Sukh and Dukh (Happiness and Sorrow) Je sukh deh ta tujheh araadhee, dukh bhee tujhai dhiaa-ee. When you bless me with happiness, I worship You gratefully. Even in pain, I reflect on You. || 2 || Je bhukh deh ta it hee raajaa dukh vich sookh manaa-ee. If You give me hunger, I still feel satisfied; I celebratee (Your Will), even in the midst of sorrow. || 3 || [SGGS p 757, Guru Ram Das] This simple but beautiful little verse from Gurbani, written by Guru Ram Das Ji, shows us a key principle by which to lead our lives and deal with both positive and negative experiences. As we lead our daily lives, we are constantly tossed around by the waves of this ocean of material existence or Maya, this bhaujal, this stormy ocean, that we inhabit . We constantly experience ups and downs, and our experiences, both good and bad, affect our state of mind. "Kabhoo jeearaa oobh chalat hai, kabhoo jai payaalay" Sometimes, the soul soars high in the heavens, and sometimes it falls to the depths of the nether regions. [SGGS p 876, Guru Nanak] These experiences, these ups and downs, can weaken our faith and move us away from God. Or, if we follow the simple principle shown to us by the Guru in this verse, we can use these same life experiences to help us to grow spiritually, to strengthen our relationship with God, and to lead a life of chardi kalaa. It may be more obvious that pain and misfortune can shake our faith in God, but good fortune and successes can be even more insidious. "Dukh daaroo sukh rog bhayaa" as Guruji tells us in Rehras Sahib – happiness can be a disease and pain can be a medicine…. Let us look at the effects of both sukh and dukh more closely: What are some of our reactions when we are blessed with good fortune? Let us say we achieve some success in our profession or business, gain some kind of recognition, or we get to buy a new house or car, or we are blessed with a child. Typically, we take pride in our achievement and take credit for our good fortune. We convince ourselves that we got something that we deserved. Our own ego is strengthened. We may even look down upon others who are not as fortunate as we are. Ego or haumai is one of the greatest obstacles on the path of spiritual growth. Gurbani states emphatically that haumai is the enemy of Naam – both cannot inhabit our minds at the same time. Ego is an enemy of the Name of the Lord; the two can not dwell in the same place. [SGGS p 560, Guru Amar Das] Furthermore, we feel that since this was so great, we need more of whatever made us happy – we yield to greed and hunger for more and more. We raise our expectation as to what it takes to make us happy, making it harder to obtain real satisfaction or fulfillment. Worse, instead of counting our own blessings, we compare ourselves with those who have more and indulge in envy. We get more and more entangled in the cause of the "sukh" or happiness, spend much of our time in enjoying it, getting more of it, or preserving it, whatever the "it" may be, often becoming slaves to it, and waste more and more of this precious life in the pursuit of this ephemeral "happiness". We fall in love with the gifts with which God blesses us, and in the process we distance ourselves from the generous Giver of these gifts. I fall in love with the gifts, but I forget the Giver. [SGGS p 676, Guru Arjan Dev] To make matters worse, the more worldly belongings or successes we have, the more we get enmeshed in preserving them, and we are terrified of losing whatever we have obtained. Those who seem to be great and powerful, are afflicted by the disease of anxiety. [SGGS p 188, Guru Arjan Dev] Guruji shows us the way out of all these traps that surround "sukh": When you bless me with happiness, I worship You gratefully. The solution is deceptively simple – we must cultivate an awareness of God’s blessings. Whenever anything good happens that makes us happy, we must make a point of thinking of Him and thanking him for his manifold blessings. Remembering God in a spirit of gratitude when good things happen helps us to appreciate our blessings and cultivate an attitude of contentment or "Santokh". It fosters humility and saves one from the trap of ego or "haumai". It helps to strengthen our faith in God and reinforces our relationship with Him. As we get in the habit of remembering God and thanking Him for His blessing each time something good happens to us, we enjoy the blessings but at the same time, we don’t get quite as enmeshed in them – we develop a certain level of detachment from the items that made us happy. Maya will not have a corrupting effect on a person who always thinks of God in a spirit of gratitude when he is blessed with worldly gifts such as wealth, success or fame. Let us now look at dukh or sorrow. In spite of all our efforts in the pursuit of happiness, things don’t always go our way, and misfortunes, failures and pain hit us, often when we least expect them. It is easy to react to misfortunes with anger and bitterness, and to feel frustrated and helpless. We come up with reasons to blame others or to blame God, and we alienate ourselves from His Divine presence within us. Guruji tells us the alternative – in the face of misfortune as well, think of God and lean on Him: Even in pain, I reflect on You. || 2 || Take all your troubles to Him in the form of prayer. When your soul is feeling sad, offer your prayers to the Guru. [SGGS p 519, Guru Arjan Dev] If we put ourselves in God’s hands, relate to Him as a child to a parent and put our faith in Him, then He will take it upon Himself to take care of us. He will either remove the cause of our suffering, or He will give us the spiritual strength to cheerfully accept His Will. Sometimes, our prayers appear not to be fulfilled. We may be praying for something unreasonable, or God, our Divine Parent, may know what is really right for us better than we do, even though we do not understand it. As we approach our Divine Father with our problems as innocent, trusting children in this way, then even the most difficult of situations are not able to hurt us. When you are confronted with terrible hardships, and no one offers you any support, when your friends turn into enemies, and even your relatives have deserted you, and when all support has given way, and all hope has been lost -if you then come to remember the Supreme Lord God, even the hot wind shall not touch you. [SGGS p 70, Guru Arjan Dev] Praying to God when things don’t work out the way we would like, reduces our sense of frustration and helplessness. Prayer shifts our attention away from anger, one of the five cardinals "demons" within ourselves, which can have a very destructive effect on the body, mind and spirit. Prayer in the face of adversity protects one from developing pathological responses to personal bad experiences – instead, these negative experiences can actually help us to grow stronger spiritually, and we can learn to say, like the Guru: If You give me hunger, I still feel satisfied; I celebratee (Your Will), even in the midst of sorrow. In either case, in the face of sukh or dukh, in happiness or sorrow, if we practice the principle of When you bless me with happiness, I worship You gratefully. Even in pain, I reflect on You. this will strengthen our faith and help us to build a special relationship with God. Instead of letting the ups and downs of our existense through us off balance, we can actually leverage off them to remind us of God’s presence in our lives, and to grow emotionally and spiritually. We start to recognize the hand of a greater power in our lives, feel part of something larger than ourselves. It strengthens our faith that our Divine Father is always watching over us, the more we believe this in our hearts and put ourselves in His hands, the more our Father will take care of our needs and keep us from harm.