The power of association – Day 1

Rehmat Kaur: “Veerji, Gurbani emphasizes a lot on Sangat (association or company). Gurbani says that we should seek the company of the holy and avoid the company of people who don’t believe in Guru or God. Even though I try to follow Gurbani and avoid the company of people who engage in bad behavior, some of my friends say that we can company bad people as long as we do not become bad ourselves. They say that we should rather company these bad people so that we can help improve them. But, veerji, I always find that when I accompany such people, their negativity enters me, and I start thinking thoughts like them. What should I do? Can you share your thoughts on Sangat?”

Smiling broadly, Asees Singh patted Rehmat on the shoulder, and said, “Very good question Rehmate. I really appreciate that you are trying to understand Gurbani and implement it in your daily life. Right kind of Sangat or association is one of the pillars of Sikhism, in particular, and spirituality, in general. Without the right kind of Sangat, it is extremely difficult or probably impossible to make any spiritual progress. So, I think it is important that you have some good understanding of the role and importance of Sangat in our life. It is a long topic and thus, we may not be able to complete all of it in one sitting. We can start with it today, and then we can continue on it tomorrow. In three or four days, I think we should be able to cover the fundamentals of Sangat. What do you say, Rehmate?”

Rehmat Kaur: “Sure, veerji. As you say. That way, I’ll have an excuse to bother you daily.”

“Uh.. oh.. let’s complete it today itself.”


“Just joking bhaine. So, let’s start. However, before we dive into the concept of Sangat, it is important to remember the basic fundamental truths of life. The first point is who we are. Generally, we consider ourselves to be this body and mind, but Gurbani says

man tu jot sarup


In other words, we are souls, but we are having a human experience. However, the truth doesn’t change i.e. we are still souls, even though we may not remember it. Now, it is said that a man is made in the image of God. It means that humans have been created by God in his own image. It does not mean that God looks like us physically. It means that just like God has the power to create the universe as he wants, the humans have been given the power to create their own respective worlds as they want. This power, that has been endowed to each one of us, is also called “Karmic law”. This power to create our reality has been written about in Gurbani at many places. For example:

as you sow so shall you reap


So, the fundamental law or the fundamental truth about human existence is that each one of us create our own reality or circumstances. In other words, the universal law applicable to human life is “As you sow, so shall you reap”. Any doubts so far?”

Rehmat Kaur: “But veerji, how do we create our reality? I mean the world is what it is. How can I build a custom world for me?”

Asees Singh: “Good question bhaine. There are three tools with which we create our reality: thoughts, words, and actions. So, anything that we think, any word that we speak, and any action that we take impacts our reality. Now, even though these three are the tools of the creation, but the most fundamental tool of creation is just thoughts, simply because you cannot speak or act without a corresponding thought. So, one thing that most impacts the quality of your life is your thoughts. Thoughts are even more important than words or actions. And I would like to repeat here: Thoughts are more important than words or actions. The entire world seems to take this in an entirely opposite way. People think that actions are the most important, words less important, and thoughts least important or not important at all. People discount the power of thoughts to their own detriment. Gurbani says:



So, what you sow is your thoughts. If you are thinking something and speaking something else, your words don’t matter. If you are thinking something and acting differently, your actions don’t count. Ultimately, it’s your ‘intent’ that matters, not your words or your actions. I can also put it this way: what you sow is your intent. If your intent is good, then don’t worry about anything else. You are sowing something good, and you will reap something good. However, if your intent is bad, no matter how much sweetly you speak or how good your actions look like, you are sowing something bad, and eventually your circumstances will reflect that. Understood bhaine?”

“Hmmm veerji.. But how do these thoughts create my circumstances? Don’t you think unless we act, circumstances won’t change? If we keep sitting and thinking good thoughts, would good things start coming to us?”

“How do thoughts create our reality or circumstances? It’s a good question, bhaine, and I have thought over this question. The answer is that this is how the world works. But how do I know that this is how the world works? I don’t know, but I believe in Gurbani. Besides, very respected Sikh luminaries such as Khoji, the founder of Dodra Sangat, and Raghbir Singh Bir have written about this point. And also this point that our thoughts create our reality is not something introduced by Sikhism into this world. This power of thoughts has been recognized by many spiritual traditions older than Sikhism. Bible says ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so does he become’. In a book on Buddhism ” The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying “, the author Sogyal Rinpoche writes ‘it is important never to forget that the effect of our actions depends entirely upon the intention or motivation behind them, and not upon their scale.’ Besides, many other spiritual traditions recognize the power of thoughts to create our reality. So, while I agree that we cannot really see how thoughts actually change our circumstances, I believe that we need to have faith in this law espoused by Gurbani and other spiritual traditions. Just because we cannot see the functioning of this law, it does not mean that we should call Gurbani and other spiritual leaders ‘false’.

However, there is one very important point to keep in mind: there is almost always a time lag between when we sow and when we reap. So, if you are doing something good today, it does not mean that good things will start happening to you today itself. Similarly, if you are doing something bad today, or even if you are thinking something bad today, bad things will start happening to you today itself. Every seed takes its time to fruition. At times, it happens to people that they get cheated or harmed while doing good things, and then they not only disbelieve in this law ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, but they stop seeing any purpose in doing good things for others. It also happens at times that while you are thinking bad about the other person, something good happens to you. In such situations also, people think that our thoughts do not create our reality. However, these are incorrect conclusions. What you are reaping today is the result of what you have sown till today, and what you are going to reap in the future is going to be impacted by what you are sowing today. You cannot escape from this law. The law holds regardless of whether you believe in it or not. We can use this law to our benefit or to our detriment, just as we can sow seeds of grapes or sow seeds of acacia. The law is non-judgmental. It gives us what we sow. Does it make things clear?”

“Yes, it helps a lot veerji. But veerji, then what about actions? Isn’t there a need to act? Can we just keep sitting and thinking good things?”

“Oh ya. I missed this question. No, it does not mean that you should stop doing actions. You should continue to act as the situation demands, however, always with good intent. Never compromise on your intent. This is where the importance of a value driven life comes in. People lie and cheat because they see immediate benefits in doing such things. However, from Gurbani’s perspective, lying and cheating people will only come back to you. These things may look like beneficial in the short run, but ultimately, you are not sowing good things. So, what you will reap will not be good. On the other hand, a value driven person never compromises on his values, and continues to act with good intent. According to Gurbani, he’ll reap good things in life. So, to answer your question, I would say act whenever it is required, but act with good intent. Does it answer your question, bhaine?”

“Yup. Sure, veerji. So, it is our thoughts or intent that create our reality or circumstances. How our thoughts alter our circumstances – we don’t know but Gurbani and many other spiritual traditions says so. And it does not make sense to doubt all spiritual leaders, and just believe in our intelligence. Right, veerji?”

“Very good, bhaine. So, perhaps the only thing that we need to take care is our thoughts. We do not need to fight with people or circumstances. We just need to go inside ourselves and change our thoughts. Gradually, our circumstances will reflect the goodness of our thoughts.”

“Interesting. We don’t need to change anything outside ourselves. Once we change ourselves, the outside world will change. Isn’t it, veerji?”

“Right bhaine. And this is where the importance of Sangat comes in. The most fundamental form of Sangat or association is the association of our consciousness or attention with the thoughts. Remember, who we are? We are souls or consciousness. And the most primary form of Sangat is the sangat of us i.e. consciousness and a thought. And when we associate with a thought, we say that we are focusing on a thought, or we are paying attention to a thought. Scientifically, it is said that a normal human being gets around 50 to 70 thousand thoughts, but not all of these thoughts impact us or our future. We sow only those thoughts on which we pay attention or in other words, with which we associate. Thus, only those thoughts create our future, which are paid attention to by us. Makes sense?”

“I am trying to understand veerji.”

“Take your time, bhaine. Let’s continue from here tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the meaning of association, different kinds of association and if time permits, a few other things related to the concept of Sangat.”

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