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The Concept of God in Sikhism

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by a muslim, Jul 4, 2006.

  1. a muslim

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    may peace be upon all the sisters and brothers in this forum. i am a mulsim who has recently developed a strong interest in sikhism. there are many topics i would like to discuss, the first being the concept / idea / relationship with God in sikhism. it is not possible to insist too strongly on the importance of mantaining civility in our discussions. i look forward to reading your replys.

    as it stands, my knowledge of sikhism is negligable, so could someone please start with something, be it short or long on their views on God according to sikhism. from this initial post inshallah i will be able to ask more questions, allowing my edducation to begin. rest assured while im not posting i will spend some time learning about sikhism from other sources, adding another dimension to our future discussions.

    peace. for those of you who wish to refer to me using my name, its faizaan.
     
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  3. Arvind

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    Dear faizaan,

    Sikhi has mool mantra that describes The One. This is in the beginning of Guru Granth Sahib, and part of opening bani i.e. japji Sahib.

    Ik Oankaar Satnaam Karta Purakh nirbhao nirvair akaal moorat ajooni saibhang gur parsadi
    Jap
    Aad sach jugadh sach. Hai bhi sach nanak hosee bhi sach.

    There are a few posts abt mool mantra on SPN, which would give you more details. Please let us know, if you coudnt get hold of those, and then I will search those.

    Regards, Arvind.
     
  4. vijaydeep Singh

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    Gurfateh

    As per Gurmat God is visible at all the time as all the things are nothing but manifestations of God and God controls all acts.
     
  5. Arvind

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    This means: If one can not see God in All, then one can not see God at all.
     
  6. max314

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    Well, dude, the ultimate truth of Sikkhi is the Truth itself: God.

    And what does Sikkhi have to say about God? The Guru Granth Sahib opens with the following passage referred to as the mool mantra that does nothing except incite a poetic (note that it's "poetic" and "scientific", though that doesn't make it any less 'truthful') meditation on the nature of God.

    "There is but one God. He is all that is.
    He is the Creator of all things and He is all-pervasive.
    He is without fear and without enmity.
    He is timeless, unborn and self-existent.
    He is the Enlightener
    And can be reailsed by his grace alone.
    He was in the beginning; He was in all ages.
    The True One is, was - O, Nänak - and shall forever be."


    Guru Granth Sahib
    Japji, p.1

    As you can see, God is described as being completely removed from any human constructs that we may take for granted. He is beyond any of the constraints upon which mankind's nature is based.

    That's the basic starting point for anything to do with Nänakian philosophy. Don't hesitate to ask about anything else.

    Precisely.

    It's not a case of "you become gur-mukh and then you become complete".

    It's more a case of "you become complete and then you become gur-mukh".

    The "gur" in "gur-mukh" refers, of course, to the True Guru, the Sat Guru...God himself.

    Once the One is realised, then true living can finally begin.

    It's the ultimate bliss.
     
    #5 max314, Jul 5, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
  7. a muslim

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    Thank you all for your reply’s, you have made me feel welcome.

    (from Aravind) This means: If one can not see God in All, then one can not see God at all.
    (from Vijaydeep) all the things are nothing but manifestations of God

    Just to make sure I’m not interpreting things wrong, does Sikhism distinguish between God and creation? By “if one can not see God in All” does that mean All is God, or does it mean is all God’s?


    (from Max) It's not a case of "you become gur-mukh and then you become complete".

    It's more a case of "you become complete and then you become gur-mukh".


    What do you mean by “become complete”? im sorry if this is an obvious question, but as stated earlier my knowledge of Sikhism is negligible.


    Also, as a separate question, I would like to ask what the relationship between Guru Nanak and God was / is according to Sikhism. Was he human, is he God, was he like a prophet, someone who can communicate with God by His Grace?

    Thank you

    faizaan

    God is described as being completely removed from any human constructs that we may take for granted. He is beyond any of the constraints upon which mankind's nature is based.


    How does a sikh know anything about God, that is, if He is removed entirely from human constructs. Is he also removed from human reason? thank you
     
    #6 a muslim, Jul 5, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
  8. max314

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    Glad to hear it :D You ma brotha from anotha motha :}{}{}:

    A lot of people refer to Sikkhism as a 'monotheist' religion. Monotheism - as per the requisites of the Abrahamic faiths such as Christianity and Islam - is a concept of God as being a distinct and separate entity. Think of the Architect's character in the Matrix series: an omnipotent watcher personified who looks upon his creation and makes judgements and changes according to what pleases him.

    It seems that Nänak viewed this form of deifying God as a personification of the true form (or lack of form) of God. It was like a metaphor that didn't quite give the full picture.

    In actuality, Sikkhism is really more of a 'pantheistic' religion. Pantheism is a form of belief in God that states that he is both the created and the creator. He is One with all and all is One with him. Think the Force from Star Wars and you'll get the picture:

    "It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the universe together."

    Bäni starts by dehumanising God, and although humanistic properties are implied throughout bäni, the fundamental concepts laid down in the mool mantra and other passages indicate quite clearly that those personifications are but metaphors; borrowing from Vedic and Islamic images to explain in terms that people at the time would understand about how God does and does not 'operate'.

    No, not at all! It's an absolute joy for me to talk about these things; it helps to make things even more clear in my own mind as well :u): And regardless of what ideologies we subscribe to, treating each other with equal respect for being human beings is the absolute ground-root of starting any kind of discourse and harmonious interaction...and general brotherhood among all humans. That's what the goal of Guru Nänak was, and I'm sure that the same applies for Prophet Mohammad.

    It's just that we often tend to forget that part :}{}{}:

    It is said that the full and virtuous human being attempts to overcome the following Five Evils or Five Thieves:

    • Lust (käm)
    • Anger (krödh)
    • Greed (löbh)
    • Attachment (möh)
    • Pride (hankär)
    And these are to be overcome using the Five Virtues or Five Weapons:

    • Contentment (santökh)
    • Charity (dhän)
    • Kindness (dhaya)
    • Positive Energy (chardih kalä)
    • Humility (nimarta)
    It's not that you're punished for not doing this. It's simply that one will live a happier and more full life if they do. And it is holding these principles at the core of one's thoughts and actions - rooted by constantly remembering the Oneness of All (God) - that allows us to be "complete".

    It's also not said that the Five Thieves are to be removed...merely conquered. After all, without lust there would be no children. Without anger, greed, attachment and pride there would be no drive to live.

    And this is why they are not to be removed, but controlled, so as to prevent an excess in indulgement that leads ultimately only to pain and suffering.

    Guru Nänak - contrary to what some people will tell you - was a man. Not a God, not a divine presence...but a man. A very wise man, a very insightful man.

    We believe that Mohammad and Christ and Buddha and all the other individuals who have been said to be Men Of God are in fact simply ordinary men who thought and did extraordinary things in an attempt to better the society with which they were presented.

    And Guru Nänak is no different.

    He had insight and wisdom and compassion and a lot of common sense.

    The mool mantra states that every man has the potential to 'commune' with God because God is within every man.

    Indeed, we need but to realise this close proximity - that God is within us - and lo! We are now communing with God.

    It really is as simple as that.

    There are some Sikkhs who believe that people reach certain 'levels' of awareness or 'spirituality'. But some of the most 'spiritually aware' people I know are also some of the most unpleasant and arrogant and sometimes even corrupt individuals I have ever met.

    So to simply be having mental delusions is not enough to be virtuous.

    One must be virtuous through thoughts and subsequent actions...and not by simply believing that reciting words (however 'holy' you believe them to be) and dressing in a certain fashion to attain some grand level of spirituality.

    The ultimate awareness is epiphanical awareness. A realisation that the Truth is simply what is.

    This is the ultimate bliss.

    Not a problem.

    Yes. God is inconceivable by human qualification.

    Not only because we can't physically 'see' him as a discrete entity, but also because he is not in any way human.

    When we use the term "God's Will", we obviously think of "Will" as being a humanisitc, personified drive...something motivating God by characteristics resembling the Five Thieves. But God - an infinite entity in and of itself - has no use for these things. We need them as survival instincts as biological machines, but God is not bound by these neurochemical signals.

    When we use the term "Will", it's better to think of the Schopenhaurian notion of Will...a Cosmic Will. A universal forward-drive that exists as a result of the natural laws upon which this universe is predicated.

    It's not 'conscious' in the way that you and I are conscious. It is both less conscious and more conscious at the same time.

    As such, when one realises that God pervades every particle in the universe, and that God's Will is undefinable, undefiable, and - ultimately - inevitable, it brings a sense of peace and calm and satisfaction that what will be will be.

    Now we can leave God's work to one side and focus on what we know exists: our lives and everything in it.

    And what is most important?

    To live those lives with the ultimate fulfillment.

    The Guru Granth Sahib and the teachings that spawned from the mind and heart of Guru Nänak are but a guidance on how to do this, although it is certainly not the only way.
     
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  9. Arvind

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    :thumbup: Thanks for giving the pleasure of reading this thread. The five virtues are a new learning to me.

    Regards.
     
  10. a muslim

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    regardless of what ideologies we subscribe to, treating each other with equal respect for being human beings is the absolute ground-root of starting any kind of discourse and harmonious interaction...and general brotherhood among all humans.


    Brother, I couldn’t agree more. Reading another debate on this forum made me realise how easily people can become corrupted by romanticism. Reactionary, tribal, racist emotions clouding sight, some people clearly side step (move to another purpose) from the point of contention to hurt the recipient personally. I was aware of this before joining the forum, but having read your welcome replies and sincere posts in other discussions I feel I can talk to you, human to human about Sikhism. Thank you for your effort and time.


    Sikhism is really more of a 'pantheistic' religion. He is both the created and the creator. He is One with all and all is One with him.


    Guru Nänak - contrary to what some people will tell you - was a man.

    The mool mantra states that every man has the potential to 'commune' with God because God is within every man.


    Ok, I’m sure you will have come across this before as it seems apparent enough. To get to the point, I want to address the apparent conflict in your writings – the man / God dichotomy. To save us both some time, I’m anticipating this discussion will reduce down to a debate concerning the law of non-contradiction.

    How can man pray to God when man is God? If God is within us then is there a part of us that isn’t God? The part which prays? The part which discovers God?




    Yes. God is inconceivable by human qualification.

    Not only because we can't physically 'see' him as a discrete entity, but also because he is not in any way human.


    How did you arrive at these conclusions? If God is beyond all rationality, is there another means by which we can realise Him? If this is spirituality, then this is an internal process relative to each person, such a mechanism renders Sikhism completely esoteric, but this isn’t the case. Sikhs have a variety of external symbolic behaviours, yet Guru Nanak condemned ritualistic practices. It seems to me that the definitions of terms change according to the situation. Please do not take offence from these views. Make me understand.

    Thank you
     
  11. vijaydeep Singh

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    Gurfateh
    Bimilah Al Rahman Al Raheem(int he name of the most kiund and the mercy full)
    Dear Brother,

    Refer to Sura 2 which has verse about Gopd been both in east and west and Sura 4 Ayat 126 of Holy Kuran,which state Allah surrounds the all.

    Then in Old Tesetment(Jabour as per Islam) Allah is omni visible(Book of Issaiha).

    Yuorself are correct that it is clearly said in us that wotjhout knowing God knows all so to pray in front of what(no need to pray).Even ',you lord prayer onto yuo(Tu Thakur..),Life and body are your play,you are our parent,we are your offspring,in your mercy mnay plasure,No one klnows your end/limit,Lord is higher then higest,All matter is under your control,Fromk your orsder does happens,what has to happen,your speed and time(nature),you only know,Nanak who is slave is always sacrfised.

    so in us we are told not to pray but to reamin happy the way God keeps us in.We are made not tom pray but to sing glory of God and sorrow which make us rember God more are blessing and medicine so in that we sing more glory of God.

    No other work is worth but to meet good company and sing glory of name of God.

    God is omni visisble,many know that and fewer realsie that.that realsisation is concept of Haq Haq Agah in Islam,or say Ruh Al Qudus state as per Christians.That is being one with God and above heavan or Jannat as both heavan and hell are made by God and wil be destroyed.Allah Hu Baqi Bin Tul Eye Fani,Only Allah shal reamain and all else will end.From same light(nur) Allah made us and by same Allah can destouy us and absorbs us back.So

    God is omin visible and without God all matter or maamon or maya is false and only visible like dream as it is decayable ,only Truth is Eternal,we can it as Beej Mantra(Bhai Daya Singh Rahit Nammah) Sat Sri Akal.
     
  12. ISDhillon

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    We dont pray to god we meditate on his name to awaken the divine within, it is a spiritual exercise why would we worship something which is inherent to our being, we sing the glory of the divine because that will control our ego if we bow to something greater than us its not because we pray to ourselves, ego will take man away from the inner divine
    god is bliss bliss is inconceivable it is however knowable and if that makes it esoteric then that is ok because no religion knows god other than by descritpiton, sikhism makes man become one with the description through meditative practices.

    amrit ceremony binds a sikh to the ceromy of truthful living they are only valid reminders as a sikh our guru ordered it so we do it but if we just wear the symbols and think we are, then we will lose out on the purpose of sikhi.
    indy:)
     
  13. Sinister

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    Hello. welcome to the forum- always nice to see so much diversity.


    Please note, that these are my veiws upon the Sikh faith. Everyone has their own 'tweeked' veiws, which makes this faith so dynamic:




    Bredrens, I beleive we are heading down the wrong path while trying to explain this faith.
    To me Sikhism is more "a lesson of morality" rather than a philosophical discourse on the natural and metaphysical world.

    This entire notion about understanding God and God's nature is rather 'unimportant'. And by any means it is not the centerpeice of the faith.

    The very idea that our guru's said that God is both the creator and the creation is contradictory (because every creation must have a creator by the sheer definition of the terms).

    This contradiction as well as the hundreds of other contradictions written in the baani while trying to reveal gods nature is intentional. I beleive it bears a metaphor that the guru's tried to establish: that the human mind will never be able to grasp the entirity of the universe (GOD).

    The entire Idea of "enlightenment" by becoming "ONE" with God is something entirely based upon faith.

    (For myself, this task is impossible, no one can become 'one' with god...please read on)

    To become "one" with something that you cannot fully comprehend is impossible?
    (its like trying to picture/understand/live in---a fourth dimensional world)
    and the entire notion that meditation (without any social bearing to ones fellow man) can bring inner peice is farce.

    So how to acheive this western concept of "salvation"?
    --Ones continous development of sikh Morality.

    We dont pray to god we meditate on his name to awaken the divine within
    -- IS Dhillon
    As you can tell many sikhs are gnostic's (I stay away from Gnosticism....it undermines the fact that we are social beings). A Gnostic will beleive that knowledge (Gyaan) must be determined through some technical process of meditation, when, in reality, morality is what matters! Morality is the only thing that can bring one closer to another fellow man (And in this relationship with ones fellow man god resides).

    Cheers mate.
     
  14. ISDhillon

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    oh really, please provide a quote from sggs which suggests that living the moral life will lead one to salvation in the hereafter? you will not find it the guru liberated the bad immoral people also he taught us that god causes morality and immorality, but without naam the 2 are both useless cos we will be reborn, if living the moral life could grant you salvation in the hereafter then islam would suffice and we would not need sikhism thats for sure.




    i cant help thinking from reading this that your views are more cultural rather than religious, my parents want me to "behave" they dont learn about god from scripture but because they are well behaved they consider themselves sikhs it is a cultural notion rather than a religious one.



    this i agree with.


    this is disagree with, bliss is not comprenendable but it is knowable and it is called bliss for that very reason, lakh kushian paatshaaia je satgur nadar karai - only with the gurus grace will you attain this bliss.




    an opion is ok but you know sggs agrees with this very concept of oneness with god



    have a nicey spicey day!!!!:)
     
  15. Anoop

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    well from what i think, when we were born out of nowhere we start to say wheres god, and some think god is in human form or is seperate to us. Why dont we ever look into ourselves first. Thats where everything starts. The word god is just a way to make us feel related to the creator. But the thing is, god is the only thing that exists. Therefore there are no competitors, it is like the ultimate reality that is like a energy or force. The best thing is, instead of becoming god, we must love ourselves first. Look into ourselves and then we can become one with the truth. Love yourself, not in ego, and then you will start to love others..But always remember the meaning of god in the mind! When you pray to god, you pray to yourself...
     
  16. max314

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    A priviledge and a pleasure :wink:

    Society seems to have this innate concept that when one 'prays' they do so to a supernatural deity of some kind, be it one God or one of many.

    But in Sikkhism there really is only one practice that can be considered 'prayer' and that is the practice of 'näm simran', or the meditation on the concept of God.

    Salvation is not reached in an ethereal sense (i.e. "do this and you'll be rewarded" sense), but rather an inner peace and tranquility of humbling oneself against the greater universe is an experience that allows one to come to terms with their own diminutive stature with regards to the universe. Once we have broken those foundations of ego and pride, then we can begin to build ourselves back up.

    The 'prayer' (for want of a better word) in Sikkhism serves precisely this purpose.

    It's almost reminiscent of that scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden says "it's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything" and how "only after disaster can we be resurrected".

    The epiphanical realisation of God serevs as that kind of deconstructionism of one's life. To pull away the illusions imposed on us since childhood, thus allowing us to create an illusion of our own that suits us and our new-found sense of 'oneness' much better than the one preceding it.

    "Take offense from these views"? I almost agree with them :wink:

    But allow me to explain.

    Firstly, the conclusion that God is outside of qualitative perception is not an opinion. There is no concrete evidential material that can 'prove' the existence of God (well, there kind of is, but I'll come on to that later). If there was, then everyone on Earth would believe in God, just as we now believe that the Earth is round.

    As such, God is instantly beyond the immediate human senses. This much is fact.

    Secondly, the idea that "God is beyond all rationality" is a statement that requires careful revision. It's not tht "God is beyond all rationality", but rather that "God is beyond our rationality". This much is not hard to conceive. Living organisms are designed to do one thing, and one thing only: survive. The wonderful irony, of course, is that the one thing organisms spend their lives trying to avoid is the one thing whose certainty is a rollicking 100% :}{}{}: Anyway, the fact that organisms are designed to 'survive' means that our idea of rationality and morality stems from that very same idea. Our entire moral belief system of 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'bad' stems from our base instinct to 'survive'.

    But God is not a biological organism. He is the omnipotent.

    'Right', 'wrong', 'good', 'bad' as we understand them in our highly subjective day-to-day lives is not the same moral code by which God necessarily functions...because he has no use for it.

    Guru Nänak, in the mool mantra, describes this exact thing with perfectly pitched poetry this precise concept (though it's done much more succinctly and in a more aesthetically pleasing way :}{}{}:). Ergo, God is beyond human constructs, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to see how and why.

    Now, onto the "external symbolic behaviours".

    Of course, you'd have to specify precisely which ones you are talking about in order for me to answer them effectively, but the fact remains that whilst the illusion of life and the struggle for survival may be a lowly and trivial pursuit in the grand scheme of the univserse, it is - nevertheless - our lowly and trivial pursuit.

    Sikkhism has the idea of balancing the spiritual ("piri") and the temporal/practial ("miri") sides of living. That is why the tennet of "näm japö" ("meditate on God") exists alongside that of "kirt karö" ("do one's duty"), "vand ké shakö" ("share your earnings") and "gristi jïvan rakhö" ("live a family life"). This was contrary to many Hindu ascetists who would deny the world completely, leaving behind their social obligations in the selfish pursuit of spiritual self-gratification.

    Due to the practical requirements of the times, certain practices were encouraged by the Gurus. Such practices included the carrying of arms to defend oneself (which didn't arise till later down the chain of Gurus, but has now become one of the Sikkh community's most defining symbols).

    Those are the only real 'ritualisms' I can think of off the top of my head, though specific examples would most certainly be appreciated if you wish for me to go into more detail.

    Oh, thank you :D
     
  17. Anoop

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    You know what i cant sometimes figure out..why do we begin talkin about god...we start to suggest that there is god, but cant we see within ourself. Just like sadhguru jaggi vasudev, his teachings are like sikhism, where he mentions that god is everything, its our own illusions that we pray on (god) but we dont look into the inner system of our selves? Is that how to access god?
     
  18. max314

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    A valid insight. The user a_muslim was enquiring about the Nänakian concept of God. We are merely posting to return replies to his enquiries.
     
  19. Anoop

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    no...im not talking about this...im talking in general...in the world people are looking for god....isnt it just better if we look into our inner self...because god may be just a word to describe a higher self of us with our relationship with god....but we just create the image of god in our head....isnt it just the inner self that is more important that enlightens you

    We should just get on with life being simple and happy, and grow..our souls are here in this life to grow..people want to belive in god to feel satisfied and for defence purposes. They come out of nowhere and say god exists...whereas if everything is god, then why do we try our hardest to find god when god is everything...Life is god exploring godself!
     
    #18 Anoop, Jul 13, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2006
  20. max314

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    Oh, I agree entirely. This has been my personal 'mantra' for many years now.
     
  21. jag1t

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    Interesting attempts to address a crucial matter. Concept of God in Sikhism. Though God cannot be spoken of in words but there being no other alternative a feeble attempt to give some indication - some pointers to the wise.
    1. God is not a concept.
    2. God in Sikhism is no different than God any where else.
    3. God is one.
    4. God is every thing and there is nothing except God.

    So far so good now lets take it from here. It is a long journey for most so lets see who all are coming...
     

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