Spirituality: A Perspective from Sri Guru Granth Sahib

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By Dr. Devinder Pal Singh Opinion |

Spirituality refers to a sense of connection to something greater than oneself. It is often associated with religious or philosophical beliefs but can also be experienced in a secular context. Spiritual experiences can involve:

  • A feeling of inner peace.
  • A sense of interconnectedness with others and the world.
  • A recognition of one’s purpose and meaning in life.

Though spirituality is not necessarily tied to any specific religion or belief system, some people may find spirituality through organized religion. In contrast, others may find it through personal exploration and connection to the natural world or other means.

However, spirituality is a personal and individual journey that can take many forms. The key is to remain open and receptive to the experiences and practices that resonate with you and to approach your spiritual journey with curiosity, compassion, and a willingness to learn and grow.

Hereafter, based on Gurbani, as enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) [1], some standard practices that can facilitate spiritual growth are outlined:

MEDITATION

Meditation involves focusing the mind on a specific object or idea and can help to quiet the mind and bring about a sense of inner peace. Guru Arjan Dev proclaims the importance of meditation in one’s life as: 

ਜਿਸੁ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ਘਣਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਦਰਦੁ ਨ ਮੂਲੇ ਹੋਇ ॥

Jis simraṯ sukẖ hoe gẖaṇā ḏukẖ ḏaraḏ na mūle hoe.

Remembering Him in meditation, a profound peace is obtained. Pain and suffering will not touch you at all. (M. 5, p. 44)

PRAYER

Prayer is a form of communication with a higher power or divine force and can help to deepen one’s sense of connection and purpose. Guru Arjan Dev emphasizes the significance of prayer as: 

ਆਪੇ ਜਾਣੈ ਕਰੇ ਆਪਿ ਆਪੇ ਆਣੈ ਰਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਿਸੈ ਅਗੈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਖਲਿਇ ਕੀਚੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥੧॥

Āpe jāṇai kare āp āpe āṇai rās. Ŧisai agai nānkā kẖali▫e kīcẖai arḏās. 

He Himself knows, acts, and does it right. Nanak says, so, stand before Him and offer your prayers. (M. 2, p. 1093)

ਆਪੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਕਰਹੁ ॥

Āp cẖẖod benṯī karahu.

Renounce your selfishness and conceit and offer your prayers (to God). (M. 5, p. 295) 

MINDFULNESS 

Mindfulness involves being present now and paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment or distraction. Guru Ram Das urges us to be mindful of God’s presence in our lives as:

ਅਪਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਿਉ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਾਵਧਾਨੁ ॥

Apne parabẖ sio hohu sāvḏẖān.

Be always mindful of your God. (M. 5, p. 176)

ਇਹੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਸਭੁ ਆਵਣ ਜਾਣਾ ਮਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਚੇਤਿ ਅਜਾਣਾ ॥

Ih sansār sabẖ āvaṇ jāṇā man mūrakẖ cẖeṯ ajāṇā.

This whole world is engrossed in the cycle of birth and death. O my foolish and ignorant mind, be mindful of the Lord. (M. 4, p. 607)

SELF-REFLECTION

Reflecting on one’s beliefs, values, and experiences can help deepen one’s understanding of oneself and the world. Bhagat Kabir, a saint-poet of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, in his hymns, urges us to self-reflect as:

ਅਪਨੈ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ਅਸਵਾਰੀ ਕੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਕੈ ਪਾਵੜੈ ਪਗੁ ਧਰਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Apnai bīcẖār asvārī kījai. Sahj kai pāvṛai pag ḏẖar lījai.

Make self-reflection your mount and place your feet in the stirrups of intuitive poise. (Bhagat Kabir, p. 329) 

GRATITUDE

Practicing gratitude by focusing on what one is thankful for can help cultivate positivity and appreciation for the blessings in one’s life. Guru Ram Das emphasizes the importance of being grateful in one’s life as:  

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕਰੀ ਜਗਦੀਸਰਿ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ਗਇਓ ਸਭ ਝਾਕ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Har har kirpā karī jagḏīsar ḏurmaṯ ḏūjā bẖāo gaio sabẖ jẖāk.

With God’s grace, my evil-mindedness, love of duality and sense of alienation are totally gone. I am grateful to the Lord of the Universe. (M. 4, p. 1295) 

SERVICE

Serving others through acts of kindness and generosity can help to cultivate a sense of gratitude, connection and purpose. It can also help to develop empathy and compassion. Sikh Gurus [2-6] proclaim that one obtains eternal peace and honour through selfless service.   

ਸੇਵਾ ਤੇ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੭॥

Sevā ṯe saḏā sukẖ pāiā gurmukẖ sahj samāvaṇiā. 

Through selfless service, eternal peace is obtained. The Gurmukh is absorbed in intuitive peace. (M. 3, p. 125)  

ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੇ ਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਨੁ ॥

Āp gavāe sevā kare ṯā kicẖẖ pāe mān.

He shall be honoured if he eliminates his self-conceit and then performs service. (M. 2, p. 474) 

NATURE

Spending time in nature can help to deepen one’s sense of connection to the world and foster a sense of awe and wonder. Gurbani emphasizes the incredible nature of God’s creation and encourages us to enjoy it and be grateful for the wonders of our lives. It states:

ਬਿਸਮੁ ਭਏ ਬਿਸਮਾਦ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੁਦਰਤਿ ਤੇਰੀਆ ॥

Bisam bẖae bismāḏ ḏekẖ kuḏraṯ ṯerīā.

I am wonderstruck beholding the wonder of Your Almighty Creative Power. (M. 5, p. 521)   

ਵੇਖਿ ਵਿਡਾਣੁ ਰਹਿਆ ਵਿਸਮਾਦੁ ॥

vekẖ vidāṇ rahiā vismāḏ.

Beholding His wonders, I am wonderstruck. (M. 1, p. 464)

COMMUNITY

Connecting with others with similar beliefs and values can provide support, validation, and belonging. Guru Arjan Dev advises us to keep the company of wise and holy persons, which leads to many virtues in one’s life. He says: 

ਸੰਤਾ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ॥

Sanṯā sangaṯ pāīai.

Join the Society of the Saints (wise and holy persons). (M. 5, p. 132)

ਠਾਂਢਿ ਪਰੀ ਸੰਤਹ ਸੰਗਿ ਬਸਿਆ ॥

Ŧẖāʼndẖ parī sanṯėh sang basiā.

One who dwells in the Society of the Saints finds perfect peace. (M. 5, p. 256)

ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸੰਤਾ ਸੰਗੁ ਹੋਇ ॥

Karam ḏẖaram ṯaṯ giān sanṯā sang hoe.

The karma of good deeds, the righteousness of Dharma and the essence of spiritual wisdom are obtained in the Society of the Saints. (M. 5, p. 521)

CREATIVE

Engaging in creative pursuits, such as art, music, or writing, can help to express and connect with one’s inner self and foster a sense of purpose. Guru Nanak emphasizes the importance of music, learning, virtues and Naad in his hymns as: 

ਇਕਨਾ ਨਾਦ ਨ ਬੇਦ ਨ ਗੀਅ ਰਸੁ ਰਸ ਕਸ ਨ ਜਾਣੰਤਿ ॥ ਇਕਨਾ ਸੁਧਿ ਨ ਬੁਧਿ ਨ ਅਕਲਿ ਸਰ ਅਖਰ ਕਾ ਭੇਉ ਨ ਲਹੰਤਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੇ ਨਰ ਅਸਲਿ ਖਰ ਜਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਣ ਗਰਬੁ ਕਰੰਤਿ ॥੨॥

Iknā nāḏ na beḏ na gīa ras ras kas na jāṇanṯ. Iknā suḏẖ na buḏẖ na akal sar akẖar kā bẖeo na lāhanṯ. Nānak se nar asal kẖar jė bin guṇ garab karanṯ.

Some do not understand Sound-current (Naad) or the Vedas, music, virtue or vice. Some are not blessed with understanding, intelligence, or sublime intellect; they do not grasp the mystery of God’s Word. O Nanak, they are donkeys; they are very proud of themselves but have no virtues. (M. 1, p. 1246)

ਧੁਨਿ ਮਹਿ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਅਕਥ ਕਹਾਨੀ ॥੩॥

Ḏẖun mėh ḏẖiān ḏẖiān mėh jāniā gurmukẖ akath kahānī. 

Meditation is in music, and knowledge is in contemplation. Become Gurmukh and speak the Unspoken Speech. (M. 1, p. 879)

In addition, some people may find that spiritual growth is facilitated by: 

FORGIVENESS

Letting go of resentments and practicing forgiveness can help to cultivate inner peace and reduce stress and anxiety. Bhagat Kabir proclaims to imbibe the virtue of forgiveness in one’s life. He asserts that the virtue of forgiveness leads to godliness.  

ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਮੇਟਿ ਖਿਮਾ ਗਹਿ ਰਹਹੁ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਕੀ ਸੂਲ ਨ ਸਹਹੁ ॥੭॥

Ḏubiḏẖā met kẖimā gėh rahhu. Karam ḏẖaram kī sūl na sahhu.

Erase your duality and hold tight to forgiveness, and you will not have to endure the torture of karma or religious rituals. (Bhagat Kabir, p. 343)

ਜਹਾ ਲੋਭੁ ਤਹ ਕਾਲੁ ਹੈ ਜਹਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਤਹ ਆਪਿ ॥੧੫੫॥

Jahā lobẖ ṯah kāl hai jahā kẖimā ṯah āp. 

Where there is greed, there is death. Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself. (Bhagat Kabir, p. 1372)

READING & STUDYING

Reading and studying spiritual texts and teachings can provide inspiration, guidance, and support in one’s spiritual journey. Guru Nanak urges us to obtain spiritual knowledge. He proclaims:

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਮਾਨੁ ॥

Gur parsādī viḏiā vīcẖārai paṛ paṛ pāvai mān.

By Guru’s Grace, contemplate spiritual knowledge; read and study it, and you shall be honoured. (M. 1, p. 1329) 

ਨਾਨਕ ਮੁਸੈ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣੀ ਖਾਇ ਗਇਆ ਜਮਕਾਲੁ ॥੧॥

Nānak musai giān vihūṇī kẖāe gaiā jamkāl. 

Nanak says that without divine knowledge, one is plundered and devoured by worldly desires, leading to spiritual death. (M.1, p. 465)  

SILENCE

Taking time for silence and solitude can provide an opportunity to reflect, connect with one’s inner self, and deepen one’s spiritual practice. Gurbani encourages us to silence the ego and desires for our progress on the spiritual path. It states:

ਸੁੰਨ ਗੁਫਾ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣੁ ਬੈਸਣੁ ਕਲਪ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਪੰਥਾ ॥੧॥

Sunn gufā mėh āsaṇ baisaṇ kalap bibarjiṯ panthā. 

In the cave of silence, dwell in your Yogic posture; let the subjugation of desire be your spiritual path. (Bhagat Kabir, p. 334)  

ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਏ ॥੩॥

Haumai vicẖahu ṯẖāk rahāe. 

One must silence the ego within. (M. 3, p. 665) 

It is important to note that spirituality is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to approach spirituality with an open mind and heart and to be willing to explore and experiment with different practices and techniques until you find what resonates with you. 

Ultimately, spirituality is a personal and individual experience, and the path to obtaining it will vary from person to person. Exploring different practices and finding what works best for you in your journey toward spiritual growth is essential. 

References

  1. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, (SGGS), 1983 (Reprint), S.G.P.C., Amritsar, p 1-1430.
  2. Singh, D. P., Science and Sikhism: Conflict or Coherence. 2018. Singh Brothers, Amritsar, India
  3. Singh, D. P., A Path to Truthful Living (Part-I), The Sikh Review, 67/1 (Jan. 2019) 25-32.
  4. Singh, D. P., A Path to Truthful Living (Part-II), The Sikh Review, 67/2 (Feb. 2019) 19-30.
  5. Singh, D. P., Universal Relevance of Guru Nanak’s Teachings, (Part-I), The Sikh Review, 67/11, (Nov. 2019). 15-21.
  6. Singh, D.P., Universal Relevance of Guru Nanak’s Teachings, (Part -II), The Sikh Review, 67/12 (Dec. 2019) 19-30.

Dr. D. P. Singh, M.Sc., Ph.D. is Director, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He is a physicist by training, a teacher by profession and a writer by choice. He specializes in writing on Science, Religion and Environmental topics. Currently, he is working as Director, CanBridge Learning & Educational Consultant to various educational institutions in Canada. Email: drdpsn@gmail.com

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