Gurbani provides us a way of life or a set of beliefs to guide our life by. So, before we answer the question “Why should I follow Gurbani?”, we need to understand the importance of the beliefs in our lives and various sources from where we acquire these beliefs.
Beliefs are the fundamental determinants of life
Everyone has certain values and beliefs, which lie at the foundation of his or her being and thus, affect all his or her actions and choices. For example: some of us believe in the “dog eat dog” world, so every action and choice we make is based on the question “what’s in it for me?”. So, even if our actions hurt others or affect them negatively, we don’t care if they help us get more money or fame or anything else we want.
Similarly, some of us believe in “what goes around comes around”. We tend to be more careful of our actions since we believe that if we hurt others, we will also get hurt in the future. We tend to avoid cheating, tricking, back-biting, etc since we fear the possible consequences of these actions.
Almost all of us have certain beliefs around “How to find happiness?”, “How to be successful in life?”, “How to have meaningful relationships?”, “importance of relationships in life”, and “purpose of life”. These are the fundamental beliefs which determine our beliefs around which job to choose, which person to date, how much to study, whether to follow passion or earn more money, whether to listen to parents or ignore them, whether build a large network of acquaintances or have a small group of close friends or both etc.
Clearly, beliefs are the most fundamental to our lives and determine the course of our lives. The reason two persons faced with the same situation would make two different, possibly opposite, decisions is that their beliefs are different. No one has all the knowledge about how the world works, why are we here, secret to happiness and health relationships. We don’t “know” any of these things. However, we have our different beliefs, which determine the choices we make in life and thus, determine the course of our lives.
A person believes that happiness lies in doing what he likes, and he follows his passion even at the cost of making more money. Another person believes that happiness lies in having a lot of money, and he gives up his passion to pursue opportunities with more money potential.
A person believes that a good relationship means spending time alone with each other and discussing each other’s priorities in life. Another person believes that a good relationship is about partying and enjoying time together.
A person believes in always being truthful and not taking advantage of others. Another believes in extracting the maximum out of others.
A person focuses more on the character of the individual while choosing his life partner. Another person focuses more on the looks and economic status of the individual while choosing his life partner.
Clearly, in all aspects of life, we carry our beliefs. More importantly, as illustrated above, our beliefs determine all the decisions we make in our lives and thus, determine the course of our lives. This, in turn, determines whether we live a affluent or penurious life, have healthy relationships or broken ones, thriving career or declining one, and most importantly, whether we live a happy, peaceful, blissful life or a miserable, struggling and frustrating life.
Source of our beliefs
We start building our beliefs from the childhood through our parents, school, friends, society, newspapers, books, and other such resources. Clearly, there exist conflicts between the beliefs espoused by different sources – not all sources espouse all the same beliefs. In cases where there is no conflict, we choose the consensual beliefs, and in cases of conflict in beliefs, we choose one set of beliefs over the other. As we experience life, we find some of the beliefs wrong or unhelpful and thus, change them. However, our universe of beliefs is still limited to those coming from our surrounding sources.
Given the significance of beliefs in our lives, shouldn’t we worry that the beliefs we accept should be correct and help us lead a happy life? What is the authenticity of the sources from which we acquire our beliefs? Are the people (parents, friends, society) from which we acquire a majority of our beliefs living a highly happy and peaceful life?
If not, shouldn’t we choose a different set of beliefs that are probably more correct and helpful?
In whom can we trust to provide us a set of beliefs that will help us lead a happier and more peaceful and blissful life?
Can we trust Gurbani?
I think we can trust Gurbani more than any other source from which we acquire our beliefs. Even if we haven’t seen the power of Gurbani, I think we can follow Gurbani since it is more authentic than any other source around. At least, we should try to follow it for some time.
Following Gurbani means accepting the beliefs espoused by Gurbani. Following means walking the path Gurbani lays out.
The idea is to have some initial faith in Gurbani and take a step forward with sincerity on the path of Gurbani. This path of Gurbani is the path towards identifying our real self. Gurbani says that once we take sincere steps on this path, the universe will support us. Bhai Gurudas ji says:
ਚਰਨ ਸਰਨਿ ਗੁਰ ਏਕ ਪੈਡਾ ਜਾਇ ਚਲ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੋਟਿ ਪੈਡਾ ਆਗੇ ਹੋਇ ਲੇਤ ਹੈ ।
A disciple who walks one step towards Guru to take his refuge and goes to him with devotion and humility, Guru advances to receive him (devotee) by taking million steps.
Guru taking million steps means that the world will change in a million ways to support our growth, our steps on this path. Sooner than later, we’ll start realising that things are changing around us for our betterment, and it’ll become easier for us to continue our journey.
Seeing these changes around us, our faith will increase further. And unless we get satisfied with the better world around us and stop walking, we’ll continue our journey with even more energy and faith. As we’ll walk on this path and get closer and closer to our real self or God, we’ll be filled with happiness, joy, peace, compassion, and all other virtues that God stands for. The more we walk on this path, the more we get closer to our real self (As Gurbani says “O my mind, you are the embodiment of divine light”), the more joy, peace, bliss and all other virtues we’ll experience in our life.
In such a state, we’ll not need anything from the outside world for our joy or happiness. Rather, we will always remain filled with joy, and a state will come when we will not be able to contain the joy within and share it with others. Just as a flower shares her beauty and fragrance with others naturally, we’ll share joy, peace, compassion, kindness, forgiveness with others, without asking for anything. We would not ask for anything because we would not need anything.
But to reach this state, we need to have some initial faith. Just as a child needs to have some initial faith in the education system to study, a seeker needs to have some initial faith in Gurbani. This initial faith has the power to take him out of the vicious circle of
absence of faith -> no impact of Gurbani on life -> no faith
to the virtuous circle of
Initial faith -> visible impact of Gurbani on life -> increased faith -> increased impact of Gurbani on life -> so on
So, to enter into this virtuous cycle, we need to start following Gurbani and believe in what it says, with sincerity. If we keep some patience, we’ll start seeing the impact of Gurbani in our life, sooner than later.