TWO-EDGED SWORD

The path upon which I must walk is very depressing. It is sharper than a
two-edged sword, and very narrow. That is where my path lies.
O Shayikh Fareed, think of that path early on (sggs 794).
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The path of Spiritual Life or devotion demands complete eradication of one's false ego-sense (Haume). It is likened to a two-edged sword; for this path to God realization is anything but smooth. It's like swimming upstream! The human mind (Haume or ego) is inherently negative thus impure — selfish, a clever liar, fickle, unstable, deluded, corrupt, deceptive, trickster, judgmental, greedy, proud, and so on. It has preconceived ideas and concepts. To secure victory over such conditioned mind, the powerful foe indeed, and to realize God or one's Spiritual Nature (Joti-Svaroopa) in this very life — the purpose of life — Spiritual discipline and constant alertness or watchfulness over this deluded mind is needed, for which every spiritual aspirant had to undergo. Without constant spiritual discipline, correct attitude, and patient, the instinctive mind due to its thick ignorance and illusion will constantly trick us. Thus ego (Haume) or the human mind plays the role of a two-edged sword. It requires a great purity or stillness of the mind (its annihilation or control) to practice detachment that the Gurbani prescribes as an antidote to the afflictions associated with the worldly bondage. It's indeed like walking on a two-edged sword! That does no mean one should shrink from pursuing it. To the contrary, as the Gurbani says, one "should think of that path early on".

  • ਚਾਲਾ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ਭਗਤਾਹ ਕੇਰੀ ਬਿਖਮ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਚਲਣਾ ॥ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਤਜਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਬੋਲਣਾ ॥ ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਵਾਲਹੁ ਨਿਕੀ ਏਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: Chaal niraalee bhagtaa keree bikham maarag chalanaa ...: The devotees' lifestyle is unique and distinct; they follow the most difficult path. They renounce greed, avarice, pride and desire; they do not talk too much. The path they take is sharper than a two-edged sword, and finer than a hair (sggs 918).
  • ਵਾਟ ਹਮਾਰੀ ਖਰੀ ਉਡੀਣੀ ॥ ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਪਿਈਣੀ ॥ ਉਸੁ ਊਪਰਿ ਹੈ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥ ਸੇਖ ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰਿ ਸਵੇਰਾ ॥੪॥੧॥: Vaat hamaaree kharee udeenee. Khanniahu tikhee bahutu pieenee ..: The path upon which I must walk is very depressing. It is sharper than a two-edged sword, and very narrow. My Way lies on top (of the path which is sharper than a two-edged sword and very narrow). (Therefore) O Shaykh Fareed! Keep watch on that path early on (i.e., understand it and protect it...). ||4||1|| (sggs 794).
  • ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਮੇਰ ਤੇਰ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਏਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ॥: Maan moh mer ter biburajit ehu maarag khande dhaar: To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of 'mine and yours' (ego-sense), is the path of the double-edged sword (sggs 534).
  • ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ਗਲੀ ਅਤਿ ਭੀੜੀ ॥: Khande dhaar gulee at bheerree: This path is very narrow, like the sharp edge of a sword (sggs 1027).
  • ਗੁਰ ਸਿਖੀ ਬਾਰੀਕ ਹੈ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ਗਲੀ ਅਤਿ ਭੀੜੀ ॥: Gur sikhee baareek hai khande dhaar galee at bheerree: The discipleship of the Guru (God) is very subtle like a sword edge and narrow alley (Vaar 11, Bhai Gurdaas Ji).
  • ਗੁਰਸਿਖੀ ਬਾਰੀਕ ਹੈ ਸਿਲ ਚਟਨ ਫਿੱਕੀ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਖੀ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ਹੈ ਉਹ ਵਾਲਹੁੰ ਨਿਕੀ ॥ ਭੂਤ ਭਵਿਖਤ ਵਰਤਮਾਨ ਸਰਿ ਮਿਕਣ ਮਿਕੀ ॥ ਦੁਤੀਆ ਨਾਸਤ ਏਤ ਘਰ ਹੋਇ ਇਕਾ ਇਕੀ ॥ ਸਭੈ ਸਿਕਾਂ ਪਰਹਰੈ ਸੁਖ ਇਕਤੁ ਸਿਕੀ ॥: Gurasikhee baareek hai sil chattan fkiee ...: To be disciple of the Guru (God) is very subtle activity and it is like licking of the tasteless stone. It is thinner than the hair and sharper than the edge of the sword. Nothing is equal to it in present, past and future. In this path, the duality gets erased and one becomes one with that One. Man forgets the idea of second, third, when and why. Repudiating all the desires, the individual gets delight in the hope of one Lord (Vaar 11, Bhai Gurdaas Ji).
  • ਸੋ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਹਰਿ ਆਖੀਐ ਜੋ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਖੈ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਸਉਪੇ ਆਗੈ ਧਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਮਾਰਿ ॥: So sevak har aakheeai jo har raakhai our dhaar. Manu tanu soupe aagai dhare houmai vichahu maar: Placing mind and body in offering before the Lord, they conquer and eradicate egotism from within. Those who ever keep the Lord enshrined within their hearts are said to be His servants (sggs 28).

Clearly, the path to God realization or one's True Nature is beset with self-created obstructions — false ego-sense (Haume) and its numerous tentacles. Accordingly, Bhagti or devotion is something that cannot be imbibed easily. Only spiritual discipline and constant determination can help a spiritual aspirant overcome the difficulties and temptations created by the deluded mind (Haume). It demands sincerity, sustained efforts, and determined pursuit on the part of the individual. Only the resolute will be able to face the trials and tribulations and finally experince the Divine Grace within that alone can confer the ultimate goal of God realization. To attain this, disciplining one's mind and securing victory over it (Haume or ego) is very important. Not a piece of cake! This is what makes this path of the double-edged sword. Our mind will not let us become egoless. Egolessness means death of the mind. Our mind does not want to die. It will not die easily, without putting a fight! It is a mighty foe indeed. Baabaa Nanak tells us to abandon the falsehood (Haume) and pursue the Truth.

  • ਕੂੜੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਸਾਚੇ ਕਉ ਧਾਵਹੁ ॥: Koorr shhodd saachae ko dhhaavahu: Abandon falsehood, and pursue the Truth (sggs 1027).
  • ਜੈਸਾ ਕੀਚੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Jaisaa keechai thaiso paaeeai: As one acts, so does he suffer. (sggs 1027).
  • ਦੂਜੀ ਛੋਡਿ ਕੁਵਾਟੜੀ ਇਕਸ ਸਉ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥...: Doojee shod kuvaatarree ikas sauo chit laai. Doojai bhaaveen Nanakaa vahan lurrhandarree jaai : Forsake duality and the ways of evil; focus your consciousness on the One Lord. In the love of duality, O Nanak, the mortals are being washed downstream (sggs 1426).

To become a successful spiritual seeker (Gurmukh), it is indeed like "walking along the razor's edge", when sharpened, is difficult to tread on and pass over. The Gurbani says there are millions of spiritual seekers all over the world , though only a few attain the ultimate goal. The greatest hurdle is the human mind, that is, ego (Haume) — lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealously, stubborn mindedness, selfishness, corruption, hatred, and numerous other negativities of the mind. Ego does not let us learn the delicate art of balancing spirituality and worldly life. Ego wants to "take" and "take" in selfishness, whilst the spirituality is selfless "giving" and "giving" in pure love and service. Because of the mouse of ego scurrying around within, our mad and crazy mind remains devoid of spontaneity and love (Sahaj), Self-knowledge (Aatam-giaan), and Self-inquiry (Shabad-Vichaar) etc.

  • ਸਭੋ ਸਚੁ ਸਚੁ ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: Sabho sach sach sach vartai gurmukh koee jaanai: All is Truth; Truth, and Truth alone is pervading; how rare is the Gurmukh, spiritual being, who knows this (sggs 754).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋਈ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Gurmukh koee sach kamaavai: How rare are those who, as Gurmukh, live the Truth (sggs 1344).
  • ਸਚਿ ਰਤੇ ਸੇ ਟੋਲਿ ਲਹੁ ਸੇ ਵਿਰਲੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: Sach ratay say tol lahu say virlay sansaar: Seek and find those who are imbued with Truth; they are so rare in this world (sggs 994).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਟਨ ਮੈ ਕੋਊ ਭਜਨੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਪਾਵੈ ॥: Jan Nanak kotan mai kou bhajan raam ko pave: O servant Nanak, amongst millions there is hardly any mortal, who attains Divine meditation (sggs 219).
  • ਕੋਟਨ ਮੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੋਊ ਨਾਰਾਇਨੁ ਜਿਹ ਚੀਤਿ ॥: Kotan mai Nanak kou narain jih cheet: Rare is the one amongst millions, who enshrines Divine in his mind, O Nanak (sggs 1427).
  • .ਬਾਵਰੇ ਤੈ ਗਿਆਨ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Baavare tai giaan beechaaru na paaiaa. birathaa janamu gavaaiaa ||1|| Rahaaou ||: O mad man! You have not obtained Spiritual Wisdom (Giaan) and Vichaar (Shabad-Vichaar...). You have lost this birth in vain ||1||Pause|| (sggs 793).
  • 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).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇ ॥: Binu mann mooye kaise hari paai: Without annihilating (conquering) the mind, how can God be found? (sggs 665).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬਸਿ ਪੰਚ ਕਹਾ ਮਨ ਚੂਰੇ ॥: Bin bas panch kahaa mann chooray: Without overcoming the five thieves (lust, greed etc.), how can the mind be subdued? (sggs 1140).

The Gurbani shows how we can tread this path with relative ease (Sahaj), even racing along the path toward inner Peace, Bliss, selflessness, pure love, harmony and ultimately the realization of the Universal Consciousness that all beings share. Without spiritual discipline, correct and sustained self-effort there can be no spiritual awakening of the Divine Grace within. Determined pursuit, sincere and sustained efforts ensures progress. The ego-mind only dreams and destroys. The Gurmukh knows that there is no enduring reality to this dream created by our deluded consciousness: desires and fears, insecurities, cravings of the senses, attachments, and so on. In addition to descriminately enjoying material pleasures, one must also strive for freedom from bondage, the spiritual goal by adopting practices, which can be followed in day-to-day life. But our ego-mind just wants to indescriminately enjoys material pleasures, and not strive for freedom from bondage. As indicated in the Gurbani, the means to tread the spiritual path include replacing the ignorance with spiritual knowledge, and engaging in Naam-simran or meditation, Company of the Holy and the Wise (Saadh-sangat), Self-inquiry (Shabad-vichaar), introspection, truthful living, detachment, selfless service, and so on.

  • ਭਾਈ ਰੇ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਸਮਝਾਇ ॥ ਏ ਮਨ ਆਲਸੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਹਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ॥: Bhaaee re is mann ko samajhaae.Ey mann aalas kiaa karahi gurmukh naam dhiaae: O Siblings of Destiny, instruct your minds in this way. O mind, why are you so lazy? Become Gurmukh, and meditate on the Divine Name (sggs 23).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੋਇ ਰਹੇ ਸੇ ਲੂਟੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਬਤੁ ਭਾਈ ਹੇ ॥: Manmukh soe rehae sae loottae gurmukh saabat bhaaee hae (sggs 1024).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਗੈ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਸੋਵੈ ॥: Gurmukh jaagai need na sovai: The Gurmukh remains awake and aware (alert); he does not fall sleep to Maya (sggs 944).
  • ਪੰਚ ਭਾਗੇ ਚੋਰ ਸਹਜੇ ਸੁਖੈਨੋ ਹਰੇ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵਤੀ ਗਾਵਤੀ ਗਾਵਤੀ ਦਰਸ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: Panch bhaage chor sahaje sukhaino hare gun gaavatee gaavatee gaavatee daras piaar: The five thieves have run away, and I am in Peace and Poise; singing, singing, singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, I obtain the Blessed Vision of my Beloved. (sggs 1305).
  • ਜਿਹਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਸਗਲੀ ਤਜੀ ਲੀਓ ਭੇਖ ਬੈਰਾਗ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਨੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਤਿਹ ਨਰ ਮਾਥੈ ਭਾਗੁ ॥: Jihi bikhiaa sagalee tajee leeou bhekh bairaag...: One who has forsaken all sin and corruption, and who practices detachment - says Nanak, listen, mind: good destiny is written on his forehead (sggs 1427).
  • ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥ ਰਹਹਿ ਇਕਾਂਤਿ ਏਕੋ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਆਸਾ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰਾਸੋ ॥ ਅਗਮੁ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਦਿਖਾਏ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੋ ॥੫॥: Jaise jal mahi kamal ... (sggs 938).
  • ਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥੩॥: Sadh sangat mil budh bibek ||3||: Joining the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, the discriminating intellect is attained ||3|| (sggs 377).
  • ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: Bande khoj dil har roj phir paresaanee maahi: O human being, search your own heart every day, and do not wander around in confusion (sggs 727).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org