Blog Archive

"Mired in Maya"

by Amar Prakash

rhwau ]
iDRgu qnu iDRgu Dnu iDRgu ieh mwieAw iDRgu iDRgu miq buiD PMnI ] ies mwieAw kau idRVu kir rwKhu bWDy Awp bcMnI ]1] ikAw KyqI ikAw lyvw dyeI prpMc JUTu gumwnw ] kih kbIr qy AMiq ibgUqy AwieAw kwlu indwnw ]2]9]

Cursed is the body, cursed is the wealth, and cursed is this Maya; cursed, cursed is the clever intellect and understanding. Restrain and hold back this Maya; overcome it, through the Word of the Guru's Teachings. ||1|| What good is farming, and what good is trading? Worldly entanglements and pride are false. Says Kabeer, in the end, they are ruined; ultimately, Death will come for them. ||2||9|"
Kabir p. 857

It is my contention that through hundreds of years of ignorance and misunderstandings, Sikhism have become "Mired in Maya." 

pauVI ]
jIvidAw mru mwir n pCoqweIAY ] JUTw iehu sMswru ikin smJweIAY ] sic n Dry ipAwru DMDY DweIAY ]
kwlu burw KY kwlu isir dunIAweIAY ] hukmI isir jMdwru mwry dweIAY ] Awpy dyie ipAwru mMin vsweIAY ] muhqu n csw ivlµmu BrIAY pweIAY ] gur prswdI buiJ sic smweIAY ]20]

While you are alive, conquer death, and you shall have no regrets in the end. This world is false, but only a few understand this. People do not enshrine love for the Truth; they chase after worldly affairs instead. The terrible time of death and annihilation hovers over the heads of the world. By the Hukam of the Lord's Command, the Messenger of Death smashes his club over their heads. The Lord Himself gives His Love, and enshrines it within their minds. Not a moment or an instant's delay is permitted, when one's measure of life is full. By Guru's Grace, one comes to know the True One, and is absorbed into Him. ||20||"
Guru Nanak p. 147

The question has been asked: "Are all rituals in the Sikh religion meaningless?" Not only are all rituals meaningless, they are all part of the Illusion (Maya.)  And yes, these would include Amrit Sankar, reciting Ardas, taking Vaak and distributing Karah Parshad among others.

mMnY mwrig Twk n pwie ] mMnY piq isau prgtu jwie ] mMnY mgu n clY pMQu ] mMnY Drm syqI snbMDu ]
AYsw nwmu inrMjnu hoie ] jy ko mMin jwxY min koie ]14]

"The path of the faithful shall never be blocked. The faithful shall depart with honor and fame. They never walk in the worldly ways. The faithful do not follow empty religious rituals. The faithful are firmly bound to the Dharma. Such is the Name of the Immaculate Lord. Only one who has faith comes to know such a state of mind. ||14||"
Guru Nanak p. 3

Not only are the rituals part of the Illusion but gurdwaras are also part of the Illusion. I have said in the past: "I don't believe in gurdwaras but I do believe in Gurdwara." What do I mean by this? First we have to look at what has become the common usage of the word gurdwara and then look at what the Gurus meant when they were talking about Gurdwara.

In today's terms gurdwara can be defined as the name given to the place of Sikh worship, literally the doorway to the Guru. This would include any place where a Guru Granth is installed, some times referred to as Guru dhar.

But is a Gurdwara really a place? Is it somewhere you can go to meet the Guru? I don't believe that this what the Gurus were talking about. In fact during the times of the first five Gurus, gathering places of Sikhs were known as Dharmasalas (places to practice the Dharma) and not gurdwaras.

Here's what Guru Amar Das was saying about Gurdwara on page 32 and 917.

Awpy dyie q pweIAY horu krxw ikCU n jwie ] dyvx vwly kY hiQ dwiq hY gurU duAwrY pwie ]
jyhw kIqonu qyhw hoAw jyhy krm kmwie ]3]

"He Himself gives, and then we receive. Nothing else can be done. The Gift is in the Hands of the Great Giver. At the Guru's Door, in the Gurdwara, it is received. Whatever He does, comes to pass. All act according to His Will. ||3||"

ey sRvxhu myirho swcY sunxY no pTwey ] swcY sunxY no pTwey srIir lwey suxhu siq bwxI ] ijqu suxI mnu qnu hirAw hoAw rsnw ris smwxI ] scu AlK ivfwxI qw kI giq khI n jwey ] khY nwnku AMimRq nwmu suxhu pivqR hovhu swcY sunxY no pTwey ]37] hir jIau guPw AMdir riK kY vwjw pvxu vjwieAw ] vjwieAw vwjw paux nau duAwry prgtu kIey dsvw gupqu rKwieAw ] gurduAwrY lwie BwvnI ieknw dsvw duAwru idKwieAw ] qh Anyk rUp nwau nv iniD iqs dw AMqu n jweI pwieAw ]
khY nwnku hir ipAwrY jIau guPw AMdir riK kY vwjw pvxu vjwieAw ]38]

"The Lord placed the soul to the cave of the body, and blew the breath of life into the musical instrument of the body. He blew the breath of life into the musical instrument of the body, and revealed the nine doors; but He kept the Tenth Door hidden. Through the Gurdwara, the Guru's Gate, some are blessed with loving faith, and the Tenth Door is revealed to them. There are many images of the Lord, and the nine treasures of the Naam; His limits cannot be found. Says Nanak, the Lord placed the soul to the cave of the body, and blew the breath of life into the musical instrument of the body. ||38||"

What he is saying is that your Tenth Door (Dasam Dwaar) is the true Gurdwara. This is the true Guru's Door through which one receives the true Amrit (Ishnaan) and Prashad (blessing.) Any other understanding of the term Gurdwara is when you get "Mired in Maya." And that is exactly where Sikhism finds itself today.

kbIr swDU sMgu prwpqI iliKAw hoie illwt ] mukiq pdwrQu pweIAY Twk n AvGt Gwt ]231]

"Kabeer, the mortal finds the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, if he has such destiny written upon his forehead. He obtains the treasure of liberation, and the difficult road to the Lord is not blocked. ||231||"
Kabir p. 1376

So don't be deceived by the Illusion. 

Veil of Illusion

By Amar Prakash

As I have delved further into the meanings of Gurmat and tried to understand what the Guru's were actually talking about, I began to have doubts about what Sikhism was telling us what Gurmat was. The two articles: "Losing My Religion" and "Break on Through to the Other Side" were written in response to these doubts.

Recently I read an article in the NY Times that brought to mind something that Guru Arjan taught on p. 138.

This world is an illusion; it dies and it is re-born-it comes and it goes in reincarnation.

The NY Times article stated: "Roger Penrose, the eminent British mathematician, is arguing that there is physical evidence that may predate the Big Bang. ... [He and physicist V.G. Gurzadyan] go even further, claiming that the evidence also suggests that our universe may 'be but one aeon in a (perhaps unending) succession of such aeons.' What we think of as our 'universe' may simply be one link in a chain of universes, each beginning with a big bang and ending in a way that sends detectable gravitational waves into the next universe."

This was amazing, in that this was exactly what Guru Arjan was talking about. This world is just an illusion and this is where Sikhism and all the other religions totally misunderstand this concept and believe that this world of illusion actually exists. Yes, it's actually there and everything is real but in the spiritual sense it's just an illusion (maya.) And this spiritual sense is what the Guru's were talking about. To the Guru's there are two planes of existence: the earthly or material plane and the spiritual or transcendental plane. The spiritual plane is what Gurmat is all about.

Our purpose in life is to lose our religion and break on through to the spiritual plane. This is what Guru Arjan was telling us in Kirtan Sohila:

jw kau Awey soeI ibhwJhu hir gur qy mnih bsyrw ] inj Gir mhlu pwvhu suK shjy bhuir n hoiego Pyrw ]3]

Use this life to achieve that purpose for which it was given, and through the Guru, the Lord shall dwell within your mind. Within the home of your own inner being, you shall obtain the Mansion of the Lord's Presence with intuitive ease. You shall not be consigned again to the wheel of reincarnation. ||3||

Kabir was telling us the same thing on page 1366:

kbIr mwns jnmu dulµBu hY hoie n bwrY bwr ] ijau bn Pl pwky Buie igrih bhuir n lwgih fwr ]30]

Kabeer, it is so difficult to obtain this human body; it does not just come over and over again. 
It is like the ripe fruit on the tree; when it falls to the ground, it cannot be re-attached to the branch. ||30||

What both Kabir and Guru Arjan are saying is that we have this one chance to understand and break on through the veil of illusion that is this worldly existence.

There has been much discussion if the protocols used in gurdwara are rituals or not. According to Gurmat not only are they meaningless rituals but they are also just illusions. Even gurdwara is an illusion and we are just fooling ourselves into believing that these are real. Everything exists only on the spiritual plane.

Even Ek Ong Kaar exists only on the spiritual plane. It is a mistake to believe that what Guru Nanak is speaking about is the religious God of this material plane but to Guru Nanak this meant "There is the One."

jy hau jwxw AwKw nwhI khxw kQnu n jweI ] gurw iek dyih buJweI ] sBnw jIAw kw ieku dwqw so mY ivsir n jweI ]5]

Even knowing the One, I cannot describe Him; He cannot be described in words.
Guru Nanak p. 2

But how are we to live on both of these planes? Guru Amar Das told us on page 28:

so jnu rlwieAw nw rlY ijsu AMqir ibbyk bIcwru ]2]

Those humble beings who are filled with keen understanding and meditative contemplation-even though they intermingle with others, they remain distinct.

When we are able to exist on both of these planes, then and only then do we finally join the Sadh Sangat. On this material plane we are only fooling ourselves that we are more than just part of the mob.

This is what Guru Ram Das is telling us on page 10:

hir hir nwmu imlY iqRpqwsih imil sMgiq gux prgwis ]2]

Obtaining the Name of the Lord, Har, Har, they are satisfied; joining the Sangat, the Blessed Congregation, their virtues shine forth. ||2||

But how do we break through this veil of illusion and become One with the One? The first step is to understand that this material plane is an illusion and that much of what we have learned or thought about Sikhi, including the idea that we are even Sikhs, has been a huge misunderstanding of Gurmat.

"Losing My Religion"

By Amar Prakash

Today, I have made the decision to lose my religion. This is not to say that I am leaving the Spiritual Path that was given to me by Guru Nanak but that I am losing this religion called Sikhism.

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it

Ten years ago when the song that contains the above lyrics was popular, it was inconceivable for me to even think about the idea of "losing my religion." Recently, I have come to the conclusion that that is exactly what Guru Nanak wanted us to do and we should be "trying to keep up with" Nanak because that is what he did in writing Mul Mantar.

In his article "Evolution of the Concept of God," Rawel Singh talks about how the concept of God has evolved through human history. I think that it is very interesting that he uses the term "concept" because that is exactly what God is: a concept but more accurately a metaphor. He talks about how the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament, which is different than the Islamic God, which is different than the Hindu God and even different than Nanak's God. But how can all of these be true? And even more importantly, Is man a creation of God or is God a creation of man?

How can God be Akaal Moorat, the Timeless Being if he keeps changing through time? But is it God that Nanak is talking about or is it Sat? I believe that it is Sat.

Ek Ong Kaar Sat Naam
There us one Truth

Sat is Karta Purakh, the Creative Force.

Sat is Akaal Moorat, the Timeless Being.

In the descriptions of God in various Religions, God is said to have birth, form, even death, fear, and anger. In Mul Mantar, Nanak dispels all these descriptions of God with: He is without birth, without form, without death, without fear and without anger. But is he saying that these are the attributes of God? No, these are all the attributes of Sat.

This whole idea can be extremely frightening and full of doubt. However, once you have passed through that fear and doubt, it is incredibly liberating.

Along this same theme, Wajinder Singh wrote:

My Guru is NOT a BOOK
My Guru Is NOT even a DEITY
The SHABAD is my Guru .... this Shabad is the Divine Knowledge (Gian)
This knowledge is the Guru, Gu-darkness (ignorance) Ru-light JOT (knowledge)
so my Guru is definitely not an Idol, i don't have to follow around my Guru
But when i read / hear the shabad ALL i can HEAR is my Guru SPEAKING
So how could i force others to see my Guru this way,
They don't accept nor believe in this GIAN knowledge
but I DEFINITELY do ..........and this is all that matters !
.... Eh Saagar Soi Teray Jo Har Gun Gavey

Throughout time, Religion has been the barrier that creates the "veil of illusion." As I described in Devolution, "Sikhs continued adding bricks of misunderstanding until the Gateway was closed. Then they stood before the non-existent Gateway and proclaimed what a great wall and religion had been built. As they stood there admiring their work, they decided to add golden domes and beautiful marble to the wall and they declared that God must really love them for allowing such a beautiful wall to be built.

"When some pointed out that the Gateway had been bricked shut, they were told not to 'fiddle with Sikh traditions' and swords were unsheathed, excommunications were delivered, and those who insulted "Sikh religious sympathies" were jailed."

ikv sicAwrw hoeIAY ikv kUVY qutY pwil ]

So how can you become truthful? And how can the veil of illusion be torn away?
Guru Nanak page 1

The first step is understanding that the concept of God is the illusion and that Truth and only Truth was what the Gurus were talking about.

In "Break on Through to the Other Side," "We stand before this wall with great fear and trepidation. Why? Because that wall is made up of all of our beliefs that we hold so dear."

jy ko buJY hovY sicAwru ]

One who understands this becomes truthful.
Guru Nanak page 3

We also become free of unanswerable Theological questions, such as: What is the Name of God? Is Nanak God? Is the Guru Granth the word of God?

Our concern turns to: What is Truth? and How do we live a Truthful life?

jqu squ sMjmu nwmu hY ivxu nwvY inrmlu n hoie ]

The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is abstinence, truthfulness, and self-restraint. Without the Name, no one becomes pure.
Guru Nanak page 33

schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwru ]5]

Truth is higher than everything; but higher still is truthful living. ||5||
Guru Nanak page 62

ieknw scu buJwieEnu iqnw Aqut BMfwr dyvwieAw ]

Some understand Truthfulness; they are given the inexhaustible treasure.
Guru Amar Das page 85

All of this appears in the first 85 pages of Guru Granth, Why has it taken me so long to see it? Better yet, why has it taken so long for people to understand? Because what the Guru's are talking about is a moral framework that has nothing to do with religion. It's a framework that can be simply expressed as: Do the Right thing because it is the Right Thing to do, not because some religion threatens you with eternal damnation. Do we really need a religion or God to tell us that killing and stealing are not the Right Things to do? I think not.

In fact, some times doing the Right Thing is contrary to what your religion tells you. I remember one evening in India, as I was approaching Gurdwara Nadha Sahib, One of the legless beggars asked me for money. According to modern day Sikhi, we are told that Sikhs should never beg therefore you should not give money to any beggars. I had a 100 Rupee bill in my hand that I was going to donate to the Golak and walked by the beggar. A few steps later as I was looking at this magnificent Gurdwara, it dawned on me that this Gurdwara was as cold as the marble it was built of and there was no Truth there. I turned to the beggar and saw the Guru in him. I approached him and gave him my money, that he grasped it between his handless arms, instead of the Golak. Why? Because it was at that moment I realized that that was the Right Thing to do.

sloku mÚ 1 ]
imhr msIiq isdku muslw hku hlwlu kurwxu ] srm suMniq sIlu rojw hohu muslmwxu ] krxI kwbw scu pIru klmw krm invwj ] qsbI sw iqsu BwvsI nwnk rKY lwj ]1]

Salok, First Mehla:
Let mercy be your mosque, faith your prayer-mat, and honest living your Koran. Make modesty your circumcision, and good conduct your fast. In this way, you shall be a true Muslim. Let good conduct be your Kaabaa, Truth your spiritual guide, and the karma of good deeds your prayer and chant. Let your rosary be that which is pleasing to His Will. O Nanak, God shall preserve your honor.
Guru Nanak p. 140

The above quote from Nanak is telling a Muslim how to be a good Muslim. But it also begs the question: If this is followed, would anyone, let alone another Muslim, recognize this person as a Muslim? I think not.

As I was reading this quote, it dawned on me what Nanak might say to a modern day Sikh. It would be something like this.

Let mercy be your Gurdwara, faith your Simran, and honest living your Guru Granth. Make modesty your Kakkars, and good conduct your rituals. In this way, you shall be a true Sikh. Let good conduct be your Golden Temple, Truth your Guru, and the karma of good deeds your Banis.

Again, This begs the question: If this is followed, would anyone, let alone another Sikh, recognize this person as a Sikh? Again, I think not. But the Truth is that this person would really be the True Sikh.

And this is the reason that I have decided to lose my religion. Not to stop being a Sikh but to become a True Sikh.

"Break on Through to the Other Side"

By Amar Prakash

I don't know what Jim Morrison, of the 60s rock band, The Doors, meant when he wrote these words, "Break on Through to the Other Side," but I do know that this is the True message of the Guru Granth.

But to understand what we have to Break on Through, we have to look at the language of the Guru Granth and the language of the Guru Granth is the Language of Metaphor.

What is a metaphor? A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. The use of metaphor can be further considered to contain the following classifications:

* allegory: An extended metaphor in which a story is told to illustrate an important attribute of the subject

* parable: An extended metaphor told as an anecdote to illustrate or teach a moral lesson

Why did the Bhagats and the Gurus use the Language of Metaphor? Human language is very limited. It is limited in that it can only be used to describe the empirical. When language is used to describe the transcendent it falls short because it is impossible to describe the infinite, the indescribable and the unknowable. Deng Ming Dao in his book, "Everyday Tao," stated: "It's hard not to use metaphors. As we try to negotiate more and more complicated subjects, we resort to metaphors to aid understanding.... The only intellectual way we have to describe the infinite is through the imperfect vehicle of the metaphor." Joseph Campbell, best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion, put it this way: "The person who has had a mystical experience knows that all the symbolic expressions of it are faulty. The symbols don't render the experience, they suggest it. If you haven't had the experience, how can you know what it is?"

The misunderstanding of the concept of metaphor has been a road block in the path of all religions. Let us take a look at how it is used in the Guru Granth. Probably the easiest and most obvious metaphor is the one about the 'dogs tail.' Here is an example:

Apnw Awpu qU kbhu n Cofis suAwn pUiC ijau ry ]4]

You can never escape your own inner tendencies, like the crooked tail of the dog. ||4|| Guru Nanak, p 990

Are the Gurus talking about a dog's tail? I don't think that I would be stretching the point, to say that you would have to be an idiot not to see that the Gurus were talking about something else. They are talking about a closed mind that is so filled with bad teachings that it can never be opened to the truth. This is exactly a description of the State of Sikhi today. Its mind is closed with misinterpretations and misunderstands of what the Gurus were actually talking about. It is a mind that has taken metaphors in the Guru Granth and literally interpreted them as fact thus not being able to look past the literal to see the transcendent.

In past articles I have explored how metaphor has been used in the Guru Granth. I have discussed concepts such as Sach Khand, Gurdwara, Aad Sach..., Amrit and Ishnaan, and Halal.

Literal interpretation of these and just about everything else builds walls and not doors to the transcendent. I talked about this in the article entitled "Devolution."

We stand before this wall with great fear and trepidation. Why? Because that wall is made up of all of our beliefs that we hold so dear. But we must "Break on Through to the Other Side" to get to what the Gurus were talking about and this is a very scary proposition. This also means understanding that even God is a metaphor. Joseph Campbell said it best when he wrote: "God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."

Before those that have the Akal Takht on speed dial are frantically calling to say that I have committed blasphemy by saying that the Gurus were atheists, let me say that would be very far from the truth. However Guru Nanak had no love for religion. I explored this in "Imagine ... No religion too..."

The Gurus were talking about something that transcends any concept of God. Joseph Campbell stated: "The transcendent transcends all of these categories of thinking. Being and non being, those are categories. The word God properly refers to what transcends all thinking...

"Half the world thinks of God as a fact, a real being; these are the theists. And the other half of the world denies that God is such a fact...; these are the atheists. But neither half seems to know how to approach things metaphorically...."

But the Gurus understood the use of metaphor, in fact the entire Guru Granth is an analogy, an extended 1430 page metaphor describing the transcendent, EK. EK is the one. What is EK? You'll only know when you become one with it. This is what Guru Nanak meant when he uttered Mul Mantar:

<> siq nwmu krqw purKu inrBau inrvYru Akwl mUriq AjUnI sYBM gur pRswid ]

There is One Truth
The Doer of everything, fearless, without anger, Undying, Unborn and Self-Illumined.
This is revealed through, the True Guru's Grace.

Two thousand years before Guru Nanak, It was written in the "Tao Te Ching:"

There was something formless yet complete,
That existed before heaven and earth;
Without sound, without substance,
Dependent on nothing, unchanging...
Its true name we do not know;
Tao is the by-name that we give it.

This is another persons description of the transcendent that he calls Tao, what we as Sikhs call EK. And like those, who's goal is "To be one with the Tao," our goal is "To be one with the One, EK." Some would argue that this is not according to Gurmat but I would say that this is exactly what Guru Amar Das was saying on page 788 when he wrote:

mÚ 3 ]
Dn ipru eyih n AwKIAin bhin iekTy hoie ] eyk joiq duie mUrqI Dn ipru khIAY soie ]3]

Third Mehla:
They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together.
They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies. ||3||

The meaning of this is totally metaphorical and if you take this statement literally, you will not understand that Guru Amar Das is not talking about an earthly marriage but a spiritual one between the husband, EK, and the wife, yourself; becoming one with the One.

In "Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor," Joseph Campbell writes: "...Mythology is often thought of as other people's religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology.

"That is reading the words in terms of prose instead of in terms of poetry, reading the metaphor in terms of the denotation instead of the connotation."

But this is exactly what modern day Sikhi has become, a religion that has mis-interpreted mythology, or metaphor. Sikhi has become a bunch of "petty ideologues," with the Guru Granth having been turned into a "how to book," with ridiculous talk of it's technologies. The Guru Granth is not about how to become liberated but is about being liberated. For example the following Shabad is found on page 305. This Shabad is the most referenced example of what a Sikh is to do to become liberated. But is really a reference to what you do when you are liberated.

mÚ 4 ]
gur siqgur kw jo isKu AKwey su Blky auiT hir nwmu iDAwvY ] audmu kry Blky prBwqI iesnwnu kry AMimRq sir nwvY ] aupdyis gurU hir hir jpu jwpY siB iklivK pwp doK lih jwvY ] iPir cVY idvsu gurbwxI gwvY bhidAw auTidAw hir nwmu iDAwvY ] jo swis igrwis iDAwey myrw hir hir so gurisKu gurU min BwvY ] ijs no dieAwlu hovY myrw suAwmI iqsu gurisK gurU aupdysu suxwvY ] jnu nwnku DUiV mMgY iqsu gurisK kI jo Awip jpY Avrh nwmu jpwvY ]2]

"Fourth Mehla:
One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and
negativity shall be erased.Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name.One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food - that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind.That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate - upon that GurSikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed.
Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2||"

This misunderstanding results in concentration on the superficial where appearance is more important than substance. Where the messenger is more important than the message.

In an article, "IN GOD'S NAME, WHAT WE DO," on the Kheper website, it is written that: "Religious identities are our big ego trip. We cling to our religious symbols without even bothering to know too much as to what they stand for, establish religious dress codes, but seldom know its significance, and proclaim our fanatic religious cries, with warrior-zeal, little realizing that, just as a handful of swallows do not necessarily make summer, these symbolic identities do not necessarily confer us any Spiritual benefit. In order to qualify to be a true Sikh (Khalsa), for instance, one is required to have seen the Pooran Jyot- the lamp within." 

A good example of how Sikhs have strayed, is the use of Kirpan. Metaphorically it is a weapon to cut through negativity and ignorance. Physically it is a weapon to be used to defend yourself and the defenseless or in a righteous cause to defend the Panth. It is not to be used to defend your "religious sentiments" or to cut off someone's head because they wore a pink kurta and stuck a feather in his turban. If Sikhi can not survive this trivial matter then maybe it does not deserve to survive. The Punjab government has issued an arrest warrant on charges of "disgracing" the Sikh religion. I would contend that Sikhi does not need any outside help in disgracing itself.

Please, pick up your Kirpan and use it to cut through that "wall" of ignorance and "Break on Through to the Other Side."


By Amar Prakash

Back in the 1970's, there was a band called DEVO. They were one of those one hit wonders but they did have an interesting philosophy and that was: that the human race was no longer evolving but instead was de-evolving, hence DEVOlve.

In recent days as the Dera Sacha Sauda debacle has been unfolding, I have been wondering if we are observing the death knells of Sikhi as it finally Devolves into insignificance and becomes nothing more than a Cult of Thugs. People can stand there in absolute amazement, wondering why the youth is turned off to Sikhi. Well you only have to look at both sides of this sick affair to understand some of the reasons. To paraphrase a bumper sticker I once saw: "If you are not appalled by the state of Sikhi, Then you are just not paying attention."

The Guru's gave us a great gift: Gurdwara, The Gateway to the Guru.

gurU duAwrY hoie soJI pwiesI ]

Through the Gurdwara, the Guru's Gate, one obtains understanding.
Guru Nanak, p. 730

Just as it is in the rest of the Guru Granth, Guru Nanak makes use of the metaphor. Here Gurdwara is a metaphor that represents that transcendental Gateway that the Guru passes through to guide us on our path to understanding EK.

But what has happened to the Doorway? Through misunderstanding and literal interpretations of Gurbani, that Doorway has been slowly bricked shut, one brick at a time.

Over the years, Sikhs continued adding bricks of misunderstanding until the Gateway was closed. Then they stood before the non-existent Gateway and proclaimed what a great wall and religion had been built. As they stood there admiring their work, they decided to add golden domes and beautiful marble to the wall and they declared that God must really love them for allowing such a beautiful wall to be built.

When some pointed out that the Gateway had been bricked shut, they were told not to 'fiddle with Sikh traditions' and swords were unsheathed, excommunications were delivered, and those who insulted "Sikh religious sympathies" were jailed.

The status quo had been maintained because after all, that is what was important. But the Sikhs were still standing on the outside maybe never to walk through the Guru's Gate and a tear may have fallen from Guru Nanak's eye as he realized that everything had been for naught.

Here Now or HereAfter?

By Amar Prakash

"Be Here Now" is what Guru Nanak was talking about. Most religions are concerned with what happens to you after you die. Sikhi is concerned with what happens to you before you die. Although there are many mentions of reincarnation, the effects of Karma, heaven and hell, Chitar and Gupat etc., in the Guru Granth, these are only meant to be understood metaphorically. Owen Cole wrote about Guru Nanak: "...such ideas are not the one's which concern him utimately. His preoccupation was with enabling his listeners to become one with God and so escape the death of separation which awaited them if they persisted in duality."

Guru Nanak said what happens to us after death was a mystery: 

Byqu cyqu hir iksY n imilE jw jim pkiV clwieAw ]JUTw rudnu hoAw duoAwlY iKn mih BieAw prwieAw ] sweI vsqu prwpiq hoeI ijsu isau lwieAw hyqu ] khu nwnk pRwxI cauQY phrY lwvI luixAw Kyqu ]4]1]

"In the fourth watch of the night, O my merchant friend, the Grim Reaper comes to the field. When the Messenger of Death seizes and dispatches you, O my merchant friend, no one knows the mystery of where you have gone. So think of the Lord! No one knows this secret, of when the Messenger of Death will seize you and take you away. All your weeping and wailing then is false. In an instant, you become a stranger.You obtain exactly what you have longed for. Says Nanak, in the fourth watch of the night, O mortal, the Grim Reaper has harvested your field." page 74

His concern was with conquering the fear or death: 

AMimRq kw rsu ivrlI pwieAw siqgur myil imlwey ] jb lgu sbd Bydu nhI AwieAw qb lgu kwlu sMqwey ]3] An ko dru Gru kbhU n jwnis eyko dru sicAwrw ] gur prswid prm pdu pwieAw nwnku khY ivcwrw ]4]3]4]

"Only a few obtain the sublime essence of the Ambrosial Amrit, united in Union with the True Guru. As long as the mortal does not come to understand the mystery of the Shabad, the Word of God, he shall continue to be tormented by death. Whoever finds the door of the One True Lord, does not know any other house or door. By Guru's Grace, I have obtained the supreme status; so says poor Nanak." Guru Nanak page 1126

mukiq Bugiq jugiq qyrI syvw ijsu qUM Awip krwieih ] qhw bYkuMTu jh kIrqnu qyrw qUM Awpy srDw lwieih ]2]

"Liberation, comfort and proper lifestyle come from serving You; You alone cause us to serve You. That place is heaven, where the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises are sung. You Yourself instill faith into us." Guru Arjan page 749

kauqk kof qmwisAw iciq n Awvsu nwau ] nwnk koVI nrk brwbry aujVu soeI Qwau ]2]

"In the midst of millions of games and entertainments, the Lord's Name does not come to their minds. O Nanak, their home is like a wilderness, in the depths of hell." Guru Arjan page 707

As usual the Guru's are speaking about Transcendent concepts in a metaphorical manner. It is a big misunderstanding to see these as real. One example of this is the concept of Sach Khand.

kir kir vyKY ndir inhwl ] iqQY KMf mMfl vrBMf ] jy ko kQY q AMq n AMq ] iqQY loA loA Awkwr ] ijv ijv hukmu iqvY iqv kwr ] vyKY ivgsY kir vIcwru ] nwnk kQnw krVw swru ]37]

"In the realm of Truth (Sach Khand,) the Formless Lord abides. Having created the creation, He watches over it. By His Glance of Grace, He bestows happiness. There are planets, solar systems and galaxies. If one speaks of them, there is no limit, no end. There are worlds upon worlds of His Creation. As He commands, so they exist. He watches over all, and contemplating the creation, He rejoices. O Nanak, to describe this is as hard as steel!" Guru Nanak page 6

Sach Khand is not something that you go to when you die. Sach Khand is a state of mind that you enter when you are alive.

I remember going to a Bhog for a friend of mine, who had died. There was a lot of chanting of Akal, Akal, to help the soul's passage to Sach Khand. The truth is that if you are not in Sach Khand when you are alive, no amount of chanting after you are dead will get you there. It is also a misguided belief that Guru Gobind Singh rode his blue steed into Sach Khand. This is the kind of misunderstanding that can fill your mind when you literally interpret Gurbani.


By Amar Prakash

One of the first things that we learned in 3HO about Sikhi was that the Jap in Japji Sahib, was the only command in the Guru Granth and we Japped (Chanted) everything. But, was chanting what Jap was all about? Jap in this case is not even a command but is the title of Jap Bani and means Meditation. The truth is that Mul Mantar is it's own separate Bani and the first line of Japji is "It was True In The Beginning."

What is the meaning of meditation? Meditation can be defined as engaging in devout religious contemplation or transcendental spiritual introspection. I have come to the realization that the true meaning is contemplation. This becomes more apparent when you realize that Rahao is the only command and appears several thousand times in the Adi Granth.

What is Rahao? The Rahao line of a Shabad is the essence or meaning of the Shabad. What does Rahao mean? Loosely translated it means Pause but it means more than that. It means Pause and Contemplate the previous line. It is said that Sikhi is a meditative path but even more so, it is a Spiritual Path of Contemplation.

"God's name is the real pilgrimage place which consists of contemplation of the Word (Naam), and the cultivation of inner knowledge. " Guru Nanak

But what is the name of God. Contrary to popular belief the name of God is not WaheGuru. The chanting of WaheGuru is a fairly recent phenomenon which rises out of ignorance and misunderstanding of what the Gurus were talking about. There is absolutely no mention of WaheGuru in the Adi Granth except where Bhatt Gayand uses the term in praise Guru Ram Das. The chanting of WaheGuru is nothing more than some magical mystical mumbo jumbo that is being foisted off on the ignorant masses along with outrageous miracle stories that are not to believed.

When I was in 3HO I had many so called Kundalini and Tantric experiences but it only been through contemplation that I have experienced true Ishnaan moments.

Most people believe that Ishnaan is physically taking a dip or taking a bath. But this is not true. How can you take a dip in something that is ethereal, Amrit?

Ishnaan is a mental state where you feel that your Tenth Gate (the True Gurdwara) has been opened and within your brain you are taking a bath in the Ambrosial Nectar:

mnu mqvwr myr sr BwTI AMimRq Dwr cuAwvau ]1]

"Let your mind be intoxicated with the stream of Ambrosial Nectar which trickles down from the furnace of the Tenth Gate.1" Bhagat Kabir page 1123

Your eyes tear:

AMimRqu bolY sdw muiK vYxI ] AMimRqu vyKY prKY sdw nYxI ]

"Those who continually chant the Ambrosial Words of Nectar see and behold this Amrit everywhere with their eyes." Guru Amar Das page 118

And you can taste the Amrit:

siqguir idqw hir nwmu AMimRqu ciKAw ]

"The True Guru has blessed me with the Lord's Name, and I have tasted the Ambrosial Nectar." Guru Arjan page 523

"The state of Contemplation of the Lord in His Praises, is the Highest state of Mind of Sehaj, the Essence of Worship, which takes man to Highest Eternal Wisdom, Highest state of Mind of Sehaj" Guru Arjan

What is the first step in gaining the Highest "Eternal Wisdom, Joy and Eternal Truth?" Before you can begin to Contemplate you must first have meaning. Gurbani should be read and studied in the language that you understand. Phonetically reading Gurbani or reading a transliteration of Gurbani without meaning is an empty ritual and as Kabir would say, empty rituals are like churning water. No matter how long you churn, you will never get butter. And that is exactly what chanting WaheGuru is, water.

diD kY BolY ibrolY nIru ]1] rhwau ]

"Mistaking it for cream, the people are churning water. Pause" Bhagat Kabir