One becomes just like the One he
serves (as one thinks, so he becomes). ||4|| (sggs 223).

Since our life is shaped by our minds, what we think, that we become. As the mind is nothing but thoughts-stuff, whatever is in one's mind will reflect in his words. In turn, words manifest as actions ("Karnee"); actions form habits; and habits solidify in character. Thus, thoughts processed in our head ultimately become manifest in our face, our speech, our body and our overall attitude. Simply stated, what we consistently cultivate in our minds determines our character-formation, and our destiny. For that reason, if a person wants to change the character-formation in him, he can do so by consistently changing his thoughts. Thus goes the proverbial expression: "Man is the architect of his destiny".

  • ਜੈਸਾ ਸੇਵੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥: Jaisaa sevai taiso hoi ||4||: one becomes just like the One he serves (as one thinks, so he becomes). ||4|| (sggs 223).

Clearly, our thoughts have great power over our life. This statement — as you think, so you become — which all the wise ones agree on, is at the core of true understanding as to how our thinking affects who we are. It also highlights the connection between what we think and what we ultimately become. For example, eternal Joy (Anand) follows pure thoughts as dust particles follow the wind. So too evil and suffering follow evil thoughts as the shadow follows the body. Clearly, all that we are is the result of what we have thought — like intention, like becoming. Our inflated ego may not like it, but this is the unshakable reality. Also, as our lives are interwoven with the thread of One all-pervasive Spirit, the influence of our daily actions and behavior spreads in ever-widening circles.

  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹਾ ਤਿਨ ਰਾਹੁ ॥: Jehee surit tehaa tin raah: As is (beings') awareness, so is (their) way (sggs 25).
  • ਤੇਹਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥: Tehaa hovai jehe kaarm kamaai: As are the deeds done here, so does one become (sggs 363).
  • Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavathi: You become what you think (Vedas).
  • As we think, so we become (Buddha).
  • Yaa matih saa gatirbhavet: One becomes what he thinks (Ashtavakra-Gita).
  • For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Old Testimony, Pro. 23:7). For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap (New Testimony, Ga 6:7).
  • Let go of thought and bring it not into your heart, for you are naked and thought is an icy wind. You think in order to escape from torment and suffering, but your thinking is torment's fountainhead (Sufi Master Rumi).
  • The superior man thinks of virtue; the small man thinks of comfort. The superior man thinks of the sanctions of law; the small man thinks of favors which he may receive (Confucious).

Because we exist in the ego-mind, the majority of us have entire life of wrong thinking. On the unsteady base of conditioned mind we perform all our activities. Due to inattention to the core of our true Being within, we are only aware of thinking, feeling and doing. But we are not aware of our Mool (Source, Origin, Jot...). Whatever is happening in life is a direct result of the mentality we have cultivated and the choices we have made in the past.

The Gurbani (also other Indian scriptures) compares this life to a field ("Khet"), in which our Karma is the seed. We harvest exactly what we sow. So we have no one else to blame for the way we live at the present moment but ourselves. If our life is one of mental distress and unenlightened existence (Manmukh or material lifestyle), it is because we have sown the seed of foolishness, selfishness or ignorance. To the contrary, if we live a life of eternal Peace or Happiness, it is because we have sown the seed of Bliss (Gurmukh or spiritual lifestyle). We are the only one who possess the choice and authority to determine which type of seeds to sow. God has given us the freedom to choose.

  • ਜੋ ਮੈ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੀਜੈ ਅਵਰ ਜਨਾ ॥: Jo mai keeya so mai paya dos na deejai awar janaa: Whatever I did, for that I have suffered; blame no one (sggs 433).
  • ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਨਿੰਦਸਿ ਕਾਇ ਭੂਲੀ ਗਵਾਰੀ ॥ ਦੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਥਾਰੋ ਕਰਮੁ ਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Naaraain Nindas kaai bhoolee gavaaree. Dukrit sukrit thaaro karam ree ||1||Rahaaou||: Why do you slander God, O deluded and ignorant. Pain and pleasure are the result of your own actions ||1||Pause|| (sggs 695).
  • ਏਕ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਜੇਹਾ ਭਾਉ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Ek nadar kar vekhai sabh oopar jehaa bhaaou tehaa phal paaeeai: (The Satguru lovingly) looks alike upon all, but we receive the fruits according to our own motives (ਭਾਵਨਾ, ਨੀਅਤ, etc.) (sggs 602).

Therefore, whether we like it or not, our situations in life are self-construct — construction of a confused head and a disturbed heart.

Simply put, Mayaic thoughts bind us and thoughts set us free. That is, he who considers himself free becomes free and he who thinks he is bound remains bound. All suffering is of the psychological ego-mind. Our Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), being transcendental, is not tainted by the worldly sorrows, fear, and any feelings of inferiority or inadequacy.

There are both positive thoughts and negative thoughts. To act in positive thoughts increase truth, and to act in negative thoughts increase falsehood and delusion. Negative thoughts (or seeds) are evil, which are devoid of the sense of true love and well-being of all. These thoughts fill us with ignorance, evil passions (desires and fears, anger, greed, attachment, pride, enviousness, stubborn mindedness), obsession, suffering, doubts, corruption, selfishness, hatred, cruelty, hypocrisy, cynicism, untruthfulness, quarrel, "I-am-ness", anxiety, worry, the feeling of like and dislike, and so on. These negative seeds become obstacles on the path of love and righteousness in this world. Also, they sap our vital energy and inhibit us from accessing our intuitive intelligence and real Mool within.

Positive thoughts (or seeds) are those pure thoughts which demand the well-being of all. These thoughts fill us with love, wisdom, selflessness, goodwill, trust, harmony, truthful living, righteousness, faith, happiness, peace, joy, cooperation, forgiveness, straightforwardness, kindness, cheerfulness, contentment, unpretentiousness, nonviolence, patience, steadfastness, self-control, realization of misery in birth and death, detachment, alertness, awakening, evenness of mind in favorable and unfavorable situations, " ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ - Charradee Kalaa", etc. If we plant positive seeds in our minds, they will enable us to be close to our true Being; resulting in right lifestyle. To walk on the path of Truth in this world is liberation (Mukti).

  • ਜੇਹੀ ਮਨਸਾ ਕਰਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ॥: Jehee mansaa kar laagai tehaa phal paae: As are the desires (ਮਨ ਦੀ ਕਾਮਨਾ ) one harbors (when he serves the Satguru), so are the rewards one receives (as is the aspiration, so is the reward) (sggs 116).
  • ਬੀਜੁ ਬੋਵਸਿ ਭੋਗ ਭੋਗਹਿ ਕੀਆ ਅਪਣਾ ਪਾਵਏ ॥: Beej bovas bhog bhogahi keeyaa appnaa pavaye: As are the seeds one plants, so are the fruits; he receives the consequences of his own efforts (sggs 705).
  • ਜੈਸੀ ਪਿਆਸ ਹੋਇ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤੈਸੋ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਵਹਿ ਪਰਕਾਰ ॥: Jaisee piyas hoyi mann antar tiaso jal devahi parkaar: As is the thirst (desires or cravings) within their minds, so is the water which You give to them (sggs 504).

The modern day life is such that we hardly have time or enthusiasm to remember to be positive, virtuous, humble, good, tolerant, forgiving or kind in our dealings with other human beings. In the process, we have no patience to observe and understand "what we really are". Closing our eyes to such day-to-day lifestyle that is governed by reactions and whims (false ego regime), we dream of reaching somewhere. Along the way, we measure our progress by "name and gain". But when it comes to spirituality, we often stand puzzled, since spiritual unfoldment cannot be measured or weighted against our material success.

Artificial and unnatural ways of thinking and acting create complications in life, resulting in undue confusions, conflicts, hang-ups and mental sorrows. Such negative seeds beget bondage to the world of objects. In truth, any thinking of the phenomenal world is thinking of ego-mind-senses-illusion. In turn, this type of thinking that is based on subject-object relationship, reinforces body identity. Since names and forms conceal the Truth, any identification is simply misidentification!

Thinking in body-consciousness is movement, which creates selfish desires and fears, prompting us for pretending and misdeeds. As the ego-mind is unreal, so are the objects of desires. Mind's this imagination is called Maya that never ends, and never exists. Consider the analogy of ocean and wave. Before the wave arises it is the ocean. Similarly, before the mind arises — illusion, Maya, world-appearance, play (Leelaa), etc. — it is the Ocean of Pure Awareness or "Joti-Svaroopa". As under every wave is one ocean, under every name and appearance is This Substratum, the Timelessness ("Akaal Purukh"). When we think through the ego-mind, we are a person, an object, a notion, a body or some other modification, but not the true Being.

  • ਅਨਿਕ ਰੰਗ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਚਿਤਵਤ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਸਿਮਰੈ ਸਾਰਿੰਗਪਾਨੀ ॥: Anik rang Maya ke chitavat kabahoo na simarai saaringapaanee: Thinking of the many pleasures of Maya, the mortal never remembers God (sggs 390).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਹਕਰਮੀ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ॥: Haumai karai nihakarmee na hovai: Those who act in ego do not go beyond Karma (sggs 128).
  • ਭ੍ਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤ ਧੰਧ ਅੰਧ ॥: Bhram mahi soee sagal jagat dhandh andh: The whole world is asleep in doubt; it is blinded by worldly entanglements (sggs 380).
  • ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲੋ ਬਹੁ ਚਿਤੈ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥: Manu bhoolo bahu chitai vikaar: Deluded mind thinks of all sorts of corruption (sggs 222).

In nutshell, competing on the bodily field are two opposing forces: discriminative intelligence (Bibek Budhi) and the sense-conscious mind. The wicked impulsive mental and material tendencies are the offspring of the sense-blind mind. On the other hand, the Soul's Pure Virtues are the offspring of the discriminative intelligence. The battle field of these contending forces is the human body with its physical, mental, and Soul-faculties; the field on which all actions of an individual take place. On this battlefield, the war is waged between the soldiers of the Soul's Pure Nature and the uncontrolled activities of the ignoble, wisdom-blind mind. Thus, every moment in one's life, there is a Spiritual and psychological battle going on between the Soul-nature and the sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the false ego-sense.

How can we change negative thinking, ideas, wicked tendencies or concepts? Choosing the right thought process is just what we need. But it is easier said than done. Although the choice is ours but to have that right choice, we need practice, correct self-efforts, earnestness, willingness, right thinking strategy, and a high degree of self-awareness.

  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਕੰਮੀ ਨਾਹਿ ਗੁਣ ਤੇ ਕੰਮੜੇ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ॥: Fareedaa jinheeh kammee naahi gun te kammrhay visaar: Fareed, those deeds which do not bring merit - forget about those deeds (sggs 1381).
  • ਰਾਹੁ ਦਸਾਇ ਓਥੈ ਕੋ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਭਿਸਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: Raah dasaai othai ko jaai. Karnee baajhahu bhisti na paai: Many ask the way (to the heaven); but very few walk on that path. Without the correct efforts (ਨੇਕ ਅਮਲਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, ਕਰਣੀ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, without the practice of the good deeds, etc.), heaven is not gained (sggs 952).
  • ਅੰਤਰ ਕਾ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ਜੋਰੁ ਤੂ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਨਤਾ ਇਹੁ ਦੂਰਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਆਪਨ ਗਹੁ ਰੇ ॥: Antar kaa abhimaan jor too kish kish kish jaanataa ihu doori karahu aapan gahu re: O man, you think the egotistical pride which you harbor deep within is everything. Let it go, and restrain your self-conceit (sggs 1119).
  • ਸੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਿਤੁ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਮਹਿ ਏਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਗੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: So kish kar jit mail na laagai. Har kirtan mahi eh manu jaagai ||1|| ||Rahaaou||: Make only those efforts by which the "filth" (fith of Bikaars: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and their countless variations) may not stick to your mind; and your mind remains awake (alert or aware of the pull of Bikaars) through the Lord's Kirtan (ਪਰਮਾਤਮ ਦੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ-ਸਾਲਾਹ) ||1|| ||Pause|| (sggs 199).
  • Burn up your thinking and your forms of expression! (Sufi Master Rumi).

Inner Simplicity, which is the absence of psychological construct self-image, is necessary. With inner Simplicity comes a natural integration of emotional, intellectual and physical layers of one's personality. The scriptures tell us that by consistently cultivating good thoughts, we can change the character-formation in us. By aligning our thinking with the Pure Consciousness within, we can chose not to sow the seeds of ignorance or foolishness. In other words, by constantly identifying with the Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot...), one can manifest his spiritual nature. In spiritual seeds there is no phenomena. Such a shift in focus can be brought about only when the body-consciousness is transcended. To this end, selflessness coupled with piety is the powerful tool to transcend the body identity. In essence, the combination of selflessness and piety is same as accepting "Hukam" or God's Will. When the mind is fully focused on "Hukam", there is no Mayaic Karma.

  • ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਰੋਵੈ ॥: Hukam na jaanai bahutaa rovai: One who does not know God's Will (Hukam or Eternal Law) cries out in terrible pain and suffering (sggs 85).
  • ਗਿਆਨੁ ਭਇਆ ਤਹ ਕਰਮਹ ਨਾਸੁ ॥੩॥: Giaan bhaiaa tah karmah naas ||3||: With the Divine Knowledge (ਉੱਚ-ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ) ends the deeds (Mayaic efforts) ||3|| (sggs 1167).

As we know it, the mind is always engaged in thinking, planning, feeling, inquiring, desiring or fearing. With the aid of witnessing the mind or subjective introspection one can find what his mind is up to at a particular moment. Such impartial self-analysis can be performed throughout a day. Also, every night, prior to retiring, one can sit in a calm place and ask his intuition whether his spiritual faculties or his physical inclinations of temptation won the day's battle between Good and bad tendencies.The idea is to turn the mind inside, then concentrate all its powers and throw them upon the mind itself so that it may realize its Unconditioned State. Each such practice would increase one's victories over the deluded mind, and lessen its bewilderment.

  • ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: O human being, search your own heart every day, and do not wander around in confusion (sggs 727).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Jan Nanak binu aapaa cheenai mitai n bhram kee kaaee ||2||1||: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s own self (Original, Essential, or True Nature, etc. – ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one’s True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684). 
  • ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਕੋਈ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥:Is mann kaou koee khajahu bhaaee (sggs 1128).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਥਾ ਆਪੁ ਆਪੈ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਖਾਧਾ ॥: Houmai rog gaiaa dukh laathaa aap aapai gurmati khaadhaa: Through the Gurmat (Guru's Teaching), the sickness of my ego has been dispelled, and my pain (of ਹਉਮੈ or egotism) is over and done; the knowledge (Giaan) of my (True) Identity has consumed my identical identity(false identity, ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ) (sggs 78).

Another sure nail in the coffin of wrong thinking is to give up all doubts and negativity. Doubts and negativity poison everything. Wise ones point out that a snake can kill you once but doubts can kill you again and again! Shabad-Vichaar helps remove doubts by finding out who we really are. Without knowing who we are, dormant tendencies will keep rising as manifest thoughts; poisoning our mind, society, world, and so on. Therefore, if one must think, the Gurbani asks him to think of his godly status. Or best is to simply know "I am That: Joti-Svaroopa".

  • ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲਉ ਭਰਮਸਿ ਭਵਰ ਤਾਰ ॥: Man bhoolau bharmas bhara taar: The mind, deluded by doubt, buzzes (wanders) around like a bumblebee (sggs 1188).
  • ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦੁਰਜਨਾ ॥: Man antar haumai rog hai bharam bhoole manmukh durjanaa: Those within whose mind is the disease of ego (Haumai - ਹਉਮੈ), those self-willed (Manmukhs), the evil beings (ਬਿਕਾਰੀ ਬੰਦੇ - corrupt people), are deluded by doubt (sggs 301).
  • ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਅੰਧਾਰ ॥੧॥: Bharam moh agiaan andhaar ||1||: Doubt, emotional attachment and ignorance (ignorance of our True Nature or ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ) - these are all envelopments of darkness ||1|| (Sggs 675).

The spiritual lifestyle is the journey into the "Now" — to be fully aware in this very moment about our essential Identity as Pure Awareness ( "Joti-Svaroopa") that existed before the demon mind-ego arose. So the key is to start spiritual discipline right "here" and "Now" and change the way in which we see ourselves. This may lead to the following question: does living in the present moment mean there is no room for imagination, visions or plans? Thinking is an autonomous process. In fact, the very nature of the mind is to keep creating the past and the future. So the important point to understand here is that we should not allow any thought to enter into the mind that is contrary to the Divine Word or Teaching (Gurmat). Therefore, the Gurbani challenges us to disassociate from our demon mind-ego "Now", responding to the reality at hand. As a result, our psyche will quietly undergo a change — there will be more clarity in our thinking and vision, more patient and calmness in our feeling, and more purity in our conduct and behavior.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥: Manmukhi andhulae gurmati na bhaaee... (sggs 1190).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋ ਮੈ ਚਿਤਵਉ ਨਾ ਕਰੈ ਕਿਆ ਮੇਰੇ ਚਿਤਵੇ ਹੋਇ ॥: Kabeer jo mai chitavou naa karai kiaa mere chitave hoi: Kabeer, whatever I wish for does not happen. What can I accomplish by merely thinking? (sggs 1376).
  • ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਾਗੁ ਹਰਿ ਚੇਤਿ ॥: Man mere anadin jaag har cheti: O my mind, remain awake and alert night and day, and think of Absolute (sggs 34).

The ultimate Truth as revealed by the Gur-Shabad indicates that man's spiritual Identity ("Joti-Svaroopa") is safely stored within, but the key to unlocking it is hidden in the mess of his wrong thinking. Every negative seed, thought, notion, concept or action is like entering the wrong key. When no sincere effort is made to check and correct the way we live, then our spiritual nature remains locked and thus inaccessible. Consequently, before the body falls, we never realize in us the Cosmic Man: the Gurmukh.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖੇ ਸਚੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੀ ਬਿਨਸੇ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਭੈ ਝੂਠਾ ਰਾਮ ॥: Gurmukhe sach karnee saaree binse bhram bhai jhoothaa raam: A Gurmukh (spiritual being) lifestyle is excellent and true; wherein one's false hopes and doubts get dispelled (sggs 781).
  • ਮਮਾ ਮੂਲ ਗਹਿਆ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਮਰਮੀ ਹੋਇ ਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਜਾਨੈ ॥: Mammaa mool gahiaa manu maanai. Maramee hoi su mann kaou jaanai: Mamma: Clinging to the Source (or Self) within, the mind gets satisfied. One who knows this mystery understands his own mind (sggs 342).
  • ਬਜਰ ਕਪਾਟ ਜੜੇ ਜੜਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਖੋਲਾਇਦਾ ॥੨॥ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਕੋਟ ਗੁਫਾ ਘਰ ਜਾਈ ॥: Bajjar kapaat jarhe jarhi jaanai gur sabdee kholaaidaa. ||2|| Bheetar kot guphaa ghar jaaee: The hard and heavy doors (of the love of Maya, etc.) are closed and locked (within the fortress of the body). Through the Gur-Shabad, they are thrown open. ||2|| Within the fortress (of the body) is the Cave, the Home (of the Truth) (sggs 1033).

— T. Singh