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Human Birth – Opportunity for Self-Realization

Human life is too precious a resource to waste.

Self-Realization is coming up to one’s full potential in a wide field including both spiritual and temporal fields. It covers working honestly to earn and fulfill
responsibilities to the family and the society. It also covers spirituality to be at peace in life, so that the soul merges the Supreme Spirit at the end and attain eternal peace. This is like being productive and satisfied in life and enjoy retirement in peace.

All this is possible only in human birth when one can understand the purpose of life, learn to avoid distractions and remain focused.

The universe is as a well-knit system with purpose. Every cosmic body and creature in it have a role to play. 

The sun, moon and earth together create seasons, days, nights and lunar cycles on the earth. Then we have air, water, fire/energy and space for the creatures to exist and work.

Provisions for trees for shade and fruit, crops and vegetables for food, flowers for beauty and fragrance exist for the creatures and ecology. The system of rains enables flora and fauna to blossom.

The humans have a refined intellect, ability to learn, well designed organs and limbs. They can choose and prepare their food to liking, have comfortable houses to live, beds to sleep and families to keep company.

The humans have been given body design and intellect to get education, understand the purpose of life as well as self-advancement and follow them. They work to earn and maintain their families, bring up children, help where needed and contribute to development. They show sensitivity for ecology. Almost all countries have a voluntary Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

According to the Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib, they are to perform the following roles with guidance of a guru/guide:
1. Conform to the laws of nature and duties applicable to them, which are present in everyone's conscience.

2. Work for economic wellbeing of the family and society. Contribute to development and employment according to capability.

3. To practice sharing with others, being satisfied with honest hard work, compassion, righteousness and honesty.

4. So, while it is good to enjoy the pleasures, but one should not become slave to them. The following help.

5. To work for fulfilment of aspirations, ambitions and desires for an accomplished life.

6. To shed craving, anger, influence temptations, pride and jealousy, which act as impediments

We find in actual practice that with the same potential for all humans, some succeed and some fail, some are comfortable and others not. This puts socioeconomic pressures and creates unrest. Gurbani describes this thus:

ਕਾਹੂ ਦੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੇ ਪਾਟ ਪਟੰਬਰ ਕਾਹੂ ਪਲਘ ਨਿਵਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਾਹੂ ਗਰੀ ਗੋਦਰੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਾਹੂ ਖਾਨ ਪਰਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ P 479
The Creator has given expensive silk clothes to wear and comfortable beds to sleep on. Some do not have old clothes and sleep on straw.

The deprived become jealous of the opulent and complain that God is unfair. Gurbani says

ਅਹਿਰਖ ਵਾਦੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ਰੇ ਮਨ ॥ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਲੀਜੈ ਰੇ ਮਨ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
O human being, do not be jealous; you can also have the comforts by proper deeds. Pause and reflect on this.

Remember, the creator is just.

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਚਲਾਏ ਆਪਣੈ ਕਰਮੀ ਵਹੈ ਕਲਾਮ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚਾ ਸਚਿ ਨਾਇ ਸਚੁ ਸਭਾ ਦੀਬਾਨੁ ॥੨॥ P 1240
The Creator moves everything according to IT’s commands, the pen moves according to everyone’s deeds. The Creator is just, divine laws are just; everything in the metaphoric divine court is just.

We should not blame others for our woes.

ਦਦੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੇਊ ਕਿਸੈ ਦੋਸੁ ਕਰੰਮਾ ਆਪਣਿਆ ॥ ਜੋ ਮੈ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੋਸੁ ਨ ਦੀਜੈ ਅਵਰ ਜਨਾ ॥੨੧॥ P 432
One should not blame others for our woes., but say “I obtained what I worked for, I cannot blame others”.

We are the masters our own destiny.

ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ ॥੨੦॥. P474
It is in our own hands to achieve our objectives.

Then why do people do wrong? Gurbani says in words of a person who realizes s/he has been wasting life obsessed with satisfying desires and focused on the self alone.

ਕੂਪੁ ਭਰਿਓ ਜੈਸੇ ਦਾਦਿਰਾ ਕਛੁ ਦੇਸੁ ਬਿਦੇਸੁ ਨ ਬੂਝ ॥   ਐਸੇ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਬਿਮੋਹਿਆ ਕਛੁ ਆਰਾ ਪਾਰੁ ਨ ਸੂਝ ॥੧॥ P 346

Like a frog living in a well does not know what goes on outside. Similarly, my mind engrossed with lures of the world, is not aware of what lies in the world and beyond.

S/he realizes need for guidance of a guru or guide.

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਜੂਨੀ ਆਇਓ ਤਿਹ ਤਿਹ ਉਰਝਾਇਓ ਮਾਣਸ ਜਨਮੁ ਸੰਜੋਗਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਾਕੀ ਹੈ ਓਟ ਸਾਧ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਦੇ ਕਰਿ ਹਾਥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ P 686
In whatever life form I was born, I remained engrossed in needs of that life only; now fortunately I have obtained human birth. I seek guidance of the guru/guide, to give his hand and protect from lures of life; to be kind to lead me to union with the Creator.

The first thing s/he learns is that no objective is achieved without honest systematic hard work. S/he also learns this applies to both spiritual and secular fields. What is more, these two fields are mutually inclusive, not exclusive.

ਜੇਤੀ ਸਿਰਠਿ ਉਪਾਈ ਵੇਖਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕਰਮਾ ਕਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਲਈ ॥ ਮਤਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਤਨ ਜਵਾਹਰ ਮਾਣਿਕ ਜੇ ਇਕ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਿਖ ਸੁਣੀ ॥
In the whole world, no one can, or has, achieved anything without working for it. This awareness for this is present within everyone. One who follows guidance of the guru, drives out other ideas and acts by this consciousness.

People try to attain objectives in two ways. The first is through honest and systematic hard work. This is dignified and fulfilling. The second is through sycophancy, illegal gratification and pulling down competition with slander and backbiting. This is demeaning and does not provide satisfaction. Such persons are ever afraid not to displease those who matter.

The same applies in the spiritual arena. Some look within to be aware of their role in life and act accordingly. They are at peace and contented. Others pray, burn incense, offer flowers to the deity and so on. They do not get lasting peace or contentment and ever keep craving.

The SGGS is also referred to as Gurbani meaning the gurus word. It says on this.

ਨਰੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਚਾਕਰੀ ਕਰੇ ਨਰਪਤਿ ਰਾਜੇ ਅਰਥਿ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਕੈ ਬੰਧੈ ਕੈ ਡਾਨਿ ਲੇਇ ਕੈ ਨਰਪਤਿ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਫਲ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥ P 166
A person serves the king/person in authority, for the sake of money or benefits. Sycophancy does not work for long. Sometimes the person in authority may punish or himself die. Blessed and fruitful is obedience to the true guru, with which one remembers and obeys the purifying and revitalizing commands of the Almighty. Such a person’s soul settles down with the Creator/Supreme Spirit to attain eternal peace.

This cannot be attained in other life forms as they cannot understand and act by guidance of the guru.

ਚਾਰਿ ਪਾਵ ਦੁਇ ਸਿੰਗ ਗੁੰਗ ਮੁਖ ਤਬ ਕੈਸੇ ਗੁਨ ਗਈਹੈ ॥ P 524
One cannot praise and emulate divine virtues in the life form of an animal with four feet, two horns and dumb mouth, and therefore has no chance to attain union with the Creator.

Similarly, a human being who does not follow the guru’s guidance to praise and emulate divine virtues is like animals.

ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥ P 1356
The life of a person devoid of the guru’s guidance is defiled with vices. Such an ignorant person behaves like a dog, pig, crow or snake.

Such persons succumb to lures of the world and forget the purpose of human life is to be rid of shortcomings accumulated over numerous births. Gurbani describes how the sensory organs are lured and the mind loses consciousness of the Supreme Spirit within.

ਨੈਨਹੁ ਨੀਦ ਪਰ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥   ਸ੍ਰਵਣ ਸੋਏ ਸੁਣਿ ਨਿੰਦ ਵੀਚਾਰ ॥   ਰਸਨਾ ਸੋਈ ਲੋਭਿ ਮੀਠੈ ਸਾਦਿ ॥   ਮਨੁ ਸੋਇਆ ਮਾਇ ਆ ਬਿਸਮਾਦਿ ॥੧॥  
The eyes are inebriated at sight of others’ – wealth, beauty/body. The ears are inebriated listening to slander of others. The tongue is inebriated by greed for tasty food. The mind is inebriated by attachment to the world-play of relations, wealth, looks and rivalries.

ਇਸੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਮਹਿ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਗਤੁ ਰਹੈ ॥   ਸਾਬਤੁ ਵਸਤੁ ਓਹੁ ਅਪਨੀ ਲਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥  
Some rare person remains alert under their influence. S/he keeps his/her wealth – of inner awareness – intact. Pause here and reflect.

ਸਗਲ ਸਹੇਲੀ ਅਪਨੈ ਰਸ ਮਾਤੀ ॥   ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਕੀ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਜਾਤੀ ॥   ਮੁਸਨਹਾਰ ਪੰਚ ਬਟਵਾਰੇ ॥   ਸੂਨੇ ਨਗਰਿ ਪਰੇ ਠਗਹਾ ਰੇ ॥੨॥  
All sensory organs are engrossed in their own interest. And, the mind loses consciousness – of purpose of life. There are five robbers – lust, wrath, greed and vanity. They rob the empty mind, which is not alert.

ਉਨ ਤੇ ਰਾਖੈ ਬਾਪੁ ਨ ਮਾਈ ॥   ਉਨ ਤੇ ਰਾਖੈ ਮੀਤੁ ਨ ਭਾਈ ॥   ਦਰਬਿ ਸਿਆਣਪ ਨਾ ਓਇ ਰਹਤੇ ॥   ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਓਇ ਦੁਸਟ ਵਸਿ ਹੋਤੇ ॥੩॥ p 182
Neither the father nor the mother protects from them. Neither friends nor siblings protect from them. Money or cleverness cannot keep them away. These five evils are controlled with company/guidance of the guru.

This is how one recognizes the true guru for guidance.

ਜਿਸੁ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਮਨਿ ਹੋਇ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਸੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ॥ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਜਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਲਹੀਐ ॥੧॥

The true guru is one in whose company one experiences bliss. Duality of the mind is banished and one attains the supreme state – of the mind cleared of influence of temptations, and becomes attuned with the Supreme Spirit, our Creator.

This is how one obtains fulfilment in human birth.
Human birth is hard to get again so one should not waste it. Those who waste it cannot attain union with the Creator and remain cycles of births and deaths.

ਲਖ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ ਜੋਨਿ ਸਬਾਈ ॥ ਮਾਣਸ ਕਉ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਦੀਈ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਪਉੜੀ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੂਕੈ ਸੋ ਆਇ ਜਾਇ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੨॥ P 1075
There are 8.4 million life forms; amongst these, the Creator has given supremacy to the humans. One who misses this step – opportunity to unite with the Creator – suffers remaining in cycles of births and deaths.

Human life is too precious a resource to waste.

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