by SS Shiv Charan Singh, Portugal
The Gurmukh is like God’s tree, always green, blessed with the Sublime Love of the True One, with intuitive peace and poise.—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 66)
“Use the tools to take the fools to the Guru.” Such was the simplicity and down to earth elegance of the Siri Singh Sahib as he gave voice to the hukam [to serve the Guru] that has been written in my soul for lifetimes. The same call to bring souls to the feet of the Guru can be found in this passage by Guru Arjun:
I have established the Temple of Truth.
I sought out the Guru’s Sikhs and brought them into it.
I wash their feet and wave the fan over them. Bowing low, I fall at their feet. ||10||
—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 73)
The primary means to serve such a destiny is to perpetually re-calibrate oneself to the word [Shabd] of the Guru. Just as a disciple carries the Guru on the head during gurdwara, so I pause at times through the day and re-establish the sense of standing under the Guru’s word.
Just like a perfume seeps into the clothes I am wearing, so I pray that the fragrance of the Shabd Guru will infiltrate my being. Drinking the word of the Shabd Guru, I become what I ingest and this does have a direct effect on what I speak.
Language is an exchange between people for the transmission of information, giving or receiving a service, resolving some emotion or to experience a sensation, and so on. When the exchange is adjusted or influenced by the input of the Shabd Guru then the exchange becomes an agent for particular kinds of change in people’s lives. Through a few simple words, someone may experience healing, an increase of awareness, realignment to the soul, general happiness along with deeper and fuller inner sense of self.
Being a channel is like being a clear mirror, with the Guru providing the backcloth. When the word of the Guru comes through the mirror of the teacher it presents itself in a concave form. The concave mirror reduces the wide vision of the viewer and consequently redirects the attention back to self. As the focus is narrowed to oneself the head becomes small and the image is inverted. In other words, the head is now where the heart would normally be.
So whenever Shabd Guru comes through it asks the other to move into their heart to find what they are looking for. Shabd Guru directs me to direct the attention of others to their own soul within.
The Gurmukhs meet the Lord and inspire others to meet Him as well.—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 124)
The Ship of Naam
In the light of Shabd Guru, it is clear that I am not swimming the world ocean but riding on the ship of the Naam. Furthermore, it is not a ship just for one’s own salvation, but a vessel in which others can be carried, trained, and uplifted to uplift others.
Equally important is the understanding that I am not the one sailing the ship. Shabd Guru, sangat, and Dharma are the essential ingredients for the fulfillment of destiny and victory of truth. Shabd Guru is the pilot of the ship, sangat is the ship itself and Dharma is how we take care of it.
As a disciple of the Shabd Guru, my primary task is to remember that this is who I am. It simply means to stand transparently in the way that I am looking to and addressing the Guru just as the Guru looks, and communicates, through me.
The Gurmukhs are the happy soul-brides; their minds are filled with kindness.—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 41)
The discipline of reading, listening, contemplating and discussing the Shabd is a daily one. It becomes the anchor, mast, and sails within everything I do, thus serving as a reference for self-reflection and self-evaluation, independent of the opinion of others.
For example, before a workshop, I will use my laptop and do a search of the Shabd Guru for relevant keywords. Then I print a few Shabds that I will take with me to read and recite when alone in my room, drinking the Naam as the subtle—though real—food for the teacher. In this way, even if it is not necessarily explicit, I am aware that I represent the Shabd Guru when I am teaching others and that the Seeds of Naam arrive on the soil of the student’s heart in accordance to God’s own design.
The Gurmukh saves millions of people, O Siblings of Destiny, blessing them with even a particle of the Name.—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 608)
Tears In His Eyes
Although thousands of devotees came to seek the solace of Guru Ram Das, he would sing to them songs of his own despair. With tears in his eyes, his music begged that some dear disciple might show him the way to the Beloved. The miracle touch of his prayers was such that it made the people withdraw the hand that wanted to take and extend the hand that wanted to give.
In the same way, our service—when truly Self-less—bears fruit as it transforms takers into givers and students into teachers. To serve and inspire the attitude of service in others is to honor the word of the Guru.
Selfless service is the support of the breath of life of the Gurmukh.—Siri Guru Granth Sahib (p. 229)
Practically, this means:
– Creating opportunities for community service projects (seva)
– Being a presence that may have an impact anywhere any time
– Accepting invitations to speak at all sorts of events and occasions
– Being accessible and willing to communicate and connect
– Responding to emails, counseling, and repeating the teachings over and over
– Helping in local schools
– Trusting what comes
– Having nothing to teach but always responding to people’s questions
In summary, selflessly serving means becoming still and embodying the nature of Shabd Guru, like a book that sits quietly but remains ever filled with timeless wisdom. Consistent in the message communicated. Responding in a way that always matches the nature of the inquiry or request from the other. Rarely giving instructions but always hinting at a radically different way of perceiving the world and oneself in it.
About the Author
SS Shiv Charan Singh is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister. He is the founding director of the Karam Kriya School and co-founder of Quinta do Rajo, its headquarters in Portugal. Shiv Charan Singh is totally committed to guiding students in their spiritual growth so they can bring spiritual awareness into their everyday lives and develop their full potential as human beings. He is the author of several books on human communication, the mystery of numbers and poetry. He runs training programs throughout Europe, Australia, and South America.