Spiritual Blindness

The subject of blindness is a very important subject in the Gurbani.

Blindness may be lumped up in two categories:

  1. Physical blindness: unable to see with the bodily eyes or the complete lack of form and visual light perception – the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.
  2. Then there is the mental or the spiritual blindness. This is a metaphor generally used to represent the spiritual inability to see Truth – being in the dark or ignorance, unable to discern Reality or Truth, etc.

A person who is physically blind, cannot see the material world —visible revelation or immanent aspect of the Universal Energy (Sarguna aspect). That is, he can’t see the gross object around him.

However, as a man is mentally or spiritually blind, he cannot see Transcendent aspect or invisible revelation of the Universal Energy (Nirguna aspect). For example, a mentally or spiritually blind person cannot see the Gurbani’s Oneness, Sameness, One Light, Holiness (Gurmukh Lifestyle), Forgiveness, Blessing, Grace, Joy, Peace, Truth, Love, truthful living etc.

  • ਫੋਕਟ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧ ਕਹਾਵਥ ॥੨॥: An ignorant Manmukh do useless deeds, (this why, in spite of having eyes, he is) called Blind. ||2|| (sggs 1001).
  • ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ਅਤਿ ਅੰਨਾ ਬੋਲਾ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਸੁਣਈ ਬਹੁ ਰੋਲ ਘਚੋਲਾ ॥: One who is attached to Maya is (spiritually) very much blind and deaf (to the Gur-Shabad…). (In such conditioned state), he is unable to listen (i.e., don’t pay attention…) to the Shabad; (but, in love or hunger of Maya) he makes much uproar and tumult (ਰੌਲਾ-ਗੌਲਾ, noise, chatter, etc.).

In nutshell, a mentally or spiritually blind cannot see the difference in physical body (matter) and the Soul (Spirit).

  • ਸੁਣਿ ਮਨ ਅੰਧੇ ਕੁਤੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਬੂਝੀਐ ਸਚਿਆਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Listen, O mind, you blind (i.e., ignorant…), false (i.e., ਝੂਠਾ…) dog (i.e., greedy…)! (A truthful person-ਸੱਚਾ ਮਨੁੱਖ) is known or recognized without him (even) speaking. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 662).
  • ਮਨਹੁ ਜਿ ਅੰਧੇ ਕੂਪ ਕਹਿਆ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਅੰਧੈ ਊਂਧੈ ਕਵਲਿ ਦਿਸਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਖਰੇ ਕਰੂਪ ॥: Mortals whose minds are like dark well (i.e., extremely foolish) do not understand the purpose of life even when told. (Because) they are mentally blind (ignorant) and they have their heart lotus inverted (from Dharma, Virtues, Giaan or Wisdom, etc.), these people look extremely ugly (foolish, ignorant…). (sggs 1246).

As the physical blind does not see the vast expanse of the universe, so the blind mind (deluded mind, Haumai or false ego-sense etc.) does not see the vast Holiness and Purity of Consciousness. Spiritual Sight (as opposed to the spiritual blindness) is opening of the Inner eyes of the mind to understand Light and to comprehend Divine Truth. It enables one to understand ‘who am I?’.

Which of these two types of blindness is more terrible?

Here is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ):

  • ਅੰਧੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਜਿਨ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੋਇਣ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਅੰਧੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਖਸਮਹੁ ਘੁਥੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: (In spiritual life – ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਿਚ) Those who don’t have eyes in their face are not called blind. O Nanak! They alone are blind who wander away from their Master (Prabhoo, Mool, Source, Truth, etc.). ||1|| (sggs 954).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਸੋਝੀ ਨਾਹੀ ॥: Manmukhs are mentally blind, without any understanding. (sggs 1029).

The majority of us choose to remain spiritually blind, as the ‘ostrich-head-in-sand’.

Thus blindness – according to the Gurbani – may be voluntary (e.g., spiritual blindness) as well as involuntary (e.g., physical blindness). As indicated in the foregoing verse, spiritual blindness – the refusal to see Reality As Is – is even more profoundly dreadful than the physical blindness.

A blind mind (i.e., ignorant mind) punishes itself and suffers the consequences of its ignorance-guided thinking (Soch) and actions resulting in physical and mental inflictions.

  • ਮਨ ਅੰਧੇ ਕਉ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥: The mind that is blinded (in attachment to Maya or Bikaar etc.) is punished (through its own corrupt thinking and actions resulting in physical and mental ailments). (sggs 1256).

In nutshell, in the worldly sense, a person who cannot see from his physical eyes is said to be blind. But he is not the Gurbani’s blind! According to the Gurbani (SGGS), the real blind is that person who is blind in his mind — who is spiritually ignorant etc.

  • 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).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਅੰਧਾ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: The blind Manmukh are attached to the love of duality (sggs 113).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੇ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥: The (mentally) blind Manmukh wander around like demons. (sggs 117).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧੇ ਸੁਧਿ ਨ ਕਾਈ ॥: The blind Manmukh have no understanding at all (sggs 118).
  • ਇਕਿ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਸਾਕਤਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਅੰਧ ਅੰਧਾਰ ॥: There are many people (in the world) who remain separated from Rabb and go astray, without the Gur-(Giaan or Wisdom) they are completely blind to the spiritual life. (sggs 986).
  • ਦੂਜੀ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਅੰਨੀ ਬੋਲੀ ॥: In duality and evil-mindedness, (the soul-bride) is (mentally) blind and deaf. (sggs 1022).
  • ਮਨ ਕੇ ਅੰਧੇ ਆਪਿ ਨ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਕਾਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਵਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥: (O Pandit!) You don’t understand yourself (the right way of life), who else are you giving advice to? (sggs 1103).
  • ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਣਾ ਅੰਧੁਲਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: The mentally blind, doubt-ridden gets lost in the path of life and continues to suffer again and again. (sggs 35).

Now, according to the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), what is the antidote for ignorance (Agiaanataa, Avidiaa or ਅਗਿਆਨਤਾ etc.)?

To avoid falling into the dark pit of ignorance, is to cultivate Wisdom through the unbroken Shabad-Vichaar and keeping the company of the Gurmukhs (true Giaanees, Daas or Bhagat).

  • ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: As the water remains confined in a pitcher, (just so) the mind is restrained by the Spiritual Wisdom. But (as) the pitcher cannot be shaped without the water, (just so) there can be no Spiritual Wisdom without the Guru. ||5|| (sggs 469).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਤਿਮਰ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਧੇਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥: O Nanak! The Divine Wisdom is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh, and the pitch darkness of ignorance is dispelled (sggs 512).
  • ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥: To instruct the mind one ought to study Knowledge to some extent. ||5|| (sggs 340).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਤੇਲ ਦੀਵਾ ਕਿਉ ਜਲੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਪੋਥੀ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥ ਭਉ ਵਟੀ ਇਤੁ ਤਨਿ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਸਚੁ ਬੂਝਣੁ ਆਣਿ ਜਲਾਈਐ ॥੨॥ ਇਹੁ ਤੇਲੁ ਦੀਵਾ ਇਉ ਜਲੈ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਤਉ ਮਿਲੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Without the oil (of the remembrance of the Gur-Wisdom, Virtues…), how can the lamp be lit (of spiritual life)? ||1||Pause|| Let the practice of the Teaching of the Guru. be the oil and the Fear (pure respect of Rabb or the Divine…) be the wick (for the lamp of this body). Light this lamp with the (fire of) understanding of Truth. ||2|| Use this oil to light this lamp. Make such light (of Naam – Wisdom, Virtues...) and then you meet the Divine. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 25).

1 comment

  1. Very well said. It reminds me of the film Vanilla Sky, where the voice over kept saying, “open your eyes”.

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