VICHAAR - SPIRITUAL INQUIRY

ਡਿਠੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥:
Dithai mukati n hovaee jicharu sabadi n kare vichharu
:
One is not liberated by merely seeing (the Satgur);
he must practice Shabad-Vichaar (sggs 594).
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At the entrance to the Realm of the Truth, there are four guards; one of them is Spiritual-inquiry or Vichaar. The other three are physical and mental control, true contentment (Sat Santokh) in all situations, and association of the Sat (Truth) within. In order to get to the Essence of Reality, we sincerely need to make friendship with them. If we succeed in cultivating friendship with one of these, the other three will follow spontaneously and naturally.

What is Vichaar? The Gurbani says everything is within the body, including the Mool (Source, Origin, Jot, Truth...). The Gurmat (Aatam-Giaan of the Gur-Shabad) reveals how we all are One with this Reality. Vichaar enables one to experience and realize this Mool with. Therefore, the spiritual practice of Vichaar, quest of the Mool within (Self-inquiry: ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਪੜਤਾਲ) is the introspective meditation that yields Self-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan: ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ).

  • ਖਖਾ ਖੋਜਿ ਪਰੈ ਜਉ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਜੋ ਖੋਜੈ ਸੋ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਖੋਜ ਬੂਝਿ ਜਉ ਕਰੈ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਉ ਭਵਜਲ ਤਰਤ ਨ ਲਾਵੈ ਬਾਰਾ ॥੪੦॥: Khakhaa khoj prai jayu koyee. Jo khejai so bahur na hoyee. Khoj boojh jayu kare bichaaraa. Tayu bhavjal tarat na laavai baaraa ||40||: Khakhaa (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet), anyone who becomrs absorbed in seeking God, and by seeking Him, finds Him (Realized Him), will not be born again. When someone seeks Him, and comes to understand and engages in Vichaar, then he crosses over the terrifying world-ocean in an instant ||40|| (sggs 342).

Thus, Vichaar is to constantly inquire, reflect, contemplate, investigate, or directly look into: "Who am I? How can I know where I came from? Where did I originate, and where will I go and merge? How am I bound, and how do I obtain liberation? How do I merge with intuitive ease (Sahaj) into the Eternal? What is this world: the place of repeated birth and death? How I have come into being in this temporal and transient state? What is mind? Who is the sufferer? What is the Truth?", and so on. As the spiritual Vichaar relates to Giaan (or Giyan), the Self-knowledge arises with the aid and practice of such inner inquiry, followed by Sahaj Avasthaa (natural state of Being, intuitive Poise, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਡੋਲਤਾ), true Understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ), pure Love or Devotion (Bhagti-understaning of Gurmat)...

Self-inquiry (Shabad-Vichaar, Aatam-Vichaar, etc.) leads to Self-realization - linking with the Mool within. Those (the Gurmukh) who have realized the True Nature of Mool emphasize the fact that it is impossible to communicate the experience to others. One must experience it for himself. To do that they urge us to undertake Vichaar. Through this process one reaches the subtlest level of one's Mool, losing his body-consciousness (egoism or Haume) in the process. The Mayaic mind by nature is outgoing as the senses and the intellect force the mind to seek the world of objects. By engaging the mind in repeated Shabad-Vichaar, it acquires the purity to return to its Source. It is like a salt candy when thrown in water it loses its identity; similarly, the mind plunged in the Mool loses its false identity and attains its true identity as Pure Awareness (Joti-Svaroop).

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਾਚੀ ਸਾਚਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Gurmati saachee saachaa veechaaru: One who adopts the true Gurmat (the Teaching of the Gur-Shabad), abides in the true Vichaar (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਪੜਤਾਲ) within (sggs 666).

As stated in the the Gurbani, human beings are only animals unless they are Mool-realized. This leads to the following question: What is it that prevents us from becoming Mool-realized? It's the ego-mind - the sense of "I, me, mine, your" - which veils the Mool, preventing us from seeing the Reality of it. Since our own mind is the troublemaker, the Gurbani urges us to "kill" it. The death of the ego-mind in essence is linking (Yog) with Mool within. When the physical ego dies, the Truth shines forth from behind the mind.

How can the false ego be killed? Through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar, says the Gurbani. What is the Truth? The Truth which is omnipotent, omnipresent, and which is Pure Awareness devoid of any change is referred to by various names as God, Self, Light, Infinite Consciousness, Existence, Knowledge, Bliss, Absolute Reality, Parmaatam, Parameshar, Allah, Waheguru, Raam, Satguru, Shabad, Naam, and so on. It is expressed in the inner silence of Pure mind (Sunn Smaadhi). This is the only eternal Reality there is; everything else indicates to It. As the mind is made in Divine Image (Joti-Svaroop); he is identical with this Reality. That is our True Nature.

This leads to the following question: If Jeeva's Real Nature is Joti-Svaroop or Divine, why then are we so appallingly unaware of it? What does impede us from knowing our Real Nature and the nature of the world around us? It is the veil of false ego (Haumai) that have intervened!

  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਸਾਚਾ ਗਹੋ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਮਾਨੋ ਸਗਰੋ ਇਹੁ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Man re saachaa gahi bichaaraa. Raam Naam bin mithiaa maano sagro ih sansaaraa ||1||Rahaaou||: O mind, embrace True Vichaar. Without God's Name, know that this whole world is false ||1||Pause|| (sggs 703).
  • ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਚਾ ਜੀਉ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਚਾ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥: Teraa naam sachaa jeeou sabad sachaa veechaaro: (O dear Lord) True is Your Name; True is contemplation of Your Shabad (sggs 243).

If we want to rediscover our True Nature (Joti-Svaroop), or if we are serious to know what we truly are, then first we need to know what we are not. After discarding all that we are not, only one thing will remain; our very Mool.

However, under the spell of ignorance and delusion, one entertains the wrong notion that the material body is the Mool. This  false or mistaken identity is the seed of egoism or mind, whose nature is conceptualization, which is the cause of sorrow. The trunk of a tree that grows out of this ego-seed is body. The branches of this tree are limited senses that reach out in every direction seeking for sensual pleasures. They are of the nature of material conditioning, false concepts and precepts. It is when we entertain desires and fear that this world illusion begins to expand and spread out. This tree bears the fruit of duality — likes and dislikes. Out of this perverse thinking comes an arrogant sense of doership and enjoyership (egoism). Both these doership and enjoyership create in us the misapprehension that we are limited entities. This is what we are not!

  • ਦਦਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਜੁ ਬਿਨਸਨਹਾਰਾ ॥ ਜਸ ਅਦੇਖਿ ਤਸ ਰਾਖਿ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਦਸਵੈ ਦੁਆਰਿ ਕੁੰਚੀ ਜਬ ਦੀਜੈ ॥ ਤਉ ਦਇਆਲ ਕੋ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੪॥: Daddaa dekh ju binsanahaaraa. Jas dekh tas raakh bichaaraa. Dasvai duaar kunjee jab deejai. Taou diaal kaou darsan keejai ||24||: Daddaa (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet): Whatever is seen (with our physical eyes) will perish. Engage in the Vichaar (Shabad-Vichaar) of the One who is unseen (i.e., who cannot be seen with our physical eyes). When the key (of the Gur-Shabad, Gur-Giaan...) is inserted in the Tenth Gate (i.e., when we abide in the Guru-Shabad, the Mool within...), then the Blessed Vision (Darshan) of the Merciful Lord is seen ||24|| (sggs 341).
How can we uproot this tree of illusion? One way to abandon this tree is through the aid of unbroken Shabad-Vichaar as revealed in the Gurbani. This inquiry of the Mool is to be conducted with the intellect (Bibek-Budhi) that has been purified by the diligent study of the Gurbani. In the light of  this Mool-inquiry, the confused mind (ego-sense) is abandoned, and the Mool is realized within at once. Thus, in the spirit of Shabad-Vichaar there is Realization of the Reality within.
  • ਤਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈ ਸੋਹੰ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥: Tat niranjan joti sabaaee soham bhed na koee jeeo:  The essence, the immaculate Lord, the Light of all - I am He and He is me - there is no difference (sggs 599).
As affirmed in the Gurbani, if we must do any effort, then engage in the spirit of unbroken Shabad-Vichaar. Why? Intuitive Shabad-Vichaar cleanses one's mind by removing desires and doubts, thereby, making it fit for receiving Spiritual Wisdom and intuitive Understanding of the Gur-Shabad. Therefore, engaging in the Mool-inquiry while keeping Company of the Sat (Truth) within are aids in the practice required for knowing the Essence of Divinity.
  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: Ootam karanee sabad beechaar ||3||: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad - Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).
The basis of all scriptures is the rise of phantom called mind (egoism or sense of individuality). Consequently, the purpose of all scriptures is none other than elimination of this phantom. It is the deluded mind which is the root cause of distress, misery, and the ignorant cycle of repeated pain and suffering. The Gurbani affirms that, until this phantom is killed, the Truth will not dawn upon us. One of the aids available to us for the mind's elimination is to directly inquire into its nature: what is this mind? How does it come into being? Upon investigation, we will find that there is no such thing as mind! Only the Pure Mool exists, the Substratum (Adhaar) of all.
  • ਜਿਚਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥: Jichar ih mann laharee vich hai hayumai bahut ahankaar: As long as our mind is tossing around, we are caught in ego and egotistical pride (sggs 1247).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋਹੰ ਹੰਸਾ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪਹੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣ ਤਿਸੈ ਸਮਾਹਿ ॥: Nanak soham hansaa jap jaapahu tribhavan tisai samaahi: O Nanak, chant the chant of "Soham hansaa" — "He is me, and I am Him." The three worlds are absorbed in Him (sggs 1093).
The nature of mind is Vaasnaas — conditioning, latent memories, and subtle old impressions. It exists in the consciousness, not the other way around. Without the consciousness, it is inert; hence not a real entity. Any entity that depends on something else for its existence is unreal (ephemeral). Mind comes into being through ignorance and delusion (egoism). Also known as false "I", it arises in the absence of Mool-Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan). The pastime of our mind is conceptualization (notion or Phurne), which gives rise to this world of names, forms, and quality.

Where does the "I" thought come from? What is the source of this "I" thought? The "I" thought comes from the the ego-sense (the notion of doership and enjoyership — "I am the doer" or "I am the enjoyer"). If we take our Spiritual-inquiry a step further and ask: From where does the ego-sense come from? It comes from the ignorance of the Mool or not knowing we are "Joti-Svaroop". By removing the ignorance of the Mool, the ego-sense or Ahankaar is destroyed. Destruction of the ego-sense is the same as the destruction of the confused mind. Thus, when the substratum or the support of the mind is inquired into, the superimposition (false "I") gets destroyed and the support (Mool) remains alone.

  • ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥: Jab ham hote tab tu naahee ab tuhee mai naahee: When I am in my ego, You (God) are not with me; now that You are with me, there is no egotism in me (sggs 657).
  • ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Iou kahai Nanaku man toon joti saroopu hai apanaa moolu pashaanu ||5||: Thus says Nanak - O mind! Your "Saroop" (your own, True State) is "Joti" (Divine Light)! Recognize your Mool (Source, Origin, Reality...) ||5|| (sggs 441).
By not inquiring, we keep living in the world, rather than the world living in us. The goblin of mind exists only as long as one does not inquire into its nature. Thus, for the attainment of the True Knowledge, Shabad-Vichaar is an important aid in Spiritual practice (Shabad-Kamaaee). An investigation into the impermanent nature of the phenomenal world (Maya) makes one to think about his foolishness, which  leads one to practice sincere dispassion or non-attachment (Bairaag).
  • 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)
Vichaar is the universal solvent that helps dissolve the bondage of Maya (ignorance, delusion). Our fear and desires condition the consciousness by creating division in it. Does this conditioning effect our Mool, the Substratum of everything? Upon Shabad-Vichaar, we will find that the Mool ever remains unchanged or unaffected by any external modifications. For example, we can see countless specks of dust in the sunbeam, however, the light neither knows them nor depends upon them. Similarly, in the Mool (sunbeam) there are countless individualities or worlds (dust specks), however, the Mool ever remains unchanged!

To look at it from an another angle, imagine entering into a dark room where you cannot see things or their shape and color. As soon as the window opens, the room becomes flooded with light enabling you to see things with their color and shape. Is the window the source of light? No, it is only the giver of light as the source is the sun. Similarly, the world is like a dark room; our individual consciousness is the window which floods the world of objects, emotions and thoughts. The Mool (sun) is the source of this lightr. Whether we close off our window (ego-mind) or not, the sun (Mool) always shines all the time. It makes all the difference to the room (our world of names and forms), but none to the sun (the Reality)! This is the power of Shabad-Vichaar.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਕੋ ਨਹੀ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: Nanak bin Naavai nirbhaou ko nahee jichar Shabad na kare veechaar ||1||: O Nanak, without the Name and Shabad-Vichaar, no one becomes fearless ||1|| (sggs 588).
It is only the untruth or ignorance that is always afraid and devoid of Mool-inquiry. As a result, it becomes the source of our troubles — bondage and suffering. Untruth depends upon external things; for it is unreal. Only that which exists on its own can only be called Real and True. For example, the Gurbani affirms that only Divine Name (Aatam-Giaan...) is the real Nectar or Amrit (Immortality), nothing else. Why? By engaging in Shabad-Vichaar as taught by the Gurbani (sggs), we will find that when one perishable object depends on other perishable object(s) for its sustenance, then they cannot be the source of Immortality because they in themselves are unreal, impermanent and mortal. The only entity that is Real is the Truth, because it is self-existence (Saibhang); one without beginning, middle or end. This is the reason the Gurbani makes the declaration that the Divine Name is the Truth, the only real Nectar or Amrit, in which we are to be perpetually immersed (Mool-realization). Constantly drinking in this Rreal Amrit of the Naam gives one Real Immortality.

However, under the spell of untruth or absence of wisdom for sincere Shabad-Vichaar, we take unreal worldly objects as eternal Truth or the source of Immortality. This deluded behavior of mortals is not the fault of Gurbani or the Gurmukhs; for their only function is to point us toward the Truth. That's all. The fault lies with our corrupt senses, particularly the tongue, that desire to taste external objects in a futile bid to satisfy its unceasing thirst and hunger. For example, spectacles and the sun cannot see for us! Can they? Similarly, if we want to realize the Truth, it's our job to get to it by a diligent Shabad-Vichaar. The fool takes the world and its objects to be real; whereas the wise (Gurmukh or Giaanee) sees them as the manifestation of the false ego. Being wise, the Gurmukh goes for the Real Thing; which is beyond mind, time, and space! Whilst the Manmukh (material beings) goes for the unreal thing (Mayaic efforts)!

  • Saache raatee Gur Shabad veechaar. Amrit peevai nirmal dhaar: By engaging in Shabad Vichaar, one becomes Imbued with Truth, and drinks in this immaculate stream of Amrit Within (sggs 158).
  • ਗੁੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਾਵੈ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਸੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਭਾਠੀ ਭਵਨੁ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਕਾ ਪੋਚਾ ਇਤੁ ਰਸਿ ਅਮਿਉ ਚੁਆਈਐ ॥੧॥ ਬਾਬਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਤਵਾਰੋ ਨਾਮ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਵੈ ਸਹਜ ਰੰਗ ਰਚਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਬਨੀ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਅਨਾਹਦ ਗਹਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Gurh kar giaan dhiyaan kar dhaavai kari karni kas paayeeyai. ||1|| Bhaathee bhavan prem ka pochaa it ras amiyu chuaayeeyai...: Make Giaan (Wisdom) your Molasses, and meditation (Consciousness or Surati attuned to the Naam) your flowers (of Mahooaa or Basia-latifolia tree, which are used to forment wine); let high conduct (good deeds, practice, etc.) be the fermenting bark. Make this body the furnace (used to make wine - ਸਰਾਬ ਕੱਢਣ ਦੀ ਭੱਠੀ), and your love (Prema-Bhagti) the plaster (ਠੰਡਾ ਪੋਚਾ ਜੋ ਅਰਕ ਵਾਲੀ ਨਾਲੀ ਉਤੇ ਫੇਰਨਾ ਹੈ). In this way the Amrit (which bestows Eternal Life-ਅਟੱਲ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ) is distilled. ||1|| O Baabaa! The mind intoxicated drinking in this Naam (Amrit) remains absorbed in Sahaj (Natural State of Being). By fixing attention on God's Love (Prema-Bhagti) day and night, seize the Anaahad Shabad {(i.e., ਸਬਦ ਨੂੰ (ਸਬਦ-ਗਿਆਨ) ਸਦਾ ਇਕ-ਰਸ ਆਪਣੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਟਿਕਾਈ ਰੱਖਣਾਂ...)} ||1||Pause||. (sggs 360).
  • 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).
The mortals are tortured by the fear of death. We are asked by the Gurbani to inquire into this death and find out what it is. If we follow the Gurbani's instructions and inquire: "To whom is this death?". Then we will find that which dies is not real us! What actually dies is the body (ਜੜ ਵਸਤੂ) which depends on the movement of the Praana or life-breadth (ਚੇਤਨ). The body never has its independent existence, hence, as discussed before, any thing that depends on some thing else must decay and end. With the death of the body, dies the world of names and shapes. God dwells within the cave our Heart as the Mool. The Aatamaan is never born nor will it ever die. Unaffected by the movements of the body or mind, the Aatamaan is not subject to our grief, despair, disease or ignorance. The Gurbani declares that the Pure, Perfect, free from limitations or conditioning, the Aatamaan is one with the Infinite Consciousness. However, as the body is made of five elements, it is bound in the framework of time and space. Upon its destruction, the elements go back to their respective source — the earth merges with earth, the air merges with air, the fire merges with fire, the water merges with water, and the space merges with space. Only the Real Self (Joti-Svaroopa, Pure Awareness, etc.) remains.
  • ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਪਵਨੈ ਮਹਿ ਪਵਨੁ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਜੋਤੀ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਰਲਿ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਾਟੀ ਮਾਟੀ ਹੋਈ ਏਕ ॥ ਰੋਵਨਹਾਰੇ ਕੀ ਕਵਨ ਟੇਕ ॥੧॥ ਕਉਨੁ ਮੂਆ ਰੇ ਕਉਨੁ ਮੂਆ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਿਲਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਚਲਤੁ ਭਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਅਗਲੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਰੋਵਨਹਾਰੁ ਭਿ ਊਠਿ ਸਿਧਾਈ ॥ ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹ ਕੇ ਬਾਂਧੇ ਬੰਧ ॥ ਸੁਪਨੁ ਭਇਆ ਭਖਲਾਏ ਅੰਧ ॥੨॥ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਰਚਨੁ ਰਚਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰਿ ॥ ਆਵਤ ਜਾਵਤ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਅਪਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਹ ਕੋ ਮੂਆ ਨ ਮਰਣੈ ਜੋਗੁ ॥ ਨਹ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਹੋਗੁ ॥੩॥ ਜੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਸੋ ਇਹੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਜਾਨਣਹਾਰੇ ਕਉ ਬਲਿ ਜਾਉ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾ ਕੋਈ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇਆ ॥੪॥੧੦॥: Raamkalee Mahalaa 5 || Pavanai mahi pavan samaaiaa .... (sggs 885).
The aid provided by the practice of Inner-inquiry strengthens dispassion or non-attachment, an essential element for developing true Love and devotion (Bhagti). These two, and Mool-realization (Realization of one's Joti-Svaroopa) are interdependent and intimate friends, for they always exist together just as the ocean and clouds. With their aid, we recollect the Truth that we are the Mool which is omnipresent and omniscient, in which there is no conceptualization or modification. The ephemeral nature of this material world and its objects can thus clearly be seen in the light of Spiritual-inquiry. Its persistent practice is sure to keep one's inner Light of Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) alive, which alone is the means of freedom from the darkness of inertia.
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ਜੋਤੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਏ ॥੩॥: Gurmukh giaan tat beechaaraa joti jot milaaye ||3||: By becoming the Gurmukh (spiritually Being), who engages in Vichaar (Contemplation, Inquiry, Reflection, etc.) of the essence of spiritual wisdom (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਅਸਲ ਸੂਝ ਨੂੰ); his individual light merges into the Supreme Light ||3|| (sggs 1131).
Shabad-Vichaar is the ax with which one can cut the head of ego-snake. As revealed by the Gurbani, this process of Shabad-Vichaar uses our considerable mental powers to end the duping process, to know that we are the Joti-Svaroopa — always liberated, perfect, limitless, and immortal. Upon realizing That Truth, we also recognize in others the same Essence of Divinity, the same Pure Awareness and Perfection. No longer then we remain confined to the painful limitations imposed by the false ego. As a result, we see the same One Reality everywhere and in everything.
  • ਘਰ ਮਹਿ ਵਸਤੁ ਅਗਮ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਖੋਜਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥: Ghar mahi vasat agam apaaraa. Gurmat khojahi Sabad beechaaraa: Within the Home of the Inner Self is the Inccessible and Infinite Substance. By following the Gurmat (the Teachinh of the Shabad-Guru), those who practice Shabad Vichaar, find it (sggs 1175).
Thus, the aim of Shabad-Vichaar is to link back to our Mool within (Source, Joti-Svaroopa...). The Gurbani urges its unbroken practice until the false ego-sense (Haume) disappears; and the Eternal Mool is realized to be the only Absolute Truth. If once the Mool-realization arises, both the inquiry and inquirer will also disappear!
  • ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥: Thaal vich tin vastoo paeeio sat santokh veechaaro. Amrit Naam Thaakur kaa paio jis kaa sabsu adhaaro. Je ko Khaavai je ko bhunchai tiskaa hoi udhaaro: Upon this Plate (World-Plate, the Heart-Plate, etc.), three things have been placed: Sat (Truth), Santokh (Contentment) and the Vichaar (Spiritual Inquiry, Contemplation, Reflection, etc.). The Amrit of the Divine Name (ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮ), the Support of all, has also been placed upon it. One who eats this (ਇਸ ਆਤਮਕ ਭੋਜਨ ਨੂੰ - spiritual Food) and enjoys it is saved (from Bikaars, evil inclinations, etc.) (sggs 1429).

Clearly there is huge emphasis on Shabad-Vichaar in the SGGS. Clearly, Spiritual quest significantly rests on Shabad-Vichaar, which goes beyond dogmas, empty rituals, traditions and religion. Shabad-Vichaar is not just collecting information. Neither it is reading and memorizing the Gurbani, nor philosophies, nor counting beads (ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰਨੀ), etc. It is Spiritual surgery. It is Real Learning that has to change us, transform us, and make us Grow, Spiritually.

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org