By Amar Prakash
"Imagine ... No religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace..." John Lennon wrote these words and concluded with: "You may say I'm a dreamer,..." Well, I don't have to imagine or be a dreamer to realize this because Guru Nanak gave us "no religion."
When Guru Nanak emerged from his Meditation, he was quoted as saying: 'There is no Hindu and there isno Muslim. Then who's path should I follow? I will follow the path of Truth.' Was he saying that Hinduism and Islam had ceased to be relevant religions and that he was going to start a new religion that would be a syncretism of both? No, he was saying that there was no religion and if he were alive today he would say: 'There is no Sikh.' His next utterance was Mool Mantar. We only have to look at the first line of Mool Mantar to understand what he was talking about. To really understand this, you have to look at what Ek Ong Kaar, Sat Nam means. Does it mean 'There is one God (Creator) and Truth is His Name?' Or does it just mean 'There is One Truth?' I believe that it is the second. Was there truth before Guru Nanak? Yes, that is what is meant by Aad Sachch. "The Truth was in the beginning." It's the Truth that we are after. Truth is our Sat Guru. It may be a trite statement but 'The Truth will set you free.'
I believe that Guru Nanak was taking all the attributes that people believe that God or Gods possess and distilled them down to one idea and that is the Truth. The Truth transcends all other concepts. It is not limited by preconceived notions of what God is. Western and especially British concepts of God and religion are very limiting but have come to define the way Sikhs approach the teachings of the Gurus.
Sikhs had the Truth and the Truth was passed on to the Adi Granth. One of the Truths that Guru Nanak taught was the uselessness of rules and rituals. What do golden temples, marble floors, chauri sahibs made with silver strands, jedhadars, singh sahibs, siri singh sahibs, have to do with the Truth. Absolutely Nothing!! Because he knew what would happen to the Truth if it was turned into a religion, he taught a Spiritual Path. A Spiritual Path that entailed attaining the Truth.
Guru Nanak understood that religion and spirituality were mutually exclusive. Being religious has nothing to do with being spiritual.
And just how do we attain this truth? Nam Simran is remembering and contemplating the Naam or the Truth. Chanting or meditating on a mantra such as WaheGuru is a dead end. You will never attain any understanding of the Truth by this method. Jap is the title of Jap Bani, which means a meditation. Meditation can be defined as engaging in devote religious contemplation or transcendental spiritual introspection. I have come to the realization that the true meaning of "Jap" is contemplation. This becomes more apparent when you realize that "Rahao" is the only command and appears several thousand times in the Guru 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 religion but what it really is, is a Spiritual Path of Contemplation.
"God's name, Truth, is the real pilgrimage place which consists of contemplation of the word of God, and the cultivation of inner knowledge." Guru Nanak
"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, Joy and Eternal Truth." Guru Arjan
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.
diD kY BolY ibrolY nIru ]1] rhwau ]
"Mistaking it for cream, the people are churning water." Bhagat Kabir
Through contemplation I have come to understand that everything in Sikhi is Transcendental, it's all in the mind, and what most people believe is grounded in Maya. Somewhere along the line, what was symbolic became real and what was real became symbolic. It's as if Sikhi has been hijacked by the people who most do not understand the Truth.
"Aasaa, Fifth Mehl: They give you donations and worship you. You take from them, and then deny that they have given anything to you. That door, through which you must ultimately go, O Brahmin - at that door, you will come to regret and repent. 1 Such Brahmins shall drown, O Siblings of Destiny; they think of doing evil to the innocent. 1Pause Within them is greed, and they wander around like mad dogs. They slander others and carry loads of sin upon their heads. Intoxicated by Maya, they do not think of the Lord. Deluded by doubt, they wander off on many paths. 2 Outwardly, they wear various religious robes, but within, they are enveloped by poison. They instruct others, but do not understand themselves. Such Brahmins will never be emancipated. 3 O foolish Brahmin, reflect upon God. He watches and hears, and is always with you. Says Nanak, if this is your destiny, renounce your pride, and grasp the Guru's Feet." Guru Arjan
Guru Arjan warned us about this many years ago but we have not heeded his warnings. The farther away we get from the Guru's teachings of the Truth, the more we will stray.
As Yosuf Al Islam (Cat Stevens,) a British convert, said: "I thank Allah that I met Islam before I met Muslims." I sometimes wish that I had met the Truth as taught by Guru Nanak before I met Sikhs. This is not to say that there are no Sikhs who understand the Truth, but that they are few and far between.