You are many, yet you are one - Translation of Sant Singh Maskeen's Lecture

(Work in progress. Please visit later to see final translation)

Translation of Sant Singh Maskeen Ji's lecture on Guru Gobind Singh's couplet:
"Anek hai Phir Ek hai"
You are many, still you are one 

Dear respected community, greetings! I am going to start discussion of the words of the Guru with my modest discussion of a chhand of Guru Gobind singh: 

Amaan hai, Nidhaan hai
Anek hai Phir Ek hai

By "Nidhaan" Guru Ji implies "treasure of Virues". You are the treasure of the virtue of energy. You are the treasure of beauty. But at the same time you are "Amaan". You don't have any pride. You don't have the pride of being powerful. You don't have any ego of being beautiful. You don't have pride of having any of your multifarious virtues. 

The writers of the Upanishads have considered three virtues of the universal entity: Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. That God is Satya or true. That God is Shivam or enlightened (?). And that God is Sundaram, or extremely beautiful. 

Vedic rishis have described this universal entity as "Sad-Chit-Anand". True. Enlightened. And beautiful.

The universal entity has been described by Guru Nanak as "sat suhaan sadaa man chao". Or "You are true. You are beautiful. You bring pleasure to the heart."  There is joy within you. There is hope and optimism within you. You are blossoming and you are glowing with youthful vigor and freshness. 

That treasure of strength, the treasure of beauty, the treasure of joys ... Of this  Guru Gobind Singh that the universal entity has no pride.

And the next thing, "Anek hai Phir Ek hai". In other words despite being one, you are many and despite being many, you are one. This sounds like a riddle. If something is one, how can it be many. And if something is many, how can it be one?

Being many, you are one. Being one you are many. The first word in the Guru Granth Sahib is "one" or "ik". The first word from Guru Nanak after high enlightenment was "one". That was the first brahm naad from Guru Nanak. 

What is the shape of this one? How does this one look? What is the character of this one? What is the ability of this one? The whole Guru Granth Sahib is the exposition of this "one". 

And do you know what is the decision of the words of the Guru? 
Ek vastu boojhai ta hovai paak 
Bin boojhai tu sadaa napaak 

If you understand the "one" you, if you assimilate yourself with the one, you become pure. If you don't understand you remain always impure. You are filled with dirt. 

The Guru doesn't think there can be purity without the understanding of one. There is no one who is pure without one. Without connecting with the one. 

Even if there is a big philanthropist, if he doesn't understand one, if he is not connected to one, not only is he impure, there is impurity in his philanthropy too. There will be the bad smell of ego in his gifts. 

If someone is doing a big service, but he/she does not understand "one", this service will give birth to ahankaar, or ego, not Nirankaar or God. 

If someone is meditating, if he is going to the Gurdwara without fail, and is trying to do service in many ways, but if he doesn't understand one, nor is connected to the one, then from all these religious acts, only "ego" is going to be visible not Nirankaar or God. 

And every act which depicts ego, every act that is done as a show off, is not pure. That is dirty. And the one who is dirty, his service is also dirty. His philanthropy is also dirty. Believe me. His sitting in the Gurdwara is also dirty. Until he is not himself pure, none of his acts are pure. 

Then the question arises, how can one become pure? And Gurbani says:
Ek vastu boojhai ta hovai paak 
Bin boojhai tu sadaa napaak 

If you understand the "one" you, if you assimilate yourself with the one, if you know one, then you are pure. If you don't understand you remain always impure. 

Let me repeat. The first letter of the Guru Granth Sahib is one. And Guru Gobind Singh says:

Amaan hai, Nidhaan hai
Anek hai Phir Ek hai

You are many, yet one. You are one, yet many. 

Pay attention here. This seems like a riddle. How can you be one and many at the same time. As a matter of fact, at the level of the sansaar or world, he is many. At the level of himself Nirankaar, he is one. At the level of aakar or shapes, he is many while at the level of niraakaar, or shapeless, he is one. At the level of sargun, or qualities, he is many while at the level or nirgun or quality-less he is one. 

Guru Granth Sahib says, "Eh bani birlo vichaarsi je Ko Gurmukh hovai". 
The one who read, sing, or listen to the guru's words are many. But the ones who truly contemplate are rare. 

When we say a person has changed what do we mean?  Have his hands changed? Feet? Face? No. Nothing in the body has changed. What has changed are his thoughts. His thinking has changed. When thoughts change, the whole world changes. With changing thoughts, a person's character changes. When the mind changes, everything changes. 

When the minds of many people change, we say that the "yug" or age has changed. The change of ages has to do with the changes of minds. If one person's mind changes, his whole world changes. His character changes, the melody of his life changes. Thinking is everything. 

On this planet there is one race that bows down to thoughts. And that is the Sikh race. Guru Granth Sahib is the center of thoughts and Sikhs bow down to the center of thoughts. For that reason, a Sikh should never be without good thoughts. Sikhs aught not to be unwise because wisdom is their Guru. 

Gyan Guru Aatam Updeson
Naam vibhoot lagaon

If wisdom is the Guru how can a Sikh not be wise? How can a Sikh who bows down to supreme wisdom, not attain wisdom. If there is bowing down but there is no wisdom, the bowing down is hypocritical. And it is true, that there is a lot of hypocrisy in those who bow down these days. Guru Nanak says:

What is the point of bowing if you don't understand, if you don't comprehend, if you don't have faith, if you don't have any trust. What is the point of bowing down your head if the heart is impure. 

It is possible that in your charity there is hypocrisy. It is possible that there is no meaning to your bowing down.

As a matter of fact, without changing your thinking, you cannot change the melody of your life. 

What is the biggest gift that you can give to your Guru? Is it money, food, clothes, gold and silver? Not really. When an innocent child starts learning how to write, then he starts with exercises. Money, food, clothes etc are like that. They are exercises. They are useful to get a disciple to the point that he offers his thoughts as the gift to his Guru, to the point that he offers his mind to the Guru. What is the mind but an idol of one's thoughts. Only if one could learn how to give this gift. 

And when that happens, the Guru gives the disciple his own mind. Our thoughts have lobh or greed. The Gurus thoughts have santokh or acceptance. Our thoughts have Kaam or lust. The Guru's thoughts have Raam. Our thoughts have ahankaar or ego. The Guru's thoughts have Nirankaar. Our thoughts have krodh or anger. The Guru's thoughts have daya or compassion. Our thoughts have moh or attachment. The Guru's thoughts have Prem or love. 

Only if you offer your anger, will you get compassion. Only if you offer your Kaam, will you get Raam. Only if you offer your ahankaar will you obtain Nirankaar. Only if you offer your moh, will you get prem. 

What does it mean by giving your mind to the Guru? Giving your mind implies giving your thoughts to the Guru. 

And what do humans generally have in their thoughts? 

The definition of the body is simple. The body is made in four layers. Bone, muscle, connective tissue (minj) and skin. That's it. Bhagat Kabir says:

Are you proud of these bones? Are you proud of your muscles? Are you proud of the connective tissue, or your skin? Is that it? Think about it. The pride of the body is the pride of the skin. Just like we wear different colored clothes, God has not given the same color skin to anyone. Everyone has a different color. 

Karmi Avai kapda nadri mokh duaar

It is our karma that gets us this body, this skin. But everyone has been given a different color. Some are white, black, brown, golden. This is Gods choice. 

Anik rang tere narayana 
Yours are many colors

So many colors! And because all the colors have come from Narayan, every color has Narayan. 

Rang Sabe Narayane

What is body? Body is bones, muscle connective tissue and skin. And then what is mind? Mind is also a collection of four elements: vichaar, Sochni, chhitvani, and aham. They say "Man budh chit aham". The writers of scriptures also call it chatushta-anteh-karan or the four inside doers. 

Humans have many thoughts. When a choice among thoughts is made, "man" becomes "budh". When we are remembering someone, "man" becomes "chit". And "aham" separates thoughts about ourselves from thoughts about others. Aham is related to questions lik, is that me thinking? Or is that me remembering. So the mind comprises of these four: man budh chit aham. 

What is a change in the mind? A change of your mind is a change of your thoughts, discernment, remembrance, and ego. 

What do you mean by a change in ego. How can an ego change. Well, there is something called a "Nirmal" ego ... Or the soft ego. Initially humans have pride of their bodies, their wealth, their youth, their family, their caste, their ancestors ... But when ego changes, he has pride of God, no one else. 

Oh god. Oh true one. You are my pride. You are my energy. All other pride is unclean. Guru Tegh Bahadur says

The bhagats are not necessarily without pride or nimaane. They have a lot of pride. They are proud of God. Guru Arjan Dev says:

Oh God. I don't want to live without pride (nimaana). I don't want to live without power (Nitaana). It's natural that someone without any power is left without any pride. The one that is without any power is actually dead ... A walking and talking dead body. A community without any power is without any pride. Without power a country is also without any pride. There is no place in this world for the one without power. Weaklings have no place in this world. If there is no kind of power ... No Power of wealth, no power of youth, no power of family, no power of caste, then what kind of power can one have? One can have the power of God. 

Oh god, you are my power. So you are my pride!

The pride of God is pure. All other pride is impure. 

When thoughts undergo a change ... What is there in a human's thoughts? We say that changing of your thoughts change the world. By changing your thinking you can change your life. By changing what you remember you can change everything. Then the question arises what is really in this thinking? What is in these thoughts?

Indian philosophers have concluded that within human thinking are the five thieves: kaam, krodh, lobh, moh and ahankaar. Study your own thinking. What are you thinking. Read your thoughts, what is there? Analyze your remembrance; what is there? 

Guru Nanak says, You can read such great books, but you can't read your mind?

You can read deep treatises, big books, but you can't read what is written on your forehead. What is happening in your mind. What is happening in your head. Read!

And the one who can read his own mind, that is a 'sadhak'. And the one who can change his own mind is a 'sadhu'. The one that is in 'Sadhna'. Guru Arjan Dev goes even beyond this and says (it's actually Kabir who says this):

The wise sages like Sanak and Narad also didn't realize the mind within the body. They couldn't understand the depth of the mind. They were duped by the mind. 

Bhai Gurdas writes about Brahma:

Brahma is the one who originated the four vedas. His intellect is unmatchable. But he is attracted by his own daughter Sarawati. Like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv, Indra and Narad were similarly incapable of winning their minds. 

Winning your own mind is no child's play. People say purify your mind before going to the Gurdwara.  They are absolutely incorrect. One should never say that. What should be said is, "go to the Gurdwara so your mind is purified."  How is it possible to purify your mind before going to the Gurdwara. 

Ones who don't understand the mind they say, "calm your mind to do 'path'".  But they are wrong. How can the mind be calmed without paath. They don't understand the mind. They should instead say, "Do your paath so your mind is calmed."  

It is not someone else that dupes you. It is your mind. The mind duped Indra. Indra committed a folly that normal humans commit. He could not control his urges and has a relationship with Gautam Rishi's wife Ahilya. Guru Granth Sahib puts this history in front of us (it's actually Bhai Gurdas):

What is there in the thoughts of humans? In our thoughts there is 'Kaam' or desire. We have lobh or greed. We have ahankaar or ego. I did not include krodh and moh. (Anger and attachment) Do you know why? 

Religious philosophers say that three -- Kaam, lobh and ahankaar -- have their own origin. Krodh or anger and moh or attachment are just shadows of the other three. Attachment is the shadow of desire, greed and ego. Similarly krodh or anger is the shadow of desire, greed and ego. 

With what our greed is satisfied, we get attached to it. With what our greed is not satisfied, we are angry towards it. 

With what our desire is satisfied, we get attached. And when our desire is not satisfied we are angry. 

Whoever stokes our ego, we get attached to and whoever hurts our ego we get angry with. 

In that way anger and attachment are shadows of greed, desire and ego. 

There are some that say themselves, "if we are not there, how will there be any service."  "If we are not there, the school will close."  My one answer is, try to die and everything will continue happening. 

keti gayi vekh vaaje vajaye
vahi ek raisi jo saacha khudaye
See ... So many have gone 
after playing their instruments
The only one who remains 
Is the true lord 

Tomorrow you may ask if the sun will rise if I am not there. How will the rivers flow if I do not guide. If I am not there how will the wind blow. But who can tell you that everything will continue even if you are not there. It's just your ego. Ego is useless. Worthless. Everything will happen even if you are not there. 

The one who stokes your ego, you tend to like. You get attached to that one. And the one who stops, we are angry at. The one who fulfills greed we are attached to. The one who betrays your greed we are angry with.

Think about this. The one who fulfills your desire that one looks beautiful; we get attached to them. The one who stops desire, is subject to our anger. For that reason, religious philosopher say that attachment and anger don't have their own independent origin. They are shadows.


Let me say this. We have to look inside. We have to understand our mind. Without looking inside, nothing will be gained. And you can look inside only by listening. Listening is what is hard. It is very hard. Very very hard. 

There are mosques, temples and gurdwaras. The form of prayers are slightly different, but the objective, the end result is the same.  

Our Hindu brothers go to the temple so they can see the idol of a Devta. Darshan or vision is the way of the Hindu.  Whatever will be in front of the eyes, the eyes shall see. The whole meditation is based on vision or darshan. If you see the idol in a temple, and come out and see the idol in everything -- that is the objective of the meditation.  

Our Muslim brothers and sisters go to the Masjid.  They read the "Namaz." Devotion rests upon reading.  Reading the Quran is the most important.  You need more concentration to read, than you need to see.  

Sikhs go to the gurdwara to hear the shabad of the guru. Listening of the word of the guru is most important.  Their whole devotion rests upon listening.  You need more concentration to listen than you need to read.  

Don't be in the false impression, that all of us who are sitting here are listening. Among all the hundreds may be 2 or 4 are listening. Everyone is listening to their own thoughts. Everyone is listening to their own remembrances.  If someone listens, then:

Nanak Bhagtan Sadaa Vigaas
Suniye Dookh Paap Ka Naas

By listening evil is vanquished. By listening our sorrows are destroyed. By listening, Guru's thoughts will enter us.  Guru's thoughts will drive ego out of us.  That will drive out sorrows.  Listening is hard. 

Only that person can listen who is concentrating his whole mind.  The mind is going hither and thither all the time.  If you are seeing here and there, and being distracted by every sight and noise, it is clear that your thoughts are also lost.  

Haven't you seen someone saying something loud, and the listener says, "Can you please repeat it, I didn't hear what you were saying?" Well why didn't you hear? When the speaker was saying it so loud, why didn't you hear? It is clear that the thoughts were somewhere else.  Without the concentration of thought it is hard to listen. 

And without listening, it is hard to get Guru's word inside you.  And without Guru's word going inside you, it is impossible to eject all the sorrows. Sorrows will come out only when the Guru's word will enter. 

Nanak Bhagtan Sadaa Vigaas
Suniye Dookh Paap Ka Naas

It is only after listening with complete concentration that peace can be found.  Listening can make you pure.  Listening is like going on 68 pilgrimates:

Suniye athsath ka isnaan

Food enters the body through the mouth.  When food is digested it becomes part of the body, it becomes energy, it becomes medicine for the body.  The Guru's word enters the body through the ears and becomes eternal peace, ultimate energy, angelic virtue, and the power of the soul.  But the word has to enter the ears.  And it will only enter when someone listens. And only that person will listen who is concentrated on listening. 

Who listens? People get very excited and do akhand paaths of the Guru Granth Sahib at home.  But in the room in which the akhand paath is going on, they forget entering the room, lest they have to listen. Who listens? It is hard. 

A person can listen to his son, to his friend, to his wife, husband etc ... but listening to the Guru is tough.  It is very tough. Why?  Because Guru's words are not set to the rhythm of our thinking. We think about kaam, Guru thinks about raam. We think about krodh. Guru thinks about dayaa. We think of nirankaar. Guru thinks of nirankaar. The rhythm does not match!

If the harmonium goes in one direction and the tabla goes in a wholly different direction, will that create beautiful music? No! The rhythm does not match.  Guru's thinking and our thinking has a huge gap. They say, when there is harmony between instruments, that's when it appears beautiful. Otherwise it does not appear beautiful.

Sometimes, listening to kirtan, if it is appearing beautiful, there must be harmony.  Only a few find kirtan to be beautiful. People are mostly lost in voices, melodies and rhythms, or useless stories.  Stories that don't even have relevance with either history or truth. I have seen the nadir of listening.  How will they listen to the Guru?

Eh Bani Birloh Bichaarsi

How will they meditate upon the Guru? The story of truth. Not depthless tirades. If a story does not align with the Guru Granth Sahib's thinking, how can it be true?

One from many, many from one

Anyways, let me continue.  Guru Granth's thinking has nirankaar, the virtues of the most benevolent. They enter the body only through listening. Shabad enters the body and becomes samadhi. It becomes angelic virtues. And the understanding of the ultimate reality will dawn upon the mind. Which ultimate reality?  The one about which Guru Gobind Singh says:

Anek Hain Phir Ek Hain
The one that is one, and at the same time, the one that is many.

How can this be. Its a riddle. How can he be one and many at the same time? He has a body and he is without a body at the same time. He is Sargun and nirgun -- with virtues and without virtues at the same time.

Nirgun aap sargun bhi ohee
kalaadhar jin sagli mohee

In the robe of sargun he is many. In the robe of nirgun he is one. He is one from many and many from one.

Sometime notice in the world -- everything is many.  There is nothing that is one.  You can bring oneness from the outside. But nature does not have oneness. So many of you are sitting here, everyone is different.

Mere Karte ik khen upaaya
Koye na kis jaisa upaayaa

There is no one like the other. Lakhs of humans are being born into this world everyday.  They come with a new bodies, new voices, new walks, and amazingly new fingerprints.  All of you have different fingerprints. Everyone has a different thumbprint. One thumb is not identical to any other thumb. There are currently 5 billion people on the earth.  They all have different fingerprints. The one's that have gone in the past had different finger prints.  The one's that are yet to come will have different finger prints. Different bodies, voices, walks, color ... there is no one like the other.

Leave apart humans.  There is no mountain like another mountain. There is no river like another river. There is no one tree like another tree.  Forget trees.  There is no leaf like another leaf.  Even when you see leaves from the same tree. There is no flower like another flower. If a tree has a thousand fruits, they are still all different.  Don't have the misconception that there will be two fruits which are exactly alike -- in color, shape, body, weight, smell, taste. There is undersandable difference.

Whether we understand the difference is a wholly different issue.  There is a difference nevertheless.  God does not make one like another. God does not repeat.  There is no repetition from God. He doesn't repeat anything. The day that God starts making something exactly the same, they you can assume that God has died. That is not possible.

There is no sun like another sun.  There is no moon like another moon. And there is not one sun, there are millions of sun. Guru Arjan Dev has said:

Kai Kot Sassiyar Soor Nikhatra

There are many crores of Suns. And today science has agreement on this.  There are 50 billion stars in the universe.  (Now it is said there are over 100 billion stars just in the milky way galaxy - which means all humans could have have their own 10 stars, and there would still be more stars in just our own galaxy).

Everything has an age

Just like we have an age, suns have an age. Some suns are in their childhood, some are in their youth, some are old, and some are nearing their death.  Guru Arjan Dev ji says,

Ghatant deepan, ghatant roopan
Ghatant rav sas nikhatra gaganan

The sun is decreasing, and one day it will end. The moon is diminishing and one day it will expire. The earth is diminishing and one day it will die. Humans are diminishing and one day they will die.
Everything increases, then decreases, then expires. These three rules work on everything. They apply on sun, moon and the stars too. And science opines that our sun has passed its youth and is getting old now. Every second the sun loses 40 lakh tonnes of mass.

Ghatant deepan, ghatant roopan
Ghatant rav sas nikhatra gaganan

They are all decreasing. One day they will all die. "Mahapralay" is the name of this magnificent death. The death of one universe. We are living under an aging sun. Even though its age might be millions or billions of years, there is an age. Everything increases, decreases and finishes. 

There is no one sun like another sun.  There is no moon like another moon. There is no human like another. Or a tree! There is no river like another river. God does not repeat. 

When God starts repeating, that is the end of everything. 

Sahib mera neet navaa
sadaa sadaa daataar 

He is always new.  Whatever comes from him is new. Lets not go into a tangent here, but millions of children are being born in the world. They all have a new body, new mind, new voice, new thinking, new eyes and features, new fingerprints. Every child is different. 

The game of difference

Mere Kartay ik Khen rachaya
Koe na tis hi jeha upaaya

Everything is different.  But in all this manyness there is a oneness. 

Amaan hain Nidhaan hain
Anek hain phir Ek hain

You are one in many and many in one. Why has God done this?  Guru Gobind Singh answers this in the following way:

Ek moorat anek darsan keen roop anek
khel khel akhel khelan ant ko phir ek

Manyness is a play of God.  It is a drama.  It is a game.  

Only two really know how to play a game: kids or God.