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Be a Disciple, Not a Teacher:
The Way of The Sikh
Letter & Spirit # 34





Translated from Bhai Vir Singh's ‘Gurmukh Sikhia’



Everyone wants to be a teacher, but a disciple is rare. When we have grasped something, we need to act on it instead of teaching others without having practiced it.

A photographic film absorbs an image. This results in a beautiful picture. In contrast, countless faces enter a mirror but the mirror does not retain any. It stays vacant.

Self-appreciation is not a virtue. Guru Nanak counts self-praise as one of the faults that we need to avoid:

Greed is a dog; living in falsehood is a filthy street-sweeper. Cheating is eating a rotting carcass. Slander is putting the filth of others into your own mouth. The fire of anger is the outcaste who burns corpses at the crematorium. I am absorbed in such tastes and flavors, including self-praise. Such are my deeds, O my Creator!” [GGS:15]

Self-deprecation is also a fault. Condemning oneself is sin. We need to find the balance that would lead to the proper way.

Guru Sahib has expressed it this way: “O my dear, we are slaves of the Lord in His sanctuary; we are neither high nor low nor in the middle.” [GGS:504]

We must always examine and analyze gurbani. Our Guru Sahib had perfect knowledge. Let us contemplate, for example, the psychology of this verse:

O Farid! Answer an evildoer with benevolence.”

What happens then?

You do not harbor anger in your heart. Your body shall not suffer from disease, and you shall have obtained everything.” [GGS:1381]

The jewel of naam is a priceless commodity. It takes us beyond the realm where we have only wonder and awe. Modern world searches for various ways to achieve relaxation when in fact naam is the best method of relaxation. It keeps us free of disease and takes us closer to Waheguru because it continues to direct our attention towards our inner self.

When the sage Vashishta had finished teaching king Raam the metaphysics of yoga which we can now read in the book called ‘Yoga Vashishta’, king Raam asked the sage to show him the aatmaa(n) -- the ‘overself‘. The sage would stay silent. After being asked several times, the sage explained that the aatmaa(n) could be seen only subjectively, by approaching one’s inner self.

Naam simran is the method to become subjective. By giving us simran, our Guru Sahiban have made it easy for us to meet Waheguru.

Simran is not hard labor. Rather, it is addictive because it what cools the fire in us. The word “ghaal” (toil) in gurbani does not mean hard labor; it means perseverance or great effort to maintain continuity. There is a difference between this and being obstinate or being hardheaded.

Those who regard the practice of simran as hard labor, they have not grasped the Guru’s lesson yet. We can grasp this lesson in the sangat. We face various difficulties due to lack of this understanding. It is a bridge that takes us across. And if we want to see Waheguru, then we must do the simran.

A pen is an instrument in the hands of the writer. It can write only what the writer wants it to. Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh have used me as an instrument to write whatever they have wanted. Whatever I have done, the credit must go to them, not to me.

Our Guru was capable of transforming uneducated people, enabling them to engage in debate even with learned priests. We have all heard the saakhi (episode) when the eight year old Guru Harkrishan Sahib had enabled an illiterate street sweeper to defeat a pundit in elucidation of the Bhagvadgita and how, this pundit then fell at the child Guru’s feet, became a Sikh, and started doing naam simran.

People seek recognition after acquiring a little knowledge. But the Guru has said: “When someone believes that he has become something, he is caught just the same as a parrot trapped upside down over a bowl of water. When someone believes that he is a devotee or a spiritual teacher, then the Lord in the world hereafter has no regard for him at all.” [GGS:255]

Teachers can confuse us. We follow their teaching and then we want to feel divine. This is a mistake. After meeting a gurmukh, our aim becomes meeting the divine instead of trying to be divine ourselves.

Someone with simran residing in the heart is already with Waheguru and is liberated already.

We cannot see Waheguru objectively, but we can perceive Him in a subjective manner. Whatever we experience or see as an object is impermanent and destructible.

Waheguru is not impermanent.

How, then, can we see Waheguru? We can see everyone else but we cannot see our own vision. We know this difference.

The same difference applies here.



August 19, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), August 21, 2013, 9:02 AM.

Absolutely correct! Most people I meet give me the creeps because they are so egotistcal. Humility is the key to being a Sikh and even in conversations explaining that you yourself are lowly, the concept confuses many, or taken as an overdose of false modesty.

2: Satpal Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 22, 2013, 3:32 AM.

Thank you, Sardar Yuktanand Singh ji, for this great service you do.

3: Aryeh Leib (Israel), August 22, 2013, 7:22 AM.

The story is told of the "Holy Man" on his deathbed. As his disciples gathered around him, one remarked on the leader's great scholarship. Another mentioned his great piety, etc. As the conversation died down, the "Holy Man" opened his eyes and said, "And my great humility - what about THAT?!" To know that one is truly "a pen ... an instrument in the hand of the writer", means that I don't deny or debase the strengths I posses; rather, I attribute them to the One who bestowed them upon me and who gave me the clarity of mind to use these talents in the correct way. By myself I am nothing. But with God's help, there is nothing I can't do!

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The Way of The Sikh
Letter & Spirit # 34"

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