Practice Convenor: RAVINDER SINGH
Siddh Gosht - X
The Talking Stick Colloquium # 86
The private routines that some readers have shared are impressive examples of commitment and striving. They reflect the longing that many feel for a sense of the sacred - naam - in everyday life.
The sharing is important because it offers us clues on how each one of us is applying our understanding of gurbani to connect with naam. Gurbani speaks for us when it expresses a yearning for naam - that indescribable something that exceeds our delicate and brittle selves.
Guru Nanak may not have handed us a codified manual, a “how to,” but he does suggest in no uncertain terms that there is a way of being in this world that is soulful, inspired and passionate, which can lift us above the pettiness of the daily rat race - the life of a gurmukh!
The notion of a dharamsal (our modern day gurdwara) was aimed at providing such instruction to Sikhs, enabling a gurmukh lifestyle. But we have failed in this regard, which is why I see sikhchic.com's Talking Stick Forum - readers, the participants and myself - as part of a growing community pursuing the journey in cyber-space.
Continuing our discussion on the list I posted last week, let's consider:
A life-long apprenticeship to the Guru (#3 on the list) is worth examining because it ties to the central concept of shabad Guru in the Siddh Gosht text. Moreover, the rest of the items on the list will flow from this.
Shabad Guru is Guru Granth and the apprenticeship, quite naturally, is to the Guru Granth. It involves audible reading, reflection, prayer and mystical contemplation.
As I look back to the course of my own journey, this practice has helped me the most in developing a cherished intimacy with the Guru that is rreplaceable.
I share my practice and invite you to share yours so we may all learn and grow. Needless to say, there are as many ways as there are people; each one of us has to examine our own temperament and pre-disposition.
Honest effort, though, is what we need to bring and nadar will happen when the Guru pleases.
1 Read gurbani aloud everyday: I try to do 10-pages, more on weekends. This is basic nourishment. The ears hear the words that the tongue reads and, over time, one can literally taste the words, much like we taste food. This is a sing-along with the Guru and provides emotional nurturing.
2 Meditate on what is read: This is reflection (vichaar) on what has been read - like chewing on the food we eat. This satisfies
and nurtures the analytical side. Personally, this is the time I spend looking up the Mahan Kosh or a santhiyaa(n)s (commentaries) to unpack the philosophical meaning of terms that are not readily apparent.
This is where we move beyond the literal meanings. I usually print out double-spaced pages from the Guru Granth (10 at a time) and highlight words and passages that catch my attention. I try to write the meaning of the passage in my own hand between the lines.
3 Prayer or ardaas is a natural extension of the first two components and leads us into dialogue with Akal Purakh. This happens quite naturally. When the profundity of a passage is unveiled through nadar, one’s entire being just wraps into prayer.
Please note that this prayer is not the standard supplication or plea for material things or happiness or health or whatever.
4 Mystical intuition flows seamlessly from prayer. This is touching the depths of silence within oneself not experienced
before and not the result of one’s activity or effort. Hukam and nadar place you in this spot.
The process breaks down our usual conditioning and opens our hearts to the voice of the Guru. It cures us of our addiction to speed and instant gratification. It teaches us patience and submission.
The journey is the destination.
July 9, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Prakash Singh Bagga (Indore, MP, India), July 10, 2012, 1:01 AM.
I read gurbani every day and try to grasp the meanings as per grammatical indications given along with the words. For this I first acquired knowledge of Gurmukhi grammar. I already had some basic knowledge of Sanskrit grammar which proved to be a great help in getting to the correct meanings of gurbani passages. Prayer/ ardaas is certainly part and parcel of every activity. In the context of ardaas, I remind myself that it is not like a spare wheel that one pulls out when in trouble. Instead, it is a steering wheel that directs the right path through out. Most of the time I listen to shabad gurbani while on the job, so I try to keep myself tuned subconsciously. Late in the night I try to tune myself with naam. For me, there is no life without gurbani.
2: Yuktanand Singh (USA), July 15, 2012, 10:38 PM.
Memorization of gurbani is another important practice. Both collections of the 'shabad hazaarey' contain the central message from the Guru and thus we must not ignore them. Learned gurbani often becomes our reference when we are engaged in deep reflection. Memorization is not too difficult. Regular repetition naturally makes us remember most of the shabads.