12 | Breaking the shackles of ignorance | Dr Harbhajan Singh

Join Dr Harbhajan Singh in this enlightening episode, guiding us through the subject of human consciousness and the struggles of the mind-ridden soul. He reveals the powerful effect of the mind on the soul and, through the example of Dani Dharam Das, illustrates the victory of spiritual aspiration over ignorance, attachment and pride. This story of the disciple of Kabir also stands for the direct link between man and God, who sees the longing of the soul and tests its determination.
This episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for those seeking to break free from the inner chains and undertake the spiritual journey towards the higher Self.

Location: Sankt Gilgen, Austria
Date: 1990-12-23

Transcript of “Breaking the shackles of ignorance”

Dear brothers and sisters,

You were just listening to the tape of the Master. Master tells us that we are bound in the world and yet we cannot help ourselves. The one who is bound cannot unbind others because our soul is tied to the body. It is tied there only due to the mind and the effects of the mind. Without the effects of the mind, the soul cannot remain in the body; it at once withdraws from the body consciousness.
You know, Master tells us that he who knows the mind, can control the mind and he who controls the mind can know the mind. Our contact, the physical contact with the body, is there ages upon ages because body is matter and mind is also matter and its effect is much more on the body, and through the outgoing faculties it affects more and more. Getting the help from the soul, it enjoys more and more and does not stop at all.
You know, we sleep at night time but our mind does not sleep. Mind is always restless. It gathers something for you for the (next) day. It creates its own opinion, overcoming the soul, and then, when the sun rises, when we wake up, it again takes (the soul) into its tentacles, under its commandment. He makes man to meditate on him. Because when we do not vacate ourselves from the world – wishes are there, attachment is there – and (then) sit and meditate, then we really meditate for the mind and not for ourselves.
Mind has gained a lot of limitless powers from us and by giving powers and powers to the mind, our soul has become very weak, very feeble. Now the soul is so much identified with the mind that even if per chance it thinks to live without it, it cannot live and this is the reason (in spite of knowing many things) a man again diverts to the mind and the outgoing faculties of the mind. And he does (repeats) those very old, old habits – sometimes he repents over them, but again commits those mistakes because mind has overpowered the whole creation.  It has swayed the soul, the soul has become very weak. So we are bound in the body so much so that we have no way to get rid of this problem.
By reading Holy Scriptures we can know a lot of things but there we do not find the key how to unbind ourselves. This is a matter of consciousness. This is a matter of food which we need for the soul. We need some food to give to our soul so that it gets strength, it gets its power from its source. So far the soul does not get the power from its source, it remains weak. The wonderful job which Master does (is that) He brings us to the source and He helps us to take that strength from there. As told by the Christ – it is the bread of life and water of life. Once you drink it, only then afterwards you will get the strength to gain control over the mind.
Otherwise a normal, common man in the world – however he may do his level best – he never would come up (above) the tentacles of the mind. Some people became a skeleton of bones – they wanted to do it themselves – but they could not do it. The reason was that the link that was to be established in the body could not be there.
It is said that in olden times there was one King Parikshit. He used to hear verses from the Holy Scriptures from one of his priests, royal priests and every day it was taught to him: “By hearing, you can overcome your problem and you can have salvation. And you can be unbound from the worldly attachment and go back home”.
One day this king thought, “In spite of hearing (the scriptures daily), I could not get this link so I must ask the priest” and so he did. He said: “Let me hear all that is written in the Holy Scriptures.” And it took some days to hear all this Scripture (in completion).” And he told (the priest) that if he hears it and afterwards does not get salvation and is not able to be unbound from the world or worldly attachment, then he will put him to the death gallows.

So this priest – because of the mere verbal things which he used to say all the time – became very much discouraged. He now knew there no (other) way except (that way of reading the scriptures).  So he got very sad. His daughter was wise enough and she asked “What is the problem with you, my father?” He told her all about (what happened). She said, “Yes, I can (help you to) overcome your problem, you need not to worry, nothing will happen to you.”  She went to the king herself and asked, “I have to solve this problem which you wanted to solve through my father. But for that purpose you have to go to the forest.”  So she took the father along with her and she took two ropes with her. In the forest she tied the king to one tree and the father to the other and (then) asked the king to unbind her father. He said, “Oh foolish girl – I am still tied, how can I do that?” Then she asked her father to do that (the same) for the king. He said, “How can I do it? I am very much bound to the tree.  I cannot do it.” So he who is bound (to the world) cannot do anything, he has to depend; rather you can say that that one must overcome his problems.
It matters to a wise person to determine (the aim of) his life and only after that the Masterpower comes to help him – otherwise not. All Holy Scriptures tell us about (the need to have) determination in our life. In reality, this life was given to us for the very precious cause:  to determine the aim of one’s life.
If we think (over) if anybody in the world has (determination) in his life – go throughout the world, you will find (only) a very rare person, very few persons who have some determination in their lives. When you live with them for some time you will (find) some things which are fake and void and have nothing to do with reality. All that glitters is not gold. But the gold which really glitters also does not have any meaning  for a true person. He only sees the momentary value of that gold but he sees that even the momentary value of the gold has nothing to do with the reality. Its concern is only with the world and with our attachment.

So in reality, the way to unbind ourselves from the world is to detach from the so-called affairs of the world, so-called attachments of the world. This is a stepping stone and without this stepping stone one cannot make even (one) step forward. Because without a stepping stone there is a pitfall, you will go down and once you go down then it is very difficult – and then again you need the help of somebody to draw you up.
This is a very difficult subject indeed. But who made it difficult? We people! (We) ourselves; God has not made it difficult. God has given all qualities which He Himself possesses and all virtues which lead to perfection. That is inherited in the soul, that is part and parcel of the body. But all those virtues are being spoiled due to our ignorance. Due to ignorance, a man spends a lot on his body, whereas sometimes he has nothing (left) to help others, this leads to the selfish motto (outlook).
So ignorance is the most hidden and bewildered view in man which always puts him into the dark. Due to ignorance we commit a lot of (wrong) things and again repent over them. Then we find another way, there we go astray, we are misled and again become ignorant. It is said (that the) mind has thousands of tentacles, with each tentacle, it can lead us astray.  A man who just rises up a few steps in his body consciousness, he is a little bit awakened, but he has some more footsteps at his disposal (remaining).  He goes, he moves forward and forward, (and) wants to welcome more beautiful and strange views.
So man – even the awakened ones (you read it in the history) were also misled. Ravana, a very learned scholar of (his) time did something which a common man would have hesitated to do because of ignorance. In spite of knowing all the Vedas – and he became the master of all Vedas (and) had much knowledge of the world – yet he was ignorant about the reality. This reality, these virtues – we can very well imagine that he did not make any use of any of these virtues. These virtues remained hidden, but rather these were to be multiplied.
Our purpose in the body is to multiply those virtues which are given to us. Only with the help of those virtues can we benefit ourselves and benefit others. The light that shines from your house can give (show) the way to any person who travels through your house as then there  is not darkness there. Suppose there is no light in or near your house or the outer gate of your house – the one who passes by will curse you. “What a pitiable person (as) he does not know (that) there must be some light in front of his house.”
So the main subject with us today is the ignorance. How to overcome the ignorance? This matters to all of us.
 Kabir’s teaching tells us the opposite views of life. Most of his teaching is the very opposite to what we do. It is just like (if) you want to teach a child, you put a question to him and this is the best way, when he can use his intellect.

You know, if you want to get rid of a tree, an unhealthy tree, you must cut it from the roots otherwise it will grow again. So Masters remove our ignorance by direct touch, telling us the very opposite view of life. What (will) happen afterwards, they tell it beforehand. And then they give the experience (in order) to solve that problem.

You know, at the time of Kabir there was one man – the richest person of India – he was Dani Dharam Das. In spite of being a rich person, he was very loveable, he was very honest, he was very pious in his doing (whatever he did).  And he who has all those virtues will definitely think of God. So he had already started with the traditional way to worship God. Now the Masterpower from above sees the heart who demands Him (who in his heart demands Him). So Kabir went to his house. He was praying to the gods and goddesses made of stones – idols. He (Kabir) went there and picked up the idols (as if to weigh them) saying “This is heavy, this is lighter, this is heavier…”  Dani Dharam Das said, “Who are you to interfere in my meditation, in my prayers?” And when he looked – within the twinkling of an eye he saw nothing there.
He thought (realized), “There is some ignorance which is removed now. This God appeared and He told me about my ignorance”. Otherwise he (would have) to face that very ignorance after death.
Now next time He (Kabir) again appeared there and called for Dani Dharam Das while he was taking the food inside the kitchen. His wife, her name was Amna Devi, she told this old man, “He is taking the food and after some time he will meet you.” But again He called for him. His wife said, “You are a sinner, you do not know how to come in a house and how to behave there.” Kabir said, “I am not the sinner, you are the sinner since many insects are burning in your kitchen in the decayed wood.” And at that moment they (became) very conscious. They even used to wash the wood and then afterwards used it for burning purposes. But inside the decayed wood there still were millions of insects which were burning as they could witness in the kitchen.
Dani Dharam Das felt very angry with his wife, “You did not do justice to this old man, he was a God.” And then Dani Dharam Das started to repent over this. His wife said: “A rich person like you need not to bother, you can perform some Yajnas (giving alms)  (it was a way of life, it was a pious way of life, to give food to the poor and needy), “you can do that and there can be a lot of flies on the molasses.” And he started to do that just to get this holy person to come back to him.  You know, such powers may remain beside you throughout your life without your knowing them, because this concerns them alone if they awaken somebody.  Otherwise nobody can help himself.
While doing so many Yajnas they became bankrupt, they had no money, even they had no food to live there anymore because their attention became focused on the very right way of life. They forgot their business and wanted to finish everything for the sake of truth. This was the very opposite view which Kabir gave to them. They both decided to end their lives by drowning (themselves) in the river, they wanted to suicide. Both went to the Ganges River, they just wanted to throw themselves into the river, when Kabir appeared and took hold of their arm, (and asked) “Where are you going?” – “Oh Master, since we do not have anything to eat, only now you came, better you would have come beforehand and then we could have also served you.” Kabir said, “This is not that fly, which sits on the molasses, this fly is from the Desh – Desh means from the eternal home – that does not sit on the molasses”.
So later on, after the initiation, Dani Dharam Das asked Kabir “This difference which is created by Your grace is due to what?”  Kabir said, “Beforehand your condition was like a dog, barking a house of mirrors because he only barks at his own reflection and that was a big ignorance. He then said, “Your condition was like a monkey. You know, the monkey holds the branch very firmly, because he takes the branch as attachment (he is attached to the branch), he thinks that this branch will not leave him; this is ignorance. He then said, “Your condition was like a lion. When he sees his reflection in the well then he jumps directly into the well and loses his life there. Kabir said, “Your condition was like that; it was due to ignorance.”
So man commits all those things due to ignorance and this is why he is bound in the world. (But when) you do everything with right understanding, there is no problem. Everything will become as bright as your thinking- (just as) during sunshine everything appears in its original condition. With right understanding we can watch our shortcomings and, at the same time, we can help ourselves to overcome those things.
Unlike a worldly tree (its roots are in the earth), this body is an inverted tree, its roots are in the sky and it grows in the world. But here it does not bear the fruits on the branches, and the offshoots, it bears the fruit and the flowers on its trunk.
(This means that) whatever we do in the world, the reaction of it we have to bear in the body, the body is the trunk. We have to bear it in the body. We are taken back with our reactions, with our attachments, with the effect of the attachment to this body. And we have to bear the consequences there. Now we cannot cut our roots from the sky; our link is somewhere else. Master has given us the awakening.

You know, there is ether – what is ether?  It is a sound (just) like waves which remind us of our contact with the Godpower. This is an awakening. With awakening we can cut our roots from the sky – this means we can know how to overcome the reactions or we know how to do a thing in such a way so that there is no reaction. Masters tell us, “Think twice before you throw the dice.”
If one knows not to create any reaction in this very life, he can do that (to cut the roots) and it is possible with awakening. If you do everything honestly and then while doing it, you do not want to get the reward for yourself, this will not bear fruit and flowers for you because each seed, when it grows, multiplies into thousands. So then again the man is bound in the world with this body. I mean to say, we are bound in this body due to the reactions which we create every day. And we do not know how to overcome (this). Masters tell us, “You make mistakes, the remedy is: do not commit this sin again. If you go on committing, reaction is there, you are again bound there and there is no way to de-chain (unbind) you. You will be chained there in the fetters.
So this reaction which is the main problem with us, is a bondage, is the binding factor. So Masters express their views very loveably. He only gives the key to do that very honest work  to us. Master tells us: “Lead a perfect life.”
We want initiation, but in spite of that we do not want to live an honest life. This (self-introspection) diary is given to us only for what purpose? – To promote our way of life. To help us on the inner path. To be true to ourselves – and he who is true to himself, he can be true to God and he can be true everywhere. There is no need of saying that you are true. The truth will radiate from you and that will affect others; it is a law. Actually, truth was never spoken. Due to this ignorance, the truth was brought in by the books, otherwise truth was to be revealed and all Masters revealed it. Now we believe the truth by word of mouth, whereas at the same moment, we are not pure from within. Our mind is identified (with the world) and we are poisoned by the mind. So where is the truth?
Do you think by speaking the truth, you can come in communion with the truth? No, this is not possible, this is also ignorance. Masters say, “It is better not to speak the truth, it is better you live with the truth, so that the truth may speak through you.” It is the truth which has to reveal itself. Otherwise nobody can help you; this is all due to ignorance. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. This also relates to the truth. Nobody can live in the true sense without a pure heart. He has to be pure. You are very thirsty, you need water and this water itself will quench your thirst.
You know, the five Pandavas, the sons of Dhritarashtra, (you might know about the Mahabharata?) all the five brothers went to school. The lesson was: speak the truth. In Hindi it is (expressed) in only two words: Sach Bolo – Speak Truth! And this was to be memorized as is the usual practise in the schools. Next day the teacher asked, “Have you memorized the lesson?” All said, “Yes, we have memorized it.” But Yudishthira said no, he had still not learned it. It took him many days to learn it. So this teacher was annoyed with him thinking that he is a very lazy boy. But that teacher did not know that he learned it from the heart, he learned it practically. It is said in the history that all the (other) four brothers were shown the hell except this one who spoke the truth, who lived with the truth.
If we live with the truth then we are not bound in the world – either truth or the world. Either up or down – (there are) only two ways. Master has given a golden opportunity to all of us, (it is) a very rare phenomena in the world that we are blessed with a true temple of God, an abode of God. In this very abode Master lives himself, God lives Himself.  The Truth is in the body, not outside. You just have to turn your face and it is already there. Truth means true living. Truth does not mean that truth with which you deal in the world. You exploit your thoughts in the world by speaking “truth”, but even that is not the truth.

Truth is a true living. With true living you can progress marvellously in this body, while living in the body. This is a new life. In the new life there is so much radiation, so much charging, because He who created the whole creation is a magician (this ‘magic’ refers to the higher spiritual, Godly laws). And no one could know His magic. His magic is par excellence, once we come in contact with His magic then we become (part) of Him, then we do not want to lose Him. We want to be with Him all the time. Even if you (only) hear something (of Him) and you are determined in your life, there can be a way to find the solution right while in the man body. Because contrary to all other things, this help is there.
Without help and without guidance, only a very rare personality with his (spiritual) background could help himself, otherwise not.  Everyone needs guidance and with this guidance we can help ourselves to control our thoughts, to control all that which, in the end, is ignorance.
All that we see in the world, experience in the world, and we get emotional by seeing – that is nothing more than dust. It is just like fireworks: For a moment it gives you a beautiful look (vision), but within a moment, it becomes dust. Everything which glitters more (and) finishes in no time allures (attracts) much more attachments. You know, here (in the physical world) those things exist to which we have attachments, but the same things are there in the astral form. In the astral and causal (regions) these things are far more attractive and far more precious. And we cannot pay the price for it. This is the reason that many Rishis and Munis got attached to those things and died. They could not leave that sphere and ultimately had to leave their attention there.

It is a matter of attention. As I say to you, “Well, if there is anybody (who wants to enter the room), while crossing this door he should not think of a monkey!” Then everybody who will come, who knows this request, will answer (react to this request and think of a monkey) before he enters the door. You may try to get rid of those effects but you will not be able to get rid of them, since you are ignorant in the (physical) body and you will also be ignorant in the other (subtle) bodies. And still there is so much more attraction and so much charging there from the attachments (inside).
So at last, the credit goes to the Master, I tell you. The credit goes to Him who does this work wonderfully. These are only the words by mouth, but there He stands to give you the practical aspect of life. See what you are, who you are, before the initiation. And see those who were there with you, see their condition. Just make a parallel view of it: Where they are going, where you are staying, it is a big difference.
And Masterpower does not want to detach you like this (in such a way) that other persons will not follow the Master. He can detach someone by the way of His steel-hand but those who are ignorant, they would say: “No, better not to go to such a Master. See the condition of that person.”
When the third Master, Guru Amar Das tested His Sangat (disciples), He said, “Make a platform.” The whole Sangat started to make that platform. He said, “No, this is not a good place, now you pick up all this material and go to another place.” Then all went there and started to make the platform there. He said, “No, here it is also not good, better to go there.” He started to do like this and most of those persons fled away and said, “No, now the Master is very much aged and He is not in his senses, He does not know. He must have a good plan, He must fix it (figure it out) beforehand and only then tell us – otherwise it is a mere wastage of money and matter and time. So why should we do it? It is better to go back home.” It is said that seventy times He ordered (the platform to be made) and then He ordered it to be smashed. And there only one remained, whose name was Jeta Ji, who became the fourth Master, Guru Ram Das. He was given the power to deal with the truth.
Because Guru Amar Das knew that he takes the word of the Master as truth and in His teaching He says that if his Master tells him to do the same work throughout his life, his purpose is only to obey and to do. He has nothing (else) to do. There are far more marvellous ways at the disposal of the Master but He does not use them. If He puts His hand on the neck of His disciple, He at once can withdraw him from all attachments and from all his awareness, but Master does not do that.

Master says, “No, he (the disciple) must live a normal life, as right understanding is there, he should make the best use of this right understanding, otherwise He can reveal that very right understanding within a moment, I tell you, because He is a Word personified form. He is fully embedded in the truth. If He allows this truth to shine on any other person, his life, the life of that person, is changed within a moment. In the twinkling of an eye, a man can change. But then people say, he is not wise, the one who is transformed, who has gained something, all people would take him as a foolish person.
Once Master said that a saint passed by a village. He said, “A bad time is coming and there will be a very poisonous wave of air that will appear through this way (area). You must go inside.” So those who obeyed the Master hid themselves in their rooms, they locked themselves in. And those who did not believe the Master, they said, “No problem, there is no way (this cannot happen)” because they (thought they) were resistant to such waves (storms), so nothing affected (would affect) them. So those who went within, they saw that the others were affected. But those who were affected, they never knew it.

So the unaffected ones said, “They are the foolish persons.” But those who were living outside, they said, “No, these very few persons, they are now the foolish persons, they are mad persons, they are mentally sick now.” So this is the way, (people behave).

Competent Masters who have come from the highest plane, they deal with the soul with very soft hands, they say, “Look here, you are wise and you must become more and more wise. You have come down with this special task and it is your duty to do that. Leave everything and depend and surrender to the Masterpower, He will do everything for you.” I tell you, you cannot find any example where someone surrendered and Master did not help him.
Praladh, who surrendered to the Godpower, was asked to embrace a burning pillar. The pillar was burning like fire and he was asked to embrace it so that he would die. For a moment he thought he would die because it was on fire: “I will embrace the fire and it will make me burn.” But since he saw one ant who was climbing along the pillar on fire, (he understood that) Master gave a sign:” Become as meek and humble like an ant. You can become that. Become receptive to the Masterpower”. He (Praladh) said, “If an ant cannot be burned, how can I be burned?” And he also embraced it, and this burning pillar became cold only because he lived with the truth. (It is told in the history). Had he not lived with truth, he would never be brought to such a test. In between he could have surrendered to somebody else. It is attachment.

Those who live with truth, if they have to face any consequences in their lives, Masterpower is there to help them. Because where there is a will, there is a way. The God stands there. He comes to save us; His purpose is only embedded in us. He is not other than us. And there is no one in the world (for Him) except His child – the Father loves His child.