We are all actors on this stage of the life. Since life is a journey, during this journey on earth, we all play our unique role. At the end of the play, the curtain falls or closes, and we depart from this world. The Gurbani urges us not to compare life to others’. Because we have no idea what others’ journey is all about.
- ਫਰੀਦਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਪਰਾਈ ਚੋਪੜੀ ਨਾ ਤਰਸਾਏ ਜੀਉ ॥੨੯॥: Fareedaa dekh paraaee choparree naa tarasaae jeeou ||29|| (sggs 1379).
The term ਤਰਸਨਾ (Tarasanaa) = to long, to desire eagerly, to feel envious, etc.; ਤਰਸਾਨਾ (Tarasaanaa) = to cause to long or desire, to set agog…
It’s not that the Gurbani does not want us eat buttered bread (if we have it), its simply indicating to us not to compare life with others’. If we do insist on comparing life with others’, we will certainly end up feeling jealous at their betterment. This will only make us angry, greedy, lustful (full of cravings, desires, longings …), resentful, unhappy, miserable, and so on. Which, in turn, will only further ruin our mental balance, real perspective of life …
In a way, the above verse of the Gurbani is a simple self-test: when others get what they wish, and we are sad and unhappy, it means we are inflicted with the ailment of comparing our life with others’.
Comparing life with others’ also makes us worry as we ponder over and over again: “why I don’t have what the other person has?”, and so on. Worry is worse than a pyre. For a pyre burns a dead person, but worry burns a person alive!
The Gurbani tells us that so long we are worry ridden, we will not be able eradicate our false ego-sense (Haumai), and realize our Mool (our True self, our True Nature, our Source, our Origin, Aatam-Giaan…). In other words, in all this turmoil, we cannot conduct Inner Inquiry (Spiritual quest, ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਖੋਜ…).
- ਬਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਚਿਤਵੈ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥: Bahu chintaa chitavai aapu n pashaanaa (sggs 159).
If we took the strengths of others, and compared them to our own weaknesses or shortcomings (including what others have, like houses, cars, money, titles, status, education, and so on), this would neither make us to size up nor this would make us feel good about ourselves.
Then why do it? There will always be those who are better, and those who are worse. In other words, the Gurbani is urging us to count our own blessings – count what we have, not what we don’t have.
Life is not a competition! Therefore, the Gurbani asks us not to waste life in “Rees-ਰੀਸ” (emulation, envy, jealousy, comparison…), imitating others, and so on.
- ਮੂਰਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਉਨ ਕੀ ਰੀਸ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸੁ ਹਲਤਿ ਪਲਤਿ ਮੁਹੁ ਕਾਰਾ ॥੨॥: Moorakh hovai su oun kee rees kare tisu halati palati muhu kaaraa ||2||, sggs 733).
So, the Gurbani encourages us to enjoy one’s own life without comparing it with that of others’. We are encouraged by the Gurbani to develop such Awareness (i.e., Gurmukh Lifestyle).
To this end, we can substitute Love for comparison, envy, jealousy …