Chapter 5: The Art of Listening
Nanak says, Through listening the devotee is full of bliss,
And sin and sorrow are destroyed.
If you have learned the art of listening you will be filled with joy, because then you have become the witness; and the witness is joy itself. Shravana occurs, the mind is no more, and its extinction is joy. Bliss is to go beyond the mind. At the moment when listening takes place, the chain of thoughts is broken and there is bliss, there is transcendence. You are no longer in the valley of thoughts but on the lofty peak where thoughts do not reach - beyond the dust and grime, where there is only unbroken silence. On this lofty, silent peak there is nothing but the resonance of bliss and you reach the supreme blessedness.
Through shravana alone suffering and sin are destroyed. Where is sin for him who has acquired the art of listening? For sin is connected with thoughts only. Understand this a little. A car passes you on the road and the thought occurs: I should have a car like that. Now you have become glued to the thought. There is only one refrain within you: how to get such a car. By fair means or foul the car must be had. You cannot sleep nights, your days are equally restless; your dreams are filled with the car, your thoughts are filled with the car; the car surrounds you on all sides.
What actually happened? The car passed and a thought arose within you, because everything that you see is reflected in the mind. But once you are identified with the thought, you cannot stand apart.
A beautiful woman passes and a thought arises in the mind. This is natural, because the mind is only a mirror; its function is to reflect whatever happens around it. When the woman passed, the mind registered the reflection. When the woman is no longer there, the reflection must also cease. Had you been just a witness there was no way to sin. But once you became identified with the thought you wanted this woman at any cost. By love or by force, by violence or by nonviolence, you must have her.
Thus a single thought catches hold of you, possesses you. Had you allowed the thoughts to rise and fade, and been only a witness, there would be no question of sin. All sins arise because of your identification with thoughts. Then the thoughts get hold of you so badly that you shake like a leaf in a storm. Thoughts have brought you nothing but unhappiness and suffering, but you are not even conscious enough to realize that all suffering coincides with thoughts, and bliss occurs only in the state of no-thoughts.
Nanak says, “Through shravana suffering and sin are destroyed because the fruit of sin is suffering. Sin is the seed and suffering is the fruit.”
When sin is gone suffering is no more. What remains when sin and suffering are no more - that state is samadhi, which is bliss itself.