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Metaphor and Reality, Part II:
Letter & Spirit #56






Continued …


One day, Sant Naranjan Singh ji said to us, “A certain ‘dhuni’ (melody) runs through the entire bani. Guru Sahib has called it naam”.

He also used to say that the secret of gurbani is revealed to us only when we are mentally present, not just physically there.

Gurbani also says, “Shabad is the Guru and attention affixed to its melody is the disciple.” [GGS:943.1] Yet no sant or brahmgyani, not even gurbani, ever explains what that ‘melody’ is. Explaining it would be akin to someone displaying a priceless gem at the flea market.

Instead, gurbani hints at it on each page. It employs various metaphors to direct our attention towards it. We also read that we must taste this nectar and savor it. The substance of gurbani primarily is, thus, emotional. It is deeper than science, philosophy, reasoning, even meditation.

We need to be enticed with the emotion of gurbani. We read further that only those who have the thirst for it will taste it. Do we have that thirst? Or, do we need such thirst at all?

Gurbani says that we all have the thirst but we do not know what it is for. The Guru lets us taste the life-giving water that can quench it. This awakens our soul to seek this water.

Each shabad thus beckons us to emotionally connect with it. But when we only want other benefits - relief from stress, its lessons, the lyrics or the music, etc. -  it is then as if we went to a diamond mine, but only to examine the rock formations and texture, not for the diamond.

*    *    *    *    *

Deep within each being and in each particle resides the One single source of everything that exists, visible and invisible. Pure naam resides there. This One being alone is the real doer of everything that takes place. He faces no threat nor has any hostility. Being free from constraints of time and space, He is stillness itself. He was never born, nor is He subject to any life forms. Formless and self-sustaining, He just is.

He is accessible through Guru’s mercy.

We cannot reach God through our own effort. If we could, it would then be an act of haumai and thus the outcome would be tainted with haumai. It would not be pure naam. For this reason, “The great giver keeps the gift in his own hands and distributes it as he pleases” [GGS:604.2] and as additional safeguard, “There is no way to tell who will be favored by Him” [GGS:463.14].

Let us also remember here that, ‘haumai’ means having the notion that I am the body and the mind and this ‘I’ is the doer of my deeds. As a result we also suffer from pride, remorse, etc.

*    *    *    *    *

We  see the words ‘sacch’ and ‘sat’ (pronounced as in ‘but’) meaning truth, present on almost each page of Guru Granth Sahib. The meaning of these words varies according to their context in gurbani. These words could mean: true, real, perfect, eternal, very rarely truthful, and most significantly, pure or those items or acts that are completely free from haumai.

For example, ‘satguru’ means perfect Guru but it also means pure because such a person’s thoughts and actions are free from any haumai. Such a state is called ‘sat’ or state of purity, not someone who is just truthful or someone who is seeking truth.

Conversely, the word ‘koorrh’ (meaning falsehood) in gurbani is predominantly used to define acts or objects originating from the haumai and thus those acts and objects that are destined to end in death. Example: “False is the king; false is his kingdom; false are the subjects.” [GGS:468.5]

On the other hand, “True are Your worlds; true are Your solar systems” [GGS:463.6] because they were not created from a haumai nor do they contribute to haumai.

This world is the pure one’s room. The pure one resides in it.” [GGS:463.13] 

‘Saccha’ here means pure or eternal, not “truthful” because his honesty was never in question. It is important to remember these differences as we proceed.

Similarly, we read “aad sacch jugaad sacch ...” meaning that the reality was always here and will always be here and thus reality is eternal. Anything that is not eternal is thus ‘koorrh’ (false).

Waheguru is also called ‘saccha’ or true master because He wields his hukam (divine love, divine logic, divine justice) as opposed to someone acting from the haumai and influenced by certain fears and needs. God has no needs and there is no other, says gurbani. [GGS:2.7]

*    *    *    *    *

We read further in Japji that God’s language is boundless love. [GGS:2.3]

The purest of all sentiments is the emotion of naam. Naam is the embodiment of pure and boundless love that God has. Gurbani says that Waheguru (God) first recognized himself and He Himself created the naam, then He created all this existence to sit and enjoy it. [GGS:463.4]

God plays in His creation by being both the enjoyed and the enjoyer. “He Himself creates the shepherd Krishna and He Himself is the gopis, the chased milkmaids. He Himself enjoys each one and He himself is the one savoring the pleasure felt within each heart.” [GGS:174.10]

We read in Sukhmani that the entire existence was created to express and to experience naam. {GGS:284.11] This divine play is said to have reached its culmination when the creator Himself sits in a purified human heart to express this love in its purity and perfection. [GGS:968.9]

This divine love is called bhagti. A heart where bhagti has sprouted is called a bhagat. Bhagti is not just a doctrine or a social campaign. Gurbani says that naam (bhagti) is our sole purpose. It was assigned to us at the time of our creation.

When living beings were created, naam was decreed to sit as the measure of their dharam (assigned purpose) … Those who are imbued with the color of your naam go as winners, the imitators and pretenders leave as losers.” [GGS:463.16-17]

Even “Brahma, Shiva, the siddhas, the sages and all gods/goddesses including Indra, all beg for the alms of bhagti and for the singing of His praises. Masters of yoga, of spiritual knowledge, of meditation, and the god of wisdom (mythical snake with a thousand heads), all seek to have the surges (of bhagti).” [GGS:1322:1-2]

*    *    *    *    *

Only we humans can express our sentiments. We can laugh, cry and sing. Our melody reflects our moods. Somewhere deep inside us, we all know that we are essentially emotional beings, and that we all succumb to love in some shape and form.

There is a constant, silent battle between reason and emotions. The emotions almost always win, unless we were emotionally inclined to be ruled by reason. Even in the case of someone with a so-called “flat affect” there is an underlying emotional urge to think and to survive. Any threat to these sends a surge of hormones and fierce emotions to combat that threat. We see this same response even during sleep. We call it a nightmare.

Our mind is thus a slave to our emotions. We spend all our lives riding the roller-coaster of our own, self inflicted emotions. At all times we are bouncing up and down and drifting on this choppy sea (‘bhavsagar’ meaning the dreadful ocean) of mundane sentiments. We appear to be awake but we are asleep in this sense. In a way we are in a nightmare.

But one day we are allowed to have a taste of naam. Then our drifting comes to an end. [GGS:278.5] Naam is the master sentiment that overrides all other sentiments. The so-called five thieves then have no power, just as candlelight in the presence of sunlight has no brilliance. We then find peace. We are awake then.

Then we understand how to live our life as an emotionally mature person. We can still enjoy all other emotions and all the worldly tastes, except that they do not have any power over us any longer. One supreme sentiment overwhelms all the shadow emotions.

Since our emotional state governs our attention and our intentions, gurbani gives precedence to divine love and honest intention, over plain and bare attempts to meditate on God.

Guru Gobind Singh wrote, “Of what use is sitting silently with your eyes shut like a crane (when, just like the crane, your inner intent and attachment lies somewhere else)?” [Akal Ustat:8.29]

Meditation comes naturally to us when we have proper sentiment, when we have heartfelt longing to see the very source of our life and to meet the one who we have never seen.

Gurbani supplies us with this sentiment. But first we need to grasp this void inside us emotionally, not just intellectually. It then, can dominate and redirect our life.

To be continued …

May 7, 2018

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Letter & Spirit #56"

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