Sikh and Meditation

Throughout this life’s tenure, I have witnessed the goodwill intentions in all living species. Such intentions turn out, however, to be unbelievably short-lived, especially when confronted with the self-preservation that comprises the core element of most species’ existence. That said, outright hatred seems to be a trait specific to no species except humans.

As I have developed, I have come to recognise that the disparity between humans and other species, the leap from self-preservation to hatred, has myriad causal factors. I also am aware that neutralizing the ethereal cloud would enable the human bio-system to express and exercise balanced caring behaviour – goodwill, in other words. I also know, however, that it is unfortunately impossible to effect the neutralization necessary to make this happen.

Yet, people do want to escape the iron-ore prison cage of this planet; they do long for escape routes out of the straitened conditions and structures that poison their goodwill with hatred. Meditation is the means by which to achieve this goal. And Sikh meditation, in particular.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is this: meditation is the proto-theorists’ unpolished sculpture; a figurine poem personified as a satirical memory of holier preservation, misunderstood by all except itself.

The point missed by all is this: mediation is a living entity. It is a life-form. It has its own boundaries, its own likes and dislikes. Let me give it a gender, and then it will make sense.

Meditation is female. She is demure, seldom raises her eyes, communicates subtly, suffers willingly, and never complains. Meditation is always accommodating, never demanding. She cannot be enjoyed through brute force; nor seduced by any means. She decides upon whom she will shower affection, if at all. But if you are not standing in line, along a path that she may pass, then you have zero chance of experiencing her.

Let’s face it, if meditation was yours to have as and when you choose, then you would all be the Buddhas and the Guru Nanakdevjis of this planet.

In what follows, I endeavour to explain the whys and wherefores of meditation; and in the process, I introduce you to the higher echelons of Sikh meditation. I do so through a combination of facts and analogy, having long realised that tangible explanations that people can readily relate to drive the point home better than any regurgitation of throw-away scriptural lines ever could.

The human species is divided into three groups. The topmost group comprises the sexually unmoved. The other two groups are the gays and the straights, the latter comprising the ‘straight darwinists’ and ‘straight deists’ (SaD).

SaD males know where Antarctica is, but none wants to go there. As in life, so in love-making: men have zero interest in acquainting themselves with or understanding the clitoris. They know it exists, but it does so as an abstract, an ephemeral thing even. As with the clitoris, so with meditation. And women, mimicking men, miss the point too; they also fall foul in their endeavours to even recognise where the essence of meditation hovers about them in order to establish contact, engage in communication, and eventually become its resident.

To enter meditation you need to experience death. In fact, you need to die. Death followed by cremation is the dissolution of all internal emotional, physical, and psychological connections. The psyche has to die, or if you prefer, be ‘liberated’. Individuality has to die, (or merge) into the greater individuality. ‘You’ must not exist. It is not enough not to fear non-existence. You must become non-existent.

At their apex, the Advanced Beings (now a distant memory) developed several methods to try and achieve self-understanding. When Guru Nanakdevji assumed the responsibility that others before him had failed to comprehend, many of these Advanced Beings took birth during his life period in order to try and move beyond their own attained statuses, into a more refined arena. To be part of his entourage they had to accept Guru Nanakdevji’s test of social integration coupled with social detachment.

The initial Sikhs were extremely advanced beings. They all belonged to one particular set or type of meditation: dangerous, frightening, and capable of leading to your demise. The first time practicing such meditation is very scary indeed. A group of Sikhs forced me in my younger days to show them this form of meditation and to put them through the process. When I reached the end stage of the first level, the idea facing them made some of them scream, while others were deeply frightened, and the rest visibly shaken. Never again have I allowed an unqualified group to experience the same.

Here I am going to introduce you to the lowest rung, the initial base, of the old Sikh meditation regime. It is not in fact different from most meditation techniques. Of course, I am not going to share how to recognise the meditation cloud about you. That would be irresponsible and dangerous. People allocate some of the most absurd attributes to meditation. You have no idea how fatal meditation can be. It is not peace, love and lentils, where hippies wear open-toed sandals and make love to their own long beards, and where women skip in the summer breeze in flowery full-length flowing skirts and cheesecloth blouses sans bras and their hair in braids. No. Meditation is a loaded gun. And one does not leave a loaded gun lying around.

The rungs of advancement in meditation are diet-based, thought-based, and emotion-based, in this order. Eventually one enters the humility and servile base. I have called it ‘rungs of advancement in meditation’ but none of this is meditation. It is preparation, the digging of the foundation. Meditation hasn’t even started yet. In fact, you are pre-programmed to fail if you attempt meditation since none of this preparatory work has been done, and which would itself take several decades to complete. So, although you can see the rainbow …that is all it is and will remain: a rainbow, a pathway, a map marked with a big ‘X’, but with no clue as to which spot on the planet the ‘X’ refers.

Now do you appreciate why meditation always fails?

People assume meditation is about finding peace or calmness: ‘I am balancing myself’, or ‘I have centered myself’, or best of all, ‘I enter the light’.

What?

What ruddy light are you talking about? When I am in a mischievous mood, I ask people who say these things whether they have ever met a blind person and have ventured to ask them if they have seen the ‘light’. The question is, how would a blind person recognise light? This is one of the misnomers of my environment. A sure-fire way we differentiate between the wannabes and the rare genuine article. The light we refer to is not light per se. You either experience it or not. Those who experience it communicate with each other through the medium of light. So those at my level know who is connected to the light and who is not. But, hey, why undermine the wannabes? At least they are not enthusing each other to kill for the sake of self-importance just because the ‘other’ is different.

Sikh Mystic

Sikhs are caught in a strange paradox. A paradox without parallel in their history. They are hurtling towards a pattern of behaviour inimical to their very being; where once they lived not merely in alignment with, but expansively beyond, the samurai code which Takaharo Kitamura defines thus:

“The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptation of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea. As a result, the samurai is often sometimes an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.”

Whence the stupendous fall from grace of the Sikh mystic? Why are Sikhs going, not into the mystic, but resolutely away from it? To answer this question, we need to explore the death of Sikh humanity – that quality of being humane and benevolent, of eschewing judgement in favour of empathy. Okay, ‘death’ may be a tad overwrought – but certainly Sikh humanity defined in this way has entered a period of ruination equally ruinous to the existence of the Sikh mystic.

Now, I have absolute empathy with that age when PhDs were conferred only once a student had accomplished mastery of, and successfully defended their theses on, no fewer than eight subjects. An age when PhDs were attained well beyond the age of 40. Today of course, entry into just one PhD programme is difficult enough, and mastering just the one subject is a life-consuming venture for four years or more. – but to master eight subjects?! I’ve nothing but admiration for that kind of feat – a norm among PhD students in a long-ago age, and one in which the Indian universities excelled, welcoming students from across the world.

What the Sikh mystic did however, was to extend the scholarly curriculum, to revolutionise the armchair-debating speciality of Aryadesh’s scholars and the subject-focused study of their research students. Sikh mysticism deepened the scope of education and expertise, integrated this to extend to body as well as mind. Thus, while an erstwhile research subject included mastery of war – Sikh mysticism required that this have a physical component, a practical counterpart to learning about strategy and tactics. It was a radical departure from a theory-only curriculum, and from the kind of mystic enquiry that limited itself to fathoming the unseen – Sikh mysticism brought to the table a pragmatic imperative; knowledge for the sake of dealing with life’s everyday problems.

If pragmatics had been valued enough, it’s possible that the morning on which the Mohammedans (the original name of followers of Islam) conquered north-west Aryadesh for the umpteenth time might never have come to pass. Indeed, one young mystic – following a householder’s lifestyle rather than that of a recluse or ivory-tower theoretician – pleaded with his senior mystics that they take a physical role in defending and repulsing the invading army. The response was along the lines of “We will sit and meditate, and materialise a sheet of mirror to confront and blind the invading army as it marches across the desert along the north-western frontier.” Meditation did not transform sand into a mirror with blinding properties. North-west Aryadesh was conquered.

And the young mystic? He is now known universally as Guru Nanakdevji. The founder and first guru of the Sikhs. (I’ll write more about what a guru is in a future post).

Guru Nanakdevji was a reformer. He jettisoned reliance on subjective and ethereal knowledge alone. He believed that the human world would be governed by those who master technology – which is where this sentence ends from the European (including American) perspective – and harness it for the benefit of people, animals and the environment. This is written into the Sri Guru Granth Sahibji, along with other of his observations, such as the imperative of strenuously tackling, confronting and improving circumstances to effect a more balanced state rather than meekly accepting karma.

The ‘knowledge-and-action’ based humanity of Guru Nanakdevji thrived through the other nine progressive Sikh Gurus. Hence, pragmatics – Guru Ramdassji (the fourth Guru) encouraged horsemanship as well as the mastering and carrying of arms, in a legal environment forbidding this – shared the limelight with scholarly pursuit.

Consequently, Sikhs were not exactly flavour of the day. Challenging ages-old traditions of Vedantic and Vedic philosophy, with their mass following and off-the-mark translations of Sanskrit scriptures (before Hinduism came to encompass everything in a hazy amorphous mass), was – and this is too often understated if explored at all –unpalatable to the mystical elite.

Yet, as with all reformist movements, the earliest adherents to Sikh mysticism comprised disaffected scholars and elites from within the ruling but increasingly defunct system – the rationality of their argument in favour of Guru Nanakdevji attracting more followers in turn. Yet, Guru Nanakdevji’s wasn’t Aryadesh’s first reformist movement by any stretch of the imagination – Bhagat Kabir and several others before him had tried and failed. What marked Guru Nanakdevji out was his born-enlightenment quality – that advanced divine awareness of his that came from birth, and gave him absolute abilities in exposing weak arguments and won him acclaim within the highest echelons of the Divine community of his age.

To put this into context, Gautaum Buddha was a self-enlightened; while Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed of Makkah were taught-enlightened. At a pedestrian level, these strata of enlightenment are unseen, exchangeable with and inextricable from each other – what is necessary is to extrapolate the individuals involved; at an advanced spiritual level, the enlightenment forms are distinguishable but understood to more importantly comprise part of a cosmic continuum in which the bio-signatures of the individual are irrelevant categorizations.

So, we have a born-enlightened reformer espousing knowledge-action based humanity that integrates mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatic action – a figure in the form of Guru Nanakdevji who is a superior dialectician, unraveling the confusions of the Vedic norms and the ambiguities of the Mohammedan edicts, and joined by many an interlocutor won over by the rationality of his equal and balanced lifestyle argument.

And while this followership expanded to the masses, the source of Sikh mysticism’s initial attraction was the elites – the educated. (This social constructivist basis of group identity is well-documented within anthropological research – including the role of elites in setting the agenda, and articulating the symbols and ideology that attract the masses into believing, or in this instance cleaving to reform).

To a huge degree, however, Sikh mysticism was its own PR. It’s access to, and explanatory value and practical importance for Aryadesh’s lay population, came at the moment of its unveiling on the global stage – when Guru Gobind Raiji presented the Mystic-Warrior Sikhs formally at Vaisakhi at Anandpur Sahib and thence was baptised under their auspices as Guru Gobind Singhji.

But it also came in response to the Sikh mystics’ successes in battle – those demonstrations of power and prowess that speak volumes to a mass population excluded from the exercise of esoteric knowledge that is the elite’s domain. Mohammedan warriors sought out Sikh mystics in battle in order to die at their hands, such was the blessing and aura connoted with being a Sikh mystic.

Together, these attainments combined to attract many fame-seekers, excited by the prospect of the adrenalin of battleground victories and of becoming Sikhs – Singhs – in the process. At its apex Sikh mysticism was venerated as itself being at the apex of all dharmas and religions; and the achievements of the Sikh mystics, ordinary householders who mesmerised the population, were legendary. With the passing of the tenth Guruji, crucial adjustments leveled out the equally crucial distinctions between dharma and religion, and the criteria for becoming a Mystic-Warrior Sikh – the triadic cornerstone of mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatics in the service and advancement of humaneness and humanity – were relaxed to an unprecedented level.

Consequently, the baptism ceremony to become a Singh resembles a ‘conversion job-lot’ and I am unyielding in my opposition to this. For me, Singh and Kaur denote, for men and women respectively, “a Sikh mystic who is deeply and thoroughly educated but has chosen a hands-on, warrior-secular lifestyle, committed in their refusal to let truth be humiliated – even if they have to stand alone and must give up their own life in protecting truth” (Avtar).

But what I witness is angry people unable to command their own emotions being encouraged into baptism as Singhs, as if there is a contest to see who can secure the most conversions. And they take place several times a year, year in, year out – across the globe. It’s an absolute nonsense. I would even support the conversion of these manipulated innocents if they were, at the very least, entered into a stream of education that would result in their inner awakening. But they’re not and, so, I shan’t.

Think about it, the criteria for becoming a Singh are: a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, a promise to wake up early and do two sets of prayers, one in the morning and one in the evening, not cutting their hair and wearing the five kakkars.

You may as well put out a call inviting everybody who’s ever been told by their doctor that for the sake of their health they need to eat a vegetarian diet and give up alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs; and who, on top of that, don’t get around to trimming their hair… convert to being a Singh, you tick most of the boxes already.

If only it were that easy to become a Sikh mystic!

Vegetarianism has always been a mainstay of the Indian diet; keeping hair untrimmed has always been the choice of those seeking inner awareness…these are hardly edicts of an advanced dharma, then, but merely extrapolations of long-held local practices, and not a whole lot to crow about, after all.

Sikh mysticism is a tad more complicated, and yes, I would revert to some strictness about who may take the next step in their inner development with respect to initiating them into Sikh mysticism. Remember the prescriptions of mental acuity (to the level of scholarship), physical prowess, and pragmatic resolution of life’s everyday problems? Entwined with the qualities of humanity – truth, protection, empathy?

In all of this, there is no place for arrogance; and I would strip that out of any wannabe Singh by asking them to précis their knowledge of current scientific and philosophical research; prepare and formally defend doctoral theses on four subjects of their choice; demonstrate recall of all the world scriptures, and be able to extrapolate the theological differences between them. Fail in any, and you fail totally. Please pass “Go”, you don’t have what it takes. You cannot become the Khalsa.

What you actually see happening, however, is open baptism season, accompanied by a lot of venom and anger and utilization of media platforms to see who can shout loudest. Of the oft-quoted Kahlil Gibran phrase “Rest in reason; move with passion”, only the second half seems to resonate and even then without qualification or balance or temperance. And the newly baptised then fragment into social cult groupings, their fealty occurring at the cost almost of Sikh unity.

One inspirational Sikh took a more outlandish path to inner awakening and gained mystical status as a result, only for this acolytes to follow the method without achieving what he had; it was a case of ignoring the interplay between an individual’s bio-signature and the method of self-awareness suited thereto, and thinking that fervently rocking and atonally and loudly repeating a mantra would allow you to reach the heady heights of enlightenment though your bio-signature requires a different method altogether. Ask the acolytes, however, and they will, to a man, deny that they haven’t advanced spiritually.

The mesmerised are never taught the simplest truth of all: which is that you must find what works for you. I can’t emphasise this enough – focus on your aim not on the individual who appears to have reached it.

Few can become mystics. Weakening the pool through mass, emotionally-charged conversion doesn’t help anyone. While there is nothing to fault in the initial fervour of the newly converted, eventually the veneer peels off and they come to see the ultimate aim/objective with the naked and dispassionate eye, and in all its unattainable reality.

For example, almost everybody misses the point of being a warrior: it is to find every conceivable way to get out of a fight. A Mystic-Warrior must first try to create an environment which allows both sides to save face. Only when all attempts at this are rejected does the Mystic-Warrior move into the phase of shielding the weak, protecting the vulnerable, and disarming the aggressor. If the latter raises arms and takes aim, then it is permissible to put them to peaceful rest. A Mystic-Warrior does not sit in judgement, but accepts human frailty and ignores ambition.

Yet, to see the veins practically popping out on the foreheads of the baptised Sikhs, who huddle together on the Sikh television channels here in the West, creating a frenzy of argument and anger, clenching their fists in demand of their wants, substituting freedom of speech for the freedom of thought that is already theirs by right… well, Mystic-Warrior Sikh is not the first description that comes to mind; nor is Sikh, let alone Singh.

There is genuineness in their desire to see justice fulfilled as they regard it, but while admirable, they remain demeaning examples – all too widely emulated – of that which fully and truthfully is the Sikh Mystic-Warrior. As Rumi writes: “It is not thunder that grows flowers, but water.” 

It is nigh on impossible to be a Sikh Mystic – but for all that, it is neither unattainable nor unlivable as a lifestyle.

The World of Advanced Awareness

Ordinary people create fairytale images, concepts and parameters regarding the perceived duty of those with advanced awareness. Where, according to them, the perimeter is shifting sand and changes as time progresses.

Those with Advanced Awareness, as a rule, steadfastly refuse to indulge in public relations activities. They are not interested in public opinion nor do they seek acclaim. They refuse to maximize their abilities for their own protection. They accept whatever is happening as the will of the creator. The creator of their world is genderless and beyond the senses. The highest beings, like Jesus of Nazareth, Mohamed of Makkah, Buddha of Budh Gaya, Raama of Ayodhya, Krishna of Dwarka, and indeed Guru NanakdevJi of Panjab, proceeded by placing their faith in the Maiea symmetry and entrusted themselves to her absolutely.

These Advanced Being maintained that be it a human three-dimensional life, or one of advanced dimensions, all enjoy as much pleasure as they do suffering. Suffering, maintained Buddhaji, was part and parcel of life; and in enunciating the atrocities of authority Guru Nankdevji and others among the Advanced Beings laid themselves bare to harsh inhumane suffering. They accepted their punishments. And were aware too of the pain and misery that would be the lot of the executives and foot soldiers who carried out this punishment.

Every human is at every moment faced with two choices: to participate in humane equality or to visit inhumane suffering upon another. Evil begets evil. Kindness begets kindness. And herein lies the first problem.

Ordinarywallahs feel kindness should be repaid in material benefit and gain. No, on the contrary, kindness actually creates an environment several steps removed from accumulation of material wealth. One’s involvement in mundane menial tasks allows greater scope and time to be focused on interactive meditation; while mentally challenging occupations offer only limited snatched moments in the day. The latter may have money in abundance but the mentally engaging requisites of their daily working lives leads to precious time being wasted on money-focused responsibilities, to the obstruction of their inner development. Conversely, the latter may be money-poor but rich in opportunities for inner development and meditation thereof.

So, the expectation that material wealth and fame should be the standard boon accruing to those involved in selfless service is the wrong one. It falsely equates material wealth with opportunity for growth, regards the former as integral to the latter. Yet, the very idea is counter-intuitive to the search for inner awareness. In fact, you have to merge into inner awareness for dormant natural abilities to become evident, visible, within reaching distance.

Yet, merging into the inner sphere of Advanced Awareness offers another trap: the illusion of self-importance. Although clothed in a desire to do good, what manifests is not the fulfillment of goodness but the glorification of yourself as the enabler, the instrument of that goodness, and ultimately the glorification of one’s self as God. Once trapped in the delusion of self-importance, shifting the focus from the good that ensues to your role in interceding for the good of others, you’ve had it. Like a game of snakes and ladders, the climb can be arduous and the fall from grace stupendously fast and without ceremony.

So what is the best method to handle the delusion of self-importance that emerges from the perception of doing good?

It is to leave do-gooding alone: leave the Maiea matrix to its own devices. You have to remember, you are nothing more than a cog in the scheme of things. When intercession is needed, you will be guided in this by those higher up the scale of advancement – they will issue you your duties, they will guide you towards interceding in an event if they deem the untackled-event to be a symptom of change contradictory to Maiea’s plans of the longue duree (that is to say, over the course of a millennium). The opportunities for self-delusion and grandeur along the way are, however, yours and yours alone.

In my case, I have been given a strong indication of the various components involved in the evolution of a future maximized for the benefit of all involved. You may sit back and watch in silence until such time as your intercession is needed, or you may deploy your duties and in doing so become a victim of the authorities to whom Maiea’s warning has been given through you. The atrocity of authority is not, then, simply something you remark upon and enunciate; it is not simply a ‘thing’ but (and as it was for the Advanced Beings of Jesus, Muhammed and Guru Nanakdevji) active and alive and an instrument of victimisation of those who speak its nature.

You, the interceder, will go through many lifetimes of horrible deaths at the hands of the authorities. Repeatedly you will be given the same scenario to play out. Each and every time, you will play your part knowing full well the outcome thereof, fearing the consequences for your family, yet refusing to seek mercy or compromise. You embrace the final play, the atrocity of the authorities that will harness your death, and the authorities for their part deliver it – and in doing so sign their own fate. Thus is the future delivered.

If those you are warning and exposing adopt cunning play, granting you the freedoms they are bent on destroying, your responsibility is to create an environment so unpalatable to them that the only recourse if your neutralization. Again, the future is delivered. Sure, Maiea’s axis can be restored by your effecting change in a piecemeal manner, but that’s seldom the case. Somebody’s ego will be piqued, and the game will resume at full throttle. The atrocities of the authorities will gather pace again, and your death will come – manifesting in as brutal a way possible, by your own choosing, since your brutal end augurs the same for the authorities’ own demise.

Guru Gobind Singhji, the tenth Sikh Guruji, proclaimed, following the appropriate rules of Maiea, how the Mohammedan (Islam) would henceforth fight amongst themselves until Islam evolved into a more user-friendly and tolerant faith. The Europeans, by virtue of their constant interference in this inner growth of Islam, are actively preventing this evolution and will come to embody precisely the internecine implosion that characterizes Islam today.

The Europeans refuse to listen. They feel they are masters of nature.

Arrogance like this brings its own end. Internecine European struggle along the various fault lines of Christianity will cause each side to heap unimaginable evil on the other, in future times. Or perhaps they will be able to choose to progress through their evolution with far less turmoil than currently characterises Islam.

Lord Krishna was finally and correctly accused of presiding over genocide. He defended himself by stating that to protect the flame of truth genocide was an agreeable price. Similarly, neither Jesus of Nazareth nor Mohamed of Makkah sought nor accepted dilution or their stances.

In the scheme of things, I am just a minor fieldworker charged with giving a message. And as such, I do not have an opinion about which path the various protagonists ought to choose. I am doing my samskaric job and they are doing theirs.

The reality I am trying to share is that this path into progressive personal realisation is fraught with personal grief and physical mutilation. The path of peace leading to calmness is, therefore, the very opposite of peace – though you remain internally peaceful what happens to you most categorically is not.