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How To obtain Divine Knowledge

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O mother, without the Guru, Divine knowledge is not obtained.

Man without knowledge wanders around, weeping and crying out in various ways, but God does not meet them. The body is tied up with emotional attachment, disease and sorrow, and so it is lured into countless reincarnations (sggs 532).

Everything exists in the Infinite Consciousness, Waheguru. This undivided Consciousness exists in all, within and without. This Pure Awareness is Unchanging, Timeless, Fathomless, Sunn (Spiritual Silence), Sahaj (natural state of Being), Peace, and Self-illumined (Saibhang). We are the True Image (Joti Svaroop) of this Undivided Consciousness. Those who know this Supreme Truth, the substratum of everything in the universe, know everything. Those who don't, know nothing at all even though they may be most learned.

Soham aap pachhaneeai Shabad bhed pateeaai: Recognize within that "He is me"; who knows this secret through the Shabad is satisfied (sggs 60).
Brahm giaani aap Nirankaar: Man with the knowledge of God (Brahm Giaani) is himself the Formless God (sggs 273).

Just as the ocean rises up as waves, the consciousness rises up in us as the sense of "I" from the effort of false ego. Our mind's defects (restlessness, ignorance and inner "filth") creates division and gives rise to name and form, which hide the Reality. When this false "I" (ego mind) is removed by removing attachment to any action, thought, and object, then only the real "I" (the true Self) is realized; the substratum in which everything moves. When this Self Knowledge (Aatam Gian) dawns upon us, all notions such as ignorance, knowledge, bondage, liberation, pain, joy, birth, death, action, latent tendencies, memory, mind, intelligent, ego, Jeeva (individualized consciousness), etc., cease to be. All wandering of the instinctive mind is nothing but movement of the physical ego.

Hayumai meraa bharmai sansaar: The world wanders in ego and selfhood (sggs 841).

Mind constantly swings between the Reality (Consciousness) and illusion (inertness). When the mind contemplates the inert objects for sometime, it assumes their characteristic of inertness. This mental division occurs when the Infinite Consciousness becomes the object of the mind. This is to say that all false concepts arise when the Cosmic Spirit due to self-forgetfulness views itself as the object of perception.

Giaan vihoonee bhavai sabaaee: Without the Divine Knowlege, the entire world wanders about (sggs 1034).
Parmesar te bhulliyaan viaapan saabhe rog. Vemukh hoye Ram te lagan janam vijog: Forgetting the Transcendent Being, all sorts of illnesses (mental, physical, spiritual, etc.) are contracted. Those who turn their backs on God will be separated from Him and consigned to repeated reincarnation (sggs 135).

The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) reminds us that the mind is made in the Image of the Infinite Consciousness. What it means is that the mind in its Pure state is a Cosmic Mind. If Pure Consciousness is the Essential Nature of the mind, then how does it fall into the dark well of ignorance?

Iyu kahe Nanak man tu jot saroop hai apnaa mool pashaan: Thus says Nanak: O my mind, you are That — the true image of the Divine Light — know your Reality (sggs 441).

The latent tendencies and memories, or the impressions of past actions (Karma) create movement or disturbance in the individualized consciousness. In this agitated state, it views diversity and identifies objects as such. As movement in the ocean causes countless waves, similarly, the restlessness in the consciousness creates countless manifestations such as mind, intellect, ego, memory, latent tendencies, sensations, feelings, thoughts, action (Karma) followed by its fruits, and so on.

Karnee kaagad man masvaan buraa bhalaa dui lekh pae. Jiyu jiyu kirat chalaae tiyu chaleeai tayu gun naahee ant hare: Actions are the paper, and the mind is the ink; good and bad are both recorded upon it. As their past actions drive them, so are mortals driven. There is no end to Your Glorious Virtues, Lord (sggs 990).

By moving in the wrong direction towards self-forgetfulness and deeper involvement in false fancies, the consciousness becomes impure or conditioned. Thus, veiled by the ignorance of its Eternal Nature, which is Truth-Knowledge-Bliss, it creates confusion between reality and world-appearance called Maya (illusion). All false notions are the product of such deluded mind. They do not exist any more than water exists in the mirage!

Mrig trishnaa jiyu jag rachnaa yah dekhahu ridai bichaar: The created world is like an illusion, a mirage — see this, and reflect upon it in your mind (sggs 537).

Liquor is able to make one see all sorts of phantoms in the empty sky. Similarly, the deluded mind is able to make one see diversity in the unity. Just as a drunkard person sees objects moving, the ignorant one sees movement in this world. Thus, the mind is able to veil the All-pervading, Pure, Eternal and Infinite Consciousness, making us confuse it with this inert physical body.

Maadhve kiya kaheeyai bhram aisaa. Jaisa maaneeyai hoe na taisaa: O Lord, what can I say about this illusion; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that (sggs 658).

It is clear that this world-appearance is nothing but the play of the mind. The deluded mind veils the real nature of the Self and creates an illusory appearance. For example, in the moonless night, the impure mind creates an illusory appearance of a ghost in the pole, and a snake in the rope. Scriptures reveal to us that annihilation or destruction (purification) of the false mind is must for attaining oneness with the Spirit within. This mind does not cease to be until it is burnt in the fire of Self-knowledge.

Na man marai na Maya marai: Maya can not be conquered without annihilation of the mind (sggs 1342).
Nanak Gurmukh gian praapat hovai timar agian andher chukaayaa: O Nanak, by becoming a Gurmukh, attains spiritual wisdom. The pitch-black darkness of ignorance will be dispelled (sggs 512).
Kaadi kharrag gur giaan karaaraa bikh shedi shedi rasu peejai: Drawing out the mighty sword of the God's spiritual wisdom, I slaughter and kill the poisonous snake (of Maya's delusion), and drink in the Sweet Nectar of Divine Name (sggs 1324).
Giaan ka badhaaa man rahai: The mind is restrained by spiritual wisdom (sggs 469).
Giaan vihoonee pir muteeaa piram na paayaa jaae: Those who are utterly lacking in spiritual wisdom do not realize God; they cannot obtain Divine Love (sggs 38).

Upon eradicating its defects (Self-knowledge or Aatm-Gian), the mind again sees itself as Pure, Universal Consciousness. Upon realizing this Original Nature, all its false manifestations cease to be. Only the Infinite Consciousness remains. The mind of a noble or an Enlightened Man does not move from this reality. Scriptures roar that such man alone is a human being, the others are just worms, and animals.

Purakh mahi naar naar mahi purkhaa boojhahu brahm giaanee...: The female is in the male, and the male is in the female. Understand this, O God-realized being! The meditation is in God's love, and His knowledge is in meditation. Become Gurmukh (Self-realized), and speak the Unspoken Speech. The Light is in the mind, and the mind is in the Light (sggs 879).
Vistaa ke keere pavahi vich vistaa se vistaa maahi samaae: They (in love of duality) are worms in the filth of manure. They fall into manure, and into manure they are absorbed (sggs 28).

Knowledge Defined

Ignorance or mental conditioning is the seed of this world appearance. It perverts all relationships and experiences. The moment mind becomes conscious of the Truth that the vision of division or diversity is the product of ignorance, it is known as Knowledge (Gian). Thus, knowledge is the rediscovery of Truth.

Tat tel naam keeyaa baatee deepak deh ujaaraa: With the oil of knowledge about the essence of reality, and the wick of the Naam, this lamp illluminates my body (sggs 1350).

The term knowledge has a specific meaning as indicated by the scriptures; which is different than the general meaning of this word as understood by many of us. Nowadays, generally the knowledge is connected to education. Upon analysis, one will find that these two words — knowledge and education — have specific meanings. In short, the education is the collection of data or information by sense organs, which can be imparted to a person by training. However, from a Spiritual standpoint, the knowledge is something that must be discovered. Hence, education can only be meaningful and purposeful if it leads one to the knowledge by which he can discover the Truth for himself; for he can see life in its totality and completeness and not just in part. This will become a bit more clear in the pages that lie ahead.

Paadhaa paryaa aakheeai bidiyaa bichrai sahaj subhaae: That Pandit, that religious scholar, is said to be well-educated, if he contemplates knowledge with intuitive ease (sggs 938).

The highest knowledge is the recognition of Oneness in many-ness. That One Homogeneous whole is the Changeless in changing phenomena, like the gold in ornaments, the ocean in waves, the clay in pots, the thread in pearls, the sun in rays, the aroma in the flower, and the moon in the pools of water. This vision of Oneness is the highest Knowledge.

Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeyai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeyai: The One Unique Reality is seen everywhere, the Unstruck Celestial Music is heard everywhere, the One Creator is present in all creation; there is none else than He Himself everywhere (sggs 846).
Tilak lilaat jaanai prabh ek. Boojhai brahm antar bibek: Let the knowledge of the One God be the ceremonial mark on your forehead. Let the realization that God is within you be your discrimination (sggs 355).

Purpose Of Knowledge

In order for man to find out what he really is, he needs to find out what he is not. The use of Self-knowledge helps one to understand what he is not, and keeps him free from false concepts, precepts, ideas, desires, fear, and actions. It makes one alert and careful, by rejecting all that does not go with the Truth: "Soham" (He is me or I am That).

The purpose or use of knowledge is to bring about inner transformation. One aimlessly wanders in this world till there is the dawn of Spiritual Wisdom able to destroy the root of ignorance in which the Jagat (material world) appears real. This inner transformation can only happen with the Self-knowledge; the rediscovery of the Truth within. When the mind is engaged in Wisdom, it sheds all mental dispositions or conditioning and returns to its Original Nature as Pure Consciousness.

Brahm giaanee bandhan te muktaa: The enlightened one is free from worldly entanglements (sggs 273).

The knowledge results in the elimination of falsehood. Majority of us have based our lives on certain concepts, some may be right, but many are false. Our actions arising from wrong concepts are also wrong. There are many such false concepts. The main ones are: taking the self as the physical body; thinking that sense pleasures are the source of real happiness; and believing that material wealth is the source of real security in life. The purpose of knowledge is to remove all false concepts, and at the same time get established in the nature of the Truth.

Brahm giaanee ahambudh tiaagat: The God-conscious being renounces his egotism (sggs 273).

The surest sign of man in Wisdom is that he is unattracted by the pleasures of the world. Knowledge helps cease the subtle tendencies or Vaasnaa in man. When the Vaasnaas are strong, there is bondage; when they have ceased, there is liberation. In other words, universes cease when Vaasnaas cease. Vaasnaas create restlessness in mind. Without restlessness, there is no mind!

Brahm giaanee le dhaavat bandhaa: The knower of the Divine keeps his wandering mind in check (sggs 273).

The manifestation of ignorance seems real only to the deluded. Roaming in this dense jungle of ignorance, one's mind becomes confused and bewildered. Such unsteady mind is likened to a monkey who is intoxicated with wine and the same time has been bitten by thousands of scorpions. The knowledge helps destroy the dense forest of ignorance (body-consciousness), and brings one back to the Infinite Consciousness which alone is True.

Thus, the knowledge makes us aware of the unreality of mental conditioning. Just as a shadow disappears when it turns to see the light, similarly, as we turn towards the Light of knowledge, the ignorance disappears. Just as the water ceases to flow when the river dries up, in the same way the mind (material contaminations or impurities) ceases to be when it attains mastery by becoming aware of the endless stream of duality and resulting confusion of perception and experience.

Nanak Gurmukh gian praapat hovai timar agian andher chukaayaa: O Nanak, the Gurmukh attains spiritual wisdom, and the pitch-black darkness of ignorance is dispelled (sggs 512).

Thus, to rid oneself of the disease of false ego or bodily-consciousness, there is no remedy other than Spiritual Wisdom. The creation exists in the Infinite Consciousness and the Infinite Consciousness exits in the creation just as the sprout in the seed, liquidity in the water, heat in the fire, coldness in the ice, and pungency in the capsicum. However, the ignorance makes it appear to be different from and independent of the real Self, or Waheguru. Knowledge alone is the cure for such wrong perceptions.

Aatam mahi Ram ram mahi aatam cheenas Gur beechaaraa: The Lord is in the soul, and the soul is in the Lord. This is realized through the Guru’s Teachings (1153).

The knowledge of the Oneness transforms into love and selfless service (Nishkaam Sevaa) to all. As soon as we perceive the Oneness in all, we are immediately raised to an attitude of love for everything. When there is a sense of love for all than service to all happens automatically. This is real Bhagti.

Seva sadaa sukh paayaa Gurmukh sahaj samaavanyaa: Through selfless service, eternal peace is obtained; and the Gurmukh (self realized) becomes absorbed in intuitive peace (sggs 125).
Kaat silak prabh seva laayaa: God has cut my noose; He has placed me in His Service (sggs 101).

In essence, to become established in Divine Knowledge is liberation (Mukti); when this is disturbed, there arise bondage and egoism (mind or Jeeva). Therefore, in the state of Self-knowledge there is no mental restlessness; for there is no distraction, mental dullness, perception of duality, and bondage. Ultimately, the Self-knowledge leads one to the state of Dhyaan or meditation.

Brahm giaani kaa bhojan giaan. Nanak brahm giaani kaa brahm dhyaan: Divine knowledge is the food of the knower of God. He is absorbed in God's meditation alone (sggs 273).
Giaan bhayaa tah karmah naas: With Divine knowledge ends the deeds (sggs 1167).

Source Of Knowledge

Craving in the mind for sense-pleasure aggravates the ignorance or mental conditioning. The Pure mind is free from such cravings, and, therefore, it attains Self-knowledge. How one can go about cultivating such pure knowledge?

Complete Knowledge includes knowledge of the phenomenal world, the Spirit behind it, and the source of both of them. This is called Transcendental Knowledge. After gaining this Complete Knowledge, nothing remains unknown.

The treasure of such knowledge is hidden within. However, due to our mind's preoccupations, we do not see it. Intuitive Understanding of the Gurbani is the key to open the lock to this treasure; the Essence of Divinity. Since we do not understand the language of the Self, the Shabad or Naam helps connect us with It.

Nanak Shabad vichaariai paayiai guni nidhaan: Nanak, by reflecting on the Shabad, one obtains the treasure of Spiritual Wisdom (sggs 59)
Man choorai khat darsan jaan: To conquer the mind is the knowledge of the six Shaastras (sggs 352).
Ratan Ram ghat hee ke bheetar taa ko giaan na paayo. Jan Nanak bhagwant bhajan bin birthaa janam gavaayo: The Jewel of the Lord is deep Within my heart, but I do not have any knowledge of Him. O serf Nanak, the human life is lost in vain without the God's meditation (sggs 702).

Many will claim they have read the Gurbani (or any other scriptures for that matter) over and over again; but still nothing has happened. The reason nothing happens is that, even though they have repeatedly gone through the Gurbani, but the Gurbani has not gone through them, yet!

The knowledge without loving devotion gives rise to ego-sense. This Spiritual Wisdom dawns with the practice of the Shabad or Naam, association of Sat (Truth) within and without, Self-inquiry (Vichaar), etc. Then one understands that the wealth, family, friends, relatives, power, pleasure, possessions, etc., are false show of ego; nothing but the vast expanse of Maya.

Sukhdaataa dukh bhanjan haaraa gau kirtan pooran gian: Sing God's glories, the Giver of peace and Destroyer of distress, and you will be blessed with the perfect Divine knowledge (sggs 979).
Ae man mirat subh chintam gur shabad Har ramanam. Mat tat giaanam kaliaan nidhaanam Hari naam man ramnam: O mind, even death wishes you well, when you remember the Lord through the Shabad. The intellect receives the treasure, the knowledge of reality and supreme bliss, by repeating God's Name in the mind (sggs 506).
Gur kee mat toon lahi iaane. Bhagti binaa bahoo doobe siaane. Hari kee bhagtee karhu man meet. Nirmal hoyi tumaaro cheet: Take the Guru’s advice, you ignorant fool; without devotion, even the clever have drowned. Worship God with heart-felt devotion, my friend; your consciousness will become pure (sggs 288).
Saaadh Sang tutahi hayu bandhan eko ek nihaaleeai: In the Saadh Sangat the bonds of egotism are released, and one comes to behold the One God (sggs 1019).
So giani jin sabad liva laee: He alone is Giani, knower of the knowledge, who focuses on the Name (sggs 831).

Our true nature is Pure Awareness. If we are ignorant of this, then the Awareness turns outwards, towards manifestation. That is called "Jagat" or "Sansaar", the place of repeated "suffering". When we turn our mind inward, the reflections of the true Self falls on the mind; by which the veil of illusion gets thinner and thinner. In the end, the mind becomes dissolved in the True Nature of its Self. Then the notion of "other" (duality or Doojaa Bhaav) ceases to be. Therefore, the True Wisdom is the love of the Self within.

Man saachaa mukh saachaa hoi. Awar na pekhai ekas bin koi: The True One is on his mind, and the True One is upon his lips. He sees only the One. O Nanak, these are the qualities of the Brahm Giayni; God-conscious being (sggs 272).

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