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Escaping Maya -The Gurmukh's Divine Focus | Sunday Discourses

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji ki Fateh!

First, I wish to thank the One, Ik Ongkaar, for all the wisdom that comes through in this world, and for the amazing Teachings that we receive through the many faiths in this world, and the wisdom that comes from the Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

We are aware that the business of daily life can take us away from our center, away from our soul’s purpose, creating a separation from God and Guru. 

We are so often distracted. Our focus gets highjacked, we lose sight of what really matters, and we are subject to so many nonessential distractions in our life.

As we sit in Gurdwara we may be checking our cell phone. Or we may look at somebody’s beautiful outfit, be distracted by people speaking. Even, we may end up speaking with somebody instead of listening to the Shabad Guru vibrating within the walls of the Gurdwara.

Our mind may be judging others as they walk by to bow to the Guru, or even judge what somebody is sharing in Gurdwara. 

Instead of us having control over our mind, our mind controls us, and we lose focus on what is important.

The Guru will remind us that at all times we need to meditate on the Lord and should chant the Lord’s Praises and treasure the Lord’s feet in our mind and body. That is what Simran is.

The Guru says: p. 594:

ਉਠਦਿਆ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਲਹੀਐ ॥੨੧॥੧॥ ਸੁਧੁ
uth-di-aa bahdi-aa suti-aa sadaa sadaa har naam Dhi-aa-ee-ai jan naanak gurmukh har
lahee-ai. ||21||1|| sudhu
While standing, sitting, and sleeping, forever and ever, meditate on the Lord´s Name;
O servant Nanak, as Gurmukh, you shall attain the Lord. ||21||1||Sudh||

Why are we so distracted? Why has our focus been highjacked?

In the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, you will often find the Guru mentioning the term Gurmukh. A Gurmukh is a Sikh whose focus is on the Guru, on the Naam, on the Shabad Guru, on the Guru’s Teachings, and on the Lord.

Before I go more into details about what a Gurmukh is and how a Gurmukh lives, let me talk about the manmukh, another term that the Guru mentions in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

The Guru says that without the Naam the self-willed manmukhs die in frustration. 

If we look at the term self-willed, we understand that the manmukhs only follow their ego; The manmukh is ruled by the mind, “man”, and does not follow God’s Will, God’s Hukam. The love of duality has taken control of him. Maya has taken hold of the manmukh.

The self-willed manmukhs are engrossed in emotional attachment; they are not balanced or detached. They are at a loss and do not comprehend the Word of the Shabad. They have stepped away from their divine essence, from their divine soul, thus the divine Creator. They are separated from the lord, from Ik Ongkaar.

The Guru reminds us that if we are engrossed in egotism, the world perishes.

The manmukh dies and is re-born again. He continues coming and going in reincarnation. The manmukh keeps creating more karma. And often will try to influence others and then creates karma for others.

A manmukh cannot achieve liberation and emancipation from the bondage that he put himself into. The manmukh is blind and cannot find the Way – the Way to unification with the Naam.

However, all is not lost for the manmukh. All is not lost for humanity.

All we need to do, is to reconnect with our divine self; vibrate to the Naam and face toward God and Guru. 

Through the Shabad we meditate on the Naam, and it is through the Shabad that we merge in Truth; that we merge with Sat Nam; That we allow divine Truth to vibrate within every fiber of our being. 

The Guru says: p. 34:

Serving the True Guru, the mind becomes immaculate and pure; egotism and corruption are discarded. So, abandon your selfishness and remain dead while yet alive. Contemplate the Word of the Guru’s Shabad. 

The pursuit of worldly affairs comes to an end, when you embrace love for the True One.

Those who are attuned to Truth—their faces are radiant in the Court of the True Lord. || 4 || 

One who subdues his mind, controls his ego, who is not subject to worldly attachments, who has come to a spiritual awakening, and lives in a state of equanimity, can be described as “dead while alive.” 

Such a person has subjugated their lower instincts of lust, anger, greed, pride, and attachment, and has united with the Lord.

The illusion of being separate from the Lord has to die for us to truly live.

Being dead while alive cannot be easily explained but can best be experienced by noticing how it feels to be united with the Lord while being present in the body, each daily moment.

We are here to meet with the True One.As we meet the True One in our daily life, we shall not be separated from the One again. 

The Guru says, p. 49:

One whom the Creator Lord has met and joined to Himself shall never again be separated. The True Creator Lord breaks the bonds of His slave. 

The doubter has been put back on the path; his merits and demerits have not been considered. 

Nanak seeks the Sanctuary of the One who is the Support of every heart. ||4||18||88|| 

It is through the Guru’s Teachings that peace is found and that the True Name is enshrined in the heart. When we vibrate to the Shabad Guru and focus our consciousness on the Lord’s Feet, we release our bondages to emotional attachment and superficial thoughts. We allow our doubts to depart, and fear runs away.

The Guru says: p. 66:

Emotional attachment to Maya is shed with intuitive ease, through the Guru’s Teachings. Without the Shabad, the world wanders lost in pain. 

The self-willed manmukh is consumed. 

Through the Shabad, meditate on the Naam; through the Shabad, you shall merge in Truth. || 4 || 

When we serve the True Guru, intuitive peace wells up and ego and desire die. If the Treasure of the Name of the Lord abides within the mind, egotism and pain are cast away. 

Let us be instructed by the Guru in each moment. Let us remember to chant the Naam and vibrate to the Naam. Let the Naam trickle down through our tenth gate directly into our brain and body and let us be imbued by the Divine Frequency of the Naam.

The Guru says p. 47:

O my mind, meditate on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. Always keep the Company of the Holy and focus your consciousness on the Feet of the Guru. || 1 || Pause || 

As Sikhs we are constantly reminded to avoid falling into the pit of the fives thieves of lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego, that take us away from our divine self and alignment to our highest consciousness. So, let us learn from the Guru’s teaching, and learn to cast away the five thieves. 

Let us become Gurmukhs.

The word Gurmukh is often translated as: Gur meaning the Guru, and Mukh as mouth. Mukh is also translated as face and thus a Gurmukh is one who faces the Guru and who’s focus is on the Guru, the Guru’s Teachings, thus the Shabad Guru.

A Gurmukh is one who follows the way of life prescribed by the Guru.

We first hear of the word mukh as mouth in the second Suni-ai Pauri:

ਸੁਣਿਐ ਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਲਾਹਣ ਮੰਦੁ ॥
suni-ai mukh saalaahan mand.
Listening-even foul-mouthed people praise Him.

And then we hear the word mukh as face in the Japji Sahib’s Shalok:

ਜਿਨੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਗਏ ਮਸਕਤਿ ਘਾਲਿ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇ ਮੁਖ ਉਜਲੇ ਕੇਤੀ ਛੁਟੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥
jinee naam Dhi-aa-i-aa ga-ay maskat ghaal.
naanak tay mukh ujlay kaytee chhutee naal. ||1||
Those who have meditated on the Naam, the Name of the Lord, and
departed after having worked by the sweat of their brows –
O Nanak, their faces are radiant in the Court of the Lord, and many are
saved along with them! ||1||

Here’s another beautiful explanation of the term Gurmukh:

Gurmukh means "Coming from the persona of the Guru" or "To be in the character or personality of the Guru" and implies to be God-centered, God-conscious, and God-inspired. The higher spiritual meaning is of one who has met the Guru within and remains in the will of the Guru. The Gurmukh vibrates the Divine frequency deeply within himself.

Here’s a tip: When you read the Japji Sahib, read it as if you were Guru Nanak. Read it through his consciousness and connection to the Divine Word. Read it through the personality of the Guru and see how you feel.

The Gurmukh lives for truth and righteousness. Having bathed in the pool of truth the soul of the Gurmukh is purified. 

Truth pervades the Gurmukh’s speech; Truth bedecks the Gurmukh’s vision; and Truth fills the Gurmukh’s actions. 

Truth is revealed to a Gurmukh, and fear, doubt, delusion, ego, and pride are not part of a Gurmukhs life. 

The Guru says, Pp. 942:

The Gurmukh obtains the Name of the Immaculate Lord. 

Through the Shabad, the Gurmukh burns away his ego. 

The Gurmukh sings the Glorious Praises of the True Lord. 

The Gurmukh remains absorbed in the True Lord. 

Through the True Name, the Gurmukh is honored and exalted. 

O Nanak, the Gurmukh understands all the worlds. || 42 ||

The Gurmukhs are unwavering and not plagued by duality. They sing the glorious Praise of the Lord, and they are inspired by the Guru’s Teachings as they read from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

The Guru says: p. 66:

The Gurmukhs meditate on the Naam; the self-willed manmukhs do not understand. 

The faces of the Gurmukhs are always radiant; the Lord has come to dwell within their minds. Through intuitive understanding they are at peace, and through intuitive understanding they remain absorbed in the Lord. || 1 || 

Doubt is a killer of spirit. How do we remove this doubt?

The Guru tells us that without the Shabad, people wander, confused, deceived by doubt, and lost in misery. 

The Guru says: p. 51:

Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life.

One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness and becomes the dust of all. ||3||

All that is seen is You, Lord, the expansion of the expanse.

Says Nanak, the Guru has removed my doubts; I recognize God in all. ||4||25||95||

I love this last sentence as it reminds us to see the Divine in All. We are children of God. We are made of the fabric of this Divine Creation. The Divine Spark is found in all people and all living things. That Divine Spark is just waiting to be unveiled.

The manmukh, has simply lost his Divine Spark and just needs to reconnect with his own Divinity and then doubt will be dispelled.

In contrast to a Gurmukh who’s rooted in mental control and brings the mind into service to the divine, the manmukh is a person who follows his own uncontrolled mind and allows lower consciousness to rule his world. The manmukh is the ego-centered one, who has turned his face away from the Guru.

The manmukh doesn’t recognize the divine as he doesn’t travel inward and thus has no concept of the divine within. He is asleep and lives in an illusionary world trapped in maya. He is ruled by the five thieves and follows his mind rather than his divine soul and divine heart.

Living in the illusion of Maya we are ruled by the 5 thieves. The manmukh doesn’t realize that he lives in Maya. The manmukh follows his mind and his lower emotions.

How do we escape the bonds of maya?

The Guru says: p. 862:

You have fallen under the power of the five thieves; escape is only possible in the Sanctuary of the Lord. ||3|| 

So, let us abide in the Sanctuary of the Lord, let us join the Sadh Sangat, the company of the holy, to find the One Lord, and escape the bonds of maya. The company of the holy reminds us that through following the Guru’s Teachings we shall be liberated.

Become a Gurmukh and focus your mind on the Lord; focus your consciousness on the One.

Here’s a beautiful passage: p. 79:

O dear beloved mind, my friend, reflect upon the Name of the Lord of the Universe. 

O dear beloved mind, my friend, the Lord shall always be with you.

The Name of the Lord shall be with you as your Helper and Support. 

Meditate on Him—no one who does so shall ever return empty-handed. 

You shall obtain the fruits of your mind’s desires, by focusing your consciousness on the Lord’s Lotus Feet. He is totally pervading the water and the land; He is the Lord of the World-forest. Behold Him in exaltation in each and every heart. 

Nanak gives this advice: O beloved mind, in the Company of the Holy, burn away your doubts. || 1 ||

May we implant the Name of the Lord within us and dispel doubts from within. May we conquer our ego and lovingly focus on the Lord. 

The Guru reminds us to restrain our wandering mind and to keep it in check. 

He reminds us to center our awareness on seva, on selfless service and to focus our consciousness on the Word of the Shabad. Thus, we shall find peace and our emotional attachment to maya will be dispelled.

The Guru inspires us to become Gurmukhs – to have our face turned towards God and Guru. To focus our meditation on the Supreme Lord God. To focus on the Naam and focus our consciousness on the Lord’s Lotus Feet. 

Wherever you look, see the Lord at the root of all things. You can do this through your imagination – dare to imagine the Lord within all. 

“The Gurmukh beholds the Lord, the Gurmukh speaks of the Lord, and the Gurmukh naturally loves the Lord.” “The Gurmukh attains spiritual wisdom, and the pitch-black darkness of ignorance is dispelled.”

Our soul yearns to meet the Lord. Our soul hungers for the divine and sublime elixir of the Lord. By drinking this elixir, we experience peace, joy, and love for our fellow traveling saints, so that we are free of anxiety and free of Maya that took hold of us.

The Guru Says: p. 701 – 702:

JAITSREE, FIFTH MEHL: If only someone would unite me with the Lord! 

I hold tight to His feet, and utter sweet words with my tongue; I make my breath of life an offering to Him. || 1 || Pause || 

I make my mind and body into pure little gardens and irrigate them with the sublime essence of the Lord. 

I am drenched with this sublime essence by His Grace, and the powerful hold of Maya’s corruption has been broken. || 1 || 

I have come to Your Sanctuary, O Destroyer of the suffering of the innocent; I keep my consciousness focused on You. 

Bless me with the gifts of the state of fearlessness, and meditative remembrance, Lord and Master; O Nanak, God is the Breaker of bonds. || 2 || 5 || 9 ||

We must break those bonds, those shackles that we have created for ourselves. So many are bound down by greed, emotional attachment and corruption.

Guru Nanak: p. 61:

“Through desire, people are cast into the womb and reborn. Through desire, they taste the sweet and sour flavors. Bound by desire, they are led on, beaten, and struck on their faces and mouths. Bound and gagged and assaulted by evil, they are released only through the Name, through the Guru’s Teachings.  || 7 ||” 

Kabeer Ji: P. 482:

“Says Kabeer, the five passions argue with me, and in these arguments, my life is wasting away. The false Maya has bound the whole world, but I have obtained peace, chanting the Name of the Lord.” 

The Guru tells us about the Gurmukh and also tells us about the Sunmukh. A Sunmukh is a Sikh who turns to the Guru with sincere faith, and who’s soul abides with the Guru. A Sunmukh meditates on the lotus feet of the Guru. Deep within his soul, he contemplates the Lord. 
The Guru says the following about the sunmukh: p. 919 – 920:

if a Sikh turns to the Guru with sincere faith, as sunmukh, his soul abides with the Guru. Within his heart, he meditates on the lotus feet of the Guru; deep within his soul, he contemplates Him. 

Renouncing selfishness and conceit, he remains always on the side of the Guru; he does not know anyone except the Guru. 

Says Nanak, listen, O Saints: such a Sikh turns toward the Guru with sincere faith, and becomes sunmukh. || 21 ||

As Amritdhari Sikhs, when we take Guru Gobind Singh’s Amrit de Pahul, we are told to focus on the Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, who is present during the ceremony. We are told to keep our eyes open, looking only at the Guru as we receive the Amrit that is thrown into our eyes as we utter the words Waheguru 5 times with the Panj Piare.

In this ceremony, Guru Gobind Singh reminds us that the Guru is our focus. We must not be distracted by anything else. And if we can keep this focus, we are blessed in so many ways.

Remember: p. 494:

Through the Guru’s Teachings, I have obtained courage, faith and the Lord. 

He keeps my mind focused continually on the Lord, and the Name of the Lord. 

The Words of the True Guru’s Teachings are Ambrosial Nectar; this Amrit trickles into the mouth of the one who chants them. || 2 ||

The Guru says: p. 528:

O mother, I focus my consciousness on the Guru’s feet. As God shows His Mercy, the lotus of my heart blossoms, and forever and ever, I meditate on the Lord. || 1 || Pause || The One Lord is within, and the One Lord is outside; the One Lord is contained in all. Within the heart, beyond the heart, and in all places, God, the Perfect One, is seen to be permeating. || 1 ||

So, when we are blessed to go to the Gurdwara and be in the presence of the Guru, let us be reminded that our focus is on the Guru as we listen or chant the Shabad Guru.

Let us remind ourselves that that focus will prevent us from any distractions as we meditate on the Naam, on the Shabad Guru, and allow ourselves to be bathed by the Divine Word.

And essentially, let us unite with the Lord at all times, not just at the Gurdwara, or when we do our banis, or when we sing the words of the Guru. This, of course, will be a life-long practice. 

May we be gifted with this practice.

The Khalsa belong to Waheguru! Victory belongs to Waheguru!

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji ki Fateh!

Rishipal Singh’s additional talk on topic- 

Living as a Gurmukh | Divine Reflections

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Thank you so much for a beautiful, beautiful discourse there, talking about the focus of a Guru and what becomes a Gurmukh.

I'd just like to pick up from where my sister SimranKaur left off.

At all times, in our spiritual journey and our spiritual connection, the center, our origin used to be the focus of our devotion. For us, it's our Guru - The Guru Granth Sahib. Read every scripture that we'll find, tells us that one thing: live in the presence of the divine, live in the presence of the divine, live in the presence of the divine.

When we're meditating, when we're serving… When we’re meditating imagine that we’re sitting right in the presence of the divine, the divine is sitting there, in front of us, the Guru, whoever our Isht, whoever our focus is. Imagine they’re sitting right there, right in front of us and we’re meditating to them.

As Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj tells us,

ਐਸੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਨੇਰੇ ਰਹਾਉ

(aaisee preet karahu man mere ||, aath pahar prabh jaanahu nere ||1|| rahaau ||, page 807)

Show such love, that you see your Divine, you see your Murshid, you see your Guru, you see your Pir, you see your Saint right in front of you at each and every moment.

What happens sangat ji, as we go deeper into our meditation and deeper into our spiritual practice, that focus, that center of our life, our mind starts meandering around that.

We start seeing them in each and every interaction when they're walking into our house, we're seeing that they're walking in with us, we're inviting them to come in with us. When we're eating our food, we are inviting them to eat with us, when we're sitting, when we're playing, when we're working. Whatever we're doing, the divine is central in our life. That Isht is right there right now with us. And this is the focus that the Gurmukh has. This is how the Gurmukh is always facing the Guru because in each and every moment, each and every interaction, they're seeing the Guru right there, right now.

Once upon a time, there was a young lad who was desperate to go to the Gurdwara, desperate. Before what ever happened on that journey, loads of obstacles were coming in his way. Maya was stopping him from getting to the Gurdwara, to be in sangat, to be in the presence of the divine to see the kirtan in there. And completely perplexed, completely in anguish… this young lad was in complete bits.  But then suddenly the realization came to him…

ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ਨਾਲੇ

(Gur merai sang sadaa hai naale, page 394),

The guru is right here, right now. The Guru lives within their Bani, within their simran, within their meditation; wherever the name of the Divine is being recited, whatever name, that's where the Divine is living, right there, right now. Because they live within their Bani, they live within their scriptures, they live withing their Shabad, they live within their word. And at that point that young lad started reciting the Bani, he started reciting the simran. When he continues in that simran and that mind then became centered right in the Guru, right there, right now.

In the Gurdwara, every day there is one Shabad, there is one hymn recited.

ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੋ ਥਾਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਜੇ

(Jithai jā▫e bahai merā sagurū so thān suhāvā rām rāje. Page 450)

Where my Guru, where my true Guru sits, “Jithai jā▫e bahai” wherever they go and wherever they sit, “so thān suhāvā rām rāje” that place is beautiful. Sangat ji, it's not just a physical place where the Guru goes or where the Guru sits. Because there’s no more beautiful place than that place of the purified mind where that mind has been purified by the Shabad. And when the Guru is sitting within your mind within the Shabad within yourselves, there is no more beautiful, beautiful place in this world, Sangat ji.

And for the Gurmukh they are always living in the presence of the Divine. There's no more beautiful place than the mind of that true Gurmukh who’s totally sitting in the presence of the divine.

The first thing for the Sikh, for the Gursikh, for the Gurmukhs that just sit in that presence, always be in that presence, not for wanting anything else, all they want is to be is in the lotus feet, the feet of the divine, the feet of the Guru.

And as they focus on their Isht, they focus on their devotion. Slowly, slowly, slowly that Isht starts to disappear, that image, that vision the saints have taught us, starts to disappear. Because then what happens? Then what happens is that like Gurmukh starts to become a carbon copy of the Guru, cup starts becoming a carbon copy of the divine. Just like sugar dissolving in water, there's nothing left of that person or individual anymore.

That's when they realize,

ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਣੀ

ਆਪਿ ਸੁਣੀ ਤੈ ਆਪਿ ਵਖਾਣੀ

ਜਿਨਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਪੀ ਤੇਈ ਸਭਿ ਨਿਸਤ੍ਰੇ ਤਿਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਨਿਹਚਲ ਥਾਨਾਂ ਹੇ

(gur kee banee sabh maahi samaanee. aap sunee tai aap vakhaanee. jin jin japee tay-ee sabh nistaray tin paa-i-aa nihchal thaanaaN hay. ||8|| Page 1074)

That Bani, that Shabad, that word of the Divine is flowing through in us. And that Gurmukh there realizes that it's the Divine. You're the One who's singing these praises, not me. You're the One who's listening. You're the One who's causing all this to happen. And when we absorb ourselves in this meditation, then we become to that place of salvation and we get to that place of sahaj where that Gurmukh finally is, that stillness, that place where there's no thought, where there's calmness, there's peace, total peace, where we're not at mercy of our emotions anymore, where we're not at mercy of this Maya mind. And this is the place that Simran ji was talking about. When we start focusing on this divine name, we start tearing ourselves away from this Maya, this illusionary world.

When this all starts, when we start realizing that the divine is present with us and we sit in their presence when we're reciting,

ਦੂਰਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੇਰੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਿਆਰਾ ॥
(dhoor naahee mero prabh piaaraa, page 1197),

That divine is not far away, they're sitting right here, right now. So, when we're meditating, we are to imagine that we are sitting in their presence. Imagine that focus, the one that you're trying to unite with is sitting right here with you. And then slowly, slowly, “saijai, saijai”, as the Gurbani says, we start to dissolve ourselves into that focus, into that Isht. So much so that you disappear, that Isht disappears, all that ends there is the oneness, that experience of one.

And with these words, Sangat ji, thank you so much for your time. Thank you, Simran Kaur ji. Thank you for coming in a Sangat as we are today. There's no coincidence that we come into a Sangat. This is divine blessings in action. Without blessings, without that “kirpaa”, without that mercy, that grace of the Divine, we do not come into the Sangat. This is all a Divine moment. We're all experiencing this Divine blessing here and now. Let's take these messages in our life. Let's implement these in our life. Let's share these with others, so we can share the beauty of the Divine with others as well.

With these words, I beg your forgiveness.

Simran Kaur

Simran Kaur

"SimranKaur is a Sikh Dharma minister, yoga teacher, and spiritual counselor. Her love for the Guru’s Teachings has inspired her to expand her knowledge of the Sikh writings and she enjoys all the research she does. When living in California she represented the Sikh community by interacting with many other faith leaders through interfaith work." Website: www.simrankaurkhalsa.com

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