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Summary of Question:maya
Category:General Sikhism
Date Posted:Thursday, 5/13/1999 8:49 AM MDT

Sat Sri Akal,

"He Himself leads the mortals to focus on Him, and He Himself causes them to chase after Maya." This is a line from today's hukamnama...How can GOd make us chase after maya if the Gurus are the ones trying to take us away from maya. IF the Guru are saying nam japo and they say that nothing else in this world maters besides His name then why is GOD making us chase after the wring thing. Thank You

Personally, I want to thank you for asking this question. In my opinion, this is one of the most important, and interesting, and fruitful questions that can be asked within the context of Sikh Dharma. It is a subject which has interested me very deeply, and has been a focal point of my own development in spiritual practice in relation to Wahe Guru and Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Again, thank you for asking this most beautiful question.

I cannot say with any absolute certainty that my understanding is 100% the Truth, in the way that things <truly are>. Until enlightened, probably no human being can. But what I can offer is that human beings (in our languages, our cultures, and in our personal psychologies generally) we have a typical (or common, or ordinary, or conventional) way of understanding reality, and that conventional way that we usually understand and look at things is dead wrong. Christians look at this same problem and call it <original sin>. But it is important to note that <original sin> is simply a doctrine that was developed to explain why things can seem so <wrong> and unhappy on the human level. On the other hand there are two traditions in human history that are much more oriented toward meditation than Christianity is: these are Buddhism and Sikh Dharma.

If we tend to look at the problems of life from a context of sin and moral wrongdoing, and judgment, as Christianity, Islaam and Judaism tend to do (all three are known as Semitic religions, they come out of the same root in the <Old Testament> Bible), then it will be much harder to understand what the Guru is trying to tell us (as you quoted above, <He Himself leads the mortals to focus on Him, and He Himself causes them to chase after Maya>. It is sometimes difficult to look at in in the way the Guru's did because (even in India, under the influence of British, Christian, puritanical value systems)we have been culturally influenced to see things in terms of good and bad, even <good and evil> rather than simply <right or wrong>, <better or worse>. There is no moral judgment in <right or wrong>, <better or worse>, they are simply, wisely factual. And that is the way the Guru's looked at things and taught. They didn't say that people are terrible, or sinful, they said, <People are IGNORANT>.
Ignorance (even <pervasive> ignorance) is the basic human situation, NOT sin. The Guru's basically said that every person is trying to do the very best that he or she knows how to do, it's just that typically (due to emotional woundedness, anger, lust, greed, pride, envy, etc.) our minds and perceptions become clouded, and blinded, and we make mistakes in choices, actions and reactions. If someone is sinful, then (in those religions) God must punish the sinners. But, in the Guru's way, if someone does wrong things because they are ignorant, blinded, distorted or wounded, then the cure is not in punishment, it is in healing, compassion and enlightenment, or training. We must seek (Sikh) to uplift, assist and be willing to guide others when we are more fortunate to have an understanding or insight as to what is right or wrong, better or worse. There's no point in judging and punishing them more, that will only make them sicker, and more distorted. (That doesn't mean that love is not sometimes what is call

ed <Tough Love>. But even

<tough love> must be truly loving in its core, otherwise it's probably more a manifestation of anger and frustration, which is not a good thing to impose on others).

At any rate, I've spent a lot of time distinguishing between ignorance and sin. Being pulled toward Maya rather than Truth is due to a primordial kind of ignorance which is embedded into the human condition. I'll say more about what causes it in a minute.

Now, another re-orientation I would offer for your consideration is this. Normally, conventially, humans think of themselves as lowly, lost and abandoned by their <God> or gods. Then, they go about searching to find God, or else deny that there is a God. This is not at all the Guru's approach. The Gurus actually said that God is so close and near within you that you can't even easily know or see that He is right there, God is the most intimate actual reality of you, that (in this sense) <YOU ARE GOD!>. But as God living in a HUMAN form, you are embedded in a physical incarnation that is based on the duality of sensation (subject and object) and the duality of thought (subject and predicate). God is not duality, God is One (remember, Ek OngKar). Therefore, you can't access God by your senses or your thinking mind. That's why you don't know the He (or She) is right there, that you ARE He or She. That's your basic human condition. Maya, on the other hand, is what you see and experience with your senses

(it's not some kind of demon or sinful reality), it's what you are surrounded by in your physical life. And, Maya is what your ordinary mind thinks (which is not the one Truth we call Sat Nam). Yet Truth, God and Wahe Guru are all the actual essence of what is around you and what enables our minds to think. Do you see the difference?

It's right there but we just don't get it, until we can go through a transformational process (called Dharma) in which we practice Naam Simran or Naam Japo, in order to develop the subtle qualities of our mind to begin to perceive the presence of God, Truth and Wahe Guru in the midst of everything, and then to act accordingly. Until then, the God within us continues to be with us as we play, grope around, blunder and continue to stumble within Maya. We have to be in the Maya in order to find the God within the Maya. When we can do so consistently and reliably, that is one way to describe enlightenment. And that is also a good way to describe what a GurSikh is and what a GurSikh does. God will always be with us until our pervasive, primordial ignorance can overcome, and then will be one with the divine Him (or the divine Her). Then, there will be no difference. Until then, there is an apparent difference which confuses us, and so we make mistakes. So here we are. I pray that you will have many
experiences of Guru's Grace in order to understand and master the beauty of the way we have been created in God's image (Akal Moorat), and that your growth will also bless and benefit many others who live and need assistance also.

Another important point is that, in Sikh Dharma, the Guru's did not want to <take us away from Maya> (as you said), they want us to become Masters of Maya (through self-mastery), so that we live within it and utilize properly what Maya is for something other than just gross indulgence and egoistic pleasure. Maya is a medium in which we share our collective humanity, and through using the Maya properly many can be reached and served. Maya is not some kind of <dirty, unclean thing>, rather we become impure by misusing it egocentrically and with inappropriate self-indulgence of greed, lust, power, anger, attachment or pride. When a person lives within the Maya in a Dharmic way, then that person is <Jivan Mukht> (liberated in this life) and the surrounding environment becomes like the Sohila Arti in which Guru Nanak said that <The entire Universe is thy wondrous and sacred creation, O Lord, and I, your servant am blessed to serve You within it>.

Krishna Singh Khalsa

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