The fluidity of spirituality

| Opinion | 26 Dec 2016 | Asia Samachar |


By Jagdesh Singh

How we view our world and our reality depends on how we filter our perceptions. From birth, what we see, what we hear, what we feel through our own experiences tend to form what we think to be true. And just like evolution, we unlearn and learn what we think is true through newer experiences and circumstances. We build relationships, we forge them and we also see these relationships crumble. Such is the state of elusiveness of consistency in the truths to our reality. We learn, we unlearn and we learn, as the sands of time trickle through stopping for no one.

These filters that we form over our lifetimes will determine how we interpret messages about our reality consciously or subconsciously. These messages will be derived from trusted sources. Like a never ending loop, we will trust sources that somehow incline towards what our filters find agreeable. Very rare will we completely shed our filters when confronted with messages completely the opposite with what our filters say to be true. If that happens, it’s drastic. Some call it a paradigm shift. When the light bulb is turned on with a blinding light or when the younger generations these days say ‘mind blown’, such is the drastic change.

When it comes to interpreting messages about spirituality, likewise, we tend to understand it from our filters formed from our background since birth. Layers and layers of filters compounded until some of us ‘see the light’ and change our filters completely.

Sometimes, through some weird manifestation of our surrounding that is illogical according to our filters, we experience a ‘miracle’. And because we experience it personally, without any reasoning logical to our comprehension, we attribute this ‘miracle’ to the great unknown spiritual world. This is another layer of the filters, either strengthening or shattering our previous. It’s another ‘seeing the light’ moment, no matter which. And this now changes our interpretation, sometimes quite drastically. Sometimes, people change religions, change Masters, abandoning everything held sacred before, from experiencing these miracles. This also forms the basis of faith. What that cannot be explained with our filters won’t seem logical in our eyes, and can only attributed to the unknown. Such is how faith is formed.

And so, organized religions tend to ‘sell’ these miracles, with hopes that their interpretation of spirituality will be ‘bought’ by more people. The more people ‘buying’ their interpretation, the more solid the truth is in their interpretation. There is strength in numbers. The converted will tend to convert more. But what organized religion is really selling are not the so called miracles, rather their interpretation of how they’ve come to understand their spirituality. And faith, the illogical in this interpretation, plays an important role in this.

Quite often, for their interpretation to be digested by the masses, these interpretations will quite typically boil down to a set of rules. The do’s and the don’ts. And the masses follow these rules and laws with full faith, hoping answers to their questions about their very own existence. I am no one to criticize nor condemn these interpretations because many have actually had their questions answered. Not all. Not the majority. But many from generations past have seen the ‘light’ and even evolved into spiritual beings.

For us, Sikhs, we have the work of love about love for the Loved One enshrined within the pages of the embodiment of our Gurus. It was a work of love, written with love by them. They had written about their love for our Maker, the One that they loved. Their understanding of spirituality couldn’t be condensed into a set of rules and regulations, because Love has no such bounds. Because the design is as such, interpretations of each word, each sentence will wary for each unique individual as their filters process the meanings according to their fundamental beliefs.

Here’s an illustration. Imagine someone who has no idea of the concept of karma reading the Guru Granth Sahib for the very first time. That person wouldn’t understand why there’s any reason to love another soul and to treat that soul with love because there wouldn’t be consequences anytime soon in his lifetime. But to a person who understand the gist of the laws of karma, then ideas and verses encouraging love for all souls, of compassion, of caring, makes sense because that person would want to be the recipient of such love in the future. Forgive me, but this was a crude and rudimentary illustration.

And so, with the filters formed over periods of time in our lifetimes as we mature from childhood, the teachings of our Gurus written in the Adi Granth, will be digested and interpreted in an organic manner. Our interpretations evolve, our understanding evolves into more lofty complex concepts, as our faith evolves. Because it does take a good amount of faith to understand love for the unknown. Perhaps miracles will happen, perhaps logic prevails within our own capacity of what logic is. But what is constant is the fluidity of our own personal interpretation of the spirituality embedded in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. A verse as read by someone totally immersed in the confines of simplicity may well evolve within a matter of days to the very same person with a higher complex understanding. Vice versa, a verse read by someone with high intellectual reasoning can evolve into just the simple literal meaning. Emotions are always involved in this evolution. Faith is transgressed from these emotions. Our filters formed over our lifetime dictate our emotions, as our experiences while we evolve form our filters.

In a nutshell, our interpretations will change as we evolve, the understanding of spirituality from our Gurus will change along with our faith. That the writings in our beloved Guru Granth Sahib are designed as such is a whole miracle by itself.


jagdesh-1Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

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