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Talking Stick

Awakening To Purpose
The Talking Stick Colloquium #43





Last week, in the spirit of New Year resolution-making, we turned to Guru Arjan's salok, "khanbh vikaandrrey jay lahaa(n)  ghinnaa saavee tol" ('If wings could be bought, I would pay with my flesh'), which invites us to take to wings and fly.

Guru Arjan's invitation to a winged existence suggests transcendence. I use the word transcendence, not in any philosophical or theological sense, but simply to mean going beyond one's limits. There is inherent, in the human condition, a constant longing to exceed, to break boundaries, to push the envelope, so to speak.

Flying also implies risk-taking for moving in a particular direction (purpose). It is to our purpose that we will turn our attention this week.


In speaking of purpose, let's consider a few lines from Guru Amardas' composition, Anand Sahib, which is recited every day:

Ay sareeraa mayriyaa iss jag meh aa-ay kai kya tudh karam kamaaiyaa ...

O body mine, what actions have motivated you?
O eyes of mine! The Light is infused in you; see the Light shine through everything.
O ears of mine! You were created only to hear the Truth.

Let us also consider Guru Arjan's admonition:

paraanee too(n) aa-i-aa laahaa lain ...

O mortal! You came to earn a profit.
What useless activities are you attached to? Your life-night is coming to its end.

Gurbani prods us repeatedly and in different ways to pause and reflect on our true purpose here on earth. It chides us for letting a rare opportunity (human life) slip by, for letting the span of our years run out.

To all outward appearances, we seem to have a purpose: the pursuit of money, power or fame fuels our daily existence. But despite our seeming success, most of us, to paraphrase Thoreau, lead lives of "quiet desperation." Our quest for success - money, fame, power - has made us obsessive and compulsive workhorses. We are weighted down by our own self importance.

The philosopher Pascal echoes our Gurus when he says that there is a "God-shaped vacuum" in each one of us, which "cannot be filled by any created thing." Our purposes are "created things," given to us by parents, teachers and our social setting.

The Guru wants us to awaken to our purpose. The purpose we require is not missing but has receded out of our memory (vismaran) - forgotten.

In the lines from Anand Sahib, Guru Amardas makes no bones about the singular purpose for which humans were constructed: the discernment of Truth. A successful life, in such a view, is one that is guided by this discernment.


When we speak of awakening to purpose, the hint is to recall or recollect (smaran) the already present knowledge of that vision.

Are we looking in the wrong places? Are we asking the wrong questions? Are we going about seeking success the wrong way?

The great cartographers of the Spirit have all pointed to a journey inwards for an answer to the great questions of life - including our purpose. Gurbani calls it Liv as opposed to Dhat.

Is the flight we need to take inward?


January 9, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 09, 2011, 2:29 PM.

As a kid, I remember in our school there was a patch of clovers, and it was a common belief that if you found a four-leaved clover, you could wish for and achieve anything. I never found one. Much later, growing up in a 'gurmukh' family, it was subliminally drilled in us that if you did simran on certain shabads, you could achieve anything. I can't remember having achieved all I wanted but the effort was satisfying, at least amongst my peers, that I could rattle off some shabads. Then another homely, 'Neki kar khoway may dalh' - 'Do good and forget about the fruits'. This was part of growing pains, each step was awakening to a purpose and a realization: "Aapan lee-aa jay milai vichhurh ki-o rovan" [GGS:134.4] - 'If people could meet the Lord by their own efforts, why would they be crying out in the pain of separation.'. The learning process kept proceeding at its own pace. Then I was told that Waheguru provided every bird its food but didn't throw it in the nest. So we learnt the value of 'Kirat Karni' - 'Do honest work' - and leave the results to Him. "Aapan lee-aa jay milai taa sabh ko bhagath ho-ay" [GGS:156.19] - 'According to one's actions, one's destiny unfolds, even though everyone would rather have it otherwise.' Then we heard the elders scattering pearls like: "Laga roh tha lakh da nehi tha kakh da" - 'If you keet plodding, then you have value, otherwise by just sitting and doing nothing, you have a good chance of being run over.' At the end of the day, it was 'Gurprasad' and in the hands of the Giver.

2: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 10, 2011, 5:48 AM.

In raising the question of purpose in life, I am, of course, touching on a concern that is as old as humans. Yet, there is also - almost always - a sense of immediacy to this question - it is forever with us. Humans could just be an accident, insignificant in the scheme of things, or a favored species, designed to carry evolution forward. Depending on the view one takes, purpose becomes important.

3: A.K. (U.S.A.), January 10, 2011, 12:11 PM.

In response to the convenor's comment, evolution, at least from a Darwinian perspective, does not have a plan. Humans are not any more special than bacteria that can thrive on arsenic or reproduce abundantly at temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius. Why does our life have to have some special purpose? Does an amoeba have a special purpose for its life? If so, then how is it that an amoeba or any other life form for that matter is carrying out its life purpose without any religious deliberation? It is wired to do so because of the information contained in its DNA. We are too! Why is it that humans need to search for a 'true purpose' to be able to function in this ecosystem?

4: Aryeh Leib (Israel), January 10, 2011, 12:52 PM.

"The purpose we require is not missing but has receded out of memory (vismaran) - forgotten." The minute I saw this line, I immediately thought of the similar concept in Judaism - that a Jewish soul is taught the entire Torah in the womb, prior to birth. Just before entering the world, the angel who taught the soul strikes the child with a finger, just above the mouth - which causes the child to forget everything he/she has learned, and producing the characteristic vertical indentation between the mouth and the nose. The life mission is now to re-learn the Torah which was first learned in the womb; the prior experience having conditioned the soul to "recognize" the Torah as a "lost object", as it were, and causing the soul to be drawn to it. There was, not long ago, a child who was born without this mark on the face - and he knew the entire Torah from birth! According to the story, a great rabbinical figure struck him under the nose - and he became just like any other baby. This is because one gets credit for learning - not knowing!

5: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 10, 2011, 5:33 PM.

Aryeh ji, what a profound thought. Anand Sahib says the same thing: "Liv chhukkee lagee tarisha-na maa-i-aa amar vartaa-aa" [GGS:921.3] - "Love for the Lord wears off, the child becomes attached to the desires, the script of Maya runs its course."

6: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 10, 2011, 7:29 PM.

A.K. ji - you raise very interesting questions that I cannot answer. But I offer some thoughts: could it be that Darwinian evolution does not have a plan, but one of its products - humans - may be endowed with a sense of purpose which explains why we are looking for meaning. Your question about why are humans special (or not) depends on what perspective we adopt: to an astronomer, a human may be just a speck in the vast expanse of the universe; to a chemist, a human may just be a lump of chemicals. To Hamlet, man is "noble in reason, infinite in faculty." To our Gurus, man is "jot saroop." So I think it all depends on our perspective. Which one is right? I don't know; perhaps they all are right - we may be all of these things. More later ...

7: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), January 11, 2011, 7:35 AM.

Bhagat Kabir: "For what purpose were you created and brought into the world? What rewards have you received in this life? God is the boat to carry you across the terrifying world-ocean; He is the fulfiller of the mind's desires. You have not centered your mind on Him, even for an instant." [GGS:970]. Guru Arjun: "He alone crosses over this world-ocean, who sings the glorious praises of the Lord. He dwells with the saadh sangat, the company of the holy; by great good fortune, he finds the Lord" [GGS:813]. Guru Nanak: "Make this body the field, and plant the seed of good actions. Water it with the Name of the Lord, who holds the entire world in His Hands. Let your mind be the farmer; the Lord shall sprout in your heart, and you shall attain the state of Nirvaana" [GGS:23]. Again, Guru Nanak: "Make your mind the farmer; good deeds the farm, modesty the water, and your body the field. Let the Lord's Name be the seed, contentment the plow, and your humble dress the fence. Doing deeds of love, the seed shall sprout, and you shall see your home flourish" [GGS:595]. Bhagat Kabir: "So search in your heart - look deep into your heart of hearts; this is the home and the place where God lives" [GGS:1349].

8: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), January 12, 2011, 7:41 PM.

Awakening to Purpose: The words are inspiring, noble in intent and worthy of pursuit. However, in close scrutiny, the intent may be good, but the meaning of the words are lost. Because in the human realm, Purpose and Awakening are incorporated in us by the Creator, and we pursue both intuitively all the time. We do not need Awakening or look for Purpose in the true intent of our Creator. In my understanding, His assigned Purpose is to sustain/ survive; reproduce and get out of the way. To survive we need food; to reproduce, a mate. To nurture/grow our progeny, we need time. To reduce conflict in pursuit of His assigned Purpose, humans have institutionalized ways like religion, culture, etc. for the survival of the human race and use Creator provided faculty of conscience to influence approaches to Purpose. That is where all these time honored concepts and approaches may appear meaningful, but have an ironic twist. The institutions take over the task of seeking Purpose. But in reality, we only learn the means or approaches to Purpose, from a multitude of human created options under the label of Purpose. These options are subject to social, cultural, religious, ethical/ moral concepts. Within this context, A.K.'s views are valid, because she is approaching the topic from a natural order of His scheme. And our assumed expectation in the discussion is to seek views on Awakening to Purpose within human confined approaches or perceptional understanding of Purpose. Several members have already blessed us with views from a religious perspective. In my view, use of word Awakening is inappropriate in its true sense. Words like directing, channeling, guiding, etc. may be more appropriate. Our understanding of Purpose (of life) also appears flawed, because we tend to by pass HIS approach which has not changed. We repackage the meaning of the word Purpose. Are these thoughts just semantics? I hope not. This flawed approach is responsible for most conflicts within religious and cultural domains due to our slogan of being different, special, superior in Purpose. This does not mean our approach and pursuit of Purpose are not critical. Our sense of awakening to select approach is a valid concern. We are fortunate to be born in a time which offers knowledge from institutions such as religion, culture, science and human (collective) experience to guide us in charting our course. In concept, religious and cultural knowledge is good, but in practice, it is biased and tainted. It should be used with caution and concern. Science and human experience based knowledge is open and fact based, but needs blending with religious and cultural knowledge to become a more encompassing package to choose from; the aim being practical in approach and better results. Religious knowledge is superior in self discovery of orientation, traits, preferences, etc. We also benefit from it for spirituality, peace of mind and mental balance.

9: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), January 14, 2011, 9:10 AM.

Awakening (knowledge) to find effective and satisfying ways to earn a living, find a mate and remain meaningfully engaged in life's journey, remain as important as ever. Thoughts shared by S. Sangat Singh ji, Lieb ji, Mohan Singh ji and Ravinder Singh ji from the religious perspective are very important to inspire and we need that inspiration in our struggle to understand and decide. We cannot (and should not) ignore the forgotten aspect brought up by Lieb ji or the reality of us being another species interjected by A.K. ji. For me, the importance lies in acquiring knowledge, and learn to use it wisely so that it works, serves the purpose and can be conveniently incorporated in my life so that it can benefit me. The rest can be characterized in many words ranging from wisdom to mumbo jumbo. There is a deep connection between Awakening and Purpose. Our understanding and approach to the words will vary; how we approach or react to that variation remains an art and a challenge. I am struggling to learn or juggle both. In my experience there are no simple or linear ways to overcome it.

10: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 15, 2011, 8:41 AM.

Nilvi ji: honestly, I struggled with your first posting; didn't quite know what to make of it. The second message is pretty obvious. Just as a clarification: when I titled this piece "Awakening to Purpose", I had Guru Amardas' admonition ['Mann too(n) jot saroop hain/ aapnah mool pacchaan') in mind. It beckons us to recognize our authentic self, as opposed to the ordinary self we are familiar with. I also had in mind Guru Arjan's warning, not about wrong ends and false profits. The implication in these two references from hurbani is that we are not - in our ordinary lives - living authentically, nor are we on the right path. The question then becomes: how do we connect to our authentic self (where is it?) and how do we live life. Lest I be misunderstood, I am not suggesting a flight from the real world; quite the contrary. What prompts this question is the presence of a vast majority of people - with seemingly lofty and clear goals and a measure of worldly success - who remain unfulfilled and unhappy. What is missing?

11: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 15, 2011, 12:50 PM.

If we reflect carefully, the pursuit of happiness and a sense of fulfillment is the underlying purpose that fuels or desires and drives our activities. The current dialogue reflects this as well, if you read between the lines. If we agree on this premise, then the questions posed in this discussion become meaningful. Yet, we observe that fulfillment and happiness eludes a vast majority - despite all the success, money, and/or fame. That is the question. In ordinary experience, we predicate our happiness and fulfillment on the external world - on the acquisition of material wealth, on relationships, on getting the next promotion etc. - only to find how tenuous our grip on these things is. Left unchecked, this propensity can become a narcissistic obsession resulting in the all too common compulsive/ addictive behavior we see around us. But the Guru is suggesting otherwise: that happiness (or joy/ ecstasy or anand) is a state of mind and exists in our consciousness already but which has receded from our memory (forgotten) because we are distracted by our outward running mind. We just need to turn inwards and tap into this source and the quality of our existence will radically transform. Awakening to our purpose then simply becomes discerning the Truth of our existence - that the purpose that drives us, albeit indirectly, in a myriad of ways - already exists in us, in our natural state. This is not far from what Nilvi ji or A.K. are suggesting.

12: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), January 16, 2011, 8:58 AM.

"Kundlani surjji satsangat parmanand guru mukh macha" - 'The Kundalini rises in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation; through the Word of the Guru, they enjoy the Lord of Supreme Bliss' [GGS:1402]. Kundalini is described as a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism, as being coiled up at the base of the spine like a serpent. It is considered life energy which naturally flows downwards like water. You don't have to teach someone how to anger or how to lie. As to become a doctor one has to go to medical college or to become an engineer one has to join engineering college. Likewise, to rise up or to awaken life energy, you have to join Sat Sangat. Through meditation, this can be awakened by the grace of the Guru. The spiritual path can produce profound mystical experiences leading to a different level of awakening. The awakening of the kundalini shows itself as "awakening of inner knowledge" and brings with itself "pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love." Everything on this earth has life, even stones has life; driving down energy, its future is dust, and rising up and awakened its future is a diamond. Not all can achieve this as Guru Amardas said: "Aap jagaa-ay say-ee jaagay gur kai sabad veechaaree" - 'They are awake and aware, whom the Lord Himself awakens; so contemplate the Word of the Guru's Shabad' - [GGS:911]. And Guru Arjan said "Surat sabad ridh antar jaagee ami-o jhol jhol peejaa hay" - 'Awareness of the Word of the Shabad has awakened within my heart. Shaking it and vibrating it, I drink in the Ambrosial Nectar' [GGS:1074].

13: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), January 16, 2011, 9:59 AM.

In my first comment, I lacked clarity. In our approach from a religious view point, I commend and agree with the thoughts shared by most of the contributors. Their views, backed by scriptural quotes, are enlightening and cover the subject very well. Perhaps that is the latent intent in the topic as well. However, if the intent is to Awaken to Purpose from another angle, I feel these views are narrow and restrictive in approach. We fail to address the topic from additional sources and show lack of interest in a valid point raised by A.K. and another point alluded to by Lieb ji. This minor change in the scope has significant impact on the discussion in thought, approach and the rationale. Many religious views in theory may transcend time, but fail to answer valid real life questions from a practical angle in the year 2011. And a discussion on a meaningful and worthy topic of Awakening to Purpose gets murky in approach and divisive in outcome. Our approach requires an unbiased mind-set and purpose driven objective to seek answers that address human needs in practical terms. Let us address two basic but related concerns. What does God expect from us as His most enlightened species? In my view it is to reproduce and go away. Second, what do religious institutions expect us to do?

14: Aryeh Leib (Israel), January 17, 2011, 1:47 PM.

"... reproduce and go away"? With all due respect, Nilvi ji, what a spectacular waste of God-given abilities! According to Jewish tradition, the role of human beings is no less than full partnership with God in perfecting His Creation; this explains why we live in an imperfect world. God, being the true and constant source of all goodness, created the universe - and, this world in particular - in order to have a recipient upon whom to bestow His goodness. The problem is that which we learn from our own human experience; that free gifts bring a feeling of shame to the recipient. Just look at the difference in attitude between a welfare recipient and someone who pays his way - even if the payment is a token one. This is the purpose of the Commandments. By obeying God's Commandments, we are - as it were - "paying our own way"; earning the good that He constantly bestows on us. True, it's only symbolic earning; there isn't anything He "needs" from us! But it brings the Creation closer to perfection and completion - could there be a nobler purpose for our lives than this?

15: Achint Kaur (New Delhi, India), January 17, 2011, 2:01 PM.

I agree with you, Aryeh ji. In fact, the Jewish perspective is not far removed from the Sikh position. What Nilvi ji is expounding has nothing whatsoever to do with Sikhi, I'm afraid.

16: Aryeh Leib (Israel), January 18, 2011, 1:48 AM.

Achint Kaur, I'd be very much interested in knowing the Sikh position, as it's articulated in gurbani. If this isn't exactly the right forum for such a discussion, I invite you to get my email address from the Administrator of this site. That goes for others, too, who'd like to make contact on a private basis. Until contains a "Reply Privately" option ... that's the best I can do. Sat Sri Akal.

17: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), January 18, 2011, 7:17 AM.

It is interesting to note how similar the Jewish and Sikh sense of purpose is. I can't recall (off the top of my head) Guru Arjan's verse that talks about humans being co-creators (a theme that we touched on during our discussion of Japji in early 2010).

18: Harbans Lal (Arlington, Texas, U.S.A.), January 19, 2011, 1:20 PM.

Ravinder ji, you are probably thinking of the verse by Guru Arjan on page 1141 of the Guru Granth, translated as: "My Father has revealed Himself within me so as to form a partnership between Him, the father, and me, the son, in this world." This Sikh doctrine suggests that, whereas the Divine is the Doer, it does it through us and that we are not passive observers of reality. Instead, we are creators in a partnership with the Creator. In Sikhism, this is the doctrine of Karta Purakh. Here Karta means God the Creator and Purakh means human soul as manifestation of God within; we humans having the creative soul on account of the Creator's manifestation within the human soul. According to this doctrine, the human soul is created as not a passive observer of reality but a partner in divine creativity. Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential. For example, evolution of human species is a unique creation. The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life. As creators in partnership with the Creator, we are not limited to evolving through tiny, incremental steps. With our potent imaginations, we can design and manifest dramatic and profound changes in our life and in the world around us. How remarkable! What an awesome purpose and responsibility. What fun! Our challenge is to break free of our present concept of a passive reality to create brand new dreams that will bring the ultimate to life through human creativity. What a way to be creative at the highest level, while remaining distant from the sickness of ego. Without the meditation on Karta Purakh, we believe that we are the doers of everything; the ego takes over. But the sense that I am a creator because of the Divine Force and Divine creative energy within me, makes me grateful and humble and at the same time an enthusiast of creativity in human life.

19: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), January 20, 2011, 8:19 AM.

Additional reflection and review of other expressed views, prompts me to conclude my views this way. In His approach, Purpose and Awakening are two distinct elements and both are assigned (given) by Him. Purpose in life remains, to reproduce, and contribute to creativity/ knowledge. The second purpose evolves out of His gracious grant of Awakening, built into us. In our approach to many life-related issues, let us not overlook two known and acknowledged culprits that contribute to the confusion: organized religions which desire to assign purpose solely to get control. And our egoistic mind which also has the propensity to have its own way and most often does. The influence of these two active and overriding forces is evident from the title of the subject. It is colloquially offered as Awakening to Purpose; instead of Awakening and Purpose, as it should be, in my understanding of His commands, from Sikh approach to life; and similar approach in most other religious concepts as well.

20: Prakash Singh.Bagga (India), January 23, 2011, 10:52 AM.

I have gone through the very interesting interaction on the subject here. In this context, there is an exceptional composition in gurbani [GGS:686] by Guru Arnjan. It is quite long but starts withh "jo jo jooni aa-yo ..." I feel this complete composition gives a clear picture of the purpose of human life as distinctive from other creatures.

21: Yuktanand Singh (MI, U.S.A.), January 23, 2011, 3:13 PM.

If I may, I would like to repost a (long) summary of the foundation of Sikh thought. After all, Sikhi is pursuit of life's purpose, under the Guru's guidance. We must remember the Sikh basics during all our discussions. We could write a book, but we can sum it up into two words: Praise God! Nay, one word: Waheguru! But such words sound irrational because 'God' does not mean the same to everyone. For many, it is someone/ something remembered only during desperation while for others 'God' is only a mythological figure/ idea that fills an unknown blank, waiting only to be made obsolete by advances in science some day. The bhagats (those who love God) on the other hand, declare that God is a living being, not just a convenient belief. God is not dead or sleeping or on a vacation, either. They say that God knows everything (no, it's not Google) and controls everything, secretly, in His own divine manner which we cannot understand. God's will or hukam could be also called divine love. Realization of God's presence and hukam/ love is the basis of Naam. Realization of Naam is the purpose of our life, according to Gurbani. Guru Nanak rejected everything in a religion that is practiced without this aim, self-realization, or Naam. Guru Nanak also rejected divisions among the religions because true Guru is always the same. Religious disciplines, charity, equality, morality, are means, not the end. This awakening is the basis of all true religions but their implementation is colored by us and by the personal limitations of their founders. Since God is the source of all awareness and God is the only awareness there is, a true religion does not divide us. It binds us all together. Acting in haumai (the illusion of being a separate person) or living without Naam, translates into errors. This separation results in ignorance, the various social and personal ailments and in pain. Realization or reality or Naam is the true correction of all ills, personal or social. All this is good in theory but practice and realization of truth is a different (difficult) matter. We have been conditioned over several lifetimes with the errors arising from this illusion of separation, and thus we are unable to see the truth. While we seem to be awake, we live as if we were asleep or mesmerized. Our 'rationality' regarding our state is limited by our knowledge, or a lack thereof. An awakening is a transformation that surpasses all 'rational' thought. We cannot awaken ourselves because that would be an act of haumai, and thus not possible. This is why, on the Sikh path, gurbani and sangat are considered essential. We could continue to try various ways, meditation, yoga, analysis, etc., until we learn to add the essential ingredient, the spirit of true Guru (SatGuru) who is always awake. SatGuru is someone who has no haumai to impede the expression of God's light. Only the Guru (God's own light) can infuse our heart with the missing spirit, or the emotion (bhau bhagat) that accompanies an awareness of reality. This healthy emotion (bhau bhagat) is essential to awakening from sleep. Gradually, it replaces the unhealthy worldly passions. It puts us back on track, on a return to our home. Guru gives this wealth to the Sikh. The wealth of Naam consists of being dyed in this 'emotion' which is much more. It is rather an inner state of being. Meditation, simran, gratitude, are components that facilitate this state. The Guru is a spiritual being, not a physical body. In the past this spiritual being was found through someone. But Guru Nanak freed us from falling prey to numerous charlatans posing as a Guru. Guru Nanak introduced the singing of gurbani as the method of communicating Guru's spirit. Guru's spirit is infused into our soul when we sing (from the heart) the verses composed by someone who is spiritually perfect (Guru). Gurbani is not written in any special language. Those who cannot understand gurbani should not be discouraged. They should try to understand one verse at a time. Guru Nanak claimed that the entire creation consists of music or shabad and it is in fact singing Naam. In fact, shabad has been the real Guru, always. Gurbani is an expression of shabad in human language. Thus, music and singing of gurbani is an integral part of Guru Nanak's path. It facilitates obtaining the crucial element of transformation. Saadh Sangat is the catalyst. Without this, we are like a child lost in the jungle. I do not want to make this any longer, but all this does not mean that we should stop reading books, meditating, or stop brushing our teeth. Thus, in extremely simple terms, among all the other activities, we are here to sing gurbani in saadh sangat until we realize our real purpose. Purpose of a Sikh's life is merging with the Guru, merging in love, and to do so on Guru's terms, not ours. We should continue to read and discuss until gurbani's simple message sinks in. Sorry if this message lacked a rational discussion. Can someone be a Sikh without knowing gurbani? Perhaps, but singing gurbani (kirtan) is the best way to share bhakti without contaminating it with haumai. The second best method is exposition of Guru's acts (katha), preferably from someone advanced spiritually. People meeting with this intention strengthen and multiply this experience. This is called sat sangat. Singing gurbani without this aim is not sat sangat. If by God's grace (grace is inevitable in sat sangat, so please do not ask how), someone spiritually perfect sits among us, it is then called saadh sangat. Experience of saadh sangat initiates our return to our home. (We may not notice it when this happens, until much later.) This appears to be the message in the Guru Granth, also on ang (pages) 686-687.

22: Nirmal Singh Nilvi (Texas, U.S.A.), January 23, 2011, 8:41 PM.

Respected Yuktanand Singh ji, you made a profound statement: "Sikhi is pursuit of life's purpose under the Guru's guidance". I agree. Indeed, I had failed to add that sangat, gurbani and others help us in amplifying His graced sense of Awakening in seeking our individual approach to Purpose in life.

23: Prakash.Singh Bagga (India), January 24, 2011, 2:50 AM.

If we carefully go through gurbaani, we would find that the reference of Guru in gurbani is shabad. What I feel is that if we interpret gurbani with reference to shabad as Guru, we are going to have a more clear understanding of gurbani. If we can do so we are going to have different view of the Creator as given in therein. Thus this is the need of the time for Sikhs. The Shabad at p686 at the end refers to the success of the Journey of Soul from the start to the end, i.e., being one with Divine Consciousness with the help of the words of the Guru.

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The Talking Stick Colloquium #43"

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