Be In The World, But Not Of The World!

The Gurbani indicates: Be engaged in this world, but with a detached attitude and Akal (ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ, keen understanding, Wisdom, discerning intelligence…).

The attitude of detachment or Bairaag (also spelt Vairaag or Vairagya ) is the quality of shunning worldly attractions. Simply put: Detachment is being in this world, but not of it. In other words, it is having a mind open to everything, but attached to nothing. Thus, detachment is an attitude or perspective — letting go of the past and the future, and living in the “here” and “now”.

Therefore, to be detached does not mean running away from life, family, society, one’s duty and responsibility, or being less sensitive or loving, etc. A truly detached one does not neglect any of this; but rather selflessly loves and serves the Divine in them and expands that love and service to all other beings without any sense of bondage or emotional attachment. After cultivating such detached attitude through the Divine Knowledge (Spiritual Wisdom or Aatam Giaan of the Gurbani…), the Gurbani tells us that even if one lives amidst the worldly activity, he will be unattached from it and thus untainted by it, just as the lotus flower remains untainted by the slimy scum.

  • ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: Jiou jal mahi kamalu alipato varatai tiou… (sggs 949).
  • ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: Hasandiaa khelandiaa painandiaa khaavandiaa… (sggs 522).
  • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥: Putr kalatr viche gati paaee (sggs 661).

The more one suffers in this world, the more one is likely to learn to be detached. Only by cultivating the attitude of detachment can one hope to seek the path to Mukti (liberation) from Maya, not after death but while alive.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Binu bairaag na shootasi maya ||1|| (sggs 329).

In the fleeting delight of materialistic mentality (Manmukhtaa), however, the Manmukh in us gets carried away by worldly acclaim — we measures our achievement by the amount of money, property, material possessions, power, name, fame, titles, lifestyle, position and social status. A Spiritual Being (the Gurmukh) on the other hand measures his achievement by the amount of detachment he has from all these, as well as the degree of absorption he has in the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot….).

  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਵਿਆਪਿਆ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Manmukhu mohi viaapiaa bairaagu udaasee na hoi (sggs 29).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਸਭੋ ਜਗੁ ਸੋਇਆ ਇਹੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਿਉ ਜਾਈ ॥: Maya mohi sabho jagu soiaa ihu bharamu… (sggs 205).

Attachment clouds our sense of discrimination (Bibek Budhi) and our earnestly Reflecting on the Gurbani (Shabad-Vichaar). Detachment makes us introspective and discriminative (Bibek Budhi or discerning intellect), leading to Divine Virtues such as righteous or truthful conduct, etc. The reflective mind with the subtle sense of discrimination (Bibek Budhi) helps us to know the difference between Sat and Asat (truth and falsehood, eternal and temporary….).

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਬੇਕੁ ਸਦਾ ਆਪੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Antari bibek usadaa appu veechaare gur sabadee gun gaavaniaa (sggs 128).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਅਰਾਧੀਐ ਨਾਮਿ ਰੰਗਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ॥: Gur kai Sabadi araadheeai Naami rangi Bairagu (sggs 1425).
  • ਸਹਜਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਸਹਜੇ ਹੀ ਹਸਨਾ ॥: Sahaji bairaagu sahaje hee hasanaa (sggs 236).

As indicated by the Gurbani, once the mind is conquered, the Sansaar or Jagat stands conquered. Thus, the Gurbani indicates that the restless mind can be brought under control by constant practice of dispassion through the Shabad Vichaar.

  • ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤੇ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਜਾਂ ਤੇ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥੨॥: Manu jeete jagu jeetiaa jaan te bikhiaa te hoi oudaasu (sggs 1103).

When there is the total detachment from “Bikhiaa” (Maya…), the mind’s restlessness ceases to be, and then it thoroughly revels in its Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot….). In short, full absorption in the essence of the Divine Naam (Shabad-Surti, Hukam, Aatam Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani…) is the ultimate detachment.

  • ਗਿਰਹ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਮਹਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਧੀ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਸੇ ਸਚੇ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥੧॥: Girah kutanb mahi sahaji samaadhee. Nanak naami rate se sache bairaagee ||1|| (sggs 1246).

If engaged in this world with Akal (ਅਕਲ) of the Gurbani (Gurmat), a detached attitude is sure to follow! Therefore, instead of imitating others ( “ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ”) or acting in stubborn mindedness, the Gurbani asks us to utilze Akal (ਅਕਲ) while engaged in this world. The Gurbani indicates this to be the True Path; for other things lead to Satanic life.

  • ਅਕਲਿ ਏਹ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਅਕਲਿ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Akali eh n aakheeai akali gavaaeeai baadi. Akalee … (sggs 1245).
  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਜਲਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ਬਹੁ ਜੋਨਿ ਭਵਾਈਐ ॥੨॥: Dekhaa dekhee manhathi jali… (sggs 185).

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