Debugging the Mind

Those in the technical world are very well familiar with the term ‘debugging’ used to find defects and issues in the code. These errors, mistakes or defects are referred to as ‘bugs’, hence the term ‘debugging’. You then understand what corrections you need to make in your code.

Since the timeless Gurbani is the mirror of the mind, we can apply the Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani for debugging the mind at any time — iron out, improve, amend ot change its faulty thinking (Soch, ਬਿਰਤੀ)! Consider Baabaa Kabeer’s priceless words:

  • ਪਹਿਲੀ ਕਰੂਪਿ ਕੁਜਾਤਿ ਕੁਲਖਨੀ ਸਾਹੁਰੈ ਪੇਈਐ ਬੁਰੀ ॥ ਅਬ ਕੀ ਸਰੂਪਿ ਸੁਜਾਨਿ ਸੁਲਖਨੀ ਸਹਜੇ ਉਦਰਿ ਧਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਭਲੀ ਸਰੀ ਮੁਈ ਮੇਰੀ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਬਰੀ ॥ ਜੁਗੁ ਜੁਗੁ ਜੀਵਉ ਮੇਰੀ ਅਬ ਕੀ ਧਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਬ ਲਹੁਰੀ ਆਈ ਬਡੀ ਕਾ ਸੁਹਾਗੁ ਟਰਿਓ ॥ ਲਹੁਰੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਭਈ ਅਬ ਮੇਰੈ ਜੇਠੀ ਅਉਰੁ ਧਰਿਓ ॥੨॥੨॥੩੨॥ : My first wife (here first wife = mind’s first thinking, Soch, inclinations – ਬਿਰਤੀ…) was ugly, of low social status (low quality) and bad character; she was evil in my home and in her parents’ home (i.e., it was neither good for my home nor the Guru). My present bride (i.e., my present thinking, Soch, Wisdom, ਬਿਰਤੀ…), is beautiful, wise and well-behaved; I have taken her into my body with Sahaj (Natural State of Being – state of Wisdom…). ||1||It has turned out so well, that my first wife has died (here first wife = mind’s first thinking, Soch, ਬਿਰਤੀ…). May she, whom I have now married (i.e., my present thinking, Soch, Wisdom, ਬਿਰਤੀ…), live forever. ||1||Pause|| O Kabeer! When the younger bride came (New Divine thinking), the elder one (the previous evil thinking) lost her influence on me. The younger bride (new thinking) is with me now, and the elder one (first evil or egoistic thinking) has taken another (husband). ||2||2||32|| (sggs 483).

Paid clergy (Pujaaree) ‘bugs’ human mind

The Gurbani boldly declare that the Pujaaree is responsible for the destruction:

  • ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥: The clergy of the Muslim faith was corrupt, the Brahmin was murderous and the Yogi Un-Enlightened. These three (clergy) had become the root cause for the spiritual wreckage and desolation that mankind had come to endure. (sggs 662).

Briefly, Pujaaree’s mental traps to catch ignorant or foolish human minds include, but not limited to, religious Karamkaand (formalities, rituals), path of Pakhand, religious paraphernalia (Bhekh), Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.), Haumai or false ego-sense, Maya-Jaal or Bharam-Jaal (traps of illusion, delusion, deceptions …) etc.

  • ਨਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਘਨੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਪੂਜਨ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਵ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਛੂਟਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੪॥੧॥੬॥੫੭॥: O crazy mind! There are so many places of pilgrimage in which to bathe, and so many gods to worship. Says Kabeer! O crazy mind, there is no liberation like this; only by serving Hari (Mool, Truth, Wisdom…) will you find liberation (from doubt, Maya…). ||4||1||6||57|| (sggs 335).
  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਇ ਕਹਾ ਸੁਚਿ ਸੈਲੁ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਾ ਮੂਲੁ ॥ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਵਿਆਪੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਪੂਲੁ ॥੨॥: The stone (stone-minded or foolish man) cannot attain (spiritual) purity by bathing at the Teerath (so called Pilgrimage centers). Millions of such religious Karamkaand (Pilgrimages etc.) is the cause of of traps of false ego-sense (Haumai). Without Uniting with Hari within (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop), these (prescribed religious Karamkaand on the human head) are useless (sggs 1149).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ਹਉਮੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਕਮਾਏ ॥: The human being remains lost in the delusion of the three qualities of Maya, and thus only accumulates the shackles of Haumai or false ego-sense. (sggs 604).

The Gurbani Guides us ‘Debug’ the corrupted mind

To debug oneself, for example, the Gurbani emphasizes daily introspection — self-examination, self-analysis, thinking about one’s own thinking (‘ਸੋਚ – Soch’, ਬਿਰਤੀ), etc., with the idea of debugging yourself.

Competing on the field of the body (‘Khetu’, ‘Dhartee’) are two opposing forces: discriminating intelligence (‘ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ’ – Bibek Budhi) and the sense-bent mind. The wicked impulsive mental and material tendencies are the offspring of the sense-blind mind. On the other hand, the Soul’s Virtues are the offspring of the discriminating intelligence.

  • ਇਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਕਰਮ ਕੀ ਧਰਤੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਥਿ ਮਥਿ ਤਤੁ ਕਢਈਆ ॥: This body is the field of action; by becoming the Gurmukhs, constantly churn (the Gur-Shabad) and obtain the Essence (of the Divine Wisdom or Tatt-Giaan). (sggs 834).

The field of battle of these contending forces is the human body with its physical, mental, and Soul-faculties; the field on which all activities of an individual’s take place. On this battlefield, daily war is raged between the soldiers of the Soul’s pure discriminating tendencies and the uncontrolled activities of the ignoble, wisdom-blind mind.

Thus, every moment in life, there is a Spiritual and psychological battle going on between the Soul-Nature and the blind sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the false ego-sense (Haume).

The question is: How can one review and know the outcome of this ever raging battle? In other words, how can one go about determining who won the battle — the Good or the evil? The process to analyze the results of this battle between the Good and the evil is termed ‘introspection’, etc.

The Divine Wisdom or Bibek-Budhi of the Gurbani represents the power of impartial self-analysis and discerning introspection for the aspiring learner (Sikh). The Gurbani teaches us that this power of one’s introspection can and must be invoked to review the conflicts of the daily life in one’s instinctive mind to determine the favorable or unfavorable outcome.

Therefore, the Gurbani stresses the necessity for a thorough introspection in daily life so that one may clearly discern which force — the good or the evil — has won the daily battle. “Good” being that which expresses Truth, Virtues, and Wisdom and attracts the mind to its Mool (Source, Jot…) within. And “evil” being ignorance, delusion, doubt, Haumai, etc., that which repels the mind from its Mool.

Human beings have two kinds of temperaments — some are introspective (the Gurmukhs), and the others are extravagant (the Manmukh). The mind dedicated to extravagance is a bad bargain. Attracted to the external features of the phenomenal world, they are asleep to introspection. But those who have developed introspection are as grave as the sea!

Called in the Gurbani (SGGS) by many terms such as ‘Manu Khoji – ਮਨੁ ਖੋਜਿ’, ‘Khoju Dil – ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ’, ‘Aapaa cheenai – ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ’, ‘Aapu Vichaari – ਆਪੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ’, ‘Mann Kee Patree Vaachanee – ਮਨ ਕੀ ਪਤ੍ਰੀ ਵਾਚਣੀ’, etc., introspection (or debugging oneself) is the ability to stand aside, observe, search, inquire, and review without any prejudice the conflicts of the day in one’s mind to ascertain the favorable or unfavorable outcome.

To put it otherwise, it’s the impartial self-analysis or questioning by which one analyzes his thinking, actions, etc., and assesses the strengths of the opposing armies of his Good and evil tendencies.

  • ਬੰਦੇ ਖੋਜੁ ਦਿਲ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਨਾ ਫਿਰੁ ਪਰੇਸਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: O man! Search your own heart every day, and do not wander around in perplexity (distress, trouble…). (sggs 727).
  • ਮਨ ਕੀ ਪਤ੍ਰੀ ਵਾਚਣੀ ਸੁਖੀ ਹੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: The greatest happiness comes from reading the horoscope of the mind (i.e., reading your own mind’s state or condition). (sggs 1093).

When the mind is carefully studied with the power of introspection consisting of a pure discriminating reasoning (Bibek Budhi), patient and vigilance, it reveals to us our defects, shocking crookedness, perversions, and weaknesses (i.e.,’ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ: Antari Malu‘ – inner garbage). In the beginning, knowledge of this inner Bhangaar will not be pleasing to one’s false-ego-sense at all (Haumai)!

Nonetheless, since the mind is the cause of our Mayaic bondage and freedom from it, the Gurbani urges us for continuous searching or impartial introspection and analysis of the mind.

  • ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥੪॥੭॥: O Kabeer! Those who have realized the Divine (Nature, Wisdom, Virtues…) have done so by searching and searching their own self or self-discovery (NOT realized with the help of Karamkaand of the Pujaaree-Vaad). ||4||7|| (sggs 1155).

In nutshell — in order to win the battle of life — the Wisdom of the Gurbani teaches us to turn the extrovert or the outgoing mind around, and turn it within (i.e., introvert). The Divine Wisdom of the Gurbani teaches:

  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਤਉ ਉਲਟਿ ਪਰਾਵੈ ॥੫॥: (Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) turns the outgoing mind around. ||5|| (sggs 414).

Now, per the Gurbani, who is sure to win this battle or game of life and who is sure to lose it? Per the Gurbani, a Gurmukh (The follower of the Truth, Wisdom of the Gurbani…) is sure to win this battle whereas a Manmukh (opposite of the Gurmukh) is sure to lose it.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਿਤਾ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਹਾਰਿਆ ॥੧੭॥: Becoming the Gurmukh, (one) wins (the battle of life) whereas a Manmukh loses it. ||17|| (sggs 310).

Thus the Gurbani challenges us to become the Gurmukh. With the Gurmukh-hood comes the true understanding.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, (one) understands his own self (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ. spiritual Lifestyle, etc.). (sggs 162).

The relativist mind is always engaged in wild wanderings (ਫੁਰਨੇ – Phurnae). However, with the aid of subjective introspection one can find what his mind is up to at a particular moment.

Such impartial self-analysis can be performed many times a day. Particularly, every night, prior to retiring, one can sit calmly and ask his intuition whether his Spiritual faculties or his physical inclinations of temptation won the day’s battle between Good and bad habits.

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: ‘Jan’ Nanak says, without KNOWING one’s ownself, the moss of doubt from the mind does not go away. ||2||1|| (sggs 684).

And this self-development or self-rediscovery (self-improvement, self-unfoldment, etc.) is accomplished through the Shabad-Vichaar, not through any other pursuits.

In nutshell, the Gurbani seems to indicate that an un-introspected life is not worth living!
  • ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad – Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).
  • ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Sikhi sikhiaa gur veechaari (sggs 465).


  1. Veerji ji if you allow, can I please use your comment on “humai” ਹਊਮੇ to share. Thank you!

  2. I would like present a different view from within Gurbanee for the wordਹਉਮੈ)
    If we look at the Grammar of this word it is FEMINIE GENDER DWIVACHAN means a reference for something TWO and these two things have been clarified to be as AASAA and MANSAA.
    ਹਉਮੈ is stated to be the BASIC CAUSE of taking Birth.
    So ਹਉਮੈ- means AASAA and MANSAA

  3. Thank you Veer Maninder Singh Ji for taking the time to respond!

    This is my take on your inquiry:
    The word “Haumai” (ਹਉਮੈ) consists of two words: ਹਉ (Hau) + ਮੈ (Mai).
    “ਹਉ” (Hau) essentially means “I, ਮੈ”, etc.
    And, ” ਮੈ” (Mai) means the same, that is, “I, ਮੈ”, etc.
    So, when both terms are combined (i.e., ਹਉਮੈ-Haumai), it simply indicates the sense of “ਮੈ ਮੈ”, “ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ”, ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ, “I, I”, “I-ness”, “mine, mine”, “mineness”, “I, me, mine”, etc.

  4. Respected sir
    Is mai ‘ਮੈਂ ‘ and houmea ਹਉਮੈ same thing ?
    Could u please explain ਮੈਂ for me ?

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