Basics for the beginner I .
Q. What is the meaning of life ?
 
Have you ever noticed how over time people come into your life and then go out of your life? Sometimes you may click with someone and you become firm friends but for some reason down the line the friendship ends, you drift apart or for some reason one of you just doesn’t want to know any more. This also, as you might have guessed, is due to your karma. When we come down to this earth we have uncompleted business, this is one of the reasons why we are sent here.

Maat Loke (Earth) is one of the lower realms and no one really wants to come here but we are sent due to our previous karma. It is a strange thing that we on earth do not know of the higher realms but the people who live there do know about this place. When we move on after this life and we go to these other realms the people there can recognise that we have come from Maat Loke and when we look at their place where they live we are astounded by the beauty and they way they live. Their bodies are not like ours, they have different shapes and forms. These places have names like Shivpuri (the place of Shiv ji), Bhrampuri (place of Bhrama), Indrapuri (place of Indra) etc and these, what we call ‘devtay’, or deties (like Shiv Ji, Indra etc) , have their own abodes or equivalent countries where people live and spend their lives. There is a lot of happiness there, but the devtay when they see us really envy us for only in human form can you break away from the circle of life and death. The devtay also want to break free from this circle for their life forms are also locked in to the circle of life and death and only through the partaking of Amrit can they break free, but they cannot get Amrit where they are.

In Anand Sahib Ji, prayer composed by Guru Amar Dass Ji (third Guru) that is recited early morning, there is a verse which says that the devtay are on an ever quest to find Amrit and they long for it , but only in human form can you obtain this, so in that respect we are very fortunate, but we need to use this life and make something of it spiritually, so that we do not have to come back here. Now, material things we need, we need a house, a family, a car, good job etc. These are things we need and there is no reason why we shouldn’t acquire these things, but this pursuit should not be our driving force in this life. We should not be perusing material things so blindly and so blinkeredly that we forget about the real reason why we are really here for.

When our karmic account finishes with someone then some incident will take place where we part company with them, or we just drift apart. Sometimes we want to carry on the friendship and just cannot understand why the other person is not reciprocating, it is just that our dealing with that person has finished and that is it. Sometimes we may meet someone just as we are walking along the road to the shops or we meet someone on the supermarket, we may exchange a hello or even just a smile, all this is part of our karma, all this is some entry on our karmic account that we are working through.

Now, as we go through life and we work through our karma what about the new karma we create, how do we get over this? One simple example, we do some gardening, we pull weeds and dig the soil and as a result maybe kill many little insects, what of these?

First thing, we are sant and sapahi, so we are not going to start tiptoeing about the place, we are not going to place masks over our mouths in case we swallow a fly, but we as men of God we must respect all living creatures and avoid any pain to any of them. So what about the garden I hear you ask? There is always a knack or a gist to these things. Guru Arjun Dev Ji in Sukhmani Sahib Ji at one place says “simar simar har karan karna...” Meaning, whenever you start a piece of work or a project first remember God, then start. So when you start your gardening do a little Ardaas.

Q.What is with all this Karama thing?

Ever made yourself something to eat and when you eat it it tastes delicious, when you make it again it doesn’t quite taste the same. This could be because you didn’t season the same as before or you didn’t add exactly the same amount of ingredients to the mix . But say you take a simple example like a cup of tea, sometimes it is tasty, when you make it again exactly the same way it doesn’t taste as good.

 

We can look at the physical side, the water, milk, sugar etc but we can look on a metaphysical or spiritual side also. Your state of mind plays a part, what were your emotions at the time of making the tea? Was your mind in a state of anger? Were you thinking nasty thoughts about someone? Were you in a state of agitation? They all play a role, it may be a small influence but an influence all the same that will effect the final outcome.

 

Now let us step back even more. Take a slice of bread, how was that produced? When the wheat/corn was in the field was it nourished naturally or was fertiliser and chemicals used? Were any creatures killed when the corn/wheat was cut? Were any creatures killed when the grain was ground? What was the baker’s state of mind when we kneaded the dough? All these things come into play, all the karma committed along the way are added to the bread (remember you have the physical bread but there is a huge amount lot of ‘sookhsum’ other things attached to it on a different plain) and no matter how small they will have an effect on you when you slap some marg on the bread and enjoy the toast. Yes, this is how intricate the whole physical and non-physical world is and how it interacts.

 

This is one of the reasons why so many Sadhus/holy men eat very simply, they eat simple foods and do not overfill. There are certain foods, like meat, fish and eggs that have their own karma baggage attached to them due to the animal that lived and breathed, that have a polluting effect on the soul, not only do they impede ones progress spiritually but add considerably to one’s own karmic account.

 

This leads on to the goal of most people in life, the pursuit of making as much money as possible and not caring how it is acquired. In the same way as the bread, but more intense, money has a history or karma attached to it. If you acquire money by devious means, by cheating, stealing, by gambling then that money is tainted. So you must be careful that the money you acquire is earned in an honest manner. Do an honest days work, do not cheat other people out of their money, do not steal or defraud money for gain as this money is bad money and sooner or later they will turn your life onto a bad path. This may happen in this life or it may be carried on to the next but that bad money will turn your karma bad.

Guru Nanak Dev ji when he started the faith gave his followers three simple rules:

Kirat karo - Do an honest days work

Naam japo - Sing/meditate on Gods name

Vand shako - share whatever you have with those around you.

 

You may find every now and then you get a particularly disturbing dream, you make up sweaty and shaken. There can be a number of explanations for this. We have to work through our Karamas but sometimes with the grace of God these can be worked through in our dreams. With God’s blessing rather than suffer due to our past karma the whole thing is passed by in a disturbing dream, so although a dream may seem disturbing to us and when we wake up we feel shaken by it, it could be that it is a blessing in disguise

I touched on the physical bread and what the bread has attached to it on another level. Taking this on to our human body it is similar. Doctors spend their whole lives studying the body and all its workings, but it is all on a physical level. There is the blood system, the lymphatic system, the central nervous system, the adrenal system to name but a few. All these systems or processes are in operation in your body collectively, but there is a myriad of other things attached to your body, are within your body, are an integral part of your body just like the stomach, or the heart or the lungs, but they are in a different level, not physical, but still as real. Doctors cannot see them they do not have the tools to do so, only those who have spent a lifetime in spiritual devotion and whose spiritual level (or Avasta) can see this. Yogis and sadhus attain skills or levels (sometimes called Ridhis and sidhis) where they can start to do or see things that are not physical. Many will stop here and wallow in their new found ‘powers’ and their spiritual journey grinds to a halt. They get a few devotees and are happy to use their limited powers to gain offerings from the general public. But those seekers of the truth will not get stuck here, they move on higher. The idea is that you go into yourself, you start to explore within. You will literally, with your soul, go into yourself, say into your arm or finger, and you will loose yourself in the vastness that you will find there. Just look at your fingertip, it is just a centimeter across or so yet if you went into it using your ‘surat’, your spiritual intellect then you could lose yourself in its vastness and in amongst all these things at sub atomic level you will find God smiling back at you.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji writes in Jaap Sahib (composition that describes the many facets of God, the whole prayer is in devotion and description of the qualities of Akaal) “ anake hey, fir eke hey” – (God) is infinite in His forms, yet He is One. And in everyone and everything there is God sitting behind a veil that is as thin as the wings of a butterfly, watching and smiling as we carry on with our lives totally oblivious to Him.

Q. How can I remove bad influences within me and start to follow the Gurus path?
 

Only the true Guru can eliminate the five chore, or the five bad influences that reside within us, but there are a few very rare souls who are spiritually advanced that have total control over them. The five being Kaam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment) and Hunkaar (pride). For normal people the five control them and they don’t even realise it. Ever noticed, mainly men, who walk past a good lookin’ gal and they feel the absolute need to turn back and look and admire her again? They cannot help it, they have done it for so long to them it is natural, but they are stuck in the noose of Kaam (lust) , and they don’t even realise it.

As you grow spiritually you learn to recognise these things and the first step to changing things is to recognise them first. If you think about it we need kaam (lust) else how would the world procreate? We need moh (attachment) else how would need care and look after our children, we need Hunkaar (pride) else we would just let our selves go and become slobs. The secret is to control them and not to let them control us, use them when needed but then tell them to keep their distance. But they are very powerful because they had free reign over your body for so long and they are not going to give it up easily.

The fact that you now recognise the fact that they are there is a major step. How can you tackle something you don’t know is there? So the first step is to recognise the issue and then one can start to tackle it. When one is doing simran (prayers) you will find that some story will start up in my mind. It will take hold of your mind and while you are reciting your paath the story continues. Many times you are not even aware of it and only realise as soon as you finish your paath and suddenly you think “where did my paath go?” Sometimes even when you are aware of it you still feel the need to follow some story or chain of thought that has developed in your head while you are doing path, you mind needs to develop to recoginse this and break the chain and move your attention back to your paath.

 

When Kaam (lust) comes it can be overwhelming. If you are doing simran and you become aware of it, then think of Kaam as a snake that has wrapped itself around your neck. In fact Kaam is like a snake it will wrap its coils around you and that is it your mind cannot escape. As you do simran think of the snake around your neck then in your mind lift it off your shoulders and throw it away, then warn it off “Go away and stay away.” Now, it is very powerful and it will come again and in a few moments your thoughts will sway off again. Do the same again, and again. Because it is so powerful it may take a while for it to get the message, but persevere.

Sometimes when you are doing simran you get disturbing thoughts. As you traverse along the path of the Guru then you will get these kinds of obstacles, in fact the higher you go the worst it gets. Sometimes these thoughts are very disturbing indeed, they may be against your family , your closest and dearest, sometimes they are even against Guru Ji. They can be very disturbing and they send a shiver down your soul. This is what you do, if you are doing paath or simran then for a moments stop. In your mind first ask forgiveness from Guru Ji, tell Guru Ji that the Five are throwing this dirt on you and please do not make new karama out of this, ask Guru Ji not to listen to these thoughts. Then address the Five, warn them off, tell them to go away and never come back, then with a little bow to your Guru continue with your simran.What will happen is that the thoughts will return almost immediately, do the same again, and again. Over time you will find that these disturbing thoughts will subside because the Five will start to realise that this person is not stopping against us and they will have to listen to you. Do not despair and do not get down hearted this path you have chosen, with the grace of God, is difficult but persevere and have full trust in Guru Ji.

 

Your job is to keep to the rehat (code of conduct) do your Naam, do your Simran, keep to a good life, think no ill of others and be prepared to help those unfortunate, that is your part of the bargain. That is it. The rest you leave to God. He will bless you and move you along His path as and when He chooses, you just keep to your part of the bargain, let God worry about the rest. Don’t worry that you are moving slowly, don’t worry that you want to move fast and merge with God, that is up to Him. He knows everything, He knows your inner thoughts, He knows your thoughts before you have even thought them, so He knows your love for Him, so let Him worry about how He will move you towards Him, you just keep your Naam Simran going, keep in good spirits, most of all .......keep happy.

A Muslim fakir, spent his whole life in simran of God. One day in his chosen way of saadana he was dangling upside down in a deep well tied to the top by a metal chain deep in simran, when a farmer happened to pass by, he asked what the fakir was doing, a little irritated that someone should disturb his worship he told the man that he was on a path of God and was doing simran. “Is this what you have to do to meet God?” asked the man, “Yes” said the fakir. The man thought that this seemed okay he went home couldn’t find a chain but quickly twisted some hay and long grass to make a rope. He thought that if he was going to contemplate on God then God would look after him. He threw himself down the nearest well and started his tapasia. Very some he had darshan of God, God appeared to him and blessed him. He went running to the fakir and told him what had happened. The fakir became very depressed and down hearted he had spend his whole life in deep contemplation and he had not had one darshan of God yet this man obtained it so quickly. Then God appeared to the fakir , “The framer put his total faith in Me, he did not care if he the grass rope would break or not he wanted to meet me, but you had your faith in the metal chains rather than in me.”

 

Q. What is the relationship between Guru and Sikh ?

Many people worship deities and gods and goddesses, but they are low down in the whole scheme of things and they will only get you to a certain level. Some worship Shiv Ji, others Hanuman, Kali, Durga Devi etc but this will not get you very far. If you learn Karate from a brown belt then he will only take you to brown belt level, if you learn maths from a teacher who knows it to high school level then he can only take you to that level. To get to black belt you need a master who is of at least that level, if you want to study maths at degree level then you need a teacher of that level. In the same way if you attach yourself to a deity then that deity will only get you to the level it has achieved. Why not aim to the very top, remember the one Almighty and you cannot go wrong, but to get to the Almighty one needs help, one needs someone to show you the way.

This brings us on to Guru – Sikh relationship. This is another of those most important concepts to Sikhism. The relationship between Guru and Sikh cannot be stressed enough. Remember when Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa brotherhood he then knelt before the 5-beloved ones and asked to be initiated into the Khalsa himself. From the day a Sikh becomes initiated (Amritdhari) then his father is Guru Gobind Singh Ji, mother is Mata Sahib Kaur and he was born in Anandpur Sahib. For a Sikh the word ‘Guru’ is used very specifically, it is only referred to the ten Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib Ji and non else. One must have a Guru, for without one one cannot attain the ultimate, the union with God. If you try to raise your hand and grab hold of a light bulb you will get your fingers burnt, you need to know how to attain the bulb, the ‘knack’, the secret, the knowledge. To get to God one needs a Guru. Once you have the stamp of Guru Gobind Singh Ji on your forehead then when you pass over to the afterlife there is no one or no thing that can touch you, because you now belong to the Guru.

Now what sets off Guru Gobind Singh Ji from all other myriad of self proclaimed so called Gurus that walk this Earth?

Guru Ji in his part autobiography Bachittar Natak (Wondrous drama) states that after much tapasia (higher from of meditation) the two (Guru and the Almighty) became One. So Guru ji merged into the Almighty, just as a river merges into the ocean and you cannot tell apart one from the other so the Guru merged with Akaal, there is no difference between the two. So to meditate with all your attention on Guru Ji is the same as meditating on the Almighty.

The relationship between Guru and Sikh can take various forms. If you regard Guru Ji as ‘Guru’ then the relationship is that of teacher-pupil. The teacher will then ask if the pupil is doing all that has been asked of him and if not there are consequences. If however you make the relationship that of father-son,then the whole dynamic changes. Just think of the relationship of a father and son, the son makes a mistake the father will forgive. The son will keep on making mistakes and the father will forgive and love his son. Even if he has to admonish the son the father never stops loving his son. So, make this relationship that of father and son and you cannot go wrong, love him as your true father and he will save you from all manner of ills. Meditate on the One or meditate on the Guru, same thing.

Now, a Sikh is regarded as sant / sapahi.

Sant - saint

Sapahi – soldier.

 

The two are married together, two sides of the same coin. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (sixth Guru) brought together temporal and spiritual authority. Guru Gobind Singh Ji brought the sant and the sapahi together. You cannot have one without the other. The sapahi side is one of protection of Dharam and of the oppressed and of the poor and vulnerable. A Sikh will not go on the offensive, he is there is protect. Of the four battles fought by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and the 14 fought by Guru Gobind Singh Ji none was in aggression, all were is defense from the onslaught of the enemy. Even then the code of conduct handed out by Guru ji to his Sikhs was to be adhered to. For example, never attack anyone who has his back to you, never attack anyone running away, never attack a female.

 

In fact when the battles were over and the Sikhs brought their injured home, Guru Ji would ask any enemy injured to be brought back also. The soldiers would be cared for, given shelter and food and warmth and nursed back to health. Guru Ji would personally then hand them back their weapons and say “Go my son, we shall see you again on the battle field.”

Many solders would lay down there arms there and then, “How can we fight against Khudaa?” they would cry– ‘how can we fight against the Almighty?’

 

Guru Ji forbid his Sikhs to even touch a Muslim woman. On the face of it this seems rather strange, what is wrong with muslim women? The thinking was deeper then this.

At the time the imperial forces were in control of India and they did what they wanted, and the indigenous Indian population were at their mercy, all untold things happened to Hindu and Sikh women. The instinct would be to retaliate and maybe do the same to their women. However if your Guru has forbidden you to even touch a muslim woman then that is going to be impossible. Sikhs were instructed to regard all women as their sisters or mothers
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