Friday, October 20, 2006 When we make our first entry into the realms of spirituality, there comes a certain feeling of excitement, and along with it a bit of superiority for having done what the masses have not. Instead of feeling humbled that God's Grace has allowed this important first step, we feel a 'high' comprising of conceit and arrogance. So much so, that we tend to look down on the rest of humanity as 'poor unenlightened' ones. This takes away all the steps that we may have taken forward, and brings us back to 'ground zero'. This is the beginning of "Spiritual Ego", a false sense of superiority over those who have not made their first moves into the realms of spiritual learning. There was once a Sikh from Peshawar, named Joga Singh, who was in the service of Guru Gobind Singh, tenth Guru of the Sikhs, from his childhood. One day, when the Mughals were threatening to invade Anandpur, the stronghold of the Guru, Joga Singh received intimation from his parents that he should proceed to Peshawar immediately, as his marriage had been fixed. Even though the Guru needed his services at that crucial juncture, Joga Singh had to go home and fulfill his parent's wishes. But he promised his Guru, that if he was required at any moment, the Guru could have him sent for, and he would return post-haste. The Guru, wishing to put Joga Singh's devotion to test, sent him a hukumnama, or royal edict, asking him to return immediately, even though he had not completed the four ritual pheras of the Guru Granth Sahib, as the ceremony demanded. Joga Singh, the truly devoted Sikh that he was, left the ceremony incomplete, and departed forthwith for Anandpur. Everyone present went into awesome praise over the Guru's devoted disciple. On his way back, he had to halt the night at Hoshiarpur. Feeling extremely proud of his sacrificial act, he finished his dinner and went out strolling into the town. There he came across the house of a dancing girl, whom he got attracted to, the moment he saw her, through her window. Every time he tried to enter the house, the guard at the gate frowned upon him and would not let him in. Joga Singh tried all night, but the guard kept giving him sternly disapproving looks, and was adamant that he would now allow him to enter. Next morning he set out to meet his Guru. The moment he reached the Guru's Court, he was pained to find a stern look on His face, instead of a welcoming smile that Joga Singh thought he deserved. As he looked into his Master's eyes, he seemed to see the very same eyes that belonged to the guard at the dancing girl's house. Mortified he was, to realize that it was the Guru Himself who had prevented him from entering a negative place. Full of self-importance that he had obeyed his Guru overriding all other familial obligations, he had returned to expect praise and adulation showered upon him. But his Guru had humbled him by this telling act.