I hadn't realised how many items on my daily round were plain, blind superstition. Get out of the bed on the right... don't leave shoes upside-down... never light 3 cigarettes on 1 match... Everyone I know has their own set, some practical, some harmless, some engrained by habit and coming from I-don't-know-where. ...stir the pot clockwise... don't spill salt... don't walk under ladders... First there's the "blindness" aspect of things that I object to; it cannot be good for a human to do things unmindfully, no, not for a minute (...if I’m drinking coffee I should be smoking...) it leads to places where illness, dishonour and suffering are found (...they are the opposite sex; I should try and sleep with them...). I have been there, and I have done that (there's liquor, I should drink it) and I am glad I don't any more. And yet, even mindful about unmindfulness, I fall into it. All too easily, the habits of human programming trip in, whether they are valid or not (I’m too old to laugh so loud... I should be driving a fancy car...). And worse than unmindfulness is the aspect of self-destruction. Mentally, intellectually, each habit like this, each pre-programmed response, distances us from ourselves, and spiritually, emotionally, it distances us from the Divine. Or are they the same thing? Or again, is thinking that merely another automatic association? We put up easy catchphrases to guide us through the bumps and corners, and to give us the illusion that Grace, Good Fortune and Wisdom can be bought. Don't speak ill of the dead... clip a baby's ***** 8 days after birth... blood is sacred... I hope that folk have found fewer little superstitious patterns in their lives than I have in mine. A cursory list, from straight off the top of my un-turbaned head: - fear of breaking mirrors - pinching rather than blowing out a candle - having a crucifix over the door - segregating cheese and milk - wearing birthstone - reluctance with feminine clothing - burning cut hair - refusal of certain parts of meat... I suppose the tendency to superstition is instilled in my Catholic upbringing and heightened by years in the Theatre, but I suspect it is a human tendency: we are reaching for ways to control what we cannot control. fish on Fridays... don't whistle backstage... catch the bouquet and you'll be next to marry... One of the attractive features of Sikhism is that we don't have to worry about such things; worship and worshipful acts are condoned and encouraged - for others. But those who seek the company of saints are asked to look deeper, think deeper, and act from a deeper place - and not by automatic response. Sikh ritual - which, by the way, the writer has only experienced in writing - is both simple and logical. The Sikh gives reverence to a book because it's our living leader and inspiration. Simple. The Sikh adopts distinctive marks because Sikhs are children of a distinctive calling. Logical. But, like boxing, salesmanship and quitting tobacco, not easy. A framework of superstition can be so comforting: instead of remaining in awareness, and functioning with full consciousness, one rolls on without having to study each little operation. plant flowers under a waxing moon... always leave a crust of bread... set your bed-head to the north... In a dynamic daily state - such as during a divorce or religious conversion - such comforts are especially enticing. But it insisted that this is just the thing for me to steer from. A serious spiritual injunction: if i am to be what I want, earn what I need, I am required to trust in Guru's word. Now all I have to worry about is superstitiously avoiding superstition - walking aggressively under ladders, seeking pork every Friday and rotating my bed-head on a weekly basis. And then, getting lost in a sea of doubt, I am washed ashore on page 19: Through the love of duality, multitudes have been drowned. O mind, swim across, by focusing your consciousness on the Shabad. Those who do not become Gurmukh do not understand the Naam; they die, and continue coming and going in reincarnation. And again on page 33: O mind, give up the love of duality. The Lord dwells within you; serving the Guru, you shall find peace. (Pause) When you love the Truth, your words are true; they reflect the True Word of the Shabad. The Name of the Lord dwells within the mind; egotism and anger are wiped away. Meditating on the Naam with a pure mind, the Door of Liberation is found. Ignorant alien that I am, what Guru ji says to me essentially is - don't worry about it; chant and meditate on the naam. As far as my superstitions interfere with simran they must be abolished. For the rest, it’s not important. It hardly matters whether I put on my right shoe first, or slice a potato through the middle; if doing so gets me through a moment, well and good. If it reflects the weakness of my faith, it must be abandoned. If it allows me to concentrate on the sound and feeling of the Holy Name, well, I can probably hang onto it for a bit. Sure, superstition is a prison. But I have been promised complete liberation… Think of the Lord in your mind, O wise one. Enshrine love for the True Lord in your mind and body; He is the Liberator from bondage. Lucky me!