Spiritual Ascent and Mountaineering

4 thoughts on “Spiritual Ascent and Mountaineering

  1. Paramjit Singh Rana

    Thank you Sohan Singh Ji for sharing the article through this very imformative medium – AWAT. My gratitude to you and the team AWAT.

    Drawing from your personal experience from mountaineering and using it to explain the five Khands has been very useful to me. As you pointed out Dharm Khand is the initial stage where we are expected to develop virtuous living before we proceed to accent on this upward ( or may I say inward) journey. In this sense, to be a virtuous human being is a pre-requisite for anyone who wishes to pursue spiritual path. Virtuous living is not an end in itself, but a pre-condition to become a spiritual human being.

    As you point out once we have developed virtuous lifestyle, moving to Gyan Khand and Saram Khad and finally implementing the spiritual learning from Gyan and Saram Khands, in Karam Khand follows.

    Can you please help, how one can even start this journey when we know Dharam Khand ( virtuous living) can only come from spiritual wisdom which as you have suggested come in Gyan Khand and Saram Khand. Last week AWAT’s quote (Jeea) was explained very nicely and it noted: “This type of relationship is established by devotees who walk the righteous path and emulate virtues. However, only after we embrace divine teachings and abandon our egoism can we obtain virtues.” I totally agree with this articulation and in fact I wrote back expressing my full concurrence with this statement and my appreciation for the AWAT team. This however, puts your explanation in circle — you can not be virtuous ( Dharm Khand) unless you first embrace, understand and Maanh and Sunay divine wisdom which is in the purview of Gyan Khand. Can you please help me understand, how to balance this apparent circulatory e.g. how can one enter Dharm Khand without first not being in Gyan and Saram Khand?

    Guru Fetah.

    Paramjit Singh Rana

  2. AWAT Admin Post author

    Dear Paramjit Singh jee,

    Thank you for your comments.

    To understand the Dharam Khand, let us take the example of an alcoholic. The person having a dependency on alcohol hits ‘rock bottom’ i.e. has some health problems and starts thinking of changing his behaviour. His situation might have become so intolerable, that it inspires him with motivation to change.

    Similarly, a person may suddenly realise that his life is meaningless, he or she has no purpose in life. So the person starts looking for purpose in life. That is when he/she becomes a seeker or learner and starts reflecting on life as they are unhappy with their status quo.

    Gurbani describes it thus:
    In the first stage, a human being asks, “Why have I come to this earth?” Then the person concludes that he has taken human form to perform virtuous acts and to purify the soul. He comes to appreciate that, in the Divine Court, decisions are taken in accordance with one’s deeds and high or low status as understood by worldly people does not apply in His Court: Karamee karamee ho-ei veechaaar, Sachaa aap sachaa darbaar

    The person then starts making an effort to move to the next stage, to obtain Divine Knowledge. The next stage in his/her life is termed as Giaan Khand

    Guru Raakhaa
    Sohan Singh

  3. Paramjit Singh Rana

    Sohan Singh Ji, thank you for your kind response. However, may I say your response does not answer the question that is being asked. May I also humbly request you to please do not view this exchange as an attempt on my part to be disruptive, I am just seeking this opportunity to learn from Gurubani scholars and literates like your self. I hope you view this exchange in the spirit of mutual learning.

    From your response, I gather the realization of “Karamee karamee ho-ei veechaaar, Sachaa aap sachaa darbaar” (as you put it) is an impetus for change and for developing virtuous livinig. But this realization/appreciation comes from divine knowledge which is part of Gyan Khand. Only after an individual comes to appreciate this divine wisdom ( which comes from Gyan Khand), he realizes the urgency to perform virtuous acts and work to purify the soul and become a virtuous human being (which is the purview of Dharm Khand).

    So the question is: why the activities of Dharm Khand precedes actions of Gyan Khand?

    Alternatively, as a more direct question: Can a person become virtuous if there is NO Devine Wisdom. i.e. Can a person become virtuous without Divine Wisdom? Is so, how?

    Your example of an alcoholic who hits rock bottom is simply spaeking about an outliar, possibly 1 in 100 — 99% percent of human beings are not in such state of mind. So the question is how to encourage those 99% of human beings to become virtuous.

    Guru Fetah.

    Paramjit Singh Rana

  4. AWAT Admin Post author

    Dear Paramjit Singh jee,
    Thank you for your very deep questions.
    If your missive is read properly, you have asked three different questions. The first one is:
    Why do the activities of Dharam Khand precede the activities of Giaan khand.

    In my humble view, Guru Nanak was the greatest psychologist and philosopher. Read any good book on Motivation, and the consensus is that motivation is what gets us to act or do something. The starting stage in the Cycle of Motivation is –Contemplation (An author whose name I can’t recollect at the moment has even written about pre-contemplation which precedes Contemplation) Anyway, most authors agree that Motivation leads to –Action and Action –leads to Progress. Dharam Khand is the Contemplation stage when one starts thinking about the meaning or purpose of life. The Contemplation leads to Motivation to do something about one’s lack of spirituality, and one goes onto Action which is – reading Gurbani. Reading Gurbani makes the seeker make more progress in the Spiritual field which leads to Saram Khand- the Realm of Effort.

    Question 2:
    Can one be virtuous without relying on Divine Wisdom?
    Yes, but it will be a long route. It is easy to say that ‘I am a virtuous person’, but really difficult to be one. Please read about Gautama Buddha and Mahavir –spiritual leader of the Jains etc. They went beyond being virtuous and found Enlightenment. Gautama Buddha led a nomadic lifestyle and sought the guidance of many spiritual teachers, but then found the ‘Middle Way’ by his own efforts.

    It is much easier if we follow the Teachings in Gurbani while living with our own families in our own homes.

    Your third question:
    How to encourage people to be virtuous?
    First of all, you will have to be a good role model and be really virtuous yourself. It would be interesting to know your understanding of the term ‘virtuous. Be the person you want others to be, and your voice will have greater conviction.

    One exercise you could then do with people you want to be ‘virtuous’ is discussed pros and cons of being virtuous. Let them weight both and decide that it is worth being virtuous. You motivate people and not lecture them.

    Scare tactics which our parcharaks adopt do not work. Christian preachers hectored their audiences with fear of Hell and the Devil, and the outcome is that Christians are abandoning their religion –at least in the UK.

    Sohan Singh

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