ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਭਰਮਤ ਫਿਰਿਓ ਮਿਟਿਓ ਨ ਜਮ ਕੋ ਤ੍ਰਾਸੁ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਨਿਰਭੈ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਬਾਸੁ ॥੩੩॥
janam janam bharmat firi-o miti-o na jam ko taraas kaho naanak har bhaj manaa nirbhai paavahi baas
Mortals wander lost and confused through countless lifetimes; their fear of death is never removed. Says Nanak, vibrate and meditate on the Lord, and you shall dwell in the Fearless Lord.
~ Guru Granth Sahib 1428-4/5, Salok Mahala 9-33
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ਜਤਨ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮੈ ਕਰਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਮਿਟਿਓ ਨ ਮਨ ਕੋ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਨਾਨਕ ਫਧਿਓ ਰਾਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਭਗਵਾਨ ॥੩੪॥
jatan bahut mai kar rahi-o miti-o na man ko maan durmat si-o naanak faDhi-o raakh layho bhagvaan
I have tried so many things, but the pride of my mind has not been dispelled. I am engrossed in evil-mindedness, Nanak. O God, please save me!
~ Guru Granth Sahib 1428-5/6, Salok Mahala 9-34
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ਬਾਲ ਜੁਆਨੀ ਅਰੁ ਬਿਰਧਿ ਫੁਨਿ ਤੀਨਿ ਅਵਸਥਾ ਜਾਨਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਸਭ ਹੀ ਮਾਨੁ ॥੩੫॥
baal ju-aanee ar biraDh fun teen avasthaa jaan kaho naanak har bhajan bin birthaa sabh hee maan
Childhood, youth and old age—know these as the three stages of life. Says Nanak, without meditating on the Lord, everything is useless; you must appreciate this.
~ Guru Granth Sahib 1428-7, Salok Mahala 9-35
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ਕਰਣੋ ਹੁਤੋ ਸੁ ਨਾ ਕੀਓ ਪਰਿਓ ਲੋਭ ਕੈ ਫੰਧ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਮਿਓ ਰਮਿ ਗਇਓ ਅਬ ਕਿਉ ਰੋਵਤ ਅੰਧ ॥੩੬॥
karno huto so naa kee-o pari-o lobh kai fanDh naanak sami-o ram ga-i-o ab ki-o rovat anDh
You have not done what you should have done; you are entangled in the web of greed. Nanak, your time is past and gone; why are you crying now, you blind fool?
~ Guru Granth Sahib 1428-8, Salok Mahala 9-36
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Questioner: I am lost and confused. The pride of my mind has not been dispelled. I have not done what I should have done. I am entangled in the web of greed. Now I am seeing this, and it’s painful to watch all this evil. I love the Lord and feel like these are obstacles on the way to Him, but I am helpless in front of all this. Acharya Ji, please help me.
Acharya Prashant: In the first part you are saying the pride of your mind has not been dispelled, then you are saying that you are helpless. One general rule is that if one were really helpless, then one would be sufferingless as well. Please understand this.
When you are really helpless, then there is no suffering left because to be really helpless is to be with an undivided consciousness, a consciousness with no choices, no options. That is helplessness. Suffering is there not as a result of helplessness but as a result of dishonesty.
The corpse is helpless—does it suffer? Have you seen a corpse? Have you seen how helpless it is? You put it on the ground—does it complain? You twist its arm—does it complain? You spit on its face—does it complain? It might be a king’s corpse, you call it foul names—does it complain? That’s helplessness. It does not complain and it does not suffer.
If there is actual helplessness, it is the actual end of all suffering. And here you are saying that there is a lot of suffering in your life—there is pride, there is greed, there is pain, there is evil, there are obstacles on the way to Lord—and then you are saying you are helpless. You are not helpless. In fact, you are suffering because of your guilt. Guilt is suffering.
Do you know what is guilt? Guilt is when you are actually the culprit. Guilt is when you are doing something wrong and you know that. If inadvertently, totally without your involvement or cooperation, something happens, then you are not guilty, are you? Guilt is when, with your consciousness, with your approval, with your involvement, you are still letting evil to happen, actually abetting it. That is when you are guilty, and all suffering is guilt.
You cannot suffer without being guilty. Existence is not unjust in this dimension. If you find yourself suffering, know that you are guilty. Don’t say you are helpless. You are guilty, and you are willingly guilty.
There is much that you can do—alright, there is at least something that you can do, but you are not doing it. Or there is much that you can stop, or there is at least something that you can stop, but you are not stopping it, so you are guilty. There is something within your power that you are not letting happen, and therefore you are being eaten away from inside, therefore something is gnawing at your mind. You are not able to pardon yourself. Some people call it the conscience. It is not the conscience; it is the guilty consciousness.
Even in those situations that we call as utterly woeful, utterly hopeless, if we just do that which we are capable of doing, would there be space and opportunity and time to despair? Please. You are fighting a hopeless battle, let’s say. You know very well that the result is preordained: the enemy outnumbers you two thousand to one. But if you do what you must, where is the time to suffer? Is there time to suffer?
In fact, the more adverse a situation is, the more impossibly adverse a situation is, the less is the time it leaves you with to despair. Do you see that? If you were fighting an easy battle, probably you would have somehow managed to steal away a little time to sneak in a corner and despair and call yourself helpless and luckless and many other such things, right? But if the enemy is overwhelming you two thousand to one, will you really be honestly able to find time to sneak away in a corner and weep about your fortune or misfortune?
On the one hand, you say the situations are very, very bad; on the other hand, you say, “Oh, I am suffering so much!” If the situation is so bad, it is good news. If the situation is so very adverse, it will leave you fully occupied. All your time, your energy will be then consumed in responding to the humongousness of the situation. The house is burning—do you have time to cry and complain? What would you do? You would be running around doing your best to just quell the fire, no?
Do the utmost that you must do in any situation, and you will find that there is just the joy of right action. Wails and tears are for those who are guilty of abdicating their responsibility. If you are fulfilling your responsibility, your responsibility will consume you fully. It will extract the last bit of energy out of you.
Even to weep you require some energy, right? Even to complain you require some time. If you are really dedicating all your energy rightly, how are you left with energy to weep? If you are managing to shed tears, it only means you are a thief. You have stolen away some energy and reserved it for weeping and tears.
I know what I am saying is harsh. Here you are, coming to me seeking sacchar and salvation. You’d probably have expected some sympathy from me. Instead of that, I am labeling you as guilty. But I am interested in dousing the fire. I don’t want to sit alongside you and assist you with your tears. The house is burning, you are busy weeping—you want me to offer you tissue paper? You want me to supply you with handkerchiefs? You want me to partake in the farce?
When soldiers return from the battlefield, you know, the first thing is to find out their injuries, because if the soldier is really a soldier, it is quite likely he won’t even know of his injuries. You were playing soccer that day. Has it not happened that after the game is over, you come to see that the knee has been bleeding? Did that not happen to you as kids? After you return home, having enjoyed the evening fully in that rough and uneven patch of land that you would call the football ground, mama would look at you, put her hand on the mouth and say, “What have you done?” And you look at her and say, “What have I done?” And then you look at the place she is looking at, and then you find that the socks are all drenched in blood. And you don’t even know that you have hurt yourself so badly that you have been losing blood since the last half an hour. Why? Because you were doing what you were to do as a committed player. You didn’t really even know that you are hurt.
There are so many stories where the soldiers didn’t even know of a bullet sitting in their body. The bullet is in the shoulder and the soldier does not know of it—for hours. Obviously, if the bullet is in the brain, the soldier will not need to know of it, but it’s in the shoulder or in the leg or in the hip, and the soldier is fighting on. Many hours later he discovers that, “There’s just too much blood, what’s happening?”
Why don’t you fight? Fight and perish fighting. If you win, glory is yours. If you perish, at least all suffering is gone. Is that not a great way to live? Fight, and fight so hard that you either win or perish. What’s the fun in being an in-betweener?