Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Newspapers and Houses of God.. Updating

"Newspapers and news channels have only as much to do with news as he Houses of God have to do with God. Don't go to these vendors of truth for the wares they shout. But if you wait long enough, you will be entertained with substitutes that are far more luring than truth. Both work - and succeed - on the premise that nothing bores an average mind more than truth." ..From an old post in my blog

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reflections on Asa di Var

ਕੂੜ ਰਾਜਾ ਕੂੜ  ਪਰਜਾ ਕੂੜ  ਸਭ ਸੰਸਾਰ / False and Unreal is the king, false the people, false and unreal is play of the juggler seen all this universe 
ਕੂੜ ਮੰਡਪ ਕੂੜ ਮਾੜੀ  ਕੂੜ ਬੈਸਣਹਾਰ/ Unreal and illusory the palaces,unreal its inhabitant,
ਕੂੜ ਸੋਇਨਾ ਕੂੜ ਰੂਪਾ ਕੂੜ ਪਹਨਨਹਾਰ / Misleading is the reality of gold, ornamanet, and unreal its wearer
ਕੂੜ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੂੜ ਕਪੜ ਕੂੜ ਰੂਪ ਅਪਾਰ / Uneal the seemingly solid world of of matter, unreal its appearance of garment, and  the enchantinng beauty of the seemingly real;
ਕੂੜ ਮੀਆਂ ਕੂੜ ਬੀਬੀ  ਖਪ ਹੋਇ ਖਾਰ / False  and illusory are the husband and wife and their relationship in which they both fritter away life;
ਕੂੜ ਕੂੜੇ ਨੇਹੋ ਲਗਾ ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰ / Irony of relationships: falsehood and unreal  in love with falsehood and unreal
ਕਿਸ ਨਾਲ ਕੀਚੈ  ਦੋਸਤੀ  ਸਭ ਜਗ ਚਲਣਹਾਰ / Whom shall one befriend when all that one sees is ever slipping and passing away 
ਕੂੜ ਮਿਠਾ ਕੂੜ ਮਾਖਿਓ ਕੂੜ ਡੋਬੇ  ਪੂਰ  / The sweeetness and the honeyed - unreal and sinking
ਨਾਨਕ ਵਖਾਣੇ ਬੇਨਤੀ  ਤੁਧ ਬਾਝ ਕੂੜੋ ਕੂੜ : Nanak humbly observes and prays: all except the abidiing truth of this cosmos  ( some call it God and others call it the cosmic physical and metaphysical reality) -  false, O, false!!

The vision of Nanak is not merely ritualistic submission to the idea of a physically real God; the vision is more in tune with the findings of modenrn science including the uncertainty principle and the findings of the quantum theory in which the location  and the velocity of objects  are impossible to determine. The use fhte word "false and unreal" by Guru Nanak does not mean that the world is a myth and reality lies somewhere else standing out in the shape of a figurehead  God. God himself is another name for enerrgy and laws.  Nanak was too subtle to fall into the fallacy of God as an idol. Time and again, he subtly refers to God as the " truth as it exists in the form of shifting patterns in  a kaliedscope in which no one pattern is permanenent" ; so how can one fall in love with  any one pattern or form when one knows its soon going to shift? Nanak's  definition of religion is the recognition of the reality of these shiftng patttern as the "will of the universe" -- and not just recognitin but acceptance of this reality of impermanence of patterns and forms. .  Elsewhere, Gurbani urges us to accept the shifting nature of seemingly permamennt images in life as "the sweet law" (Tera bhaana meetha laage) Ancient Hindu wisdom as also the crux of Chiinese philosophy, with both of which Nanak was familiar, had underlinesd the same thouht: "The multiplicity of things is a mirage produced by the distrubance of Mind; when the Mind is quieted  -- or settles into peace -- the multiplicity of things disappears."      Says physicist Frtjof Capra:" Our tendency to divide the perceieved world into individual and separate things and to experience ourselves as sepaparated egos comes from our categorising mentality."  

We know today that of hundreds of particles are  being created artificially in collision processes and living  only for an extremely short time, far less than a millionth of a second  ( Sabh jag chalan haar)    In Budhism also, things do not have any meaning except as intercoonection of their mutual relations :" Things derive their  being and nature as a set of relations; they are nothing in themselves."  

Says the Gita: " At the end of the Night of Time, all things return to my nature; and when the new day of time begins, I bring them into light and shape again." ( Shades of multiples big bangs or the theory of the universe as expanding -contracting of the  palpitating heart)  It is quite another thing that that the ritualists and fanatics  among the Hindus have  reduced even Krishan to a mere idol whereas in the Gita, the voice of Krishan is  like Cosmos speaking about itself to itelf by splitting itself into two illusory patterns: Krishan and Arjun.

Nanak's thought  rhymes with the findings of science, especially the quantum  theory in which " particles ( or say human beings or other forms of life) are no more than 'probabibility pattterns, interconnections in an inseparable  cosmic web
.  .. a continuous dance of energy in which no one posture can be treated as  a permanent or frozen image.  

In sub-atomic physics,  various forms of matter are nothing but unstable and inconcrete  processes which keep changing. Any one form in its definite and frozen state is  thus not real but illusory. The only reality is the permanence of Law -- which various religions describe as "His Will" , Raza, Hukam (Order in the sense of  a system of Laws -- Hukami hovan akaaar -- all that comes into being does so under the force of an Order or Supreme Law."  That Law itself pronounces the supremacy of constant  change, impermanence of any  given stage, dynamism and shifting of patterns, life-and-death interplay  also being only a reflection of this dynamism of reality.Gurbani says: "Na koi mare, na aave jaave." (No one dies, neither is there any comin and going from life.") It is in this context that Gurbani and other scriptures urge  us to calmly and wisely accept death as something as natural as life itself, one no more a cause for grief than the other is a cause for exultation.)

I think the problem here is one of language and its misunderstanding at some places and deliberate minsinteretation by fanatical ritualists at others. And matter is nothing but  energy  taking different shapes; the same energy permeates every particle. Says Gurbani: Ghat ghat main har jeo basse, Santan kahio pukaar" The saints have been crying aloud that only one and the same energy inhabits each and every particle."

To my mother, the word 'saint'  meant a mind that can comprehend reality and therefore be at peace with it.  (The note is based  on the discussions I used to have with my mother on religion; she did not know anything about science or its principles but her interpretations were always in tune with them. To her, Gurbani and eligions in general were an attempt of the human mind to make sense of this universe and its laws in order to be able to accept them with mental calm and poise. ( THIS NOTE IS WRITTEN IN A HURRY UNDER PRESSURE OF TIME, ME HAVING TO RUSH TO MEET AN APPOINTMENT. ERRORS, WHICH MUST BE MANY, MAY PLEASE BE FORGIVEN. I WILL COME BACK AND TRY TO CORRECT THEM) 
(The views expressed here  naturally represent only  one way of looking at the universe and I make no claims  that this is correct or the only way ) 
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Who is "other" woman ..

I have often been intrigued by expressions like "other women". What do they mean ? What do we imply -- respect, disgrace, anger, approval, admiration or what -- when we refer to a person who has shown guts to get into a relationship with huge social costs as "other woman". In an intellectual philosophical, emotional and poetic sense, who is the "other person" -- other man or other woman. What defines her /his otherness except social norms ? How much store would or should any enlightened mind place by social norms ? Social norms deserve all the respect they get. Is that enough to persecute or ridicule its violation ? And can poetry and societal norms be talked about in the same breath?. Should those who take pride in poetry also take take pride in passionate adherence to societal norms. ? Can societal norms be brought int play whhile discussing higher truths - scientific, spiritual or poetic ? Above all, these are humble questions and must not be confused with arrogant answers or even insinuations....... P L E A S E

When you speak, you touch but one of millions of layers of truth

"Whenever you say something, you address but one of the million layers of truth. Because you did not and can not touch all layers at one stroke, it does not follow that what you spoke was wrong; it only means that it was true in a limited way. For the matter of that, everything spoken can be true only in a limited way. Whenever you touch something, you leave a lot else untouched. You can not touch the whole universe at one stroke. But you can know the whole universe at one go. And the way to do that is so simple. It is called love.

And love? Love at first sight is the only love that is possible. You can never know anything without first being in love with it. The belief that you need to know something well before loving it is so grossly misleading; knowledge is impossible without love. If you want to know something – from your child to God – fall in love first. There is no better example of this than a mother. No one knows you better than your mother does, but that’s because she hadn’t bothered to know you before deciding to love you. In her case , it is love even before first sight. You will never a better form of love on this earth. ”

ਰੇ ਮਨ ਐਸੋ ਕਰਿ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ II...A note in response to Rajiv query

ਸ਼ਬਦ  ..੧ ਓਂਕਾਰ  ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ II
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਿਹ II
ਰਾਗ ਰਾਮਕਲੀ  ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹੀ ੧੦ II 

ਰੇ ਮਨ  ਐਸੋ ਕਰਿ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ II
ਬਨ ਸੇ ਸਦਨ  ਸਬੈ ਕਰ ਸਮਝਹੁ  ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ II II ਰਹਾਉ  II
ਜਤ ਕੀ ਜਟਾ ਜੋਗ  ਕੋ ਮਜਨੁ  ਨੇਮ ਕੇ ਨਖੁਨ ਬਢਾਓ II  
ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਆਤਮ ਉਪਦੇਸਹੁ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਭੂਤ ਲਗਾਓ II II
ਅਲਪ ਅਹਾਰ ਸੁਲਪ ਸੀ ਨਿੰਦਰਾ ਦਯਾ ਛਿਮਾ ਤਨ ਤਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ  II
ਸੀਲ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਰਬਾਹਿਬੋ  ਹ੍ਵੈਬੋ ਤ੍ਰਿਗੁਣ ਅਤੀਤ II II੨  II
ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ  ਹੰਕਾਰ ਲੋਭ ਹਠ ਮੋਹ ਨ ਮਨ ਮੋ ਲਯਾਵੈ 
ਤਬ ਹੀ ਆਤਮ ਤਤ ਕੋ ਦਰਸੈ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਕਹ ਪਾਵੈ II3  II ਇਈ
ਸ਼ਬਦ ਹਜਾਰੇ - ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਸਮ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ  ਸਾਹਿਬ 

ਰੇ ਮਨ 
Re man in Gur-bani is not so much an exhortation to self or soul or mind as a prayer to the cosmic spirit which resonates within and without us  and is thus an evidence of omnipresence not only of an external force but of our own  consciousness -- in a cosmic spread. ( Thus, the prayer, the one who prays and the one to whom the prayer is addressed are overlapping and are in fact shifting patterns in the same kaleidoscope .)

Thus,  "Re Man" is an outcry of the cosmic self` or cosmic energy ( also called God- param atama- cosmic energy  in the throes of self-conflict, which in fact is a self-play ( Leela??), a  self-delusion of consciousness, spirit, mind, God, energy or whatever name you want to give it. The problem as you know better than any of us, Rajiv, is one of language here – language   which is a tool of the rational mind, and rational mind being just the outer tip of consciousness can hardly grasp or express the whole truth of the ocean that spreads behind it.( And I am already into preaching to a Prophet !!)

"Re man" is also one half of the mind addressing the other.

ਰੇ ਮਨ  ਐਸੋ ਕਰਿ ਸੰਨਿਆਸਾ II
"Sanyasa" of course you know. I only need to emphasize that san+nias also means " residing everywhere", seemingly quite the opposite of what it normally expresses.
Reach a state of such sanyaas .....

ਬਨ ਸੇ ਸਦਨ  ਸਬੈ ਕਰ ਸਮਝਹੁ  ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ II II ਰਹਾਉ  II
ban= of course a forest and sadan = of course a house/ home...Regard all homes as forest ( home in Gurbani is also a symbol of soul, self, mind, consciousness within-- Ghar hi parcha paiyeeye....find knowledge at home only).Interestingly, the Guru does not say, “Regard the forest as your home” but “Regard your home as forest”. Here, the Guru refers to the belief that mental detachment is possible only through sanayasa or retiring to the forests...but the Guru is obviously not  being critical of this; he is going beyond that and is in fact endorsing the importance of sanyasa, but is suggesting that for this, one's own home can attain the status of a forest; its about state of mind . The chief difference between a forest and home is not  "desolation" ( which in any case a forest never represents); the chief difference is that one regards a home as one's own, and thus a possession,  whereas a forest is  belongs to everyone or to no one in particular, and certainly not to "me". The Guru appears to suggest that residing in your home but by regarding it as not your own but a place that belongs to everyone or to the universe itself, you can free yourself of the pangs of attachment --"this house is not mine; I merely reside here" , this world does not belong to me; I merely reside here" --But by surrendering everything you gain everything; so you can see that since  nothing belongs to you,  by the same logic nothing belongs to anyone else either. Therefore, everything here is yours through love. And through love alone does anything become yours; but then it belongs to anyone or everyone who loves it, and that takes nothing away from the place or from your rights over it. Everything is infinitely sharable because everything is infinitely lovable . That which you possess does not belong to you. You merely possess it, as an invader might possess your land or country, but it will never belong to him. It will belong to you , even if you don't possess an inch of it. It will belong to you simply because  you love it. Desire is about possessing; love is about belonging. Thus the Guru extends the space of home to the infiniteness of a forest. And  the other meaning of san-nias , residing everywhere, also comes into play.

Thus sanyas no longer remains an act of  painful giving up; it actually transforms into a door to "Anand" since you have expanded the bounds of your home to those of a forest...actualy the bounds of your mind !! Thus,  ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸਾ ...Now, udasa is another interesting word here, Rajiv, as you already know all its connotations. And surely it has nothing to do with udasi or even udaseenata... It refers to a state of mind akin to "bairaag" -- another exceedingly fascinating phenomenon which runs close on the bounds of Anand  ( Which is untranslatable) I would like to sit quiet one day and listen to you on Bairaag.

ਜਤ ਕੀ ਜਟਾ ਜੋਗ  ਕੋ ਮਜਨੁ  ਨੇਮ ਕੇ ਨਖੁਨ ਬਢਾਓ II 

(ਜਤ ) of course refers to stern discipline of mind ; For the Jog Mat, the Jata, or long hair, among other things, symbolised penance also, It also referred to external discipline though as a symbol of internal penance.. The Guru obviously moves the journey  completely inwards....and says cleansing of the mind alone is purification (ਜੋਗ  ਕੋ ਮਜਨੁ ). The followers of the Jog Mat, as you know, used  to grow long nails. The Guru brings up a concept so crucial to Gurbani -    nem or niyam which to me symbolise the divine laws but is commonly taken to mean "rules" . I go for "kudrat de nem" --- Laws of Nature . Acceptance of these laws alone is highest discipline and highest bliss. For  me Rajiv,  words 'nem" and "hukam" hold fascinating and infinite meanings. Contrary to a tin-pot dictator's diktat, hukam appears to me to be the ultimate embodiment of reality -- hukam, Order, Laws, Niyam, Nem -- they all  seem to refer to forces and principles  that govern the universe or life. These are immutable and hence supreme; fighting against them or nurturing wishes or desires that run contrary to them can only lead to a conflict with truth and therefore to pain, agony, sorrow. The greatest and the most obvious  nem or hukam or law of the universe or of Nature ( Kudrat/fitrat)
is "change" ( refers also to dynamism of reality). Everything is subject to change, said Buddha, and Vedas and Gurbani clearly agree. Thus birth and death too are merely  parts of the same natural nem/hukam/laws/principles. There is neither good not bad in either of these. But to rise that level – well, well, well !!  In Gurbani there is another name used for this: Bhaana or the Will. To me at least, Bhaana and Hukam and nem and Laws of Universe ( Laws of Physics also)  are the same thing.
     The problem of language arises  here again. We seem to conclude that if there is bhaana, then there must be one whose bhaana it is; will seems to presupposes the one who wills ( God)  and hukam seems to presuppose a haakam ( also, mohkam, hakuoomat etc) These contradictions can never be resolved for these are contradictions created by a rational tool called language. To me, briefly, hukam or Will or God or  nem and  bhaana -- all refer to the same thing and speak of the same truth—that  Universe and its Laws are the same thing.( You can call it God and His Will, if you please)  The universe is nothing but a set of laws in operation; so is God -- another name for expressing the same reality. 

ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਆਤਮ ਉਪਦੇਸਹੁ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਭੂਤ ਲਗਾਓ II II

Gian-- enlightenment - alone is Guru . The other two words can mean either that this enlightenment addresses or teaches "Atm" , self, you etc, or that Atm itself is the updesh incarnate. I am not sure which is closer to the Guru's meaning. Will consult someone and get back. 

And the following three words present the greatest difficulty. ਨਾਮ ਬਿਭੂਤ ਲਗਾਓ II II

  All my life, Rajiv,  I have privately struggled to find out what ਨਾਮ  refers to. Surely, it is not name;  or if it is, surely it is not in the sense of nomenclature So what is it?.. a cosmic sound like OM ?? Or is it the unheard melody of cosmic love anhad naad or what is it??.. I am completely at a loss here.. i am soon going to a saint whose wisdom i trust . I wish to sit at his feet and try to understand what this refers to . Its not as easy as that -- that I will go and in one month, I will get to understand. Wish self realisation or revelation of  truth was that easy. But I am going to make an attempt,  sitting at his feet, loving, serving everything  and everyone  and trying to see if I can get anywhere close to this. If I do, you might find me dancing in the streets.....you will find out whether or not I have found out , although then it might cease to matter one way or the other..
I am leaving these words completely untouched for this reason. ( Not that I understand much of what I have written about other things !!!)

But you are going to love the followng line ( as you do the rest of it , of course) ..ਅਲਪ ਅਹਾਰ ਸੁਲਪ ਸੀ ਨਿੰਦਰਾ ਦਯਾ ਛਿਮਾ ਤਨ ਤਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ  II

alap ahaar of course does not simply mean "eat less" but has a larger context -- May be, consume less, the door to peace and bliss in any case. ( It is , as you already know, not just about eating less; its about ahar.. which is subsistence and everything that you need for it.)

But the next two words are fascinatingly poetic --ਸੁਲਪ ਸੀ ਨਿੰਦਰਾ  -- sleep as brief and as aware (as that of a snake !!) To be awake  and  alert ( chetan)  or aware of truth even in sleep ( mundane , day to day life)  is the distinguishing mark of an Enlightened One ( Buddha, Jogi, Giani, Guru, Braham-in)

And I simply love and adore the following words: ਦਯਾ ਛਿਮਾ ਤਨ ਤਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ…compassion, (sym—pathy, feeling exactly one with someone), forgiveness ( the highest virtue in Sikh thought) and love that can not be held back, love that overflows …
Plus,  ਸੀਲ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਰਬਾਹਿਬੋ  ਹ੍ਵੈਬੋ ਤ੍ਰਿਗੁਣ ਅਤੀਤ – gentle, pious, (ਸਾਊ, ਸ਼ਰੀਫ਼ ਹੋਣ ਦਾ ਗੁਣ)  , the contentment ( in the sense of accepting reality with quiet and dignified poise – not a lazy acquiescence but a dynamic exercise of will to refuse misery over failure to feed greed , is what ਸੰਤੋਖ  is. Stay with these virtues and then you might transcend the three legendary gunas , including sadgun)

ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ  ਹੰਕਾਰ ਲੋਭ ਹਠ ਮੋਹ ਨ ਮਨ ਮੋ ਲਯਾਵੈ 
ਤਬ ਹੀ ਆਤਮ ਤਤ ਕੋ ਦਰਸੈ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਕਹ ਪਾਵੈ II3  II

Hatth here of course means a mixture of stubborn greed and vanity. If you transcend these snakes,  ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ  ਹੰਕਾਰ ਲੋਭ ਹਠ ਮੋਹ  , then alone will self ( soul, mind) have a vision of truth, and then alone will he rise to the level of param purakh)

As you can see, my focus is tiring towards the end. ( Spill over of a long day at work –Vidhan Sabha Session. ( I am not in job, but I am still in love. We will discuss later. Or does it matter??)

I will come back some other time on these two most beautiful last lines. For the moment, I will be hoping this answers your query at least to some minor extent, Rajiv.

Finally, I am not befooled into believing that I am writing all this to help you understand anything better than you already do. Knowing how far ahead of me you already stand, I will never be found guilty of that blasphemy. Let it be said I enjoy talking to you, and hence these rambling thoughts)

AND ONE MORE THING, RAJIV. I am indebted to  a younger but friend here for his extremely valuable inputs into this note – a young man of exquisite sensibility, intelligence AND, above all,  humility. His name is GURDARSHAN SINGH BAHIA.  I must acknowledge his help here.)