The the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) time and again tells that this is attained through a process of self-transcendence — ‘ਚੀਨੈ ਆਪੁ’ (Cheenai Aapu), ‘ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ’ (Aapu pachhaaniaa), ‘ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ’ (Aatam Raam Pachhaniaa), and so on. Hence, to know one’s ownself (‘ਆਤਮ ਤਤੁ’ etc.) is the central Message of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS
- ਜਿਨਿ ਆਤਮ ਤਤੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍ਆਿ ॥ ਸਭ ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਅਬੀਨਿਆ ॥: Whoever does not Realize the Essence or Reality of the Soul (ਆਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਅਸਲੀਅਤ…), all his religious acts are of no value – worthless (sggs 1351).
- ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ ॥ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ ॥ ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਤੇਰੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਕਾਮ ॥ ਮਿਲੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਭਜੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ॥੧॥: (You) have obtained (this) human body. This is your chance (time, opportunity…) of uniting Gobind within (i.e. knowing, recognizing or meeting ownself as Jot Saroop…). Give up other efforts (e.g. Karamkaand, rituals, formalities etc.) for they are of no avail to you. (Therefore) join the ‘Saadhsangat’ (Satsangee Jan, pious beings…) and join the Naam (i.e. take the Wisdom or Giaan). (sggs 12).
In fact, the Gurbani calls that person crazy (‘ਬਉਰਾ-Baouraa’ – mad, ignorant, foolish…) who does not recognize his ownself. Because, the Gurbani asserts that without Realizing one’s ownself, one cannot know the Truth. The Gurbani accepts the One and only One All-pervading Truth with no second or ancillary or auxiliary.
- ਸੋ ਬਉਰਾ ਜੋ ਆਪੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਨੈ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨੈ ਤ ਏਕੈ ਜਾਨੈ ॥੪॥: Man is crazy without knowing himself (Mool-realization…). When he knows himself (ਆਪਣੇ ਅਸਲੇ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ, the Reality of his Being, his True Nature, etc.), only then he comes to know the One (All-pervading Truth). ||4|| (sggs 855).
As we can see, the Gurbani shows the purpose of life to the whole mankind. Its Wisdom is meant to aid Spiritual evolution as it helps develop inclination for Spiritual Life (Gurmukh Lifestyle, Divine Life…). In turn, the taste for Spiritual Life gives rise to Spiritual Kowledge (Aatam-Giaan); which leads man transcend the deluded or conditioned self trapped in duality (or Maya).
The attempt to search for one’s True Nature (Jot Saroop) is most difficult and not easily attainable. It’s like swimming upstream! The Jeeva (individual being) under the spell of Maya is unable to recognize the Truth of its own True Nature (Mool). From early on, the Jeeva gets familiar and conditioned with certain attitudes and beliefs in this world. As a result, the Jeeva gets attached to the body-frame. In turn, this entanglement becomes so much a reality that the fleeting nature of the body and the world is for the time being forgotten or ignored.
Hence, the Gurbani reminds us that only the knowledge of the nature of one’s own true self (Aatam-Giaan) can free the Jeeva from this duality, illusion etc. Not easy at all!
As the Gurbani repeatedly indicates, to know one’s own true self is like walking on a two-edged sword! That does not mean one should shrink from pursuing it. To the contrary, the Gurbani asks one should think of that path early on.
- ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਮੇਰ ਤੇਰ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਏਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ॥: To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of ‘mine and yours’ (false ego-sense), is the path of the double-edged sword (sggs 534).
- ਵਾਟ ਹਮਾਰੀ ਖਰੀ ਉਡੀਣੀ ॥ ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਪਿਈਣੀ ॥ ਉਸੁ ਊਪਰਿ ਹੈ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥ ਸੇਖ ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰਿ ਸਵੇਰਾ ॥੪॥੧॥: Vaat hamaaree kharee udeenee. Khanniahu tikhee bahutu pieenee… (sggs 794).
As a matter of fact, according to the Gurbani, the true Giaanee (the man of Knowledge, Wisdom…) is he who has Realized his true ownself.
- ਪ੍ਰਣਵਤਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋਇ ॥: Prays Nanak, what is nature of the Giaanee (the knower of the Truth…)? (A true Giaanee is he who) recognizes his Mool (ਮੂਲ, Source, Jot…), that (Mool-realized Giaanee) understands. (sggs 25).
- ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s ownself (Mool, Original, or True Nature, etc. – ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one’s True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684).
In short, through the Gur-Shabad (Gur-Giaan or Wisdom), the Gurbani tells us to abandon the falsehood (false self – Haumai…), pursue the Truth, and become the Gurmukh. With the help of the Shabad-Vichaar, one comes to understand what is Real and what is unreal.
- ਕੂੜੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਸਾਚੇ ਕਉ ਧਾਵਹੁ ॥: Abandon falsehood, and pursue the Truth (sggs 1027).
- ਸੋਹੰ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦਿ ਪਤੀਆਇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ਅਵਰ ਕਿ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਾਇ ॥੯॥: (When one’s mind) is pierced through by the Shabad and is confided (in the Shabad, then one) recognizes within himself that, ‘He is me’ (i.e. then he knows that his Real Nature the Divine Nature – ਤਦੋਂ ਇਹ ਪਛਾਣ ਆਉਂਦੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਮੇਰਾ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦਾ ਸੁਭਾਉ ਰਲਿਆ ਹੈ). By becoming the Gurmukh, (one) realizes his ownself, (after one has realized his ownself, for him) what more is left to do or have done. ||9||. (sggs 60).
When consciousness from the micro level reverts back to the macro level, it exhibits features of omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence Parmaatam
- ਜਿਨੀ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਿਆ ਪਰਮਾਤਮੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Those who understand their own Soul, are themselves the Supreme Soul (sgg 421).