Watch Snatam perform live at the 2019 Grammys Awards Premier Ceremony, February 10 from 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm at Grammys.com
One of the greatest struggles that we, as human beings, grapple with on a daily basis – in many shapes and forms – is low self-esteem. It is the cause of deep loneliness to intense power struggles, and everything in between.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines self-esteem as confidence and satisfaction in oneself.
But, I like to take a play on words and say that low self-esteem is a lack of steam within the self, a lack of something on the stove that is cooking and brewing within. If there is anything that I have learned in this life it is that you’ve got to be in yourself. “Stuck in the ribcage,” Yogi Bhajan my spiritual teacher used to call it. Most of the time, we’d prefer to be anywhere but the Self.
To serve this purpose, we have a wonderful array of distractions that we as a humanity have been working on for thousands of years and now have come to an incredible advancement and real tipping point. What are we tipping into? Well, unfortunately, we are tipping into absolute insanity. The good news is that where there is the possibility of insanity, because of the natural law of opposites that exist within our Universe, there is the real possibility of sanity too. Where is the sanity? It’s right inside.
Alright, now we are inside, right?
And, well, it’s boring. Just downright boring. Been there, done that. Deep breath, yada yada, and all that good new age stuff. No thank you.
That’s what most people conclude, and then they go back into the drama and trauma of low self-esteem and running on empty.
Here’s a way that I’ve discover, to make that inner experience absolutely delicious.
Sing! And not just any song will do. There is a sacred poem by Guru Arjan, the 5th Guru of the Sikhs who lived in Northern India from 1563-1606, that has given me incredible energy. When one sings it in the correct combination of rhythm and pronunciation, the neurons change in the brain, messages of well-being pulsate throughout the body, and within minutes, you’re in. Right inside . . . right with the Beloved . . . the Self . . . the love of your life. It is a technology called Shabad Guru, where the specific result of singing a series of sounds brings you into a higher state of consciousness. And it works. In particular, this Shabad, called “Darashan Maago,” can be sung when one feels low self-esteem as a tool to rise up out of that sensation into self-identity, honor, and distinction.
We’ll explore a little about why it does that. First of all, I invite you to take a moment to read the words of this sacred poem:
Jis neech ka-u ko-ee na jaanai
That wretched being, whom no one knows
Naam japat ouh(u) chahu kunṯ maanai
Chanting the Naam, the Name of God, he is honored in the four directions
Darashan maago dayh(i) pi-aaray
Oh Beloved, please give me the blessing of Thy Presence
Tumaree sayvaa ka-un ka-un na taaray ||1|| rahaa-u ||
Serving You, who, who has not been delivered across the challenges of the world? ||1||Pause||
Jaa kai nikaṯ na aavai ko-ee
That person, whom no one comes near,
Sagal srisaṯ u-aa kay charan mal dho-ee ||2||
The whole world comes to wash the dirt of his feet ||2||
Jo praanee kaahoo na aavat kaam
That mortal being who relies on breath, who no one loves or desires,
Sant prasaad taa ko japee-ai naam ||3||
By the Grace of the Saints, he meditates on the Naam ||3||
Saadhasang man sovat jaagay
In the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, the sleeping soul awakens
Tab prabh naanak meeṯhay laagay ||4||12||63||
Then, O Naanak, there is an attachment to the sweetness of God ||4||12||63||
By: Guru Arjan, fifth Guru of the Sikhs
As you can see, we venture into the lowest realms of human existence: “The wretched being who no one knows, the one who no one comes near, and the one who no one loves.” As we sing these words, and venture into these realms, we neutralize their impact in our lives. How does this work? It is a part of the promise of the original reciter, who in this case is Guru Arjan, to leave the pathway from his journey into awareness, through these words.
As the tip of the tongue taps the roof of the mouth with these sacred words, it stimulates the glandular system and nervous system, with messages of well-being in relationship to the particular challenges that are being addressed. With the act of singing, we bring our sense of innocence, joy, and love along with the breath into the experience which opens the heart.
Our repeating line is, “Darashan maago dayh(i) pi-aaray.” It is the anchor that we keep coming back to, and it creates a powerful form of self-hypnosis that allows us to transcend our neurosis and go into our sense of self. It means, “Oh God, please give me the presence of the Beloved.” The Beloved, or “pi-aaray,” is really the self, but it is not just the “me” of the situation.
When we come into cosmic consciousness, we enter into the “We” of it all. We find the core of the very existence of love and light to be right within us. By tuning into that, we then have access to an inner vibration that leads us into what is best for us and everyone. We are deeply fulfilled, as we easily enter into the most amazing love affair we can imagine, which is completely stabilized with our inner patience and wisdom.
Then we sing “Tumaree sayvaa ka-un ka-un na taaray.” In this line, we reach up to the Divine through the ethers and ask, “Who has not been saved by serving God?” I feel this line as a gentle nudge from the Guru, allowing us to laugh a bit, as we loosen our tight grasp on the notion that there is simply no hope for any of us! There is a way and it is through service.
A man once felt very depressed. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake it. He called Yogi Bhajan to ask for advice. He dialed the number that he had for him. Yogi Bhajan happened to pick up the phone, and without even saying “hello” or “who is this?” he spoke very clearly into the receiver, “Find someone more depressed than you and serve them!”
Then, Yogi Bhajan hung up, without even a goodbye.
The man gave it some thought and realized that there was a guy who lived down the street, who nobody seemed to like, and who looked pretty down most of the time. He went over to his apartment, knocked on the door, and asked if he could come in for a cup of tea. He was received with surprise and gratitude as they sat down.
The man asked “Hey, how are you doing?”
After a couple of hours of listening to this guy’s problems, he realized he didn’t have it all so bad. He felt a lot better, and it kicked his depression. The guy also felt a lot better, having had someone to listen to him.
We may not all be fortunate to have a magical call with a spiritual teacher like Yogi Bhajan, but we do have this line of Gurbani, these sacred words, to speak to our subconscious and entice us into service. It is a communication that happens on the cellular level, where we actually change our vibration with these sounds. The key is of course to sing the words! Once we sing, we impart this vibration into our beings, and then we find the way to start living in this vibration, first starting off with our thoughts, then our words, and finally our actions.
Guru Arjan leaves us with the final teaching, and that is to be in the company of the Saints, in the company of the Holy. Never before has community been so important in our lives. Given the amazing sense of separation and isolation that our lifestyle can gives us, we are deeply challenged. We live in isolated homes, without much interaction with anyone outside of a small sphere.
Within the body of this sacred poem, we are given the instruction of gathering with the Holy; people of light and people seeking truth. I have experienced time and again how healing this practice can be, whether with people of my own tradition or in interfaith gatherings. Be in community! There is incredible healing available to you.
Finally, at the end of the poem, Guru Arjan conveys the sensation of sweetness. Once you feel the Beloved within you, the presence of Self and stabilize that with sacred community, it is a blessing that seems sweet, you desire it more, and bring it more into your life. You save yourself through your own desire!
This is a fool-proof method to obtaining a sense of self-identity, honor, distinction, and the highest self-esteem you could ever dream of. I recommend chanting it either first thing in the morning to set your day in a positive way or at night before going to bed to let go of any struggles and turmoil and find peace.
Enjoy it, and please join me in singing these beautiful words!