Why Should We Believe In Religion?
Why should we embrace the path of God?
A man perceives that every action or every path begets some gain. For example: when a child goes to school or to college, he receives his education from the respective institution. When he grows up, he would procure his livelihood from it (for example, he becomes a farmer), or if he enters a service, he would receive his salary for his work.
Since there is a gain in every path, there must be gain in this path (religion) too. What is that gain? We need to ponder over this?
Gurmat(the teachings of the Guru) enlightens us, and this has also been the personal experience of every individual, that the visible world is imperfect and by obtaining it, we do not attain perfection nor complete satisfaction. Nevertheless, we do need these materialistic things. However, this need is of relative importance and is not of absolute value. That is why, even after the subsequent acquisition of these materialistic things, both perfection and contentment elude us.
In reference to this, Gurmat (Gurmat (gur-mat, mat, Sanskrit mati, i.e. counsel or tenets of the Guru, more specifically focusing the mind towards the Guru — here Guru means God) philosophy says:
“Amassing of wealth and property eventually becomes distressful.
Bedecked homes, mansions and palaces: none of them go with you.
Nursing of horses of various colours is of no avail whatsoever.
O’ man, attach your mind to God’s Name as in the end it shall be your succour.
By Guru’s Grace, slave Nanak has remembered the Name and he is blessed with peace.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 648)
“The craving of even the great kings and landlords is unquenchable.
Intoxicated with the pleasures of wealth, they remain engrossed in it and their eyes see nothing else.
In sin none has ever been satiated.
As the fire is satiated not with any fuel, so how can mortal be content without The Lord?”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 672)
Every man knows that material things are incapable of giving him complete satisfaction. Notwithstanding, a balanced viewpoint supports this argument and consequently materialism has become the root cause of every man’s inward unhappiness.
“The world is being consumed by this hidden fire, but Maya does not cling to the Lord’s devotees.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 673)
In contrast to materialism, the Guru’s (God’s) way (path) takes a man towards perfection and enables him to attain fulfillment. Guru Maharaj Ji ( the Sikh Gurus) tells us that the constant remembrance of Akal Purakh (God) alone can make a man perfect because HE Himself is ‘Perfect’ and through His Aradhana( remembrance of God through prayer and meditation), mankind can thus be liberated from this visible world.
Guru Ji says:
“Those who do not forget the Lord, while breathing or eating — know them to be the perfect servants of the Lord.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 651)
Those who do not forget the Lord, even while breathing and eating, are deemed to be the perfect and true slaves of God.
“Those Gurmukhs who worship the Lord in adoration end their subservience to the Messenger of Death, and to the world.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 651)
They, who, through the Guru, meditate on the Lord (God), their subservience to death’s courier and the world comes to an end.
Many people lament that they have been following the path of Dharma (Righteousness) for many years and have attended Guru Sadh Sangat (a holy congregation comprising of people who follow the path of the Guru, meaning God, or live in accordance with the Guru’s philosophy) but the secret of this path is not revealed. This is correct. How can we then understand the secret of Gurmat’s pathway?
This is a problem and a hindrance. An investigation reveals that people who have the above grievance have indeed been praying to the Guru (God) for a long time. While praying, they remain physically present and conscious. However, they do not attune the vibrations of their mind to the Divine Voice (Order or Commandment of God).
An anecdote is cited in the Janamsakhi (legendary biographies of Guru Nanak — the founder of Sikhism).
Bhai Bala Ji describes the intriguing nature of the mind.
Nawab and the Qazi, (clergy in Islam), were convinced of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message that there is only one God. One day while leaving for the mosque for the Namaz (Muslim prayer) they requested Guru Nanak Dev Ji for his company and join them in prayers. They were sure that Guru Nanak Dev Ji would not refuse. What could be wrong in saying prayer as there is no distinction between Hindu and Muslim. Guru Nanak Dev Ji readily agreed and he went with them to the mosque.
Whilst all devotees were kneeling to perform the prayer, Guru Nanak stood still.
After the prayer was over, Nawab asked Guru Nanak, ‘Why did you not say the prayer? Why did you keep standing silently when we were performing the prayer?”
Guru Nanak replied, “Dear Nawab, whom should I have joined in the prayer?”
Nawab said, “You had agreed to say prayer with us. But you have not done so.”
Guru Nanak Dev Ji said, “Yes, I had agreed to say the prayer with you. It is correct that you were saying the prayer. Yes, you recited the Namaz, but your mind was somewhere else. How could I join you?”
The Nawab replied, “I was right here, before your eyes. I was busy saying the prayer”.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji said, “No. Your body was here. But, your mind was in Kandahar purchasing horses.” The Nawab said, “Nanak, if my mind was not in the prayer, you should have joined the Qazi (the priest).”
Guru Nanak said, “Dear Nawab, the Qazi was worrying about the newly born colt at home. Before coming here, he forgot to tie it properly.”
Hearing this the Qazi said, “Dear Nawab, Nanak is correct. My mare had given birth to a calf this morning. While performing the prayer, I was worrying that the colt might fall into the ditch and might not be able to get out on its own.”
Guru Nanak said, “Dear Qazi, only the prayer which is performed with the mind fully concentrated, is accepted at the door of the Lord. Prayers performed only with the body does one no good.”
Guru Maharaj Ji advises us that such a prayer is unacceptable by God.
Until a seed is sown, it cannot bear fruit. Similarly, until the Gurshabad (Word of God) has penetrated the inner recesses of the mind (or the subconscious mind), the path cannot be unfolded.
Without the seed, there cannot be fruit. Without the attunement of the mind with God, there cannot be Oneness with the Eternal Being. The growth is what is within our mind: the rest is all a waste of time.
“Whatever is in the mind, that comes forth, mere words from the mouth are of no use.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 474)
Divine Vision can only be obtained if one condition is fulfilled: complete mental surrender. Attaining the society of the Guru is not determined by whether the body is physically near or far. Guru Ji (God) meets if the mind remains in His presence. This is the only way to receive the Grace of The Guru. (God)
“The Society of the Guru is not obtained like this, by trying to be near or far away.
O Nanak, you shall meet the True Guru, if your mind remains in His Presence.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 84)
“O Nanak, that soul bride is pleasing to her Husband Lord, who, through the Shabad, remains in His Presence.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 568)
Going to the Gurudwara (Sikh place of worship), singing or listening to the Shabad kirtan (singing of Guru’s hymns compiled in the Guru Granth Sahib in praise of the Lord) and practicing Simran (Meditation) for ripening the state of the mind are means through which we can form a link between our thought and the Almighty for the attunement of our mind.
Nowadays, some people adopt a new ritual zealously. They believe that by spending some money on an Akhand Path(a continuous recitation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji — the Sikh scriptures) and by offering an expensive Rumala(cloth covering Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji), a vision of the Supreme Being can be obtained. But this is a misconception. Such people are under delusion. Guru Maharaj Ji (God) wants our true love and not our material offerings. If the offerings could assure us a vision of God, then the poor could never aspire to attain it. In the Guru’s house, it is believed that:
“The amount of hearty love alone is written there.
O Nanak, if one utters the True Name, the Lord would be supremely pleased.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 1237)
How do we discern the signs of a pious mind? How do we know that it is progressing towards the pathway of the Supreme Power?
Guru Maharaj Ji apprises us that when the mind becomes pure, our desire for worldly things begins to recede and inner stability and contentment emerge; our life becomes sublime, peaceful and filled with graceful bliss.
“Serving the True Guru, peace is obtained, contemplating the True Word of the Shabad.
Hunger and thirst have departed from within me;
I am in love with the True Name.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 647)
When will this God, who confers such contentment and happiness, be upon us? Gurbani (the Sikh scriptures) answers:
“In each and every heart, the Lord (of the forest) is permeating and pervading.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 597)
Thus, Naam Ras or the root of Divine Bliss is embedded within us in our inner self, but we do not attain this because our self is foolishly or ignorantly attached to worldly pleasures. If we do not uproot the abode of greed for worldly pleasures from within our self, how can we hope to attain Naam Ras or the Spiritual Vision of God?
Guru Ji questions us:
“The pleasures of gold and silver, the pleasures of women, the pleasure of the fragrance of sandalwood, the pleasure of horses, the pleasure of a soft bed in a palace, the pleasure of sweet treats and the pleasure of meat:
These pleasures of the human body are so numerous; how can God’s Name find its dwelling in the heart?”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 15)
When a person’s mind, repeatedly and continuously, concentrates in one-pointedness on a single object, then ultimately, that person will become completely attuned to that point or object. This is affirmed by both psychological and religious philosophy.
And so is the saying of Gurbani:
“They become just like the One they serve.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 223)
meaning: We become a form of that personality whom we serve. That is why Gurmat has repeatedly emphasized upon remembrance of God(meditating on God’s name)). As our inner self becomes incessantly engrossed in the remembrance of God, a gradual progress on the spiritual plane is ensured and day by day, man begins to be endowed with Godly attributes.
What is the ultimate state? Gurbani describes that state in the following ways:
“HE (God) does not die, nor do I fear death.
HE is not poor, nor will I be hungry.
Neither HE is in pain, nor do I suffer agony.
There is no other Destroyer but God.
My very life is God, the Giver of life to me.
HE has no entanglements, nor am I in bondage.
Neither has HE any worldly occupation; nor do I have any engagements.
Neither has HE impurities; nor have I any filth.
HE is in ecstasy; then I am ever happy.
HE has no anxiety; nor do I have any care.
HE has no defilement; nor have I pollution.
HE feels no hunger; nor do I have any thirst.
When HE is immaculate, then I match Him.
I am nothing; HE alone is All-in-All.
In the past and in the future HE alone is.
Nanak, the Guru has dispelled all my doubts and demerits.
HE and I, uniting, together we assume identical colours.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 391)
God’s creation and God’s gifts are seen and enjoyed by us. This is good. If the gifts by themselves are so beautiful and enjoyable, then how much more beautiful and endearing must the Invisible Creator be? Consequently, Gurmat tells us that there is no sin in enjoying God’s gifts but, our self or our attachment of the mind must be with the Creator.
A painting may be very beautiful but it cannot be a substitute for the artist. Similarly, God’s creations may be very beautiful but, it cannot be equated with the Almighty Himself.
Saint Kabir Ji has said:
“The Master has painted the great picture of the world. Leave the painting and remember the Painter.
This wondrous painting is now a bone of contention. Dismiss the picture and keep thy mind on the Painter.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 340)
However, there is one other thing: the Superconscious sees the Creator within His Creation. This is the Divine signal.
Just as we remember the artist when we see his painting, similarly we should recall the indescribably beautiful element of the Almighty when we see His creation. This phenomena is called ‘Simran (meditation) through concentration of the mind’ and remembrance of the Formless One by meditating upon the Form.
This remembrance is gradually converted into super consciousness or state of no-thought. Alternatively, a no mind(being thoughtless) state is manifested. The disciple is detached from all worldly directions and is merged with the Immortal Being; his super-thought is detached from the visible world and is deeply absorbed in the Invisible Power. According to Gurmat philosophy, this is the ultimate state of Naam Simran (remembrance of God). To attain this state, our mind and our senses have to be focused in the right direction and kept under discipline.
Gurbani refers to this in the following ways:-
“Within thy mind, contemplate thou on the Guru (God), and with thy tongue utter the Guru’s (God’s) Name. With thine eyes, behold the True Guru and with thine ears hear the Guru’s (God’s) Name.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 517)
On acquiring this state of mind, both God’s gift and God Himself can be realized. Both this world and the next can be attained.
“In this world and in the world hereafter, radiant are the faces of those who cherish and enshrine the Glories of the True Lord (God).”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 46)
This is the supreme gain in adopting the path of God or in adopting the path of Dharam or Spiritualism. The process of maturing the state of mind or achieving one-pointedness can be compared with the dyeing of cloth. To dye a piece of cloth, it is necessary to dip it into a vessel containing the dye. Likewise, before we can commence to tread on the path of True Love of God, it is necessary to surrender both our thought and our action to SATGURU (God) and the Gurshabad (mantra), as they then fulfill all the conditions of this spiritual path.
SAT means true, and GURU means perfect light; thus the meaning of Satguru means True-Perfect-Light. A perfect soul or Satguru or God or Khalsa are all one and the same thing,
i.e. belonging to one Spiritual Light.
There are numerous obstacles in this path; the biggest obstacle is our own mind.
What is the meaning of mind?
The mind is a constituent of both thoughts and opposite thoughts and are collectively the reservoir of our actions(Karmas) which a soul carries with it through all its rendered incarnations. These actions of the soul, rendered throughout its past lives, leave their impact in the form of tendencies as thoughts and opposite-thoughts, which tend to dominate the mind. The struggle with these evil forces or tendencies is the essence for which one wishes to adopt the spiritual path.
Simran (Meditating on God’s name) is the weapon and its strength enables us to struggle with these evil or anti-forces. As this struggle ensues, Divine Force emerges from this very mind, which attracts the mind to its original Creator or to its source or origin. When this Divine Force becomes all powerful, the evil forces dissipate. The worldly mind thus gradually gets converted into a spiritual mind.
A disciple of this path whose mind is converted to its original state and has become pious and disciplined can be called a Gurmukh, but not a Guru (teacher). The Guru (teacher) is like a powerhouse which treasures wonderful and limitless excellences or spiritual lights and the Gurmukh Mahapurush (Spiritual Master) is like a bulb. Light manifests itself through the bulb. However, the bulb (which can be of any wattage) cannot be equated to a power house. Similarly, a Gurmukh Mahapurush (Spiritual Master) cannot be equated with a Satguru or The Supreme Being. Those who equate any Gurmukh Mahapurush (Spiritual Master) with a Guru (God) become victims of self deception and this often culminates in bitter disillusionment and disappointment.
The ascent on this path comes in stages. It is like climbing a stairway, one step at a time, to reach the top.
“Along this path to our Husband Lord, we climb the steps of the ladder, and come to merge with Him.”
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 7)
After ascending the first step, we get the strength to climb on to the next. In the same way, firmness in Simran (meditation) practice at the initial stage renders us capable of proceeding to the next stage, and progress is made. Those who talk of self realisation or of God Enlightenment without actually working on it themselves are like the primary students claiming to be post-graduates. Such people, instead of evolving, keep wondering and are ultimately lost amidst self-deceiving thoughts.
By obliterating these obstacles, a good beginning in our spiritual development is ensured. Through this spiritual evolution, the mystery of life is unfolded and our inner self becomes increasingly enriched with contentment, satisfaction, peace, stability of mind and sense of fulfillment.