INTROSPECTION

One who becomes Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) introspects
his own mind, and instructs others.(sggs 727).
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Competing on the bodily field ("Khet" or "Kshetar") are two opposing forces: discriminative intelligence (Bibek Budhi) and the sense-conscious mind. The wicked impulsive mental and material tendencies are the offspring of the sense-blind mind. On the other hand, the Soul's Pure Virtues are the offspring of the discriminative intelligence.

The battle field of these contending forces is the human body with its physical, mental, and Soul-faculties; the field on which all activities of an individual's take place. On this battlefield, the war is raged between the soldiers of the Soul's pure discriminative tendencies and the uncontrolled activities of the ignoble, wisdom-blind mind.

Thus, every moment in one's life, there is a Spiritual and psychological battle going on between the Soul-Nature and the blind sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the false ego (Haume). The question is: How can one review and know the outcome of this ever raging battle? In other words, how can one go about in his mind to determine who won the battle—the Good or the evil? The process to analyze the results of this battle between the Good and the evil is termed "introspection" in the scriptures. In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will attempt to reflect on the followings:

  • What's introspection?
  • What does it bring to the spiritual seeker, or what's the benefit of it? How can one practice it? What's Introspection?

Human beings have two kinds of temperaments — some are introspective (the Gurmukhs), and the others are extravagant (the Manmukh). Those who are extravagant are attracted to the external features of the phenomenal world of names and shapes and have no insight into the whole manifestation. They are practically asleep to introspection, and thus they are unable to derive any permanent value from the very rare to obtain human form of life. But the one who has developed introspection is as grave as the sea! Thus, the mind dedicated to extravagance is a bad bargain. However, on the other hand, one can make the best use of this mind by introspection.

Called in the Gurbani (SGGS) by many terms such as "Mann Khoj", "Aap Vichaar", "Mann Kee Patree Vaachanee", etc., introspection is the ability to stand aside, observe, search, inquire and review without any prejudice the conflicts of the day in one's mind to ascertain the favorable or unfavorable outcome. To put it otherwise, it's the impartial intuitive self-analysis or discerning introspection by which one analyzes the actions and assesses the strengths of the opposing armies of his Good and evil tendencies: self-control verses sense indulgence, pure discriminative tendencies versus mental sense inclinations, Spiritual resolve in meditation versus contending mental resistance and physical restlessness, divine Soul-consciousness versus ignorance and magnetic attraction of the man's lower ego-nature, etc. In nutshell, when one's mind impartially weighs all the faculties of the Soul against sense pleasures, it's called introspection state. Thus, introspection has the power to Enlighten because in this process of meditation one begins to focus on the inner Soul that abides within the physical frame.

  • ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: O human being, search your own heart every day, and do not wander around in confusion (sggs 727).
  • ਮਨ ਕੀ ਪਤ੍ਰੀ ਵਾਚਣੀ ਸੁਖੀ ਹੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਭਲਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: To read the horoscope of the mind is the most Sublime Joyful Peace. He alone is called a good Brahmin, who understands God through inner inquiry (sggs 1093).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s own self (Mool, Original, or True Nature, etc. - ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one's True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684).
The mind is outgoing, for it has a habit of externalization from time immemorial. The extrovert mind has the extrovert senses (Indriyas). With the outgoing tendencies of the mind and senses we hold the external world of names and shapes, not the internal Self.

Further, from the very childhood, we are being programmed and trained to look to the external world and its gross objects, but not the internal world, the subtle world of the Self. As a result, our false ego has become so dense and stubborn that we have lost the comprehensive understanding of what is going on in the inner mental forest.

Introspection helps one to go within and interrogate the mind. Thus, in introspection, the mind itself become the subject of examination where a portion of the mind studies the remaining portion of the mind. In other words, since the mind is nothing but thoughts-stuff, in introspection the higher or noble thoughts (Uchee Virtee) studies the lower thoughts of ego-nature (Neemeen Virtee).

What Does The Introspection Bring To The Seeker?

When the mind is studied with the power of introspection consisting of a pure discriminative reasoning and subtle intellect, it reveals to us our defects. If studied carefully with patient and vigilance, our inner mind will reveal to us our shocking crookedness, perversions, and weaknesses. In the beginning, all of this will not be pleasing to our inflated ego at all!

The material seeker (Manmukh) will never know the inner Peace and Happiness (Anand). He can realize it only if he sides with Goodness and win the battle between the Good and evil inclinations that guide his daily actions on the external bodily field of action. Siding with the material cleverness will not do the trick! Fareed Jee reminds the materially clever as follows:

  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜੇ ਤੂ ਅਕਲਿ ਲਤੀਫੁ ਕਾਲੇ ਲਿਖੁ ਨ ਲੇਖ ॥...: Freeda je tu akal lateef hai kaale likh na lekh. Aapanrhe gireevaan mahi sir neevaa kar dekh ||6||: Fareed, if you are so clever, (of keen understanding -ਬਰੀਕ ਅਕਲ ਵਾਲਾ, ਸਮਝਦਾਰ - etc.) then you should not do evil (e.g., ਹੋਰ ਬੰਦਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਮੰਦੇ ਕਰਮਾਂ ਦੀ ਪਛਚੋਲ ਕਰਨਾ, look for faoults in others, etc.). (instead) examine your own self. ||6|| (sggs 1378).
We can invoke this God given power of impartial introspection to review the battle of the day in our mind in order to determine who won the battle — the Good or the evil. What's Good and evil? As scriptures tell us, "Good" being that which expresses Truth and Divine virtue and attracts the consciousness to God; and "evil" being ignorance and delusion, repels the consciousness from God.

If performed impartially, introspection will reveal to us our "inner garbage" (Antar Mall). With a careful watch, thus, many defects can be detected and removed by this Spiritual practices. On the other hand, if we identify with the mind (false "I"), that is, if we are partial in our introspection, then we will never know our defects.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਹਕਰਮੀ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਖੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ਸਦਾ ਆਪੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੩॥: Haumai kari nihkarmi hovai. Gur parsaadee haumai khovai. Antari bibek sadaa aap veechare gur sabadee gun gaavaniaa ||3||: Those who act in ego do not go beyond Karma. It is only by Guru’s Grace that one is rid of ego. (Those who eradicate their ego, they possess) discriminating minds (Viveka-Budhi: discerning intellect, ਚੰਗੇ ਮੰਦੇ ਕੰਮ ਦੀ ਪਰਖ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ) in them; they continually examine their ownself (ਆਪਣੇ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ). Through the Gur-Shabad, they sing Glorious Praises ||3|| (sggs 128).

Spiritual seeking is the way of realizing the Aatmaan and Parmaatmaan, and their relationship. When the seeker of Truth becomes spiritually blind, the sense-bent mind is delighted, expecting an easy recapture of the seeker from the soldiers of the Soul's Pure discriminative tendencies. However, all such conditions and experiences are revealed by sincere introspection to the sense-bent and wisdom-blind mind of the seeker.

  • ਮਨ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਾਰਗੁ ॥: Mann khoj maarag: O mind, seek out the way!  (sggs 71).
Practice Of Introspection

As revealed in the above verses, through logical thinking and discriminative introspection or self-analysis one can separate the Pure Self from the material coverings. We, the material beings, can realize this Goal only if we side with "Goodness" and win the battle between the Good and evil inclinations that guide our activities on the external bodily field of action.

In other words, for one to visualize the glory of the Supreme Truth that is All-pervading as the Self within us is to separate the Spirit from the matter as one separates the rice from the husk, bran, and so on. Discriminative self-analysis can help us distinguish the Real from the unreal. Nobody else can do it for anybody, for man is the best judge of his mind's activities!

  • ਪੰਡਿਤ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅਵਰੁ ਕਿ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਉਠਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ : O Pandit, O religious scholar, reflect on this in your mind. Why do you read so many other things, and carry such a heavy load? (sggs 1261).
  • ਚਾਵਲ ਇਕਤੇ ਸੱਟ ਨ ਦੂਜੀ ਵਾਹੀਐ ॥: Husk (in the form of maya) should be separated from the rice of life with strokes of discipline during this very life (Vaar Bhai Gurdaas).

The mind is always engaged in thinking, planning, feeling, inquiring, desiring or fearing. With the aid of subjective introspection one can find what his mind is upto at a particular moment. Such impartial self-analysis can be performed many times a day. Particularly, every night, prior to retiring, one can sit in a calm place and ask his intuition whether his Spiritual faculties or his physical inclinations of temptation won the day's battle between Good and bad habits.

The idea is to turn the mind inside, then concentrate all its powers and throw them upon the mind itself so that it may realize God and His Name within — its True Nature which Unconditioned Consciousness or "Joti Svaroop". After each such practice of concentrated Jap or Naam-Simran, one invokes his power of introspection to perform impartial self-analysis. This knowledge, in turn, would increase one's victories over the deluded mind, and lessen its bewilderment.

  • ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜੇ ਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਪਾਏ ॥ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਰਾਖੈ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਏ ॥: Search your body and mind, and find the Name. Restrain your wandering mind, and keep it in check (sggs 110).
  • ਢਢਾ ਢੂਢਤ ਕਹ ਫਿਰਹੁ ਢੂਢਨੁ ਇਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੰਗਿ ਤੁਹਾਰੈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਬਸੈ ਬਨੁ ਬਨੁ ਕਹਾ ਫਿਰਾਹਿ ॥:  DHADHA (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet):  Where are you going, wandering and searching? Search instead within your own mind. God is with you, so why do you wander around from forest to forest? (sggs 256).

All experiences are revealed by introspection. However, as the the Gurbani tells us, the true introspection comes only when one becomes a true Gurmukh (Spiritual Being). With the true Gurmukhhood comes the intuition to analyze the battle between temperance and greed, between self-control and lust, between honest needs and inordinate craving for "gold and woman", between forgiveness and wrath, between joy and grief, between moroseness and pleasantness, between kindness and cruelty, between selfishness and unselfishness, between understanding and jealousy, between fearlessness and cowardice, between confidence and fear, between faith and doubt, between humbleness and pride, between burning desire to link with Waheguru in meditation and the restless urge for worldly entanglements, between Spiritual seeking and material seeking, between Divine ecstasy and sensory perceptions, between Soul Consciousness and false egoity, between Naam Rasa (Spiritual Taste) and Annrasa (material taste), between detachment (Bairaag) and attachment, between Knowledge and ignorance, between Devotion and non-devotion, between introvertedness and extrovertedness, between Real and unreal, between Truth and falsehood, and so on. Such Gurmukhs who see the world the way Gur-Shabad does become helpful to others as well.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਸੁਣਾਏ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਦਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੋਈ ਕਰਸੀ ਜੋ ਸਚੇ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਇਦਾ ॥: One who becomes Gurmukh examines his own mind, and instructs others. He is lovingly attuned to the True Name forever. They act in harmony with the Mind of the True Lord (sggs 1059).
  • ਮੈ ਨਿਰਖਤ ਨਿਰਖਤ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਭੁ ਖੋਜਿਆ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਲਤੁ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ॥: I have examined and studied and searched my entire body, and as Gurmukh, I behold a miraculous wonder. (sggs 1191).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਭਗਤੀ ਰਤਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੇ ਸੁਖਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੩॥: Gurmakhi aap pashaaniaa Harinaam vasiaa manni aai. Andin bhagti rattiaa harinaame suh samaai ||3||: By becoming the Gurmukh, (one) understands his own Self (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ. spiritual Lifestyle, etc.). The Lord’s Name comes to dwell within his mind. Imbued with the devotion to the Lord’s Name, night and day, he merges in Peace (ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ, Joy, etc.) ||3|| (sggs 162).

To attain Natural Awareness called God-realization, the Gurbani has thus recommended daily introspection of the blind sense-mind. To be successful, this introspection has to be impartial, accurate and without any prejudice. If we let this introspection become marred with the wicked impulsive mental and sense tendencies, then it will be totally meaningless.

  • ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਕੋਈ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ (sggs 1128).
  • ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਟੋਲੈ ਸੋ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਹੀ ॥:Sabh kicchu ghar mahi... (sggs 102).
  • ਜਿਨੀ ਅੰਦਰੁ ਭਾਲਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਹਾਵੈ ॥ : Those who search their inner beings, through the Gur-Shabad, are exalted and adorned (sggs 1091).

Since the True Shabad, Naam or Amrit resides within, the Gurbani stresses the need to search it in the core of our inner Being. So long one's outgoing mind (extrovert) engages in searching the Divine in external rituals and other bodily activities, there is no possibility of experiencing the Naam-consciousness, Shabad-Surti, God-consciousness or True Amrit (Immortality) within.

  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਢੂਢਤ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਘਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਘਟ ਮਾਹੀ ਜੀਉ ॥: By searching around on the outside, you will only suffer great pain; Amrit (Nectar) is found within the Home of your own Being (sggs 598).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਇਹੁ ਗੁਫਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਮੁਰਾਰੇ ॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, search this cave of the Heart. The Immaculate Naam abides deep within the Self (sggs 127).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਢੂੰਢਿ ਵਿਗੁਚੀਐ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਸੁਥਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਿ ਮੁਸੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਲੈ ਪਾਇ ॥: Searching outside of themselves, people are ruined; the object of their search is in that sacred place within the Home of the Heart. The Manmukhs (material beings), in their ego, miss it; the Gurmukhs (Spiritual Beings) Realize it (sggs 63).
  • ਨਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਦੇਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਇਸ ਕਾ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮੁ ॥: The nine treasures and Amrit is the Lord's Name. Within the human body is its place of rest (sggs 293).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ  ਸਬਦੁ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ਹੈ ਮਿਲਿ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਈਐ ॥੭॥: Antar Sabad nidhaan hai mil aap gavaayiyai ||7||: Deep within is the treasure of the Shabad. (Meeting the Guru) if we eradicate egotism (i.e., all Bikaars) then we meet (God) ||7|| (sggs 228).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਖੂਹਟਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਭਰਿਆ ਸਬਦੇ ਕਾਢਿ ਪੀਐ ਪਨਿਹਾਰੀ ॥: Antari khooahataa amriti bhariaa... (sggs 571).

In summary, since the mind is the cause of our bondage and freedom from it, the Gurbani urges us for continuous searching of the mind, checking of the mind, analysis of the mind, and intuitive balancing of the mind. When the fully equipped searchlight of the mind throws its superconscious rays into the innermost Heart of Truth, it helps us change and steer our life in the right direction. Through the honest introspection, by constantly following the inner voice of Pure Conscious (voice of the Lord), one is bound to become a truly moral person, a highly Spiritual Being, and a man of Peace and Sahaj.

  • ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥੪॥੭॥: By searching and searching (his Mool within), Kabeer merged (in his Mool). ||4||7|| (sggs 1159).

— T. Singh
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