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Naam Japo, Meditation, Prayer and its purpose (Sikh Sailor blog)

Discussion in 'Spiritual Articles' started by spnadmin, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

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    One of the 3 pillars of the Sikh faith is Naam Japo, or doing meditation and prayer. The jap or recitation of a mantra, dhyan or silent contemplation, singing of hymns composed by the Gurus, reading from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book are all different forms of meditation and prayer. These are my opinions and thoughts on prayers and meditation.


    I grew up in a conservative Sikh family where daily prayers are part of the lifestyle. In particular, my Mom reads the bani from the Guru Granth Sahib almost daily. Even though I had done the daily banis at various times in my life, until recently it was never a daily practice. Sometimes I would just meditate for a little bit in the morning or repeat a mantra. Mostly I had stayed away from Prayer as I thought of it as ritualistic. See for me prayer primarily performed as supplication, out of fear or out of desire for something just didn’t make rational sense. I figured that I would just continue trying to be a good human being and maybe the Divine will take that itself as a prayer. There is a practice amongst some people of giving money to the temple / church / gurudwara so that the pundit / priest / granthi would do the prayer for you either in gratitude or desire for something. To me it seemed like the strangest thing in the world and I repeatedly questioned my family on why this practice existed. All the Masters that I have read about be it Jesus Christ, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Shi Krishna, Prophet Mohammed, to me it seemed like all keep saying again and again. The Kingdom of God is within, the light resides within you, look inwards and you shall find all existence.

    I wondered, if we can’t speak to our own hearts, then who else can we hope to speak to? Even if you need something or want to thank the universe for something, just say it, just remember the Divine and will it. Why this need to go through a mediator? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against charity, donating money or even hiring people to perform certain ceremonies. I think that they all have a time and place. Neither do I have a problem with recognition of people for their donations, sewa or hard work. But all this show of outsourcing of one’s faith to others sometimes gets a little out of hand and becomes a big show of ego and power.

    Anyways, coming back the point of meditation and prayer, in the japji Sahib, the morning prayer composed by Guru Nanak Dev ji, there is a line:

    Bhariae hath pair tan deh. Paani dhothae uthras khe

    Mooth palethi kapad hoe. De saban lae oh dhoe

    Bharia mat papa kai saing. Ohe dhopae navae kae rang

    When dirty are hands, feet and body, with water they are cleansed

    When soiled are clothes, with soap they are rinsed

    So when trashed is the mind, paint it with colors of meditation

    I generally try to avoid asking the Sat Guru or the True Master for much, I figure it probably already knows what is best for me, just like a parent knows what is best for the child. Although there are times when the child get naughty and starts jumping up and down with a demand, but even in those times, he or she either gets a loving embrace with a gift or a stern admonishment to keep quiet. Rarely do I ever “fear” what might happen if I did or didn’t pray. I try not to over analyze if I missed my daily meditations or prayer. To me God, Eternal Light, Timeless Being, Holy Father, Divine Mother is like a loving parent, a close friend, a dear lover. There might be disagreements, but how can it or me ever not love each other. How can it be vindictive towards me for my fallacies and I be mad at it for not meeting my demands? These are just strange concepts to me. Yes, there are times, where I pray for the well-being of others including myself, but see that is also out of love. For me the Nam Jap or meditation is at one level to calm the mind, to realize the Divine within. At another it is an homage, akin to appreciating beauty or art. I’m so happy and exhilarated with the Universe that I can’t help but appreciate and love it. I can’t help but pray so as it increase this feeling. Because of this, I try to pray or meditate with equal equipoise during both the good and tough times in my life.

    Kahlil Gibran , one of greatest writers of the 20th century in his book The Prophet wrote:

    When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.

    Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion.

    For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive.

    And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted:
    Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.

    It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.

    I cannot teach you how to pray in words.

    God listens not to your words save when He Himself utters them through your lips.

    There are days when I would not wake up early for my morning meditation or would miss the daily prayers that I’m supposed to do as a Amritdhari or baptized Sikh. I try to not get caught up in self-doubt, admonishment or over analyze my behavior. I live in a world, where to live a worldly or Miri life, sometimes I have to work late nights, or go out on social occasions. I figure that as long as I do something, even 3 repetitions of the nam a day, I would be fine, as long as I’m discharging the duties assigned to me with full devotion. To me prayer, meditation and devotion to the Divine comes in all kinds of shapes and colors, not just something to be done for a few minutes in the morning or on Sundays. Doing sewa or helping others is also prayer, making people happy and joyful is also prayer, working hard to earn an honest living to support my family is also prayer. So in a sense, I’m praying most of the time, as long as their Sat or Truth in the task at hand. Then everything is done out of Sat Nam, or the True Name, each breath becomes a meditation to the Divine. Each word, when spoken with truth and love, becomes an ode to the Eternal. There remains no distinction between the prayer and the prayed to. Kabir ji said,

    Dukh me simran sab kare, sukh me kare na koe.
    Jo sukh me simran kare, dukh kahen ka hoe.

    In sorrow many meditate, but pray not when they happy feel
    Those that in good times meditate, sorrow they never have to deal

    Naam Japo, Meditation, Prayer and its purpose - Sikh Sailor
     

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