by SS Shiv Charan Singh Khalsa, Quinta do Rajo, Portugal
2022 (Fourth Quarter)
A personal note: I have spoken out and been damned. I have held my silence and been damned. Therefore, it is with some trepidation that I write this article. I am fully aware that we live in a time when misunderstandings are part of the deal right now. Nonetheless, Guru Teg Bahadur’s Bani inspires us to be “Unaffected by slander or praise.” The whole shabd describing the state of the Neutral Mind very well is on page 633 of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Whatever I write here is born of my own experience and limited insight. It is highly personal, though I may seem to present it in a more impersonal manner.
I am of no illusion that I have any answer to the question of ‘how’ we, as a sangat, can move forward from the current state of tensions. I offer to share some of the personal reflections that I challenge myself with daily.
On the question, “What does it mean to ‘heal’ our Dharma?”
Is there something wrong with what is written in the teachings — let’s say, in Japji Sahib to start with? Is there a fault in it, and if so, then why do we read, relate and refer to it? Or might we look at the one in whose hands it is being held — the one who interprets and judges others rather than seeing it as a mirror in which to evaluate oneself?
It is not the Dharma that is injured or sick. The sickness is with us. We who profess to live the Dharma. The justifications we construct, the excuses we generate, the misunderstandings we maintain. We, with our misguided minds, closed or raw hearts that feel broken and betrayed. Doubts and fears that bring a poison to intertwine with our spirit.
When there is toxicity, then a detox is needed. A cleaning out of false understanding. A letting go of attachments, expectations and limiting beliefs, through which we have set the stage for our own disappointment and sense of injury.
If we do not feel secure in our spirit, if we do not know and feel its strength, then our defense — and hence our attack mechanisms — will be forever repeated.
We want to be heard but don’t want to hear. We see and hear only what our mind seeks and permits—confirmations of our belief systems. We talk behind each other’s backs and avoid face to face. Yet if we do step up and speak out, then whatever we say is used in the courts of people looking for evidence to prove their predetermined projections. This is the time of Kali Yuga. The world is upside down, and the spiritual circus is equally caught in the traps of Maya.
kalijug meh Dharhay panch chor jhagrhaa-ay.
In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the five thieves instigate alliances and conflicts.
(SGGS p366 M4)
So what about Neutrality?
The Neutral Mind can be weak, as in apathy and a “couldn’t care less” attitude. The Neutral Mind can also be overly strong, as in stone-cold and detached. Some further consequences of the karmic state of neutrality include paralysis, disconnect, alienation and cold depression.
The middle ground of Neutral Mind is non-attachment. It is a state of prayerfulness. A fullness of prayer. Very present, aware and sensitive. Nothing is excluded from its domain. Everything is embraced and received into the ‘Cup of Prayer.’ For this we need a strong heart, a big heart, a wide-open heart.
Whoever will practice this knows that it hurts. There is a great pain. The collective pain of humanity is known in the heart. There are many games we can and do play around this pain. The greatest game however is the ‘Game of Love.’ A state of unconditional holding, an unwavering trust, a constant offering up. Like the Persian Wheel lifts the waters of the lower emotions and elevates them to a state of devotion. Through simran we keep that wheel turning.
The very act of taking sides already seems to limit the possibility of a more open connection. Yet each one is in their part of the play. We are sometimes more connected in our disputes. Like a divorced couple, each one never stops talking about the ex-partner.
Japji Sahib reminds us:
“hukam andar sabh ko, bahur hukam na koe,
Naanak hukam je bhujai ta haumai kahe na koe”
God’s will is the inner impulse within us all. Nothing exists without the Hukam (Divine Command). God is pulling the strings and we are the puppets. If someone would understand this fact then ego would not be entertained.
Ahankar, often translated as “pride,” actually refers to the illusion that we are the doer. This simple distinction is between the awakened Gurmukh , who lives by Ekongkaar, and the deluded Manmukh, who lives by Ahankar. It is difficult to truly live as Gurmukh. We read, recite, and quote from the Shabd Guru. Yet our thoughts, words and deeds show us how much our mind is trapped in the Maya, and traps us in its traps. This is either an excuse for hopelessness, or it is a humbling realization.
The Neutral Mind is also the inner knowing of the destiny. To know our part in the theatre. And to play it with full commitment. To whole-heartedly live it and never complain about the consequences, but rather be grateful to have served as was true to our hukam.
It is not bypassing to remain quiet in the midst of the storm:
To neither accept nor reject; neither confess nor deny, neither claim nor blame.
Neutral does not often mean to take no position. Usually, it is to be non-attached to the outcome of our actions. Neutral can, in the karmic version, be the avoidance of taking a stand. However, neutral can be a position in itself. (Most people find it hard to believe that when they ask my opinion about something, I reply that I have no opinion. It seems to disturb and shake up their mindset.)
The virtue of the Neutral Mind is known to be Selfless Service. What are we to serve?
Taking a personal position and associated opinion leads to service of our own opinion.
The mantra of the Neutral Mind, the mantra of Guru Ramdas, is Sat Naam. To serve the truth is to let go of opinions. Hence the virtue of the next Spiritual Body (Physical Body) is sacrifice. To abandon self-importance, self-righteousness and preoccupation with opinions and who is right or wrong, who is friend or enemy.
Every morning we chant Nirvair: no animosity, no unfinished story of the past. Now, what does it take to embody that? In addition to an infinite level of forgiveness, it is to face the pain in our own hearts. Not to deflect it towards others.
According to one version of creation, the Creator beheld the creation on the 7th day and declared, “All is well.” This suggests that the karmic theatre of judgement, and all that goes with it, (e.g. accusations, guilt, shaming, punishment, revenge, resentment,…) stops when we conclude in agreement with the first, original, judgement that “All is well.”
If we can sit together as a Sadh Sangat and relate soul to soul, then there is no conflict.
sarab bhoot aykai kar jaani-aa chookay baad bibaadaa.
I look upon all beings alike, and my conflict and strife are ended.
(SGGS p483 Kabir ji)
Image Credit: “Golden Temple – Meditations under the Moonlight” by Bhagat Singh Bedi. https://www.sikhiart.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS Shiv Charan Singh Khalsa is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister. He is the founding director of the Karam Kriya School and co-founder of the Guru Ram Das Ashram at Quinta do Rajo, 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.