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A Conscious Creator In Sikhi And Other Faith Traditions?

Feb 23, 2012
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Vouthon ji

This may be disrespectful on my part.

However, is there anything you have noticed in Gurbani yet than cannot be equated to something said by a medieval saint, Christian mystic or Jesuit priest?

Could there be a reason why Guru Nanak, who was fully aware of Catholic theology in his lifetime, did not simply say to Brahmins and Muslims... just pack it in because that is what I am going to do? Roman Catholics have got it right. There is really nothing more that I Guru Nanak can offer.

Because Christianity is greater in numbers than Sikhism it is quite possible to sweep Sikhism away by sweeping its teachings into a "friendly" faith with "amenable" thoughts and ideas. Hindus continue to try to co-opt the teachings of Guru Nanak and Muslims continue to claim him as their own. Until I have a chance to cross-examine Mr. De Mello I with-hold judgement on Jesuits. What about you? Is there anything in Gurbani that does not remind you of Catholic teachings?
Dear Spn,

I am not offended in the least. I can completely see where you are coming from, although I asure you that I could compile a list of the differences between Sikhi and Catholic Christianity. I just don't because its a Sikh forum and I don't want to be quoting irrelevant (to Sikhs) Catholic specific teachings that no poster here will reap any benefit from other than me.

I quote from sources in which I find affinities to Sikh thought within my own tradition. I do this on all the forums I am on, generally my approach has been well received, such as by Baha'is, Buddhists and others I have dialogued with in the past. I know my own tradition best, so its my natural way of posting meaningfully, so to speak but without any dogma or doctrine-specific teachings. Its just my style of posting.

Of course there are things in Sikhi that do not agree with Catholicism.

Sikhs do not accept the idea of incarnations of God, virgin births, the resurrection, priesthoods, monastic orders. We also have differing philosophical standpoints, Sikhi in India, Catholicism in Ancient Israel and Greece. To western Catholic mysticism there is no speaking of a "merging" between the soul and God that I have seen in some understandings of Sikhi. A union with distinction or difference, yes but not a "merging" (some of our mystics use the word "merge" in a metaphorical sense but never literally as to mean complete absorption and loss of any independent identity).

In Sikhi there is no place for asceticism or flight from the world, whereas this is quite prevalent in some sectors of the very broad Catholic spirituality (although others such as Eckhart are critical of asceticism so these things are never cut-and-dried).

Morally I cannot honestly say that I find much difference but that is only because, I suspect, human nature is one and people in different cultures who are saintly generally reach the same or similar ethical frameworks by a simple use of human reason and a deep insight into our own empathy for others.

Theologically, philosophically and certainly in terms of structure, there are differences s one would expect. There are also abundant similarities too, however and I have been impressed by how much of the Granth I agree I can attest too without hesitation.

I never expect Sikhs to believe in any of these distinct things I believe in.

Sikhi is a distinct religion from Catholicism. That does not mean that we cannot meet on common ground where we do find ourselves to agree. Dialogue between Sikhs and Catholics has been more fruitful than between Sikhs and other Christian denominations.

There are common areas where we can meet, however, and since my joining this forum I have preferred to focus on them.

I could create a thread though detailing in quite some depth, our differences. That too is important for dialogue. The reason I have refrained from doing so is that I haven't really seen the need too.
 
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Harry Haller

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However, is there anything you have noticed in Gurbani yet than cannot be equated to something said by a medieval saint, Christian mystic or Jesuit priest?
to be fair to young Vouthonji, almost all the people he quotes are heretics that ended up being tortured. Maybe secretely they were Sikhs!

As such Sikhism is more than happy to offer a home to any other heretics of any religion that are fed up paying lip service and wish to live life by the truth instead.
 
Feb 23, 2012
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to be fair to young Vouthonji, almost all the people he quotes are heretics that ended up being tortured. Maybe secretely they were Sikhs!

As such Sikhism is more than happy to offer a home to any other heretics of any religion that are fed up paying lip service and wish to live life by the truth instead.
To live life by the truth:

"...Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go..."

- Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1327), Catholic mystic & Dominican priest
 
Feb 23, 2012
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I suppose one of my consolations is that often Christian mystics experienced times in life when they thought they were atheists.
Actually, they did. A Vajrayana Buddhist online once asked me to explain it to him. He said:


Quote:
I understand that there is a very strong non-theistic tradition even in historical Catholicism, and a number of Catholic (as well as of course Muslim and Jewish) scholars and mystics have discussed the issue of not using the label "God" because it allows us to make our own presumptions about what that is.​

I gave him this:

The most daring forms of Catholic mysticism have emphasized the absolute unknowability of God. They suggest that true contact with the transcendent involves going beyond all that we speak of as God - even the Trinity - to an inner "God beyond God," a divine Darkness or Desert in which all distinction is lost.

This form of "mystical atheism" has [as its] main exponent the Pseudo-Dionysius, who distinguished "the super-essential God-head" from all positive terms ascribed to God, even the Trinity (The Divine Names, chapter 13).

In the West this tradition is first found in Erigena and is especially evident in the Rhineland school. According to Eckhart, even being and goodness are "garments" or "veils" under which God is hidden. In inviting his hearers to "break through" to the hidden Godhead, he daringly exclaimed, "let us pray to God that we may be free of 'God,' and that we may apprehend and rejoice in that everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the fly and the soul are equal" (German Sermons, 52).​


In fact Sam Harris, the famed atheist neuroscientist, admitted last year that he enjoys reading Catholic and Indian mystics and actually "gets" them:


Quote:
"If I open a page of [the 13th-century Catholic mystic] Meister Eckhart, I often know what he’s talking about.”​

And so the modern Catholic mystic (and convert from Atheism), Simone Weil (brought up in a secular Jewish family), explained:


Quote:
"...Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith; and in this sense atheism is a purification. I have to be an atheist with that part of myself which is not made for God. Among those in whom the supernatural part of themselves has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong....That is why St. John of the Cross calls faith a night. With those who have received a Christian education, the lower parts of the soul become attached to these mysteries when they have no right at all to do so. That is why such people need a purification of which St. John of the Cross describes the stages. Atheism and incredulity constitute an equivalent of such a purification...Whenever one tries to suppress doubt, there is tyranny...There are two atheisms of which one is a purification of the notion of God...At the bottom of the heart of every human being, from earliest infancy until the tomb, there is something that goes on indomitably expecting, in the teeth of all experience of crimes committed, suffered, and witnessed, that good and not evil will be done to him. It is this above all that is sacred in every human being...God is absent from the world, except in the existence in this world of those in whom his love is alive...Their compassion is the visible presence of God...An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God...I am absolutely sure that God exists, in the sense that my love is not an illusion. I am absolutely sure that God does not exist, in the sense that nothing corresponds to whatever I may think when I utter this name. But what I cannot think is not an illusion..."

- Simone Weil (1909 – 1943), Jewish Catholic mystic & philosopher​

So yes there is a strong sense of mystical atheism, as odd as that may sound.
 
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Feb 23, 2012
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Also:

Quote:
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset">"...And on this path God takes back from him everything that he had ever given him. Then and there the person is left so completely to himself that he loses all notion of God and gets into such a disstressful state that he cannot remember whether things had ever gone right for him, so as not to know any more if he were ever on the right path, whether he has a God or not, nor does he know if God does or does not exist, or if he is alive or dead and whether he is the same person; and he suffers such incredible pain that this whole wide world is too confining for him. A very strange sorrow comes over him that makes him think that the whole world in its expanse oppresses him. He neither has any feeling for nor knowledge of God..."

- Johannes Tauler (c.1300-1361), Catholic mystic & Dominican
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

Atheistic doubt is also part of the spiritual journey, in a negative way rather than the positive way explained prior to the above. It is still natural, a natural part of the journey:


Catholic mystics underwent periods of de facto atheism when they doubted the existence of God, during a dark night of the soul. Consider Saint Therese of Lisieux:


Quote:
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset">St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, describes herself as having extreme doubts of God’s existence. She called the atheists of the time her brothers and sisters and imagined herself dining with them. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset"></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Quote:
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset">Thérèse of Lisieux directly confronted anguish in the face of death. The atheist's questions about the existence of God and of an afterlife became her problem when, in her trial of faith, she was suddenly submerged in an abyss of anguish and there experienced the distress of nothingness. She was deprived of what she calls "the joy of faith"; she could not "enjoy this beautiful heaven on earth."21 She entered a place of deep darkness that surrounded her and threatened to overwhelm her. She seemed to hear the darkness say: "You believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness."22
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Ishna

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Does the word ਸੈਭੰ (saibhang) give us any clues about this puzzle?

P. adj. (from Svayyam-bhū) self-existent (Lord) [SIZE=-1]
[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]When searching for Svayyam-bhu the result is:[/SIZE]
ਦੇਖੋ, ਸੈਭੰ। (2) {ਸੰਗ੍ਯਾ}. ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ.
[SIZE=-1][/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]I don't know what the other words mean except the last one is Brahma which is interesting.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1][/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]Also while we're here I've read something recently about there being the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity which together make us 'Brahman' which some people have said is equal to 'Ik Onkar'. I never knew there was a difference... thoughts?
[/SIZE]
 

spnadmin

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Ishna ji

Are you asking 3 separate questions? Or one question that has in your opinion 3 interconnected parts? I cannot decide what you are asking. If yes, thenI now land in the zone of arm-chair Hindu philosopher.

Here the issues are reaching back into Hindu metaphysics ... and the danger of delving into that comes from the fact, not the opinion, that there are 3 distinct periods in Hindu philosophy ... with the earliest ideas being more about metaphysics and less about religion. So you can see how moving onto a discussion of Brahma requires trained scholar in Hindu philosophy to keep the hot air index to a minimum.

Svayyam-bhū actually means the son/progeny of pure consciousness. It can refer to the birth story of Krishna, but it can also refer to the birth of Brahma who is self created and was born from a golden egg in water. Hence Brahma is considered the creative force, in the trinity with Vishnu Sustainer and Shiva Destroyer.

Are you saying that svayyam-bhu was somehow defined by the words following up? The first word ਦੇਖੋ is dhekho or see, or something you see. ਇਨ ਮੈਂ ਕਛੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਰੇ ਨਾਹਨਿ ਦੇਖੋ ਸੋਚ ਬਿਚਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ In maiʼn kacẖẖ ṯero re nāhan ḏekẖo socẖ bicẖārī. ||1|| none of these is yours to keep. See this, reflect upon it and understand. ||1|| Second word is ਸੈਭੰ। saibhang which means self-created, and is found in the Mool Mantar. So the first 2 words are getting at seeing and self-created being. This is followed by a third word ਸੰਗ੍ਯਾ that I can't make out but think it is sirgun(a) which refers to visible attributes usually of the divine. All ending with Brahma.

The embarrassing stretch. I put this together to mean that Svayyam-bhū pure consciousness gives birth to the image or recognition of saibhang self-created Brahma when he dhekho is seen sirguna manifest throughout creation. All hot air is mine alone.
 
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Luckysingh

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I thinkI can see the point being made by adminji here.

But looking at this-
[SIZE=-1]Also while we're here I've read something recently about there being the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity which together make us 'Brahman' which some people have said is equal to 'Ik Onkar'. [/SIZE]
I think you have to tread very carefully into NOT equating Ik Onkar with 'Omkar' !
As adminji has mentioned and pointed out above, I can gather that 'OM' refers to the sirgun aspects whereas 'Ik onkar' is nirgun and sirgun.
Therefore this trinity correlation may be so with 'OM' but it is not with 'ik onkaar'
 

Ishna

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Whoops

Ok firstly my post was 3 separate questions.

1. Does 'Saibhang' give us clues about the consciousness or not of whatever Ik Onkar is.

2. What do the words mean in the Srigranth dictionary when you look up Svayyam-bhū

And the third question I made a serious typo in. I said "the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity which together make us 'Brahman' " but I meant "makes UP Brahman". It was a question unrelated to the thread, sorry. But I'd seen some people saying that this "Brahman" isn't "Brahma" but the thing which created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and was equated by these people as Ik Onkar. I don't know jack about Hindu mythology but thought it might be somehow connected to the 'Saibhang' word since 'Brahma' is in the definition of Svayyam-bhū

Um... and lastly adminji, about the word 'dhekho', if it means 'see', and it's written into a dictionary entry, does it mean 'refer'? I dunno.
 
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spnadmin

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Again I am not getting it.

Whoops

Ok firstly my post was 3 separate questions.

1. Does 'Saibhang' give us clues about the consciousness or not of whatever Ik Onkar is.

The word Saibhang is in the mool mantar.

2. What do the words mean in the Srigranth dictionary when you look up Svayyam-bhū

The word is originally a Hindu term as I explained meaning the son of consciousness - one would think in modern terms - awareness and insight.

And the third question I made a serious typo in. I said "the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity which together make us 'Brahman' " but I meant "makes UP Brahman". It was a question unrelated to the thread, sorry. But I'd seen some people saying that this "Brahman" isn't "Brahma" but the thing which created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and was equated by these people as Ik Onkar. I don't know jack about Hindu mythology but thought it might be somehow connected to the 'Saibhang' word since 'Brahma' is in the definition of Svayyam-bhū

By definition the Brahman is pure consciousness. By tradition Brahma is the offspring/son of the Brahman and he is self-created. So Svayyam-bhu is Brahma because the word means "son of consciousness."

Note: Svayyam-bhu in literature can refer only to Brahma or Krishna. Which one depends on the branch within Hinduism. But it always is a birth story of a self-created god who was born in water (Narayan). Your dictionary is short-cutting directly to Svayyam-bhu equals Brahma.

Um... and lastly adminji, about the word 'dhekho', if it means 'see', and it's written into a dictionary entry, does it mean 'refer'? I dunno

When I ran the word in Gurmukhi through Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji search engine it returns the meaning "see." That is what I do to check for consistency across shabads. If it means "refer" then that is by contextual placement. As in when you "refer" by focusing your eyes to check something, looking over something one more time. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji "see" often means focus on, and yes that can mean "refer to" rather than let your attention wander off.
 
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Tejwant Singh

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Doesn't 'karta purakh' imply that that creator(karta) is purakh (being,conscious,awareness) ???
Would this help understand that there is such a God-conscious or not ??
I may be wrong since I can't find a solid word to equate with 'purakh'.
Just an observation:

The two main phrases used by Kathavaachaks and others to describe Ik Ong Kaar are Number 1 and 3:

1. ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ-karṯā purakẖ= Used 14 times in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in different verses

http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Search&Param=punjabi&Tier=2&SearchData=ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ


2. ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ-akāl mūraṯ= Used 10 times in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in different verses

http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Search&Param=punjabi&Tier=2&SearchData=ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ

3. ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖੁ-akāl purakẖ- The most common word used by the Sikhs is only used ONCE in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?Action=Search&Param=punjabi

One wonders why Number 3 is used so often by the Sikhs where it is only used once in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji!
 
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Ishna

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If there is no God personality, no creator, no energy, no consciousness, then who or what is referred to as "You" in Gurbani? Who or what is referred to as the Husband to whom we are all soul brides?
 
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Harkiran Kaur

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If there is no God personality, no creator, no energy, no consciousness, then who or what is referred to as "You" in Gurbani? Who or what is referred to as the Husband to whom we are all soul brides?
And... just who (or what) are we trying to merge with and end the cycles of birth and death?? It doesn't make sense to me, to merge with an unconscious creation (as some people think when you die your constituent parts break down and merge with creation physically) however, who would actually STRIVE to end their existence, knowing that only their physical parts would survive mixed with the atoms of creation? Personally, I'd rather be born again over and over then to forever be in nothingness (without consciousness - which is the part that really makes us who we are).

It's very odd that a good deal of Sikhs on here are really Athiest and do not believe in a consious creator or anything beyond the physical. However my entire Sangat would disagree with them. And why would we even bother to pray, or be told to always remember Waheguru? If it was just 'nature' or the physical world that we are supposed to remember then why naam simran? Why look within? (looking within consciously infers something nonphysical) If reality is all about what's 'out there' physically and how to live in harmony with it then why??? Why is not then just a list of how to preserve nature and not take the earth for granted? Why a 'religion' at all???
 

spnadmin

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Sometimes a majority view is not convincing to everyone. And a 'conscious' creator or life after death in any form is not a need felt by all.

One of the most common explanations for the existence of god in theology is "universal consensus." Consensus means common agreement. As in "everyone or nearly everyone in my ......" believes "x" is true. Obviously a common belief in a conscious creator and/or life after death is not convincing enough, or there would be a consensus.

Consensus is a construct of multiple minds who share a single construct -- i.e., a construct is what the mind creates. Perhaps the many agree to the mental constructions of a single teacher. Such falls into the realm of opinion, as does much of what religions teach.
 

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