On Using Wisdom

The Gurbani urges us to use Akal (ਅਕਲ = wisdom, intellect, reason…).

In short using Akal (ਅਕਲ-intellect) simply implies using Viveka-Budhi (discerning intellect).

  • ਸਭ ਤੇ ਊਤਮ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਕਥਾ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਨਤ ਦਰਦ ਦੁਖ ਲਥਾ ॥: The BEST is to engage in ‘Hari KEE Kathaa’ (i.e., talk of Naam = Wisdom or Giaan Charachaa, Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature…). By hearing Naam sorrow and pain (Dukh) are relieved. (sggs 265).

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 truth and falsehood (Sat and Asat), right and wrong, and so on.

Therefore, the Gurbani time and again challenges us to use the 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.

  • ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥ 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॥: Accursed (i.e. worthless, ਲਾਹਨਤ ਯੋਗ) are lives of those who (on account of their selfishness and greed) read and write Naam (i.e. Giaan, Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) to sell it. Whose crop (i.e. Naam) is destroyed in the fields, what harvest will they have? Without proper self-effort (to change ownself, search ownself etc.) they are not appreciated. (By engaging in selling Naam) to lose one’s intellect in vain – it is not called intellect. Only by using the intellect can ‘Sahib’ (Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature-ਨਿਯਮ, the divine Qualities-ਗੁਣ…) be understood. The right use of intellect brings honor everywhere. Only with intellect can we read and understand what is written. The wise man understands how to help the needy (Daan). Says Nanak, that this is the only right way of life; the devil (‘Saitaan(u)) is the one who tells otherwise (i.e. all work without Wisdom is devilish). ||1|| (sggs 1245).
  • ਵੇਦ ਪੜੈ ਪੜਿ ਵਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਬਿਸਨੁ ਮਹੇਸਾ ॥ ਏਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਕਾ ਸਹਸਾ ॥: (Instead of taking refuge in understanding and embellish their life) people just start arguing after reading Vedas etc. and keep telling others the (manufactured stories) of Brahma, Vishanu, Siva. The consequence of this is that the threefold Maya which has led the whole world astray, (within these people, this Maya) maintains the fear of birth and death. (sggs 1257).

The Gurbani asks us that all our Sevaa (ਸੇਵਾ, divine Service…) must be performed with Akal (intellect-ਅਕਲ). If performed with Akal (ਅਕਲ), it will bestow upon us Honor everywhere.

The Gurbani tells us to use our Akal (intellect-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.

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

  • ਅੰਧੇ ਅਕਲੀ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਮੂਰਖ ਅੰਧ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: The spiritually blind fools have no wisdom at all; their understanding is blind (sggs 789).
  • ਅੰਧੇ ਅਕਲੀ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਕਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਸਿਉ ਕਹੀਐ ॥: 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 (intelligence) – in Awareness; in Sahaj; in intuitively balanced wisdom (intellect, reasoning, Wisdom, Giaan, ਸੰਤੁਲਿਤ ਸੋਚ ਨਾਲ; and so on). In other words, it is the Akal (intellect) that needs to be attuned, absorbed, linked, free of Mayaic thoughts…

  • ਸਦਾ ਅਕਲ ਲਿਵ ਰਹੈ ਕਰਨ ਸਿਉ ਇਛਾ ਚਾਰਹ ॥: Your mind always remains connected with (the One Universal Energy, Giaan, Hukam etc., consequently) you remain independent in thoughts (thinking-ਸੋਚ), deeds etc. (i.e. cannot be influenced by Maya etc.). (sggs 1392).