On Using Wisdom

The Gurbani urges us to use Akal (ਅਕਲ).

Akal (ਅਕਲ) = wisdom, intellect, reason…

Thus, in nutshell, using Akal (ਅਕਲ) simply implies using Viveka-Budhi (discerning intellect).

Without discerning or discriminating intellect (Viveka-Budhi) one cannot discriminate between  the eternal (permanent) and the ephemeral (impermanent), etc. This subtle sense of discrimination or reasoning helps one to know the difference between Sat and Asat (truth and falsehood), right and wrong, and so on.

Therefore, the Gurbani time and again challenges us to use the God given faculty of Akal (ਅਕਲ).

Here are some examples from the Gurbani:

First, the Gurbani reminds us that Akal (ਅਕਲ) is not to be wasted in arguments, contentions, disputes, strife, quarrels, debates, wrangling, and so on. To waste it this way cannot be called wisdom.

  • ਅਕਲਿ ਏਹ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਅਕਲਿ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Losing intellect in vain – this is not called Wisdom. Wisdom is to remember ‘Sahib’ (Universal Energy…) and earn respect. The intellect is to read (the gur-Shabad), understand (its deep secrets) and explain it to others. Nanak says that this is the only right way of life; (a person who tells or talks about) other things (i.e. other than Wisdom or remembering Naam…) is a ‘Saitaan(u)’ (i.e. a devil). ||1|| (sggs 1245).

The Gurbani asks us that all our Sevaa (ਸੇਵਾ) of the Divine (Divine Service…) must be performed with Akal (ਅਕਲ). If performed with Akal (ਅਕਲ), it will bestow upon us Honor in the Divine Court (ਦਰਗਹ, ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦਰ ਤੇ…). Other worldly Sevaa (such as Sevaa of the body, Maya, etc.) may bring us honor in this world, but it will not bestow upon us Honor in the Divine Court.

  • ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥: Akalee sahib seveeai akalee paaeeai maanu: Serve the Lord through wisdom and obtain Honor. (sggs1245).

The Gurbani tells us to use our Akal (ਅਕਲ) while reading Gurbani (or any other scripture for that matter). The Gurbani’s emphasis, thus, is on attaining true Understanding of the scriptures. Why? Because the content of the scriptures is esoteric knowledge recorded for the purpose of reflection, contemplation, Giaan (Knowledge), etc.; which must be followed by Shabad-Surti (Divine-Consciousness) and application (to live Gurmukh Lifestyle – ਕਰਣੀ)!

In the same breadth, the Gurbani tells us that charity must be performed with discerning intelligence. Otherwise — if performed ignorantly or foolishly — the effects will come back to haunt you! You cannot escape. When performed unintelligently (lack or absence of spiritual Wisdom), the act of charity inflates our false ego-sense or Haume (false pride, stubborn mindedness, envy, attachment, lust, greed, anger etc.). It is this false ego-sense which then begins to think that by giving it has become noble or virtuous. The Gurbani alerts us as follows:

  • ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Akalee parhi kai bujheeyai akalee keejai daanu. Nanak aakhai raahu ehu hor gallan saitaanu ||1||: One should read (Bani) with intelligence, and then understand its real essence (i.e., assimilate it). Also, one should use intelligence in giving charity. Says Nanak, this is the True Path; other things lead to Satanic life ||1|| (sggs 1245).

Those of us who do not use Akal and act as devoid of Akal (ਅਕਲ-ਹੀਣ), Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਅੰਧੇ ਅਕਲੀ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਮੂਰਖ ਅੰਧ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: Andhe akalee baahare moorakh andh giaan: The spiritually blind fools have no wisdom at all; their understanding is blind (sggs 789).
  • ਅੰਧੇ ਅਕਲੀ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਕਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਸਿਉ ਕਹੀਐ ॥: Andhe akalee baahare kiaa tin siou kaheeai: There is no point in explaining this to the people who have been blinded and made devoid of intellect or Wisdom (i.e. made ignorant by the attachment to Maya). (sggs 229).

In nutshell, the Gurbani teaches us to to do everything in the Light of Akal – in Awareness; in Sahaj; in intuitively balanced wisdom (intellect, reasoning, Wisdom, Giaan, etc.); ਸੰਤੁਲਿਤ ਸੋਚ ਨਾਲ; and so on. In other words, it is the Akal that needs to be attuned, absorbed, linked, free of Mayaic thoughts… (ਸਦਾ ਅਕਲ ਲਿਵ ਰਹੈ ਕਰਨ ਸਿਉ ਇਛਾ ਚਾਰਹ ॥: Sadaa akal liv rahai karan siou icchaa chaarah, sggs 1392).

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