Waiting for Retirement to Take to Spirituality!

The Gurban in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) counsels its Sikhs (learners) not to take life for granted. The length of human life is one breath. No guaranty when the thread of breath will snap. For example those who died yesterday had plans for today and those who died this morning had plans for tomorrow!

  • ਹਮ ਆਦਮੀ ਹਾਂ ਇਕ ਦਮੀ ਮੁਹਲਤਿ ਮੁਹਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: Ham Aadamee Haan Ik Damee…: We humans exist for ONE BREATH at a time, not knowing (allotted time of) the life span or even what will happen next. (sggs 660).

Since human life passes by like a the flow of river, the SGGS teaches us to pay attention to the spiritual aspect of life. The Gurbani in SGGS Counsels us NOT to wait for special time and location for Shabad Vichaar, contemplation, developing and living a Spiritual life (Gurmukh Lifestyle – Enlightened mindset).

  • ਬਹਤੀ ਜਾਤ ਕਦੇ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਨ ਧਾਰਤ ॥ : (O human, like the flow of river) your life is passing by you but you never pay attention (to spiritual aspect of your life). (sggs

Because the God of the Gurmat (SGGS) is Omnipresent — ever in Existence (‘ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ’) in everything and everywhere including every person regardless of time and location, regardless if one is a child, adult or old.

  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕਾਲੀ ਧਉਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਚਿਤਿ ਕਰੇ ॥ : Farid, whether a person’s hair is black or grey, (whether he is young or old), he can Realize the Creator if he remembers Him in his Conscience for the Creator is ever in Existence. (sggs 1378).

However, humans are warned by the Gurbani in SGGS about OLD AGE related problems. Because as we age, our nature solidifies and become more and more stubborn, making change more difficult with time.

Aptly the SGGS asks us not to wait for old age — retirement or twilight years of a one’s life to develop Spirituality.

Old Age specific problems

I remember this from my personal experience while sitting inside a Gurdwara listening to a discourse. Some Young men sitting outside were chatting rather loudly, disturbing the congregation in the adjacent room. One elderly person got up and politely asked the young men to come sit inside. One of the guys sarcastically replied to the elderly person, ‘Baabaa Ji, when we are of your age (i.e. old), we will be sitting there too’!

Although the Creator is ever present and can be Realized regardless of one’s age, however, the SGGS points out new problems specifically related to the old age we should be aware of. For example:

  1. health problems;
  2. as one advances in age, senility overtakes the body and its faculties start failing;
  3. although one’s life can end any moment, its more so in old age;
  4. in old age the worldly attachments, Haumai (false ego-sense), mental stubbornness and fear of physical death will be so strong that it will completely distract the mind from Internalizing the Shabad and, thus, pursuing the Spiritual Life;
  5. man is a creature of habits, and what he does not cultivate in his young age is difficult to cultivate in his old age;
  6. one’s mind or point of view (Nazreeaa) in old age is dictated by whatever one practiced in young age etc.

Consequently, the Gurbani cautions Sikhs (learner or seekers) that many may not be able to take to spirituality in old age.

  • ਨਾਵੈ ਧਉਲੇ ਉਭੇ ਸਾਹ ॥ ਦਸਵੈ ਦਧਾ ਹੋਆ ਸੁਆਹ ॥: In the ninth stage, he turns gray (i.e. old), and his breathing becomes labored. In the tenth stage, he is cremated, and turns to ashes. (sggs 137).
  • ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਈ ਕਾਲੀ ਹੂ ਧਉਲੇ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਭਾਵੈ ਰਖਿਓ ਘਰੇ ॥: (On getting old, one) loses his senses, black hair turns grey and nobody likes to keep (him) at home. (sggs 1014).
  • ਨੈਨਹੁ ਨੀਰੁ ਬਹੈ ਤਨੁ ਖੀਨਾ ਭਏ ਕੇਸ ਦੁਧ ਵਾਨੀ ॥ ਰੂਧਾ ਕੰਠੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਹੀ ਉਚਰੈ ਅਬ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਰਾਨੀ ॥੧॥: (Because of old age your) the body has become weak, water is flowing from the eyes and the hair have become milky-white. (Your) throat is choked with mucus which makes it hard even to speak; In such a state, what can you do, O’ mortal? (i.e. not much – too late!)? ||1|| (sggs 659).
  • ਕਬੀਰਾ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਚੇਤਿਓ ਜਰਾ ਪਹੂੰਚਿਓ ਆਇ ॥ ਲਾਗੀ ਮੰਦਿਰ ਦੁਆਰ ਤੇ ਅਬ ਕਿਆ ਕਾਢਿਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੧੩੨॥: Kabeer, so far you have not remembered Raam, and old age has come upon you, it is difficult now to do much to spiritually improve your life; just as if fire has reached the door of a house, then what can be saved from that house? ||132|| (sggs 1371).
  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕਾਲੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਧਉਲੀ ਰਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ : Farid, those who did NOT remember the Creator when their hair was black (when they were young), hardly any of them remember Him when they become old (i.e. when their hair turns grey). (sggs 1378).
  • ਕਾਲੀ ਹੂ ਫੁਨਿ ਧਉਲੇ ਆਏ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਗਥੁ ਗਇਆ ਗਵਾਏ ॥ : Youth eventually turns into an old age (i.e. black hair turns grey). Without Realization of the Godly Virtues, a person loses his Wealth of spiritual life. (sggs 1027).

Baabaa Nanak’s Unique spirituality

Baabaa Nanak introduced Unique spirituality into the Indian conscience.

Before Baabaa Nanak, people in India used to take what they called ‘Sannyas’ or physical Renunciation of family, society and the world in their old age — they would go to the so called locations of pilgrimage (Teeraths) and stay there until death in hope of obtaining liberation (Mukti) after physical death!

However the Gurbani (SGGS) or Sikhi is not the subject of AFTER DEATH. Its the subject of HERE AND NOW!

  • ਅਬਹਿ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ਸੁ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਾਤਾ ॥੫॥੨॥: One who is not intoxicated with the Creator’s Love NOW, will never be intoxicated. Kabir says, I am imbued with the Creator’s Love. ||5||2|| (sggs 855).
  • ਉਜਲ ਮੋਤੀ ਸੋਹਣੇ ਰਤਨਾ ਨਾਲਿ ਜੁੜੰਨਿ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਜਰੁ ਵੈਰੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿ ਬੁਢੇ ਥੀਇ ਮਰੰਨਿ ॥੨॥ : Those bodies which are looking beautiful with the pearls-like sparkling (teeth) and the jewels-like (eyes), old age is their enemy; O Nanak, when the body grows old, these pearls and jewels-like body parts degenerate. (sggs 788).

Baabaa Nanak rejected the futility of Karamkaand (rituals) propagated by the self-serving clergy (Pujaarees) — becoming religious when no life is left or when one foot is in the grave!

  • ਭੂੰਡੀ ਚਾਲ ਚਰਣ ਕਰ ਖਿਸਰੇ ਤੁਚਾ ਦੇਹ ਕੁਮਲਾਨੀ ॥ ਨੇਤ੍ਰੀ ਧੁੰਧਿ ਕਰਨ ਭਏ ਬਹਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨੀ ॥੧॥ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਕਿਆ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਗਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਹੀ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਚਾਲੇ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : (O mortal, due to your old age) your gait has become clumsy, your feet and hands shake, your skin is wrinkled, your body is withered; your eyes have become become foggy and your ears have become deaf but still you follow the dictate of your mind (Manmukh mindset) and have not realized Naam (Divine Wisdom / Virtues). ||1|| O spiritually ignorant, what have gained by coming into this world? You have neither realized God Within nor you have engaged in Shabad Vichaar, you will depart after even losing this precious human birth. Pause|| (sggs 1126).

SGGS teaches to become living-liberated right now, right here!

Gurmat or the Spirituality of the Shabad (SGGS) is for life HERE AND NOW, NOT AFTERLIFE. Gurmat debunks the concocted narrative of after death liberation (mukti)!

That said, the Gurbani in SGGS teaches Becoming living liberated while alive.

  • ਬੇਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੁਨਹੁ ਰੇ ਭਗਤਹੁ ਮਰਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਕਿਨਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੫॥: Says Baynee – Listen O devotees, nobody has ever attained liberation after death. ||5|| (sggs 93).

Baabaa Nanak corrected what the self-serving clergy had screwed up owing to their selfishness and greed.

Baabaa Nanak is telling us to become spiritually Realized Here and Now.

The Gurbani never gets tired of reminding us that the Goal of life (i.e. Realization of God Within) cannot wait — learn the subtle and demanding art of spiritual living (the Gurmukh or Enlightened Mindset); transform the mind when life is alive, become Free while both feet are still out of the grave etc.

  • ਓੜਕੁ ਆਇਆ ਤਿਨ ਸਾਹਿਆ ਵਣਜਾਰਿਆ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਜਰੁ ਜਰਵਾਣਾ ਕੰਨਿ ॥ : Your breath is coming to its end, O my merchant friend, and your shoulders are weighed down by the tyrant of old age (sggs 76).
  • ਛਿਨੁ ਛਿਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਛੀਜੈ ਜਰਾ ਜਨਾਵੈ ॥ ਤਬ ਤੇਰੀ ਓਕ ਕੋਈ ਪਾਨੀਓ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ॥੨॥ : Moment by moment, the body is wearing away, and old age is asserting itself. Then, none of them would give you even a sip of water. ||2|| (sggs 656).

However, in general, human tendency and misconception prevalent about Spiritual Life seems to be that it can be pursued in the final days of one’s life!

Sikhi is not a part-time job!

Mentality or mindset we will be having in the old age depends on whatever thinking (ਸੋਚ) we cultivated throughout our life:

  • ਜਿਤੁ ਲਾਗੋ ਮਨੁ ਬਾਸਨਾ ਅੰਤਿ ਸਾਈ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਾਨੀ ॥: That ‘Baasnaa’ (desire, passion, longing, propensity, fancy etc.) to which the mind is attached throughout life, that’s what become evident ultimately (that becomes the mind’s nature). (sggs 242).
  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਸਿਰੁ ਪਲਿਆ ਦਾੜੀ ਪਲੀ ਮੁਛਾਂ ਭੀ ਪਲੀਆਂ ॥ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਗਹਿਲੇ ਬਾਵਲੇ ਮਾਣਹਿ ਕਿਆ ਰਲੀਆਂ ॥੫੫॥| (sggs 1380).
  • ਲਾਹੇ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਆਇਆ ਜਗਿ ॥ ਹੋਇ ਮਜੂਰੁ ਗਇਆ ਠਗਾਇ ਠਗਿ ॥: For the sake of earning the (Spiritual) Profit, the mortal comes into the world. But he becomes a serf (of Maya), and is mugged by this mugger (Maya). (sggs 931).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਮਨਿ ਆਗਲੜਾ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਜਰਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਭਉ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਗਇਆ ॥ :  Mind is attached to Maya forgets the fear of old age and death. (sggs 92).

We don’t kill time, but time kills us

A spiritually wise man was doing shopping in a store. Upon seeing an acquaintance, the wise man inquired, ‘How are you young man?’ ‘Just killing time, Sir’, the young man replied. ‘No young man. You are not killing time but time is killing you’, replied the wise man!

Time does not stop. Day-by-day the body wears away; the length of life shortens; bodily strength and mental sharpness decline.

  • ਜੋਬਨੁ ਘਟੈ ਜਰੂਆ ਜਿਣੈ ਵਣਜਾਰਿਆ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਆਵ ਘਟੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ : O’ my merchant friend (who has come to trade the Naam)! Youth wears itself out, and old age triumphs, as time passes, your life (age) diminish. (sggs 75).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਇਓ ਮੋਟੀ ਲਾਗੀ ਖੋਰਿ ॥ ਕਾਇਆ ਹਾਂਡੀ ਕਾਠ ਕੀ ਨਾ ਓਹ ਚਰ੍ਹੈ ਬਹੋਰਿ ॥੭੦॥ : O’ Kabir, a person who has not remembered God, is being spiritually ruined (by the vices, Bikaar). Just as a wooden pot once burned, cannot be placed on the fire again, similar is the human body which cannot be obtained again. ||70||. (sggs 1368).
  • ਤਰਨਾਪੋ ਇਉ ਹੀ ਗਇਓ ਲੀਓ ਜਰਾ ਤਨੁ ਜੀਤਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਾ ਅਉਧ ਜਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਬੀਤਿ ॥: (Your) youth passes away uselessly, (now) the old age has overtaken the body. Says Nanak – O mind! Unite with Hari (Mool, Source…), life is fleeting away. (sggs 1426).

The Gurbani has laid down a clear-cut lifestyle. The Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is that the Spiritual Life is HERE AND NOW. Also, the Gurbani teaches us to keep both the Spiritual Life and the day-to-day temporal life in balance.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਗਹਗਚਿ ਪਰਿਓ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਕੈ ਕਾਂਠੈ ਰਹਿ ਗਇਓ ਰਾਮੁ ॥ ਆਇ ਪਰੇ ਧਰਮ ਰਾਇ ਕੇ ਬੀਚਹਿ ਧੂਮਾ ਧਾਮ ॥੧੪੨॥ : O’ Kabir, a person who gets completely entangled in the family affairs, his devotion to God gets put aside. In the midst of the hustle bustle, one day death descends upon him. ||142|| (sggs 1372).
  • ਬਰਧਮਾਨ ਹੋਵਤ ਦਿਨ ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਨਿਤ ਆਵਤ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਬਿਖੰਮ ਜਰੀ ॥ ਰੇ ਗੁਨ ਹੀਨ ਦੀਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਕ੍ਰਿਮ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਏਕ ਘਰੀ ॥: Day after day your body grows, and the dreadful old age quickly approach. O’ despicable and Virtueless worm of Maya, at least for an instant remember God (who has bestowed so many blessings on you).(sggs 1387).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਪਾਇ ਜਗਤੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਸਬਦੁ ਵਸੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜਰਾ ਜੋਹਿ ਨ ਸਕਈ ਸਚਿ ਰਹੈ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥ : The Creator has created this world and has infused the human beings with the Haumai-poison (poisonous false ego-sense); this Haumai-poison goes away only when the Message of the Guru’s Shabad is enshrined in the Mind. (sggs 1009).

In short, there is no need to abandon or renounce the family and society and take abode in inaccessible mountain-tops, jungles, caves, or locations of pilgrimage (so called Teerath) etc.

In a nutshell, the SGGS urges us to spend each moment focused on the spiritual goal of life, and not to wait for old age when the senility, degeneracy and infirmities of the body will not allow one to sustain such practices.

  • ਭਜਹੁ ਗੋੁਬਿੰਦ ਭੂਲਿ ਮਤ ਜਾਹੁ ॥ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਨਮ ਕਾ ਏਹੀ ਲਾਹੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਜਰਾ ਰੋਗੁ ਨਹੀ ਆਇਆ ॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਕਾਲਿ ਗ੍ਰਸੀ ਨਹੀ ਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਬਿਕਲ ਭਈ ਨਹੀ ਬਾਨੀ ॥ ਭਜਿ ਲੇਹਿ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਸਾਰਿਗਪਾਨੀ ॥੨॥ ਅਬ ਨ ਭਜਸਿ ਭਜਸਿ ਕਬ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਆਵੈ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਭਜਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਅਬ ਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਫਿਰਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਹੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਪਾਰੁ ॥੩॥: Do not forget Realization (Union-ਜੁੜ) of the Creator of the universe. This alone is the profit of human life. ||1||Pause|| As long as you have not been afflicted with the disease of old age, as long as death has not seized your body, and as your your speech has not become powerless: O’ my mind, Realize the Creator of the universe. ||2|| O’ brother, if you do not Realize God Now, then when will you do it? When the end of life comes, you will not be able to Realize. So whatever you want to do about Realizing God, do it now. Otherwise, you will not be able to swim across the ocean of vices (Bikaar) and you will only regret having lost the opportunity (of human birth). ||3|| (sggs 1159).

10 comments

  1. Kindly, put a reflection on what is jyot swaroop means………….How to realize it???
    Thanks
    A seeker ( Sikh)

  2. The title of the article itself is so profound and article is so beautiful that it forces you to introspection. This truth needs to be told.

    Bhai sahib jee, you write so well. It would be great if you could also take your pen to [] and [] and share your articles and thoughts there as well. Sikh philosophy needs to be taught to the world!

    Thanks jeeo

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh

  3. I love all of you and my request is i want your sangat Please email me or call 443 763 1149. I want to feel connection to akal purak through gurbani santhyia. Is there a group that meets?

  4. Guru ji gives guidance to turn inwards…

    Thank you Navi Ji for sharing Shabad-Vichaar!
    Welcome to the Gurbani Blog Ji!

  5. Life is in many ways defined by the ways/state of the mind …which is invariably under the control of the senses, always running outwards.
    Janam janam ki is mun ko mull lagi Kala hoa suah.
    Guru ji gives guidance to turn inwards…
    Mun mereyaa antar terey nidhaan hai bahar vast na bhaal.
    So the earlier in age we attempt to take the journey inwards, to make it a way of our life….the easier it would be to mold this mind. With advancing years the mind become more entrenched in its ways/habits and the harder it gets.
    Keeping with the realization …Mun tu jyot saroop Hain, apnaa Mool pachaan.
    This can help the mind to consciously walk in the right direction in life.
    the earlier this process starts, hopefully the further one can reach in this life time.
    Bhul chuk maaf karni ji.

  6. In Gurbaanee most of the messages are directed for MUNMUKH to be warned anout their thought process. The emphasis is to become GURMUKH(i)

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