What Sikhi says about life?

What is life?

The life is complicated and hence hard to define. Lot of people from the ancient times have tried to find the answer to this question, but they came up with different meanings.

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

At the very basic level, life means survival and procreation. Every creature in all life forms – bugs, fish, animals, or plants, wants to live, strives to survive, and produce offspring (babies) to continue the great cycle of life.

But human beings have advanced intellect, conscience, and the power of words, which can be used to think deeper than the basic level and pass on the knowledge in written form to the future generations. That make us different from other species. What a tiger did a thousand years ago, is doing the same thing today also. But humans made progress due to the intellectual pursuits. So naturally humans are superior to the other life forms.

ਅਵਰ ਜੋਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਪਨਿਹਾਰੀ ॥

Other life forms are your water carriers (subservient);

ਇਸੁ ਧਰਤੀ ਮਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਿਕਦਾਰੀ ॥

on this earth, you (human) rule.

M5 – SGGS Ang 373

Creator created everyone unique. Nobody is same as anybody else. Everyone has unique family, geographic location and set of circumstances, based on the Karmic record (past actions). This uniqueness makes every life important in its own way. Everybody makes unique contribution to the world. Without one unique person the world will not be the same.

ਮੇਰੈ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਸਾਚੈ ਇਕੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ॥

My True Lord God has staged the play (of this world).

ਕੋਇ ਨ ਕਿਸ ਹੀ ਜੇਹਾ ਉਪਾਇਆ ॥

He has created no one like anyone else.

ਆਪੇ ਫਰਕੁ ਕਰੇ ਵੇਖਿ ਵਿਗਸੈ ਸਭਿ ਰਸ ਦੇਹੀ ਮਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੧॥

He Himself made them different, and He gazes upon them with pleasure; he placed all the flavors in the body. ||1||

M3 – SGGS Ang 1056

Different meanings of life

Different people have different meanings of life. Even same person will have different meanings of life at different times. Life is like water – colorless, tasteless, shapeless. It becomes whatever color is mixed in, whatever flavor is mixed in, whatever utensil is used to hold it. So, it’s up to us, what colors or flavors (our reactions to the events, choices, decisions) we add to the water of life, and what utensil (mind with virtues and vices) we hold it in.

We see life in diverse colors, and flavors like pleasures, joys, pains, sufferings, duties, responsibilities, opportunities and so on. We will explore some of these flavors in this article.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)

Motivation to live

Motivation is “something that arouses action or activity”- Merriam-Webster dictionary. To live life, we need to find something that motivates us to wake up in the morning – go to gym, school, or work. It may be for enjoyment, self-empowerment, personal improvement, education, financial gain, or anything like that. Motivation can be different for different people, for some the family responsibility or social obligations may be the motivation, for some new inventions, eradicating diseases, animal care, helping the homeless, may be the motivation. For others, higher pursuits like building character, acquiring virtues, spiritual growth, experiencing and merging with the Creator may be the motivation.

But due to the uniqueness of every individual, the motivation to live also must be unique. So, everybody needs to find his or her own motivation in life. The way to live the life will be unique, and spiritual pursuits will also be unique.

He who has a “why” to live can bear almost any “how”.Frederich Nietzsche

Purpose of life

Gurmat teaches us that, our life on earth is not a mere coincidence. It has a Purpose. The supreme purpose of the human life is, to break out of the cycle of birth and death, liberate the soul, and merge with the Creator. The soul has passed from various life forms. Now the human life is the chance to act and do effort to merge with the Creator.

ਭਜਹੁ ਗੋੁਬਿੰਦ ਭੂਲਿ ਮਤ ਜਾਹੁ ॥ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਨਮ ਕਾ ਏਹੀ ਲਾਹੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Vibrate, and meditate on the Lord of the Universe, and never forget Him. This is the blessed opportunity of this human life. ||1||Pause||

Bhagat Kabeer – SGGS – Ang 1159

Life is responsibility

Being superior to other life forms, it’s the human responsibility to use the treasures of earth wisely and take care of other life forms, protect the resources and environment. So, human life is a big responsibility.

Man is a social animal and enjoys living in the society. During lifetime we form many relationships – parents, spouse, siblings, friends, relatives, co-workers, classmates, and form communities, which become the part of the larger society. These relationships make us human. To enjoy life, we celebrate and share our success, happiness, with our family and friends. But relationships can be complicated too. Dealing with so many relationships, having so many responsibilities is not easy thing to deal with. Sometimes the relationships can be the cause of frustration and stress.

But we must live to take care of our responsibilities and duties towards our family, friends, and society, and find ways to balance our personal, family, and public life. Keep Kartar in mind while performing your duties in this world.

ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥

O Nanak, meeting the True Guru, one comes to know the Perfect Way of Life.

ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥੨॥

While laughing, playing, dressing and eating (performing worldly duties), he is liberated. ||2||

M5 – SGGS Ang 522

Life is work

To enjoy our life, we need family to share our happiness and sorrow. For family we need to provide the necessities of life – food, water, shelter, clothing, and other stuff. For that we need to do some work. Due to the high demands of modern life, we may need to do a lot of work. Which can cause stress. Stress is part of normal life. But constant stress can cause other mental health problems, which may make the person question the meaning of life itself.

To live happy life, free ourselves of pain and suffering, we need to find the appropriate work life balance. Do the work, which you like and enjoy doing it. Set the right expectations for work. While doing the work keep Kartar, in your mind.

ਨਾਮਾ ਕਹੈ ਤਿਲੋਚਨਾ ਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਰਾਮੁ ਸੰਮੑਾਲਿ ॥

Naam Dayv says, O Trilochan, chant the Lord’s Name with your mouth.

ਹਾਥ ਪਾਉ ਕਰਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਚੀਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੨੧੩॥

With your hands and feet, do all your work, but let your consciousness remain attached with the Immaculate Lord. ||213||

Bhagat Kabeer – SGGS Ang 1375

Life is joy

To make the life happy, we need to find joy in whatever we do. So, picking right subjects in school, right job, or business according to interest, picking right partner or spouse, who will share your interests, associating with the right people, being in the right company is very critical. But it’s not easy to pick everything right. Sometimes we make wrong choices and mistakes. But when you realize the mistake, try to correct it as soon as possible before it becomes a problem and take away the joy of life.

To keep the life enjoyable, limit your desires and wants, tame your expectations, live simple life as close to nature as possible. When our desires and wants go out of control, we try to buy big houses, expensive cars, jewelry etc. that can put us in debt, causing financial stress. It can take away the joy of life.

Share the moments of joy with family, friends, and community to multiply the enjoyment. Remain humble and try not to show off. Express gratitude to Guru and Kartar (Creator) for the joys and happiness you got.

ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਛਤੀਹ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਖਾਹਿ ॥

By His Grace, you partake of the numerous delicacies;

ਤਿਸੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਉ ਰਖੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥

enshrine that Lord and Master within your mind.

ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਸੁਗੰਧਤ ਤਨਿ ਲਾਵਹਿ ॥

By His Grace, you apply scented oils to your body;

ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਪਰਮ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥

remembering Him, the supreme status is obtained.

ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਬਸਹਿ ਸੁਖ ਮੰਦਰਿ ॥

By His Grace, you dwell in the palace of peace;

ਤਿਸਹਿ ਧਿਆਇ ਸਦਾ ਮਨ ਅੰਦਰਿ ॥

meditate forever on Him within your mind.

ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਸੰਗਿ ਸੁਖ ਬਸਨਾ ॥

By His Grace, you abide with your family in peace;

ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਰਸਨਾ ॥

keep His remembrance upon your tongue, twenty-four hours a day.

ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਰੰਗ ਰਸ ਭੋਗ ॥

By His Grace, you enjoy tastes and pleasures;

ਨਾਨਕ ਸਦਾ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਧਿਆਵਨ ਜੋਗ ॥੧॥

O Nanak, meditate forever on the One, who is worthy of meditation. ||1||

M5 – SGGS Ang 269

Life is suffering

Sometimes Kartar gives us hardships to test our character and virtues. But due to our limited understanding, we fail to understand this and start thinking of adversity as a curse.

ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਭਇਆ ਜਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਤਾਮਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥

Suffering becomes the medicine (opportunity to improve), and pleasure the disease (where there is pleasure, there is no desire for Kartar). But if the real pleasure (spiritual bliss) is achieved, then no disease remains

ਤੂੰ ਕਰਤਾ ਕਰਣਾ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਜਾ ਹਉ ਕਰੀ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥

You are the Creator Lord (you understand this mystery); I (with limited understanding) can’t grasp this. Even if I try to understand, I can’t. ||1||

M1 – SGGS Ang 469

Instead of facing the hardships with courage and wisdom, we become stressed, overreact to the hardships, and try to find shortcuts to get rid of the pain and suffering. Due to the overreaction, we imagine the worst possible outcomes of the mundane events happening in the life.

“We are more often frightened than hurt; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca – Letters from a Stoic

Sometimes, the suffering is so intense that the life seems to be synonymous with suffering. But remember after every night, there is a day, after the long Winter, there will be Spring. We should treat Dukh (suffering) and Sukh (pleasures) as the facets of the same coin. Just like we wear different clothes on different days, similarly some days we may experience Sukh (pleasures) and some days Dukh (suffering). It’s useless to wish for pleasures only. It’s the Dukh (suffering), which brings us closer to Kartar, as we remember Kartar in challenging times.

ਨਾਨਕ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਝਖਣਾ ਦੁਖ ਛਡਿ ਮੰਗੀਅਹਿ ਸੁਖ ॥

O Nanak, it is absurd to ask to be spared from suffering by begging for pleasure.

ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਰਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਮਨੁਖ ॥

Pleasure and suffering are the two garments given, to be worn by human, from the Court of the Lord.

ਜਿਥੈ ਬੋਲਣਿ ਹਾਰੀਐ ਤਿਥੈ ਚੰਗੀ ਚੁਪ ॥੨॥

Where you are bound to lose (by asking only for pleasure), there, you ought to remain silent (live according to Kartar’s Will). ||2||

M1 – SGGS – Ang 149

Life is opportunity

The human life is the culmination of all life forms – the most superior form of life, which can think beyond the basic animal instincts of survival and procreation. It is an opportunity, to fulfil the greatest desire of the soul to meet Kartar (Creator).

ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ ॥

This human body has been given to you.

ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ ॥

This is your opportunity to meet the Lord of the Universe.

M5 – SGGS Ang 12

The human life gives us an opportunity to liberate the soul from suffering through Anand – the state of mind in spiritual bliss, free from the vices – Kam (lust), Karodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment), and Ahankaar (ego). The state of Anand can be achieved by connecting with the source of our origin, Kartar – the Creator, through Naam (name of Kartar), by following the teachings of Guru (spiritual guide).

To be in the state of Anand, we must work hard to control our vices or passions; and develop self-control. In Gurbani (writings of Guru), there are many Sabads (verses), referring to the Panj Vikaar (five vices), which must be kept in check, for meaningful spiritual progress. We must seek to build our character having the virtues like Dharm (righteousness), Sat (truthfulness), Jat (modesty), Santokh (contentment), Bahaduri (courage), Daya (compassion), Sanjam (temperance), Par-upkaar (benevolence) etc.

The state of Anand is such that, nothing can disturb it, not even death. Bhai Mati Das was sawed alive by Mughals, but he kept reciting Japji Sahib, his Anand was not disturbed. Bhai Sati Das was burned alive wrapped in cotton, but his Anand was not disturbed. Bhai Dyal Das was boiled alive, but he kept on reciting Sukhmani Sahib till his last breath. They achieved the highest state of mind, which nothing can shake up, nothing can take away.

Take this opportunity and develop the virtuous character worthy of receiving the grace of Kartar to merge in the source of life.

“Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.” – Bertrand Russell (Portraits from Memory and Other Essays)

Life is love

According to Gurmat love is the language of Kartar. Kartar understands the language of love no matter what worldly language we speak to express the love. Even the animals, birds, fish respond to the language of love.

ਸਾਚਾ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਾਚੁ ਨਾਇ ਭਾਖਿਆ ਭਾਉ ਅਪਾਰੁ ॥

The Master is eternal, His Naam is also eternal, His language is love, He is infinite.

M1 – SGGS – Ang 2

We love our mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends, relatives etc. Extending love does not decrease it. The true love does not bind the beloved, it is liberating. The possessiveness is not love, it’s the fear of losing the beloved and hence binds the beloved. True love is based on trust and faith not on fear. As human beings, we must love everyone else, because everyone is created by the same Creator. Everyone has the spark of same light. Guru Gobind Singh ji says that Kartar, is pervading everywhere in the form of love. In other words Love is God, God is Love.

ਦੇਸ ਔਰ ਨ ਭੇਸ ਜਾਕਰ ਰੂਪ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰਾਗ ॥

He who is Countryless, Garbless, Formless, Lineless and Non-attached.

ਜੱਤ੍ਰ ਤੱਤ੍ਰ ਦਿਸਾ ਵਿਸਾ ਹੁਇ ਫੈਲਿਓ ਅਨੁਰਾਗ ॥੮੦॥

is present in all directions and corners and pervading the universe as Love. 80.

P10 – Sri Dasam Granth – Ang 4

Spiritually evolved persons love everybody, including the humans, animals, fish, bugs, trees, plants, and environment, because they understand that Kartar is equally permeating and pervading everywhere and in everybody, without any difference.

ਜਿਮੀ ਜਮਾਨ ਕੇ ਬਿਖੈ ਸਮਸਤਿ ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ॥

Within all the earth and sky, there is only one Light.

ਨ ਘਾਟਿ ਹੈ ਨ ਬਾਢਿ ਹੈ ਨ ਘਾਟਿ ਬਾਢਿ ਹੋਤ ਹੈ ॥

Which neither decreases nor increases in any being, It never decreases or increases.

P10 – Sri Dasam Granth – Ang 32

Life is freedom

When we value our life and understand the meaning of it, we value our character, virtues, and righteousness over the temporary worldly allurements. The spiritually evolved person becomes fearless and free from the vices, remains connected to the source, Kartar – the Creator. Nobody can take away this freedom, not even Death.

ਮਰਣੈ ਕੀ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਨਹੀ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਨਹੀ ਆਸ ॥

The Gurmukh (Guru oriented person) has no fear of dying, and no yearning for living longer.

ਤੂ ਸਰਬ ਜੀਆ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲਹੀ ਲੇਖੈ ਸਾਸ ਗਿਰਾਸ ॥

He has firm faith that You are the Cherisher of all beings; You keep the account of our breaths and morsels of food.

ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤੂ ਵਸਹਿ ਜਿਉ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਿਉ ਨਿਰਜਾਸਿ ॥੧॥

You abide within the Gurmukh. As it pleases You, You decide our allotment. ||1||

M1 – SGGS Ang 20

Sahibzada Zoravar Singh (9yrs), Sahibzada Fateh Singh (6yrs) lived short but highly impactful and meaningful lives. They stood for righteousness, faith, and values they held dear to them. They refused to bow to the allurements, pressure, and intimidations to convert to Islam. They refused to budge, and embraced death in freedom, over the forceful conversion to Islam.

Life is short

Life is short, but long enough if not wasted in meaningless pursuits. Most of the time we waste in the memories of past or the worries of future. We have no control over the past. Time past is already in the hands of death, we have no control over it. Death is not an event at some time. It’s a process and we are dying every moment. The moment, which has passed will not come back again. The future has not arrived yet and we are not sure if it will arrive or not? We don’t know which day will be our last, which breath will be our last. So, it is useless to ruminate over the memories of past or the worries of future. To create meaningful life, live in the present. President is the only one, we can use to create some meaning in life.

ਜਨਨੀ ਜਾਨਤ ਸੁਤੁ ਬਡਾ ਹੋਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਤਨਾ ਕੁ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ਜਿ ਦਿਨ ਦਿਨ ਅਵਧ ਘਟਤੁ ਹੈ ॥

The mother thinks that her son is growing up; she does not understand that, day by day, his life is diminishing.

ਮੋਰ ਮੋਰ ਕਰਿ ਅਧਿਕ ਲਾਡੁ ਧਰਿ ਪੇਖਤ ਹੀ ਜਮਰਾਉ ਹਸੈ ॥੧॥

Calling him, “”Mine, mine””, she fondles him lovingly, while the Death looks on and laughs. ||1||

Bhagat Kabeer – SGGS Ang 91

In Gurbani Guruji reminds us many times that the life is slipping away silently, moment by moment, without giving us notice, and without making any noise. We need to utilize the time of our life wisely. In the money focused world people think that “time is money”. But if we look deeper into it, we will realize that “time is not money, time is life”. We can earn more money if we run out of it. But we cannot replenish the time, which we wasted as that time is already in the hands of Death.

ਦਿਨ ਤੇ ਪਹਰ ਪਹਰ ਤੇ ਘਰੀਆਂ ਆਵ ਘਟੈ ਤਨੁ ਛੀਜੈ ॥

Day by day, hour by hour, life runs its course, and the body withers away.

ਕਾਲੁ ਅਹੇਰੀ ਫਿਰੈ ਬਧਿਕ ਜਿਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਵਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੧॥

Death, like a hunter, a butcher, is on the prowl; tell me, what can we do? ||1||

Bhagat Kabeer – SGGS Ang 692

What makes life meaningful?

Life throws events at us, and our individual actions, reactions and choices give the meaning to these events. A life event may not be good or bad in itself, but it’s our interpretation and reaction to the event, which make it good or bad. For example, if it’s raining, it’s not good or bad in itself. It’s how we react to it, which makes it good or bad. Some may react to it as miserable weather, some may go out in the rain and enjoy the rain bath.

Everyday life brings new events and puts us into different circumstances. We may not have any control over these events or circumstances. We have to make sense of them and react. Our reaction will depend on our understanding, past experiences, mindset, and character.

“Everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.” – Viktor Frankl (Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything)

Our reaction gives a meaning to an event in a particular moment. Life is the collection of those moments. So, let’s try to give meaning to every event, every moment, in our life to maximize the meaning of life. Focus on what’s in our control, and don’t worry about what’s not in our control.

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own… – Epictetus

In Sikhi, it is recommended to meditate on Naam (name of Creator) in the Sadh Sangat (company of the holy) to make our life spiritually meaningful.

ਜੀਵਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਵਨਾ ॥

Life, spiritual life, is in the Lord.

ਜੀਵਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Spiritual life consists of reciting the Lord’s Name in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy. ||1||Pause||

M5 – SGGS Ang 684

Knowledge (Gyan)

To make meaningful impact in the society, we must acquire the knowledge of our surroundings, society, culture, manners, physical world, economy, politics etc. Other than the worldly education, we also need to have some philosophical and spiritual knowledge. So that we can understand “Who am I?”. In the grand play of universe, “Where I fit in?”, “What’s my role?”, “Where I came from?”, “Where will I go?”. Answering, these questions will prepare us for life, what to do, what not to do etc.

ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਆਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥

O my mind, you are the embodiment of the Divine Light – recognize your own origin.

ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਜੀ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਰੰਗੁ ਮਾਣੁ ॥

O my mind, the Dear Lord is with you; through the Guru’s Teachings, enjoy His Love.

M3 – SGGS Ang 440

There are many other questions, which we need to answer for ourselves like:

  • What I want to be (professionally)? – Artist, doctor, engineer, teacher, philosopher, preacher
  • What I want to do (in leisure)? – Travel, read, write, teach, animal care, or hobbies
  • What is meaningful for me? – Family, friendships, social impact, wealth, fame, power, spirituality
  • Why I came here? – To enjoy and have fun? To payoff Karmic debt? Gobind Milan (meeting the Creator)?

Answering such questions, will mould our character, help us make right choices that give meaning to our life.

Relationships

Human is a social animal and hence will live in groups, make friends and foes, and build many relationships throughout the life. Relationships are important for our well-being. Relationships may be immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, professional connections. As the child grows, he/she will start recognizing his loved ones and will start making relationships. This is just the natural process.

Making and nurturing the relationships takes time and effort. Unhealthy relationships can cause unnecessary disturbances in our life. So, we must be selective in choosing who we want to associate with. If we have any unhealthy relationship, try to keep distance from it and disconnect from it, if possible.

In Gurmat the most exalted relationship is the relationship between Sikh and Guru. It’s especially important for Sikhs go in the Sadh Sangat (company of the holy) in the presence of Guru and sing the praises of Kartar.

ਸਾਹੁਰੁ ਪੀਹਰੁ ਪਖ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਘਰੁ ਨਾਨੇਹਾਲਾ।

Types of relationship are – those of father, mother, sister, brother and their offspring and alliances;

ਸਹੁਰਾ ਸਸੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ਸਾਲੀ ਤੈ ਸਾਲਾ।

father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law.

ਮਾ ਪਿਉ ਭੈਣਾਂ ਭਾਇਰਾ ਪਰਵਾਰੁ ਦੁਰਾਲਾ।

Mother, father, sisters, brothers

ਨਾਨਾ ਨਾਨੀ ਮਾਸੀਆਂ ਮਾਮੇ ਜੰਜਾਲਾ।

mother’s father, mother’s mother, mother’s sisters, mother’s brothers;

ਸੁਇਨਾ ਰੁਪਾ ਸੰਜੀਐ ਹੀਰਾ ਪਰਵਾਲਾ।

For them, gold, silver, diamonds, and corals are amassed.

ਪੀਰ ਮੁਰੀਦਾਂ ਪਿਰਹੜੀ ਏਹੁ ਸਾਕੁ ਸੁਖਾਲਾ ॥੭॥

But dearer than all is the love of the Guru’s Sikhs for the Guru, this is the relationship which brings happiness.

Bhai Gurdas – Vaar 27

Service (Seva)

Feeling of serving others, gives immense satisfaction and pleasure. By serving others we feel the meaning in our life. We should strive to volunteer and serve others. We can serve in many ways:

  • Tan (body) – Serving or helping others physically, providing food, shelter, clothing, teaching, etc.
  • Man (mind) – Serving mentally – praying, empathy, having good feelings about others.
  • Dhan (money) – Serving financially – donate or provide financial help to others.

There is subtle difference between Seva and service. When we do serve others, we may maintain our ego-self (I helped this guy, I donated this much). We may expect something in return (may be a simple thanks). But Seva is when we do not serve anybody other than Kartar. We see Kartar in everybody. Kartar is our Creator and hence he does not need our service. We do Seva for ourselves to become worthy of Divine Grace. When we do something for ourselves, like eating food, we do not expect any payment, reward, or even thank you, in return from others, because we do it for ourselves. Similarly, when we do Seva, we do it for ourselves, we do not expect anything in return. Instead, we pay gratitude to Kartar for blessing us with the opportunity to do Seva.

ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥

One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward,

ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥

shall attain his Lord and Master.

ਅਪਨੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਆਪਿ ਕਰੇਇ ॥

On whom the Lord Himself grants His Grace;

ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਲੇਇ ॥੨॥

O Nanak, that selfless servant lives the Guru’s Teachings. ||2||

M5 – SGGS Ang 286

Doing Seva selflessly makes our life happy and satisfied. It realizes the meaningfulness of our existence.

Social impact

Activities like teaching, scientific discovery, art, music, dance, journalism, literary contributions – poetry, prose, fiction etc. also make us feel the usefulness of life. Find your skills and passions, which you can use, to give back to society and make meaningful impact on other’s lives.

Righteousness

Righteousness is “the quality or state of being just or rightful” – Dictionary.com. When we live according to our social, moral, and spiritual beliefs, it makes us courageous. Only person of courage can stand for righteousness, doing what is right – not what is convenient. Defend the values dear to us – the independence, rule of law, justice, equality, freedom of faith, and patriotism.

Dignity

Everybody rich or poor, black, brown, or white, high caste or low caste, deserves to live with dignity. We can live with dignity only when we respect other’s dignity. Living the life of dignity and self-respect make us feel that we (the humans) are special creation of Kartar. Dignified life is worth living and dying for.

Health

Physical and mental health is very important for living meaningful life. In the modern world, sometimes we become so busy that we do not take some time for physical, mental of spiritual fitness. Taking care of health should be on top of our to-do list. We must take some time to work out. It may be simple walk, jogging, gym, or stroll in the park.

We can make our work outs, or exercise more meaningful by adding the work out for mind and soul also. During jogging or work outs in gym, we can listen to Keertan (spiritual music), simran (remembrance of Kartar) or just recite the Gurbani sabads (verses from the writings of Guru), keep ourselves focused on the jog or work out, experiencing every step, feeling the heartbeat, muscle movements and aches, feeling the sweat, hearing the birds etc.

By making the exercises mindful and spiritual, we can make the boring exercise loneliness moments into productive, rejuvenating, reflecting, thinking, problem solving, solitude moments. This will enhance our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Happiness

Happiness and sadness are part of life. Sometimes we will be happy, and sometimes sad. To make our life happy we can do certain activities, which makes us happy – playing, computer gaming, watching movies and celebrations etc. To enhance the happiness, we can do these activities with family or friends. Develop the sense of humor – the ability to let go and not taking everything seriously.

Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” – Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)

Happy life may, or may not be meaningful. To make it meaningful sometimes we need to sacrifice our happiness and comfort to make others happy (volunteering, helping others, animal care etc.). Don’t forget Guru and Kartar in your happiness and sadness. The true pleasure can be obtained by accepting Kartar’s will and remain lovingly attuned to Naam (name of Kartar).

ਏਕੁ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਤਾਇਆ ॥

The True Guru has shown me that there is only one real pleasure.

ਹਰਿ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਿਆ ਭਗਤਾ ਭਾਇਆ ॥

Whatever the Lord does, is pleasing to the Lord’s devotees.

ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥੪॥

Says Nanak, who has abolished his ego, remains absorbed in the Lord. ||4||

ਇਨਿ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੁਸਲ ਹੋਤ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥

This is the way to find happiness, O my Siblings of Destiny (accepting Lord’s Will).

ਇਉ ਪਾਈਐ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਮ ਸਹਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥

This is the way to find the Lord, our Help and Support. ||1||Second Pause||

M5 – SGGS Ang 175

Music and Art

Music is very important to enjoy life. Learn to sing or play instruments of music, chorus etc. Develop some art skills like painting, calligraphy, design, music, photography etc. Arts force us to bring our inner creativity and imagination to build the world around us the way we like. Music and Art go beyond the cultural, linguistic, and political boundaries.

Learn Keertan (spiritual music), Gatka (martial arts), Bhangra (Punjabi folk dance) to feed your creativity and imagination. Keertan has special significance in Sikhi. The Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib is composed in 31 raags (musical meters). The Gurbani is classified in raags and designed to be sang in the congregation.

ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਸੁਣੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਵੈ ॥

Listening to the Keertan of the Lord’s Praises, and singing the Lord’s Keertan,

ਤਿਸੁ ਜਨ ਦੂਖੁ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨਹੀ ਆਵੈ ॥੨॥

misfortune shall not even come near you. ||2||

M5 – SGGS Ang 190

Understanding

Understanding our surroundings, culture, languages etc. are vital to live. We can understand our surroundings by reading, participating in the cultural events, taking language courses, traveling in other parts of the world. Most of the times we travel to see the various cities beaches and natural beauty. But to really understand, focus more on experience than sight-seeing. To experience a culture, we need to do some additional effort of talking to local people, seeing the local events, trying the local language, local music etc. Sometimes we may need to go to the inner parts of the country in the rural areas to understand the true culture, customs, traditions etc.

When we understand diverse cultures and traditions, we recognize that regardless of our differences in culture and languages, faith, we still are all human beings created by the same Creator.

ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੁਰਕ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਫਜੀ ਇਮਾਮ ਸਾਫੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਕੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਸਬੈ ਏਕੈ ਪਹਿਚਾਨਬੋ ॥

Someone is Hindu and someone a Muslim, then someone is Shia, and someone a Sunni, but treat all the human beings, as a species, as one and the same.

ਕਰਤਾ ਕਰੀਮ ਸੋਈ ਰਾਜਕ ਰਹੀਮ ਓਈ ਦੂਸਰੋ ਨ ਭੇਦ ਕੋਈ ਭੂਲ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਮਾਨਬੋ ॥

Karta (The Creator) and Karim (Merciful) is the same Lord, Razaak (The Sustainer) and Rahim (Compassionate) is the same Lord, there is no other second, therefore consider this verbal distinguishing feature of Hindusim and Islam as an error and an illusion.

ਏਕ ਹੀ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ਸਭ ਹੀ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਏਕ ਏਕ ਹੀ ਸਰੂਪ ਸਬੈ ਏਕੈ ਜੋਤ ਜਾਨਬੋ ॥੧੫॥੮੫॥

Thus worship the One Lord, who is the common enlightener of all, who have been created in His Image and amongst all comprehend the same One Light. 15.85.

P10 – Dasam Granth Ang 14

Financial independence

To live a decent life, we need financial resources to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare to our family and loved ones. For that we need to work and earn our living so that we will not depend on others for the basic needs. The person, who got enough financial resources for his family and loved ones can think about helping others in need and contributing to the community.

Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame. Arthur Schopenhauer

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epictetus

Wealth is important for us to live. But do not make it the objective of life. In Sikhi wealth is not despised, the attachment and addiction to it is despised. Sikhi encourages Sikhs to earn their living with honest work, and give at least daswandh (one tenth of the income) in charitable work.

ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥

One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has to others

ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥

– O Nanak, he knows the Path. ||1||

M1 – SGGS Ang 1245

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