650. What is the conception of God in Sikhism ?
According to Sikhism the very first and primal definition of God is Truth. He is eternal, infinite and omnipresent. He is the creator and is free from birth and death. He can be realised by acting upon the advice of the true Guru, who offers the devotee the wealth of true name instead of asking him to praise the Guru.
He has no special temple and has no chosen people. His gifts and bounties are showered equally on all. His abode is the heart of each living person and He resides on the lips of the saints who sing nothing but His praises. He is love and expects the whole creation to act in His own love.
651. What is the Sikh idea of the birth of our universe ?
According to Sikhism (see Maru Solhe) there was darkness everywhere and the earth, the sun, the moon, the days and the nights did not exist. Only the Omnipotent prevailed in the Sun (Vacuum-zero). There was no sound, no air, no water, no birth, no death, no planets. Then He willed and out of the word expressing His will, the universe came into existence as a hot nebula spinning out different planets and then :
"The True Lord created air, Air gave birth to water, Water brought forth life And He Himself is in all the creation."
652. What is the Sikh idea of the reality of the universe ?
The universe comes into existence through God's creative power (Maya) and it ceases to exist at His will. All that He has created is perfect according to His laws and has been created and recreated time and again. Nothing, except Him, is eternal, though the duration of the existence of some matter is inconceivably long as understood with the limited faculties of the human beings.
According to Guru Gobind Singh it is 'a play' and exists only until He brings 'the play' to an end. Since the universe is created by the true Lord, we can say that it is a real expression of His supreme reality and is real. But as it comes and vanishes at His Will, it has no infinite or independent existence. It is like the shadow of a cloud or the bubble on the surface of water.
Too much involvement in the creation rather than the creator is a sin because it turns human beings away from the service of God. Involvement in the service of self in turn produces egoism. There is no devil in Sikhism but too much involvement in God. It is a human failing and therefore unlike the legendary devil can never challenge God's omnipotence.
653. What is the reality of the human soul ?
The human soul is a part of the universal all-embracing soul. Like sparks arising from the fire or the waves arising from an ocean, the human soul emanates from God at His will. As water in the well, in the ocean or in the clouds has the same composition and the same properties so have all souls the same attributes.
Having assumed a material body the soul has got unduly attached to the pleasures of flesh and thus developed different likes, dislikes, failings and propensities human differences and the universality of the human soul remains clouded from the human eye. When human beings learn to serve God and always keep His presence in mind, doing actions in His will and to His glory, then they develop the Godly traits of love, service, humility, gentleness, courage and honesty.
Having developed these qualities, the devotee deserves and yearns for His Grace which unites him with God. This process becomes very simple and easy under the expert guidance of the Guru who, by example and precept awakens true spiritual vision in the heart of the devotee, frees him from ego, dispels his ignorance and unites him with the Lord.
654. Do the Sikhs believe in transmigration of soul ?
The Sikhs believe in the evolution of soul. The good or bad deeds done by any person affect his soul and cause it to have some characteristics peculiar to it. These characteristics determine the future course of the soul. Thieves, for instance, rarely desist from theft because of the inclinations of their soul created by frequent acts of theft.
Since the Sikhs believe that a soul never dies so the effects of the actions follow the soul like a shadow. According to Sikhism salvation or deliverance from these impressions can be obtained through good deeds as well as by the grace of God's name. Guru Nanak explains this point clearly as follows :
"The mind is the paper on which are recorded our deeds good and bad, as the course of our cumulative actions dictate. But the Almighty is merciful for He can turn dross into gold and extinguish all our passions, and wanderings."
The Sikhs do not believe in predestined or pre ordained course of the soul. Our present action coupled with God's grace can change the course and set us on a new road. The sum total of our present actions can over-ride the past impressions and efface them altogether.
Virtue or sin, therefore, is in the hands of the individuals. In the company of saints and by acting on the Guru's advice, the Sikhs change the course of their soul and as Bhai Gurdas puts it: "Take the high way and avoid narrow lanes." The whole idea is summed up by Guru Nanak in Japji as follows :
"We so not become saints or sinners By merely saying that we are: It is the actions that are recorded. According to the seed we sow, is the fruit we reap. By God's grace, O Nanak; Man must either be saved or transmigrate."
In order to deserve God's grace, the Guru outlines the course of eradicating lust, anger, greed, infatuation and ego, and act in His will remembering Him every moment of life. The householder deserves grace as much as a hermit and there is no need to renounce the world.
"He sends His grace to those who work at self-purification through obedience to the Holy word for which the virtues, such as purity, patience, and love are needed which are to be hammered out in our daily dealings with others, with constant suffering and sacrifice.
Here we have to choose between God and the false pretty self, and according to our choice our future state will be a sad wandering in the darkness of ignorance of blissful residence with God. Those who succeed in doing so, their faces glow in the very light of God's own presence."