People See, People Do

The Gurbani tells us that the majority of us imitate what we see other people doing – “Dekhaa Dekhee” (“ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ”, ਰੀਸਾ ਰੀਸੀ, ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਦੇਖ ਕੇ, ਨਕਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ, ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ, ਲੋਕ ਲਾਜ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ, ਲੋਕਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਚੰਗਾ ਅਖਵਾਣ ਲਈ…).

Perhaps we are all familiar with the saying: “Monkey see, monkey do”. For many years, neuroscientists have been investigating whether this popular saying has a real basis in human behavior. Neuroscience research has discovered special brain cells (called mirror neurons) in monkeys. These cells appeared to be activated both when the monkey did something itself and when the monkey simply watched another monkey do the same thing.

Among researchers, the function of such mirror neurons in humans has since become a hot topic. Many distinguished researchers debate whether the mirror neuron system is involved in such diverse processes as understanding other people’s actions, speech, etc.

But, the Gurbani already revealed to us several centuries ago that people do something themselves when they see other people doing it (“ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ”, ਰੀਸਾ ਰੀਸੀ…) – people see, people do!

  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸਭ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: The Manmukh (who hs no understanding of the Gurmat…) does everything seeing (other people do, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ, ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਦੇਖ ਕੇ, ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ…), but he (himself) has no understanding (he does not understand the true way of living, ਸਹੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਜੀਊਣ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ…). (sggs 28).
  • ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸ੍ਵਾਂਗੁ ਧਰਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਭਟਕਾ ਖਾਹਿ ॥੧੩੫॥: (ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ, ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਦੇਖ ਕੇ, ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ…, people ) look at one another and disguise (in religious robe, impersonation, ਸਾਂਗ ਬਣਾ ਲੈਣਾਂ…), but they are deluded and lost (from the true Way of life-ਸਹੀ ਰਾਹ ਤੋਂ ਖੁੰਝੇ ਹੋਏ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਭਟਕਦੇ ਹਨ). ||135|| (sggs 1371).ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਜਲਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥: Dekhaa dekhee manhathi jali jaaeeai: Imitating (to do something seeing other people do it, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ…) what (the Satee-ਸਤੀ) sees (other people do), in stubborn mindedness, she gets burned (she jumps into the burning pyre of her husband).  (sggs 185).

The Gurbani here simply indicates that people who imitate what they see other people do are:

  • Without real understanding (“ਬੂਝ”).
  • Stubborn minded (“ਮਨਹਠਿ”). The Gurbani repeatedly equates stubborn mindedness with the followings: Maya, duality, foolishness, ignorance, Manmukh, falsehood, disgrace, living in the wilderness, weariness, delusion, ruin, Bikaar (lust,etc.), absence of Naam and Peace, separation from the Mool, Haumai (egotism), rituals or Karamkaand
  • Mentally deluded, or strayed-minded (“ਭੂਲੇ ਭਟਕਾ”).

Simply put: The majority of us do things with either limited or no Knowledge (Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan…) of the Gurbani, and, thus, with limited or no concern of the consequences (ਬਹੁਰਿ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਸੰਕ ॥ sggs 1348). As a consequent, we pay the price! (ਬੀਜੁ ਬੋਵਸਿ ਭੋਗ ਭੋਗਹਿ ਕੀਆ ਅਪਣਾ ਪਾਵਏ ॥ sggs 705).

For example, we go on “Teerath Jaatraa” (ਤੀਰਥ ਜਾਤਰਾ) by seeing other people do it even though the Gurbani tells us not to – the Gurbani tells us the true Teerath is within. We count beads (ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰਨੀ) by seeing other people do it even though the Gurbani tells us otherwise – the Gurbani tells us the Lord and the true Bhagti is beyond calculations, and asks us to enshrine the rosary of the Naam within the Heart. By seeing other people do it, we pray for worldly things (Mayaic stuff: just listen to Aradaas in any Gurdwara!), even though the Gurbani tells us otherwise. Seeing other people, we bow down at numerous spots or places; and so on.

However, the Gurbani’s edict is that such path of Karamkaand will never free anybody from Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), doubts (ਭਰਮ), Maya, wrong resolutions, stubborn-mindedness, Manmukhataa, duality, ignorance, foolishness…

  • ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥:  Je jaanasi… (sggs 1353).
  • ਗਲੀ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀਆ ਲੋਟੇ ਹਥਿ ਨਿਬਗ ॥ ਓਇ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਸੰਤ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ ॥੧॥: (sggs 476).
  • ਹਰਿ ਮਾਲਾ ਉਰ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਾਰੈ ॥: Har maalaa our antar dhaarai (sggs 388).
  • ਕੋਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਜਨ ਇਸਨਾਨਾ ਇਸੁ ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥: Koti tirath majan isnaanaa isu kali mahi mailu bhreejai (sggs 747).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: Teerathi naavan jaaou … (sggs 687).
  • ਸਰੀਰ ਸਰੋਵਰ ਭੀਤਰੇ ਆਛੈ ਕਮਲ ਅਨੂਪ ॥: Sareer srovar bheetare aachhai kamal anoop (sggs 857).
  • ਵਿਣੁ ਤੁਧੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਿ ਮੰਗਣਾ ਸਿਰਿ ਦੁਖਾ ਕੈ ਦੁਖ ॥: Vinu tudhu horu ji manganaa siri dukhaa kai dukh (sggs 958).
  • ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: Sees nivaaiai kiaa theeai jaa ridai kusudhe jaahi ||1||: (sggs 470).

The Gurbani says people also imitate (“ਰੀਸਾ ਕਰਿਹ”) those Bhagat or Gurmukhs who are established at the Divine Door (i.e., who are Mool-realized…). Not that we earnestly want to become like them, but we just want to imitate them for some ulterior motives. In other words, to become Mool-realized is one thing, and to just imitate is totally something else – imitation is phoniness (falsehood, to pretend to be pure outwardly-“ਬਾਹਰਿ ਚਿਟਵੀਆਹ”…), and Mool-realization is the Gurmukhhood (Pure inside…)!

  • ਗਲਂ‍ੀ ਅਸੀ ਚੰਗੀਆ ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆਹ ॥ ਮਨਹੁ ਕੁਸੁਧਾ ਕਾਲੀਆ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਚਿਟਵੀਆਹ ॥ ਰੀਸਾ ਕਰਿਹ ਤਿਨਾੜੀਆ ਜੋ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਦਰੁ ਖੜੀਆਹ ॥: Galleen asee changeeaa aachaaree bureeaah … (sggs 85).
  • ਸੁਣਿ ਗਲਾ ਆਕਾਸ ਕੀ ਕੀਟਾ ਆਈ ਰੀਸ ॥: Sun galaa aakaas kee keetaa aaee rees (sggs 7).

Thus, the Gurmat is a Way of life, not a mental-circus! In other words, the Gurbani wants us to put the Gurmat (Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom, or  Aatam-Giaan of the Gurbani…) to work (ਅਮਲ), here and now!

Therefore, instead of imitating others or acting “ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ-Dekhaa Dekhee” in stubborn mindedness (ਰੀਸਾ ਰੀਸੀ, ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ, ਲੋਕ ਲਾਜ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ, ਲੋਕਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਚੰਗਾ ਅਖਵਾਣ ਲਈ…), the Gurbani asks us to utilze Akal (ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ, keen understanding, Wisdom, discerning intelligence…) while transecting in this world of things and beings. The Gurbani indicates this to be the True Path; for other things lead to Satanic life (“ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ”).

  • 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).
People See, People Do was last modified: July 13th, 2016 by T. Singh
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Filed Under: Gurbani, imitation, ਦੇਖਾਦੇਖੀ, ਰੀਸਾਰੀਸੀ, Rituals, Karamkaand
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T. Singh

T. Singh

T. Singh is not a "Giani", "Ragi", "Sant", "Baabaa", "Pujaaree", "Priest", "Granthee", "Parchaarak", "Bhai", "Swami", "Paathee", "Mahaatamaan", "Teacher", “scholar” (ਵਿੱਦਵਾਨ), "writer", etc. He was neither born in such a family, nor lived with any one of them, nor wants to be one of them. More about T. Singh

There are 2 comments

  1. Karamjeet Singh

    What a masterpiece yet again!

    For those who can’t (for whatever reasons – lack of efforts, time, or awakening) decipher the true message Gurbani wants to convey, your well-researched, brilliantly articulated prectives go a long way to perform the job of direction-setting. May Waheguru keeep us being benefitted continually for a long time to come.

    On a side note, I admire your ability to keep coining new appropriately suggestive terms like Mool-realized and Gurmukh-hood etc.

    Deep Regards.

    • You are very kind Veer Ji. Thank you! The Gurbani says:
      • ਤਿਨ ਕਉ ਕਿਆ ਉਪਦੇਸੀਐ ਜਿਨ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਉ ॥੧॥ (150).

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