Those who keep their consciousness focused on the One
(Eternal Principle) will find Eternal Sukha (sggs 1365).

The SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) repeatedly emphasizes to focus on the Eternal Factor. Why? All our worldly experiences are changing. Whatever we see with our material eyes or taste with our material senses is changeful. Our material mind gets easily affected by these changing experiences of life ("likes and dislikes": pain and pleasure, failure and success, praise and insult etc.). On the other hand, the True Essence of all of us is Changeless amidst the changeful phenomenal world. Therefore, the Gurbani indicates if one wants to remain unaffected by the changing experiences of life, then he has to shift his focus from the changeful to the Changeless: from the temporary to the Eternal. The SGGS reiterates not to focus on the fleeting experiences arising purely from attraction to the worldly objects. The things we see (or experience) are at the level of the mind. The SGGS wants us to go beyond the mind.

  • ਹਰਿ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਸਦਾ ਥਿਰੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਭਜੁ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥: Har abinaasee sadaa thir nihachal tis mere mann bhaj paravaan: The Eternal Lord is Permanent and Unchanging; meditate on Him, O my mind, and you will be approved (sggs 861).
  • ਜੋ ਚਿਤੁ ਰਾਖਹਿ ਏਕ ਸਿਉ ਤੇ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਨੀਤ ॥: Jo chit raakhahi ek siou te sukh paavahi neet: Those who keep their consciousness focused on the One (Eternal Principle) will find eternal Sukha (sggs 1365).
  • ਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਕਰਤ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਚਰਣੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਈ ਹੇ ॥: Gur gur karat sadaa sukh paayaa gur charanee chit laaee hey: Calling out, "Guru, Guru", I have found eternal peace; my consciousness is focused on the Guru's feet (sggs 1069).
  • ਆਵਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਸੁਖਦਾਤੇ ਸਿਮਰਹ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ॥: Aavahu sant praan sukhadaate simarah prabh abinaasee: Come, O Saints, let us meditate in remembrance on God; He is the Eternal, Imperishable Giver of Peace and Praanaa, the Breath of Life (sggs 1206).

But what is "focus" or "focusing"? Certainly, it's not sitting in a stork- or crane-like posture. Nor it's sitting in the forest or in a mountain-cave with half-closed eyes focused on the tip of the nose or the sky, while mind is running hither and thither - just going through the motion of focusing would be useless and counterproductive.

  • ਠਗ ਦਿਸਟਿ ਬਗਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗਾ ॥: Thag disatt bagaa liv laagaa: (You) look like a thug; pretending to meditate, you pose like a crane (sggs 1351).
  • ਜੋ ਬਿਨੁ ਪਰਤੀਤੀ ਕਪਟੀ ਕੂੜੀ ਕੂੜੀ ਅਖੀ ਮੀਟਦੇ ਉਨ ਕਾ ਉਤਰਿ ਜਾਇਗਾ ਝੂਠੁ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥: Jo bin parateetee kapatee koorree koorree akhee meetade oun kaa outar jaaigaa jhooth gumaan: Those who lack faith may close their eyes, hypocritically pretending and faking devotion, but their false pretenses will soon wear off (sggs 734).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੇ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਬਗ ਜਿਉ ਲਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਨਿਤ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥: Manmukh karam kare bahut abhimaanaa. Bag jiou laai behai nit dhiaanaa: Manmukhs (those in material or ego consciousness) perform their actions in much pride (arrogance, ਅਭਿਮਾਨ, etc.). (Acting in pride - ਹੰਕਾਰੀ ਹੋਇਆ) They sit, like storks, pretending to meditate (but, while pretending to be meeditating, stroks keep staring at fish or frogs!) (sggs 230).

Rather it's a gentle and powerful process of developing greater Awareness — an exquisite and Insightful Listening to the small still voice within. Thus, focusing is essentially a mode of inward bodily attention that the restless minds of most of us are unaware of and untrained for. It's bringing about change, personal growth and creativity. Thus, it's a more than being in touch with one's feelings, thinking and body sensations. It's a particular way of paying attention to one's embodied experience of something beyond what evolution, culture and language have built. It's joining with the implicit. It's living in the eternity of the Now — dissolving all subject-object distinctions or transcending the realm of the mind (Haume).

  • ਮਹਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਿਉ ਲਾਗੈ ਪੂਰਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ॥: Mahaa santokh hovai gur bachanee prabh siou laagai pooran diaan: Great peace and contentment come through the Guru's Word, and one's attention (or meditation) becomes perfectly focused upon God (sggs 682).
  • ਸਗਲ ਸੂਖ ਜਪਿ ਏਕੈ ਨਾਮ ॥: Sagal sookh jap ekai naam: All peace and comforts are in the meditation of the One Name (sggs 392).
  • ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਸਭੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਥਾ ॥: Har simarat sabh dukh laathaa: Meditating on the Lord, all pains and sorrows vanish (sggs 627).
  • ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੂਜੀ ਖੋਈ ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗਾ ॥: Andarahu duramat doojee khoee so jan har liv laagaa: One who eliminates evil-mindedness and duality from within himself, that humble being lovingly focuses his mind on the Lord (sggs 768).
  • ਜਿਨੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਇਕ ਚਿਤਿ ਸੇ ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਜਗਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥: Jinee naam dhiaaiaa ik mani ik chit se asathir jag rahiaa: Those who meditate on the Name, with one-pointed mind and focused consciousness, remain forever stable in the world (sggs 87).
  • ਅਖੀ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਆ ਏਕ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥: Akhee santokheeaa ek liv laai: Eyes are content, lovingly focused on the One Lord (sggs 560).
  • ਸੋ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥: So Giani jini shabdi liv laaee: He alone is a Giaanee (ਗਿਆਨ-ਵਾਨ), who has focused his consciousness on the Shabad (sggs 831).
  • ਇਕ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਚੈ ਰਹੈ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥: Ik rang rachai rahai liv laai: Be absorbed in love for the One Lord, and remain focused on Him (sggs 935).
  • ਏ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਜੀ ਧਿਆਇ ਤੂ ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਇਕ ਚਿਤਿ ਭਾਇ ॥: Ae mann har jee dhiaai too ik mani ik chit bhaai: O mind, meditate on the Dear Lord, with single-minded conscious concentration (sggs 653).

What are benefits that flow from focusing? When performed with love, sincerity, willingness and commitment — without hypocrisy, faking, pretenses, selfishness, conceit, arrogance, desires (material or mystic) etc., it helps control the scattered mind (mental Purification or cleansing of the mind), brings understanding, calms the restless mind, increase the inner transformation, releases blockages of the mind, helps one to think more creatively about life's dilemmas (issues, problems and situations, etc.), helps one to go deeper and have greater peace and wisdom: a deeper sense of connection to one's True Being, helps one to be aware of the egoistic and negative tendencies in his mind, and so on. In nutshell, the real meditation (which is beyond the process of thinking), Self-Unfoldment and greater Awareness is the outcome of a focused mind. Those who are so focused, see the world verily as the part of their own True Self. Their Higher Wisdom clearly expresses in all their thoughts, words and actions.

  • ਦਾਨਸਬੰਦੁ ਸੋਈ ਦਿਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ॥: Daanasaband soee dil dhovai: One who cleanses his own mind is wise (sggs 662).
  • ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਏਕੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਲਾਹਿ ਭਰਾਂਤਿ ॥: Ik mani ek dhiaaeeai mann kee laahi bharaant: With one-pointed mind, meditate on the One Lord, and the doubts of your mind will be dispelled (sggs 47).
  • ਸੰਤ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ॥ ਤਬ ਤੇ ਧਾਵਤੁ ਮਨੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਇਆ ॥: Sant prasaad har naam dhiaaiaa. Tabb te dhaavat manu tripataaiaa: By the Grace of the Saints, I meditated on the Name of the Lord. Since then, my restless mind has been satisfied (sggs 189).

Let's be realistic — what if one cannot focus all the time? Focusing all the time is not possible for everybody. As fingerprints or eye prints of two people are unique (although burning or plastic and reconstructive surgery may obliterate the finger patterns entirely but no criminal could circumvent the eye prints without blinding himself), similarly, the mental dispositions and temperaments of two persons are inimitable. So, what about those who cannot focus all the time? The Gurbani is very practical and universal. It's purpose is to reclaim all souls, not just few selected ones. Those for whom focusing all the time is not possible, the SGGS also urges spending extra time trying to do something good for others in the society (Nishakaam Sevaa or selfless service out of love and compassion, not out of selfish or ulterior motives). This way, everyone benefits.

  • ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥: Ghaal khaai kish hathahu dei. Nanak raahu pashaanahi sei: One who truthfully works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has - O Nanak, he knows the path (sggs 1245).
  • ਅਣਹੋਦੇ ਆਪੁ ਵੰਡਾਏ ॥ ਕੋ ਐਸਾ ਭਗਤੁ ਸਦਾਏ ॥: Anhode aap vandaaye. Ko aisaa bhagat sadaaye: Share with others, even when there is almost nothing to share. Only such a rare one is called a true devotee (sggs 1384).
  • ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੀਉ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਧਨੁ ਆਗੈ ਧਰੀਐ ॥: Anik bhaanti kari sevaa kareeai. Jeeyu praan dhannu aagai dhreeai: Sevaa is of many types, and performed different ways. Serve God dedicating your Soul, your breath of life and your wealth (sggs 391).
  • ਵਿਚਿ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਸੇਵ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥ ਤਾ ਦਰਗਹਿ ਬੈਸਣੁ ਪਾਈਐ॥ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਾਹ ਲੁਡਾਈਐੈ ॥: Vichi duneeaa sev kamaaeeai.Taa dargahi baisan paaeeai: In the midst of this world, do selfless service (Sevaa), and you will attain the experience of Divine Realm. Then, says Nanak, you will become free from all worries (sggs 26).
  • ਖਸਮਹਿ ਜਾਣਿ ਖਿਮਾ ਕਰਿ ਰਹੈ ॥: Khasamahi jaan khimaa kar rahai: Knowing their Lord, people show compassion (sggs 340).

But the key here is that Sevaa has to be performed without the involvement or intrusion of the false ego sense (Haume). The Selfless service or Sevaa so performed is Grace. It's relatively easier to read scriptures or sit in meditation, but much difficult to perform a real Sevaa because to do such Sevaa one must first surrender his false ego-sense. Just imagine if each one of us can perform such Nishakaam Sevaa, there will be better relationship between neighbors, spouses, coworkers, nations, religions, and so on!

  • ਸਤਗੁਰ 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 (ego, self-conceit...) - give up ownself or selfhood (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਕੇ). (sggs 649).

In the final state — when all divisions created and sustained by the mind (Haume or false "I") are eliminated — one becomes one with what he focuses on. Then the mouse of the mind stops from scurrying around, and, as a result, one becomes spiritually silent.

  • ਰੇ ਮਨ ਮੂਸ ਬਿਲਾ ਮਹਿ ਗਰਬਤ ਕਰਤਬ ਕਰਤ ਮਹਾਂ ਮੁਘਨਾਂ ॥: Re mann moos bilaa mahi garabat karatab karat mahaan mughanaan: O mind, you are a mouse, living in the mousehole of the body; you are so proud of yourself, but you act like an absolute fool (sggs 1387).
  • ਊਂਦਰ ਦੂੰਦਰ ਪਾਸਿ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਵੀਜੈ ॥: Oondar doondar paas dhreejai. Dhur kee sevaa Raam raveejai: Silence the mouse (of the mind) scurrying around within you. Serve God by Simran (chanting His Name), this is the Sevaa of the Primal Being (ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ) (sggs 905).
  • Man has three states. The first is not to focus on God, but to adore and serve anyone and anything — woman, man, wealth, children, stones, land. Next, when he acquires a certain knowledge and awareness, he does not serve other than God. Finally, when he progresses in this state, he falls silent: he says neither, "I do not serve God," nor, "I do serve God" -- that is, he leaves both states. In their world no sound comes from such people (Rumi).

— T. Singh