The Gurbani indicates that spiritual unfoldment does not come easily. The majority of beings (Jivaatmaas) struggle through the material world (Jagat or Sansaar) and repeatedly pass through stages of Sukh and Dukh (joy and sorrow, etc.) without pausing to think of the purpose of life.

  • ਟੋਡੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਮਾਨੁਖੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਆਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਸਾਜ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਜਿਉ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਓਢਾਇਆ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਧਾਇ ਧਾਇ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਨ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਇਕਤ੍ਰ ਕਰੀ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਦਾਨੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਸੰਤਨ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਿਤ ਹੀ ਕਾਜਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਕਰਿ ਆਭਰਣ ਸਵਾਰੀ ਸੇਜਾ ਕਾਮਨਿ ਥਾਟੁ ਬਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਭਰਤੇ ਪੇਖਿ ਪੇਖਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥ ਸਾਰੋ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਮਜੂਰੀ ਕਰਤਾ ਤੁਹੁ ਮੂਸਲਹਿ ਛਰਾਇਆ ॥ ਖੇਦੁ ਭਇਓ ਬੇਗਾਰੀ ਨਿਆਈ ਘਰ ਕੈ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥ ਭਇਓ ਅਨੁਗ੍ਰਹੁ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਕੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਰਿਅਉ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੪॥੨॥੪॥: Todee Mahala 5 || Maanukh bin boojhai birathaa aaiaa …: Todee Mahalaa 5. Without understanding (the purpose of life – ਜਨਮ-ਮਨੋਰਥ), person’s coming into the world is useless. (Without understanding the purpose of life, if he puts on his body) various ornaments and many decorations, (it is like) dressing a corpse. ||Pause|| (Without understanding the purpose of life) with great effort and exertion, the miser works to gather in the riches of Maya. (But from that riches) he does not give anything in charity or generosity, and he does not serve the Saints; his wealth does not do him any good at all. ||1|| (Without understanding the purpose of life, one is like) the soul-bride that puts on her ornaments, embellishes her bed, and fashions decorations (ਸੁੰਦਰਤਾ ਦਾ ਅਡੰਬਰ); but she does not obtain the company of her Husband Lord, the sight of these decorations only brings her pain. ||2|| Without realizing its purpose, one’s life is like that of a person who may labor all day thrashing husk with a pestle, or like a forced laborer who works for someone without wages, but does nothing for his own household. ||3|| O Nanak! when God shows His Mercy and Grace, He implants (His) Naam, the Name, within the heart. (that person) searches the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy and finds the sublime essence of the Lord (bliss of the Lord’s Name – ਨਾਮ ਦਾ ਆਨੰਦ). ||4||2||4|| (sggs 713).

The Gurbani stresses the importance of understanding (ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ) the purpose of life so that we can enjoy the life’s journey — with right understanding we know where we are in consciousness all the times. It deepens or unfolds within with the Naam-Simran (meditation or Japa). Lack of mature understanding makes us live in anger and frustration, thus not progressing in spiritual life (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸੂਝ, the Gurmukh Lifestyle). Many a time, our understanding of the purpose of life or physical body is shallow, but our reactions are emotionally strong. This leads to a lot of conflict within and without. Mind-control is at its best when we change through right understanding and not through reactions, fear or anger. The Gurbani tells us about the need to conduct ourselves in life with much care and understanding (ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ). With proper understanding born of Awareness, concentration, attention and alertness, desires and fears do not take root in the mind. As a result, with true learning comes Giaan (Knowledge), humility, contentment, compassion, selflessness, truthfulness, simplicity, and so on. The Gurbani’s stress on these Divine qualities reinforces that this alone is the goal of true learning. To receive such true learning to understand the right way of life, the Gurbani asks us to seek the Company of the Holy (Saadh-Sangat)

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Bin boojhe pasu bhaye betaale: Binu boojhai pasu bhaye betaale ||6||: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).

Why are the majority of us unable to realize the purpose of life? As indicated by the Gurbani, in nutshell, the power of Maya (illusion) constantly baffles us. It poses the greatest hurdle in the way to understanding by making the mirage-like, enchanting attractions of the material world (Jagat) appear real and worthy of pursuit and thus preventing us from seeking the true purpose of life – the real thing.

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