Mayaic mentality is a source of perplexity for all of us. These perplexities are like wild forest fire that somehow seems to blaze without being set by anyone!
The Gurbani time and again describes the pathetic condition of our doubt-ridden minds caught in the vertex of these perplexities. The good news is that the Gurbani tells us how to get Free from such a perplexed mind.
Those in Mayaic perplexities are called by different names in Gurbani. Some of these names include Kusang (evil or bad company), Saakat, Manmukh (self-willed…), Mayadhaaree (Maya-stricken or mammon worshipper), Bimukhan (nonbeliever), and so on.
Let’s pause here for a moment before going any further. Please note that the Gurbani’s fundamental Teaching is that all human beings, at the soul-level (Aatmic level), are equal — nobody is bad…
- ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥: From this One Light, the entire universe has welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| (sggs 1349).
- ਹਮ ਨਹੀ ਚੰਗੇ ਬੁਰਾ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਣਵਤਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾਰੇ ਸੋਇ ॥੪॥੧॥੨॥: (One who thinks) I am not good and no one is bad; prays Nanak – (the Lord) ferries him across (the dreadful ocean of Bikaar, Maya…) ||4||1||2|| (sggs 728).
Simply put: Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…) teaches that there is but One, Universal Energy. This One Reality is the substratum (support or “Aadhaar“) of all. It is this Reality, the Homogeneous Oneness, the highest plane of Pure Consciousness, which runs in and through all beings.
Than what does it mean by disassociating, avoiding, or staying away from bad association?
It simple means to shun the Manmukh, Saakat or Mayadhaaree mentality or thinking, the Manmukh habits, the Manmukh nature, the Manmukh qualities, the Manmukh conduct, the Manmukh character, the Manmukh tendencies (ਮਨਮੁਖ ਵਿਰਤੀ), the Manmukh inclinations, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed…), negativity — the useless way of life (“ਬਾਦਿ ਆਚਾਰੁ”, “ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆਹ”)…
Therefore, when the Gurbani advises not to associate with the Manmukh, Saakat, Mayadhaaree, etc., it does not mean to hate or dislike someone. Because the Gurbani has already told us above “ਏਕ ਨੂਰ ਤੇ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਕਉਨ ਭਲੇ ਕੋ ਮੰਦੇ ॥੧॥“.
In nutshell, it means we become good or bad due to the quality of our mind or thoughts; due to the quality of our thinking (Soch), tendencies, character, dispositions, and so on. Accordingly, the Gurbani’s instructions regarding associating or disassociating are at the level of the mind.
- ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਚੋਰ ਜਿਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਭਿਟੀਐ ॥੪॥: Saakat who have forgotten the Naam are thieves. O (my) mind! Do not draw near them ||4|| (sggs 170).
- ਏ ਮਨ ਮੇਰਿਆ ਛਡਿ ਅਵਗਣ ਗੁਣੀ ਸਮਾਣਿਆ ਰਾਮ ॥: O my mind! Give up (your) demerits, and be absorbed in Raam (Mool, Truth, Virtues, Wisdom…). (sggs 1112).
- ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਬ ਹੀ ਮਨ ਛੁਟੀਐ ਜਉ ਸਗਲੇ ਅਉਗਨ ਮੇਟਿ ਧਰਹਾ ॥: Says Nanak – O mind! (You will be) emancipated (from Maya…) only when (you) eradicate all (your) demerits from within. ||4||4|| (sggs 1203).
Thus, the Gurbani simply urges our minds not to associate, take, or identify with the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mentality or thinking, and so on.
- ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ਦਿਵਾਨੇ ਦੀਨੁ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥ ਪੇਟੁ ਭਰਿਓ ਪਸੂਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੋਇਓ ਮਨੁਖੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕਬਹੂ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਨੀ ਰਚਿਓ ਧੰਧੈ ਝੂਠ ॥ ਸੁਆਨ ਸੂਕਰ ਬਾਇਸ ਜਿਵੈ ਭਟਕਤੁ ਚਾਲਿਓ ਊਠਿ ॥੧॥: O madman! You have forgotten your Dharma; you have forgotten your Dharma (of Virtues). Like animals, you fill your belly and sleep; you have wasted and lost this human life. ||1||Pause|| You never join “Saadhsangati” (Gur-Giaan-Wisdom, Truth…). You are engrossed in false pursuits (of mind’s Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.). Wandering like a dog, a pig, a crow you will depart (from this world). ||1|| (sggs 1105).
Simply put: what’s bad is the habit, nature (ਆਦਤ, ਸਭਾ, ਵਿਰਤੀ…), not the human being (ਆਦਮੀ, ਬੰਦਾ)!
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਤੀ ਸੰਗੁ ਕਰੇ ਮੁਹਿ ਕਾਲਖ ਦਾਗੁ ਲਗਾਇ ॥: Whoever associates with Manmukhs (i.e., Kusang), will have his face blackened (stigma, ਬਦਨਾਮੀ, he will lose his Giaan and Bibek-Budhi…). (sggs 1417).
- ਕੁਸੰਗਤਿ ਬਹਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਦੁਖੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥੧੧॥: Kusangat bahe… (sggs 1068).
At the time of birth, an infant’s mind is more intact, innocent, free of the feeling of I-me-mine-you, etc. But, with the passage of time, it loses all that on account of all sorts of conditioning. Just as a rain drop which does not have any impurity of its own, but when it comes in contact with the ground or dirt, it becomes contaminated. Also, just as a piece of paper does not have any smell of its own, but when the same paper is used to wrap fish or fragrant flowers, gets the smell of the object it is associated with. Similarly, one’s mind is affected by the association of qualities it keeps.
To make us recognize Kusang and beware of it, we are provided with its numerous attributes throughout the Gurbani.
Please note all verses cannot be given here from a space point of view (to keep the posts short and sweet). Therefore just a few verses are quoted here:
- ਸਾਕਤ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਭਾਵਈ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਂਇ ॥: The Saakat do not like the Truth; false is the footing of the false (sggs 22).
- ਸਾਕਤ ਨਰ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵੀਜੈ ॥੭॥: Saakat are called egotistical; their living is disdainful (for they live) without the Naam. ||7|| (sggs 1325).
- ਸੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਜੋ ਸਬਦ ਨ ਪਛਾਨਹਿ ॥: They alone are Manmukhs who do not realize the Shabad (sggs 1054).
- ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂੜ ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤ ਵਾਸੁ ॥: Residence of the consciousness of the foolish Manmukh is Maya (sggs 222).
- ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮੈਲਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: The Manmukh’s (mind) remains filthy (with Bikaar); (he) does not understand the Shabad (sggs 415).
We can use the insight of the Gurbani as a tool for self-analysis — to determine as to what degree “Kusang”, “Saakat” or “Manmukh” qualities are present in each one of us! That self-analysis will help the mind turn away from Kusang (evil association).
Accordingly, the Gurbani time and again reminds us to share in the Divine Virtues only. Because, the Gurbani tells us that Bhagti (“ਭਗਤਿ”) is not even possible without acquiring the Divine Virtues!
- ਸਾਝ ਕਰੀਜੈ ਗੁਣਹ ਕੇਰੀ ਛੋਡਿ ਅਵਗਣ ਚਲੀਐ ॥: Share Virtues; (in this way, one can) walk (on the Path of Spiritual Life by) abandoning faults (from within himself). (sggs 766).
- ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Without acquiring Virtues, Bhagti can not be performed (sggs 4).
- ਇਕੁ ਉਤਮ ਪੰਥੁ ਸੁਨਿਓ ਗੁਰ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਤਿਹ ਮਿਲੰਤ ਜਮ ਤ੍ਰਾਸ ਮਿਟਾਈ ॥: I have heard the most exalted Path of all is the Gur-Sangat (Gur-Wisdom). Joining it, (I have) annihilated the terror or infliction of Jamm (doubt, fear of death, etc.). (sggs 1406).