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Talking Stick

In The World, Yet Unworldly
The Talking Stick Colloquium # 59

Convenor: RAVINDER SINGH

 

 

Guru Nanak writes thus about Yoga:

 

Jog na kẖinthā jog na dandai jog na bẖasam cẖaṛāīye
Wearing a patched coat, or carrying a staff; the smearing of ashes;

Jog na munḏī mūnd mudā▫i▫ai jog na sińī vā▫ī▫ai.
Earrings and a shaven head, blowing a conch - Yoga, this is not.

Anjan māhi niranjan rahī▫ai jog jugaṯ iv pā▫ī▫ai
Remain in the world but remain unworldly -  that is the practice of Yoga.

Galī jog na ho▫ī
Mere talk brings not the fruit of Yoga.

Ėk ḏarisat kar samsar jāṇai jogī kahī▫ai so▫ī.
Witnessing the One in all, such is a Yogi.

Jog na bāhar maṛī masāṇī jog na ṯāṛī lā▫ī▫ai
Sitting by smoldering pyres, long spells of silence

Jog na ḏes disanṯar bẖavi▫ai jog na ṯirath nā▫ī▫ai.
Wandering in distant lands, bathing at pilgrimages - Yoga, this is not.

Anjan māhi niranjan rahī▫ai jog jugaṯ iv pā▫ī▫ai.
Remain in the world but remain unworldly - that is the practice of Yoga.

Saṯgur bẖetai ṯā sahsā ṯūtai ḏẖāvaṯ varaj rahā▫ī▫ai.
Meeting the Guru, doubt is dispelled and the wandering mind stilled

Nijẖar jẖarai sahj ḏẖun lāgai gẖar hī parcẖā pā▫ī▫ai
The spring of divine nectar rains down, celestial music sounds.
Deep within the self, wisdom dawns.

Anjan māhi niranjan rahī▫ai jog jugaṯ iv pā▫ī▫ai.
Remain in the world but remain unworldly - that is the practice of Yoga

Nānak jīvṯi▫ā mar rahī▫ai aisā jog kamā▫ī▫ai
O Nanak, practice the Yoga of inner dying

vāje bājẖahu sińī vājai ṯa▫o nirbẖa▫o paḏ pā▫ī▫ai
The unstruck melody then sounds and the ultimate state is attained.

Anjan māhi niranjan rahī▫ai jog jugaṯ iv pā▫ī▫ai.
Remaining in the world, remain unworldly - that is the practice of Yoga

[GGS, M1:730

 

This passage is a succinct enunciation of Sikhi's view of Yoga, through the words of Guru Nanak himself.

As a ritual or spiritual exercise, it is summarily rejected for Sikhs. Which leaves it stripped of the esoteric connotations that have been given to it - surprisingly, only in recent times - and leaves it as a mere health and fitness exercise.

[CLICK here for a detailed discussion on Yoga by a distinguished Indian scholar who is also a Hindu. She establishes that Yoga, in its modern manifestation as we know it, is neither a time-honoured Hindu practice nor ancient.]

To better understand the nuances of Guru Nanak's words, it is worth noting the variety of meanings - in addition to the reference to the practice of 'yoga' - historically acribed to the word "jog", the word used in the original text:

Union;

Merging with the Supreme Being by means of concentration and meditation;  

A yoke that holds a pair of oxen together;

Junction, fitting;

Conjunction of auspicious stars;

A fortunate moment;

Opportunty, occasion;

Devotion, which consists in concentration of the thought process ...

 

LETS REFLECT ON:

The genius of the Sikh Gurus lay in their ability to borrow indigenous terminology and invest it with a different - and deeper - meaning. The term "Jog" or Yoga, and its different aspects associated today with the Hindu ritual and practice bearing that name, is but one meaning of the term. The problem is that we tend to misunderstand and misuse the term in the context of Sikhi, by viewing it through its Hindu conotations, which are clearly rejected by our Gurus, as evidenced in the above-quoted passage.

Let's reflect on the usage of the term 'Yoga' in Gurmat parlance. What does the term imply in Gurbani?

What can we elicit from the passage under consideration as to what the right form of Yoga is for us - and its implications?

The practice of Yoga, especially Hatha Yoga and Pranayama, which involve physical postures and breathing exercises, is becoming increasingly popular, even with Sikhs. Is it okay for Sikhs to practice Hatha Yoga? As a spiritual exercise? As a heath and fitness routine to prepare the body to be healthy and fit ... and then, hopefully, be able to do simran without distractions?

The verses are also emphatic in rejecting renunciation as a way of life and enjoin us to be in the world, but not of it.

What does that mean?

We are asked to practice “dying” while living, as being true form of Yoga.

Would love to hear from the readers as to what this means and how does the external life of such an individual appear?

 

August 29, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), August 29, 2011, 10:57 AM.

Sikhi differs from all other ideologies in that it rejects all ritualistic ceremonies, superstitions, magic, female abuse, and institutionalized religion. Yoga was practiced mainly by hindu ascetics who renounced the world to attain salvation.

2: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), August 29, 2011, 4:37 PM.

I am tired of seeing the word 'yoga' used as a grab bag. We must always distinguish between true yoga (Punjabi 'jog' and the Sanskrit 'yog'- both are pronounced as 'joke') and the practices that are denounced in gurbani. Guru Nanak has censured futile practices and rituals in all paths. In this shabad above, the first two stanzas address various customs of the 'street yogis' of the Naath sect, who wandered around adopting a characteristic appearance and lifestyle. These outer practices are not conducive to any yoga.

3: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), August 29, 2011, 4:40 PM.

And let us also not gloat over the futility of these 'yoga' practices. Guru Nanak would admonish us in the same manner today. Just as he says above, yoga is not attained by mere talk - he would say that 'mere talk does not make one a Sikh'. Let us also remember that Hatha yoga or the physical exercises (the 'western' yoga) constitute only a branch of yoga. The Hatha yogis may claim that their exercises lead to yoga. The chiropractors may also claim that spinal manipulation can cure all illness, but this error does not render the spinal manipulation useless. Similarly, exercises are useful in their own place, but not in achieving the goal of yoga. The term 'yoga' has been misused by many.

4: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), August 29, 2011, 4:45 PM.

The real meaning of yoga is: a practice that would lead to union (jog). Patanjali has said that "Yoga is removal of the inner noise. Then, the observer is established in view of the Self" [Yoga Sutras 1.2-3]. Our methods differ from Patanjali's but gurbani does not contradict this form of yoga. Our methods differ because God is not an inanimate object. But conquering our mind is an essential step, in all paths. This cannot be accomplished as long as we allow the world to heat and to color our thoughts and our emotions. Before misquoting gurbani's rejection of the Naath yoga practices, and using it to reject all forms of yoga, we should examine how close we are to the form of yoga that is promoted in gurbani above. We need to rise above the lukewarm Sikhi or, the Sunday Sikhi. We need to dive into the actual practices. See also: "I have heard the discipline of yoga from my Guru (today). True Guru has caused me to see it through the shabad." [GGS:208.1-7]

5: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), August 29, 2011, 6:30 PM.

On BBC 24 News channel yesterday, I saw a special report on another Indian baba who calls himself 'Sri Sri Ravi Shankar' and how millions are following him in 'meditation' classes, and the commercial operation at his 'headquarters'. It also featured an academic criticising the 'lavish' lifestyles of some of his followers. It is all to do with money, egotism and fame.

6: Raj (Canada), August 29, 2011, 7:42 PM.

I have no problem with Sikhs practicing yoga, for the sake of its health benefits. It has no spiritual merit. I have meta few people at a very high spiritual level, non of them practiced yoga. Yes, they did simran of "saas giraas", that is, they remember God while doing their worldly chores.

7: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), August 30, 2011, 6:43 AM.

"Raaj Jog" is what is promoted in Sikhi.

8: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), August 30, 2011, 9:40 AM.

We are defining union as merging with the Supreme Being by means of concentration and meditation. I'm not sure if these are Sikh concepta from gurbani or whether they are borrowed from elsewhere. Sikhi simply suggests simran of naam ... that's it.

9: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 30, 2011, 10:28 AM.

The stanza in reference is about Jogmat and not Yoga, the jogi who abandons responsibility of family and moves to the forest in search of salvation. Guru Nanak suggests living within society with full responsibility of family life, and searching God within. That is Sikhi. (More later, as I am still in rehab, and will be discharged by 31 Aug. I am fully recovered, by the grace of Waheguru.)

10: Ravinder Singh (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), August 31, 2011, 5:42 AM.

Even though this particular passage is aimed at the "street yogi" (as Yuktanand ji rightly points out) or idlers, we cannot make a sharp distinction between Gorakhnath and Patanjali, because today, there is quite a bit of diffusion between the two. For our purposes, the discussion is really about yoga in its broadest sense. We will find that the Gurus did not disagree with the end (union) but had serious reservations about becoming "self-absorbed" or narcissistic, if you will, and not being a productive member of society.

11: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), August 31, 2011, 8:14 AM.

In gurbani, the reference to 'union' is clearly between two similar things - jot and joti. However, one is finite, at least prior to the union ... the other is Infinite.

12: Ravinder Singh (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), August 31, 2011, 5:14 PM.

"Joji jugat na janeh andh" - "The jogi, knowing not the way to union, gropes in the dark" [GGS, M1:662]. What then is the way of yoga/jog? Guru Nanak speaks of "shabad mareh man marey audhu jog jugat vicharee" [GGS,M1:908] - "In dying to the shabad by killing the mind - herein lies the method." It would be interesting to hear others' views on what dying to shabad means.

13: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 01, 2011, 12:47 PM.

"Dying to the shabad by killing the mind" would mean only one thing in Sikhi and that is 'spiritually' drowning in the ecstasy/love of the ultimate beauty of the Naam Shabad and the message contained therein ... where life reaches ultimate contentment, where no other pleasure is needed.

14: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 02, 2011, 7:08 AM.

Physical exercise (yoga) has nothing to do with spirituality, and therefore not allowed within a gurdwara hall, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. "Inner cleansing" techniques, controlling of breath, and such physically painful stunts, are rejected by Guru Nanak.

15: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 04, 2011, 8:00 PM.

Mohan Singh ji: I am glad that you are well. I had hoped to see more light on this topic. The subject of drinking alcohol (Roundtable) drew 24 thoughtful responses. In contrast, the subject of asceticism yoga and physical exercises versus 'being in the world but not of it' drew only 14, mostly against the yoga practices, with hardly any discussion (except the hints given in #6 #7 and #13) of Guru Nanak's intent. What does this tell about us? I guess this topic is closing tonight ... [EDITOR: All Roundtable topics, past and present, can be accessed any time, from the ROUNDTABLE icon on the HomePage.]

16: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:38 PM.

Since this topic is still open with only 14 messages, I will, once for all, post what I feel is still missing here. Please excuse the length. I have tried my best to shorten it.

17: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:42 PM.

Most Sikhs are adamant that Sikhs do not believe in any yoga and I agree with them, one hundred percent. But we need to banish such sentences from our repertoire because such a sweeping statement is testament of our own ignorance; ignorance of gurbani as well as ignorance of what yoga stands for. But Sikhs are not the only ones who are confused. As we see in the article referenced above, the word yoga represents varied practices today. Just as Guru Nanak has said 500 years ago, not all these practices represent true yoga. Anyone who does not meditate is like a bird without wings. In this respect, Sikhs have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. If all practices of yoga could be simply dismissed as useless, then Guru Nanak would have done so. He did not. Let us not misinterpret gurbani.

18: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:45 PM.

I do not advocate any yoga, and to shorten my already long string, let us forget the hatha yoga (physical exercises), tantric yoga and asceticism. They have no place in the Sikh path. Correct breathing is essential in all paths of life. It is always good to be disciplined and to train our body and our mind. Escapism is also found in all paths but neither Patanjali nor Bhagvad Gita (the two principal yoga treatises) requires asceticism. Nor do they suggest any painful contortions or exercises. Patanjali has devoted only one sutra to the physical posture (asana) saying that the asana should be steady and comfortable [2.46]. In contrast, we continue to insist that yoga is 'painful physical exercises and / or abandonment of the family life'. This needs to change.

19: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:50 PM.

Gurbani does not advocate any kind of yoga either. But as Parkash Singh ji has said above, gurbani supports (the aim and essence of) Raaj jog. Study of gurbani shows that it supports the essence of bhakti yog, karam yog and gyan yog also, as described in Bhagvad Gita, but not the hatha yoga or asceticism. Gurbani's approach is different because our aim is not practicing a yoga technique. For example, sitting cross legged (an asana) with the idea that this will lead to Sikhi would obviously not be Sikhi.

20: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:53 PM.

We do not pursue yoga to practice Sikhi. Rather, Sikhi makes us naturally practice the useful disciplines listed under yoga. We practice sitting cross legged so that we can sit for a long period without discomfort when we meditate. We meditate so that we can recite gurbani with love and with complete concentration. Gurbani makes us do the necessary yoga practices naturally. When we sit cross legged for hours in love of gurbani, we are practicing asana; when we do Saas Saas Simran, we are practicing proper breathing or pranayama; concentrating on gurbani leads to practice of dhyana (meditation) ... and so on. We do so naturally, without calling it yoga.

21: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:54 PM.

Thus, it is a mistake to say that we do not practice yoga. It is true that some practices seen in some gurdwaras, hyper-ventilating and frantically chanting the gurmantra, for example, do not fall under any form of yoga. But as I have discussed above, yoga means a practice or technique. This is why the word 'jugat' almost always accompanies 'jog' in gurbani. Thus, saying that Sikhs do not believe in any technique (jugat) shows only ignorance of the fact that proper jugat is not only required, it is essential. And we have abandoned it.

22: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 12:59 PM.

Gurbani compares our relationship with God to a marriage. Marriage is love. Marriage is not a technique or a practice. Practice of any form of yoga without Naam is like adorning our body or practicing some marriage techniques without a husband. Gurbani says that we must first win our husband, then do the adornment [GGS:788.7]. Gurbani also says that our husband does not like certain colors or a dirty robe [GGS:722.1]. Color of the world needs to come off and we need to be dyed in the color of Naam. But leaving the family and possessions is weakness. It is easy to let go when we have nothing left to lose. Our true color shows when we are in the world living like an ordinary householder. Thus we must live unmoved by worldly desires, being in the world but being dead towards it. Guru Nanak says above that, a yogi, someone who seeks union with God, must pass this test.

23: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 1:03 PM.

The yoga treatises discuss union with God through various physical and mental disciplines, through removal of ignorance and cleansing our mind through meditation. Gurbani views this as putting the cart before the horse. Meditation cannot cleanse our mind. We are in a marriage where, the bride is asleep while her husband lord is awake. We hear the message that our husband lord has prepared the bed and waits for us, but we cannot see it [GGS:737.16-17]. This ignorance makes us dirty. We sleepwalk and we wander, engaging in various disciplines. But these disciplines cannot wake us up. They can only enhance our physical and spiritual health. We will be ready to wake up only when our heart is not dyed with the color of this world. And we can wake up only if our husband lord speaks to us [GGS:737.19].

24: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 05, 2011, 1:08 PM.

Thus, we see that we need to break the wrong habits established over our lifetime. Various practices are useful tools to help break these patterns. But, as we read in Japji, we need to learn to hear his call, without our physical ears. When we beseech our husband lord, with each breath, to speak to us, it is called Naam Simran. When our husband Lord speaks to us, it is called Naam.

25: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 06, 2011, 5:56 AM.

While I agree with the other points raised by him, I differ in the content of message #21 where he says that "gurbani compares our relationship with God to a marriage." The use of the term "God" here is problematic. The same point will become clearer and more accurate if we resort to terminology which is closer to gurbani usage.

26: Balbir Singh (Germany), September 06, 2011, 8:45 AM.

Yuktanand ji: please provide a reference with respect to your comment re Naam Simran and Naam.

27: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 06, 2011, 9:26 AM.

I find that we are perhaps confused about the meaning of the word 'naam'. We all generally consider the meaning of the word as being 'Name'. I feel this is actually not so. For 'name' in gurbani we have another word and that word is 'naa-o'. Naam actually is the reference for a specific Word of Praise and represents the wave {tarang} of that specific word.

28: Ravinder Singh (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), September 06, 2011, 11:16 AM.

While I broadly agree with much that Yuktanand Singh ji and others have said, we need to also remember the role of "nadar" in all our efforts, which by themselves are only one side of the equation.

29: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 06, 2011, 2:30 PM.

Parkash Singh ji: Good point regarding the word 'God'. Could you suggest which word from gurbani I should have used?

30: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 06, 2011, 3:04 PM.

Balbir Singh ji: The short answer is that I do not have any references. I avoid providing reference to everything because I believe that all of us should research gurbani and see if our statements match it. If you suspect that gurbani contradicts something I said I will be glad to learn. Please indicate the verse. The case of Naam is different. Gurbani avoids describing it, because it cannot be described. Only a fool like me attempts to do so. You do not want me to write the long answer, do you? Besides, it would be a different topic.

31: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 06, 2011, 8:49 PM.

Yuktanand Singh ji: I feel that we should make use of the word 'prabh(u)' as a prime reference. The meaning of the word is Master or Supreme/ Ultimate Lord. This reference can be verified from Sukhmani Sahib. You may also notice that in most of the shabads, the word 'prabh' is the prime reference for the Creator.

32: Bishen Singh (Patiala, Punjab), September 07, 2011, 4:18 AM.

Prakash Singh ji: You have managed to underscore the basic problem with translation which we simply cannot avoid. You have added the word "Lord" in your translation of "prabh" when no gender is ascribed to any such term in the Guru Granth Sahib. We simply need to keep reminding ourselves of the limitations of language, and keep on referring back to the original for inspiration and guidance, but in an ever changing world, there'll always be new challenges. All of them are surmountable, even in translation, with constant diligence and a bit of extra effort.

33: Ravinder Singh (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), September 07, 2011, 4:47 AM.

The terminology that Guru Nanak uses in this composition leaves no doubt that it is aimed at Nath Yogis and their way of life. The key elements of Guru Nanak's message can be read between the lines. The refrain is "Remaining in the world, remain unworldly - that is the practice of Yoga." This is the central point: live in this world but remain unblemished, to be of this world but not of it. Inner dying implies "death" of haumai, the notion or belief that I am the center of the universe. Submission to the Guru opens our inner recesses to the wisdom that lies inherent in us.

34: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 07, 2011, 5:27 AM.

Prabh{u} is singular, prabh is plural.

35: Balbir Singh (Germany), September 07, 2011, 9:14 AM.

Jog is through Naam Simran.

36: R.S. Minhas (Millburn, New Jersey, U.S.A.), September 07, 2011, 11:42 AM.

Interesting discussion. So what would be the correct interpretation of the shabad, "jo jo deese so so rogi rog rahit mera satguru jogi"? Why is Satguru referred to as Yogi?

37: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 07, 2011, 3:02 PM.

Re Comment # 36: This line is by Bhai Gurdas. In gurbani, the qualities of a jogi are described at a number of places. Guru Tegh Bahadar: "par nindaa ustat nah jaa kai kanchan loh samaano/ harakh sog tay rahai ateetaa jogee taahi bakhaano [GGS:685] - "One who does not slander or praise others, who looks upon gold and iron alike, who is free from pleasure and pain - he alone is called a true yogi." Guru Nanak said: "He alone is a yogi who realizes the Word of the Guru's Shabad; the lotus of the heart blossoms forth within." [GGS:940]

38: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 08, 2011, 1:09 AM.

"jo jo deese so so rogi rog rahit mera satguru jogi" ... The message is that everything that we see around us is subject to some rog (disease, affliction). Only a true jogi is free from rog. Thus, this is also a reference to the greatest of all jogis - Satguru, who is free from rog.

39: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 08, 2011, 2:17 AM.

Veer Mohan Singh ji: The line quoted in # 36 is very much from gurbani. It's from shabad Bhairo M5, GGS:1040-41.

40: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 08, 2011, 6:41 AM.

Thanks, Prakash Singh ji. I found it on pages 1140-41 [GGS].

41: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 08, 2011, 8:36 AM.

It is easier to understand gurbani after we have eliminated physical exercises, contortions and asceticism from our mental image of true yoga. 'Jog' means both destination and path, union and the path to union. In the same manner, 'jogi' means both master of yoga (someone who has reached a state of union) as well as someone who is on this path. "Rog rahit mera satgur jogi" means: "Only my true guru, the master of yoga, is free of disease."

42: Balbir Singh (Germany), September 08, 2011, 8:38 AM.

All that is visible is rogi - afflicted. Satgur Jogi is rog-less. Is Satgur invisible? This is truth and still, for many, a riddle.

43: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 08, 2011, 10:03 AM.

From the above deliberations I find the following three things: 1) Jogi ... SatGuR(u). 2) Jog(u) ... Naam(u). 3) Jugat(i) ... Simran(u).

44: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 08, 2011, 12:12 PM.

Here's another verse from gurbani, [GGS:1421] - "Wearing saffron clothes does not reflect jog, remaining unclean does not reflect jog. Real jog can be attained at home only through the teachings of SatGuru.

45: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 08, 2011, 3:31 PM.

In gurbani, there are over 400 shabads referring to "jog". We need to understand the correct context of each reference before we start interpreting - or misinterpreting - them.

46: Balbir Singh (Germany), September 09, 2011, 4:30 AM.

Prakash ji: any attempt to understand spirituality without actual experience and immersion is futile.

47: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), September 09, 2011, 6:38 AM.

As in science, we first acquire the knowledge for the application of its principles in life, I believe gurbani too requires one to begin with basic principles ... there is no shortcut.

48: Balbir Singh (Germany), September 10, 2011, 11:54 AM.

Spirituality is not a mind game.

49: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 10, 2011, 1:53 PM.

This was an interesting topic. I hope that we can see now, how distortion of the term 'jog' (yoga) distorts our understanding of some very important portions of gurbani. We have similarly reduced 'naam' to a caricature. Analogies always help us better understand. But naam is at the top of the list of gifts that cannot be compared to any path or yoga. "One who accepts (naam) does not belong to any path (but only to dharma)" [GGS:3.9]. "Naam cannot be compared with anything else. Only a rare soul, a gurmukh, obtains Naam" [GGS:265.8]. As we know, a gurmukh is someone who has realized that we are blind and therefore lets the Guru (not education or any other learning) lead the path. "Whatever the Guru says is supreme (because) the divine tale is unique" [GGS:667.16].

50: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 10, 2011, 1:55 PM.

According to gurbani the root cause of our disease is only our haumai (a sense of me and mine and that 'I am the doer'). Any self-directed activity, knowledge, meditation, etc., cannot eliminate it. All yoga disciplines are self-directed and thus we see that gurbani does not support any yoga. But all the important yoga disciplines are naturally included as footnotes of Sikhi. "Kabir, I thought that education was good, but (then, I found that) yoga was better than education. (Now) I would not give up bhagti even if everyone calls me crazy" [GGS:1366.16]. Bhagti is considered supreme because divine love is a gift. It is not self-directed. But the Guru goes further. "That alone is perfect discipline meditation or bhagti which pleases our Lord Master" [GGS:673.11]. How do we walk on such a pure path?

51: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 10, 2011, 1:57 PM.

I hope that I do not come across too preachy. We see that losing oneself is the cornerstone of Sikhi but this is the hardest part. Each success bolsters our haumai and thus, before we can realize, we have fallen off the path. In the words of Dr. Paul Brunton, we cannot lift ourselves by our own shoelaces. To make matters worse, even a minuscule inner progress results in profuse wisdom and revelations and the 'a-ha! moments' that make us fill the libraries with more books that contain only half-truths. This is why terms like 'the razor's edge' and 'dying while living' are seen in gurbani.

52: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 10, 2011, 2:00 PM.

We cannot accomplish this without outside help (or kirpa). Thus, losing ourselves in the seva (service) of the Guru in the form of sadh sangat is considered essential. This is also the shortest path to brahmgyan and, it is stressed on almost all the pages of Guru Granth Sahib. We take pride in nodding at and reveling in gurbani, but within our hearts, these words in gurbani are only metaphors and some unreachable hyperboles. Sorry for rambling but did we all examine the entire shabads referenced here? Do we yearn and pray that each of these words would ring true in our own life some day? If not, why then, go to the gurdwara?

53: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), September 10, 2011, 2:08 PM.

We feed our friends and neighbors on Sundays and wash our hands. We call it seva. Gurbani, on the other hand, admonishes us to become a slave of the sangat, of real Sikhs, and hopefully, some day, even a real sant. We protest against the last part. We are allergic to the thought of meeting god-realized souls because our desolate heart cannot sustain any faith that such souls exist (even though it is true that we may never see them during our entire lifetime.) It is no surprise that instead of nurturing pure love and hunger for their darshan (vision) - true yearning is the only way to meet them - we modify the meaning of gurbani to avoid such a feeling of inadequacy in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. "Gurbani is everything", we proclaim. It is true that gurbani sustains us. This is Guru's mercy. Gurbani is supposed to make us spiritually alive, but our occult disdain of certain core messages in gurbani results in our spiritual demise. Indeed, we are dead while alive!

Comment on "In The World, Yet Unworldly
The Talking Stick Colloquium # 59"









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