The priorities of the Gurmat (Wisdom, Teaching or Upadesh of the Gur-Shabad…) are totally different then the priorities of the mind which is ridden with the false ego-sense (Haumai), doubt (Bharam), illusion (Maya)…
In Gurdwaras, for example, we see signs asking people to leave their shoes (and socks in some Gurdwaras) outside before entering the Gurdwara building. In fact, many Gurdwaras have made special “shoe Room” to place the shoes. Furthermore, there is usually a separate shoe room for men and women near the entrance of the Gurdwara.
But, honestly, has anybody seen a sign in any Gurdwara in the world asking people to leave their false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) outside before entering the Gurdwara building?
In fact, the Gurbani demands to remove the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) before embarking on the Way of the Gurmat.
Obviously, the priorities are screwed up — the priorities of the Wisdom of the SGGS are different than the priorities of the false ego-sense (Haumai).
What’s the result of this screw-up? As evident, the result is lawsuits, legal disputes, assault with deadly weapons, shooting-fights, sword-fights, divisions, conflicts, etc., in Gurdwaras all over the world! The Gurbani asks:
- ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥: If you desire to play this game of Divine Love with Me, then step onto My Path with your head in hand (after shedding false ego-sense…). (sggs 1412).
To put it otherwise, before we step on the Way of the SGGS, the Gurbani commands to “first” accept death (“ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ”) — death of the ego or Haumai mind…
- ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਤਉ ਆਉ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥: Pahilaa maranu kabooli… (sggs 1102).
Removing shoes before entering the Gurdwara building is a sign of respect, a commonsense hygiene, etc. Nothing wrong with it.
However, as time and again indicated in the Gurbani, the false ego-sense (Haumai- ਹਉਮੈ) is more despicable then the footwear or the socks! The Gurbani calls it the great disease (“ਵਡਾ ਰੋਗੁ”, “ਰੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖ”, “ਰੋਗੁ ਕਠਿਨ”, “ਰੋਗ ਬੁਰੇ “, “ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ”…) – mighty virus of the mind.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਝਗੜਾ ਪਾਇਓਨੁ ਝਗੜੈ ਜਗੁ ਮੁਇਆ ॥: Through ego, the world is caught in conflict and strife, and it dies (in these quarrels and suffers…). (sggs 790).
- ਨਾਨਕ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗ ਬੁਰੇ ॥: O Nanak! The diseases (born or begotten) of ego are wicked (sggs 1153).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਵਡਾ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: Ego is a massive disease in the world (sggs 1278).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਲੇਵਹੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ॥੬॥ Haumai rogu mahaa dukhu… (sggs 906).
Footwear however have a role to play in our daily lives. For example, they are useful when we are outdoors to get protection from dirt, thorns etc.
Not so with the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) — it is always despicable!
- ਹਉ ਮੁਆ ਮੈ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਪਉਣੁ ਵਹੈ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥: So long Jeev is smitten with “ego”, a river (of desires, Trishanaa) flow within (that Jeev). (sggs 1091).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਪੈਖੜੁ ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨੈ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: (O fool) your mind is tied with the rope of “ego” (ਪੈਖੜੁ-ਢੰਗਾ: A rope tied to the rear legs of an animal, which does not let the animal run or walk freely!) (sggs 1189).
Therefore, the Gurbani demands that no time can ego be entertained. The purpose of going to Gurdwara or any other spiritual practice is helping us learn the great lesson of surrendering the false ego-sense (Haumai- ਹਉਮੈ) so that we can improve the Inward Journey. To this end, the Gurbani demands the ego should be removed.
- ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੇਦੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਸੋਹੈ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਿ ॥: Until (one’s mind) is pierced through with the Shabad, (until then one does not) look Beautiful at the Guru’s Door (Inner Beauty: state Bliss or Anand, realization of Jot Saroop…). (sggs 19).
Hence, there should also be written on the doormats and walls of the Gurdwaras to leave the ego outside!!
This is unlikely to happen because the people who run Gurdwaras and their crafty priest-employees are full of ego themselves!
It’s convenient and easier to remove shoes instead of removing the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ)! It takes courage to remove ego, because removing ego is like chewing the steel balls! Since it’s not easy to remove ego, the majority of us instead get attracted to Karamkaand (useless rituals).
The Gurbani’s declaration — “With your head in hand-ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ” — essentially indicates removing one’s ego (self-conceit…). It is a complete surrender of one’s head (i.e., false ego-sense). Because, the Gurbani says one must serve without ego (“ਵਿਣੁ ਸਿਰ ਸੇਵ ਕਰੀਜੈ”).
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਗਾਖੜੀ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥: It is very difficult to serve the Satigur (Shabad-Vichaar); (it’s difficult because to do so one must) surrender head (false ego-sense, self-conceit…) – give up ownself or selfhood (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਕੇ). (sggs 649).
However, the Gurbani dares tell all of us that no one knows how to serve the “Gur” (ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਈ ॥: Gur kee sev n jaanai koee (sggs 1078)).
Then, let’s ask the SGGS as to how are we supposed to serve (Sevaa) the “Gur” (“ਗੁਰ”) or the “Satiguru” (“ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ”)? The Gurbani tells us that we can serve the “Gur” (“ਗੁਰ”) or the “Satiguru” (“ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ”) through the Shabad-Vichaar (Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad, understanding the Gur-Shabad and living by its Brahm-Giaan or Divine Wisdom in daily life…).
- ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: The Gur-Sevaa is Shabad-Vichaar (Reflection on the Shabad…). (sggs 223).
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੀ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਾਲਾਹੀ ॥: I serve the “Satiguru” by praising the Shabad (sggs 1048).
But the Gurbani reminds us that one can truly serve the Satigur only when his the false ego-sense (Haumai) is gone!
- ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: In ego, Sevaa cannot be performed so the mind goes wasted (useless, purposeless, troubled, no avail…). (sggs 560).