Have you ever caught lamenting your self? “I shouldn’t have done that” or “I shouldn’t have said that” or “Man, I lost my temper again.” If not, then this post is not for you. It is for us lesser mortals who are struggling to improve and be a better version of ourselves. It turns out that it is hard work, and as the awareness increases, sometimes guilt can creep in and try to overwhelm, in some instances.
It has taken a long time for me to understand the concept of Self-Forgiveness. It has been even harder to understand Self-Love – not the “I’m awesome and smart, look at me” type of Ego-Love, but “I’m you, and you are me, and we are One” kind of Self-Love.
On this journey, I have struggled to understand where I am at a given moment. Sometimes it feels I have reached a certain level of calmness, other times; I’m painfully made aware of the depth of my follies and how there is a lot more to climb. The condition is akin to a mountaineer, who, after summiting a mountain that they have been struggling to for a long-time, realize that while the outward view is excellent, looking inside and up, see an even higher mountain waiting next.
In his composition, Japji sahib (Sikh morning prayer), Guru Nanak Ji describes the various stages of spiritual evolution. It starts with living a righteous life, seeking spiritual knowledge, gaining spiritual wisdom, working hard to understand and living this spiritual wisdom, and finally attaining Oneness. I found it curious that in the fourth stage of the journey, he invokes the image of Lord Ram. In his vast body of work in Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak Ji has used different words for Oneness; sometimes, it is Hari, sometimes Waheguru, Satguru, Father, Beloved, Husband, and many more. There is always controversy around the usage of words that are also part of Sanathan Dharma, like Ram. Nevertheless, since he was invoked twice in a single verse, I was determined to find a deeper meaning behind it.
ਕਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋਰ ॥ ਤਿਥੈ ਹੋਰ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਰ ॥Pauri 37, Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak
Karam kẖand kī baṇī jor. Ŧithai hor na koī hor.
In the realm of karma, the Word is Power. No one else dwells there,
ਤਿਥੈ ਜੋਧ ਮਹਾਬਲ ਸੂਰ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਰਪੂਰ ॥
Ŧithai joḝẖ mahĝbal sūr. Ŧin meh rĝm rahiĝ bẖarpūr.
except the warriors of great power, the spiritual heroes. They are totally fulfilled, imbued with the Lord’s Essence.
ਤਿਥੈ ਸੀਤੋ ਸੀਤਾ ਮਹਿਮਾ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਤਾ ਕੇ ਰੂਪ ਨ ਕਥਨੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥
Ŧithai sīṯo sīṯĝ mahimĝ mĝhi. Ŧĝ kė rūp na kathnė jĝhi.
Myriads of Sitas are there, cool and calm in their majestic glory. Their beauty cannot be described.
ਨਾ ਓਹਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਨ ਠਾਗੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥ ਜਿਨ ਕੈ ਰਾਮ ਵਸੈ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥
Nĝ ohi mareh na ṯẖĝgė jĝhi. Jin kai rĝm vasai man mĝhi.
Neither death nor deception comes to those, within whose minds the Lord abides.
ਤਿਥੈ ਭਗਤ ਵਸਹਿ ਕੇ ਲੋਅ ॥ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਨੰਦ ਸਚਾ ਮਨਿ ਸੋਇ ॥
Ŧithai bẖagaṯ vaseh kė loa. Karahi anand sacẖĝ man soė.
The devotees of many worlds dwell there. They celebrate; their minds are imbued with the True Lord.
So I tried to contemplate a lot on these lines, beyond just the literal meanings. What could possibly be the hidden depths in them.
I’ve been reading the book “Aatma Sutra – Unveiling the Soul” by Hingori. It is an excellent read for understanding the concepts of Self-Love, Self-Forgiveness and for exploration of Universal Love. The author has written in a matter of fact way, as a companion guide that can be read and re-read. My soul thanks Hingorji’s soul for sharing his warmth and light with the world. Pick a copy on Amazon and share with others!
In this book, I came across the passage below on Lord Ram. And I felt at peace. I felt as if my questions had been answered. It is now a matter of trying to imbibe the Ram-ness as much as possible. In this cycle of birth and death, it is about trying to live this as much as possible.
Then Guru Vashisht asked Lord Ram:
“O Ram, what else do you want to hear from me? How do you perceive the world appearance now? What is your inner experience?”
Lord Ram replied:
“By your grace, I have attained supreme purity, as all the impurities have cleared away. All my understandings and delusions have been dispelled. My bondage has been severed. My intellect is as pure as crystal. My mind does not crave more for instructions; I have nothing to do with anything – neither instructions nor any objects, neither relatives nor scriptures, nor even renunciation. I behold the world as pure, infinite and indivisible consciousness. The world is otherwise a void, which disappears the moment illusion vanishes. I shall do whatever you wish I should do, and I shall live doing whatever I have to do or wish to do, without exultation or depression, for my delusion has been dispelled. Whether this creation becomes something else, whether the winds of cosmic dissolution blow or whether this country be prosperous, I am established in self-knowledge. I am at peace. My vision is clear. It is difficult for my real state to be seen and understood. I am free from hopes and desires. I shall live and rule like other kings; whether they are enlightened or ignorant, but without mental agitation and endowed with equal vision. As long as the body lasts, I shall rule this kingdom, endowed with pure vision and freed from all doubts concerning the nature of this samsar, just as a child engages itself in play.”
(From Supreme Yoga by Venkateshananda)
Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion about how Sikhism and Hinduism relate to each other, as religions. Some Hindu Scholars insist that Sikhism is essentially a branch of Vedantic philosophy. Sikh Scholars insist that theirs is an institutionalized religion with its own set of governance and philosophy.
If someone is interested in arguing for or against this, it is their prerogative. I’m just a humble sailor on my master’s ship and know not of such things.
All I have, is love and respect all equally – Waheguru, Ram, Allah, God – is all the same Oneness. At least that has been my experience, and I encourage you to find out on your own.