What comes and goes is not Real

The Gurbani’s edict is what comes and goes is time-bound, thus unreal (“ਸੋ ਕਾਚੋ ਕਾਚਾ”). In other words, that which is Real never ends, and that which ends is not Real.

Anything that is time-bound cannot be Eternal, hence not Real. To be Real means to be free of beginning, middle and end. Whatever comes and goes is bound and limited by beginning, middle and end, therefore unreal — changeable, temporary, fleeting, impermanent, perishable, illusion, or simply “Mithiya“. For example, we witness the natural phenomenon of an infant’s body after birth going through the natural changes of childhood, youth, adulthood, old age and ultimately death. Accordingly, human life has been described metaphorically as a journey from the womb to the tomb. What begins has to end; what ends has to reappear somewhere. Hence change is the constant factor in material life (Mayaic or unenlightened existence). In this way, coming and going is intrinsic to worldly life (a life of Mayaic efforts, Haume or false ego-sense, Manmukhtaa, material consciousness…).

  • ਜੋ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਸੋ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਹੈ ਪਰੋ ਆਜੁ ਕੈ ਕਾਲਿ ॥: Jo oupajiou so binas hai paro aaj kai kaal: Whatever is born will perish, today or tomorrow (sggs 1429).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਈ ॥: Houmai aavai jaaee: In egotism, people come and go (sggs 1003).

In other words, anything made of the five elements is temporary. Because the time-bound consciousness (ego, instinctive mind or Haume) to arise, it needs a form made of five elements. Once it has arisen, it cannot stand still — it must scurry around like a mouse. And this scurrying around takes place in the domain of Maya’s three qualities: Taamas (ignorance), Raagas (passion), and Saatav (goodness). Upon end of the body, these five elements disappear along with the world-appearance.

  • ਅਪੁ ਤੇਜੁ ਵਾਇ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮੀ ਆਕਾਸਾ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥: Apu tej vaai prithamee aakaasaa. Tin mahi panch tatu ghar vaasaa: Water, fire, air, earth and ether; the Spirit Soul dwells in the body-house made of the five elements (sggs 1031).

Clearly, that which has beginning cannot escape end. Only the Soul, Joti-Svaroopa (Mool-Source…) is free of coming and going (Eternal). Once all the movements or impulses of the false ego-sense are ceased to be, the Mool within is Realized. To a person (the Gurmukh) situated in that state of Spiritual Essence, nothing comes and goes. For him all happenings of the world are mere entertaining show.

  • ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਦੇਖੀਐ ਹੋਰੁ ਕੇਤੀ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Asthir kartaa daykhee-ai hor kaytee aavai jaai: The Creator alone is seen to be Eternal; all others come and go (sggs54).
  • ਪਿੰਡਿ ਮੂਐ ਜੀਉ ਕਿਹ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਤਾ ॥: Pindi mooai jeeou kih ghari jaataa (sggs 327).
  • ਓਹੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: ohu bairaagee marai n jaai (sggs 390).

When a child is born, everybody can see it. In other words, when a gross body comes, everybody can see it (Drisati-“ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”, visible) for it has a form. When it ends, or when it goes, the dead body can be seen by all. Later, some burn it, some bury it, some toss it out in the open or water (for animals to eat it), and so on. Nonetheless, the five elements the body is made of go back their respective source.

However, unlike the gross body, the Soul is not made of the five elements. For that reason, it does not end as the gross body does. Then, where does it go? The Soul’s going is invisible (Anadrisati-“ਅਨਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”). The Gurbani says that the entire Srisati (“ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”- ਰਚਨਾ, all beings…) acts according to the Parameshar’s Hukam (Aagiakaaree-“ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ”).

  • ਆਵਨੁ ਜਾਵਨੁ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਅਨਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ॥ ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ ਧਾਰੀ ਸਭ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ॥: Aavanu jaavanu drisati anadrsiati. Aagiakaaree dhaaree sabh srisati: Coming and going is visible and invisible. He has made all Srisati obedient (to His Hukam, Command, Bhaanaa, etc). (281).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਬਹੁ ਖੰਡ ਖੋਜਤੇ ਨਵ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਆਇਬੋ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਜਾਇਬੋ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਦੁਹਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Kaaiaa bahu khand khojate nava nidhi paaee…: After searching (my Inner) Kaaiaa (which is: Primal, Infinite, Account less, Boundless, Deathless, Garbless, Incomprehensible and Eternal), I have found this new Treasure of the Lord’s Name (Giaan…) within. As I have invoked Raam within (ਰਾਮ ਦਾ ਤੇਜ-ਪ੍ਰਤਾਪ, Aatam Giaan…), now nothing comes, and nothing goes. ||1||Pause||: (sggs 695).

In nutshell, coming and going, in the first place, is perceived only so long we have not Realized our Mool within (Origin, Source, Jot, Reality, Raam, ਅਸਲਾ…). But once the mind has linked back to its Mool within (the Gurmukh State), “coming” and “going” cease to be for that person (i.e., the Gurmukh).

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8 Comments On This Post

  1. Karamjeet Singh

    Well written thoughts – as always. But this time allow me to seek a little clarification.

    What comes and departs is temporary alright but as long as it lives, existed it ‘is’ real. Isn’t it? Unless we play with its meaning, or interpret it differently, we are real; we are temporary, our bodies are mortal (unlike our soul) but we exist for real. Not eternal but real.

    I know we can ‘compare’ our entire life as a dream but comparison is just that – a comparison. Our Gurus existence was real, their stay was temporary but they were real. Weren’t they? Perhaps short-lived, transient, temporary, mortal, perishable are all the apt descriptions but ‘unreal’ seems just that – unreal. Just a thought.

    • thanks Bhai Sahib Ji for taking time to comment on this post.

      ਕਚੀ ਕੰਧ ਕਚਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਾਜੁ ॥: Kachee kandh kachaa vichi raaju (sggs 25).
      • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਉਪਜੈ ਬਿਨਸੈ ॥: jo deesai so oupaajai binasai (sggs 1231).
      • ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supanaa rainaaee (sggs 1231).

  2. Harvinder Singh

    2 approaches.
    Objective and Subjective.
    Objectively, yes, we are real, made up of 5 elements that we can see, touch and feel. So YES….Real…….objectively.

    But Gurbani goes way beyond and deeper than that.
    SUBJECTIVE APPROACH.
    Since our objective real body does not last for ever, it borns, grows and then eventually dies, Therefore the word “UNREAL”

  3. Harvinder Singh

    So, to sum it up, we can say that.
    “Our objectively Real body is not Subjectively Real”.

  4. Karamjeet Singh

    Thanks Harvinder Ji for you inputs, and although the usage of the words objective and subjective does not appear to be accurate here, but I definitely see the point you are trying to bring home. Again I fully endorse what Gurbani deeply professes but the Gurbani quotes in the article mostly pointed to the transitory (and not unreal) nature of our tenure here in this mortal world (going by the accepted meanings of the words used here).

    In fact, Gurbani is replete with verses that do emphasize the illusary state that we allegedly perceive as real – and in fact one of those veses has been very appropriately quoted by Bhai T singh ji in his rejoinder – ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supanaa rainaaee (sggs 1231). Several other verses in our vast Gurbani equate our life to just a dream – and that approach surely can be interpreted to label our being here as unreal (mithya); just like dreams are not real; likewise our life.

    Bhul Chuk Maaf.

    • Thak Bhai Sahib Jeeou for sharing your Vichaar.
      The Gurbani calls this material world or Maya as “Jhooth” (false or fake…), “Mithyaa or Bharam” (illusion…), and ” Sapnaa” (dream…).
      Calling this world “Jhooth”, “Mithyaa or Bharam”, and ” Sapnaa” does not mean this world is non-existent. If this world was nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us. Then is it real? According to the Gurbani, no, it is not real. It can not be called real because it is subject to change every moment, like our mind. Thus, this material world is neither real nor unreal.
      Anything that can not be described as real or unreal is called “Mithyaa” in the Indian scriptures. When we call this world illusion, it simply means that “what we deem it to be, it is not like that” (ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥, sggs 657) — we think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; we think it to be eternal, it is not; we think it to be forever, it is not; we think it to be never-ending, it is not; we think it to be unlimited or infinite, it is not; we think it to be Reality, it is not. If a person mistakes a rope for a snake (or a pole for a ghost) in the darkness, then would the snake or ghost vision be real? No. Therefore, if Jeeva does not consider this world as Mithyaa (also spelt Mithya), then it will become the cause of his attachment and bondage, followed by the “greatest pain”.
      •ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਝੂਠੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਗ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਾਸਿ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Mrig trisnaa jiou jhootho ihu jag dekhi taasi uthi dhavai ||1|| (sggs 219).

  5. Karamjeet Singh

    Thanks for further elaborating the concept of Mithya. But I am still a bit uncomfortable with the interpretation that things that ‘change’ are not real. I mean real things do change in size (vegetable grow), even shape (water turns into ice or steam) and so on.

    But I am fully comfortable with the ‘dream’, and ‘illusion’ approach justifying the ‘unreality’ of mortal beings.

    Thanks again for your insight on Gurbani. Very honestly admitting, I am personally benifitting a lot from your efforts. Regards.

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