Someone is speaking, you are listening as well as looking. But how can you be sure that the person you are seeing is the same one you are hearing? Eyes and ears are different from each other. One indicates that it can see someone; the other indicates that it can hear someone. But how do you connect both of these? Who is it who combines the two experiences and conveys to us that they refer to the same person?
There must be a common ground where all the senses combine their experience: the visions sent by the eyes, the sounds sent by the ears, the smells gathered by the nose, the touch felt by the hand. It is the focusing of attention that provides the common point determining the experience. Were it not so, life would be very jumbled and confused. You could never be sure whether you are seeing the same person who is talking, and whether the odors you smell also come from him. You would be broken into bits if there were not one to unite the five. All five paths must meet somewhere where their experiences are collected. This place is dhyana, attention.
Nanak says that attention is the guru of these five, who are disciples; but you have made gurus out of the disciples and forgotten the guru. You have turned the servants into masters and have no knowledge of the master at all. You heed your senses and don’t give any thought to attention. You have completely forgotten that the senses are only superficial extensions of attention and you do not know what lies deep within.
If you want to lead a truly beautiful life, do not listen to the senses, because they are incomplete and only land you in trouble. In most cases people are slaves to one sense or the other. Some are mad after the sense of taste – food, food and food – they can think of nothing else. It is said about emperor Nero that he was a fiend for food. It was not just that he ate many times a day, but he kept on eating all day. Doctors were attending him permanently to make him vomit after each meal so that he could eat again.
You might say that he was mad, but this kind of madness exists more or less in all people. Some are addicted to sight – looking out for beautiful faces, beautiful bodies, even if they suffer in the process. They are slaves to their eyes.
You are blind if you are a slave to your eyes, because the authentic seeing organ is not the eye, which is merely a window. The one who looks out from this window is someone else. Do not ask questions of the window, but ask the one who peeps through it. People who are addicted to sounds and smells or to adorning the body, who are lost in music, or have the perversion of touching are all mad after their senses, and have accepted their slaves to be their masters. Listen rather to the owner who is the master within, because once he departs, the senses lie useless.