"OTHERNESS"

O my mind, without the Lord,
there is no other at all (sggs 47).
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The Gurbani or Gurmat (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) says that there is no "others". One God, One Pure Consciousness, One Truth or One Light has become everything. This one Supreme Essence is the substratum (support or "Adhaar") for all beings, places and things. It is this Infinite Essence, the Homogeneous Oneness, the highest plane of Pure Consciousness, which runs in and through everything. This is the Supreme Truth. The implication is that if we bless all, the whole universe blesses us. If we hurt others, in fact we hurt ourselves. If one selflessly loves and serves others, in fact he benefits himself. A Great Soul observes, "The beauty and charm of selfless love and service should not die away from the face of the earth. The world should know that a life of dedication is possible, that a life inspired by love and service to humanity is possible. Meditation and studying the scriptures are like two sides of a coin. The engraving on that coin is selfless service, and that is what gives it its real value. Our compassion and acts of selflessness take us to the deeper truths."

  • ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Mere man har bin avar na ko-ay: O my mind, without the Lord, there is no other at all (sggs 47).
  • ਏਕਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਾਤਾ ॥ ਵਿਸਰੀ ਤਿਸੈ ਪਰਾਈ ਤਾਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਨ ਦੀਸੈ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨ ਕਰਤਾ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Ekas siou jaa kaa man raataa. Visaree tisai paraaee taataa ||1||. Bin gobind na deesai koee. Karan karaavan karataa soee ||1|| rahaaou ||: Those whose minds are imbued with the One Lord, forget to feel jealous of others. ||1|| They see none other than the Lord of the Universe. The Creator is the Doer, the Cause of causes. ||1|| Pause || (sggs 189).
  • ਸੇਵਾ ਏਕ ਨ ਜਾਨਸਿ ਅਵਰੇ ॥: Sevaa ek na jaanas avare: Those who selflessly serve the One Lord, do not know any other (sggs 225).

Therefore, it goes without saying that when one is situated in the state of Supreme Truth, there is no sense of otherness: everything is permeated with One, Pure Consciousness. This implies that when one transect in the world with mind permeated with conditioned consciousness (false ego-sense, Haume, Manmukhtaa, etc.), then there is the sense of otherness.

In addition to ethics and morality, the Gurbani teaches us spiritual unity of mankind. It teaches us real Love, friendship, universal brotherhood, and Oneness. It time and again points to the common bonds that exist among all of us. On account of the curtain of false ego-sense or Haume (the sense of "I-ness", etc.), this reality of Oneness remains hidden from us. So the Gurbani repeatedly urges us to remove the veil of Haume. The Gurbani on universal brotherhood, spiritual unity of mankind, and frienship:

  • ਨਾ ਕੋ ਬੈਰੀ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਗਾਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਸੰਗਿ ਹਮ ਕਉ ਬਨਿ ਆਈ ॥: Naa ko bairee nahee bigaanaa sagal sang ham kaou ban aaee ||: No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger to me. I get along with everyone (sggs 1299).
  • ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥: Ek pitaa ekas ham baarik too meraa gur haaee ||: The One God is our father; we are the children of the One God. O God, You are our Guru (sggs 611).
  • ਨਾ ਹਮ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਨ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ॥ ਅਲਹ ਰਾਮ ਕੇ ਪਿੰਡੁ ਪਰਾਨ ॥: Naa ham Hindu na Musalmann || Allah Raam ke pind praan ||: I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim. My body and breath of life belong to (whom muslims call) Allah and to (whom Hindus call) Raam (sggs 1136).

The Gurbani's message is universal - everyone lives as One (Universal Brotherhood). Horrors of war, terror and hate are only symptoms of the root problem - the false notion of difference and "otherness." In true Oneness, there can be no fear, hatred, suspicion or jealousy. Although we might not talk about it much, the feeling and notion of "untouchability" and discrimination between social classes, castes, religions, nations and races are still there in a subtle form in the human mind. The Gurbani wants the entire human family to forget all distinctions and come together as we do in the "Langar" (kitchen where community meal served to people irrespective of caste, religion, status, rich or poor etc.) and "Pangat" (line or row for interdining) after performance of service in the Sikh congregations. In this way, the feeling of difference and inequality between human beings is reduced. This was the spirit behind the great institution of "Langar" started by the Sikh Gurus, which plays a significant role to create sense of equality, universal brotherhood, humility, homogeneity and mutual understanding!

The feelings of "otherness" is the ego-mind (Haume) in action: lust, anger, greed, attachment, self-conceit, enviousness, stubbornness, etc. It is the false "I" — the feeling of "mine, mine". Instead of "giving", selfishness or ego likes to only "take". Due to ignorance, illusion, and lack of true understanding, we harbor the feeling of "otherness". This is not it. Then we want to force our ego-vision (evil vision, wrong ideas, etc.) on others to follow so our false ego-sense can get satisfaction. But this false ego-sense can never be satisfied. In fact, more we gratify it more it flares. It is like pouring more fuel over an already burning fire! The ego feeds on attention. Without attention, the ego will starve. But it does not want to starve. Therefore, it wants attention. It keeps our consciousness divided. Because in the divided consciousness, there is always the feeling of "mine, mine" and "others". When there is no "mine, mine" and "otherness", there is no ego. Then there is only the selflessness and true love.

  • ਮੈ ਕੀਤਾ ਨ ਜਾਤਾ ਹਰਾਮਖੋਰ ॥ ਹਉ ਕਿਆ ਮੁਹੁ ਦੇਸਾ ਦੁਸਟੁ ਚੋਰੁ ॥: Mai keetaa na jaataa haraamkhor. hayu kiyaa muhu desaaa dusat chor: I have not appreciated what You have done for me, Lord; I take from others and exploit them. What face will I show You, Lord? I am a wicked and a thief (sggs 47).
  • ਲੋਭੀ ਅਨ ਕਉ ਸੇਵਦੇ ਪੜਿ ਵੇਦਾ ਕਰੈ ਪੂਕਾਰ ॥: Lobhee an kou sevade parr vedaa karai pookaar: The greedy people serve Maya (illusion), instead of the Lord, although they loudly announce their reading of scriptures (sggs 30).
  • ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਲੋਭਾਣੇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਵਿਡਾਣੀ ॥: Amrit shhod bikhiaa lobhaane sevaa karahi viddaanee: Discarding the Ambrosial Nectar (of the Name), the greedily grab the poison — they serve Maya (illusion), instead of the Lord (sggs 31).
  • ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਕੈਰਉ ਕਰਤੇ ਦੁਰਜੋਧਨ ਸੇ ਭਾਈ ॥: Meree meree kairo karate durajodhan se bhaaee: The Kauravas, who had brothers like Duryodhan used to proclaim, "This is ours! This is ours!" (sggs 693).
  • ਹਿਰਹਿ ਪਰ ਦਰਬੁ ਉਦਰ ਕੈ ਤਾਈ ॥: Hirahi par darab oudar kai taaee: They steal others' wealth for the sake of their own bellies (sggs 298).
  • ਜਿਸੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤਾਤਿ ਪਰਾਈ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਭਲਾ ॥: Jis andar taath paraaee hovai tis daa kade na hovee bhalaa: One whose heart is filled with jealousy of others, never comes to any good (sggs 308).
  • ਨਿਤਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਹਿਰਹਿ ਪਰ ਦਰਬੁ ਛਿਦ੍ਰ ਕਤ ਢਾਕੀਅਹਿ ॥: Nitaprat hirahi par darab shhidar kat dhaakeeahi: Those who steal the wealth of others - how can their guilt be concealed? (sggs 1362).
  • ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰ ਨ ਕਬਹੂ ਕੀਏ ਨਹੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿ ਧਿਆਇਓ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਦੂਤ ਰਚਿ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਗੋਸਟਿ ਮਤਵਾਰੋ ਮਦ ਮਾਇਓ ॥: Paroupakaar n kabehoo keeeae nehee sathigur saev dhhiaaeiou. Panch dhoot rach sangat gosat matavaaro madh maaeiou: He never does good deeds for others; he does not serve or meditate on the True Guru (God). Because he is entangled in the company and the advice of the five demons (lust, anger etc.), intoxicated by the wine of Maya (sggs 712).

Why do we see others the way we do? The Gurbani dissects this question and gives us an authoritative answer — "According to one's own mind, one sees the minds of others". The mind is ego. It is the greatest liar for it hides the Truth from us. It wants us to believe in deception or illusion ("Anhovan"). Thus, it is inherently negative. It is the feeling of "I, me, mine, you". It dwells in the past that is dead and in the future that is unknown. Therefore, we are told to annihilate this mind. Because it is the greatest hurdle to realize the Truth. The Truth is Unity. The Truth is One. There is no two-ness in it. All duality and plurality is of the deluded, agitated and selfish mind.

  • ਜਿਉ ਮਨੁ ਦੇਖਹਿ ਪਰ ਮਨੁ ਤੈਸਾ ॥: Jiou manu dekhahi par manu taisaa: According to one's own mind, one sees the minds of others (sggs 1342).
  • ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥: Mann jeetai jagg jeet: If you conquer the mind, you conquer the material world (sggs ).
  • ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰ ਨਾਲਿ ॥: Mann mere houmai mail bhar naal: O my mind, you are filled with the filth of egotism (sggs 35).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੀਆ ਸਿਰਿ ਮਾਰ ਵਾਦਿ ਖਪਾਈਐ ॥: Manmukheeaa siri maar vaad khapaaeeai: The problem of the Manmukh (a material being) mind is this: he is consumed by conflict (sggs 420).
  • ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲਉ ਭਰਮਸਿ ਭਵਰ ਤਾਰ ॥: Man bhoolau bharmas bhara taar: The mind, deluded by doubt, buzzes (wanders) around like a bumblebee (sggs 1188).
  • ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲੋ ਬਹੁ ਚਿਤੈ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥: Manu bhoolo bahu chitai vikaar: Deluded mind thinks of all sorts of corruption (sggs 222).
  • ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਬਿਨਾਸੁ ॥: Isu mann Maya mohi binaas: This mind is ruined by its attachment to Maya (sggs 1344).

The Gurbani says that we are the Light of God ("Joti-Svaroopa"). Thus, we all are One with the Cosmic Energy. But due to the madness of the mind (Haume), we do not see ourselves that way and have forgotten our True Nature. Consequently, we have made this world the play of the self-centered ego, which is inherently selfish. This is why the Gurbani time and again says the mind and ego must dissolve and disappear. Selfless service to all is selflessly love all. This is Sahaj, spontaneoussness or natural sate of being. Without Sselflessness there cannot be true Sahaj. To achieve that state, the Gurbani says we must become Gurmukhs (egoless beings). If one does not do good to others and hurts them, the Gurbani says that person cannot be a God-conscious being and that the body of such a person is "false" or useless.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: Houmai vichi sevaa na hovayee taa manu birathaa jaai (sggs 560).
  • ਸੇਵਕੁ ਦਾਸੁ ਭਗਤੁ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਈ ॥: Sevak daas bhagat jan soee. Thaakur kaa daas gurmukh hoee: He alone is the selfless servant, slave and humble devotee, who as Gurmukh (egoless being), becomes the slave of the Lord (sggs 355).
  • ਸੇਵਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Sevaa surat sabad veechaar: Selfless service and Intuitive Awareness come by reflecting upon the Divine Word (sggs 1343).
  • ਸੇ ਭਗਤ ਸੇ ਸੇਵਕਾ ਜਿਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਿਆਰਾ ॥: Se bhagat se sevakaa jinaa har naam piaaraa: They alone are devotees, and they alone are selfless beings, who love the Lord's Name (sggs 733).
  • ਮਿਥਿਆ ਤਨ ਨਹੀ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰਾ ॥: Mithiaa tan nahee paroupakaaraa: False is the body which does not do good to others (sggs 269).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰ ਉਮਾਹਾ ॥: Breham giaanee paroupakaar oumaahaa: The God-conscious being delights in doing good to others (sggs 273).

The Gurbani reveals to us the followings. Only those who truly love God can generously help others. Otherwise we will only delight in hurting them. Also, those who truly love God are busy killing their own false ego-sense, not others. And that we become benefactor to all when we have the proper understanding and Self-knowledge. It is easy to become selfish and hurtful, because our mind is inherently just that. But selflessness and humility is a trait that is most difficult to cultivate, since it has to be genuinely felt and be ingrained in oneself. But with constant practice it can be done. That is why all the genuine scriptures and the true Masters affirm the need to develop humility and to eliminate the sense of ego. The hallmark of a noble person is humility and the ability to discriminate between right and wrong (Viveka-budhi). He has the courage to make the right choice.

  • ਆਪਿ ਮਰੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਹ ਮਾਰੀ ॥: Aap marai avaraa neh maaree: Kill your own ego, instead of killing others (sggs 356).
  • ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਆਖਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Mandaa kisai n aakh jhagarraa paavanaa: Do not speak ill of others, (by speaking ill of others) don't create quarrel (sggs 566).
  • ਪਰ ਕਾ ਬੁਰਾ ਨ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਚੀਤ ॥: Par kaa buraa na raakhahu cheet: Do not harbor evil intentions against others in your mind (sggs 386).
  • ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਉ ਸਿਮਰਹਿ ਸੇ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥: Prabh ko simarahi se paroupakaaree: Those who remember God generously help others (sggs 263).
  • ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥: Vidiaa veechaaree taan paroupakaaree (sggs 356).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org