“When you feel small, the twelfth Pauree gives you solidarity of self, self-impressiveness, and self-respect.”
~from the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan (1)
Reflections on the 12th Pauri from S.S. Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa:
The Suṉi-ai and Manai Paurees in Japji Sāhib make up 20% of this beautiful, universal prayer. In the first Pauree of Jap Jī Sāhib, Gurū Nānak rejects the notion that thinking will get us anywhere. If thinking does not give us knowledge, then how can a person know anything?
The Suṉi-ai and Manai Paurees provide the answer. First, we have to learn how to listen deeply, how to listen from the very core of our being. Listening allows a person to develop intuition. And it is through the holistic intuitive sense that a person can know.
But knowing is just one step in the process. We also need to act on what we know. And this is where Manai becomes important. Although Manai often gets translated as “obey” or “surrender,” it does not necessarily mean to obey or surrender to something outside yourself. One way to look at Manai is that it means to obey and surrender to your own Suṉi-ai, to your own intuitive sensitivity. In that sense, Manai can be translated as, “Trust what you hear when you listen.”
All of us have had the experience of “knowing” something in a holistic, intuitive way – but we did not follow what that information told us. Afterwards, we realize, “If only I had listened to myself!” This comprehensive human intelligence is what Gurū Nānak praises so highly in Japji Sāhib.
Learn how to listen. And then TRUST it. Rather than thinking and analyzing everything, let the mind become saturated with trusting your own intuitive sensitivity, and act from that place. This is the way to live life.
The Manai Paurīs, Paurees 12-15, all end with the same phrase:
Aisā nām niranjan ho-i.
Jay ko man jāṉai man ko-i.
What is the Nām? My favorite definition of Nām comes from the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan. “Nām is my identity, given to me by my God, complete and clear.” (2)
The Nām, the True Spirit within, my Divine Identity, bring purity into my life. Suṉi-ai and Manai come from the Nām. This path of knowing comes from the deep, authentic Divine Essence that dwells at the base of your existence. So when we Manai – when we have trust with our own intuitive sensitivity, that gives us the knowledge we need to act. Not what we imagine and think by letting the mind spin on the axis of its own thoughts.
These Paurees give an insight into the power of Manai, and also how to approach it. In this verse, Gurū Nānak cautions that the process of listening and trusting is a profoundly personal one. What you experience in this state of consciousness is between you and you. You cannot really describe it to another person, and often when we try to describe our intuitive sense to someone else, they cannot enter into that space with us. So we end up regretting what we say.
Instead of talking about it, Gurū Nānak tells us that the most powerful meditation happens when people sit together and support each other in their Manai. Discussing the intuitive sensitivity does not necessarily help. But practicing together, we can give each other support to develop this new relationship to the Nām, to the Divine Essence, and to the mind. We can learn this elevated approach Gurū Nānak gives us to knowing and to action.
Trust what you hear
When you listen –
You won’t be able
To explain it to anyone,
And even if you do
Talk about it,
You’ll just regret it
There is no person
Who, with their pen,
Has the power to describe
All that is heard
When you deeply listen.
Those who sit together
And trust what they hear
When they listen
The most powerful
That True Spirit
That it makes me become
Pure, clear and sweet.
Trust what you hear
When you listen,
Becomes the psyche
Through which you
~Gurū Nānak (as interpreted by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa)
(1) Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, 80.
2. The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, February 12, 1995.
*This article was originally shared in a 40-Day Japji Sadhana hosted by Sikh Dharma International in partnership with other legacy organizations.
The year before Kundalini Yoga Master Yogi Bhajan, also known as the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma, left his body, he personally worked with Ek Ong Kaar Kaur on a translation of Gurū Nānak’s Jap Jī Sāhib. In addition, he directed her to translate the writings of the Sikh masters into English. She currently serves as the Program Manager for SikhNet.com.