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Shallow Readings And Meditation

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by BhagatSingh, Jan 1, 2011.

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Do you think Doing Shallow Readings Can Have Meditative Value?

  1. Yes, Please Explain.

    11 vote(s)
    42.3%
  2. No, Please Explain.

    9 vote(s)
    34.6%
  3. Unsure

    6 vote(s)
    23.1%
  1. BhagatSingh

    BhagatSingh Canada
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    Many hold that simply reading gurbani and not understanding a word is worthless. A while ago, I would have agreed that reading page after page without attempting to understand a word is a pointless task. But there is something to be gained through this practice.

    300px-SGGS.jpg

    It is certainly beneficial to read and understand gurbani. There is no doubt about this. If one understands the Guru's message and puts it into practice, there is no match for this. The real problem is when one only reads for the sake of reading. I will call this shallow reading, as opposed to deep reading, which includes understanding.

    What could it be for?
    One may think that maybe it is a first step to connecting with gurbani. That you make a habit of simply reading then you go on to understand. I started that way myself. But this is irrelevant to those who are already connected and continue to practice shallow reading. I am referring to those who read 40 Jap ji's or 100 swaiyes... are they wasting their time?

    It is also believed by some that reading gurbani like this will grant them superpowers, ridhiyan sidhiyan. I don't know about that... I don't think many here will take that seriously.

    Anyways, I think there is value to be found in shallow readings... first, let's ask ourslves what is meditation?
    There's a whole wealth of Meditation techniques from Zen meditation practices to Hindu dhyana to Sufi Islamic traditions. However, even though there are various different kinds of practices they are all developed on the principle of focusing on ONE thing. This is to train the mind to pay attention. The essence of all practices is to quiet down one's thoughts and take notice of our moment to moment experience. Notice how when something horrible happens, our brain goes nuts! All these random thoughts enter into our head, and cause suffering. Actually, horrible things need not happen. Our mind goes crazy and generates horrible thoughts even if we are in pleasant conditiones. Meditation aims to reduce those thoughts, to reduce fear and anxiety. What you are then left with are positive emotions of compassion and forgiveness. We suffer not because there are horrible events but because we have horrible thoughts. Queting these thoughts leads to a pleasant experience.

    Meditation has been going on for a long time. People all over the world have wondered whether it was possible to be happy without the company of loved ones,without delicious foods, without drugs! There was a simple experiment people tried. They isolated themselves from these things, essentially from the world. In there isolation they uncovered the secrets of happiness. Later on these techniques became refined and strengthened to be applied while being in the world. One of these is known as the Discipline of Bhagati. We find Guru Sahibs advocating for these practices like Naam Simran and Seva (known holistically as Bhagati). These were powerful in social circumstances. But the principle even here was the same, to focus one's mind.

    It is believed that seva in a gurughar is a purely physical task. Given how I have described meditation. It is not difficult to see how seva can be a spiritual task, there is a reason why it is included in Bhagati Yog. When you focus on the task in seva, when you focus all your attention to washing the dishes, handing out the food, making rotis even, then seva gains meditative value and thus spiritual value... that is if you can find a kitchen where the "gnanis" are quiet. Good luck with that!

    Perhaps, now it is easy to see how doing shallow readings can have meditative value. If you focus your attention on the words, as you read them, and pay no attention to other thoughts, it becomes more akin to a meditation that we are already familiar with, Naam Japna. A practice has meditative value when it done to quiet one's thoughts, to bring home the wandering mind. naam Japna has meditative value because you focus on the sound of the word. Do you do that when you repeat the naam?

    This reminds me of a Sakhi of Guru Nanak where he is invited to a Muslim prayer by these two muslims. Next day Guru Nanak goes over to their mosque. The prayers begin. While they follow their precribed way of praying. Guru Nanak simply stands there with his eyes closed. After the prayers are over those Muslims complain to Guru Nanak that he came but he did not pray. Guru Nanak turns this around and says "you guys invited me yet when prayers began none of you actually prayed, you were focused elsewhere. One was thinking about his business of horses and the other about his family."

    Of course, many people don't do prayers in this way, including Sikhs (and of course, many don't read to understand). Even naam japna simply becomes a mindless repitition of words. The mind is left to wander and one constantly suffers. it's important to be mindFUL during meditation, to pay attention to the moment, to pay attention to the task/technique at hand.

    What I am saying is that meditation is simply the focusing of one's mind on a task to quiet one's mind. If that is true then shallow readings CAN have meditative value. A sehaj paath that is not understood by the participants but is still listened to and focused upon, can be great for meditation.

    Most Sikhs regard Idol worship as a useles ritual. The spirituality related to Hindu worship of idols becomes apparent when we consider the essence of meditation. I am not advocating for this practice nor do I mean to include it in the above mentioned Sikh practices. but it is important to note that if the mind of the idol worshipper is focused, then it has meditative value. Hence, God (happiness) CAN be found in a rock or shallow readings, if only you focus hard enough.
     
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  2. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Bhagat Singhji

    Though all of your art work is a treasure, and your talented draftsmanship is a gift from the Creator. Though all of your mental gymnastics remind us of your great wit. Nothing could be a finer present to all of us on this cusp of a New Year, than this essay. I can see how much care you have taken to make your thoughts, so subtle, quite clear. I can appreciate that exactness of your writing. So -- from me, if not others, thank you so much. There is both depth and inspiration in what you have said.
     
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  3. jnanavan

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    Yes bhagatsingh ji you are right. Meditation simply means to have youre mind focus on the present, living moment and usualy on one thing. This state where thoughts and mental activity have ceased/slowed down can be achived by dance, song, prayer, devotion, seva and many other activities.
     
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  4. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Close your eyes, plug in your headphones at the right volume to go with noise in the head and your body rythm and relax sitting back, lying down in comfort.

    Play video but don't need to watch and see if while you hear you connect to the writers Bulley Shah, Baba Farid ji and Bhagat Kabir ji.

    http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/islam...between-islam-sikhism-english.html#post139638

    Repeat if you don't succeed once.

    Most will come close. No guarantees ;)

    Sat Sri Akal.

    PS: It will be a soul-to-soul touch.
     
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  5. Archived_member14

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    Bhagat Singh ji,

    I read this while on vacation and did not want to respond at the time. It is a topic I’ve thought about and discussed with others for quite some time now. I hope that you do not mind therefore, that I give some comments.

    You’re concluding remark:
    You probably have a different understanding about “happiness” here; I however would associate this with the pleasant feelings accompanying instances of attachment. And sure, this is exactly what I see as being the driving force for any deliberate “focusing” on a chosen object, for example, breath. Indeed people jump at the idea of concentrating on the breath quite convinced that it is a good object. And yes, breath is indeed what many wise people have as object of contemplation, however in their case it is with “wisdom” that this object is known, and furthermore, it depends also on the accumulated tendency of the individual.

    Some people will by their nature, incline towards contemplation on death or repulsiveness of the body or loving kindness, and some on earth or fire or water element etc. And all this goes back to lifetimes of development such that at some point down the road, the mind repeatedly focuses on one of the several objects capable of arousing deep concentration, being wholesome, and maintaining calm. At no time however, has the object ever been taken up simply out of “belief” that it helps concentration and so on. In other words, it is not like they decided to suddenly one day focus on a particular object having heard that this will give rise to a wholesome state of mind, but rather that their wisdom grew based on seeing the harm in sense contacts, knowing the difference between wholesome and unwholesome and inclining towards some objects of contemplation and finally, that one of these in accordance to their particular temperament, can cause calm to arise for an extended period.

    How many people do you know that are in this position? I don’t know anyone and I believe that were I to come across one such person, I’d just be a burden to him given how much attached I am to sense objects and far from wishing to do without them.

    As you may now have inferred, there are in reality only so many objects which can condition calm (the wholesome kind). Furthermore, of all these objects, breath is the most subtle and difficult to focus for an extended period of time. Also, it is not the objects which is the determining factor, but rather the “wisdom” which approaches the object. A Shivling will therefore not condition calm nor will a candle flame for example, and obviously the wise will not think to concentrate on these. On the other hand, a person who has no inkling as to the difference in quality between a wholesome state of mind from the unwholesome and the danger in sense contacts, but somehow comes to be convinced that if he concentrated on a ‘neutral’ object such as breath, that this will condition calm, and if he does not have a clue as to the restlessness accompanying moments of attachment, such a person invariably ends up encouraging attachment of one level or the other, taking happiness for calm and what is in fact unwholesome for wholesome.

    But of course, if this ‘happiness’ is the aim, concentrating on the breath is one way to go. Better this than taking drugs. I have friends who practice yoga and enjoy the part when breath is concentrated upon. But these people know this for what it is and do not mistake it to be something else. And while the one who consumes drugs is unlikely to think that he is doing a good thing, most people who are engaged in one form of meditation practice or the other however, these people are clearly fooling themselves about it. The drug addict can be saved, but those who think they are already “saved”, how should they come to realize their mistakes?

    ==========
    From one perspective it is understandable that people are attracted to the idea of being able to concentrate and remain focused. Indeed there are suggestions to the effect that a “concentrated mind conditions clear seeing and understanding” or something to the effect. Some people react to what they perceive as being much agitation in their lives and would like to change all that. However, the solution is not to simply focus on the task at hand, which on the surface does give the impression of calm. The truth however is that attachment often manifest to the ignorant as being calm and therefore desirable but in reality is no less agitated than say, aversion. It is failing to recognize what an agitated mind really is and what is the real cause for this that people are led by what I’ve come to recognize as “illusion of result”, associated with which are ideas regarding meditation on and off the cushion. Being ‘mindful’ in the manner you have described is in fact no different from how animals are when they stalk their prey and is therefore replacing one kind of evil with another. And if it were true that concentration is helpful for understanding to arise or that it clears the way for compassion and forgiveness, a thief who is an expert at opening safes, a hunter, an expert fisher and chess player should all be closer to achieving wisdom and goodness than most people. But are they, and why should it be?

    ========
    In the Buddhist tradition there is the simile of the “monkey mind”. The mind is said to be like the monkey jumping from one branch to the other without rest. Most people interpret this as being about the restless mind, particularly those of people involved in daily life activities. But this is a misinterpretation. The real meaning is that this is the nature of mind proper, regardless of whether it is agitated or not. The mind by nature, must necessarily take an object one after another on and on and if this were not the case, we’d not be able to function at all.

    In one finger snap there arises and falls away, trillions of mind moments. It is because that this happens that we get the impression of objects being out there in this or that form and subsequently, that we can move our limbs and maneuver around them, else it would all be one and not even two dimensional. Furthermore, if this was not the nature of mind, we’d not be able to utter a word nor understand anybody else’s speech or gestures. So really there is no problem with the mind taking different objects repeatedly. Besides, concentration is in fact a mental factor arising with each mind moment whose function as momentary as everything else, is to focus on the particular object. So the problem again is not lack of concentration, but rather something else.

    First and foremost it is ignorance (of the way things are) which is the problem. With this comes attachment, aversion, envy, pride, and so on, but worse of all, “wrong understanding”. It is the latter which leads us to wrong beliefs and wrong practices resulting in taking what is wrong for right, what adds to the problem as being a solution.

    ===========

    Perhaps you need to consider the fact of attachment being the driving force by default when wisdom and other good mental factors are absent, and this is like, 99% of the time! ;-) And when attachment arises, like all mental realities, it accumulates as tendency. In this particular case of encouraging “reading regardless of any understanding”, wrong understanding is involved in addition to the attachment and with this comes its minion, namely ‘inclination to rite and ritual’. Dose it not appear to you that mindless reading for its own sake is the stuff of rite and ritual? It sure does to me. And knowing this, would you encourage the particular activity? And what if the Sikh texts teach similarly, would it not be defeating the purpose to be reading those texts in this way?

    My essay is already longer than the one you wrote, so I’d better end right away. ;-)
     
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  6. Tejwant Singh1

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    Dear Readers Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ke Fateh.

    This is a very interesting subject. May I ask one question?

    If you are in a swimming pool in a city or a canal or a village pond in rural Punjab, and you are learning how to swim, will you go to the deep part or the rapid flowing part right from the start. You can try but the chances of getting drowned are great.

    Therefore, the same is the case with reading Gurbani. You have to start "Shallow reading" and do an Ardas every time you finish. Ask Guru Sahib that He may give you the opportunity to read His lovely words with full attention.

    And while you are waiting for Guru Sahib to bestow His Grace, you must read slowly and carefully. A simple way is to read the word again which you have misread or not understood. In fact you must read the whole line all over again.

    Mind is very dynamic. It is here one moment and it goes elsewhere at faster than the speed of light. You have to tell your mind, "Eh manna. Don’t go wandering. We will think about that subject, where you want to go, later. Right now let us be with our Guru."

    If you do this slowly and diligently, the scenario will change in due time and you will be thoroughly immersed in the Word.

    When you begin to get immersed, thank Him that He has been kind enough to let your mind stay with Him.
     
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  7. Ambarsaria

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    Confused ji, you really are not confused.

    Exceptionally well written. I thank you.


    Contemplation:


    • For me it happens this way and these may be short fleeting moments or short periods of voluntary encouraged but mostly involuntary origin,
      • Some of the chief mental operating system kernels in reasonable mode, at specific level to you as to either not distract your senses as they cannot be reduced to zero or be complementary,
        • Kam, Karodh, Lobh, Moh and Hankar
      • Five senses providing complementary participation real or virtual
        • Vision, Hearing, Touch, Smell, Taste
      • Litmus test for me is that you will remember such instances virtually for the rest of you life in pretty vivid detail and sometimes yearn to experience again and again
      • Examples for me,
        • 1. I must be nine year old. I am at Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar. I am sitting on the upper floor and looking down through the window at the Guru Granth Sahib ji parkash and listening to kirtan. Meanwhile with my hands I am feeling the glass and glancing over the carvings the glass protects. Nice breeze is everywhere and the marigolds smell is in the air. I feel a connection between here and now, the gurus, the karigars who did carvings and did the sang marmar that I am sitting on.
        • 2. I am on my bicycle along a bicycle path going by the river. It is summer and there is not much traffic. I hear sounds of water flow, my bicycle tires rumbling on the pavement, fresh smell in the breeze and heat from the sun. I contemplate the virtual ageness of waterflow, the grains of sand and pebbles along the river bank, the wholesomeness and how little one is in relation to what surrounds us.
        • 3. I am lying in bed half awake in the morning. I just have a short little bout of cough. To my amazement our Tibetan Spaniel dog comes running by the bedside. He jumps on the bed, sense me. Pushes his back against mine and lies down. I wish to God that I may never see him die and I go to sleep.
        • 4. The following more or less a repeatable item for me with little concentration but I will put it in a category different from the Involuntary ones cited from 1 to 3 and call these as type V where V is for voluntary and more or less repeatable..

    V1. I am at computer everyone is sleeping in the house and it is pretty quiet other than the PC and furnace fans providing ambient noise.

    YouTube - Ghum Charkhia Ghum Pathanay Khan

    I watch the above video and listen to it. A wonderful now deceased singer Pathanay Khan from Pakistan. I right away visualize my aunt (she was like our second mom) by the Charkha. She is spinning the charkha and the video and sounds in the above show the emotion of the moment from many years ago. While I see myself sitting on a chownki beside her making poonian and putting them in a shikoo. I have a peace and blissful visual and experience.

    V2. I am at my computer and watching the following videos,

    YouTube - salok saekh fareedh kae part 1
    YouTube - salok saekh fareedh kae part 2
    YouTube - salok saekh fareedh kae part 3

    I read the translation (not looking for source or authenticity but admiring the effort of the poster positively) and listen and watch the background visuals. I see the environment of the day, I see Baba Farid ji uttering the Bani in a typical Punjab banjar type setting. Hundreds of years gap disappears as I feel the peace and the truths.

    I can get virtually similar repeatable voluntary experience many a times.

    So I am not sure if the above supports some discussion points in the thread. In summary,


    • I have involuntary and generally non-repeatable moments which do not necessarily create a belief .

    • I also have nearly repeatable moments and experiences which do create a belief of if I do this I get this wished result of peace, connectivity, soul-to-soul connections.



    I don’t think I will through “Voluntary” get a “monkey mind” but I am on watch based on confused ji’s post mundahug(I should not assume but I did that you are a man otherwise a soul hug rather than physical :)).

    Without any offence to anybody I do feel like ”monkey mind” if I ever find myself in the feverish “waheguru-waheguru” chanting scenarios or generally where I am led to attempts at creation of bliss in a crowd or arbitrary settings.

    Humbly submitted for consideration and perusing.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  8. prakash.s.bagga

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    REf SHALLOW READING AND MEDITATION.

    The views presented are excellent. I fully appreciate the gist of reading as presented by TEJWANT SINGH Ji.Sir you have rightly mentionted the way one must start and go with Gurbaani.
    There is a way ahead of READING and MEDITATION and that is SIMRANu.READING opens the road for MEDITATION. And MEDITATION can a GATE WAY for SIMRANu.
    In Gurbaani the ULTIMATE is SIMRANu only.

    PRABH KAA SIMRAN SUB TE OOCHAA.

    This can happen by the grace of SATi GURU Ji only.for this READING and MEDITATION can be very helpful.

    Prakash.S.Bagga
     
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  9. Ambarsaria

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    Shallow reading poll follow-up for "Yes, Please Explain."

    Shallow reading to me is like running through a goldmine with eyes not totally open and running too fast. Inspite, you are still likely to find a valuable nugget once in a while versus finding nothing if you don't do anything.

    Sat Sri Akal

    PS: However one may want to consider what is more valuable:
    - Shallow reading for 1 hour
    - Studying a shabad for 5 minutes
    - Studying a shabad for 1 hour

     
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  10. roopsidhu

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    SSA,
    Shallow reading is the first step towards meditation or in depth understanding of guru's message, hence it can not be disregarded.
    igAwnY kwrn krm AiBAwsu ] igAwnu BieAw qh krmh nwsu ]
    Roopsidhu
     
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  11. prakash.s.bagga

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    SHALLOW READING AND MEDITATION,

    Shallow reading can be taken as good start of ones journey to wards final destination.
    Shallow reading is like travelling in a PSSANGER TRAIN wherein you dont enjoy the travel but do enjoy the stoppages of train at different places and the surrounding views.Shallow reading ia casual reading to get further invoved in the FOCUSED reading and then MEDITATIVE reading.
    Shallow reading can have relative meanings for different persons considering the reading itself.But ultimately this can be good startfor anyone.Even casual reading is possible only thru the grace of SATi GURU Ji.So this can not be considered as wastage withiout any fruit.
    In the UNIVERSE nothing goes as waste. Even if one has built castles in the air .this word need not go waste Even this shall be suitably rewarded if one can put foundation beneath the air built castle.

    There is very deep and unexplainable philosophy about all what happens around.That is why different persons get interested even in Gurbaani at different levels of age.

    Prakash.s/Bagga
     
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  12. findingmyway

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    Both Bhagat ji and Confused ji have put their points across very well and really got me thinking. I'm not convinced that you can say that shallow reading and meditation will work for everyone. We are all different-unique human beings. Our minds work in different ways. For some the shallow reading will be an excellent starting point for other its puts them off as it feels useless. For some meditation is a great way to still the mind and focus, yet for others mediation spins the mind into overdrive no matter how hard they try so they just cannot get into it. Also the images conjured up in meditation may not take you in exactly the direction you want to go as the subconscious begins to intrude.

    Then comes the next step. If shallow reading is a beginning and meditation is to make one focussed then is it possible to move beyond these when the aim is achieved to the next level-understanding, applying and remembering always. Some people will find this harder than others as it is a big step to move out the comfort zone.
    In summary, I think each person is different and needs to find what works for them on their individual spiritual path:sippingcoffee:
     
  13. spnadmin

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    My own opinion is that prakash ji has captured the essence for a great many people. There is an evolutionary character to reading gurbani. It is possible to get stuck along the way. It is also possible that at some point frustration itself motivates a person to move in a different direction. Forum members roopsidhu ji and also Ambarsaria also seem to be suggesting something similar.

     
  14. Rupinder.Singh

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    Good to see this post on SPN.

    Really sorry about the long post, could not find a better way to express myself.


    Based on my understanding, I partially agree with Bhagat Singh ji’s posting on meditation. My opinion aligns with the principle highlighted by “Findingmyway” about everyone’s different perspective and opinion, which I totally agree with.

    Here I am expressing my own opinion and understanding of the topic.

    The terms, meditation, Naam, Naam Simran are very deep terms, I think majority of the Sikh sangat take shallow meanings of these terms to start with. This understanding is influenced by the environment we live in where in we try to connect with others, by relating with them, by doing the things in a way others do without reflecting on the underlying reason, logic or base. This can be termed as shallow understanding of the environment.

    Our Gurus, did not oppose any practice, but opposed the fact that these practices actually lead human being to follow without reflections or knowledge, and thus lead to blind faith and rituals. These practices are like fast food outlets, where they serve the immediate need of mankind, but never teach them how to prepare the food themselves and be independent of fast food outlets.

    The term Meditation is “Dhyan” in gurmukhi. What is dhyan. Dhyan is a state of mind where mind is focused on only one thing, where mind has realized that ‘one thing’, where mind tries to connect everything around him to that one thing, or sees that one thing in everything.

    Next term is SEHAJ, Sehaj means without any effort, without any special body posture, without any special condition or environment i.e. only in the natural way, natural conditions whatever nature has offered, be it floods, natural disaster, pleasant breeze or whatever. This is SEHAJ, nature’s own way without any special effort by mankind.

    Next Term is EK, Ek means ONE, This is the same one thing we talked about to focus on in term Dhyan, In whole SGGS, our gurus talked about this “EK”

    ਪੰਨਾ 160, ਸਤਰ 10
    ਏਕਸੁ ਤੇ ਸਭਿ ਰੂਪ ਹਹਿ ਰੰਗਾ ॥
    एकसु ते सभि रूप हहि रंगा ॥
    Ėkas ṯe sabẖ rūp hėh rangā.
    All forms and colors come from the One Lord.
    ਮਃ 3 - view Shabad/Paurhi/Salok







    In my opinion, SGGS tells us the stages of Dhyan (meditation). (Please note this is just my opinion or understanding from one perspective)

    Guru Ji list five stages as follows: (please read the entire pauri in brackets for better understanding, it is hard to put it in words)

    Dharam Khand (ਧਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕਾ ਏਹੋ ਧਰਮੁ):
    (ਪੰਨਾ 7, ਸਤਰ 11 ਰਾਤੀ ਰੁਤੀ ਥਿਤੀ ਵਾਰ ॥ )
    The universe, surroundings, its operations and interdependence, God’s imposed Laws (nature’s law) and discipline on this and other universes, ie. Dharam,


    Gyan Khand (ਗਿਆਨ ਖੰਡ ਮਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਰਚੰਡੁ ॥ ):
    Trying to Understand God’s Dharam, trying to Know about it, explore it, and then accept it as it is,

    Shr’am Khand (ਸਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਰੂਪੁ ॥ )
    Stage where one has to act on that knowledge and understanding obtained in Gyan Khand to purify himself, beautify his soul. This is a stage of hard work, where knowledge is the guide.

    Karam Khand: (ਕਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋਰੁ ॥)
    Stage, where a purified and beautified soul from previous stage of Sh’ram Khand acts for the benefit of society. This is the stage of SEVA. A stage where one realises GOD in everything and loves to serve HIM.

    Sach Khand (ਸਚ ਖੰਡਿ ਵਸੈ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥)
    This is the ultimate state, where one is totally imbued in GOD, A state where even Nanak says “ਨਾਨਕ ਕਥਨਾ ਕਰੜਾ ਸਾਰੁ ॥੩੭॥ “


    All these stages are through sehaj, where one does not sit in any particular posture, does not recite any thing loudly or repetitively. It is just attained in a sehaj way, in a natural way.

    According to Guru’s path, Gyan is the second stage of this ultimate state. Without gyan no one can work on oneself. Gyan comes through understanding, Understanding does not come through shallow reading.

    I agree with other posters, that even through shallow reading some verses touch our heart/mind but in my opinion at that particular verse/point the reading is not shallow.



    Again, really sorry about the long post

    Rupinder Singh
    :sippingcoffeemunda:
     
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  15. BhagatSingh

    BhagatSingh Canada
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    Awesome post Rupinder Singh ji!

    Excellent points!
    I was aiming to address the point in bold, with my post.


    BTW your post is not long at all. :)
     
  16. Archived_member14

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    Dear All,

    There appears to be a misunderstanding of what I’ve expressed, one which was not unexpected. Had it not been that the my last post was already getting too long I would have addressed a point made by Bhagat ji in his original post which would have helped made things more clear. So I’ll do this now.

    Quote from Bhagat ji’s original post:
    “One may think that maybe it is a first step to connecting with gurbani. That you make a habit of simply reading then you go on to understand. I started that way myself.”


    What I wanted to suggest is that one starts with a level of understanding enough to be attracted to a particular set of teachings. In other words, it is interest which leads one to open the book to read, tape to listen to, or go to the Gurdwara to hear the teachings. Obviously, little understanding would mean little of what is read or heard is understood while the rest is either not or else misunderstood. There is no control over any of this and therefore it would surely be that we all read with little understanding most of the time.

    My comments were not to discourage reading; the objection was towards the encouragement of ‘mindless reading’. To put it differently, that we read with little understanding is unavoidable, however the purpose of reading being to understand the message, we should not then be encouraging reading just for the sake of it, especially given the danger of attachment and tendency to follow any activity ritualistically. And obviously I do not go on to expect anyone to read with attention and understanding for any length of time, that would be a mistake of more or less the same kind. In fact even after decades I expect that little must change for anyone. Indeed if someone were to claim that he now reads with full attention and understanding unlike how it was previously, it is quite likely that he is deluding himself in some way or the other!

    So we start with a level of interest, picking up the relevant text and reading it. What we get out of this is expected to be extremely little in the beginning, but it should not stop us from being interested and continuing to read. Gradually with more understanding there is greater interest and so we read more often these particular set of teachings while other subjects will perhaps appeal less and we do not read as much of those texts as we did before. The more there is interest and understanding, the more instances of ‘quality reading’ as against quantity, which again can’t be controlled / determined by will. And sure there could even be ritualistic reading interspersed. But surely these instances are not to be encouraged!? It is hard enough that we have so much of the tendency accumulated over lifetimes which need to be recognized as it manifests in our lives. Let us not however make the mistake of actually encouraging them!

    At this point I’d suggest that reading is different from listening to a recording. One could open a tape while involved in other activities knowing that only some of what is played is heard. The likelihood of it all becoming a ritualistic activity is therefore lessened, although one would still need to question oneself about it. However a correct attitude here could be with the understanding that it does not matter what is registered and what is missed. Of course this does not mean that we refrain from rewinding in order to hear again something we think we need to. ;-) After all this may be motivated simply by interest in understanding.

    Better than reading and listening however, is discussion, especially with people who understand these things better than we do. Discussion allows our understanding to be tested and is what we are all doing here. So let us continue to discuss. ;-)

    Ambarsaria ji, I had difficulty understanding your message. I am what you might call ‘slow’ especially when it comes to understanding other people’s concise remarks. This may be reflected in the fact that I myself tend to be longwinded in my own expressions. One idea in all what you said came across as interesting and worthy of discussion, namely:

    >> I have involuntary and generally non-repeatable moments which do not necessarily create a belief. <<

    Please elaborate on the above so that we could then start to discuss it or not…
     
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  17. BhagatSingh

    BhagatSingh Canada
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    Confused ji, what is meditation to you?

    I think if you explain what you think it is, I will be better able to grasp your posts.
     
  18. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    confused ji, I can elaborate.

    Reference: Examples 1 to 4 in my Post (http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-...allow-readings-and-meditation.html#post139744)

    The question about,

    >> I have involuntary and generally non-repeatable moments which do not necessarily create a belief. <<

    These are moments that I remember in my life as vividly as now if I were to close my eyes. What made these special spiritually are the following,


    • Me and my soul
    • The environment
    • Experience inputs from the five senses
    • Stimulus or sprinkling of gurbani, wisdom spoken/sung by others
    The confluence of all these would create a flash in the deepest parts of myself that could not be expressed but is forever printed in memory as close to the core of my soul/God that I can get to.

    During such a moment of experience I had no recollection of Kam, Karodh, Lobh, Moh and Hankar. Just bliss.

    Because of the elements in play I cannot recreate but I can always remember. By not creating a belief implies that I cannot take one experience and replicate my experience by changing one or two or more of the variables in a predictable manner.

    Have I seen God, I perhaps have and it is definitely within for me.

    The above contrast with the Examples V1 and V2
    where I can reasonably, easily and repeatedly get into a blissful state.

    Sorry about long winded again.

    Regards.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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    #18 Ambarsaria, Jan 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  19. Archived_member14

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    Bhagat Ji,


    What is Meditation?
    I think anyone who has come across this concept should pause to ask themselves this question. The problem is that we think we already know or are lead simply by descriptions made by others, in which case the appeal would be to reason and any attachment invariably arisen rather than to any understanding. Worse is when we are compelled by a desire for quick fix to the problems of our lives such that we then jump at the idea immediately. The justifications then follow fuelled by ignorance, attachment and wrong understanding. At which point it becomes harder to question but worse is when the practice is already undertaken to any degree and ‘illusions of result’ have arisen.

    Actually we should ask ourselves the meaning in terms of what it is in actual experience, about everything! If not then our approach to religion becomes more or less a matter of replacing one object of attachment for another and this is what I see happening everywhere. Religion is supposed to encourage detachment but it turns out that people make it yet another thing to attach to. And the only way to prevent this from happening is to try and understand every concept that we come across and question any preconceived notions that we have about them.

    So yes, what is meditation? Could it be something which then allows any and everybody to project whatever preferred meaning and significance they’d like to? I think not. Firstly, as I understand it, meditation like all mental states must come down to a particular quality of mind which must necessarily be momentary / fleeting. We can’t therefore appeal to some conventional activity of noting this or that object in this or that posture which in fact then becomes a convenient screen to hide behind. Indeed this is what followers of all the thousands of meditation techniques taught today appeal to and are happy to stand united with each other for, while they continue to avoid facing the fact of disagreements in other areas. And are they not insecure about it all?!!!

    Wisdom is foremost and with it is mindfulness of the object of consciousness. This is what meditation in the final analysis is. We could therefore conclude that meditation is in fact the ‘development of wisdom’. This being the case, asking oneself “what is it that is known and understood now” may be a way to get oneself on the right track. If not, then only wisdom itself will know, otherwise one is definitely going to be led by ignorance.

    There are however two different types of meditation. One which is taught by the Buddha involves coming to know the nature of these momentary realities through one of the five senses and the mind. This does not involve developing concentration but rather about insight into the nature of conditioned phenomena. The other type is what I referred to in my first message here, is about entering states of consciousness beyond that of the sensuous sphere and abiding in there for an extended period. This however begins with the development of wholesome states of mind in daily life, seeing danger in attachment to sense objects and finally taking on a particular object where wisdom and mindfulness repeatedly takes this same object continuously, resulting in what is then considered ‘deep concentration’.

    One could for example think about the good qualities of any enlightened person with understanding about these, and this would mean that one’s own mind at the time is wholesome. This could become a habit and at some point lead to deep concentration. This kind of meditation however, does not have anything to do with insight into the nature of conditioned phenomena which even the most sublime of states necessarily are. Therefore it is only by way of development of wisdom of the first kind that ignorance, craving, conceit and everything else is eradicated and is how the endless cycle of birth and death comes to an end.

    I could add more, but think I should wait for your response first.
     
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  20. Archived_member14

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    Ambarsaria ji,

    I had interpreted your statement to being about 'beliefs', how these are formed and their influence on our perceptions in the moment. As you will now see from my message to Bhagat ji, I'd question you on the concepts you have made reference to including such as "soul", "me and my soul", "the environment" and so on. I think however, that this is not the place to start such a discussion, but if you want to we could do it elsewhere.

    Regarding being long winded, I was referring not to you but my own self. I was clumsy in my expression. Sorry about that.
     

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