lost Chord, Davar, Memra, Anhad Shabd, Song of the Creator, Naam, Bani, Kalam-i-llahi, Shechinah, Kalma, Dhun, Sultan-ul–Azkar.
The author Peter Fripp in The Mystic Philosophy of Sant Mat describes listening to the inner Sound during meditation practice:
The Music of the Shabd is distant and unsteady when first heard, but as it deepens, it lifts the listeners into a hitherto unknown peace….The Sound of the Shabd is like a constant theme with variations on all levels [planes or heavens]. These variations are described as the rushing of a mighty wind, the sound of a lute, the deep resonance of a bell or conch, or the tinkling of glass in the wind. There are also wonderful lights and radiance to accompany the sounds…The sounds and lights progress in a definite order, corresponding to each stage of the journey inwards, and they clearly indicate the disciple’s progress.
Four Kinds of Drshti (Vision)
Jagrat-Drshti (vision of waking state), Svapana-Drshti (the vision of dreaming state), Manas-Drshti (mental vision) and Divya-Drshti (Divine Vision). When the first three types of vision are concentrated, the mind becomes focused and the divine vision dawns. If one-pointedness is held in the divine vision, mind will move notably higher and grasp subtler and subtler sounds eventually merging with the Sound.
Upon merging the mind with the Sound, there remains only the consciousness, free of the association with the mind. The consciousness free of the mind will be drawn to the flow of sounds, ultimately merging in Soundlessness or the Supreme Sovereign God. The internal practice of meditation ends here: the Supreme God is realized and the work is completed. (The Philosophy of Liberation)
Some have even described this form of meditation as “a conscious near-death experience,” that is to say, the Holy Stream of Sound can transport souls to higher states of being that may for some resemble NDE’s or OOBE’s (out of body experiences, soul travel). This is not a ‘do-it-yourself spirituality’ in the sense that one needs the guidance of a competent Master in order to practice the meditation correctly in a healthy and balanced way. One should never attempt to climb the Himalayas without a Sherpa guide; in the same way one should not attempt meditation to this degree without the sound wisdom and spiritual direction of a living Guide. In the Shabd Yoga tradition of India the methods of practice are communicated at the time of Initiation by the Master. This is freely given – no money is involved. A Living Teacher, being fully acquainted with the ‘landscape’ of inner space, is able to impart to initiates valuable guidance on how to safely make the journey of ascension to the spiritual worlds during meditation practice inside. The complete details of Shabd meditation practice are not found in books and aren’t for sale, but are given to seekers by the current Living Master at the time of Initiation.
A Mystic by the name of Mataji said of Shabd Meditation:
…Consciousness can be released from the mortal frame by attaching itself to the Stream of Celestial Music radiating from the top of the head and beyond. To do this…, one first must be initiated by a genuine mystic who has gained access to the higher realms…..Keeping the back erect and the mind alert, one continuously repeats God’s name as given by his/her guru. This simran [mental repetition of a Name of God], as Mataji termed it, should be done with one’s attention centered behind closed eyes. Coupled with this physical stillness and ceaseless repetition of God’s Name [step one in meditation], the next step is to contemplate the Light within. At first, Mataji pointed out, there will be only darkness but eventually Light will appear in the form of either small flashes or small star-like points. In any case, one should focus on the radiance, keeping one’s simran [repeating God’s Name or Names in meditation] intact and allowing the Light to draw the soul inward. The third and most important step, Mataji said, is to listen to the Sound that issues forth from the Light. It is this Internal Music which will numb the body and allow the consciousness to leave its ordinary dwelling. By riding this Current of Light and Sound, like a fish going upstream,the soul will be able to go back to its original Home. On the journey within, however, the soul must be guided by a True Master so as not to be detained in any of the lower illusory regions. According to Mataji, what near-death patients experience is only the beginning of a vast sojourn into great universes of Light, Love and Beauty. (Enchanted Land, MSAC Philosophy Group)