From the book "Naam or Word", written by Sant Kirpal Singh
All scriptures speak of Naam but have not been able to say adequately what It is. It is impossible to define and delineate It in words. It may be described as 'life-impulse" or "conscious-principle" When It begins to vibrate, It produces melodious sound, which is termed Naam or Shabd. This Sound Current proceeding from the Deep Silence of the Formless Kutasth is responsible for all forms and colours, visible and invisible to the naked eye. All life hangs on this life-principle. No life can exist without Naam. The Sound-principle is all-pervading; it may or may not be felt, yet It is reverberating from top to toe. It is the Kernel and the Essence and at once both the material and efficient Cause of the endless universes in which this physical earth is but a speck.
O Pipa! this universal vibration is the Primal Causeless Cause,
But can be apprehended only through a Master-soul.
In all religions God is spoken of as the Sound-manifest or Life Principle. It is a current, live and conscious, and has in It the germs of creation. It is because of this link between the Creator and the creation that the spirit or soul of a person can cross over the physical body and traverse the spiritual regions to reach the True Home of our Father – Sach Khand.
From scriptures we learn that Sound Principle or Naam is of two kinds: (i) outer, and (ii) inner. The former consists of words that may be spoken or written down and recorded. This constitutes all learning and knowledge at the intellectual level and is termed Apra Vidya or knowledge of the world and the worldly surroundings. All worldly wisdom is included therein. It is also called Varn-Atmak, for with it Atma or Soul can express itself and functions in the world. All book knowledge is because of Varn-Atmak Shabd. Comprehension of world and worldly relations depends on this type of Shabd which helps outwardly in the physical plane. It serves as the means of conveying ideas and emotions from man to man, just as any other animal would do. Outer sound then, serves as the first step in the study of the Science of the Spirit. Theory precedes practice and the Master-saint has to make use of it for explaining this most abstruse subject. Again Japa or oral repetition of certain words or names of God is to be done by Varn-Atmak Shabd. The preliminary training of the mind is the first essential on this Path and hence the needfor outer sound or Shabd. Japa is of four kinds:
(i) Baikhri or oral, performed by tongue.
(ii) Madhma, done mentally at the seat of the Shakti in the Kanth or throat.
(iii) Pashianti, done at the seat of the heart.
(iv) Para, also a mental process performed with attention riveted at the seat of the navel.
All these types of Japas give solace of varying degrees and one gets peace of mind of a temporary nature only, because the various bodily ganglions involved in them are of a lower order, situated below Shiv-Netra or the Third Eye.
Besides these, there is Simran or Japa of the indescribable and hidden Sound Current that proceeds of Itself from the depths of the Great Silence. It is technically termed "Para-Vidya" (Knowledge of the Beyond) or "Dhun-Atmak Shabd." In this type of Japa one has just to listen to the all-pervading Naam or Shabd. As this Sound cannot be expressed in any symbolic form, it is expressionless. It may be contacted above the sensory plane, behind the centre of the two eyebrows. The true significance of Naam, the Creator of various planes and divisions of the endless universes, may be known by one who is an adept in the Surat Shabd Yoga or has united his soul with the Sound-principle.
He who performs Japa with the tongue of thought,
knows the true nature of the Sound Current (Word or Naam).
No doubt Dhun-Atmak Shabd is the very essence of one's soul, but one cannot apprehend It without the help and guidance of a Master-soul or adept in the line, and without Surat Shabd Yoga, i.e., establishing a contact of the spirit or soul with the essential live-principle (through a regular process of inversion or self-analysis). One does not get life's richest gift; for the spirit is engaged all the time in outer pursuits by constant association with the mind and the senses, revealing in the enjoyment of the world and worldly objects. Emerson, the great American philosopher, speaks of inversion as "tapping inside."
Lord Jesus metaphorically speaks of it:
Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Naam or Name is Varn-Atmak, while Naami or Named is the Great Power behind the descriptive words and is Dhun-Atmak. From epithetic words, one has to recede to the Power which the words denote and stand for. The Japa or Varn-Atmak is performed orally by the tongue and is just a preparatory course in the spiritual discipline of the soul. Sant Ravi Das says in this context:
Without actual sight (of an object) longing does not arise.
Whatever is visible to the naked eyes is perishable indeed,
He who establishes an inner contact of Surat and Shabd (Spirit and Sound)
through the help of Varn-Atmak words, is a true Yogi, desireless and free.
Varn-Atmak or epithetic names look just like dolls apparently dancing by themselves; but they in fact are being made to dance by invisible hands controlling the lines behind them. In exactly the same way there exist infallible links between Naam and the Naami (or the Name and the Named: Varn-Atmak and Dhun-Atmak Shabds). Varn-Atmak words pave the way to Dhun-Atmak Shabd and are thus essential aids in stilling the mind of oscillations, purging it of all impurities and rendering it capable of apprehending the Dhun-Atmak current within, for without this vital chord, the spirit cannot transcend the physical plane and enter the higher spiritual planes leading to the Home of our Father. The Varn-Atmak words may and do differ because of lingual differences, but the Dhun-Atmak Shabd being the Life-Principle of the spirit or soul is the same throughout. It has indeed been an Unspoken Language and an Unwritten Law throughout the ages and it shall remain so till eternity; for all life is one and one only for the entire creation, though it is in multitudinous forms. The teachings of the Saints which centre round the One Reality are, therefore, a common heritage for the entire humanity and not for this or that class or social order or religious sect. The Saints are secular in their outlook and not sectarian. Children of Light, they give light to one and all, irrespective of caste and creed. God made man (an embodied spirit) and man made religions and is caught in his own handiwork just like a silkworm in his cocoon. The Saints come to liberate man from his own self-made bondage, to take him out of the narrow grooves which he has moulded himself through centuries of habitual way of living. The Saints do not meddle with social orders nor do they create any. Their call is addressed to the spirit alone. They come with a divine mandate:
To lead man from Darkness to Light,
from Untruth to Truth, from Death to Immortality.
Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached.
Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For them (saints) there is no difference between the so-called twice-born:
the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas and the low-born Sudras, for they address them all alike.
The beloved of the Master (Gurmukh) worships the Naam and attains Moksha (liberation)
– the Naam which, O Nanak! pervades equally in all.
In the life story of Guru Nanak we find the anecdote of Mian Mitha, a fakir of Mithankot, a town in the Punjab (now in West Pakistan). In his wanderings, Guru Nanak came across this fakir and told him that without Naam or Word one found no peace here and hereafter and could not escape from the Karmic bondage. As to what this Naam or Word was, he said that it was not a subject of comprehension by the senses, but it could be apprehended on a super-sensual plane. The Guru asked Mian Mitha to listen within himself, but the Mian could hear nothing. Thereupon the Guru took him aside and looking intently at him asked him once again to attune himself within, whereupon the Mian exclaimed that he could distinctly feel the vibrations of Naam in every pore of his body. This shows that the Word of God is characterized not by words but by vital vibrations.
A beloved of the Master feels and experiences the quickening of life-impulse in all the pores of his body.
The Saints, therefore, in common, say that God is one and there is only one way that leads Godward. The spiritual discipline does not interfere with nationality or social religion. Every person, whatever his nationality or religion, can practice this discipline and successfully follow the Path of the Saints. The Divine Link or Word is already present in each individual, no matter who he is and whatever his vocation in life. It is attained by a process of self-analysis and inversion and one who learns and practices this process can come into contact with It. But the trouble is that everyone clings to the age old convictions and is not prepared to break away from them and accept ideas which appear new and novel. But by constant association with a Godman or a man of realization, the Light of Truth gradually dawns upon him, and in course of time he begins to realize the Truth.