The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches us to turn the outgoing or wandering mind around, and turn it within (i.e., introvert), and make it live in the eternity of the ‘Now’, not in the memories of yesterday or the anxiety of the tomorrow.
‘Now’ is the best time!
- ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਅਬ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Whatever you have to do – now is the best time to do it (sggs 1159).
- ਜੇ ਵੇਲਾ ਵਖਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੀਐ ਤਾ ਕਿਤੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: If one considers the time and the moment (for Bhagti), then Bhagti cannot be performed at any time. (sggs 35).
- ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਤਉ ਉਲਟਿ ਪਰਾਵੈ ॥੫॥: (Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad) turns the outgoing mind around. ||5|| (sggs 414).
The light of our individual consciousness passes through the film of deep rooted past memories (Vaasnaas, tendencies, dispositions, undigested desires etc.) and throws images on the screen of our brain. Because of delusion, what we perceive is distorted and tarnished by the feelings of likes and dislikes (duality).
Since all memories are in the transient mind, what is remembered cannot be Real. The changeless Reality is in the eternity of the ‘Now’, not in the memories of yesterday or the worry of tomorrow.
In this regard, the injunction in the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is very succinct — don’t dwell on the past, live in the present, explore better options now, improve thinking (Soch-ਸੋਚ) by learning (Wisdom), and future will take care itself.
- ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਮਿਲੁ ਵੇਲਾ ਹੈ ਏਹ ॥: Listen, O my mind, my friend and darling: now is the time to meet (your Jot Saroop or True Nature, Mool…). (sggs 20).
- ਆਗਾਹਾ ਕੂ ਤ੍ਰਾਘਿ ਪਿਛਾ ਫੇਰਿ ਨ ਮੁਹਡੜਾ॥: Look ahead; don’t turn your face backward (sggs 1096).
- ਵਤ ਲਗੀ ਸਚੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਬੀਜੇ ਸੋ ਖਾਇ ॥: The opportune time to sow the True Naam (Giaan or Wisdom) has arrived. He who sows it (Now) will eat its fruit (sggs 321).
The sense of time-space-causation arises when the illusioned or wandering mind engrossed in ‘Parpanch’ (i.e., Maya, affairs of this fleeting material world, ostentation, deception, trickery, Pakhand…) is in movement from past to future.
In other words, the illusion of time-space-causation comes into being only if we hold on to the memory of the past and the worry of future. The moment our mind stops intermingling between these two, the illusion of time ceases to be.
The only Truth is the eternity of the present moment
It’s called by many names in the Gurbani such as ‘Ik Shinn’, ‘Ik Khinn’, ‘Ek Khinaa’, ‘Ik Pall’, ‘Ek Palak’; ‘Abb’, ‘Ih Velaa’, ‘Vatt’ etc.
Whosoever keeps his consciousness focused unto this eternity of the present moment (or NOW) becomes liberated while alive (Jeevanmukta), here and now.
But the phantom of the compulsive and instinctive mind tries to live in the past or the future and makes everything look like permanent – from our pains, children and spouses to our dogs and cats etc.
The transient nature of all phenomena is a universal truth. The Gurbani asks us to be mindful of this truth — the impermanence of everything we see. That which is Real never ends, and that which ends is not Real! The Gurbani Teaches us that anything seen is ephemeral — it will soon disappear.
- ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥: All that is seen is an illusion (sggs 1083).
- ਤਿਸੁ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਨ ਕੀਜਈ ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ ॥: Don’t carry affection for which is just fleeting (perishable). (sggs 21).
However, a doubt-ridden mind objects to the truth that the nature of all phenomena is transient. As a consequent of this faulty thinking, we cause ourselves to suffer when we try to cling to what’s fleeting and make it permanent.
There must be a sound reason as to why the Gurbani time and again reminds us of the temporary or fleeting nature of everything we see in this world!
For one, understanding impermanence of people and things helps us appreciate the time we spend with people and things we care about.
For example, if we know somebody will disappear in a few days, wouldn’t that help one appreciate the time of those few days he spends with that person he cares about?
Mind’s separateness from its Jot Saroop is the sign of not living in the presence!
Thus, understanding and awareness of impermanence of people and things helps us live in the present moment. Otherwise, the phantom of the mind will pull us into the memory-lane of the past, and fictional reality of the future — project us into the future to worry about things that may or may not happen. Because this phantom of the mind is never satisfied with the present moment — it will always desire something else.
- ਅਬਹਿ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ਸੁ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ॥: One who is not intoxicated (with the Divine Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) NOW, will never be intoxicated. (sggs 855).
- ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਖਿਨੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਲਿ ॥: O my mind! Every moment, remember the Naam (Wisdom…). (sggs 1259).
Life presents itself to us only one moment or one breath at a time.
In other words, as the Gurbani says the life comes one breath at a time!
- ਹਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਹਾਂ ਇਕ ਦਮੀ ਮੁਹਲਤਿ ਮੁਹਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: We humans exist for one breath at a time, not knowing (allotted time of) the life span or even what will happen next. (sggs 660).
Maya is living in the past or the future, instead of the present moment!
Thus, the length of a man’s life is measured by a breath! Therefore, the present moment or the present breath is all we ever have!
This present moment or the present breath is where life unfolds. If we look back, nothing exists! For we cannot go back in time.
Therefore, except for this present moment, there is simply smoke on both sides (i.e., past and future).
Accordingly, the Gurbani asks us to live in the present moment and focus attention on each breath (‘ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ-Saas Saas’). If we constantly observe breath, by and by we will realize that we are different from the breathing. Thus constantly observing breath will keep the mind under constant watch.
- ਸਾਸਿ ਸਾਸਿ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ॥ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਉਤਰੈ ਚਿੰਦ ॥: With each breath, remember ‘Gobind‘ (Mool…). (So that) worry within (your) mind be erased (sggs 295).
The Gurbani tells us that our Mool is here and now — not after death, or some other time (past or future), or ‘up there’, or ‘there yonder’!
- ਬੇਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਭਗਤਹੁ ਮਰਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਿਨਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੫॥: Says Baynee – O Bhagat! Listen (to this truth): Nobody has ever attained liberation after death. ||5|| (sggs 93).
- ਸਭ ਕੈ ਸੰਗੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਦੂਰਿ ॥ ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਵਨ ਹਾਜਰਾ ਹਜੂਰਿ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (Rabb) is with all; not far away (from anybody). (Rabb) is the Cause of causes, ever-present here and now — Haajraa Hajoor ||1||Pause|| (sggs 987).
‘Surrender’ (‘ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ’, ‘ਸਰਨਾਇ’…) and living in the NOW are one and the same.
Thus living in the eternity of the ‘NOW’ is the highest state of the conscious mind. The person who lives fully in the ‘Now’ is a true Giaanee or the Gurmukh: who sees beyond duality (Doojaa Bhaav, Maya) and knows the oneness of All. Such person remains peaceful and undisturbed in all situations.
Like the river water, he flows freely with the life, finding his way around the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of the life, and letting go of everything that blocks his energy. He faces everything in the Light of the eternity of ‘NOW’, not in the darkness of the past or the future.
But, the Gurbani time and again confirms that such people are very rare in this world!
- ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਰਲੇ ਪਾਈਅਹਿ ਜੋ ਨ ਰਚਹਿ ਪਰਪੰਚ ॥੫॥: O Nanak! Rare are those, who do not create ‘Parpanch’. ||5|| (sggs 297).
The Gurbani roars:
- ਅਗੋ ਦੇ ਜੇ ਚੇਤੀਐ ਤਾਂ ਕਾਇਤੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥: If the mortal is conscious before hand (ਸਾਵਧਾਨ – wise, prudent or heedful about own responsibilities…), then why he be punished later (i.e., then he will not have to suffer later in life). (sggs 417).
- ਬੇੜਾ ਬੰਧਿ ਨ ਸਕਿਓ ਬੰਧਨ ਕੀ ਵੇਲਾ ॥ ਭਰਿ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਜਬ ਊਛਲੈ ਤਬ ਤਰਣੁ ਦੁਹੇਲਾ ॥੧॥: You were not able to make yourself a raft (of Naam – Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) when you should have. When the ocean is churning and over-flowing, then it is very difficult to cross over it (i.e., when already drowning in the Bhav Saagar of Maya or Bikaar, then not possible to escape). ||1|| (sggs 794).
- ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥: (So long there is breath – Praan) With own hands (with self-efforts: Shabad-Vichaar …), resolve your own affair yourself. ||20|| (sggs 474).