Overall, the scientific belief is that we i.e. humans are matter. As per science, like other animals and objects, we are just a bunch of atoms and molecules. Our minds are activity of the brains, which is a collection of atoms near the top of our body. In a way, we are not alive; we don’t have a free will; we don’t have feelings; it is just firings of the neurons in our brains that create an illusion of life.
However, a vast majority of us don’t believe in this model. At least, we don’t live our life that way. We do believe in our feelings. We do choose what to eat, where to go, what to do, which movie to watch etc. Most of us believe that we are these physical bodies but unlike science, we believe that these bodies are living and have a real mind having preferences and free will.
With this view that we are physical bodies, once we die, our essence dies – our feelings, longings, ambitions, desires etc – everything dies. In this view, there cannot be an afterlife and rebirth since nothing is left of the body once we die.
However, there is another perspective on who we are:
As we understand from the article “Who is God?“, everything in this universe is God manifesting in different forms and shapes. It means that we are all souls or parts of divine. Even though a soul is only a part of God, it possesses all the attributes of God, just like all the rays of the sun possess all the qualities of sun such as energy, heat, light etc.
So, we are all embodiment of love and virtues and possess the fundamental creative power and freedom. As God has the power and freedom to create the world as he likes, we all have the power to create our lives as we want.
To re-emphasize, we
- are the embodiment of love and virtues
- have the power to create our own individual lives as we want
Now, both of the above points go directly opposite our perceived reality.
- When we evaluate our feelings and thoughts, we don’t feel that we are full of love and virtues. On the contrary, a lot of times, we are filled with vices such as anger, fear, hatred, lust, greed etc. Even the whole world seems full of vices. No one really seems to be full of love and virtues. The best we are able to see is glimpses of these virtues in a few people at different points of time.
- We don’t even feel that we have the power to create our own destiny. There are so many random or luck factors that decide what we get and what we don’t get in our lives. Besides, there are things that we immensely love but we end up losing them. Clearly, it does not seem that our destiny is in our hands.
So, how do we reconcile our everyday life experience with this perspective coming out of the model of life?
Let’s first talk about the first point.
We are the embodiment of love and virtues
We understand that to experience light, an illusion of darkness was created. Darkness consists of everything ungodly. We also know that we have the free will or the freedom to be who we are. Within this illusion, we have the power to become as much light as we can or as much dark as we can. This fundamental choice cannot be taken away from us. Because if we take away this fundamental choice to choose between light and darkness and force everyone to choose only light, then darkness will disappear. In such a case, as explained in “why and how this universe was created?“, we’ll not be able to experience light.
So, we have the fundamental choice to choose between light and darkness, both expressing in different virtues and vices respectively. Now, our current self or our present consciousness is the net result of all the choices we have made in the past. So, if we have been choosing greed over contentment consistently, then our present self will be greedy. If we have been choosing anger over forgiveness in the past, our present self will be angry and we’ll boil even at slight provocations. If we have been choosing hatred and jealousy over love in the past, then our present self will reflect hate and jealousy for others. On the other hand, if we have been choosing virtues over vices consistently, then our present self or consciousness will reflect love, compassion, kindness etc.
Now, the reason that we don’t find a lot of virtues in ourselves or in the world is that the choices we have been making. We and most people in the world have been choosing
selfishness over selflessness,
corruption over honesty,
hatred over love,
violence over peace,
arrogance over humility
and so on
The choices we have made in the past reflect our present. So, when we look inside ourselves or at others, we don’t see pure love and virtues. We see that the world is actually afflicted with vices and darkness.
However, no matter how much darkness we have chosen to bring into our lives, our true essence cannot change because that is the reality. Anything that happens within an illusion cannot impact the reality. For example: when we go to watch a movie, what we have in front of us is a white sheet on which the projector projects the entire movie. Now, no matter how much blood and violence or love or compassion flows in the movie, the white sheet or the projector is not impacted. The illusion of the world that we call a movie cannot impact the reality of the cinema hall. Even though this illusion is not real i.e. we know that the entire movie is printed on a tape and projected through a projector on a white sheet, we still go and watch the movie. We happily agree to believe in the illusion of the movie because it makes us happy. Similarly, we all have chosen to believe in this illusion of life so that we could experience joy, peace, love, compassion, kindness and other virtues of our choice.
However, the point to note is that even though our true essence remains same, we don’t experience it in our everyday life. What we experience in our everyday life is the accumulation of our past choices i.e. mostly, a lot of vices and their associated ills and a few virtues.
At this point, you may ask, “what can we do to move closer to our true essence?”. In short, start making choices which reflect you true essence i.e.virtues. Just that simple! However, if you need more guidance, this question will be covered much more elaborately in a separate article.
We have the power to create our own individual lives as we want
The second point we had was our ability to create our own life and destinies. This is also in direct contrast to our everyday experience. How do we reconcile these?
Here, it becomes important to talk about the basic tool of creation that we have. We are saying that we have the creative power. But what is the tool of creation? The tool of creation is the choice that we make every second or the thought we think each second. Every second we get tens or hundreds of thoughts in our mind. However, we don’t focus on all the thoughts. The thoughts we choose to focus on are the thoughts which determine or build our future. Every single thought contributes towards our future. Yes, EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT.
The more the concentration of a thought i.e. the more we repeat a thought, the more the impact of that thought on our future. So, if we always think of failing, our life will eventually reflect that. If we always think of winning and growing and contributing, our life will eventually reflect that. That’s why when we hear all the successful people, they all talk about having confidence in ourselves. Since our thoughts build our future, the more we think we can succeed, the more is the probability we will succeed.
Now, pay attention to the last line. I am talking about the “probability”, not the “surety”. Why? If we have the creative power, then why can’t we be sure about the future? Try to answer it yourself.
What is the basic tool of creation?
How is our present decided?
The accumulation of all the past thoughts decide our present? Right.
Similarly, our future is decided by all our past and present actions.
Now, the past actions are not in our hands. As Gurbani says, we know little about all our past actions and thoughts. So, we cannot be 100% sure about the outcome of our efforts. However, it does not mean that we give up. On the contrary, we should keep working towards our objectives because our present actions and thoughts will impact our future. So, we may not be able to get to 100% but our efforts may ensure that we get at least 90%, not 40%.
The more the intensity of the present thought, the more is the probability of its reflection in our physical life.
Actually, if you think about it, if we keep on repeating a thought, it will ultimately show up in our life. Ultimately, the intensity of the present thoughts will overcome the past thoughts.
So, if you really want a thing, just keep working towards it in total honesty. Sooner or later, you will get it. This is what this model says. If you believe that there is only one God and we are all souls, I think you should also try to believe in your creative power.
This understanding also resolves the conflict between our creative power and our everyday life. Our present actions are not the only determinants of the future or the results; our past actions also affect the outcomes. What we call as luck or randomness is the effect of our past actions.
The key here is to use what is in our hands i.e. our present thoughts and actions. There is no need to be in despair even if the past thoughts have not been good. Despair (present thoughts) will bring only more despair (future). The key is to get up and focus your thoughts and actions towards achieving what you want.
To summarize, we
- are the embodiment of love and virtues
- have the power to create our own individual lives as we want
The more we connect with our true selves, the more the peace, joy and happiness in our lives. Why? Because peace, joy, and happiness are also part of our true essence. The closer we get to our true essence, the more peace and joy we start experiencing in our life naturally.
I would like to end this by using a beautiful metaphor used in Gurbani.
We are souls, kings of this world. But under illusion, we have forgotten our true selves and our power and wealth. We are living in this illusion or dream that we are helpless creatures shoved around by luck. Stripped off our power to create our destiny and our wealth of joy, peace, and other virtues, we roam around in darkness of ignorance.
Khoji, a Sikh luminary, has written in his essay “Divine Will”:
“It is ironical to think that the ‘Divine Prince’, i.e., human soul has to suffer all the unhappiness and miseries of the materialistic world, just because he failed to : —
believe in, and
his Heritage of Divine Kingdom of Love and GRACE.
This Divine Kingdom of Love and Grace is already ‘in-laid’ in every soul, and can be realized and enjoyed by : —
just for the taking,
by His Grace,
where supreme, benevolent, kind, magnanimous, loving ‘Divine WILL’ prevails and works silently—engulfing
the whole Universe.”
However, irrespective of our present condition, the reality hasn’t changed. We are still seated on the throne. Our kingdom is still intact. But such is our state that even while seated on the throne of the greatest kingdom, we have become beggars. The only thing that we need to do is just wake up. Nothing else needs to be done. Just waking up will reunite us with our heritage. Probably, the original purpose of all religions is to just wake us up or reunite us with our true essence.
May each one of us realize our true essence sooner than later!