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Rahao:
The Pause

EK ONG KAAR KAUR

 

 

 




Something I appreciate very much in the Guru Granth Sahib is the Rahao.

The pause.

The pause, that is, which is found in most of the shabads (verses) recommending a meditative juncture ripe for thought.

That moment of reflection where the Guru asks us to sit back and pay attention.

Today, the world provides constant, endless input. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we have access to endless streams of communication. The information gets broadcast into our minds, affecting our thoughts.

There is so much of it, no one person can consume it all, understand it all, or master it all. Our minds accelerate and rush to soak in as much of it as we can.

Yet, the Guru Granth provides a beautiful training in the art of self-communication. Directing the mind to understand itself -- its challenges and its gifts. Giving voice to the unique and innocent immortal soul.

The Guru Granth  also teaches the art of listening, and reflecting.

Rahao.

It is a command meant to bring us to a moment of stillness. Where no additional input is needed. Where the mind does not have to push its way through to the next bit of information.

Rahao.

It asks us: Did you hear what just got said?

Are you paying attention?

Do you understand?

It is important to take the moment and just understand.

The mind is no good when it constantly moves. In thought, in imagination, there is no limit. The mind can get lost in its own intrigues. What will happen tomorrow. What could happen next year. What this person had to say. What that group might do.

But the strength of the mind comes when we can command it to stop. To listen. To go within and relate to a wisdom that is beyond time and space.

Beyond this body, this life.

Where our origin is.

And our ultimate destination.

The mind is a very powerful servant to serve the journey of the soul. But it needs to be trained or it ends up running the show. Part of that training is about how to see the world -- how to organize the experience of the senses in a way that serves the spirit.

Yet, part of that training is teaching the mind to take a break. To take a moment to just be, and see what is right there in front of you.

Life needs these moments. Pauses in the routine, when we let go of our need to plan, and simply look at what exists.

Seeing it and accepting it as it is.

These days, I find myself more and more in that space of pausing. Nothing much to think about or to say. But grateful and reflecting the myriad of experiences my life has given to me.

Rahao. Pause.


February 21, 2014
 

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 21, 2014, 5:14 PM.

The pause is a truly ingenius conception in the Sikh scriptures! Where else can you find a 'pause' instruction in any writings anywhere! The Human race is racing ahead to its destruction without pausing to think about greed, tribalism, superstition, ritual and hatred, when we are essentially exactly the same and can be taught the same values and deeds! The Guru Granth is truly great for this addition of pause after every important stanza so we can reflect on the gravity of what has been uttered by the Guru, and if we actually live by these teachings then we are going to find all our earthly torments and inner demons vanquished.

2: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), February 21, 2014, 7:20 PM.

Our Guru is Shabad Guru and when we sing or listen to any shabad, we are addressing to our "mind" that we are in essence the light of God. Light or visibility of God emanates only through the Gurus or gurmukhs. That is why the sangat and kirtaniyas pause on the central idea of the shabad, which is generally a reflection leading to naam simran. Guru Amardas tells us: "Recognize your essence" [GGS:441].

3: Navi (Pennsylvania, USA), February 22, 2014, 4:19 PM.

Beautifully written article. Incredible strength is needed to follow through with Guru's teachings and bring them into the fold of our daily thoughts and actions. It is transformative. The author has brought this gift of "Rahao" into her every day experience. Thank you for the inspiration.

4: Jagjit Singh (Mumbai, India), February 24, 2014, 5:26 AM.

Thank you, Ek Ong Kaar ji, for this lovely article.

5: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), July 26, 2017, 11:28 PM.

My venerable father's one advice in kirtan was that the most poignant moment in 'sangeet' is the silence within the notes of music. He recommended that especially after the Rahao in a shabad, a kirtania should leave a short space of 'silence' so that the pangati sinks in. Very few raagis do that. In fact they try to fill up every space in a rendition with as much music as they can - hence distracting from the tranquility of the shabad. A great reflective article. Food for thought. I wonder why though, that when doing 'paatth' why we recite the word 'rahao'. Should we not just pause a while?

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The Pause"









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