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.
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.