This text is a selective/annotated summary of a book called
'Philosophy of Sikhism' written by Sher Singh, Gyani
M.A. M.O.L. (Pb). PhD. (London), Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar.
Summary written and submitted to Merton-L Discussion Group by Anand Dev Singh.
The Guru (teacher/enlightened) wanted to remove ignorance and fear by leading his followers to truth and righteousness using reason, logic science, wisdom capped with faith/intuition. This realization of truth illuminates the soul, gives a person new purpose to life and gives that person self-respect. This truth is not simply studied but is God-given. The Guru established a basic tenet of spiritual 'socialism' in the Sikh religion whereby, having baptized some followers, was then himself baptized by those same followers. The Guru then passed on his Guruship to the Sikh Holy Book the 'Guru Granth Sahib'. This contains many hymns praising God. These were written according to the Guru's will without any deviation. The Gurus said that this was also divine knowledge inspired by God.
The Sikhs had ten Gurus in succession all in human form.
However these were all manifestations of the same complete soul.
The Gurus preached religion without having superstition and that every 'good' man or woman is worthy of respect, honour and reverence. The Guru rejected man as God, condemnation of women, despair and pessimism. Instead the Guru spread optimism and remained forever in awe of God and his creations.
Feeling wonder is an important element of Sikhism. This can come
from music, song, poetry and the simple direct truths of the Holy
Book which charm the reader and listener alike. The Holy Book does not
tell a Sikh which rules to follow whilst carrying out rituals or social
observances because these change over time. The Holy Book only concentrates
on that which never changes in any circumstances. It moves away from worldly
affairs and concentrates on mental solace and spiritual peace. It does
this very effectively by using the classical 'Raag' music
form. The Holy Book begins with 'Sri Raag', because
the Gurus say this gives a person an easy approach to the spiritual abode
of peace. The Sacred Book will always retain universal appeal and relevance.
It was, after all, revealed to the Gurus by God using 'meaning' which the
Gurus put into words. God does not need to use language. The truths
within the Holy Book were not merely arrived at using an analytical process
reasoning. The Holy Book contains truth directly inspired by divine wisdom and truth which is way above any human or earthly wisdom. The study of this divine knowledge guides a person away from darkness to the path of light.
The Gurus taught us that this truth exists in some form or other in
all religions. The Gurus grabbed hold of all these strands of truth running
through all of the world's different religions and threaded them together
to form a new clearly defined and practical religion called
Sikhism. When the pulse of this universal truth beats low there always
appears a prophet, not necessarily in the religious field, but in
any field where he is most needed. The tenth Guru (Guru Gobind Singh)
remarkable military leader. He helped the Sikhs to survive the overwhelming forces of the Moslem Empire in India.
Some argue that Sikhism is a form of Hinduism, others that it is Muhammadan/Islamic. However, though Sikhism may contain some elements of those faiths, it is as different and original as Christianity is to Judaism. Sikhism is essentially a very practical faith which is designed to be followed easily by laymen. A design which reveals the mind of the architect. A design which adopted an independent ethical system, rituals and standards which are totally radical.
Pessimism, misery, sin and hell can be all abolished in this life with the grace of God. By removing one's Ego, which forms a barrier to God, one can begin to appreciate with true wonder the magnificent handiwork of God. To achieve this one must do good deeds and be kind to others. When a person thinks of others then God's grace descends upon them. One is converted from the spirit of a jackal to that of a roaring lion.
Devout concentration on the word of the Holy Book, meditating on God's name, and attachment to the congregation or 'Sangat' is a better substitute for saint, men or idol worship. This will help a person to reach the highest spiritual level in this life. One does not have to die first. At this level one has grace and humility. One also has 'Bibek' or discriminate insight. To gain this, one must first accept this world or universe as a relative/false reality. From this truth one can then start to move ahead or forward. Only God is absolute/true reality. To move from one reality to the other one must remove ignorance and illusions. This requires discriminate insight/knowledge. An example of this is that God can be called many names such as Rama, Krishna, Allah, Satnam Waheguru, etc. It is not the name but the meaning attached to it that matters. The Gurus also told us not to worship inanimate objects. How can a stone or an idol possibly compare with a conscious, responsive, loving living God. Similarly the Holy Book is not to be treated as God but simply treated with loving care and respect.
The Gurus fiercely rejected hypocrisy, mechanical and insincere worship of God. They attacked believers of every kind of formalism. Instead the Gurus believed in prayer, saying God was not appeased by rites or mechanical worship. Emphasis on love and service of mankind was stressed.
They also rejected the Caste system and kept no such restrictions
about social intercourse. In so doing, they freed the mass of rules, dogma,
procedures, regulations, etc. which burdens other religions. One example
of this shows that the Gurus exposed 'non-destruction' of life as
'ahinsa' or superstition. They preached non-violence towards others as
a relative concept. To save one is to destroy another. God decides
who or what is to die or be destroyed. Birth s and deaths are in
constantly changing equilibrium. There is a spectrum of life and death.
Some die at conception, some just after some little later and others much
still. Thus a person may live for a second, minute, hour, day, etc. The precise time a person lives is already predetermined.
The Gurus stated that suffering is a state of mind. A true believer can only enjoy pleasure and will therefore feel no pain. Similarly death is not to be feared. It is an event like any other as willed by God.
Some elements of the Yogis have also influenced Sikhism. Like Sikhs, they have few scruples about the food they consume. Also they have opened free kitchens to all twice a day. They also had the system of discipleship. This is sometimes called 'Yogi'. Sikhs however differ by accepting God as the 'all in all' of the universe and not just its director.
Unlike the Buddhists the Gurus refused to accept life to be a journey of suffering and its extinction therefore the journey's end. The Gurus totally rejected any form of asceticism. To deliberately make oneself suffer was futile. Instead they preached purity of heart and sincerity in our dealings with our fellow mankind. The Gurus also rejected the need for celibate or mendicant orders such as monks and nuns. They said that a person should live or remain in the common real world. Indeed one should endeavor to lead a healthy married life. Also one should be hardworking. This forms a sacred guide/ethic for a Sikh. Simply lead a healthy, cheerful and hopeful life with a balanced restraint on animal passions, always relying on God for help and success. Man's will must submit to God's will. Indeed God's will is irresistible leaving no feasible alternative. Sikhism is very single minded in its monotheism. Good and evil are not even given their own demi-god such as Satan. God loves us all without exception.
There are also similarities with Islam. There are two modes of worship - individual and congregational. A Sikh has to join the congregation twice a day at the 'Gurdwara' or house/temple of God at sunrise and sunset. Muslims have to do this five times a day. This recognizes the need to be in a congregation. Whilst one is firmly participating at this level one is made pure and one's destiny changes as a result. Sikhism accepts this but also takes into account the practicalities involved hence twice a day only. Obviously for some even this presents a challenge. An alternative is of course personal worship at home or somewhere where a person can meditate without distraction on God and prayers to God. When a person thinks of God then that person thinks of truth. The truth purifies a person and earns them spiritual wealth. Another way to earn spiritual wealth is to forget oneself and help others. In so doing you give up falsehood. The self, which is in human form, is a false self. The whole or everyone is the true Self. One must try to serve the true Self or God and not oneself.
The Guru Granth Sahib or Sikh Holy Book (Sikh's eleventh Guru)
is wrapped in cloth and covered when open. This is also very similar to
the way its sister book the Quran is treated. A more important resemblance
between these holy books is the heading at the beginning of each
chapter. The 'Mool Mantra' of the Sikh's Holy Book and the 'Bismillah'
of the Islamic Holy Book , are both dedicated to the one merciful
God and are placed at the beginning of every new chapter. They also resemble
each other in content and form. Neither heading contains any verbs: the implication and significance of which is that God transcends all conception of time. The Sikhs take the 'Mool Mantra' to be the soul of their Holy Book, which in turn is considered to be its detailed exposition. Once a sinner repents and starts to follow the truth then he will begin to do good deeds. These good deeds then acquire God's grace. 'My Lord is kind and always ever kind'. All men are of the same caste meaning equal, and are all brothers and not foes. In the temple all are allowed to enter. All social differences are set aside. A Sikh king would humble himself and be glad to serve even the poorest member of the congregation. To be humble is the
highest achievement a person can reach in this world. It by definition treats others with respect and fairness. It instills humanity and takes away animal passion. To be humane turns one into a good person. Only good people connect with absolute truth.
The Gurus considered all religions to be true, provided they are followed sincerely, honestly and without boast. This demonstrates a great universality and tremendous broadmindedness. They said that one should try to respect and tolerate the convictions of others. They emphasized inner worth rather than external front or rituals. They favored the system of the householder. The Gurus denounced the life of the hermit as a spiritual refuge. If there is truthfulness and sincerity in the heart, then one can realize God within one's own family and house/home.
The first and last mark of the Guru Granth Sahib is the figure '1'. This is symbolic of God's absolute Unity. This symbol is then diffused throughout the whole body of the Holy Book. This parallels the notion of the universe. In the beginning there is one, in the end there is one only and midway between the two points the one is diffused. The Gurus make no attempt to prove the existence of God. To them God's existence is overwhelmingly self-evident. God is absolute truth which can only be experienced and not gained through academic research. When a person does good then the possibility to realize God becomes available. A person who is stuck in the physical universe is stuck in falsehood. The realization of God is denied to them as are many other real or true gifts from God. The gifts are way above any material objects belonging to the physical universe.
The existence of oneself is the pointer to the true Self / God. The entire universe is an inference to God but not a reference. One cannot point to anything in the physical universe and say it proves the existence of God. When all other possibilities are exhausted as the root cause of the universe then and only then can one infer that God must be the cause. Faith cuts through this and reaches into the heart of truth. Truth given to us by God via our intuition. Intuition operates above the level of thinking. It guides us about what is right or wrong. It tells us if something is right or wrong even before we do it. Intuition can guide us through all our problems and queries. To become in touch with our intuition we must remove our Ego. Ego clouds our vision and blurs our intuition. When one is humble Ego retreats forthwith and one's real/true judgment comes online with lucid clarity.
The existence of the self is the proof of The Self. God
sent a spark from himself and made it appear like a man or any other form.
The spark is that that part/element which always thinks and runs towards
its source. This is the will or consciousness of God. There are four states
of consciousness. This includes the dream world of the physical universe
from which we will eventually awake, our own personal
dream world from which we wake up everyday , deep sleep in which
there is nothing at all and absolute consciousness to which we will
all return. In deep sleep we feel nothing, know nothing, see nothing .
It is a mini
death during which our soul rejoins its absolute source. When our soul returns to its body we feel refreshed and whole. The fourth state contains only absolutes e.g. absolute truth, absolute knowledge, absolute power, etc. It has no division, discord, conflict, etc. only absolute pleasure/contentment. To get back to this supreme state one must give up false reality or
dreamworlds. Stop thinking of the world as being real. Ego makes us take it too seriously. Material wealth (false) is valueless compared to spiritual wealth (truth). One must strive to strike a real/true bargain in this world.
God is the creator. He created all the different states that exist. We too are capable of creativity using our imagination. Anything which can be created can also be destroyed. Thus it belongs to the dreamworld and not the real world. The real state never changes. It is always the same and is timeless. The physical universe is however made from a design or blueprint which is perfect. Just as we create in our own sphere on a much smaller scale, similarly we can conceive that God created the Cosmos only with a very well thoughtout/perfect design.
God is within us, around us and is also beyond. Thus he is immanent
and transcendent. This perhaps is a difficult concept to grasp since each
quality or concept excludes each other. Sikhs believe God to be totally
non-sectarian. Nearly all religions emphasize the universal character of
God, but the followers soon bend this to meet their own missionary
zeal; arguing that unless you follow their religion then there is no possibility
of attaining salvation. Indeed some prophets or messengers
sometimes claim to be God incarnate in order to exert more influence. Sikhs do not accept any incarnation of God. Furthermore Sikhism is a largely non-missionary religion. They believe that whichever religion you are born into is good enough.
In effect God has no favored religion. He does not even have a specific name. Sikhs call him 'Nam' which means literally name. Sometimes he is called 'Anam' which means nameless. God has many such paradoxes such as immanence and transcendence.
The doctrine of wonder or ecstasy is also important to Sikhs. Wonder or 'Wismad' is held about God's countless attributes or qualities. Human beings are not capable of exhausting knowledge about the supreme being. God is capable or 'Sargun' i.e. having all good qualities which enable man to know or experience anything about him. God is also capable of 'Nirgun' i.e. without any qualities whereby it is impossible to know anything about him.
God of his own volition starts to 'become'. Having brought the world into being , he is in it, around it and away from it all at the same time. He is conscious, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and humanly known via our intuition. God is one and many at the same time. In the form of 'becoming' he is many, but for the true eye even the many are still one only. When he is many he is known as 'Anek'. When he is one he is known as 'Ek' or 'Phir Ek' which means again one.
Let us take a numerical analogy. At point zero he is in his 'Nirgun'
state i.e. without any attributes. At point one he begins to be known
via the physical world. As the number of attributes expand so the
number increments by one. As the number of units expand towards infinity
so the number of qualities expand to form a 'Sargun' state. Notice how
'one' features as a constant in every increment. The universe is
part of that expansion. A humble person sees everyone or everything
as the same one being. A person infected by Ego sees differences
and variation. That person sees themselves as above all others. .
God's will forms the laws of the universe. The product of that will
also enlightens us to the nature of God . This is the word of God. He is
also the 'Mool' or root and the very ground of the universe or 'Tek' which
means support. Without God everything would cease to exist. He holds
the weight or burden/responsibility of the universe. He holds the Earth
and other spheres via physical and moral laws. A fairly new attribute describes
God as a tree or 'Ped/Tarowar'. This is a complex concept.
The tree is fresh and beautiful each morning. It is new every time and therefore with its new blossoms and flowers attracts the lover of beauty and of nature with a fresh vigor and fondness. God is always fresh, beautiful and new. This can only be perceived in our perception belonging to the physical world. God is changeless or ever the same - 'Nihchal' or 'Ikras'. If God appears to change then this is an aspect of our crude perception which varies over time. Such change and renewal is only possible over time. Time is a concept which only belongs to the physical universe.
Time is an illusion which envelopes us. God is 'Akal' or timeless or outside time. We appear to exist, according to God's will, in his 'becoming' state. This phase appears to be ever new. God as pure being is pure and ever the same.
God is both the worshipper and the worshipped. He is the all in all. He is also an artist. He does not simply just nourish us but also enables us to have emotional satisfaction through our senses. This trait can be traced back to the original source of beauty - God. He does not just arrange in order, but he also decorates his creation. The eye of the beholder may judge something to be ugly. A diseased and jaundiced eye cannot possibly see the reality. It is up to individual will to overcome weakness and join with the Will.
God also refashions old into new. This involves some form of change or destruction .The universe is constantly breaking down and changing forever. The physical universe by its very nature is variable. Heaven on the other hand is never changing and always remains a constant. The two are opposites in absolute terms. To see reality one must reverse the entire order of one's perspective. See that this world is false in every respect. Do not give it credence.
There is a set pattern. A creation comes into being, it develops over time, declines and is finally reabsorbed. Only God is the exception to all this. He was never born, developed, weakened or broken down at all. Thus he is always reliable.
The creation of the universe is mere play to God, both in the theatrical
sense and fun sense. He indulges us with his many gifts such as pleasure
and genius. He plays with a spirit which is perfectly fair.
He is also very sporting. When we fall he is there to pick us up and guide
us along. We have some inkling regarding the nature of God, but despite
this his workings baffle the human intellect at every step. God is
transcendent and immanent. He transcends the objective world of our senses
and yet pervades our senses. Religion needs an immanent God. A God
who is near to us and within us. He is therefore a personal and
intimate God. The essence of personality lies in responsiveness to other persons. God minds us all.
Suffering stems from one's Ego. This is our challenge to overcome. Ego makes us weak in all manner of ways. It inflates our worldly expectations which results in disappointment and pain. Submit absolutely to God's will and the pain will be replaced with joy.
The Gurus described God as 'Asujh' - not intelligible; 'Nirbujh' - not cognisable; 'Gupt' most hidden; 'Agadh, Agah, Aghu, Agucha, Agam' - unknowable, incomprehensible, etc. 'Akah' - unspeakable. We do not even come close to knowing God's absolute nature. Even God himself may not know of all the infinite possibilities.
So man brings down the unknowable absolute to the level of religion.
Any knowledge which does occur about God is only granted by God's grace
to one's intuition and never to one's intellect. The Gurus were found to
be repeatedly praying to God to bestow on them some knowledge of Himself.
Such knowledge is beyond the five senses, thus it can not be witnessed.
Intuition is a state of feeling and not a definition of the object.
Logic and language are a lower form, a diminution of this kind
of knowledge. To appreciate any reality one has to experience it and not merely think you understand it. However one should still have rational intelligence. Dogmatic approach has no place in Sikhism. True knowledge is arrived at through intelligent search and rational conviction and realized practically by intuitive experience. Such knowledge is 'Sacha Bichar' really true and therefore eternal. In moving from intellect to intuition we are not moving in the direction of unreason, but are getting into the deepest rationality of which human nature is capable. In it we think more profoundly, feel more deeply and see more truly. Our thinking at this level becomes pure and meets up at the level of God. This level provides us with incite yielding to originality. This new item once gained can then be researched further using rational science or logic.
God is unchangeable so never dies. He is quite simply indestructible. He creates, recreates, evolves or emanates in every conceivable manner. He is worth more than all the treasure put together. Indeed he is infinitely so. He cannot be valued or measured. He fills all of space and distance. He is invisible. He has countless forms such as rocks, plants, animals, etc. At an impersonal level he is without form. At this level he is the highest understandable concept. There is nothing about him which bears any similarity with the human form. He is absolutely universalized; all distinctions of name, caste, sect, and creed disappear.
God existed before time began, he was there at the beginning ,
is here now and always will be. Whilst God himself has no beginning
nor any end, he is the beginning and end of all else. He endlessly extends
back into the past and into the future! He is also outside time. He holds
the cycle of time in his grasp. Time as we experience it is not even
a millisecond to God. Thus the world is created and then eventually dismantled
all in a twinkling of God's eye. He is omnipresent. He is everywhere
at all times. He knows and sees everything. He is omnipotent. All the laws
of physics or nature are his will. His power comes from
absolute truth and hence knowledge. He knows all that there is to know. He knows all our thoughts and dreams. No secrets can be kept from God. Even as a leaf plummets to the ground he already knows the precise moment it will land on the ground. God knows what we need even before we ask. He is wiser than all others. He is also the perfect judge who wields justice absolutely fairly. His justice for you will mirror the justice which you as a person dispensed to others. He will also forgive
a person who is sincerely remorseful and humble.
For the Gurus there is nothing outside of God and his will. The entire universe is made up of God. However despite this there is still freewill. One can choose a path of truth and absolute happiness ignoring all events as significant. Alternatively we can choose a lesser or more misguided path in which events take on importance. The latter ensues when we pander to our Ego.
God is also moral. He is the original source and stock of all virtue.
All such qualities are found in him with perfection. Evil or sin only occurs
in attention away from him. It also gets worse if you concentrate on yourself
rather than others. The moment one thinks of others and their
needs or thinks of God and only God then the evil dissipates. Ignorance
and misunderstanding is befriended by our Ego. This then leads to
pain and suffering. Sikhism does not have a suffering God. Only we in this
physical world are capable of suffering. God does not have to make a sacrifice
to win a battle. He holds all the cards in his hand. He
is after all everything. The idea of evil is illusionary. It is all in the mind. It appears real to those minds who consider the physical world to be real. As soon as one begins to gain divine knowledge evils no longer holds any threat or influence.
God is forever only Good. He is bliss and pleasure both cool and calm. He is always happy and cheerful. He is 'Sachanand' - truly happy. This is a state which is above and beyond the feeling of happiness which we can possibly enjoy whilst unattached to God. We tend to relate happiness with its opposite feeling. We suffer from duality because we think this world is real. God only has absolute happiness. He is one with himself and has no such dichotomy.
God protects according to his will and our humble requests to him. He
help us with all our needs such as food, clothes, health,
studying, jobs, etc. He can also help us fulfill our goals in life. However
he does expect us to aim to be perfect. He keeps strict account of
what we intend and what we do. He is just. Sincere repentance
prayer can change the whole character and personality of a person. The
accumulated effects of past evil deeds is washed away. God is pleased
and therefore forgives a sincere repentant devotee. God does not
degrade a man on account of his prior misbehavior. Anyone
who fails to mend their ways have only themselves to blame. That person
will sow their own seeds of pain, darkness and misery. God
is always on hand to help us. He makes those who have fallen or are
impure whole/complete once more. He guides the misled back
to the truth as soon as they accept his guidance. God loves us all.
He interests himself emotionally in our affairs just like a parent.
In fact God is all relations: spouse, brother and friend.
His relationship is extremely intimate and personal. A relationship which
does not from suffer from any fear or doubt. God is the source of
everlasting comfort, even if
all else is physical torture. God is free from evil, pain or suffering.
We have all manner of faults and weaknesses. God has none. He is independent, fearless, without any enemies, without desire, without emotional attachment, without impurity, without cares, and is simply infallible. He does not waver and cannot be deceived. These qualities can sometimes be reflected in a person who has reached a more advanced spiritual state. This state is reached easily through meditation. Periods of meditation cements a person's spiritual connection with God. The difference between the person and God starts to dematerialize. One whilst meditating will be in a state of concentration. That person will be found to be constantly repeating God's name ('Satnam Waheguru'). This is done without distraction and by emptying the mind of all other thoughts. After many periods of such meditation that person will begin to relate to everything on a spiritual plane. All around will be only spirit. They will be able to see clearly the past present and the future. They begin to have new spiritual gifts. God and individual soul stand to each other as fire and spark. The difference is degree and not kind.
The universe and everything in it is art. As created by God. Everything is individually decorated. No two things are alike. Everything has it own unique kink or quirk making it unique. Art is the control of imperfection. God's control over all the infinite flaws of the universe is perfect. When we let God control us so we too become perfect. Therefore it is important to give ourselves to God. Give up our Ego and serve God. The wonderful feelings inspired by art break through plain, dull, ordinary existences. The Holy Book is full of expressions meaning wonderful or beautiful Lord God.
There was time when the cosmos did not exist. Only God existed in his own meditation. He willed and the universe came into existence and within a blink of the eyes it is gone again. Many such creations have come and gone. God never emotionally attaches himself to his creations. Similarly we ought not to attach ourselves to those creations also. One does not know the reasons for his will or his absolute nature. As spirit enters matters so it starts to flourish and flower, bearing fruit. Creation is only partly evolutionary. It is more emergent evolution. Just as it spreads out so it will return to its wonderful source eventually.
The only fundamental reality is God is his 'Aphur' state - transcendental
conscious state. A state in which there is no knowing ,
no feeling or willing. If God then begins to will, then matter occurs. Matter which develops certain individuality, independence, even Ego. In this state God is immanent or 'Saphur'. He is both personal and dear to us. In this state the laws of the universe come into being. Matter constantly changes, but God the source, does not change. The matter thus created is transient and only an illusory reality. Furthermore, whatever is our perception of this reality, it is bound to be already inaccurate as it has already mutated. The world is a vehicle through which we can learn about God. When we learn about God we then touch
true reality and feel the wonder that goes with it. Wonder which will filter into our physical existence.
It is possible to leave the cycle of rebirth. Humans are the highest step in the staircase of creation. If a person continues to do good deeds then he or she will progress and finally enter 'Sachkhand' the absolute realm of truth. One must have a single-minded pursuit of doing good deeds and by so doing follow the truth leading to release from the physical universe. A person who is governed by their Ego will fail to see the truth and will fail as a result to help others with good deeds. A person who gives up their Ego for the sake of others becomes humble. A humble person sees and reacts to the world in an entirely different way and will therefore progress. A humble person will view enemies and friends alike. He or she will see others as if they are the same as him or her. A humble person looks for the God in everyone and ignores the outer husk called the body and mind. All people are capable of igniting the flame of God within them.
We are made up from matter and soul. The mind/thought comes from
the contract between physical and spiritual. 'Gyan' or knowledge
comes from reason and thought. However 'Anand' or pleasure comes
from the soul. The soul is the support and essence of life. It is inherently
active. It resides in the body. The body is therefore a temple of
God. This temple should not be harmed. It is pure. It should be kept
pure by good thoughts, words and deeds. We should treat our
body like a guest with
respect and not abuse it or deprive it of its needs. Without a soul the body dies and goes back to its original elements. A soul may leave the body at once or gradually. In the latter case the body and mind die gradually. The spirit or soul takes with it the essence of the person's character and personality. Thus a body can still exist but without any mind. A person with Dementia may lose all reason, character and personality. Their soul has gradually moved on to their next life. Relatives and friends of such a person should not treat the remaining husk or body as the person but should instead looks towards the heavens.
The mind is a spectrum going from material all the way to pure spiritual or soul. The universe which has Duality is also spectral. Between each opposite is an infinite spectrum. Between black and white there are infinite shades forming a spectrum. This applies to all other opposites such as sexuality, character, personality, genetics, weather, stars, planets, etc. This list is also infinite. This spectral duality is an aspect of the physical world. God does not have duality He has infinite absolute qualities.
The Gurus placed body, mind and soul in the same line. If you take a long piece of paper, which is colored such that at one end it is pitch black and at the other end is snow white. From the blackness to white in this spectrum there is a gradual and imperceptible decrease in blackness. This decreases uniformly. In the middle there is only grey. There is no one point where we can say the blackness begins or ends. One merges into the other so gradually that the whole looks to be a unity. A unity in which diversity is undeniable and a diversity in which unity is obvious. The same can be said of the whole universe which is made up of matter, soul and their spectral relationship.
Blackness does not therefore mean the total negation of whiteness. Matter is not therefore the total exclusion of spirit. Stone, plant, animal and man are all part of the same spectrum. Man is a distinguishable though inseparable part of the whole universe. The difference comes with the strength of the soul in relation to the matter. This strength can be increased by moving towards the truth or absolute. Good deeds is a way of finding the truth.
Individual souls are like sparks from a fire. As millions of sparks rise from the fire, though rising separately they can reunite back in the fire. A wave is only a part of the endless sea, yet they are as distinct as heaven and earth. Ego drives a wedge into this unity. This leads to selfish actions. Man in relation to the universe may be regarded as a fractal of the universe. In other words he is a self-contained universe. The sea and the sea drop show that the drop is in the sea and the sea in also in the drop. Man tries to explore the universe in terms of this small/narrow jaundiced universe. However much more than this he has the ability to explore the universe on a much higher spiritual plane and become conscious of divine nature. The Sikh Holy Book tells us that to truly understand oneself one must understand the true Self or God.
To gain release from the confined universe or rebirth it is important to become a human being. One passes through many existences before becoming human. As human we actually bear all the traits from our previous existences. The soul subtly carries mental traits from one life to another. There is no continuity of consciousness from one birth to the next, but general impressions or the net result of one's whole life's activities are transferred from past to present. There is also a break in consciousness between us all in this life now. Thus we are all one and the same being separated by these breaks caused by Ego.
When one removes all selfishness, then one gains perfect personality. The confines of the physical world are then broken as a result. There is no more suffering or unhappiness for this person. Heaven or hell on Earth are a state of mind. When an evil man descends to a lower than human level then in his next life he will become an animal or an insect, or a plant, etc. His former human personality through evil deeds has been washed clean of all higher traits of personality. By the time he died some animal or subhuman passion took over. The laws of nature provide slots or life forms to suit each personality. There are two options. One, which keeps one, trapped in the physical world, and one which gives us freedom from the physical world. Even that which is considered to be the very best life in this world is bondage. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth is a snare for the soul, which keeps it, separated from God. Separation is suffering and union is eternal bliss.
To earn release a supreme state of pure consciousness must arise free from feeling, knowing, willing, rejoicing, mourning, hopes, desires, personality or individuality. It is a supremely meditative state. In which one can know one's true nature. It is a pure universal existence. A true Sikh does not even desire release, just the love for God. In this state the distinction between object and subject disappears. The two become fused and hence merged into divine essence. Once this love is perpetuated it does not break even after death. This is 'Mukti' or release. The person who is one with God lives in the world, enjoys it and finds comfort in it. The discord between the self and the Self having now evaporated leads to pure unity.
The Gurus said one should do good actions and dedicate them to God, knowing each deed depends on the grace of God. Indeed each good deed is actually performed by God through us. One should not desire the fruits of one's actions. This should be a Sikh's attitude to all activities of life. This brings confidence in ourselves and removes the chances for disappointment and depression at the time of 'failure'. This helps to foster good feeling and energy.
The Gurus wanted to stimulate active thought and remove passiveness or submissiveness. The meekness of the Hindu mind at the time had driven away courage and manliness. To the Hindu the sword had become a symbol of evil. The Gurus on the contrary made the sword a symbol of self-respect and changed their followers into saint-soldiers. The Gurus also warned us against 'intellectuals' who only wish to feed their Egos. They dazzles people away from the truth. These egotists turn out to be great cheats who are selfish and hypocritical.
The Gurus encouraged worldly life and not its renunciation. They themselves led married lives, had families and worked for a living. They did not like priests to beg as a matter of course. Living in the world is not a bad thing. The world is a garden with thorns. Those who have an open minded attitude will enjoy this and will not be affected by its thorny side. In the world there is truth, harmony and knowledge. All these are grounded in the divine being. The Gurus defined a recluse as someone who retires into his house and contemplates in the region of his soul and enjoys all blessings in his home.
Ego supports poor attitude, which upsets our focus on the universe,
diverting it onto ourselves. One needs to adjust one's attitude and
everything will come back into a clear vision. This does not remove personal
feelings, but simply incorporates them into a wider scope. Intellect and
intuition for the Gurus are not two faculties which are poles apart. One
is perverted reason while the other is perfect reason. We need intellect
to proceed in the physical universe. It allows us to relate to space,
time and matter. To go beyond this we need intuition. Intuition crowns
intellect with it final success. Unfortunately Ego perverts
our intellect forcing one onto the wrong track. It seriously impairs
our judgement. It will make even simple judgements become
In order to pursue the right track Faith is important. When intellect gives way to faith it becomes pure. In the state of such purity ones consciousness gains 'Bibek Buddhi' or the power to discriminate between right and wrong paths. Faith then guides us to the truth. Without this there is no step forward. One is lost in the wilderness of the physical world. To gain such faith one has to earn it with good deeds. All spiritual knowledge is kept away from those who have not earned it. Any such knowledge will appear to be hollow and of little interest to a person who is slave to their Ego. Indeed to attempt to convert such a person is of little value. A person tends to become more receptive after a fall or misfortune. Hence everything occurs for a reason. Indeed a true Sikh thanks God even for difficult times. He or she sees difficult times as opportunities to prove one's faith. They help a person to remember God and ask for his help or grace.
When a Sikh begins to invite difficult times and comes through it with God's help then there is even more joy as a result. This joy is real. It will be absorbed into every pore and sinew. It will come from deep within. Thus difficult times no longer hold any threat to a Sikh. He or she has been liberated from fear, enemies, barriers, etc. There are no more obstacles, worries, etc. In this context everything is good. People suffer because they do not see this truth.
Without this first step forward we are blind. Humans more than any other life form is most able to earn true insight. Hence why animals do not progress. Animals do not congregate or erect temples to worship God. This separates us from all other life forms. This shows that we have progressed beyond the physical world.
Science considers all creation to have occurred by chance/luck or accident.
Faith tells us that all creation occurred by deliberate design and order
according to divine will. Science grows out of rationality in relation
to material things. Art grows out our relation to living things.
Art occurs when imperfection is controlled. Such control exists over
all phenomena. Indeed science agrees that not only do laws exist
but that they are beautiful laws. Hence science is also art. Art
produced by the master artist - God. Religion grows out of our relations
with people. Rationality is the core of all these relationships.
Without this all men will simply behave like animals. Faith reverses the
whole order of physical reality. Death becomes life,
giving becomes receiving, giving up physical truth gains real truth,
lose the self and obtain the real Self, etc. The source of such
knowledge is God. As science proceeds upon its quest for root causes of all phenomena it continues to uncover the intelligent nature of control over all such phenomena. This quest will baffle science forever. Only faith crowns one with the conclusion of God's will.
God is the cure of all suffering. He gives us supreme pleasure. He is pure ambrosia. A body is dead without life and a life is dead without God. In the physical world we are walking dead. Only when we touch truth do we stir with wonder. When God within joins God without every experience gains real content and the underlying pathos of every pleasure is removed. One experiences indescribable beauty and power.
God is ever in the state of Wismad or wonderous rapture. Sometimes one
is deeply moved by a piece of art, nature or experience and become aware
of a power outside ourselves which is way above. At this moment one
forgets oneself. This has led to a breakthrough from plain ordinary existence
into reality. God is the soul/spirit of May flowers and Spring beauty.
God enjoys his own beauty. Hence we can also obtain joy from this.
Even the world is said to be in a state of Wismad. To the
wismadi or true wonderer there is no distinction between the two. To him or her the whole world is pure, good and beautiful. True and false, real and unreal, good and bad have no place in the artistic world. One could turn one's attention to a so called mundane object and take it away from the outskirts of consciousness. Take it away from its narrow definition and then blend it into one's imagination, vision, harmony of lines, colors, life and movement. It will change into something which is sewn intimately into one's own experience. This art can be enjoyed by anyone at any time without being clever or complicated.
Humility opens the doorway to such pleasure.
As the lotus while growing in the mud turns its petals towards the sun
so should a person whilst involved in worldly affairs turn his thoughts
to God. One can reach a point where world and God merge. Even the sound
of birds will seem like the sound of God's name being echoed.
As far as possible try to remain humble or servile rather than trying to
be a master. Such humility leads to unity and God's grace descends upon
you. Union subordinates the realm of having to the realm of being. Such
bursts the egg of illusion, ignorance, and superstition. The mind is lit up as the fetters fall off and it races towards freedom. It has escaped the walls of Ego. It no longer becomes possible to even think of evil. This person has gained good will; God's will.
The distinction between good and evil disappear. Actions are not good
or bad in themselves. In other words actions do no contain moral value.
It is only when the mind attaches itself to some action and only then does
some ethical consideration occur. The mind is capable of good or evil i.e.
truth or falsehood. The soul however will only ever follow
the truth. When the soul gains control from one's Ego the sensual attachment
to the world is dissolved. Individual will and divine Will become
This person becomes 'Achint' without deliberation or effort/burden. There are no more mental conflicts or pitfalls. In this state he or she becomes part of the sinless, fearless and everlasting kingdom of God. This is the crowning reward of actual realization, earned through a gradual development of spiritual life resulting from one's good deeds. It is a practical achievement that may begin with a single suggestion. Just as with hypnotism it begins with suggestion though without a need to be in a trance. God helps those to ask for it. They must search for the truth in earnest. A deep love for God must be cultivated. Pray to
God with humility and without expecting reward for doing so.
A Sikh offers prayer or 'Ardas' at every step of his life's journey
always asking God to be there with him or her. When a Sikh joins
with his temple's congregation he or she is considerably moved along in
this journey. However the person must be willing to listen and enjoy this
meeting of spiritual minds. A closed mind will not benefit. During
the 'Divan' or holy ceremony in the
temple a Sikh will enjoy the communal comfort and sacred music which is full of emotional sincerity. The same person will also benefit from the wisdom of religious 'Kirtan' or sermon which highlights the truth. By being there one feels spiritually 'turned on'. It becomes difficult for falsehood to enter the mind. This is the first fruit of contact with the congregation. Such sincere feeling should then be practiced elsewhere.
There are five stages in the development of inner consciousness:-
1) A true insight into the surroundings
gives us a scientific outlook. This helps us to discover that the Universe
is a system.
Nothing happens haphazardly in the world. All events are governed by laws. Laws which form God's will.
2) Gain a reflective imagination.
3) Gain a creative imagination. For perception does not give us all that we know. Imagination extends our perceptions vastly. Now one can see that the universe expands immensely, not just one world but many worlds. What once appeared as fixed, finite and conquerable is in fact infinite. Now one realizes the sheer incomprehensibility of God's handiwork. One knows that in fact one does not know at all. This admission leads to humility and wonder/Wismad. At every step one is overwhelmingly impressed by the wonderful works of art created by the wonderful Lord. In this realm of knowledge divine light becomes resplendent and we take pleasure in nature. The defeat of our intellect makes us emotionally alive and content. The science of beauty is revealed via creative imagination. Real happiness comes from our creativity. Along with our limited creativity we see the unlimited and infinite creativity of God. No two trees are alike and so too are the leaves. God lovingly and personally crafts each and every item. Possibility, actuality, imagination, and creativity are all one and the same for God.
4) With the foundation of science, art, perception and imagination now comes the real experience of religion with faith at the very epicentre. The first condition of our appreciation of the beautiful is that we affirm its origin which is God. This leads us to affirm the existence of God. God is beautiful and always kind. The world is governed by laws which are born out of God's mercy or grace. This is divine will.
5) When one identifies oneself with the will of God then all is good and beautiful and so happiness prevails. Our perception of physical reality changes and matter transforms into spiritual reality. Our perception also becomes much wider being able to view past, present and future as one. 'Here things of beauty do not die. Here saints live and rejoice'
It is the result of the awakening of the religious intuition which is the sole characteristic of the Soul. It is beyond the five senses. It is beyond the mind and the frontiers of the mind. As soon as spiritual intuition begins we enter the realm of truth which is also the realm of God. This realm even exists above good and beautiful. It is the metaphysical reality with a capital 'R'. These five stages do not exclude each other. Life will continue in the physical world. The lower stages contribute to the higher stages and the higher participate in the lower. Those who practice repeating 'Nam' or God's name like this overcome all discord and disharmony. Their faces reflect glory and liberate many others who meet them.
The Sikh faith helped them to meet head on and overcome vast odds during a turbulent period of Indian history. They stood up for justice and truth at the cost of many lives including men, women and children. Their faith remained intact despite a huge catalogue of brutality against them.
Last updated: 2001/10/26