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
(Shabad-Vichaar). You have lost this birth in vain ||1||Pause|| (sggs 793).

One must be in light to know the darkness. Similarly, we must be established in Spiritual Wisdom (Aatam-Giaan) to know the ignorance. Under the spell of ignorance, however, we have adorned ourselves with the subtle robes of false ego, false concepts and false conditionings. Until they are removed, we will be unable to experience the Supreme Light within. Accordingly, the scriptures urge us to jump into the fire of Divine Knowledge (Aatam-giaan of the Gur-Shabad...). This fire will burn our all material bondage (love of Maya)! The Gurbani here talk about becoming knower one's Mool (Origin, Source, Jot...). Therefore, we are challenged to progress from secular or material knowledge to Spiritual Wisdom.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Gurmukhi hovai su giaanu tatu beechaaai haumai sabadi jalaaye: (One) who becomes the Gurmukh contemplates the essence of the "Tatu Giaanu" (the Essence of spiritual wisdom, Divine Knowledge, Jot...); through the Shabad (i.e., Shabad-Vichaar), burns away (his) egotism (sggs 946).
  • ਉਪਜੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਛੀਜੈ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਰਸਿ ਗਗਨੰਤਰਿ ਭੀਜੈ ॥: Oupajai giaan duramat shheejai. Amrit ras gaganantar bheejai: (In the state of Awareness) Spiritual Wisdom arises within, and evil-mindedness departs; (in this Higher state) the mind becomes drenched with the Rasa of the (Naam) Amrit (sggs 974).
  • ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇ ਰਾਮ ਰਸਾਇ ਰਸੀਅਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਜਨੁ ਸਾਰਹੇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਲੋਕ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਪੰਚ ਦੂਤ ਸੰਘਾਰਹੇ ॥: Gun gaai raam rasaai raseeahi gur giaan anjan saarahe. Trai lok deepak sabad chaanan panch doot sanghaarahe: Singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, you will be filled with the (Divine Virtues) . If you Apply the Guru's ointment of Spiritual Wisdom to your eyes (spiritual eyes - ਆਤਮਕ ਅੱਖਾਂ), then (through) the lamp of Shabad - that illuminates the three worlds - there will be the Light of ( spiritual understanding - ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ) within; (consequently, you will be able to) slaughter the five demons (from within) (sggs 1113).
  • 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).
To remain established in Divine Knowledge is Jeevanmukti (liberation). When this state of Wisdom is disturbed or agitated by distraction, there arises the sense of false ego, creating material bondage. This leads to the following question: How can one ascend to the state of Spiritual Wisdom? The scriptures reveal to us various steps for its attainment. These steps can be lumped in the following headings:
  • Pure yearning for wisdom
  • Vichar (pronounced as Vichaar) or Self-inquiry
  • Gaining Mental subtlety
  • Abiding in truth
  • Total detachment
  • Cessation of the perception of duality
  • Going beyond all of this
Death of the contending mind (or false ego) is the birth of Spiritual Wisdom. Therefore, without the preparation of the instinctive mind, it is impossible to apprehend the Truth. Described in the true scriptures is the process of Spiritual Realization for all seekers of the Truth. Therefore, the foregoing steps for Spiritual Realization as revealed in the scriptures are not for judging others, but to test ourselves!!

Pure Yearning For Wisdom

As the saying goes: "We are what we think". If our heart is filled with pure yearning or intention for attaining Wisdom, it will manifest. If we are uninterested (unwilling, insincere, etc.), it will not happen. It's that simple. This is the first step. The mind will always do what it is trained to do. Our body is like a chariot, and the mind is the driver. For example, if one tells this mind to take him to a Spiritual Assembly, it will take him there. On the other hand, if one asks this driver to take him to a liquor house, he will end up in a liquor bar or a pub!

  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹਾ ਤਿਨ ਰਾਹੁ ॥: Jehee surit tehaa tin raah: As is (beings') awareness, so is (their) way (sggs 25).
Therefore, with pure wish or intention, we must yearn for freedom from false ego and material bondage. Otherwise, mental delusion is guaranteed! As indicated in the Gurbani, the way to conquering the bondage is through conquering of the mind with the sword of dispassion (Bairaag) and spiritual Wisdom (Giaan). The feeling of dispassion towards the material entanglement leads one to meditation (Jap or Naam-Simran), love, selfless service, Self-inquiry, diligent study of the scriptures, Spiritual Company within and without, and so on. In turn, these Spiritual practices inspire us to mend our ways and worldly perceptions to bring about the real transformation within.

Vichaar Or Self-Inquiry

Shabad Vichaar is the love with the Mool within (Origin, Source, Jot...). Accordingly, the Gurbani has put utmost importance and emphasis on it. Intuitive Shabad Vichaar cleanses one's mind by removing doubts, thereby, making it fit for receiving Spiritual Wisdom and Intuitive Understanding of the Gur-Shabad. Therefore, like our natural act of breathing that continues until our last breath, we must constantly be engaged in Shabad-Vichaar every moment of our life.

  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥: Ootam karanee sabad beechaar: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad - Shabad Vichaar (sggs 158).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਣੀ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ॥੮॥੧੦॥: Nanak Sabad vichaareeai paaeeai gunee nidhaan ||8||10||: Nanak, by Shabad Vichaar, one obtains the treasure of the spiritual wisdom ||8||10|| (sggs 59)
Upon engaging the mind in Shabad-Vichaar, it begins to attain Inner Purity. Which, in turn, helps our mind to become aware of its own crookedness, falsehood, perversions, weaknesses, evil-mindedness, stubbornness, inappropriate behavior, prejudices, ill-feelings, false concepts, selfishness, etc. As a result, one exerts self-efforts to eradicate undesirable qualities and resolves to live a Gurmukh Life.
  • ਸਾਚੇ ਰਾਤੀ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੀਵੈ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਧਾਰ ॥੩॥: Saache raatee Gur Sabad veechaar. Amrit peevai nirmal dhaar: By engaging in Shabad Vichaar, one becomes Imbued with Truth, and drinks in the immaculate stream of Amrit (Naam -Giaan), within (sggs 158).
  • ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਆਤਮ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ਹੇ ॥੭॥: Aatam Raam Raam hai aatam Hari paaeeai Sabad veechaaraa he ||7|| : The soul is God, and God is the soul; by engaging in the Shabad Vichaar, God is found ||7|| (sggs 1030).
Gaining Mental Subtlety

With the sincere practice of the preceding two steps, one develops dispassion for material attachment (Maya). As a result, the mind becomes subtle and transparent. Without gaining such Intuitive Balance of the mind, as the Gurbani says, we will render ourselves Spiritually blind in this world.

  • ਪੜੀਐ ਗੁਨੀਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਸੁਨੀਐ ਅਨਭਉ ਭਾਉ ਨ ਦਰਸੈ ॥ ਲੋਹਾ ਕੰਚਨੁ ਹਿਰਨ ਹੋਇ ਕੈਸੇ ਜਉ ਪਾਰਸਹਿ ਨ ਪਰਸੈ ॥੧॥: Parheeai guneeai naam sabh suneeai anabhaou bhaaou n darsai. Lohaa kanchan hiran hoi kaisae jaou paarasahi n parasai ||1||: All read, hear and reflect upon God's Name; but (due to lust, anger, etc.) they cannot develop the Divine Love, and they cannot Experience God within. How can iron be transformed into gold, unless it touches the Philosopher's Stone? (sggs 973-974).
Emotional attachment to worldly objects clouds our Bibeka Budhi (discriminating intellect). To the contrary, the practice of dispassion makes this divine quality shine forth in all its glory. With Bibek Budhi, man is able to discriminate between the right and wrong or eternal (permanent) and the ephemeral (impermanent). This subtle sense of discrimination helps one to know the difference between Sat & Asat (truth and falsehood). Thus, a person with discrimination knows that the Absolute Reality alone is eternal (Sat) and that everything else in this material world is temporary (Asat). With this subtle thinking, one will not hesitate to forego worldly nonsense. Thus, the Gurbani proclaims that without discrimination, this precious human life is a waste:
  • ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧੀ ਸੁਖਿ ਰੈਣਿ ਵਿਹਾਣੀ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਾ ॥: Bibek budhi sukh rain vihani gurmat nam pargas: Through the discriminating intellect, the life night passes in Peace and by the Guru's instructions, through the Name (one is) enlightened (ਅੰਦਰ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸ ਹੋਂਣਾ) (sggs 772).
  • ਸੋ ਧਨਵੰਤਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥: So dhanvanta jis budh bibek: He alone is wealthy who possesses discriminating intellect (sggs 1150).
Abiding In Truth

When all these three are well practiced, the mind naturally turns away from the sense pleasures. With such natural turning away from the object of senses comes mind's natural dwelling in the Truth: Shabad-Surti, Naam-consciousness or Unconditioned Awareness. The so called impurity or contamination of the mind is nothing but its attachment to sense pleasures.

  • ਗੀਤ ਨਾਦ ਹਰਖ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ ਰਹਸ ਰੰਗ ਫੁਰਮਾਇਸਿ ਕਾਈ ॥ ਪੈਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਣੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਚੀਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਸਾਚੁ ਸਹਜੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਸਾਈ ॥੧॥: Geet naad harakh chaturaaee ...: (worldly) songs, sounds, pleasures and clever tricks; joy, love and the power to command (ਹਕੂਮਤਾਂ); fine clothes and food — these have no place in one’s consciousness (They don't appeal to my consciousness). True Intuitive Peace and Poise (Sahaj - ਅਟੱਲ ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ) rest in the Naam ||1|| (sggs 1331).
  • ਸਾਦ ਕਰਿ ਸਮਧਾਂ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਘਿਉ ਤੇਲੁ ॥ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਗਨੀ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਲੁ ॥: Saad kar samadhaa trishnaa ghiou tel. Kaam krodh agnee siou mel: Let your taste for pleasures (sense-gratifications) be the firewood, let your greed be the Ghee and oil, and your lust and anger the fire; gather them (and burn them in this Hom-fire) (sggs 1257).

All the pleasures of Maya are tasteless and insipid. In the end, they all fade away. Power, wealth, possessions and enjoyments, all are just like the shadow of a tree. We run around in many directions in hope to capture this shadow, but all of our pursuits are useless because everything we desire appears transitory. Except for the Divine Name, everything is untrue and has no appeal to a person situated in Pure Consciousness (Joti-Svaroopa).

Slowly but surely, with the sincere Spiritual practice, worldly desires and fear become weaker, and begin to loose grip over the mind. As a result, the mind willingly begins to contemplate on the Divine Name within, and the devotee starts seeing the glimpses of the Spiritual Reality.

Total Detachment

The intensity of non-attachment to the mundane objects, worldliness (Maya), increases with each step. With the practice of these four steps arises the total detachment (complete control of mind). And, with the detachment (Baiaraag) from the falsehood arises the conviction of the True Nature of the Absolute Truth. In other words, detachment from Maya (untruth) constitutes attachment to Supreme Reality (Truth).

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag na shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
With the rise of the total detachment, "I-am-the-body" idea disappears, resulting in seeker's becoming introvert. Consequently, thereafter, the contemplation on the Divine becomes effortless (Sahaj Subhaaye). Thus, it is clear that the measuring stick for Spiritual Progress is the degree of our non-attachment to the body and other objects of the world.

Cessation Of The Perception Of Duality

With the mastery over these five steps comes the cessation of the perception of duality and diversity within and without. In other words, the distinctions between the thoughts of inner (latent memories) and outer world of objects cease to be. Then one abides and rejoices in the True Nature of one's own real Self. This is the direct Spiritual Experience.

  • ਕੂੜ ਗਏ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਨਸੀ ਪੂਰਨ ਸਚਿ ਭਰੇ ॥: Koorr gaye dubidhaa nasee pooran sach bhare: (Those who meditate on the Lord's Name, Naam, their) falsehood vanishes; their duality is erased, and they become completely filled with (ਸਦਾ-ਥਿਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ) Truth (sggs 136).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਇਕਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Gurmukh hove su ekas siou liv laae. Doojaa bharam gur sabadi jalaae: One who becomes the Gurmukh embraces Lve for the One (Lord). By engaging in the Shabad, he burns away his doubt and duality (sggs 115).
After cessation of duality, only the Pure Consciousness remains. All other supports, divisions, or diversities vanish. The spontaneous, natural and unbroken Knowledge of the Mool (Origin, Source, Jot...) shines forth. This is the state of Jeevanmukta; living liberated while incarnated in this body. This is the Transcendental state, where the perception of the pluralistic world is no more active.

Going Beyond All Of This

By ascending these six steps, one naturally attains this last state and becomes a Gurmukh. This state of Highest Consciousness called Turiyaa Avasthaa can be attained by all, "here" and "now"; for it involves only the rise of the true understanding of the Essence of Divinity. This state is also known by many other names such as Chauthaa Pad or fourth state, opening of the tenth gate, Sahaj Avasthaa, Sunn Samaadhi, etc.

  • ਸਹਜ ਕਥਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਅਤਿ ਮੀਠੀ ॥ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਕਾਹੂ ਨੇਤ੍ਰਹੁ ਡੀਠੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Sahaj kathaa prabh kee ati meethee. Viralai kaahoo netrahu deethee || 1||Rahaaou||: The Natural Speech of God (Sahaj producing God's Praises, Naam-Simran, etc. - ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ ਪੈਦਾ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦੀ ਸਿਫ਼ਤਿ-ਸਾਲਾਹ ) is so very sweet. But how rare is that person, who sees it with his eyes (i.e., who experiences or tastes it) ||1||Pause|| (sggs 739).
In order to abide in the Mool within (Origin, Source, Jot...), ascending the realm of worldly knowledge is very important. Otherwise, generally what happens is that many seekers get stuck in their acquired knowledge! Why? After gaining some knowledge, they become proud of it; and, consequently, glide down into the dark pit of false ego. As a result, instead of calling themselves simply a seeker, many start calling themselves "Saint", "Baabaa", "Saadhoo", "Bhagwaan", "Yogi", "Sidha", "Guru", "Swami", "Sri 108", "Holy Man", and so on. This is the beginning of man's ruin. As indicated in the Gurbani, all such people including so called Brahmaa, Mahesh, etc., get stuck in the realm of the worldly knowledge! The Gurbani's advice is to go beyond it!
  • ਸਨਕ ਸਨੰਦ ਅੰਤੁ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਬੇਦ ਪੜੇ ਪੜਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੇ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ (sggs 478).
  • ਦੇਖੌ ਭਾਈ ਗ੍ਹਾਨ ਕੀ ਆਈ ਆਂਧੀ ॥ ਸਭੈ ਉਡਾਨੀ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਟਾਟੀ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਬਾਂਧੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Dekho bhaayee giaan kee aayee andhee ...: Behold, O brother! (When) the storm of Spiritual Wisdom comes, (then) the thatched hut of doubt gets blown away; supported by bonds of Maya (this thatched hut of doubt) cannot continue to remain behind (the storm of Spiritual Wisdom or Aatam-Giaan). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 331).
Externally, for example, one may read about wisdom, one may talk about wisdom, one may even externally look wise; but in reality, he may be just cultivating ignorance instead! For example, a painted pot of nectar can not be nectar, a painted flame can not be fire, and a painting of a person can not be a person. Similarly, wise words are mere words unless they are substantiated by the inner transformation. This leads to a question: what is the proof of wisdom? The real proof of wisdom is the absence of desire for sense gratification or evil-mindedness.
  • ਙੰਙਾ ਙਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਮੁਖ ਬਾਤਉ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਕਰਿ ਭਾਤਉ ॥ ਙਆਨੀ ਸੋਇ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਦ੍ਰਿੜ ਸੋਊ ॥ ਕਹਤ ਸੁਨਤ ਕਛੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਊ ॥: Nangaa giaan nahee mukh baatayu. Anik jugat sastar kari bhaatayu. Giaanee soyi jaakai drir soyoo. Kahat sunat kashoo yog na hoyoo: Nangaa: spiritual wisdom is not obtained by mere words of mouth. It is not obtained through the various debates of the Shaastras and scriptures. They alone are spiritually wise, whose minds are firmly fixed on the Self. By just hearing and telling stories, no one attains Yoga (sggs 251).
The true nature of Mool (Origin, Source, Jot...) is Pure Wisdom, or Pure Awareness. As such, the Pure Wisdom is always present within all beings. However, it becomes dormant due to mental conditionings (Mayaic intellect...). Shabad-Vichaar helps awaken this dormant condition.
  • ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਮੀਠਾ ॥: Giaan dhiaan gur sabad hai meethaa: (That person to whom) the Gur-Shabad tastes Sweat, (for him) Gur-Shabad is Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom) and Dhiaan (Inner Reflection, meditation, etc.). (sggs 162).

— T. Singh