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“Oh, so this is what a Bible looks like.” [Courtesy: The New Yorker]

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Quiet Time - 3:
First, Cleanse Thyself

T. SHER SINGH

 

 

 




 
bhanda dhoe bais dhoop devoh tau doodhai ko javo

If you want to churn the milk (of good actions)
And gather its (ambrosial) butter …

Begin by washing the dish,
Disinfect it with incense,
Then, only then,
Fetch the milk … 

[GGS:728:4]





The whole shabad is worth reading and emulating. It goes on to build on a potent metaphor around the process of churning milk (good actions), followed by fermentation (meditation) of it until it curdles and releases its butter (ambrosia).   

But every time I encounter this shabad, I get stuck in its opening phrase … first, clean the dish! … which I see as central, nay, fundamental to the message. If we skip this first step or carry it out sloppily, all of the steps that follow will be counter-productive and possibly result in disaster. A soiled dish will taint everything that goes into it, and make the product unpalatable.

It is a powerful analogy and should guide us in all that we do in our daily lives.

After all, aren’t we all careful in determining with a quick glance each time we sit down for a repast that the dish we are about to use to eat from is indeed clean. The slightest dirt on it -- on a plate, a cup, a glass, even on a fork or knife -- and we instantly ask for another, clean one.

Why? Because we don’t want to get sick.

So, why do so many of us think that this level of due diligence is not necessary in other aspects of our lives?

If we soil ourselves by constant lying and cheating, by leading a dishonest and selfish lifestyle, no matter how hidden we think we can keep them, what makes us think that our public actions will produce good results, regardless of how lofty and sincere we may make them appear to be?

I marvel at how this very morning Donald Trump took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the Unites States of America on, not one but two Bibles. I don’t believe a stack of Bibles even as high as the Trump tower could lend any degree of legitimacy to one who has arrived at this point soiled inside and out by greed, fraud and a complete absence of either responsibility or accountability for anything he corrupts and destroys.     

I note that he also began the inauguration day by haughtily marching into the St John’s Church in Washington, DC, in full glare of the media, purportedly to seek divine blessings for the position he was to occupy in a few hours.

That’s it? That’s all you need, do you … a quick flirt with God and a few words spilled over a couple of bibles, doubled for good measure! … and you then have the green light to go forth unabated with a license to pillage and plunder?

Remember: if you start with a dirty dish … you can put a mountain of bibles in it, you can stomp through a row of churches … but the outcome will invariably be bad. Period. It'll bring neither blessing, nor grace, nor legitimacy. No piety, no righteousness, no authority. Only contamination. 

January 20, 2017      

Conversation about this article

1: G J Singh (Arizona. USA), January 20, 2017, 8:07 PM.

God, too, must be embarrassed by his 'this' creation.

2: Dan Shiller (USA), January 20, 2017, 8:31 PM.

Maybe he is going to be twice as disgusting ...

3: Tim Fairfax (London, United Kingdom), January 21, 2017, 7:56 AM.

The man makes mockery of taking an oath on the Bible and going to church.

4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 21, 2017, 4:34 PM.

Guru Granth Sahib provides an answer for every question. Here are just a couple of lines to illustrate my point: First, purifying himself, the Brahmin comes and sits in his purified enclosure. The 'pure' foods, which no one else has touched, are placed before him. That mouth which does not chant the naam, and without the naam eats tasty foods.

5: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 22, 2017, 7:34 AM.

"Kabir has seen such wonders! Mistaking it for cream, the people are churning water. (Pause). The donkey grazes upon the green grass; arising each day, he laughs and brays, and then dies. The bull is intoxicated, and runs around wildly. He romps and eats and then falls into hell. Says Kabir, a strange sport has become manifest: the sheep is sucking the milk of her lamb. Chanting the Lord's Name, my intellect is enlightened. Says Kabir, the Guru has blessed me with this understanding." [GGS:326]

6: Fatehpal Singh Tarney (Boca Raton, Florida, USA), January 23, 2017, 6:29 PM.

Both the cartoon and this essay are right on target. This paragraph is particularly persuasive: “I marvel at how this very morning Donald Trump took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the Unites States of America on, not one but two Bibles. I don’t believe a stack of Bibles even as high as the Trump tower could lend any degree of legitimacy to one who has arrived at this point soiled inside and out by greed, fraud and a complete absence of either responsibility or accountability for anything he corrupts and destroys.” Of course, there are many who would disagree with this assessment of Trump. Time will tell ...

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First, Cleanse Thyself"









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