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What is Naam?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Sherdil, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. Sherdil

    Sherdil
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    What is Naam? I have seen many people talk about Naam Simran. They advocate repeating the name "Waheguru, Waheguru" again and again. They claim it is a way to connect to the divine and experience the creator. However, what makes this form of chanting different from the other forms practiced by various peoples around the world? Does the word itself have any special power, or is it the act of chanting that puts oneself in a meditative trance? Anything done repetitively puts the brain on autopilot. For example, whirling dervishes enter a trance-like state when they spin around and around repeatedly. Aside from bringing peace and contentment, is there any gyaan (wisdom) attained from this?

    Is this even the Naam our Gurus talked about? When we say "Sat Naam", what does that mean? I believe it to mean "The name is Truth". So then isn't the real Naam Simran a repitition of truth? Truthful speech and truthful actions, done repetitively, create a truthful person.

    “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
    -Lao Tzu
     
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  3. ActsOfGod

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    This is a great question and I've thought about this a lot myself. After having done the repetitive chanting as prescribed by a certain number of Sikhs, I have come to the conclusion that by itself, chanting "Waheguru" does not really get me any closer to the Divine, nor does it improve me as a person in any discernible way. I can equally chant "Computer" or any other word, till I put myself into a self-induced trance. But it won't help me spiritually in any way. In that respect, mindless chanting is the domain of many other religious practices, but it has no place in Sikhi.

    There is another dimension to Simran, and the conclusion I have reached is that it has more to do with conscious intention every moment of our lives. This means to always keep the Creator Lord in our thoughts, even while performing our daily routines in life. This really helped me understand:


    ਸੋਰਠਿ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ਘਰੁ ੨ ॥ Soraṯẖ mėhlā 5 gẖar 2. Sorat'h, Fifth Mehl, Second House:
    ਮਾਤ ਗਰਭ ਮਹਿ ਆਪਨ ਸਿਮਰਨੁ ਦੇ ਤਹ ਤੁਮ ਰਾਖਨਹਾਰੇ ॥ Māṯ garabẖ mėh āpan simran ḏe ṯah ṯum rākẖanhāre.
    In our mother's womb, You blessed us with Your meditative remembrance, and You preserved us there.
    ਪਾਵਕ ਸਾਗਰ ਅਥਾਹ ਲਹਰਿ ਮਹਿ ਤਾਰਹੁ ਤਾਰਨਹਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ Pāvak sāgar athāh lahar mėh ṯārahu ṯāranhāre. ||1||
    Through the countless waves of the ocean of fire, please, carry us across and save us, O Savior Lord! ||1||


    How can a fetus perform Simran? Surely it's not hanging upside down and chanting "Waheguru". The fetus doesn't even have vocal chords to begin with. So surely there is something else going on.

    So to me, this means to center my conscious attention on the Creator at all times, no matter what I'm doing (working, eating, standing in line at the grocery store, etc.) This has actually helped me in a number of ways, and one of most unexpected was that I have started to comprehend Gurbani more clearly. I can understand more of what I read, I also find that my attention doesn't wander anymore when I'm doing paaht. Also I tend to think of everything and everyone through the lens of spirituality, rather than more secular notions. It definitely changes how you think.

    In the end, we are all individuals and we will all connect with our Creator in our own, personal, unique way. So who's to say that chanting is the wrong approach, if it works for someone? For me personally, I tried it and it was not really useful. But it may have huge benefits for the next person. Who I am to contradict their experience?

    Last point is that it's way better to say "Waheguru" (even without mindfulness), rather than a curse word. So, there is merit regardless.

    AoG
     
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  4. aristotle

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  5. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    In my opinion, Naam is a state of mind where connection to the supreme is good, where connection to Creation is good, and thus, connection to Creator is good, it is not about chanting, praying, rituals, how big your khachera is, etc, it is about living truthfully, thinking truthfully and acting truthfully, it is about being true, having a clean heart, getting pleasure from giving without thought of receipt, about breaking the animal programming that makes you want to show your ego, your pride, act on base desires, lose yourself in drugs and alcohol, it is about breaking that programming and being free from all desire, and seeing yourself as a servant to Creation, this is not achievable by mumbling with your fingers in your ears on top of a mountain, it takes hard work, discipline, time, and even then, it has to be sustained, there is no finish line for us, it is a constant race, the question is where are you racing towards, freedom, or slavery. I consider Naam to be freedom, freedom from what car you drive, or the jewels you wear, the clothes that make you look good, the house you bought to make everyone else jealous, the wife or husband you married because they are well connected, the dog you bought because it is the latest fashionable item, freedom..., in my opinion
     
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  6. Inderjeet Kaur

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    I should keep my peace on this, I really should. I won't, of course. I do a lot of Naam Jap, to the point that my parrot started saying "Waheguru, Waheguru," at odd times. I think there is much more to Naam than my chanting and my silly parrot responding in her own parrot way.

    During the BP oil spill in the Caribbean, there was some wild speculation that it could trigger a chain reaction, first killing all life in the Caribbean, then in all the oceans and, of course, eventually destroying all life on land, as well. I am enough of a scientist to know that this couldn't really happen, but still, it was something to think about.

    One lovely afternoon about that time, I was sitting in our lawn swing taking it all in, when I began to experience sitting in the swing with everything around me dead. The grass, the trees, the squirrels, the insects, it all withered and died. All the things we regard as non-living, the houses, cars, streets were there, just there, just being, not doing anything. All the things that should be alive were dead. Grey tree trunks with no leaves, turned soil in the garden with only black remnants of plants there, a few dried-out slugs on the pavement. Only the experiencer was alive.

    I became acutely aware of an activity surrounding and permeating and - the best word I can think of - alive. It was not a thing, it was an action, a creativity. The whole experience was extraordinary; this description doesn't begin to do it justice. It left me completely drained, shaken to the core and, at the same time, feeling untouched by the death all around me. I do not claim that this is Naam, but I do believe there is a connection to Naam.

    Is it possible that we are approaching Naam from a backwards position. What if Naam is not a thing, not a noun, but rather an action, a verb ?

    Just askin'
     
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    #5 Inderjeet Kaur, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  7. Inderjeet Kaur

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    I seem to think about things a bit differently from others.

    I like things to be clear and simple and look very hard for simply understood explanations. This approach works well for me for most Sikh topics, but Naam, well, Naam is different.

    I think Naam is one of those things we really can't approach head-on, straightforwardly...It is more something that is sensed, glimpsed out of the corner of the eye, vanishing when looked at directly. It is mysterious and why not? Surely we have room for the mysterious in this very strange universe in which we live and Naam is maybe not really a part of this universe anyway.
     

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  8. Sherdil

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    Sometimes when deciphering gurbani, I like to look at things like a physician. If a patient comes to your office complaining of a cough, it could be due to a number of things. A cough by itself doesn't tell you anything. You have to look at the cough in connection to other symptoms when making your diagnosis.

    The word "Naam" by itself doesn't tell us anything. It has to be looked at in connection to the words around it. We need to consider the context.

    If we go back to the phrase "Sat Naam", I think we can safely assume that Naam just means "name". To assume that it has an intangible definition would caste doubt on "Sat" (objective truth). By definition this cannot occur.

    The main underlying theme of gurbani is the differentiation of subjective truth from objective truth. Subjective truth is true because people feel it is true. Objective truth is true no matter what anyone says. "Aad sach. Jugaad sach. Hai bi sach. Nanak, hosi bi sach" is describing objective truth. It was true in the past, it is true now, and it will be true in the future. It is Akaal (timeless). This is why we say "Sat Sri Akaal".

    The very first question asked in gurbani is "Kiv sachiyaara hoiyeh, kiv kooreh tooteh pal?" In essence, this is asking how does one discern objective truth. The answer is "Hukam razaai chalna. Nanak likhiya naal". Walk with the Hukam. Nanak shows the way.

    I think it was brilliant of Guru Nanak to ascribe a concept (Sat) to call the divine, because it is a universal idea, agreed on by people from all walks of life. It is a unifying concept, unlike "Waheguru" for Sikhs, "Allah" for Muslims, and "Ram" for Hindus. Gurbani uses these different names for the divine interchangeably to illustrate that they are nothing more than subjective labels.
     
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  9. Rupinder.Singh

    Rupinder.Singh Australia
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    WJKK WJKF

    On topic of Naam, I have been trying to find out from Gurbani what actually Naam is. I have tried to discuss what i think naam is with many but very few of them could agree with me, or in other words i might have failed to explain it properly.I will try it here. Again I am open to discussions, criticism, corrections.
    ----------------------

    What is Naam:

    Please consider following three points:

    1. Gurbani emphasizes a lot on "Karam" i.e. our actions or act of doing something, be it thinking, reflecting, responding, etc, etc.

    2. Another thing Gurbani emphasizes a lot is "Truth". We cant be truthfull until and unless we are true to our own self. We can tell lies to the world, and they may even believe it, but deep inside us we know, something is not true. Telling lies to our inner self is an impossible task.

    ਅਗਹੁ ਦੇਖੈ ਪਿਛਹੁ ਦੇਖੈ ਤੁਝ ਤੇ ਕਹਾ ਛਪਾਵੈ ॥੩॥

    We can ignore the truth but it will still be there, even after years of ignorance.

    There is one more fact of life I came across,
    3. "If we define something wrongly and mark the definition unchangable, Chances are we may not ever find the real thing coz it is possible that the real thing might have totally different attributes"

    So I keep my options open, while moving on.

    There are few posts here which suggest that "Naam" has not been defined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I am not saying that they are wrong, but i tend to not agree with that statement.

    And then there are other posts which state that "Waheguru" is the only naam quoting following lines of Respected Bhai Gurdass ji (vaar 13, pauri 2).

    ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੈ ਜਪਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਖੋਈ।

    But I always fail to grasp why people quoting above lines do not find any value in the below lines of same respected Bhai Gurdass ji (Vaar 1, Pauri 1)

    ਨਮਸਕਾਰ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ਕੋ ਸਤਿਨਾਮ ਜਿਸ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਸੁਣਾਇਆ।

    I would prefer to put my point forward as follows:

    The very first lines of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are as follows:

    ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

    And in my opinion Key to Naam lies in above starting line.

    Now for a while focus your attention to following couplet.
    ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ

    According to Prof Sahib Singh, and many other translaters, and my own observation of Gurbani Syntax, most of the words ending with "Sihari" (ਸਤਿ) signify an action.

    If we follow that rule, ਸਤਿ is not a noun or adjective, it is actualy a verb. which essentially means "Doing Truth full Actions".

    ਨਾਮੁ is the Naam we all are discussing here and are trying to find.

    So in my understanding

    ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ is actually the definition of Naam, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji talks about it through out.

    So I personally translate it as follows:

    "Doing Truth full Actions is THE NAAM"

    This definition of Naamu, includes "Karam" (point 1 above) and Truth (point 2. above).

    ਅਮਲੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਬੀਜੁ ਸਬਦੋ ਕਰਿ ਸਚ ਕੀ ਆਬ ਨਿਤ ਦੇਹਿ ਪਾਣੀ ॥

    This naamu can only be recited by actually adhering to the principle of truth, by living it practically in every thing we do in our life. And that person will become of a distinguised status of ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ, one who truly practices righteous and truthfull Actions (Karam), ie, one who is ਕਰਤਾ (ie.Doer), state of oneness with almighty.


    ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥


    If we adhere to this Naam, We become ਨਿਰਭਉ (ie. Fearless) because the very root of fear is in something that is not true.

    If we adhere to This Naam, we become ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ (without enimity) because if we decide to be true, it becomes irelevant if person in front of you is a friend or a foe, we will always take side of truth.


    If we adhere to this Naam, our thought process becomes Akaal(ਅਕਾਲ) , we were true when it happened, we are true today and we will be true in the times to come no matter what.

    If we adhere to this Naam, we automatically become ਅਜੂਨੀ ( Free of incarnations) ie. we would niether incarnate as a friend to cover up a friend's wrongdoing,or incarnate as a Foe to selectively highlight an enemy's wrong doing. Rather we will stick to truth and remain ਅਜੂਨੀ.

    This Naam can be recited only if we realise it within our innerselves. No third person can make us recite this naam, until and unless we are ourselves willing to do so within our self (ਸੈਭੰ).

    This state can only be realised/achieved through ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ie. through(ie. ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ) spiritual wisdom(ie. ਗੁਰ).



    Our Gurus have consistently used following lines:

    ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

    or its shorter version

    ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

    at start of most of the different compilations, in a way to highlight and remind us our goal of life and how it can be achieved.

    ---------------------

    Thats all for now. Will tunein later.

    Bhul Chuk Maaf


    Rupinder Singh
    Keep learning
     
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  10. chazSingh

    chazSingh Ireland
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    The moment i say 'Waheguru' verbally or within my mind...it has one effect on me...it is the one word that moves my focus/attention/consciousness to my destination...wonderful, wondrous guru that takes my consciousness from dark to light.

    for me this seems to help as i have no way of describing the God i seek or the truth my soul yearns for.

    if you know of another word like 'Satnaam', then please use that..whatever takes your focus to your perceived destination.

    if you want to become god consious, then other words generate different thoughts and feelings...if i repeat the word 'sex' over and over....my mind will not be thinking of God :)

    when you meditate, the word you chose has to have 2 effects...

    1. it is a tool to try to stop your mind from wondering everywhere else...
    so by repeating, you are trying to tame your mind from not thinking of money, sex, desires, anger, etc etc.
    2. we don't know what God is, so we need the word to help us think, contemplate what god is, and help our attention stay focussed to this destination.

    How many words can you think of that help cover both aspects...

    in my experience...once your mind starts to relax and you regain more and more control of it from wandering (1), and because the word you have chosen has helped you contemplate the wonderous existance of the all pervasive being (2), it will help put you in a place\state of mind to pick up the grace that is already flowing through all of us....ego slowly starts to back off...god consciousness flows forth.

    and then if blessed by almighty waheguru, we may come to feel the prescence of naam and become one with it, and see it flowing though everyone and everything...nurturing one and all. It's already there...we just allowed ourselves to be fooled by our ego into thinking it isn't :)

    God Bless
     
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  11. chazSingh

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    Satnaam Ji,

    Whilst i agree with majority of what you said can truthful actions be enough?

    at what point do truthful action move from a conscious decision by the mind to do something truthful or a good deed...for something in retrun i.e. to please god, to reep a better future from our seeds (good deeds), even just for a thankyou...and then to feel better because we did something truthful (ego) or to think of ourselves as truthful

    to being something that flows through you naturally, being the only option available...no thought about it...its all you know, its all you are.

    what happens within us that changes us from one to the other? is it grace?

    in my humble opinion truthfull actions are a step in the right direction...A Sato aspect of creation...which helps us create a positive environment for us physically and mentally, but at some point we surely must seek to go beyond these aspects into the source of all this...infused in naam?

    just my current feelings ji...nothing more.
     
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  12. ActsOfGod

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    It sort of sounds like you're describing transcendental meditation here.

    AoG
     
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  13. chazSingh

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    to be honest i don;t like to name anything...don;t really know what transcendental meditation is...

    all i know is i reached a point in my life a few years ago where i started getting up at amrit vela and pretty much poured my heart out to god...

    didnt know any techniques of how i should connect with god..or attempt to connect...i just went with the flow...

    just the silence of the night was very peaceful...bliss :)
    with all the silence, i noticed my mind wondering in all sorts of directions...pulling my attention here and there...i realised the source of my troubles was my own mind..

    so in the silence of the night i pondered on questions i would like to ask god, i contemplated his existance...slowly my mind was being tamed..

    and the rest, well i realised all his grace and nothing is of my doing...
    our body is truely a temple through which everything can be revealed.

    god bless ji
     
  14. Sherdil

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    Wisdom comes from understanding. It doesn't come from blocking negative thoughts. Understanding comes from contemplation. Just saying "Waheguru" isn't going to unlock the meaning of those 1430 pages in gurbani.

    If you understand the object of your desire, then your mind will not go there. Money is just paper, sex is a part of procreation, anger is a self-defense mechanism, etc. None of these things are inherently bad. They all have their place. Making them the center of your life is what causes trouble. If you understand that they are transitory, then they lose their importance.

    I think there is a difference between suppressing emotions and dealing with them. The former causes more harm to your mental health in the long run, as those suppressed emotions may manifest themselves in other ways.
     
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  15. Sherdil

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    What happened to reading japji sahib at Amrit vela?
     
  16. Sherdil

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    I don't think good deeds should be confused with truthful action. The definition of a good deed is highly subjective. For many Hindus, a good deed entails doing murti pooja. For many centuries, a good deed was considered fulfilling the dharma of your caste.

    Truthful action results from truthful thought. Going back to "Kiv sachiaara hoiyeh" I think we need to get an idea of what Hukam is, in order to walk a truthful path. We can discuss it here, or maybe we can start a new thread dedicated to Hukam, as this will take us away from the subject of "Naam". Although, I believe these to be intertwined.
     
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  17. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    If naam is the main course, Hukam is the pudding and truth is the starter! lol
     
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  18. chazSingh

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    i would say wisdom and understanding come from actual 'experience'.
    i don't think i can block thoughts, but i know now i can observe the negative thoughts and gently let them pass through without them grabbing my attention and turning into actions...well sometimes :)
    i agree, just saying waheguru like a parrot will not take you anywhere...
    many people may start off like that get nowhere and just give up, the ones that have patience and a deep longing and thirst that pretty much hurrts may use that word or other gurbani to provide focus for that yearning...in the end i feel they all combine to produce something far greater than what people call parroting...far far greater

    that's fine...but gurbani says the world is driven by the 5 thieves...so if you're managing to overcome them then thats great which is something we all must try and do,
    but the 'knower of all hearts' seems to think most people even if their ego thinks otherwise are somewhat under their influence far beyond money being just paper, or sex being just for procreation :), so much so, that Guru Ji mentions this over and over...surely Guru JI is on to something.

    anger is and always is a negative...as an experience to observe the opposite of calm, focussed and awareness though difficulty,anger is a good experience...one must experience the dark to appreciate the light. Anger in any martial art is to be overcome, it provides nothing but a loss of control to something created in the mind...god consciousness is surely beyond anger.




    yup, agree
     
  19. chazSingh

    chazSingh Ireland
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    it's pretty amazing
     
  20. Sherdil

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    :icecreammunda:
     
  21. chazSingh

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    love it! :)

    even though i like talking about simran, meditation etc etc...
    if the unraveling of truth was exactly the same for everyone, gosh it would be boring...

    and thats why i dont like giving names to types of meditation or methods of simran...because eventually we realise no method is correct or false, but the one things that cannot be denied is ones love and yearning to experience the truth and that is fact! :) and that is what lifts us up.
     

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