When talking about Divinity, sometimes we look outside of ourselves to discuss and define God. The Creator becomes, through our own conversations, everything a human is NOT. All-powerful. All-knowing. All-seeing. All-loving. All-kindness. It is as if we humans have taken certain experiences that give us a sense of comfort, that give us a sense of security on the earth; and projected their most perfect and continual expression on a Divine Being who can do and be everything we would most like to be, but aren’t.
When Guru Nanak talks about Divinity, his language, his perception, his vision is so all encompassing that Divinity intermingles with and provides the foundation for everything in the Universe. It is the secret ingredient that gives rise to our human experience. Every single aspect of being human, whether we ourselves would judge it as “good” or “bad” is embraced as part of the Divine. It’s a union. A yoga – if you can forgive the word – between finite perception and Infinite expression. The duty we have in our human body, Guru Nanak tells us, is to simply allow ourselves to become aware of this truth, and to live in a state of gratitude for it. That’s all.
Guru Nanak gave the Mool Mantra as the essence of the Sikh teachings. Recently, while meditating on it, it dawned on me how inter-dependent the phrases of the Mool Mantra really are. For a long time the Mool Mantra seemed to me a group of adjectives describing the experience of Divinity. But like a seed that breaks open to create roots – what I saw was that the Mool Mantra is not just a description. It defines a process through which we can become aware of the reality of the Divine inside us. Each line describes a state of consciousness. And understanding that state becomes a pre-requisite to developing an understanding of the state of consciousness described in the next line.
Ek Ong Kaar
One Spirit Beyond
Moves within the Creation-
To keep the Creator separate from the Creation is not the way of Guru Nanak. To see them in a joyful play, intermingling, evolving, finding new expressions of Itself – that is his gift to us. “God” is not out there somewhere – pulling strings or watching in judgment. The Divine dwells inside every molecule as a Living Force, constantly expressing myriads of forms, though all forms are ultimately unified in the One.
Most people’s search for Spirit begins in an external way – and so Guru Nanak gives us at the beginning a compact definition of the Force that Runs the Entire Universe. It is One – Ek. Is has vibration, sound – Ong – and from sound, from vibration it express itself in form – Kaar. But the Oneness and the sound and the form are merged in every moment, in every thing – continually playing together. A current runs through the entire Creation. And like children playing with paints, Ek Ong Kaar never creates the same picture twice.
And this Spirit
Is my True Identity.
If I can accept what Ek Ong Kaar means – then I must also accept the Presence of the Divine within myself. Perhaps –I do not always see or feel that Presence. But Guru Nanak tells us – it is that Divine Presence within us that is our real identity. Our real name. Our real existence. What I see myself as today, “a 38-year-old woman, Sikh, grew up in South Jersey, loves to read, likes chocolate, etc.” is a very temporary thing that will change as I age, or vanish as soon as my breath leaves my body. But beyond these definitions, these stored memories, opinions and tastes of a lifetime – there is a Presence, a Life, a Spirit that will keep going. This Presence is part and parcel of the play of Ek Ong Kaar. And that is my True Identity. Sat Naam.
It Does All
And Causes All
To be Done.
It Protects me
Through all incidents
Of Time and Space.
This line takes a bit of subtlety to understand. Because in the previous two phrases, Guru Nanak describes first the Power that runs the entire Universe. Second, he shows that this Force behind all of Creation lives inside of my own self, as well. And then what he would like us to understand is that this Power – which flows through all of Creation and flows through me – Does everything and Protects everything.
This line may be difficult because it is difficult to believe that the Divine is the Doer. Our mind tells us that, “I am the doer. I am the one who is acting. I am the creator. I am the manipulator. I am the one who can move things and create my life as I want to. I am.” The moment the mind hears that it is NOT the doer, it protests, creates doubts, arguments, becomes defensive and storms around. The mind can become competitive with Divinity, and try to prove that it IS the doer, it IS the protector – and nothing is greater than itself.
We call this ego – and there’s a purpose for it. Because the intricate truth is that the Divine dwells in you, as well as in everything, so you are part of that Creative Power, and part of that Protective energy. You are not the entirety of it. But in your Spirit, you are part of it.
The misunderstanding comes because of the mind. The purpose of the mind is to serve the soul. It is created to apply its intelligence to carry out the commands of Spirit. When a human being flows with the experience of her own Spirit and the mind serving that – then it is easy to understand Kartaa Purakh. Where the “I” is not experienced as the Doer at all. Where everything is arranged and taken care of by the hand of the One.
But when the mind does not know how to listen to or surrender to our own Inner Divinity, then it follows its own impulses and desires. And in that experience, nothing ever quite turns out the way it wants. That builds frustration, anger and fear. The balance of our lives as human beings rests on this point. If the mind can be trained to serve the Spirit, it can surrender its finite understanding of life and consciously enjoy the experience of the One in All. But if it is not trained to serve the Spirit, and it follows it own thoughts and desires – then that creates a life of passion, pain and death.
It fears nothing
And knows nothing
When I have seen these truths of Ek Ong Kaar, Sat Naam, Kartaa Purakh – then how can I ever feel afraid again? How can I ever be angry? Fear and anger come from ego – from my limited perception needing to protect my own security and identity. But if the Divine has blessed me to understand this Force that runs through all, that runs through me and that Does everything – then whatever I experience is the Divine. So why would I react to what I see with fear or anger – if it is all part of the One?
Not that we shouldn’t set boundaries or fight injustice. Guru Gobind Singh was a master of seeing the Divine on the battlefield, of praying to every aspect of the Creator while wielding his sword. It’s more about the way in which one sees life. Anger and fear cannot coexist with love. To fight and see the Divine in the enemy – to know the duty and yet to keep compassion in one’s heart – this is the way of the Sikh. Where fear and anger are – the Guru’s words are not. Where the Guru’s words are, fear and anger have no ground in which to grow. This, to my own mind, is the reason why the Sikhs in history could face such terrible tortures and horrors and still shine – Because they had cracked this secret of the Mool Mantra. And the experience of Divinity within themselves and within the entire creation was so powerful and so great, that even in the worst circumstances, they could see the Divine in the other person. And so they could go through the challenge with love instead of fear and vengeance.
It comes into form.
Moving beyond fear and anger, a perception, an awareness opens up within ourselves. And suddenly we can touch that Deathless Spirit inside. Our projection as a human begins to channel that Light. And we become the Image of the Undying while on the earth.
It isn’t a mental trick or a philosophy. An argument or a policy. It is something that begins to blossom when we move beyond fear and anger. Because when we begin to live beyond fear and anger, and feel our power from the deepest, most true, most genuine love inside of ourselves – then the fact that we are Deathless begins to make itself known to our conscious mind. In that awareness, we can represent Deathless Divinity in our every day life. Through our words, through our actions, through our dress, through our every interaction. We present in form the truth and reality of the Deathless Divine. In time, this gives rise to living the Rehit. For in the Rehit, Guru Gobind Singh gave the Sikhs a discipline and a structure to be Akaal Moorat – to be the Image of the Undying, the Deathless in Form.
In Itself, It has
Never been born.
Deathless in Form. Never been born. Though the mind has no capacity to logically map it, our Spirit has always existed and will continue to exist always. No death. No birth. No beginning. No end. Just one big play, one continuous learning – shifting from form to form through time and space.
Feeling the reality of the Deathless Spirit inside, and understanding that there was never a beginning to us anyway– the mind can penetrate through the fog of time and surrender its finite ego to something far bigger.
Flowing through the cycles
Of Birth and Death,
By Its Own
Purity and Projection.
Life needs definition to fulfill itself. And for most of us – the mind gives us our definition. We are “lawyers,” “engineers,” “lovers,” “ministers,” “writers,” “rebels,” – words, pictures, images that direct how we use our breath, our voice, our creativity to form our own lives.
Guru Nanak gives us a different definition. Saibhang. It’s a definition that applies to the soul, to the spirit. And in that definition, our own inner purity flows through time and space, calling one experience after another forward until we can consciously merge back in Union with Ek Ong Kaar. With the Source. With the One. Completion.
This definition applies once we understand that we are Deathless in Form, Never Been Born. In that vastness of Identity – Saibhang becomes a guideline for how to approach life, how to engage the very tiny bit of time that we have on the earth – in this body, in this experience. Rather than looking to create a finite identity and security for ourselves, Saibhang asks us to see our life in the context of a much larger journey. And to keep flowing forward, to complete who we are, so that the mind can consciously merge into the Limitless of Self and allow that inner Divinity to complete the journey.
Shall come to you
As a sweet blessing,
As a gift,
Through the Guru.
We need a teacher. We need a guide. Only an idiot believes that his or her mind can figure everything out on its own. We needed someone to teach us how to tie our shoes, how to dress ourselves. Then older – how to count, how to write letters. And yet this most sublime and important lesson of all – the lesson of what a human being is, of the purpose of the human life – we can sometimes so arrogantly assume that we need no teacher for that at all.
It is the proof of God in a world that questions the existence of the Divine that so many teachers have come to give us a path home. For the Sikh, that Teacher is the Shabad, the Divinely-given Word of the Guru. And by meditating on that Sound Current of the Shabad, It trains the mind into the reality of all that the Mool Mantra has described. So we seek that blessing, that gift that comes through the Guru. For just as we could never teach ourselves how to tie our own shoes, so too – the journey to merge into Divinity needs an example to follow, needs guidelines, principles, and a Voice that can remind us of the truth when we wander off the path.
In every moment
In Its Continual
There is only one command in all of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. There are many many suggestions, but just one order to obey. Jap. Repeat. Continue to meditate on this. Over and over and over again. With love in your heart. Surrender. And remember.
As someone who does marketing, I know that the law of marketing is repetition. It doesn’t matter how fancy the ad, how large or expensive. Repetition is the key for someone to remember your message. To be able to identify your product. The market needs to see the ad over and over and over again – to remember.
Guru Nanak understood this basic psychology of the human being. And so he gives this command in the Mool Mantra. Repeat. Remember. Meditate upon it over and over and over and over again – so that you can identify it. So that you can learn the truth of it, and see it for yourself. Ultimately, the Guru can only point us in a good direction. It is up to us to do the work. And for the Sikh, Jap is the work.
Hai Bhee Sach
Naanak Hosee Bhee Sach
From the start
This Truth was True.
All through Time and Space
This Truth is True.
Ever shall be True.
The seal of the Mool Mantra is the declaration by Guru Nanak that what has been described in the previous lines – about the nature of the Divine, about that Divine identity within us, about the process to become awake to that reality, about the need for the Guru, and the order to just keep repeating – all of this is True no matter what age, no matter what time and space. The Mool Mantra gives the essence of reality from before the Big Bang to the end of the physical Universe as we know it and beyond.
For us, as humans, to anchor ourselves to this knowledge can give us a deep sense of security. This seal exists to remove doubt, to create trust and faith. So that, by committing ourselves to the message of the Mool Mantra and realizing its truths, we have an opportunity to find the Divine within no matter what circumstance of life we have been born into.
Writing and creating dialogue about Divinity is so important. Since humans have existed – recorded history, myth and even before that – the way we discuss Divinity defines the purpose of human life. In a world that has gone mad through so many words, so many images, so much communication that confuses and competes – the Mool Mantra gives us a solid identity. It roots us in a reality so powerful and profound that our lives can be victories of joy, love and compassion in even the most difficult of times.