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Inner Rehat
The Talking Stick Colloquium XIII, Stanzas 22 - 26, March 29 - April 4

Convenor: RAVINDER SINGH TANEJA

 

 

THE DIALOGUE TO DATE

In discussing the notion of an ideal person - described variously as sachiyaar, gurmukh, sant, bhagat, gursikh, jan, sevak, and brahmgyani in gurbani -  we saw that the gurmat ideal is a composite and integrated personality, combining knowledge, action and devotion.

Of the two ways, or orientations available to us, "liv ḏẖāṯ ḏue rāh hai" [GGS:87], the gurmukh or ideal person chooses "liv" or the movement inwards and cultivates his inner environment through the application of Guru Nanak's recommended spiritual technology of attentive listening and immersion in the Shabad (Word) - "Gurmukẖ āpṇā man māriā sabaḏ kasvatÄ« lāe"  [GGS:87].

The cultivation of inner virtues (devotion) is what gives a gurmukh the necessary purity of motive, integrity of action and autonomy to transcend dogma ('mannai mug na chalai panth'), materialistic bias and narcissistic self obsession (haumai).

In other words, a gurmukh pulls away from the lure and pull of established mental patterns - exemplified by our attachment to instinctive behavior such as "kaam," "krodh," "lobh," etc. and moves towards the call of Hukam through the practice of the discipline of Naam.

Outwardly, a gurmukh life may appear conventional, but inwardly, a very different consciousness is at work.  A gurmukh does not live simply for individual goals or accomplishments - biological, social, political or economic - but is committed to a higher or larger purpose, namely, to act as an instrument of hukam to create a new "social blueprint" or social order that is characterized by "halimi raj."

This is the leap in consciousness that Guru Nanak called for, and Guru Gobind Singh institutionalized as the Khalsa.

We recognized the desirability of inner cultivation but also acknowledged the fact that it was difficult - but not insurmountable. As one reader put it, "We must cultivate the mind and other related inner elements to have a well functioning steward in command of the ship."

The idea of "chitt gupat" or hidden mind was introduced to emphasize the point that we are eventually accountable for our own actions. We will come back to this thought later when "chitt gupat" is mentioned.

An important distinction was made between our deeds or "karam" and "karam" as grace, "nadar karam," or "dhur karam."

One comment that I found intriguing and which no one picked up on, was, "The state of being a sachiyaar is not in the form of a man. He "was" someone, who upon passing away from the material world, was judged in the court of the True One to be truthful and pure enough to have received 'nadar karam'."

According to this view, one cannot be a sachiyaar while alive; at best, we are candidates for being approved as sachiyaar.

THE MESSAGE - Stanzas 22 -26

Stanzas 22-26 are being considered together because they share a common recurring theme: the Infinity of Creation and our puny, finite individual existence in comparison. This drives home our inability to speak or describe the Divine. Our haumai-consciousness is just not commensurate with divine consciousness. Our language is limited, grounded in distinctions between subject and object and conditioned by time, space and culture.

Yet, we are capable and indeed required to exert ourselves to transcend our finitude. Our exertion, though, has limits, and at some point, we have to abandon ourselves to Grace or Nadar; only then is knowledge of the Infinite made possible to the finite. 

LET'S CONSIDER:

We have been talking about cultivating our inner environment so that divine virtues can flower in our consciousness. "Viṇ guṇ kīṯe bẖagaṯ na hoe," points to elemental qualities and the experience of elemental emotions necessary for sacred experience.

These qualities collectively constitute the Dharam (immutable law, righteous action)

How do these gurmukh qualities - compassion, gratitude, awe, humility, joy, devotion - jive with the message of success and accomplishment we hear on a daily basis: self-assertiveness and pride in oneself, aggression and vaulting ambition?

These qualities also form the basis of what gurbani calls "Atam ki Rehat," or internal discipline, which must form the anchor of a Sikh life. Do you think that there is an undue insistence on the external rehat - at the cost of developing our inner lives?

Do you think that there is a deep and symbiotic relationship between these two dimensions of the rehat? Does each influence, instruct and shed light on the other through a dialectic that is not readily apparent, but must imbue the life of a Sikh?

Lastly, I would like to point to the quality of wonderment or "vismaad." In the face of a creation that appears magical, wondrous and infinite, it seems to me that the arousal of "vismaad" would be necessary for any spiritual growth and formation. What do you think?

THE TEXT - RENDERED IN ENGLISH

Pāṯālā pāṯāl lakẖ āgāsā āgās

Clusters of nether worlds; limitless, like the skies above,

Oṛak oṛak bẖāl thake veḏ kahan ik vāṯ

Weary from counting, so affirm the Vedas.

Sahas aṯẖārah kahan kaṯebā asulū ik ḏẖāṯ

Eighteen hundred reckon the Semitic books, in truth the essence is One.

Lekẖā hoe ṯa likīai lekẖai hoe viṇās

If there were indeed a count, it could be recorded. Those who tried perished.

Nānak vadā ākẖīai āpe jāṇai āp

Says Nanak, the Great One alone knows //22//

 

Sālāhī sālāhi eṯī suraṯ na pāīā

Those who praise You, know not Your greatness

Naḏīā aṯai vāh pavahi samunḏ na jāṇīahi

Like rivers flowing into the ocean know not its vastness.

Samunḏ sāh sulṯān girhā seṯī māl ḏẖan

Mighty Kings, with vast ocean like domains and mountains of wealth

Kīṛī ṯul na hovnī je ṯis manhu na vīsrahi

Compare not to that ant in whose heart You dwell //23//

 

Anṯ na sifṯī kahaṇ na anṯ

Endless Your qualities, endless the ways we praise

Anṯ na karṇai ḏeṇ na anṯ

Endless Your creation and Your giving

Anṯ na vekẖaṇ suṇaṇ na anṯ

Endless the sights and sounds,

Anṯ na jāpai kiā man manṯ

Endless Your designs.

Anṯ na jāpai kīṯā ākār

Endless the forms

Anṯ na jāpai pārāvār

Boundless, without limits

Anṯ kāraṇ keṯe billāhi

Seeking Your limit have many toiled in pain

Ŧā ke anṯ na pāe jāhi

But Your boundary cannot be found

Ėhu anṯ na jāṇai koe

Where You end no one knows,

Bahuṯā kahai bahuṯā hoe

The more we say the more You become

Vadā sāhib ūcẖā thāo

The Great Master, high is Your place

Ūcẖe upar ūcẖā nāo

Above all, exalted is Your Name.

Ėvad ūcẖā hovai koe

Like You if one were to become

Ŧis ūcẖe kao jāṇai soe

Knowing You would then be possible

Jevad āp jāṇai āp āp

You alone know Your measure

Nānak naḏrī karmī ḏāṯ

Says Nanak, Your Grace is Your gift//24//

 

Bahuṯā karam likẖi▫ā nā jāe

Grace abounds, beyond all recording,

Vadā ḏāṯā ṯil na ṯamāe.

The Great Giver gifts without requiring.

Keṯe mangahi joḏẖ apār

Countless warriors beg at Your door,

Keṯiā gaṇaṯ nahī vīcẖār

Many more beyond counting.

Keṯe kẖap ṯutahi vekār

Many live in utter depredation,

Keṯe lai lai mukar pāhi

Others receive but remain thankless.

Keṯe mūrakẖ kẖāhī kẖāhi

Many fools wallow in gluttony,

Keṯiā ḏūkẖ bẖūkẖ saḏ mār

Others are afflicted with sorrow and hunger.

Ėhi bẖė ḏāṯ ṯerī ḏāṯār

These too are Your gifts, Great Giver!

Banḏ kẖalāsī bẖāṇai hoe

Bondage and freedom flow from Your dispensation,

Hor ākẖ na sakai koe

Of this, nothing else can be said.

Je ko kẖāik ākẖaṇ pāe

The oaf who tries,

Oh jāṇai jeṯīā muhi kẖāe

Can only come to grief.

Āpe jāṇai āpe ḏee

You alone know Your dispensation

Ākẖahi sė bẖė keī kee

Few grasp this intuition

Jis no bakẖse sifaṯ sālāh

Those You give the gift of praise and adoration,

Nānak pāṯisāhī pāṯisāhu. ||25|

Nanak, are Kings among Kings//25//

 

Amul guṇ amul vāpār

Priceless their virtues, prized their trade,

Amul vāpārīe amul bẖandār

Priceless the traders priceless the warehouse,

Amul āvahi amul lai jāhi

Peerless the dealers who make the exchange,

Amul bẖāe amulā samāhi

Precious that love, blessed are those immersed.

Amul ḏẖaram amul ḏībāṇ.

Immutable the Law, enlightened the Court,

Amul ṯul amul parvāṇ

Balanced the scales, precise the weights.

Amul bakẖsīs amul nīsāṇ

Beyond fathom Your gifts, signs of Your presence pervade,

Amul karam amul furmāṇ

Magnanimous Your mercy, charitable Your dispensation.

Amulo amul ākẖiā na jāe

Invaluable Your excellence, beyond description,

Ākẖ ākẖ rahe liv lāe

Countless have tried, exhausted into silence

Ākẖahi veḏ pāṯẖ purāṇ

The Vedas and the Purans seek to narrate

Ākẖahi paṛe karahi vakẖiāṇ

The learned discourse and explicate,

Ākẖahi barme ākẖahi inḏ

Brahma and Indra strive to speak,

Ākẖahi gopī ṯai govinḏ

Krishna and the gopis in their manner speak, 

Ākẖahi īsar ākẖahi siḏẖ

Shiva attempts to decipher, the Siddhas attempt to peek, 

Ākẖahi keṯe kīṯe buḏẖ

Innumerable Buddhas strive endlessly, 

Ākẖahi ḏānav ākẖahi ḏev

Demons and angels alike, 

Ākẖahi sur nar mun jan sev

The devout, the virtuous and the wise, 

Keṯe ākẖahi ākẖaṇ pāhi

Endless are those who try, 

Keṯe kahi kahi uṯẖ uṯẖ jāhi

Unlimited have come and passed,

Ėṯe kīṯe hor karehi

If their numbers were to be surpassed 

Ŧā ākẖ na sakahi keī kee

Beyond reckoning You would remain. 

Jevad bẖāvai ṯevad hoe

You are as You please, 

Nānak jāṇai sācẖā soe

Known only to Yourself 

Je ko ākẖai boluvigāṛ

If one were to explain Your span, 

Ŧā likīai sir gāvārā gāvār //26//

Surely would be marked as a fool amongst fools.//26//

Conversation about this article

1: Simon (London, England), March 29, 2010, 3:36 PM.

Editor, can we please go back to asking everyone, including the Convenor, to add the English translations for any quotes and words used from gurbani/ gurmukhi. Without the translations, it makes it very hard for me to ask a non-sikh to follow, even I have to stop and search. This, I believe, has been the most thought-provoking analysis and should be available to share with everyone, Sikhs and Non-Sikhs alike. If possible, please edit the previous posts so that we can point people to the "Truth" as most of us are not capable of such a deep conversation. [EDITOR: Everyone, please note. For this entire ongoing exercise, the English translation is MORE important and useful than the original text. Ideally, we'd like the English translation and the exact (page and line) citation from the Guru Granth, please.]

2: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), March 30, 2010, 4:56 AM.

Thank you, Simon, for the reminder. I am just as guilty - Mea Culpa. Promise to be more alert as we proceed and ensure that all gurbani quoted is rendered in English. Please do offer your thoughts as well.

3: Jasvinder (Hamilton, New Zealand), March 30, 2010, 11:32 AM.

As we all know, religion is the outer process and spirituality the inner process. Generally, we are more engrossed on the outside and, for many of us, we have no clue about this inward process at all. It is sad that a lot of us just live our life outwardly. There is a lot of focus given to rituals and how things should be done, i.e., to the outward process. There is certainly an unbreakable association between outside and inside. It is associated in a cyclic pattern, but I think it depends on how this cyclic pattern is going on in one's life that leads to emergence of the gurmukh in them - either it is in an outside-in or an inside-out direction. What I mean to say is, if we get influenced by outside things, and then create an internal rehat, it will be near to impossible to attain the gurmukh status. But, on the other hand, if the process in us is running inward out, then it is possible to reach and attain a gurmukh status. If we you look toward the inside first, see what is going on inside, what is bringing out a particular behaviour outside, then make changes inside in our thinking, the behaviour outside changes. It is a lot easier to even follow the outside rehats if it is coming from inside thoughts and contemplations (if not, then we are following them one day and not the next). Vismaad is the second stage, the first stage being in a constant stage of stability of our mind, a peacefulness in all situations of our life (sadaa vigaas/ sadaa sukh). Once we reach this stage after taking everything as part of Hukam and accepting it, then we move towards the second stage of vismaad - a state of constant joy, which comes after the state of constant peace. Firstly, we should check: am I stable all the time, or are things around me flustering me too much; can I stay peaceful no matter what happens; am I awake and aware all the time during the day, and know what is going on inside me? This will lead us to sadaa vigaas - a stable mind-state. For a gurmukh, success and accomplishments are always there, but they are always aware of the kind of path they are going to choose to get there, for them being a gurmukh comes first. As Ravinder Singh ji said, a gurmukh you can't identify in a crowd just by looking at what kind of attire or actions a certain person is doing; being gurmukh is an internal quality.

4: Guravtar (Johnson City, TN, U.S.A.), March 30, 2010, 1:52 PM.

In these four stanzas, Guru Nanak has consistently referred to the vastness of creation and how various religious sages and saints have attempted its accountability. The vedas have mentioned numerous nether worlds and heavens, whereas the Islamic cosmology applies the number 18000 (hazhdah hazar alam). The significance of these four stanzas is the comprehension of expansive enormity of the Creation by the Creator. The ability of the human to mark its boundaries is questioned and to locate the time of its origin or end is simply futile. The word 'karam' applied here is to be interpreted as 'grace of God' and not the Sanskrit Karam meaning action, writ or destiny. The mystical experience of the Creator's infinite nature, described through the metaphor of an ocean into which empty a number of rivers and streams which cannot even gauge its depth, is akin to the love and adoration held by inspired and blessed persons. In stanza 26, Guru Nanak explains that the Creator and His creation are beyond anyone's imagination. The infinite expanse, matter and various activities being awesome and wonderful are only known to God. It is beyond human imagination to even attempt an accounting of God and the creation. All the devis and devtas mentioned in the Vedas have attempted to explain His infinite nature and expansive wonder, but left this world helplessly. Nanak says, "God's greatness is at the God's Will and that Truth remains to be accepted." If anyone arrogantly attempts to write it otherwise, will be considered ignorant. Most of the seekers are searching for peace of mind attained by the sages of various times. Guru Angad, the Second Nanak, wrote about the way peace of mind can be attained: "Guru kunji paahoo niwal munn kothha tun chhuth/ Nanak, gur bin munn ka thaak na ugharrhae/ avar na kunji huthh." [GGS:1237]. (Paahoo -indulgence in Maya, Niwal - a figure-of-eight, a knot-lock used in the lower legs of cattle). The mind encased in the body is locked like a niwal, being indulged in maya, and nobody has the key to enlighten the mind from it's ignorance. And the Guru is the only source, having the key to open this lock through the shabad. As mentioned in previous posts, a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic thoughts, actions and deeds aligning the body (external), mind(internal) and soul (inspirational spirituality), makes gurmukhs worthy of enjoying and living in vismaad.

5: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), March 30, 2010, 1:55 PM.

In bringing up the contrast between inner and outer rehat (self regulating principles), I wished to make the point that our outer rehat is a result of social indoctrination, whereas dharam (or inner rehat) is an inner (or natural) response that arises from a direct encounter with the Ultimate Reality. Guru Nanak is, in effect, teaching us to rekindle that spark of vismaad - or wonder - stanza after stanza. Over and again, he is awe-struck at the incomprehensible reality that he finds around him and within him. This is the fount from which dharam springs.

6: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), March 30, 2010, 2:02 PM.

Another thought that I wish to bring to your attention is the seeming paradox where Guru Nanak says that affliction and hunger are also blessings: 'Others are afflicted with sorrow and hunger.|| These too are Your gifts, O Great Giver! ||' This seems to fly in the face of our common sense. Thoughts?

7: Pashaura Singh (Riverside, California, U.S.A.), March 31, 2010, 6:59 AM.

Guru Nanak's vision will always remain ahead of scientific discoveries of countless solar systems when it proclaims: 'A hundred thousand worlds below, countless heavens above!' It cultivates the sense of wonder (vismaad) in two important ways: one, by the widening of one's intellectual horizons, chiefly due to a developing appreciation of the vastness of Creation, and the second, by the shattering of one's self-centered pride (haumai). Emphatically, Guru Nanak contrasts the worldly success of an emperor with the spiritual power of the most humble person with internal discipline: 'Kings may own empires vaster than oceans, with wealth heaped high as mountains. Yet none can hope to match the ant which ever remembers You.' Our whole striving is directed towards achieving worldly success, we seldom care to cultivate the inner wealth of the divine Name in our lives. Rare are the people who acknowledge the truth that 'all that we receive is by the glance of divine grace' ('nanak nadri karami daat'). For such persons, even suffering is a divine gift: 'Many endure suffering, hunger, yet these are the gifts of the Giver.' They live in gratitude and never complain. In Asa ki Vaar, Guru Nanak describes suffering as medicine (dukh daru) and pleasure as disease (sukh rog), since pleasure seduces one's mind away from the Lord [GGS:469]. Indeed, Guru Nanak is offering a 'meaningful and creative response' to suffering by stressing its therapeutic value. His assertion of 'suffering as medicine' may be better appreciated in the light of psycho-physiological theory of sensibility. According to this theory, the habit of pleasure not only lowers one's strength, but it also makes one incapable of supporting the abrupt changes which the hazards of life can bring. The feeling of pain or suffering, on the other hand, contributes at times in strengthening the whole body; it instills more stability, balance and equilibrium to the nervous and muscular system. It is the suffering that has intensified the Sikh character; and it is in this sense that pain has been called a medicine, and hunger and affliction a blessing.

8: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas. U.S.A.), March 31, 2010, 8:40 PM.

Ravinder ji has correctly reiterated several milestones we have crossed in this discussion. It is a good way to prepare the readers for another impending milestone: comprehending "inner rehat' or the mind's inner principles/ values/ style. Inner rehat is critical for a well functioning person because all signals for action originate from within us. And these signals result in outer actions that become a refection of inner principles and motivation. In our growth, mind conditioning and development comes mostly from ritualistic cultural outer sources. Such outward knowledge, without proper coordination with development of inner values, leads to an ineffective approach and becomes the crux of a haphazard performance in life. Universally applauded saintly traits, combined with freedom to choose one's avocation, is the approach Guru Nanak propagates to inculcate saintly traits within us. Conducting yourself with such values results in nobly earned laurels from others in the process. Truthfulness is another good value to instill because it demonstrates our trust-worthiness to others. A sense of dignity and self-respect is also required. We get it from saintly traits and truthful actions. Humility and faith in an entity larger than ourselves is another must. A quest for knowledge is important but be wary of intellectual arrogance. These essential ingredients for inner rehat and many other similar life challenges are the focus of Guru Nanak in the Japji and other scriptural tenets of Sikhism, to create awareness and suggest practical solutions. For example, Guru Nanak presents a clear, logical and practical approach and values/ principles in developing inner rehat as illustrated above. Ghe gdly entity in Sikhism is not a mythical supernatural Him but the force of the all pervading Universe, treating every body equally, regardless of one's status or achievements in life. This entity is benevolent and graceful to everyone. Sikhs must accept its influence in life and keep it in their thoughts all the time. One suggested way is to recite its name or Naam Japna. Remembering Akal Purakh is more important than worshiping, pleasing or pleading. We should make it our anchor for inspiration to move ahead, a shelter in adversity; and a source of resolve to re-emerge after failure. Developing inner rehat is the key to the type of life we desire to live. Incorporating values and principles enshrined in the Japji must be part of our inner rehat.

9: Gurdev Singh Bir (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A..), April 01, 2010, 6:15 AM.

The emphasis by Guru Nanak in these stanzas is on how insignificant we are when our haumai is directing our insatiable desire to pursue the extent and limits of Creation, when we need to be spending our time and precious energy in acquiring His virtues, in meditation of His naam. We need to take a cue that even Brahma, the ostensible source of the four vedas, in his 1000 years, was not able to fully comprehend the extent. We all need to be in that state of surrender to his Hukam and the steady state of wonder (vismaad) in acknowledgment of His limitlessness, rather than this futile pursuit of a knowledge that really cannot bring about any revolution in our thoughts and demeanor - which is what Guru Nanak's intention is to anchor us to our inner rehat. 'japahu th eaeko naamaa || avar niraafal kaamaa' - 'Chant the Name of the One Lord. || All other actions are fruitless' [GGS:728:5]. The last line of stanza 22 and the first line of stanza 23 underscores that calling Him great without being 'abhed' (immersed) in his naam and virtues, is like the rivulet trying to describe the ocean. Dr. Pashaura Singh ji's excellent depiction on suffering leaves nothing further to be said. The last line of stanza 25 is the exalted state one reaches if we, by His grace, are given the bakshish of His naam. The next five lines in stanza 26 state the priceless virtues of this gift given through His grace. The last line points out that when we have not understood the Guru's message and continue to pursue our own manmukhi (hence bol vigaad), we remain ignorant despite our efforts.

10: Guravtar (Johnson City, TN, U.S.A.), April 01, 2010, 8:26 AM.

Ravinder ji wrote, "Guru Nanak says that affliction and hunger are also blessings: 'Others are afflicted with sorrow and hunger.|| These too are Your gifts, O Great Giver! ||' This seems to fly in the face of our common sense. Thoughts?" A very common question asked by intriguing minds searching logic in an unexplanable belief. Guru Nanak is very clear about Akal Purakh being pervasive in every aspect of creation and watching with delight. His shanad [GGS:1125] - 'Nothing happens outside the Akal Purakh's creation (kudrat). Creating every aspect of creation, (being all-pervasive) He knows all about it. What can anyone say when they know not what to say. Whatever is happening in the creation is all according to the Will.(Pause). Whatever is to be done, that is also within You - O Akal Purakh. Before whom should the supplication be made? The words I utter and listen are all about You. You Yourself know all Your wonderous ways. And You also know what all needs be done is done. All the establishing and destruction are within Your Creative powers, Says Nanak." When we comprehend shabads like that, it is natural to believe in an omniscient Akal Purakh. We hope to fulfill our aspirations without any efforts and we feel despair when we fail; and blame it on Him. But, at the same time, we are instructed to perceive Akal Purakh through the natural phenomena. When we do that, confusion arises whether it is the Will of Akal Purakh or the laws of his created nature that are operating in the universe. Considering each of these modes in isolation is the cause of the enigma. Whereas comprehending the two together makes better sense that the Creator Akal Purakh ministering natural phenomena is responsible for All; including provision of intelligence for humanity to discern the difference. Humanity will continue pinning misery to the name of an invisible and unfathomable God. The perception is that the human is created in the image of God. This is no different than looking at the photo of a person and claiming that it is him. The photo by itself does not display any attributes of the person. The Akal Purakh is not in the business of creating physical shapes, forms or figures of himself that can be visualized. In other words, the total sum of our qualities is no more god-like than cats, for example. As mentioned in previous discussions, Guru Nanak emphasized that the human is to be responsible for himself.

11: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), April 01, 2010, 8:51 PM.

I have been wondering on the issue of saints and saintly traits. All religions extol saintly virtues. People universally applaud their way of life. Humans express wishes to become saints. Guru Granth repeated exalt saintly character. All of us have a good idea what it takes to become a saint because we spent considerable time developing ideal saintly traits in the Japji study. I did not find anything unusual to become one. My question is: why so few pursue this line of avocation? Why religious institutions have not set up schools to educate and produce saints and let them serve masses with saintly values? Why this is left out for few to attain through their own toiling? In this logic based world, it appears so illogical. There has to be something overwhelmingly negative that discourage people from pursuing this noble and praise-worthy work. Some body is keeping that negative secret under wraps. Just thinking out loud, to elicit your helpful response.

12: Manjit Singh Bara Pindia (Canada), April 01, 2010, 11:05 PM.

A gurmukh is someone who has come to realize the existence of hukam. Behaviour and actions of a gurmukh are along the hukam as best as he is able to interpret it. He develops this by practicing discipline. There can be many circumstances that may have put him on this path. Two other terms which almost always come into discussion when we talk about a gurmukh are: haumai and manmukh (self-centred man). These three words (gurmukh, manmukh and haumai) appear in gurbani, perhaps, over 4000 times. Haumai has far more connotation that just 'ego'. Man is born with it; at a basic level it tells him that he is a human being and different from other living creatures. But as man develops from a child, he also develops a self concept as to who he is and how the world should relate to him. In a way, the man with haumai has an exaggerated importance of himself. He comes to regard himself as the centre of things and expects all others around him to regard him that way. He starts to think that he can make his own rules regardless of the reality around him being different. He tends to make his own principles and rules, even if they are in variance with the natural order of things. In gurbani, man with such a perception is called manmukh. Gurbani tells us that Nirankar has created this universe out of Himself. It is His creation. He is present outside the universe and also pervades/ permeates through the universe. He has created in it various forms and spheres. On earth, He has created man and different life-forms. He has created the universe and looks after/ runs it Himself. He has created this as leela - a play, drama. All these entities are players in it while the Master of the play is God Himself. All players play their part while remaining within the hukam (rules of the play). The gurmukh too tries to play his role staying within the hukam. The gurmukh tries to play his role by trying to listen to the Master of the play regarding what the rules are. This he does by 'attentive listening' - listening to his consciousness, which is the link between man and God. I think now the question is how can he discipline himself and continue to maintain that discipline? The answer is also obvious: by practicing 'attentive listening'. In my view the term as is being used here in the discussion is the same thing as Naam Japna. Perhaps the following analogy may help in understanding what I am trying to say. Consider a master musician who has written a piece of composition. The musician has created it himself. He knows what, how, and when a note has to be played. But the actual sound is produced by the action of the fingers. With practice the fingers know how to read the mind of the master and move. A gurmukh is like that too. He somehow senses what and how the Master wants it done. To take the analogy further, now consider that somehow the musician has hurt one or two of his fingers. Now, when the piece is being played, the finger that has been hurt is not 'listening' to the master. But instead, it is now listening to the sore muscles. A manmukh, in playing his role, listens to his own will, not to the Master's. A gurmukh, by contrast, by constant practice of attentive listening, is attuned to his consciousness. This he does by Naam Japna. The word 'naam' as used in gurbani has intrigued many people. Gurbani tells us that every thing comes into existence by hukam. When all the attributes of hukam related to the creation of man converge, an entity identified as man comes into existence. This convergence of the attributes of hukam is Naam. The domain in the infinite in which this convergence takes place is Naam stream. Our brain is connected to the consciousness by the Naam stream. This convergence is our creator as this is how our creation took place. And this convergence of hukam also puts the limit on the consciousness that falls within the stream as to what it can create and what such creation is allowed to do. We can communicate with God, ONLY through the consciousness that situates itself in this stream. Each life-form has its own Naam. They communicate with the creator through the stream of their Naam. Contemplating on Naam frequently, a gurmukh attunes his mind to Naam.

13: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), April 02, 2010, 5:07 AM.

Speaking of sorrow and affliction being blessings in disguise: we have seen (thanks to Dr. Pashaura Singh ji) how the stress of pain can actually strengthen us and how a surfeit of pleasure is actually debilitating. To this I might add that in gurbani, sorrow can be a catalyst for "bairaag" or detachment, leading to "birha" or a sense of intense separation. Like "vismaad" or wonderment, a sense of "inner withdrawal" accompanied by a burning sense of "longing" are necessary inner qualities for spiritual growth. There is a Punjabi saying, "pehloN vichoRa, phair vasila te phair vasal," which means that one must first feel a sense of separation (understand the problem), before one can begin looking for the way (or solution) that will lead to union (fix the problem). Not to feel the angst of separation is akin to not feeling spiritual hunger; just like a sick body has no appetite, a "sick" spirit does not feel separation. Gurbani places immense importance on these inner qualities - and the meeting of sorrow or setbacks on the path are openings that we should grasp.

14: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), April 03, 2010, 10:21 AM.

Nirmal Singh ji: your question (above) was posed to the sangat at our weekly vichaar session. Some of the responses: - most of us worship at the altar of success and money exclusively; - moral science used to be on our curriculum, not anymore. My thoughts: - Sainthood (as in Christianity) is a bueaucratic process. - Being a "sant", on the other hand, is a state of mind; being recognized as one, though, is usually a marketing process, but in genuine cases, there is just irressistable charisma - but even then, the charismatic appeal is not universal and does not tug at everyone. - 'Sants' cannot be trained or taught; it is not a profession (although it has the appearance of one these days). - While 'sants' cannot be taught, gurmukh qualities can be caught; hence the importance of sangat.

15: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), April 03, 2010, 5:43 PM.

Ravinder ji, let me commend you for seeking the response the way you did on the 'sant' issue. Group opinion is more significant than an individual's approach. Your group has the mind set and the capacity to take on the challenge no matter how off the cuff the issue. Their response shows a practical approach without typical religious jargon. It is refreshing and encouraging for the future of Sikhism. Your personal opinion is right on. There may be a couple of more significant factors which let us address in the next session with the hope to provide more time for others to reflect. The silence to the comment had me wondering about the spirit in which the issue was presented. Although I believe we need to put forth more anti-tradition, anti- run of the mill, custom-preserving line we tend to tow quite often. But we must do it in a Sikh way: with humility, sincere purpose, sanctity of the faith and respect for the readers.

16: Manjit Singh Bara Pindia (Canada), April 04, 2010, 3:03 AM.

I believe that the honorific of 'sant' became popular because of its relationship with Sikhism during the times of Guru Nanak. Before Guru Nanak's times there have been many saintly people from other religions but no one articulated the view of God and universe like Guru Nanak did. The bani of Guru Nanak is 'dhur ki bani.' During the times of Guru Nanak, many of the saintly people of all faiths were attracted to what Guru Nanak was saying. Many of them even called him their Guru. He explained gurbani to them and asked if they would devote time in the service of Lord. (Many of these saints were recluses before that). Those who accepted that suggestion are the people Guru Nanak called sants in gurbani. To those who did that, Guru explained gurbani to them and they too started to preach gurbani and gurmat. However, the members of the Nirmala and Udaasi traditions (from 1708 onward) were trained in deras and dharmsalas. The senior most person of the dera or incharge of the deras automatically took up the title of sant. In 19th to mid-20th century, again there have been some genuine sants in Punjab. Most of them preached gurbani and gurmat. But a few preached 'sant mat'. There are two quotations from Guru Granth. Here is Guru Arjan writing about the sant taking up God's work. 'Nanak made sant understand (taught) to teach that mind is imbued with love of God' - [GGS:80:5] Here is an indication that the sant was going to teach gurbani (not go off off on his own frolic). Again: 'Come, O sant, lead me to the embrace (of the Lord), tell me the story of my beloved Lord. A sant who speaks gurbani', I shall devote my mind to him. I am so fortunate that the Lord has led me to meet him.' [GGS:95:14].

17: Manjit Singh Bara Pindia (Canada), April 04, 2010, 9:40 AM.

In introducing the discussion for this week, the Convenor wrote the summary of last week's discussion. He mentioned two ways (or orientation) available to us - namely 'attentive listening' and 'cultivation of inner virtues'. At close look, they are connected. However, it is a very good way of discussing what inner values need to be cultivated, as separate from Naam Japna. The key words related to that are 'kaam', krodh, lobh, moh and ahankaar. These five emotions/forces as a group are often referred to as the five negatives that suck the energy out of an individual, energy that he could have used for acts more becoming of him. For purposes of discussion, to this I would add haumai, dharam and compassion. Moh means not letting go of something that is in one's possession even when it is in the best interest of every one involved to do otherwise. It also conveys a sense of abandoning rules of fairness to give advantage to someone he is attached to. Ahankaar conveys the sense someone is exercising undue authority over others because of his political, physical or financial power. By attentive listening and contemplating on gurbani, one may become aware in his consciousness what this world is about and what his position is in this world and that he is a citizen of the planet, not just of his community. But, as far as how best to do deeds or how he should take actions, are concerned, it is inscribed in hukam. Guru Nanak tells us it is in doing dharam with compassion. One could have found that out by just reading Japji. So, attentive listening is not just for finding out about how best to do deeds, it is also about remembering God and contemplating on naam, the attributes of God by which we have come into existence. There are many circumstances that may lead a person to take this path; be it vismaad, or some other event in his life that made him look inwards. Even when he knows that as man he has to discharge his obligations by doing dharam with compassion, he still has to develop an internal yard stick, a gauge, to know that he is doing the right thing. He is not likely to get up one morning and say that from today on he is going to do dharam with compassion. It requires inner understanding what compassion is and develop a yard-stick for that. He should be able to discern that something done out of a whim, once in ten years, when his eyes are all wet with emotions, may not necessarily be an act of compassion. It needs practice and maintaining a discipline. Guru Nanak also recognized that not everyone is going to be inspired to start by Nam Japna. Many people may just want to know how they can take the right action in their daily lives without doing Naam Japna. Guru Nanak's suggestion to them seems to be to reduce the role of haumai in their daily lives. They can start examining their motivations for taking their actions. Use that as the yard-stick to gauge their action. These two approaches merge at some point and have the same effect. They can start practicing this on a small scale. And progress to a larger scale as their life circumstances change. The five negatives are strong motivators for one's actions. When dealing with people, this approach is much easier to take. Consider a situation where you are taking some important decisions. Before deciding what to do, ask yourself questions if you are motivated with any one of the five negatives. If not, the action being taken is taken with purity of heart. It is being taken because this has to be done and there is no other motive. If the answer is yes to any one of the five negatives, and you still did it, you know why you did that. In case it does not get the results that you were expecting, at least you know the motivation behind your taking action. Knowing that can be of help in the future. The world of a child consists of his parents and other people in the house. As he grows up, it extends to the neighborhood, then to the community and so on. In this world, man deals mainly with other human beings. This approach is easy to apply. And then can be extended to the wider sphere. To maintain that discipline, a person may again have to start listening to his consciousness. So it seems the two approaches, though they start differently, may merge at some point and may further become the path of the sachiyara. We define love in many different ways. But a common element seems to be giving something or giving up something in the dealing. If we were to define an act of true love for humanity per gurbani, I would define it as doing a deed without the consideration of any of the five negatives. That would be the expression of true love for another human being. That is also the basis of the concept of seva in Sikhism.

18: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), April 04, 2010, 6:53 PM.

Manjit Singh ji: The two orientations mentioned were "liv" and dhat" and they are not similar although both are ordained by Hukam. One is inner-centered and the other is marked by worldly entanglements. Similarly, gurbani mentions other orientations - "halat"/ palat" - this worldly and other worldly; "parvirat"/ "nivirit" or participation and renunciation. All of these orientations are made available by the same Divine source; the choice is ours. Let's continue.

Comment on "Inner Rehat
The Talking Stick Colloquium XIII, Stanzas 22 - 26, March 29 - April 4"









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