Self-Efforts

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) can be explained, but cannot be given as a readymade package, or made to an order. One must be willing to TAKE it, digest it, apply it…

SGGS impartially provides Wisdom (Giaan) to ALL. So, it’s up to each learner (i.e., Sikh: ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ) whether to take-accept-understand-assimilate-believe-remember-live it or not!

Tremendous emphasis is put on self-efforts (‘ਉਦਮ-Uddam’…) by the Gurbani. For they are essential to spiritual progress and unfoldment, success and Happiness in life etc.

As we know it, efforts are even necessary in worldly pursuits (ਦੁਨਿਆਈ ਕਿਰਤ) let alone, spiritual Realization!

  • ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਕਮਾਇਅੜੋ ਸੋ ਆਇਓ ਮਾਥੈ ॥: The good and bad deeds that you have done day and night have been engraved in your mind (as Soch or thinking, influence, impression etc.). (sggs 461).
  • ਕਿਰਸਾਣੀ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੁ ਕਰੇ ਲੋਚੈ ਜੀਉ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਹਲੁ ਜੋਤੈ ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਮੇਰਾ ਪੁਤੁ ਧੀ ਖਾਇ ॥: The farmer does the farming work diligently (with full effort),plows, strives and longs (for the harvest to be good, so that) my son and daughter may eat. (sggs 166).

For example, if someone is hungry, he cannot ‘substitute’ anybody for himself: he must eat himself to appease his hunger. Also, if someone wants to get married, he cannot ‘substitute’ anybody for himself to take ‘Phere‘ in his place: he must take ‘Phere‘ himself.

Similarly, if someone wants to realize his Mool (Source, Jot Saroop…) and become happy and prosperous in life, he cannot ‘substitute’ anybody for himself: he must strive with full self-efforts for it.

The wise ones tell us to remember one thing: If we want something as sublime as spiritual Realization etc. and want it cheaply in the form of a ‘readymade’ package, we put ourselves in a position to be cheated by the religious con-artists (those who use the Gurbani and Dharma as business (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ’ ਧੰਧਾ; ‘ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ’)!

Accordingly, the Gurbani urges us to resolve our own affairs ourselves through intense efforts or ‘Uddam’ (Shabad-Vichaar and so on). Nobody else can do it for us.

  • ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥: (So long there is breath – Praan) With own hands (with self-efforts, Shabad-Vichaar …), resolve your own affair yourself. ||20|| (sggs 474).
  • ਸਗਲ ਉਦਮ ਮਹਿ ਉਦਮੁ ਭਲਾ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਜੀਅ ਸਦਾ ॥: Of all self-efforts, the best self-effort is to persistently engage in Naam-Jap (Understanding the Gurbani’s Giaan…). (sggs 266).
  • ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣਾ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਹੁ ॥ ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ ॥: Whatever Karma (deeds, actions) you do, you yourself write that (Sanskaar, result, ਫਲ…). Whatever you sow, you will reap. (sggs 4).
  • ਜੇਹਾ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਲੁਣੈ ਕਰਮਾ ਸੰਦੜਾ ਖੇਤੁ ॥: (Body is the) field (of man’s Karma); whatever (he) sows so does (he) reap (sggs 134).
  • ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰਤ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਆ ॥: Oudamu karat manu nirmalu hoaa (sggs 99).
  • ਆਪੈ ਜਪਹੁ ਆਪਨਾ ਜਾਪ ॥੫॥: Aapai japahu aapanaa jaap (sggs 343).

Divine Grace is directly proportional to the intensity of our own efforts or Uddam. In other words, as is the aspiration, so is the reward.

  • ਆਪਿ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਇ ॥: As we plant, so we harvest and eat (sggs 25).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹਾ ਤਿਨ ਰਾਹੁ ॥: As is (beings’) awareness, so is (their) way (sggs 25).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹੈ ਰਾਹਿ ਜਾਇ ॥੩॥: As is one’s understanding, that’s the way he walks (or lives). ||3|| (sggs 662).
  • ਜੈਸਾ ਸੇਵੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥: (It is a matter of principle that man) becomes himself as he serves (Bhagti etc.). ||4|| (sggs 223).

Man is not the creature of his circumstances – through self-efforts, we can change our thinking (ਸੋਚ-Soch) if we want to. Thereby, we can change our actions and their results. Accordingly, for example Shabad-Vichaar is said to be the most excellent action in the Gurbani for it Awakens our intellect to Wisdom!

Therefore, our intellect’s (ਬੁਧਿ-Budhi) function or job is to obtain proper understand through the self efforts or Uddam. This human life is said to be the opportunity to do just that!

  • ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥: To instruct the mind one ought to study Knowledge to some extent. ||5|| (sggs 340).
  • ਮਾਨਸ ਦੇਹ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨਹ ਪਾਵੈ ਕਛੂ ਉਪਾਉ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਾ ਕਰੁ ਰੇ ॥: (You) will not obtain this human body again; make plan (take measure) for liberation (sggs 220).
  • ਗਿਆਨ ਰਤਨਿ ਸਭ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੋਇ ॥: Giaan ratani sabh sojhee hoi (sggs 364).

As the Gurbani reminds us, Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad is must to reconcile the Mayaic mind, and to keep it stabilized within (ਅਡੋਲ).

  • ਜਿਉ ਮੰਦਰ ਕਉ ਥਾਮੈ ਥੰਮਨੁ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਅਸਥੰਮਨੁ ॥: As a pillar supports a building, similarly, the Gur-Shabad is the mind’s support. (sggs 282).
  • 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).
  • ਗਿਆਨ ਰਤਨਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਜੀਐ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਨ ਮੈਲਾ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is cleaned (scrub, polish, scour-ਸੁਧ ਜਾਂ ਸਾਫ ਕਰਨਾ…) with the Jewel of the Giaan (Gur-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom), it does not become dirty again (with Bikaar). (sggs 992).

The Gurbani also reminds us that any amount of religious rituals and formalities will not do the trick. The powerful sway of our hunger for Maya (‘ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ’) easily deludes and distracts our spiritual efforts. The Gurbani wants us to keep away from Karamkaand:

  • ਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੁਹੀ ਧਿਆਇਆ ॥੧॥ : (But) O Prabh (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop…)! Apart from all other efforts, I only remembered you (within). ||1|| (sggs 371).
  • ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਚਾਰ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥੩॥: (Those who) perform all sorts of (religious) rituals and formalities, (but remain) devoid of the Naam, (such Karamkaand or rituals only give rise to) egotism (in them and their lives just remain) disdainful. ||3|| (sggs 162).
  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਘਰ ਗਾਲੇ ॥: The love of duality has ruined many Jeev (individual beings). (sggs 1160).
  • ਆਹਰ ਸਭਿ ਕਰਦਾ ਫਿਰੈ ਆਹਰੁ ਇਕੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਤੁ ਆਹਰਿ ਜਗੁ ਉਧਰੈ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੨॥: Man goes about making all sorts of efforts, but he does not make one effort (to understand and live Naam. O Nanak! How rare is that person who understands the effort by which the world can be saved (from Bikaar: lust, anger, greed…). ||2|| (sggs 965).

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