His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh’s Message to the World Parliament of the World’s Religions
Dharm is our Practical Life
Practical Spirituality — Practicing Spirituality
It’s not perceived by reading a book and then standing up to give a lecture — or by listening to someone else and then repeating what you have heard —
Dharm means that qualities/virtues have come in a person – the ability to speak the truth — to be kind — to love — to serve humanity — Then until and unless we meditate we won’t be able to understand Dharm. The other meaning of Dharm is the understanding we gain through meditation. When you gain this understanding – then gyan (divine wisdom) comes to you. With this realization, a great revolt occurs within you. Your weaknesses, your bad habits – will be destroyed. The gyan that has been hidden within you will become very powerful and manifests itself. Your mind will become so strong that you will understand — that denying someone’s rights is bad — lying is bad — saying something bad to another that you wouldn’t want someone else to say to you — is wrong.
From time immemorial — until that gyan which is hidden within us — that we can call Budhi — manifests within our consciousness, we won’t be able to understand what true spirituality is. Now we are trying to see Dharm in those who have not even experienced Dharm themselves. This is why when we begin to speak about Dharm people react (negatively) /begin to question -What is dharm? — Something for people who sit idle? for those who give lectures — or read books —They don’t realize that Dharm is the force which changes our minds — our lives — It is the manifestation of that gyan which is hidden within each of us — within all people.
When we go to (our places of worship) Gurdwaras — Masjids — Churches — Mandirs -Temples— sit and pray and then come home — We only listen to the prayers and repeat them. First use those prayers to change your minds — change your lives — Totally submit your life to that gyan? That enlightenment can overcome your weaknesses, the evils within, — and rule our lives But if we only stay within our existing mindsets and think only of ourselves — Then gyan will not come to serve us.
So today those who have understood Dharm would never attack another’s house (of worship). He would always understand that if someone attacks my house how much pain it would cause him — If someone attacks me how it would hurt — if someone attacks my beliefs how much it would hurt — Then that person will become loving. He would never rejoice in another’s suffering. He would never be happy to see someone suffer from what he knows would hurt him. He would always look to his gyan to find ways to help others overcome their difficulties?
Dharm is another name for Gyan
Let’s understand the essence of why people pray to their Prophets, their Messiahs. What is Jesus? — He is gyan — the gyan He came and gave us. What is Guru Gobind Singh? —gyan – We worship the gyan — that we received which changed our minds — which changed our programs — changed our bad programs and began good ones — from our bad thoughts good ones emerged. So this is why we believe in Hazrat Mohammed Sahib —why we accept Moses. The only reason to follow them is that they have given us those things which we can’t find/get in this world -The gyan is far above our worldly things
They helped people without any self-interest. Whatever gyan they gave us, they gave it to us for free — there was no demand attached. So if there is no love, then we can’t say that it is truly Dharm — As the Gurus have said, “If there are conditions attached to your love then we should wonder whether you have love or not.”
There are many examples of unconditional love — When Jesus was crucified — He had no demands for himself — the only demand that He had was that peace come in the world — love come within humanity — the desire to serve others come to people. He gave His life but never made any show about it. He made the sacrifice and never got angry.
“It’s my duty — I’ve brought the message of Dharm — and when the Messenger comes He must take on the difficulties of the world.” This is not a new thing. — When Hazrat Mohammed Sahib came He sacrificed His whole family — and they had to pass through intense difficulties — When Guru Gobind Singh ji came — he had to make great sacrifices — his whole family was martyred — But they understood that within Dharm one had to sacrifice. One must live within the will of God. Similarly Moses adopted the same path — At that time he rode in a chariot — was in line for the throne — was going to marry the Pharaoh’s daughter — but he realized that this isn’t the work of Dharm and said, “I came to work for Dharm.” So he stood up for the rights of the slaves, the one’s who were oppressed — and by standing up he knew the king would turn against him. We all know that the king did not want to free the slaves. Look at what a great sacrifice Moses made — but he was determined to free the slaves.
So this is Dharm — that the Prophets have demonstrated on themselves. Dharm is not what is presented in lectures — that comes from studying books and repeating what you’ve learned — that can never be Dharm — Dharm is our practical life
So I’ve always felt — that if Dharm comes in our hearts — no one would look to attack the boundaries of another’s countries — attack another’s property or homes — then we wouldn’t have wars. Instead people would be warring with the evils within themselves — They would dispel them —banish their own weakness. Then they would see truth in others — So understand what Dharm really is. That which all the Prophets and Messiahs have given their lives for is a great struggle. You must help those in need — you might even have to give your life — might have to sacrifice one’s whole family. Dharm is a practical thing.
It’s not that we simply worship or pray to the Prophets — Messiahs — Nabis — they are worthy of our praise — they have never asked us to worship them — But we worship their virtues — their truth — their love — whatever they have done for us.
So accept Dharm — practice it and only then you’ll understand. You won’t learn by my telling you. As with every subject, a person starts his studies, then takes exams, writes papers and then with time he becomes the head of his class. So Dharm is not something simply to read about — it’s something to apply to our life — and once we do we’ll definitely understand how great Dharm is.
Look at how much time we are wasting in meetings and seminars — spending so much money on books. But the reality is that one day, we will have to follow the teachings of Dharm. Our Holy Books tell us to practice it — All the scriptures which have been revealed to us — that have come through a vision — or God’s voice have all stressed one thing — practice. Practice is imperative if we are to spread Dharm among the people . First practice it yourself — speak about only those things you have experienced yourself — unless and until you’ve experienced it yourself — until your mind accepts it -how can you tell anyone else about it — if you’re always worried — and full of fear — what can you tell someone else? Dharm is another name for our practical life — it doesn’t come through meetings or seminars nor through books — you have to give your life for Dharm. Follow whatever you read or have heard from the Prophets and adopt those qualities.
Today there is no Dharm — no peace — no gyan – all people are upset — full of anger — full of avarice — they possess no qualities of gyan — then what have human beings become? The animals are better than people who have no virtue – even spirits are ahead of them — at least they have love in their hearts which people lack — So become decent human beings — becoming a good human being is a very difficult thing — you’ll become good when you have kindness in your heart — when you have love in your heart — when you look to serve those in need — when you think of how to improve other’s lives — so let us first become good human beings — becoming a good human being is a very great thing – then we can think about who to qualifies to be called a saint or a bhagat — but even becoming a good human being is a great thing. Don’t hurt anyone else’s feelings – don’t deny anyone’s rights — don’t put pressure on anyone — these are the virtues of good human beings.
If we were to study all the religions which have come to the world — and the teachings of the Prophets – we would find that they have all stressed one thing — Ek Onkar — One God — There is one Truth — one love — one seva — and practice it. There is no religion in the world that doesn’t start from Truth — the love of truth — then out of love grows compassion, and the desire to serve those in need. A person must possess these 3 things — and then meditate. They all stressed meditation — meditate, meditate, meditate. So we should first sit and consider this and then start meditating — because we will have to meditate if we are going to pass the course of Dharm. So Dharm doesn’t come through talking — it comes through the awareness of gyan.
Fundamentalism — A fundamentalist doesn’t understand the teachings. No Prophet has ever been restrictive. Those who don’t understand what it means to hurt another‘s feelings, will praise their Guru but do it in such a way that it brings disrespect upon them. They have become so restrictive that instead of linking people to their Gurus they turn people away. Think of them as a kind of atheist — those who don’t accept God — they don’t have any connection to God — If we look at the example of Guru Nanak — He taught that we should recognize everyone as one family — and not look at anyone as a stranger or enemy. He said “My God is in everyone — everything.” If someone sees differences then he can’t be a follower of Guru Nanak.
As Guru Gobind Singh ji said: “Recognize all people as one human race.” We all come from 1 God — But if someone says “No! Believe what I believe. That is the real way.” Then he is no less than an atheist — he’s the real atheist — atheists don’t turn people away from God — but fundamentalists do!
The Gurus, Prophets and the Messiahs spoke with great love for everyone. Guru Gobind Singh ji said, “God is in the water — the mountains — the earth — ” His was the God of all places. Those who turn God into their separate thing — become exclusionist — restrictive — have no connection with Guru Gobind Singh. Those who God gave responsibility to were full of love — kindness — concern for everyone — When Guru Gobind Singh ji said the God of the Hindu is the same as Allah of the Muslims — the prayers in the mosque are in praise of the same One as is prayed to in the temple — then how can we divide them?
If a person becomes a fundamentalist, stay away from him — he has set fire to himself and will try to enflame everyone else. There is no restriction in God’s program. Those God sent had soft hearts — loving hearts — They spoke innocently but people took offense and attacked them Still they didn’t attack their detractors — as the fanatics do today — They tried to teach them. Even though in the end they were martyred. But they kept instructing people — “This is not God’s work not God’s mission” —Their sacrifice was so great – their praise became so great that slowly even their detractors began to follow their teachings — So God is not restrictive nor is His program restrictive.
Whatever Dharm you look at — you won’t find any restrictions. People are restrictive — not God – If you look at any revelations — like Jaap Sahib — look at all the names and praise of God — not even a drop of exclusivism — Guru Gobind Singh said that “God is in the darkness as well as the Light —God is in the quarrels and the peace. God is the peace as well as those who upset the peace.” He saw God everywhere. People say they’re special but the Gurus never said they were special. Either people have seen something special or they haven’t studied the teachings of their Gurus very well. If they have studied the teachings, then why are they so restrictive?
Dharm teaches us that no religion is bad — Some people are bad but they can change — We will only learn to sit together if we come together to celebrate the days of our Holy Ones — How else will we sit together? If we are criticizing each other’s Prophets — how will others ever come to us? So today there is only 1 path — that whenever the day of a Pir — Prophet — Messiah comes — how ever many people can gather — let them hold a big feast — eat together and share their thoughts on Dharm — Let them praise the Prophets. Then one day all people will come together —-
Eliminating Poverty by cultivating wastelands
People have to eat. If you look at an area which is barren — an alkaline wasteland, and you see the people of the area are poor and hungry. If that land can be farmed then people will have food, then they will get work and receive an income — if they come and work. We look at it as a way to serve those in need not just development— If we cultivate the land then people will be fed — we’ll give them fees for school and also help them come closer to God. But work is very important — Working for people is a great thing. If we don’t cultivate the land — or have any other way of correcting the problem (poverty)— if we can’t offer others food — or don’t have kindness in our hearts what use is it? We feel that all we have is for the poor — for the weak. Then we can feed whoever comes. We don’t expect people to give us anything in order to stay with us. We say, “Even if you have nothing — we’ll feed you and give you a place to sleep” — This also plays a role in Dharm — serving people — feeding people — giving them clothes and medicine. But you’re only able to give, if you have earned the money yourself. So we have been very successful cultivating wasteland — and using the income to help others —We hold celebrations and feasts from our own income — we don’t take donations and then run our programs.
When Christmas comes we hold feasts — and also for the days of the Prophet Mohammed. — from the income from the land — from the work of the devotees — Then the people who eat are happy, those who have worked hard to provide the food are happy — and the One’s whose days we are celebrating are happy.
This is a program that everyone can adopt — Don’t think that someone else is doing it and we simply tell others about it and go to sleep. You can do it too! When Christmas comes celebrate it together — When the holy days of the Prophet Mohammed and Moses come celebrate them —celebrate Guru Gobind Singh’s day – Call the Christians, the Jews, call everyone to come together. We have to come together under some banner — the parts of a machine revolve around a center. So the best focal point is to hold a feast — Call people from all religions — then exchange views about what each of your Prophets have said and perhaps you’ll realize that their teachings are the same. Then we will all come together.