The supreme law expresses the Realm of Religion.
Now to understand the conditions of the Realm of Knowledge:
So many winds, waters, and fires; so many Krishnas and Shivas;
So many Brahmas, so many of His creations of so many colors and forms;
So many fields of action and sacred mountains; so many polar stars and so many sermons;
So many Indras, and moons and suns, and galaxies, and continents;
So many enlightened ones, and buddhas, and masters, and goddesses;
So many gods and devils, and munis; so many jewels, so many oceans;
So many species and tongues, so many kings and emperors;
So many remembrances, so many devotees;
Nanak says, There is no end to it, no end.
Knowing is the expression of the Realm of Knowledge.
There is music and mirth and frolic and bliss.
Modesty is the expression of the Realm of Shame.
The experiences that take place are beautiful and incomparable.
He cannot be spoken of in words.
He who tries repents later.
Memory, mind, understanding, and intelligence are all formulated here;
And the consciousness of gods and enlightened ones.
Nanak has divided existence and its quest into four realms. The division is very scientific and worth understanding. He names the realms: Religion, Knowledge, Shame and Grace.
The section of religion deals with the expression of dharma, the law, the rule, that governs the whole of existence. The Vedas refer to it as rut, which means unchangeable law – what Lao Tzu calls Tao. From rut is derived rutu, the seasons. At the time of the Vedas, the seasons were so regular and clear-cut that there was not a moment’s difference from one year to the next. Spring would come on the exact day, the rains would start the very day they were supposed to. Man has disturbed nature completely so that the seasons are no longer seasons. The word rutu was given specifically to the seasons for they worked exactly according to their timetable, following an unchangeable law. There was a system at work. Because of man’s so-called knowledge, everything has gone haywire; even the seasons have gone off the rails, so to speak.
The West is now much more concerned about this state of affairs, giving rise to a movement around a new branch of science: ecology. Ecologists insist that nature be not tampered with. They believe that man should leave nature to God if he wishes to survive. Changes in nature bring about changes in the surroundings, which are being destroyed, and we are approaching a point that is dangerous for mankind.
The art of knowing the most intrinsic discipline of the supreme law of life is called dharma, religion. Buddha used the Pali word, dhamma, to mean the rule. When a Buddhist monk says, “Now I surrender myself to the law,” he lets go of his self to seek shelter in the supreme law “through which I was born and in which I shall dissolve.” To know truth is to know this rule.
To express this fundamental law of life, Nanak says, is the basis for the realm of religion. We live, but we live by our thoughts. We think a thousand times before we take a single step. And the more we think the more our steps fall in the wrong place. Whatever steps we take without the intrusion of thoughts invariably lead us right.