The subject of blindness is a very important subject in the Gurbani.
Blindness may be lumped up in two categories:
- 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.
- 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 Divine’s (Universal Energy) visible revelation or immanent aspect (Sarguna). That is, he can’t see object around him.
However, as a man is mentally or spiritually blind, he cannot see Transcendent aspect or invisible revelation (Nirguna) of the Divine (Universal Energy). For example, a mentally or spiritually blind person cannot see the Gurbani’s Oneness, Sameness, One Light, Love, Holiness (Gurmukh Lifestyle), Forgiveness, Blessing, Grace, Joy, Peace, Truth, 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).
As the physical blind does not see the vast expanse of the universe, so the blind spirit (blind mind, deluded mind, Haumai (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 Soul or the Spirit 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.
- 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.
- 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).