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To remember God is to forget yourself || On Advait Vedanta (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

ik-onkaar satgur parsaad

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

~ Guru Granth Sahib 1426-9

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ਸਲੋਕ ਮਹਲਾ ੯ ॥

salok mehlaa 9

Shalok, Ninth Mehl:

~ Guru Granth Sahib 1426-10

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ਗੁਨ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗਾਇਓ ਨਹੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਰਥ ਕੀਨੁ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਲ ਕਉ ਮੀਨੁ ॥੧॥

gun gobind gaa-i-o nahee janam akaarath keen kaho naanak har bhaj manaa jih biDh jal ka-o meen

If you do not sing the Praises of the Lord, your life is rendered useless. Says Nanak, meditate, vibrate upon the Lord; immerse your mind in Him, like the fish in the water.

~ Guru Granth Sahib 1426-10, Salok Mahala 9-1

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ਬਿਖਿਅਨ ਸਿਉ ਕਾਹੇ ਰਚਿਓ ਨਿਮਖ ਨ ਹੋਹਿ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਾ ਪਰੈ ਨ ਜਮ ਕੀ ਫਾਸ ॥੨॥

bikhi-an si-o kaahay rachi-o nimakh na hohi udaas kaho naanak bhaj har manaa parai na jam kee faas

Why are you engrossed in sin and corruption? You are not detached, even for a moment! Says Nanak, meditate, vibrate upon the Lord, and you shall not be caught in the noose of death.

~ Guru Granth Sahib 1426-11, Salok Mahala 9-2

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ਤਰਨਾਪੋ ਇਉ ਹੀ ਗਇਓ ਲੀਓ ਜਰਾ ਤਨੁ ਜੀਤਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਾ ਅਉਧ ਜਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਬੀਤਿ ॥੩॥

tarnaapo i-o hee ga-i-o lee-o jaraa tan jeet kaho naanak bhaj har manaa a-oDh jaat hai beet

Your youth has passed away like this, and old age has overtaken your body. Says Nanak, meditate, vibrate upon the Lord; your life is fleeting away!

~ Guru Granth Sahib 1426-12, Salok Mahala 9-3

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Questioner: In Salok Mahala 9, Guru Nanak Dev constantly reminds us to vibrate and meditate upon the Lord. Is Guru Ji telling us to totally surrender to the Absolute and dance to the tunes of consciousness with joy by praising the Lord?

Acharya Prashant: You are not being asked to dance to the tunes of your personal or current consciousness. The consciousness as such is being sought to be elevated. You are saying, “Guru Nanak Dev constantly reminds us to vibrate and meditate upon God.” So, he is asking you to fundamentally change. He is not just adding another activity to your portfolio.

What you remember defines who you are. Guru Sahib is addressing your very definition. If what you remember is what you are, and if you look at the condition of mankind, then surely we are not remembering the right things. We are divided, violent, loveless, ungrateful. If such is the state of our being, it shouldn’t be hard to see what we usually and stubbornly remember. Can you be full of revenge without remembering the past and hurt? Can you be full of fear and doubt if you forget your expectations?

So, it is important to understand that the quality of our remembrance decides the quality of our life. That which is running around in the mind is not incidental. The kites and vultures don’t just randomly hover over a place. If they are hovering over a place, there is something dying there.

Similarly, thoughts, ideas, memories don’t just randomly circulate in the mind. If they are there in the mind, then surely there is something in the center of the mind that is attracting them. Remove the dead or dying mass—would the vultures still be interested? Remove what is there at the center of the mind—would the memories still hang around?

So, you are seeing that the content of the mind is decided by the center of the mind. Most people complain when the actions go wrong in terms of results; some people complain when they have putrid thoughts. But very few people complain that their center itself is improper, rather unholy. We just tend to ignore the fact that the center of mind will decide the content of the mind, and the content of the mind will surely translate into action. There is no point weeping over the actions or pouring over the mind stuff if you do not want to address the most fundamental issue of the center of the mind.

Rotting flesh is lying over somebody’s house on the terrace, and so all kinds of crows, eagles, vultures have gathered, and since they have gathered, the terrace is full of their droppings. And our man is complaining that the terrace has been spoiled by bird droppings. He wants to stay blind to the fact that first of all there is a large dead mass of flesh lying on the terrace. He won’t complain about that. He’s saying, “Oh, because there are birds, so they have dirtied the terrace.” He will not want to ask, let alone answer, why the birds are there in the first place, what draws the birds to your terrace. You want to complain about the last thing, the droppings of the bird.

Similarly, man wants to complain about how his actions are. Not even that—we complain about how the world is reacting to us. So, our man in the example would probably stretch his incredulous complaint and say that the neighbors are all vengeful and are needlessly complaining that a stink is arising from his terrace. He will complain against the neighbors. If he somehow develops a little insight, he will complain against the birds and their droppings. But he won’t want to ask why first of all is there rotting flesh on the terrace.

Similarly, we might complain against how the world treats us. We do not want to ask why does the world look the way it does, and why do we get affected, influenced, or hurt by what the world does to us. Why do we act the way we do in this world? Where are those actions coming from?

The fellow will say, “Well, I’ll think over it.” He probably means well, but does he want to honestly inquire where his thoughts come from? Using thoughts, he wants to investigate the entire world. Using thoughts, he wants to look at everything. But does he bother to find thoughts out? Can you think thoughts out? That’s where we fail.

The saints keep it simple. They will not give you a code of conduct—do this, do not do this. They address the central point; they push the one key button. And if you allow them to, and if you have trust on them, then from that one central point everything finds its right place.

Guru Sahib is saying, “Remember God. Remember God.” Done! Seems simple, seems easy, but its implications are humongous.

God is not miscible with our usual mind stuff. God cannot coexist with greed or suspicion or violence or darkness. Therefore, the moment you are asked to remember God, there is a lot that you are being asked to forsake. The center itself is being changed.

You cannot remember God just coolly being yourself. God cannot coexist with the one we suppose ourselves to be. God comes in, rubbish goes out, and rubbish has a very simple spelling in the spiritual dictionary: rubbish is spelled as ‘I’.

It’s good that students are innocent. In fact, only the innocent can be students, so they take the bait. The Guru says, “Remember God.” They say, “Yes sir!” But this simplest method, this straightforward instruction, is absolutely transforming. You can’t even say that it changes your life; it gives birth rather to a new you. The old you would remember himself; the new you has forgotten himself and remembers God.

To bring in God is to reject yourself. And that’s why it is quite difficult, even as organized practice, to remember God and just God. Your instincts will rebel. There are other miscellaneous, more lucrative things that you’d rather want to place in the mind. In other words, rather than the God-identity, there are other, miscellaneous, more lucrative identities that you would rather want to wear and be and believe in.

Remember God. If you remember God you are nobody, because God is big, occupies all the space. Remember God: you are nobody, and nothing else can be remembered.

But the body and the brain are conditioned, and conditioning is deep-rooted remembrance. So, they cling to what they remember since centuries, millennia, ages.

Consciously, you say, “I want to remember God.”

The body says, “No, I want to remember food. I want to remember pleasure. If I don’t remember what I already do, I’ll probably fall apart.”

You say, “No, I want to remember God. The Guru has instructed.”

The body says, “But I am the body and I am supposed to remember other stuff. Where is comfort? Where is money? Where is luxury?”

So, that conflict rages within, and now it depends on you. You can decide to be yourself and remember what your body instructs you to remember, and you will have a valid argument if you decide to remember what the body suggests to you. The body is old, very old; the body is as old as time. So, you have reasons to trust the body. The body has survived time; it couldn’t be a fool. It surely has a point. If the body were utterly wrong, how could it have carried on till this moment in time?

So, the body has its strong reasons, impressive credentials. “I am old. I have passed the test of time. I have survived time. Listen to me.” But the advice of the Guru? That is not old, that is not as old as time—that is timeless. It goes beyond time.

The body is with you since the advent of time. The Guru is with you since when not even time was there. Which one do you want to listen to? You have to see.

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