Sukhmani: The Secret of Inner Peace

New Translation and Commentary by Doug Marman

Down through time, mystics, seers, and spiritual travelers have journeyed into higher states of consciousness. They returned transformed and inspired. Each described their experiences differently. Some say they saw the Cosmic Tree of Life. Others tell about merging into a pool of truth, or visiting a golden temple of wisdom. These are not myths, but poetic ways of describing the awareness that bathed, illuminated, and enlightened them.

Sukhmani-New-218x280“Sukhmani” means “bringer of peace to the heart.” Guru Arjan wrote this book over 400 years ago, after someone struggling with life begged him to share how he found peacefulness. Arjan’s answer is one of the deepest and most insightful testaments ever recorded.

However, this book tells another story, as well: That spiritual teachings are often lost through dogmatic thinking and the practice of ritualseven when the author warned of this danger.

Sukhmani should be of particular interest to modern day followers of Eckankar, Sant Mat, and Radhasoami. The connection with Eckankar is especially strong. The Sukhmani opens with this line:

Ek Onkar Sat Guru Prasad.

This means: “The One Realityrealized through the grace of the True Guru.” Some translations spell it this way:

Ekankar Sat Guru Prasad.

The resemblance to Eckankar is no accident. Paul Twitchell derived the name for his modern teaching from this phrase. The connection goes deeper, as Guru Arjan was teaching what he knew of Eckankar, in his time.

This new translation is an attempt at restoring Sukhmani to its original meaning, to return a sacred stone, once lost, to its original source. Reading Guru Arjan’s words shows us how timeless the living path of Spirit truly is.

Ebook Formats

This new book is available in ebook formats only, at this time. There are three options:

  1. PDF format has been designed with large type to make reading on tablets and smart phones easy. It retains all the benefits of traditional book page design. It is the ideal choice for reading on PCs of any kind, and is compatible with almost all ebook readers, including iPads and Kindles. If you want to print out the book, to read a hard copy, the PDF version is best: ISBN 9780979326097 / 205 pages / $6.75
  2. EPUB format. This ebook format works for the iPad/iPhone and most ebook readers, except Kindles. EPUB books allow you to change type size and select the font you like: ISBN 9780979326073 / $6.75
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  4. PRINTED BOOK. If you would like to buy a professionally printed paperback copy of this book, send us a message (click here) and let us know. If we get enough requests, we will print copies of this book as well.

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EXCERPT FROM SUKHMANI – THE SECRET OF INNER PEACE:

Remembering God

Ek Onkar (The One God) is realized through the grace of the True Guru.

I bow to the Primal Guru, the source of all teachings.
I bow to the Guru of the Ages, who existed before time.
I bow to the True Guru.
I bow to the Living Guru.

1.

Remember, remember, remember God,
And obtain the spiritual peace that dispels the troubles of mind and body.

Remember the Name of Ek (The One) which showers blessings upon the world.
Its name is uttered and remembered silently by countless beings.

Writers of the holy books have found the most sacred word of Ek.
They declare this Word is God’s name.

In whomever’s heart the Ek resides, even to a small extent,
No praises can describe such a one.

There are lovers who long for only one glance from IT.
O Nanak, join the society of those who are closest to God.

2.

God’s Name is Sukhmani (Bestower of spiritual peace and happiness).
This nectar resides in the hearts of true lovers of God.

Pause.

By remembering God, Soul leaves behind the cycles of birth and rebirth.
By remembering God, the Lord of Death stands aside.

By remembering God, the dark shadow of Kal cannot approach.
By remembering God, the inner enemies of turmoil and confusion retreat.

By remembering God, obstacles of the heart cannot arise.
By remembering God, the lover of God remains awake, inwardly, night and day.

By remembering God, fearfulness leaves the mind.
By remembering God, sorrow and pain may pass by, but they cannot grip Soul.

The gift of the remembrance of God is gained in Satsang, amongst true lovers of God.
O Nanak, all treasures of wealth are obtained through the sincere love of God.

* * * * *

Commentary:

LISTEN TO THE RESONANCE and reverberation of Arjan’s phrase, “remembering God,” over and over. This sound carries an echo of the spiritual exercise it is describing: repeating the sacred names of God. This is what this chapter describes through its words and, even more importantly, with its fabric and design.

* * * * *

This theme will resurface throughout Sukhmani. But even though Arjan says it over and over, never once is the actual name of God ever mentioned. There is a reason for this. . .

This shows us that the Name is something else. It is not a word to be spelled out with letters. It can only be uttered in the unspoken language, as Guru Nanak called it. This means that only Soul knows how to speak it. It must come from within.

Even more importantly is the fact that this is not mentioned in writing. The practice of chanting the name of God is taught to those who would follow these teachings. This shows that the power of this system is derived not from the word itself, but from the grace of the True Guru or Spiritual Teacher.

This is the meaning of the opening phrase of Sukhmani. This teaching is gained “through the grace of the True Guru.” It is imparted, or shall we say transmitted, to the follower. The seeker must catch its inner form and resonance from those who have it.

* * * * *

[W]hen Arjan refers to the True Guru, he means something more than a human being. It manifests both outwardly and inwardly. It belongs to no religion, since it pre-dates all of them. Yet, It is the source of all spiritual teachings and wisdom. Connecting us on the outer to the true name of God, the True Guru leads us back to the original source, which is God Itself.

The need of a Guru, Master, or Spiritual Teacher is at odds with our modern scientific culture. Academic education teaches intellectual knowledge that can be gained from studying written words. To scholars, sacred teachings are no more than what is contained in the holy books of the various traditions. If we study and read these holy books, they claim, we will understand everything known to religion.

This shows that our modern educational system is focused on the outer world. There is no mention of an inner teaching that can only be caught through contemplation and by connecting with those who have gained it before. Only Soul, or Surat, can gain these secrets of Spirit.

The other problem with gurus and spiritual teachers, of course, is how difficult it can be for seekers to distinguish the true ones. Wherever we look, we see examples of men and women claiming to be teachers. Many are no more than orthodox preachers, and the worst are deluded by their own self importance. This makes finding a Living Guru a difficult task.

Popular Western society has no solution to this dilemma. It rejects the problem by claiming that those who follow spiritual teachers are fools. As a result, the mainstream belief today is that we should only depend upon ourselves or God, but never another person.

Sukhmani gives out a very different teaching. The message is just as relevant today as it was 400 years ago. The path of the mind is a road filled with doubts and fears, because the mind cannot resolve these issues. But the Nam of God can. As Rumi, the Sufi mystic, once explained, God doesn’t solve each problem separately, but provides one answer that resolves all questions.

Therefore, practice of the remembrance of God, when learned from one who carries this Nam upon their tongue, restores to us the true meaning of the Path. Soul recognizes the truth of this, and the happiness discovered is proof of this. This is how Sukhmani imparts spiritual peace.

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31 thoughts on “Sukhmani: The Secret of Inner Peace

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying this book! It is insightful, refreshing, and puts a lot of mysteries firmly into place. Thank you for writing it!

    Jari

    • Just finished the book and really loved it! Thanks so much!
      One question—why is God referred to as “He” later in the book, where mostly God is referred to as It.
      Personally, I prefer It as, of course, God has no gender.
      Do the words change or is it interpretation? If they do change, why?

      • Jari, it’s a good question. Translating from a foreign language is always a balancing act. The problem, in this case, is that the English language has no personal term that is gender neutral. Guru Nanak’s writing, and most of Guru Arjan’s writing as well, referred to God by using a variety of metaphors and terms. The overall impression is that God, to them, was neutral, neither male nor female. However, it is also clear that the experience of God is deeply personal and intimate to them.

        The English term, IT, is neutral, but it loses the personal connection that they were getting at. That’s why, at times, to capture the close feeling of the spiritual experience, I used the term, He. It’s a compromise. Like you, I prefer the neutral term. But I also didn’t want to lose the intimacy of remembering the One.

        Most English translations use the term, He, more often than I did. They also use names for God that are not well known to most English readers. I’ve tried to focus on translating what the author was trying to get across to the reader. Not just the ideas, but the spiritual impact as well.

        Doing a translation is largely an art form, since there is always an element of interpretation.

        I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking.

        Doug.

  2. I’ve now read nearly half of the book, and i must say, quite well done! It is refreshing to see a modern interpretation of this writing that doesn’t seek to write off or deny the interpretations that any Chela of Eckankar would easily arrive at. While some choose to use the concept of time to attempt to show the integrity of a truth or teaching, and using the same to dismiss the entirety of Eckankar or any points of view or personal experiences that might be had, any that have an eye for Truth, regardless of whether or not they be a student of Eckankar, can easily see where the truths shown in the Sukhmani, regardless of the interpretations or wordings used in any version, have much in common. It isn’t at all dependent on one’s religious or spiritual choice so much as it is upon one’s ability to read and recognize truthful spiritual concepts, and also the willingness to see the evidence that these exist throughout, regardless of any particular point of view, or limitations of view. While ECKist readers will obviously enjoy and value your efforts, hopefully there will not be any such limitation overall. I think a great many could and shall find value in your interpretations and commentaries. Thank you.

    Kinpa on Spiritual Dialogues forums

    • Thanks, Matt. I agree with you, and I also hope that others will find the book of value, whatever spiritual path they follow. I believe Sukhmani was originally written for everyone, and I tried to retain this in my translation and my commentary. Thanks.

  3. Back in 1980 I made a spiritual journey all the way down through Europe, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan to India and Nepal. I had a few days in Amritsar and met a young guide who drove me, on his bike rickshaw, to visit the golden temple on the lake. He had a small sign tattooed on his hand, and I asked him what it meant. He answered, that it meant Ekonkar. I thought he said Eckankar with an Indian accent. Now i realize that he was really saying Ek onkar. I already new from Paul Twitchell’s writings about the connection of Eckankar to Guru Nanak, but when the young guide further told me, that Eckankar (Ek onkar) was the first word in the Sikh holy book placed in “The Golden temple” I felt the presence of history and truth, and the purpose of my trip synchronizing.

    Kim

  4. Hi Doug,
    Have a question about the Sukhmani. I read through it several times and I’m blown away by Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan and by your commentary on their teachings.
    I didn’t read anything about the Hu in your book and was wondering if it was used by either Guru to your knowledge as it was in Rumi’s verses?
    The only thing that comes close to Hu the reference to EK oohh.
    Rob R.

    • Rob, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying Sukhmani.

      To answer your question, I haven’t seen references to the Hu as a sacred word, in any of the Sikh writings.

      Yes, the Hu is well known amongst the Sufis, such as Rumi, and many other ancient cultures around the world. T

      Since the Sikh Gurus have quoted from Sufi saints, and some sections of the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) comes from some of these Sufis, there might be references to the Hu in Sikh literature. However, I haven’t run across it.

      Doug.

  5. Thanks, very much, Doug, for your patience, as I was not able to put the threads together for myself. (That is why I feel I am in the remedial class most of the time. :) and yes makes sense to me now, and look forward to learning more about the beauty of the inner teachings and where they have led/lead us today. It’s great that, as Soul, we now have so many choices available to us. All the best to you, in IT all, George – HU

    • George, I think everyone in this world is here to learn, so you could say we all are in a remedial class. I certainly feel that way at times, as well, especially when I compare myself to some of the spiritual masters who have graced our planet.

      I once had an inner experience with one of these masters. When he sensed that I was somewhat in awe of him, he said to me that no matter how far one grows spiritually, we always find ourselves standing in the middle, between those who who can teach us, on the one hand, and those whom we can help teach, on the other.

      That changed my perspective.

      However, I thought your questions were good ones. Thanks for asking them.

      Doug.

      • Thanks, Doug. I appreciate the added perspective and depth you share. And the experience you mention makes sense and gives us some confirmation that we are all becoming more God-like wherever we are in the fulfillment process when we are open/aware of being of service to those around us. Peace and warm regards, to you in ECK. George – HU

  6. Hi Doug,
    Kudos to you for your detailed research and ability to bring this back for us. Some questions as I show my ignorance in these studies. Was Guru Nanak part of another spiritual tradition of his time? and who was his master? and what is the connection/common link between Sant Mat, and Rhadosaomi?, and now ECKANKAR? Just trying to get a handle on the threads of these teachings, their beginnings and their relationship with ECK. Make sense? Thanks again, and all the best. in ECK, George
    PS I too would be interested in a printed copy.

    • George,

      I’ll add your name to the list for a printed copy.

      Guru Nanak is considered the founder of the Sikh religion, although he actually never intended to start another religion. He was trying to avoid that, as I mention in the Introduction of Sukhmani. I also have a quote from Nanak’s own words on who his Master was and where his teaching came from. He said that his Master was the Preceptor of the Age. In other words, the Living Master for the time. He also makes it clear that the teaching came from within, not from a tradition or external teaching. I also quoted Paul Twitchell, who said that Guru Nanak made contact with Eckankar and taught what he knew of it.

      Sant Mat is an informal grouping of spiritual teachers who put the importance of a living master above any religious tradition. They vary widely in what they taught and their level of awareness. Kabir, who Paul Twitchell called a Mahanta, is often considered the one who began the Sant Mat teaching. By the way Sant Mat simply means the path of the Masters, meaning it is intended to be the path that spiritual teachers follow and teach. Guru Nanak is sometimes considered a teacher of Sant Mat, although his teaching ended up being formalized into the Sikh religion, whereas the other Sant Mat teachings were not.

      Radhasoami is one particular branch of Sant Mat. It is probably the most successful, spiritually that is, of the Sant Mat groups in our modern time, although it has become so popular in some areas of India that it functions as just another religion. The whole vitality depends on the Master. That’s the point of Sant Mat, but it is also its greatest challenge.

      There is more about all of this in the book. However, I should make it clear that everything I say is from my perspective, and I realize that others see things differently. What I’ve written is intended as part of a dialogue, not the final word.

      I hope this helps. Thanks.

      Doug.

  7. Doug returns a sacred stone, and the ethers tremble with delight.

    Deep thanks for your writing, which I’ve found inspiring and helpful.

    I’ll order a hard copy when you’re ready to print some.

    Best,

    Peter

  8. Doug,
    Enjoying reading what has so far been made available. Old school; meaning prefer to add my name to the list of those wishing for a hardbound hold in these hands book.
    Seems the closer on gets to expressing Divine Love through writing the stronger the resistance will manifest.
    Keep on more power to you for the efforts we know nothing about. Grateful for the sharing you offer.
    Timothyray

  9. I have(hold) and see truth as a fluid,moving substance which flows moment to moment.I really respect writers who are able to express more than opinion,although I realize that some would say all truth is nothing more than opinion.I think disagreement ,at it’s core,has to do with freedom and existing peacefully with each other only.More than that,I’m not wise enough to express the way in which I would like.I would love to have an unedited translator of my inner worlds.I’m sure it would appear to be filled with disagreement so I’m wanting when it comes to facing opposition as I find myself not able to criticize that which is a part of me at my core from the beginning.I have the experience of what I call the Unified Self and I am found rather inept to explain the unifying process of life and how it comes about.I wish all the best in this journey.May we all find the Unified Self because it is beauty and truth in all it’s golden glory .Amen

    • Thanks, Hubee.

      As it turns out, the next book I’m writing tries to explain exactly about what you are talking about: The Unified Self and the key role it plays in life.

      It springs from your opening line, that truth is an inner recognition, not an outer form.

      I’m sure it is just a coincidence that we happen to be on the same track. :)

      Doug.

      • I appear as dysfunctional, disabled ,person who is easily ignored in any social setting.This is my advantage in life because I find it useful in helping directly people who also are easily ignored,and even shunned by society.This is what I do for enjoyment and what makes me smile.And my way is not the way of the public speaker but it is a tried and true method of many of the Sufi path in the not so ancient past.I have had experiences in environments that would horrify others.Sadly,those types of experiences are becoming more prevalent because of world instability.I laugh easily and you cause me to smile often.I received the teaching of the United Self at a springtime Eck seminar.How many people only saw a disabled Eck Master in a wheel chair?(Not many who were actually there.)The United Self(selves) exists without boundaries even as we go separate ways daily and appear very different from one another.This is the source of my humor.How do we not recognize this?And,yes,this must be a series of unimaginable coincidences happening forever in time.LOL luv,Hubee

  10. As I mentioned in the Introduction to my book, I expected to receive criticism. Well, the first such note arrived. We won’t be posting it here, however, since this web site is dedicated to respectful dialogue.

    We want this site to be a place where people feel the space to believe whatever they decide. We should each feel free to come to our own conclusions.

    Spiritual Dialogue is a term that refers to the discussions we have with friends about the meaning of life. It can lead to real insights, but the magic of this kind of dialogue is that it comes from people who give each other room to see things the way they do.

    There is nothing wrong with criticism. We can and do disagree with our friends, but we do it in a way that tries not to offend them. A good friendship gives us space to be different from each other, while still appreciating our friendship and our differences.

    “Walter” (not his real name since he used an Internet anonymizer to hide his identity) asked a question and said a few things that I think are worth sharing. So, I’m going to respond in the spirit of this web site.

    Walter asked: “You say this is a translation? Then when did you learn Gurmukhī and Punjabi then?”

    This is a good question, and readers might find it interesting that it took me more than ten years to finish this translation. I learned what I needed in that time. However, I would not call myself proficient with the language of Gurmukhi. That’s why I also referred to experts for guidance.

    Walter wrote: “There is translations, and then there is interpretations Doug, it appears you have attempted an interesting personal re-interpretation of the Suhkmani by rewriting it in this manner.”

    One thing I have learned from the process of doing translation is that interpretation is always necessary. There is no such thing as a translation without interpretation, especially when spiritual subjects are involved.

    I did my first translation over 35 years ago. Fortunately, in that case the author was still alive, so I could get feedback. I was pleased to hear that my effort was accurate and appreciated.

    I used the skills I learned to translate Rumi’s discourses from the Farsi language. I’ve since heard from Farsi experts, and others who know Rumi’s writings, that my translation was done well. A number have said it is the best translation available.

    I had the good fortune of getting feedback from a descendant of Rumi, living in Iran, who grew up studying Rumi’s writings. She said that my translation helped her understand portions of Rumi’s writings that she hadn’t understood before. She also offered some good suggestions.

    My approach to the Sukhmani was the same. I used four different English translations to guide me. I also had the advice of someone who was trained in Punjabi. My goal was to stay as close to Guru Arjan’s words as possible, while also capturing the spirit of what he was saying. This is a challenge that all translators face.

    Walter concluded that what I was trying to do was give out the message I wanted to give out, not Guru Arjan’s. He said that I should let the world have Arjan’s own words, not my own.

    In this case, Walter is simply wrong. The last thing I wanted to do was put my own words into Guru Arjan’s mouth. The reason I spent so many years working with the Sukhmani is because I was amazed at the depth of what he wrote. I’ve done my best to bring Guru Arjan’s book into English, as he intended.

    However, if people want a more traditional translation, there are quite a few available. Many can be read online. If Walter’s suggestion is to let the world have those translations, I agree with him. We should give space to others for their interpretations. We should let the world have those as well.

    I would like to conclude by saying to Walter that I wish him good will, and I respect his disagreements. We each see things differently, and I think that is way it should be.

    Doug.

    • I am familiar with this person’s comment being that I read it this evening under another alias on google groups. I had not been previously aware that you had addressed it, but find it interesting that you did, since he has seemed to have decided to make disagreeing with you and challenging your interpretations a crutch for him to use. I came here to see if he was perhaps trying the same here. While I am certain that he will never accept your response as having any value, I’ll add my five cents in because at the very least it demonstrates a willingness to address these sorts of things, and there are a great many who flat out refuse to do so. In my opinion, it was well said!

  11. Dear Doug

    I thank you from my heart for the work you’re doing. Work that should have been published somewhere else a long, long time ago. But then again I guess, that the work of truth, will always have to come from individuals and not from organizations. This is the real spiritual work and not the work of a religion.

    I myself have researched the roots of the truth of the teachings for many years, although I don’t have your skills of writing, translating and publishing.
    Your book on Rumi led me to study Shams-i Tabrizi and I thank you for that inspiration too.
    Also I corresponded with Brad Steiger who said, that “The Whole Truth” was the best book written about Paul Twitchell, and that he always led people to your book for info on Paul. I couldn’t agree more. It’s the work of a true lover of truth.

    So thank you again Doug. I hope to see your new book in hardcover soon.

    In Spirit

    Kim

  12. I’ve read all 3 previous books, each has helped me greatly on my spiritual quest in various ways. Paul Twitchell, the whole truth, revealed the complexities and spiritual strength of a modern prophet, as he gave birth and spiritual life to a modern day teaching, warts and all. Rumi discourses brought truth right up to the doorstep of my heart, and ‘Questions’ especially the latter chapters, helped me find my spiritual bearings in the formless worlds beyond duality. Thanks, mate. I look forward to downloading this ebook. You are a North Star to the seeker of truth.

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