Monthly Archives: April 2015

Filling Your Cup

Cup-of-Tea

My form is but a statue, a dumb gratitude for the knot of Friendship tied by those Kings of Eternity, the Gurus who came to the Punjab, The Saviours who were gracious to love me and made me a home in the Realm of Eternal Beauty (Prema Singh, The Song of the Sikh)

An eager student approached the master violinist and asked, “Please master, can you teach me how to play the violin?” The master replied, “Have you ever played a violin before?” After a pause, the student responded, “Yes, I learned a little as a child.” The master quickly retorted, “Then sorry, I cannot help you.”

The confused student was almost sure his familiarity with the instrument and prior learning would have served as an advantage to the master, but the master was wise enough to know, that the work to un-do the student’s prior learning would have been too much of an effort. Instead, he would have preferred to work with a “clean slate.”

Reflecting on gurbani these days, I often feel like the confused student. I come to the master’s door step, bowing before Him, symbolically saying, “I am nothing, you are everything…fill me with your wisdom.” But let’s face it…my mind is already filled. It is filled with my knowledge, my experiences, my intellect and…my baggage. What room have I really left for gurmat? Shouldn’t I be coming to him with a clean slate?

It’s an interesting dichotomy we as Sikhs face. Like many of you, I am judged and measured at work, school, and so many other aspects of my life by my intellect and experiences. My ability to demonstrate my knowledge is how I try to give myself an edge over the others.  But when it comes to my Sikhi, none of that matters. I need to let go of all of that and see the world through Guru’s lens, not my own. I need to submit to his way of thinking, not my own. I know this makes me, and perhaps some of you uncomfortable, but Guru Sahib does not mince words. He makes it clear where gurmat fits in the gursikh’s life

Guru Raam Daas Ji shares in his experience:

Shabad 1
Shabad 2

I am blind, ignorant and totally without wisdom; how can I walk on the Path?
I am blind – O Guru, please let me grasp the hem of Your robe, so that servant Nanak may walk in harmony with you

And as Bhatt Nall writes:

Shabad 3

So speaks Nall the poet; with your eyes, make Him your Guru; with the words you speak, make Him your Guru, your true Guru

So where do my experiences and intellect play in to gurmat? Is it a roadblock on my path toward the guru? Or is it necessary in order to process and understand gurmat, and turn the word in to action? I don’t know for sure, but my thoughts take me to a simple cup of tea…

An empty cup, a mere vessel
Essential to hold the tea, but an empty cup serves no purpose
In that cup lies a lone sugar cube
The sugar cube knows not of the cup or vice versa
But when the tea is poured in
The personality of the cup changes
It carries a fragrance
It brings warmth
And inside it, the sugar cube no longer exists on its own
It merges with the tea, you cannot separate it
And anyone who sips from that cup
All they taste is sweet

O My Guru, please fill me with your naam baani,
so that I can carry such a fragrance
so that I may bring warmth
so that my actions are sweet
So I may see the world through your eyes

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