Friday, 7 May 2010


On Wednesday I attended a lecture led by Guest Speaker Davinder Singh Panesar and hosted by Oxford University Sikh Society. - looking at the psychology of sikhism. Davinder pretty much explained to us the actual techonology of spirituality and sikhi. Sikhi is not a religion, rather its is dharam. A righteous way of life. Every single act of a gursikh has meaning and logic and benefit.

Meditation on Naam is clearly more than just a timepass. It has mental and physical benefits - he showed us the effects of prayer on water, positive energy, compared the sikhi lifestyle goals with maslos goals. It really was a terrific lecture. Everything was going so well!

The he confused us all. He made comments about God. How the sikh thought on The One has been corrupted by Western thought over time. We tried to discuss after the lecture but were mentally exhausted I think. So the next day, my facebook page was the host of a deep discussion on the matter. Here it is: (to protect the identities of those involved, names have been changed to the names of Raags used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji)

(Asa) "What he was saying confused me, like how can ek onkar not mean God - i mean your quote above, talks about the Creator, so who/what is the Creator then? I got what he said about the "moment" and all that, but can it really be the case that everyone has got it all wrong? x"

(Basant) "To be completely honest, I'm not sure that when he said there is no 'God' - he meant there is no Higher Power. I think he was trying to take us away from the idea of 'The Man in the Sky' figure which the West has kinda given us. With or without the english translations attached, there is no doubt that Gurbani speaks of a much Higher Power, which ... See Moreis practically indescribable. The Point of our lives is NOT self-realisation. HOWEVER self-realisation is a definate required step on the path of life- in order for us to fully be able to "realise The One" and achieve Mukti. (which IS the purpose of Life from what I understand). "

(Dhanasari) " its not have something/someone to believe ask for guidance and to look to in times of hardship....its like shit who do i go to!? Im guessin the idea is make every moment a good one you should meditate on the positive words and mantars...and those words will manifest into a positive environment and one that only good will come of.

one the experience of a moment strictly down to you? if there is more than one person in the same place at the same time, then does that moment depend on how they are all thinking and feeling in the moment? spose the answer to that is to surround yourself by changi (good) sangat (company)...such a deep talk!"

(Basant) "Gurbani contantly reminds us that Satguru can be found by being in the company of those of a like-mind, the Saints, the Holy, those who have Realised the One. (As difficult as it is) If we surround ourselves with those who constantly vibrate on Naam, just like the Water he showed us, I think it can only have a positive effect on our souls...."

(Gauri) "Wait I'm confused...To (Basant) did he not agree that the purpose of like is Mukti? At the top of his little pyramid thing that he compared to Maslow's hierarchy of needs he had the word Mokhsa (freedom/ release).

(Jaitshree) "sometimes with these type of things, its always a good thing to take the good things that he said, and is ok to ignore certain things. (Basant) is, as always, being a sikh about all this and learning in what way she can. but of course there is a higher power, whether he was saying that i do not know, everywhere in gurbani is Tu, Tu , Tu,

but he said one thing which is probably the most correct, he said "dont think" haha so dont worry and dont think about it, you can always look for answers in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: the hukamnama at Darbar Sahib today: very appropriate. and think about the last line, " sing continually Your Glorious Praises, O Beloved; as Gurmukh, my doubts and fears have been dispelled. 7 " so dont worry, Guruji will take away whatever doubts and fears you have, it'll be fine."

(Basant) "He did talk about Mukti on his little pyramid but I think his interpretation was that to be Jeevan Mukt is simply to be free of reincarnation and that's all that life's about. So recognise who you are and you are free (like the Matrix haha). Whereas, Mukti is more a benefit of having become One with The One. Merging with The One is THE purpose of Life. Mukti is a gift."

(Jaitshree) "and about Mukti this shabad somes it up well: Sooraj Kiran Mile: The rays of light merge with the sun, and the water merges with water. One's light blends with the Light, and one becomes totally perfect. I see God, hear God, and speak of the One and only God, The soul is the Creator of the expanse of creation. Without God, I know no other at all. He Himself is the Creator, and he Himself is the Enjoyer. He created the Creation. Prays Nanak, they alone know this, who drink in the subtle essence of the Lord....anyways the first few lines is what Mukti is."

(Kalyaan) "Yo (Dhanasari), the point is that you come to a point where you look to yoursef!! God aint gonna fix anything, no matter how much you pray. In most religions, God is a scapegoat. From what I've interpreted, the monotheistic view given by western religious thought is completely different than what our Gurus have provided (athiest?). God is more of a ... spirit, a collective that includes everything and everyone--kinda like the notion of the Universe. To (Jaitshree), I know he says 'tu," but that could mean anything. He could be talking to the world or the universe as 'tu.' You are the creator, you are created, you are my mother, my father, etc. you are everything. All of this can be addressed to something other than 'God' as described in western thought as a 'diety' (which is what most Sikhs perceive God to be). I swear I've been saying something along these lines all along. I wish I coulda made it to the talk! Guru Nanak is a genius.... And to (Asa), yes it's true that everyone (well not everyone, but you get the jist) has it wrong. That's often the case! When people believe things blindly, they speak blindly, they think blindly, live blindly and will die still not being able to see! Blind believers are missing out of the whole point of Sikhism!"

(Dhanasari) "to (Kalyaan)! I am actually understanding now what you were talking about all that time ago! God is not a deity and more a collective as you said!.."

(Basant) Though you are right, we have to look to ourselves sometimes, it does not necessarily mean that Akaal Purakh isn't there for support as well (hence Chaupai Sahib). Western views or teachings or whatever you want to call them may well have seeped into Sikhi, but that it doesn't mean that the Guru's were atheist. For me the supreme authority on Gurbani is Bhai Gurdas Ji, because, at the end of the day it was him who was the scribe AND he was around when the Guru's were. And in his Vaars he pretty much explains that atheists are not close to The One.

Not everyone follows blindly but besides that, Gurbani shows us how having 100% faith in ANYTHING is above all that. Baghat Dhanna Jatt treated a stone like God, trying to feed it and not eating until it did because he TRULLY believed that the stone was God and he was lovingly devoted to it. So The One appeared before him. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib was meant to be readable and accessable to any common man or woman. Which is the logical reason why in referring to The One, words which were already around and commonly used like Har, Paramaesar, Paarabreham, Prabh, Khudaa and more are used. If they don't refer to Akaal Purakh (Immortal Creator Lord), what or who do they refer to?
At the end of the day it's just a word. God, Allah, Ram, etc. We just get afraid of the negative connotations which come with it. Like the word religion."

(Jaitshree) listen i think a lot of us are actually not disagreeing with each other, to (Kalyaan), i do not think God is a man in the sky at all, They are chakar chayn, formless, imagine like a light, and everything is in the light and the light is in everything. and the Light can be anything and everything. Of course there is a higher power, but the guy who came (Mr. Panesar) was... saying something slightly different, like its only a state of mind, or maybe i totally misunderstood that guy and it turns out we're all on the same page and there's nothing to talk about : lol. But most Sikhs, i think dont have that image of a Man in the Sky? at least from who I've talked to.. yeah and to what (Basant) is saying, like Bhagat Namdev Ji saw Waheguru Ji over 70 -80 times (i cant remember exact times), and all in different forms, and in so many shabads he talks to them. and also many shabads always asks to please grab my hand, and grab my arm and save me,Yeah .. and again I don't think we're actually disagreeing with each other here..."

(Kalyaan) "To (Basant)- The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is meant to be readable to all people, but it's funny how few people actually understand it. I, for example, do not have a very good understanding of it because it is so vast and so intellectual. The concept of Akaal Purakh (God, Ram, Allah, whatever you want to call it) is completely different is my point! The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is saying that all of these are the same--and so are we! We are all Akaal Purakh. We are all a part of something so big and completely unfathomable to our minds. That's what Japji Sahib is about. I won't comment on your reference to Chaupai Sahib because it is actually a part of the Charitars (sp?) in the Dasam Granth, one of the most controversial parts of the Dasam Granth. The Charitars talk about drugs and erotica, yet people still want to believe that these are written by our Guru...I guess that's something for another discussion, but that's why the writings from the Dasam Granth can't be referred to as 100% credible in any debate on Sikhism. And when I say athiest, I mean athiest in the western sense...which the Sri Guru Granth Sahib does not comment on.

To (Jaitshree)- What you are saying about Bhagat Namdev seeing 'Waheguru' (whatever that may be) 70-80 times, how do you know? You were not the one who put his hand in the fire or the one who saw the one who got burned. Until you have proof, how can you really know? It's only faith, but faith isn't anything for sure. Blind faith is what causes terrorism and irrationality. In a way, it can be argued that Guru Nanak was trying to teach India the scientific method lol. That's what Sikhi is about though (in my inferior understanding, at least). Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent his entire life asking why people believe things and do things blindly. He created a philosophy (not an institutionalized religion I might add) so practical, where the principal actors are the individuals! Not deities, not statues, but rather us. As Sikhs, we are the seekers of truth (or knowledge) and the only way to learn is by not believing blindly. If we believe blindly, we become unable to learn what is real and what is true. Therefore, we cannot truly be Sikhs (students, from the word 'sikhna', to learn). The search for 'God' as is ignorantly translated in translations of the SGGS is not about reaching one with a supreme or magical being that is outside of us, but rather about understanding that everything around us--including ourselves--is the 'magical being' that the Gurus keep talking about. The focus is haumai (ego). If we understand what we are a part of, we will lose this false idea of self-importance that we have, and can therefore be freed from human nature. Kinda like Buddhism, which says that it's the inflated ego that is human nature which causes suffering."

(Basant) "To (Kalyaan) I completely agree with you. From what I understand of Gurbani, the message is loud and clear. Lose your ego, realise who you are, merge with the One, achieve Mukti. The One is, indeed within Us and everything around Us, we are One. We just have to realise this. So, again , I agree. Maybe it just wasn't clear from my posts, so I apologise. "

(Jaitshree) "To (Kalyaan), what I said about Bhagat Namdev Ji is in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and dude i totally agree with you, lmao. we are saying the same thing I promise you, I'm sorry if i've been very unclear, and maybe been using wrong words? but like (Basant) said, its just a word, so no worries and be happy :D"


I don't really think I need to conclude that :-)

What are your guys thoughts??



Sharan said...

IMO God is a personification of a higher power. As is the devil. I believe western thought does contaminate Sikhism with the idea of good and evil. Even Shiva, Kali, all other Hindu gods are only reincarnations or representations of one aspect of God. 'God' as we call it is the super-soul, we are bits and pieces of that consciousness. We want to go back to that soul by leaving this plane/reincarnation cycle but therein lies the difficulty. What makes someone special/enlightened is realizing that we are all cells of that same god, no matter how tiny or insignificant, we are just unaware. That's my opinion on the matter :)

Sharan said...

Sorry to add on, but that blind faith comment was misplaced I think.

Here comes parable story to back me up, lol.

Guru Gobind Singh had a follower that was illiterate and maybe a little slow. Guru-ji made a deal with him that he'll teach him a line of gurbani verbally everyday, and it was up to him to remember. This went on well for the man, people would applaud him for learning the lines by heart, and sing along with him as he worked in the fields. But one day he came up to the Guru when Guruji was riding off to battle, asking him for the next verse or shabad. I can't remember the exact line, but guruji told him this isn't an appropriate time nor the place for such a lesson and rode off. The bhai took what guruji said as the next line of gurbani and repeated it until Guruji returned.

The people who had previously applauded him now laughed at him for being such a goof. But he adamantly sang the line guruji had given him. When he went to recite before guruji, everyone laughed at him and guruji was astounded at what the bhai repeated. He told the people then that they should honor the man who followed so faithfully the words of the guru despite ridicule.

The problem isn't blind faith, in fact it's what we need to survive in this world. Any day can be your last and we blindly trust that it isn't. It's when the blind faith is manipulated by the imperfect people we place our trust in that we have reason to fear. (This is addressed to the blind faith = terrorist comment)

Everyone starts with that blind faith, like with our parents (think of a child here). We grow out of it when we realize that things in the world don't match up, we learn a certain kind of logic that creates a supposedly infallible world view that gives us comfort and security. But we also get there through trial and error, experience. Perhaps our goal is to find the worldview in which we realize that waheguru is the truth. :)

Gupt Singhni said...

I couldn't agree with more :-D And I LOVE that story...though I think someone addressed blind faith by using the story of Dhanna Baghat...this works great too!

Thanks for your thoughts

Mai said...

I am an experimenter. I experimented with pronouns. For a year each, "God" was he, then she, then it. This taught me a great deal, making me much more conscious of our anthropormorphising of "God."

The is year, I am eschewing calling the Eternal "God." Already I am realising how much the western, abrahamic notion of the guy in the sky with the long white beard (no, not Santa Claus; this is serious, quit being silly) and the pointing finger has infiltrated my thoughts. This is helping, just a bit, to clean up some of the accumulated crud in my mind. I'll see where I am in December.

Bole so nihaaaaal!

Gupt Singhni said...

Hahaha so True. I've lately been trying to say or write 'The One' but even that can be difficult at times. Getting over that figure in the sky idea has helped quite a lot though.

Mai said...

My msn account got screwed up; you might need to re-add me.

Gupt Singhni said...

I don't use msn now more Bhenj, just don' have the time. I just stick to facebook chat if I'm free now...kills two birds with one stone haha

Mai said...


manisha lakhe said...

god is such a personal experience, that misrepresentations are a given. for example, in the hindu religious mythology, krishna/rama were supposed to be 'blue'. it's not that they were blue babies or had odd melanin pigmentation but just that blue signifies depth or inclusiveness (as in the ocean is blue, or the skies are blue). the idea of god is also 'all inclusive' and hence the avataars were 'blue'...

that said, when you experience that vastness, even for a moment, with meditation or even via chanting (or anything else), that is experiencing God, methinks. and it is that hunger to experience it again that makes us spiritual. in the end, we are all seekers...

my tuppence worth.

Gupt Singhni said...

Thanks for your valid input, sorry it took me so long to acknowledge it :)