4. Deliverance from Ego | Sikhi
4. Deliverance from Ego
The Gurus are not pessimistic about the world or this ego- centric condition of man:
They emphasise that man is not only capable of transcending this ego-consciousness, but is destined to do so. Their entire message is meant to solve this problem.
Theirs is a crusade to enable man to rise above his present level and remove the hurdles that plague him and solve the problems that face him.
The Gurus indicate that there has been a continuing process of development, evolution and progress in the empirical world.
They point out that progress from egoistic man to the superman, or God-centred man is not only possible, but is in accordance with the purpose of God.
Individuation was created by God. There has been gradual growth from small organisms to animals and finally to the animal-man with his subtle sense of discrimination and introspection.
"For several births (you) were a mere worm, is for several births insect, for several births a fish or an animal." "After ages you have the glory of being a man."
"He endowed you with the light of reason, discrimination and wisdom"
"O man you are supreme in God's creation; now is your opportunity.
You may or may not fulfil your destiny."
Further progress of this egoistic man depends entirely only the deeds of the individual:
Till man had appeared on the scene, it was not possible for life to outgrow its animal character and alienation from God. So far, like other animals, man too has been living an animal life.
But, the Gurus emphasise the opportunity available to man to grow into a superman. They repeatedly address man to give up his egocentric activities and thereby to rise to his full stature:
"After ages, this invaluable opportunity of human birth is available,
but one loses it for nothing."
"You have obtained the privilege of human birth,
now is your only opportunity to meet God."
The remedy according to the Gurus is that man should develop a higher consciousness by linking his consciousness with God, Nām, or the Basic Consciousness. It is this solution which is the basis of their religious system and institutions.
The Guru says,
"Nām and Haumain are opposed, to each other. The two cannot co-exist."
"Haumain is a great, malady.
The remedy is to attune oneself to Nām by God's Grace."
It means that self- centeredness should be substituted by God-centeredness.
"The man who is self-centred is far from God."
Let us explain the implications of these important hymns:
In most other religions, worldly life is opposed to spiritual life. But it is not so in Sikhism. Here it is ego-centric life that is opposed to spiritual life and not worldly life as such.
The Gurus consider the world to be real and accept full responsibilities in that regard.
In fact, as God-centeredness implies activity in the worldly life, the same is considered essential for the seeker and the God- conscious person.
For, link with Nām means to be the agent of Dynamic Nām or God, the Ocean of virtues.
In fact, life and its activities alone reveal the distinction between a self-centred man and a God centred one. Hence,
"he who destroys evil becomes a perfect man."
"Love, contentment, truth, humility and other virtues enable the seed of Nām to sprout."
“Our deeds alone bear witness unto our life.”
These hymns indicate that the way to higher achievement lies in being altruistic or moral instead of being self-centred.
Except for some conditioned or calculated moral activity, a self- centred person cannot be spontaneously altruistic.
The solution really consists in transferring the control of the mind and body from narrow ego-consciousness to Nām God or God- consciousness.
And being linked to Nām involves neither inactivity nor withdrawal from life:
Perforce it just lead to spontaneous altruistic deeds because this consciousness is aware of its kinship both with every other being and with the Basic Reality, the Ocean of virtues.
Therefore, this consciousness accepts total responsibility and is as active as the Creative Reality. Just as Haumain and Nām are opposed to each other, in the same manner God-centeredness and inactivity are a contradiction in terms.
We shall explain why there is so much emphasis on moral life in Sikhism:
A self-centred person has virtually a determined psyche. He is neither free, nor creative.
The progress from self- centeredness to God-consciousness, is progress from a virtually determined or a mechanistic state to a free and creative state.
A moral act involves voluntary decision on the part of one's consciousness:
We never call a material thing to be moral or immoral, since it is governed by the laws of physics and its movement is determined.
But, a moral act on the part of a person is the result of his free will or decision or choice.
It is, thus, a clear step on the path from being determined to being free; it is an effort to rise from the state of Haumain to the state of God- consciousness or creative freedom. It is, indeed, a spiritual act.
Hence the fundamental importance of moral life in Sikhism, since it is the only spiritual means leading towards God- consciousness:
"One cannot be a Yogi by mere wishing. Real Yoga lies in treating all beings alike."
"Let all be called high, to me none appears low;
one potter has fashioned all vessels and one light pervades the whole universe."
Real spiritual life involves the acceptance and practice of the idea of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man in one's actual living.
The Gurus stress that God pervades all hearts and one can attune oneself to Him and develop a new state of higher consciousness. While we are in the normal ego-state, we are unconscious of this Immanence of God in us.
"Where there is egoism, God is not; where there is God, there cannot be any egoism."
"God unites seeker with Himself."
"God pervades the heart and one gives up ego and evil."
"By His Grace God comes in body and mind."
It means that the entire psyche of such a person is guided by God-consciousness.
"By Nām is the mind illumined." Nām is dynamic and attributive.
These hymns emphasise that the way to solve our problems and difficulties is to establish a relation with God. This presence of God in us has variously been described as Nām, Guru, Word, Light and Will.
It is virtuous deed alone that lead one away from the life of Haumain and towards the path of Nām or God centeredness.
But, ultimately it is only God's Grace that unites one with Nām. By this union a new and higher centre of consciousness is gained, called God-consciousness.
“God's Grace is the ultimate insignia of approval conferred on man." It is a state when the human consciousness becomes free and spontaneously moral and altruistic.
Guru Nānak puts the question as to "how the wall of falsehood intervening between us and Reality can be removed” and gives a categorical reply:
It can be done by carrying out God's Will. And God's Will is Attributive, Creative and Gracious. This explains the pre-eminent importance of moral life in Sikhism.