Spiritual and Mental Blindness

Blindness may be lumped up in two categories as follows:

  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 blindness. This is a metaphor generally used to represent the spiritual inability to know or realize the Truth or Creator within, inability to discern right from wring etc. In short, it’s the state of Unenlightenment or ignorance, inability to understand Hukam (Universal System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਿਯਮ…), etc.

A physically blind person cannot see the material world (Sargun aspect) — he can not see the gross object around him.

However, a mentally or spiritually blind person cannot see Transcendent aspect or invisible revelation of the Universal Energy (Nirguna aspect). For example, a mentally or spiritually blind person cannot see or realize the Gurbani’s Enlightening Message of Oneness, Sameness, One Universal Light, Holiness (Enlightened or Gurmukh state of the mind), divine Virtues, Grace, Joy, Peace, Blessing, 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 a nutshell, a mentally or spiritually blind person cannot see the difference in physical body (matter) and the subtle or Inner body (Spirit).

  • ਦੇਹੀ ਗੁਪਤ ਬਿਦੇਹੀ ਦੀਸੈ ॥: ‘Dehee’ (ਦੇਹੀ – subtle body within) is hidden; ‘Bidehee’ (ਬਿਦੇਹੀ – gross, external body) is seen (sggs 900).
  • 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) 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 a physical blind person does not see the vast expanse of the universe, so the blind mind 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 the Universal Light and to comprehend Divine Truth. It enables one to understand ‘who am I?’.

Which of these two – (1) mental blindness and (2) physical blindness – 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॥ : Consider Not Blind Those Who Have No Eyes. The Blind, O Nanak, are those who are lost on their Spiritual Journey of Realizing the Creator Within. ||1|| (sggs 954).
  • ਅੰਧਾ ਸੋਇ ਜਿ ਅੰਧੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਸਿ ਲੋਚਨ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ : Blind are those who acquire ignorance; (as a result) there minds are unable to Realize. (sggs 1289).
  • ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਅੰਧਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿ ਹੁਕਮਹੁ ਅੰਧਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਅੰਧਾ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥ : Why call a sightless person blind? Blind is the one who does not comprehend the Hukam. ||3|| (sggs 954).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਸੋਝੀ ਨਾਹੀ ॥: Manmukhs are mentally blind (Un-Enlightened), without any understanding. (sggs 1029).
  • ਮਨਿ ਅੰਧੈ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੩॥ : O unenlightened mind! my life is being squandered as a result (of your unenlightened state). ||3|| (sggs 464).

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

Thus mental or spiritual blindness – according to the Gurbani – may be voluntary. To the contrary, physical blindness is involuntary. As indicated in the foregoing verses, the mental or spiritual blindness – the refusal to see Reality As Is – is even profoundly dreadful than the physical blindness.

A blind mind punishes itself and suffers the consequences of its ignorance-guided thinking (Soch) and the resulting actions causing 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 a nutshell, in the worldly sense, a person who cannot see from his physical eyes is said to be blind. However, he is not the Gurbani’s blind!

The real blind according to the Gurbani (SGGS) is that person who is mentally or spiritually blind (Unenlightened). Having said that, the physical eyes are useless when the mind is blind!

  • 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 SGGS, what is the antidote for ignorance (Agiaanataa, Avidiaa, ਅਗਿਆਨਤਾ)?

To avoid falling into the dark pit of ignorance, the SGGS Guides us to cultivate Wisdom through Shabad-Vichaar and keeping the company of the Gurmukhs (Guru Shabad-Oriented or Enlightened minds).

  • 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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