Updated: Oct 2, 2020
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We long for light; the light of kindness in someone’s eyes, the light of courage when a brave word is spoken, the light of compassion when someone who is hungry is given a meal and a second chance. Even when we feel that we are on the right side of things, without that light, nothing is achieved for anyone.
Fortunately, we have access to this light. Once someone achieves a connection with their soul, it is totally possible to not only be a source of light for yourself, but for others as well. How is this connection made? This sacred poem or Shabad of Guru Gobind Singh, who lived in a time of great struggle and challenge, has been really helpful to me in achieving and sustaining this connection to authentic light.
Let’s dive in and explore each line. We’ll start with the repeating line.
pooran jot jagai ghaṯ mai tab khaalas taah(i) nakhaalas jaanai.
One who embodies the consciousness of Khālsā, a living state of purity, has the divine light of the One shining forth from the heart in complete magnificence and radiance. It can be felt and perceived when it is there, and when it is not.
“Pooran jot” is the completely filling, omnipresent light. Only one living in purity, or “khaalas,” will be able to shine this light forward. This kind of purity comes from a clear mind and the capacity to stay in neutrality. Neutrality creates within us a space, and it is only then that the light of the soul can shine forth in this world experience, or “jagai.” When you make it there, you know it, and everyone else knows as well. You can feel it in your heart, or your “ghaṯ.” Likewise, when you haven’t made it to your purity, “nakhaalas jaanai,” people will know it too.
How do we achieve purity? It’s funny, because it’s one thing that you just can’t fake. Purity is really about presence. It’s about being purely present. When you walk into a room, it doesn’t matter how dumb people are, we (even the most dense of us) can sense when someone is being real or pure (which is just a fancy word for real in my opinion). You can’t sell purity. You can’t make someone be pure. You can’t even inspire someone. They have to, you have to, we have to inspire ourselves. It’s a moment-by-moment choice, in which we choose to follow our hearts and not our heads.
Let’s keep going. Here’s the next line.
jaagit jot(i) japai nis baasur ayk binaa man naik na aanai.
That one meditates in a wakeful state on the Ever-radiant Light, day and night, and doesn’t let even a little bit of something else to come into the mind.
To achieve this state of purity, this “khaalas,” we have to be very wakeful, “jaagit.” It is a constant meditation on the light, or ” jot japai.” It’s funny because so much of our culture has us believing that we can achieve inner happiness and peace through easy means; like if you use this shampoo, wear these jeans, go on this vacation, get this hairstyle, etc., you will be totally happy, and experience your essential truth! Don’t all the people in those ads just look so good? The bummer part of it is that it’s not true.
Of course, you already know that. But, here’s the kicker that we all get hooked into. We think that getting happy should be as easy as going to a mall and buying a shirt (or clicking a few buttons and ordering online!), but it’s not, and we feel so betrayed when we realize that we actually have to work at it, a lot.
Actually, as Guru Gobind Singh says, we have to work on it in a wakeful state in the “nis” day and “baasur.”Not only that, we have to be so focused on the One God, the “ayk,” that not even an iota of something else gets into our “man,” or heart/mind/soul.
Now, before you get squirmy about that God word, here’s something to keep in mind. God is the Divine light that is within all beings and within yourself. God is the truth. God is the moment that you remember to come from your breath and not freak out. When we don’t follow our neurosis and instead follow our truth, we are following God. It’s about consciousness and mindfulness, and Guru Gobind Singh is affirming that the greatest work is really that of the meditator.
Let’s continue on.
pooran praym prateet sajai brat gor maṟee mat bhool na maanai.
That one decorates herself/himself with the love and faith in the completely filling Light of the One, and does not go astray with empty religious rituals, observances in graves, or sitting in isolated meditation huts.