THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS

Those who are false in thought, word and deed, I have seen them falling in
hellish existence. The lustful, the angry, the clever, the deceitful and the lazy
waste their lives in slander, and never remember God in meditation (sggs 1105).
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There are three values in the very being and the life of an individual &- the principle of thoughts (also called Mann or mind) the principle of speech (also called Bachan or word) and the principle of action (also called Karma or deed). This trio — Mann, bachan, karma or the mind, speech, action or the thoughts, words, actions etc. — produce the beat and music of our lives. The real "Tap" (Tapa, Tapas or austerity) is to bring about a physical, vocal and mental unity by letting actions, words and thoughts become one. As indicated in the SGGS, the great soul (Gurmukh) is one who has been able to enjoy this harmony between the three principles of one's being and life. To the contrary, if thoughts-words-actions are in disarray, then a person cannot be considered a Gurmukh (a great soul or a man of Perfection). Therefore, the SGGS teaches cultivating threefold unity of thoughts, words and deeds. Such unity destroys all the distinctions made by the body-mind-intellect personality (i.e., Haume). Upholding the ideal of Dharma, the true devotee never thinks, speaks or acts in such a way as would cause harm to others.

In the case of the majority of us (over 99.9 percent category), however, generally what happens is that these three attributes are in disarray. That is to say, we do not say what we mean, we don't do what we say, and our words and actions are not in sync with our thoughts. This mendacity is said to be the root cause of conflicts, tensions, wars and violence in the world. If our thoughts are not in unison with our words and deeds then the strength of our creativity is diminished. In contrast, if we can bring about unity and harmony in all these three attributes and have them accolade each other instead of oppose each others, they blend into a concord to put up a greater momentum, resulting in increased creativity and peace. Thus, bringing these three aspects - thoughts, sound and physical vibration - into unison is the ultimate goal that must be achieved by all of us as indicated in the SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib), here and now. Let's briefly look at each of these three elements separately.

  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਰਸ ਕਸਹਿ ਲੁਭਾਨਾ ॥ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਗਇਆ ਜਾਇ ਕਹੂੰ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥੨॥: Man bach kram ras kasahi lubhaanaa. Binasi gaiaa jaai kahoon samaanaa ||2||: In thought, word and deed, he (the puppet of Maya) is attached to the sweet and tangy flavors. When he dies, no one knows where he has gone ||2|| (sggs 487).
  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਨਹੀ ਗਾਏ ਯਹ ਜੀਅ ਸੋਚ ਧਰਉ ॥੧॥ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Man bach kram Hari gun nahee gaae yah jeea soch dharaou ||1|| Gurmati suni kashu giaan n upjio pasu jiou udar bharaou: In thought, word and deed, I have not sung the Lord’s Praises; this thought worries my mind. ||1|| Despite listening to the Gurmati (Shabad-Giaan, Divine Teaching of the Gur-Shabad, etc.), (if) no spiritual wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਕੁਝ ਭੀ ਸੂਝ) wells up within (me); (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).

1. Thoughts: there are well-known expressions that go like this: as a man thinks, so will he become or as you think, so you become. Thus, clearly, our thoughts have great power over our life. These simple expressions which all the wise ones agree on, is at the core of true understanding as to how our thinking affects who we are. Scientists through their experiments tell us that everything in the physical creation vibrates at a certain frequency on a molecular level. The human brain is no exception. The human brain's waves can be classified as Beta (13-30 Hz or 13 to 30 cycles per second), Alpha (8-12 Hz), Theta (4-7 Hz), Delta (5-4 Hz) and Gamma (40-60 Hz). They feel these waves can travel as far as light! In other words, one's energy or potentiality becomes centered where one's awareness is focused. Perhaps this is what the SGGS means when it states ("Jehee surit tehaa tin raah"). Therefore, if we intend to change our life or the world in a positive way, the first thing we need to be aware of is our thoughts and, and what thought-energy we snuff out in the world. Because our tongue utters and our body acts as is our awareness or mentality.

  • ਜੈਸਾ ਸੇਵੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥: Jaisaa sevai taiso hoi ||4||: one becomes just like the One he serves (as one thinks, so he becomes). ||4|| (sggs 223).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹਾ ਤਿਨ ਰਾਹੁ ॥: Jehee surit tehaa tin raah: As is (beings') awareness, so is (their) way (sggs 25).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਮਨਸਾ ਕਰਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ॥: Jehee mansaa kar laagai tehaa phal paae: As are the desires (ਮਨ ਦੀ ਕਾਮਨਾ ) one harbors (when he serves the Satguru), so are the rewards one receives (as is the aspiration, so is the reward) (sggs 116).
  • ਜੈਸੀ ਪਿਆਸ ਹੋਇ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੈਸੋ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਵਹਿ ਪਰਕਾਰ ॥: Jaisee piyas hoyi mann antar tiaso jal devahi parkaar: As is the thirst (desires or cravings) within their minds, so is the water which You give to them (sggs 504).

Simplicity, mind-control, detachment or non-attachment, discrimination (Viveka-Budhi), introspection (acceptance of one's faults and wrongdoing) with moral courage etc. are important in regard to the mind. Non-attachment is when the mind and the senses become unaffected by the objects of the world and remain indifferent to their attraction and repulsion. The mind (false ego-sense or Haume) hides our true Self; therefore, the mind can be described as a veil. It is a veil of ignorance, for it hides one's True Nature (which is "Joti-Svaroopa"). But, the mind, itself, is tied down by the sense organs, and the sense organs are attracted to the enchanting objects of the mirage-like world, and get bound by them in the process. Therefore, the SGGS asks us to gain control over sense organs. For this, the practice of detachment is recommended, without losing track of our secular liabilities and duties. Discrimination (Viveka-Budhi) is the ability to distinguish between the right from the wrong. The world around an individual will not become good until his mind becomes good!

  • ਮਤਿ ਹੋਦੀ ਹੋਇ ਇਆਣਾ ॥: Mati hodee hoi iaanaa: If you are wise, be simple (sggs 1384).
  • ਠਾਕਹੁ ਮਨੂਆ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਠਾਇ ॥: Thaakahu manooaa raakhahu thaai: Control your mind, and keep it in its place (sggs 933).
  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: Mann re grih hee maahi oudaas: O mind, remain detached in the midst of your household (sggs 26).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ਸਦਾ ਆਪੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Antar bibek sadaa aap veechaare gur sabadee gun gaavaniaa: gaavaniaa: Those who have Viveka, continually examine their own selves. Through the Gur-Shabad, they sing the Lord's Glorious Praises (sggs 128).

2. Speech: there is also a famous expression that goes like this: you will condemn yourself from your own mouth. There is also a famous verse from the Bani popularly know as Asa Di Var - pronounced Aasaa Dee Vaar - that says "Nanak fikai boliai tanu manu fikaa hoi" (meaning is provided below). Just like our thoughts, spoken words (human speech) are also indicated to have a certain frequency vibration varying between 90 Hz and 300 Hz (lower frequency indicates a low voice and the higher frequency indicates a high pitched voice).

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਫਿਕੈ ਬੋਲਿਐ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਫਿਕਾ ਹੋਇ ॥: Nanak fikai boliai tanu manu fikaa hoi: Nanak, speaking insipid words, the body and mind become insipid (sggs 473).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਵਾਉ ॥: Nanak Manamukh bolan vaaou: O Nanak, the speech of the self-willed Manmukh is just wind (sggs 151).
  • ਜੈਸੀ ਪਿਆਸ ਹੋਇ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੈਸੋ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਵਹਿ ਪਰਕਾਰ ॥: Hor koorr parranaa koorr bolanaa Maya naal piaar: False is other reading and speaking in Maya's love (sggs 84).
  • ਫਿਕਾ ਬੋਲਿ ਵਿਗੁਚਣਾ ਸੁਣਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਮਨ ਅਜਾਣ ॥: Fikaa bol viguchanaa sun moorakh mann ajaan: Listen, O foolish and ignorant mind, harsh words bring grief (sggs 15).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਕੂੜੋ ਬੋਲੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਬੀਜੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਏ ॥: Manmukh sada hee koorro bolai bikh beejai bikh khaaye: The self-willed Manmukh always tells lies; he plants the seeds of poison, and eats only poison (sggs 753).

To link with God, the Gurbani asks us to wear "three robes" - sweet speech, humility and forgiveness. Thus, speech is a very important quality of any person. It is said that a fool is undiscovered as long as he does not speak. The SGGS indicates the speech to consist in speaking words that are sweet, absolutely truthful in all times, pleasing, peaceful (cooling and soothing), beneficial to others, not agitating to others, regularly reciting the Divine Word, and so on.

  • ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਸੋ ਹਉ ਕਰੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੬॥ ਨਿਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਖਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਏ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਭੈਣੇ ਵੇਸ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਂ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੀ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੭॥: Kavan su akhar kavan gun kavan su maneeaa mant. Kavan su veso haou karee jit vas aavai kant. Niwan su akhar khavan gun jihba maneeaa mant. Ye trai bhaine ves kar taa vas aavee kant ||127||: What is that permanent letter; what is that virtue; and what is that jewel-like spell? What are those clothes, which I can wear to captivate my Husband? ||126|| Humility is the word, forgiveness is the virtue, and sweet speech is the jewel-like spell. O sister (soul)! Wear these three robes and you will captivate your Husband. ||127|| (sggs 1384).
  • ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰ ॥੫॥: Sachahu orai sabh kayu upari sach aachaar ||5||: Everything is underneath (lower than, ਉਰ੍ਹੇ, …) Truth; the truthful living (living with Truth) is the highest (i.e., the superior form of living, ਸਭ ਤੇ ਉੱਪਰ …) ||5|| (sggs 62).
  • ਮੁਹੌ ਕਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਬੋਲੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: muhon ki bolan boleeai jit sun dhare piaar. Amrit velaa sach naaou vadiaaee veechaar: What words can we speak to evoke (God's) Love? In the Amrit Vaylaa chant the True Name, and contemplate it's Glorious Greatness (sggs 2).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਠਾਂਢੀ ॥: Har ke naam kee gat thaandhee: The Name of the Lord is cooling and soothing (sggs 1219).
  • ਨਿਕਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਸਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਹਾਜਰੁ ਕਿਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੁਰਾਈ ॥: Nikat kar jaanahu sadaa prabh haajar kis siou karahu buraaee: Know that God is near at hand, and ever-present. Then you could not bad or wicked to anyone else (sggs 883).
  • ਬਾਬਾ ਬੋਲੀਐ ਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Baabaa boleeai pat hoi: O Baabaa, speak only that which will bring you honor (sggs 15).
  • ਗੰਢੁ ਪਰੀਤੀ ਮਿਠੇ ਬੋਲ ॥: Gandh pareetee mithe bol: There is a bond between love and words of sweetness (sggs 143).

3. Deed: there are familiar expressions in this regard as well: "what we do to others will come back to us", "what goes around comes around" or "you reap what you sow". In scientific terms, it's similar to the famous expression by Newton, many have heard plenty of times - For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It simply means if you do something wrong, you will pay the price. This is the infallible Law of Karma that holds everyone responsible for what he is or going to be. So we have no one else to blame for the way we live at the present moment but ourselves. If our life is one of mental distress and unenlightened existence (the Manmukh or materialistic lifestyle), it is because we have sown the seed of foolishness, selfishness or ignorance. To the contrary, if we live a life of eternal Peace or Happiness, it is because we have sown the seed of Bliss (the Gurmukh or spiritual lifestyle). The SGGS urges us to examine as to what are the deeds that we are doing and are they in line with the true intent of our thoughts and words?

  • ਤੇਹਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Tehaa hovai jehe kaarm kamaai: As are the deeds done here, so does one become (sggs 363).
  • ਦਦੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੇਊ ਕਿਸੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਕਰੰਮਾ ਆਪਣਿਆ ॥ ਜੋ ਮੈ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੀਜੈ ਅਵਰ ਜਨਾ ॥: Daddai dos na deooo kisai dos krammaa aapaniaa. Jo mai keeaa so mai paaiaa dos na deejai avar janaa: Dadda (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet), I should not blame anyone else (for my suffering); I blame instead my own actions. Whatever I did, for that I have suffered; I don't blame anyone else (sggs 433).
  • ਜੈਸਾ ਕਰੇ ਸੁ ਤੈਸਾ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਵੈ ॥: Jaisaa kare so taisaa paavai. Aap beej aape he khavai: Man is rewarded according to his actions; as he sows, so does he eats or reaps (sggs 662).
  • ਕਰਮੀ ਕਰਮੀ ਹੋਇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Karamee karamee hoi veechaar: By their deeds, they (Jeevas or oindividuals) will be judged (at God's Darbaart, sggs 7).

When we examine each of the three elements, we are promised success in any endeavor. As you can see each element involves frequency, by bringing them in line we can increase the momentum. This process of bringing these aspects in line also involves looking at our emotional, physical, and spiritual makeup, which is part of the original Chi that is talked about in Chinese medicine. When looking at each aspect of our family makeup, we are urged to eradicate patterns that do not fit into the potential state of Perfection (the Gurmukh Lifestyle). The SGGS indicates that when one of these three elements is in disarray, the other two automatically go berserk. Our actions spurred by our weaknesses take us even further away from God, deadening the mind to the ultimate goal of God-realization.

Since in the case of the majority of us, our current thoughts, words and deeds are far from reaching the state of Perfection, we can follow the spiritual practices shown in the SGGS. As indicated in the SGGS, thoughts, words and deeds can be harmonized and spiritualized by concentrating on spiritual life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle) of meditation (Naam-Simran, Jap etc.), spiritual Company, and so on. Such spiritual life helps purify the mind, which in turn helps purify thoughts, words and deeds .

  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਪਨਾ ਧਿਆਈ ॥: Man bach kram prabh apanaa dhiaaee: In thought, word and deed, I meditate on my God (sggs 200).
  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਅਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਛੁਟਿਓ ਬਿਖੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥੩॥: Man bach kram govind adhaaru. taa te chhutio bikhu sansaaru ||3||: In thought, word and deed, seek the Govind's Support. Thus you will be liberated from the poisonous world (i.e., poison of Maya, Bikaars, passions, etc., that destroys one's Soiritual Life-ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ). ||3|| (sggs 197).
  • ਮਨਿ ਬਚਨਿ ਕਰਮਿ ਜਿ ਤੁਧੁ ਅਰਾਧਹਿ ਸੇ ਸਭੇ ਫਲ ਪਾਵਹੇ ॥: Mani bachani karami ji tudh araadhahi se sabhe fal paavahe: Those who worship and adore You (i.e., God) in thought, word and deed, obtain all fruits (sggs 248)
  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਆਰਾਧੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Mann bach kram aaraadhai har har saadhhasang sukh paaiaa: (One who surrenders to God) wrship the Lord's Name in thought, word and deed; in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, he obtained (Aatmic Anand) Sukha(sggs 1220
  • ਫੁਨਿ ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕ੍ਰਮ ਜਾਨੁ ਅਨਤ ਦੂਜਾ ਨ ਮਾਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੋ ਅਪਾਰੁ ਸਾਰੁ ਦੀਨੋ ਗੁਰਿ ਰਿਦ ਧਰ ॥: Fun mann bach kram jaan anat doojaa na maan naam so apaar saar deeno gur rid dhar: In thought, word and deed, I know the Lord; I do not worship any other. The Guru has enshrined the most excellent Name of the Infinite Lord within my heart (sggs 1398).
  • ਮਨ ਬਚ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਾਣਿਅਉ ਭਯਉ ਤਿਹ ਸਮਸਰਿ ਸੋਈ ॥: Mann bach jin jaaniaou bhayo tih samasar soee: Whoever knows Him in thought, word and deed, becomes just like Him i.e., achieves all attributes of God (sggs 1409).

Evidently, good (Shubh) thoughts, good words and good actions go a long way to bring about inner purity. This unity helps us stay "Awake" — maintaining constant awareness of one's thoughts, words and deeds. Seemingly the unending sleep of ignorance disappears with the dawning of such awareness. Thus, staying "Awake" as repeatedly mentioned in the SGGS does not mean just merely keeping the eyes open! A word of vigilance, however, about applying the power or energy of thoughts, words and deeds.

First, they are not meant to be used in a negative way as it will only harm the individual and the society at large. Therefore, the scriptures and the Great Souls ask us to use them only in a positive way. If not, then how do we expect the real changes in our life or in the world to be what we desire? In other words, we are urged not to choose or think, speak and act wrongly. From all such choices, the rest of our individual character eventually follows. If the mind entertains negative (Ashubh) thoughts and wishes wrong, this may eventually come to expression in one's words and deeds as well. This is also unity of thought, word and deed, but it is not the positive or right kind of unity. Consider this little story. Once a wise man was teaching his grandchild about life: "A constant fight or battle is going on inside me", he said to his grandchild. "It's a terrible fight between the solders of two armies. One of the two armies is the evil — it's solders are lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride along with their numerous variations such as envy, stubborn mindedness, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, superiority, self-doubt, selfishness, the feeling of "I, me mine", and so on. The other army is the good — it's solders are truthfulness, contentment, Knowledge, joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, compassion, faith, forgiveness etc. This same fight is also going on inside you and inside every other person."The grandchild thought about it for a moment and then asked the grandfather, "Which army will win?" The wise man simply said, "The one you feed!"

Second, in any case all notions (good, bad etc.) are in the sphere of the mind. Accordingly, the scriptures ask us to ultimately transcend this mind (or conquer, annihilate, kill etc.) altogether; for God or the Real World is beyond the mind. This may lead one to the following question, "well, then why even bother about good thoughts, good words and good deeds?" As stated earlier, good thoughts, good words and good deeds go a long way to create inner purification essential for transcending the mind. Conversely, negative thoughts, words and deeds will only further embellish one's inner "filth" or pollution! There is a famous verse of the SGGS — "Mani jeetai jag jeet" (the meaning is provided below).

  • ਉਤਮ ਮਨ ਬਚ ਕਰਮ ਕਰ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਭਵਜਲ ਲਖ ਫੇਰੇ ॥: Outtam mann bach karam kar janam maran bhavajal lakh fere: Having even the best mind, speech and actions, man goes on transmigtraing in the ocean of life and death (Bhai Gurdaas Jee, Vaar 15). Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field I will meet you there (Rumi).
  • ਊਪਰਿ ਗਗਨੁ ਗਗਨ ਪਰਿ ਗੋਰਖੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਅਗਮੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪੁਨਿ ਵਾਸੀ ॥: Oopar gagan gagan par gorakh taa kaa agam guroo pun vaasee: (beyond the wanderings of the mind) High is that mind-sky (the spiritual state or Aatmic Avasthaa or Dasam Duaar), where the Unfathomable or Inaccessible Lord, the Protector of the World dwells; however, through the Guroo (one becomes able to) abide there too (sggs 992).
  • ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥: Mani jeetai jag jeet: If you conquer the mind, you conquer the material world (sggs 6).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org