“By thinking, He cannot be reduced to thought, even by thinking hundreds of thousands of times. By remaining silent, inner silence is not obtained, even by remaining lovingly absorbed deep within.” ~ Baba Nanak Dev Ji from the Guru Granth Sahib
Granth is a Hindi word that means 'book'. The word Sahib is a word of Urdu language and it means 'master'. The word Guru means 'teacher'.
Thus, the Guru Granth Sahib means a Master Book Teacher.
Sikhs consider the Sri Guru Granth Sahib to be a spiritual guide not only for Sikhs but for all of humanity. Sikhism is a unique faith which has aspects of Islam: monotheism and iconoclasm, and Hinduism: reincarnation, karma and nirvana. however Sikhism is distinct from Hinduism and Islam.
the Granth, compiled by Guru Gobind Singh, contains compositions of six Gurus (teachers), namely Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, and Guru Teg Bahadur. the hymns are arranged by the thirty one ragas (musical forms) in which they were composed. the hymns that comprise the Granth were originally written in several different languages: Persian, Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, Panjabi, Multani, and several local dialects, such as Lehndi, Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, etc. there are even Sanskrit and Arabic portions. this makes it extraordinarily difficult to translate. in addition, the entire book is written in the Gurmukhi script.
i grew up surrounded by Sikhs, and they have made a huge impression on our local community with their customs and culture. i spent some time, not much, at the local temples for various reasons, but the language barrier was a major obstacle. all the services and songs and sermons are conducted in Punjabi. although i have done some studying, i can't speak more than a few dozen words in that language. for many years I sought an english hardcopy of this revered book, but without success. now, thanks to the internet, i have been able to enjoy reading this beautiful collection of poetic spiritual thoughts from the ten teachers in my own language. i like it. after reading it a few times, i thought i would share it here.
the basic principles and main messages that are presented in the Granth Sahib: - One God for all. - Everyone is equal. - Speak and live in truth. - Control your vices. - Live according to God's will and order. - Practice humility, kindness, compassion, love. - Always keep an open mind and keep learning.
“Life and death come to all who are born. Everything here gets devoured by death.”
“Nothing is steady or stable. All the rest of the show is useless. What is there to accept, and what is there to reject, O madman? Whatever is seen shall turn to dust. What you believe to be your own, is poison - you must abandon it and leave it behind. What a load you have to carry on your head! Moment by moment, instant by instant, your life is running out. The fools don't understand. One does things which will not go along with him in the end. This is the lifestyle of the faithless cynic.”
“You have obtained the priceless human life; why are you uselessly wasting it?”
“Do not attach your identity to your ego. The world is consumed by ego and arrogance; realize it, lest you will lose your own self as well.”
despite the morbid title and dark content, i found this book to be positive and life affirming. i was very young when i read this book back in the 1970's, and it left a deep and lasting impression. i saw it as a spiritual anti-suicidal survival guide. although this is fiction, i was already a long way into this line of thinking, so it was not hard to adopt some of the philosophies and techniques hinted at in this novel. i still practice meditation on my own mortality in the mirror, i envision my own death skull grin, inches beneath the living mask of skin. that may sound sick, but facing my own fear of death daily, stops me from delving into deeper depressions, and keeps me durable and determined.
THE BOOK OF SKULLS is a good read i recommend.
from the book...
“What Frater Antony urges us to contemplate is a paradox: the skull beneath the face, the presence of the death-symbol hidden under our living masks. Through an exercise of ‘interior vision’, we are supposed to purge ourselves of the death-impulse by absorbing, fully comprehending, and ultimately destroying the power of the skull.”
“The skull lieth beneath the face, as death lieth alongside life. But, O Nobly-Born, there is no paradox in this, for death is the companion of life, life is the messenger of death. If one could but reach through the face to the underlying skull and befriend it.”
“To begin with, why resist death at all, he asks us? Is it not a natural termination, a desirable release from toil, a consummation devoutly to be wished? The skull beneath the face reminds us that all creatures perish in their time, none is exempt: why then defy the universal will? Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, eh? All flesh shall perish together; we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and it is a poor thing for anyone to fear that which is inevitable. Ah, but can we be such philosophers? If it is our destiny to go, is it not also our desire to delay the moment of exit?”
“It is pointless to strive to extend one’s life, for however many years we may gain through such activities, it is nothing to the eternities we must spend in death. By prolonging life, we cannot subtract or whittle away one jot from the duration of our death… We may struggle to remain, but in time we must go, and no matter how many generations we have added to our span, there waits for us none the less the same eternal death.”
“Rex tremendae majestatis, qui salvandos salvas gratis, salva me, fons pietatis. Out! I emerged into the clearing through which I had first entered the House of Skulls. Before me, barren wastes, a prickly desert. Behind me, the House of Skulls. Above me the stars, the full moon, the vault of the heavens. What now? I made my way uncertainly across the clearing, past the row of basketball-sized stone skulls that bordered it, and down the narrow path running into the desert. I had no goal in mind. My feet took me. I walked for hours or days or weeks. Then, on my right, I saw a huge chunky boulder, coarse in texture, dark in color, the road marker, the giant stone skull. By moonlight the deep-set features were stark and sharp, black recesses holding pools of night. Brothers, let us meditate here. Let us contemplate the skull beneath the face. And so I knelt. And so, using the techniques taught me by the pious Frater Antony, I sent forth my soul and engulfed the great stone skull, and purged myself of all vulnerability to death. Skull, I know you! Skull, I fear you not! Skull, I carry your brother behind my skin! And I laughed at the skull, and I amused myself by transforming it, first into a smooth white egg, then into a globe of pink alabaster streaked and veined with yellow, then into a crystal sphere, the depths of which I explored.”
“I knelt before the great mosaic-work skull-mask on my wall, staring at it with unblinking eyes, letting myself absorb it, compelling the myriad tiny bits of obsidian and turquoise, of jade and shell, to melt and flow and change, until that skull put on flesh for me and I saw a face over the gaunt bones, another face, another, a whole series of faces, a flickering, evershifting array of faces.”
“I studied my face, deplored its flaws, seized control of it, retrogressed it to plump pasty-faced boyhood — then brought it forward in time again to the present, to the new and unfamiliar.”
“Part of what Frater Miklos has to impart to us is less elliptical, more readily grasped and held in place. It constitutes a seminar on life-extension, in which he shuttles coolly across time and space in search of ideas that may well have entered the world long after he had. To begin with, why resist death at all, he asks us? Is it not a natural termination, a desirable release from toil, a consummation devoutly to be wished? The skull beneath the face reminds us that all creatures perish in their time, none is exempt: why then defy the universal will? Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, eh? All flesh shall perish together; we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and it is a poor thing for anyone to fear that which is inevitable. Ah, but can we be such philosophers? If it is our destiny to go, is it not also our desire to delay the moment of exit? His questions are rhetorical ones. Sitting cross-legged before that thick-thewed tower of years, we do not dare intrude on the rhythms of his thought. He looks at us without seeing us. What, he asks, what if one could indeed postpone death indefinitely, or at least thrust it far into the time to come? Of course, preserving one’s health and strength is necessary to the bargain: there is no merit in becoming a struldbrug*, is there, old and drooling, babbling and rheumy-eyed, a perambulatory mass of decay? Consider Tithonus, who petitioned the gods for exemption from death and was granted immortality but not eternal youth; gray, withered, he lies yet in a sealed room, forever growing older, locked within the constrictions of his corruptible and corrupt flesh. No, we must seek vigor as well as longevity.
There have been those, observes Frater Miklos, who scorn such quests and argue a passive acceptance of death. He reminds us of Gilgamesh, who strode from Tigris to Euphrates in search of the thorny plant of eternity and lost it to a hungry serpent. Gilgamesh, whither runnest thou? The life which thou seekest thou wilt not find, for when the gods created mankind, they allotted death to mankind, but life they retained in their keeping. Consider Lucretius, he says, Lucretius who observes that it is pointless to strive to extend one’s life, for however many years we may gain through such activities, it is nothing to the eternities we must spend in death. By prolonging life, we cannot subtract or whittle away one jot from the duration of our death… We may struggle to remain, but in time we must go, and no matter how many generations we have added to our span, there waits for us none the less the same eternal death. And Marcus Aurelius: Though thou shouldst be going to live three thousand years, and as many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives… The longest and shortest are thus brought to the same… all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle… it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time. And from Aristotle, a snippet I take to heart: Hence all things on earth are at all times in a state of transition and are coming into being and passing away… never are they eternal when they contain contrary qualities.
Such bleakness. Such pessimism. Accept, submit, yield, die, die, die, die!
What saith the Judaeo-Christian tradition? Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. The funereal wisdom of Job, earned in the hardest way. What news from St. Paul? For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But, Frater Miklos demands, must we accept such teachings? (He implies that Paul, Job, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Gilgamesh, all are johnny-come-latelies, wet behind the ears, hopelessly post-paleolithic; he gives us once again a glimpse of the dark caves as he winds back on his theme into the aurochs-infested past.) Now he emerges suddenly from that valley of despond and by a commodius vicus of recirculation we are back to a recitation of the annals of longevity, all the thundering names Eli dinned into our ears in the snowy months, as we sailed onward into this adventure, a way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s from swerve of shore to bend of bay, and Miklos shows us the Isles of the Blest, the Land of the Hyperboreans, the Keltic Land of Youth, the Persian Land of Yima, oh, even Shangri-la (see, the old fox cries, I am contemporary, I am aware!), and gives us Ponce de Leon’s leaky fountain, gives us Glaukus the fisherman, nibbling the herbs beside the sea and turning green with immortality, gives us fables out of Herodotus, gives us the Uttarakurus and the Jambu tree, dangles a hundred gleaming myths before our bedazzled ears, so that we want to cry out, Here! Come, Eternity! and kneel to the Skull, and then he twists again, leading us on a Mobius-dance, hauling us back into the caves, letting us feel the gusts of glacial winds, the frigid kiss of the Pleistocene, and taking us by the ears, turning us westward, letting us see that hot sun blazing over Atlantis, shoving us on our way, stumbling, shuffling, toward the sea, toward the sunset lands, toward the drowned wonders and past them, to Mexico and her demon-gods, her skull-gods, toward leering Huitzilopochtli and terrible snaky Coatlicue, toward the red altars of Tenochtitlan, toward the flayed god, toward all the paradoxes of life-in-death and death-in-life, and the feathered serpent laughs and shakes his rattling tail, click-click, and we are before the Skull, before the Skull, before the Skull, with a great gong tolling through our brains out of the labyrinths of the Pyrenees, we drink the blood of the bulls of Altamira, we waltz with the mammoths of Lascaux, we hear the tambourines of the shamans, we kneel, we touch stone with our foreheads, we pass water, we weep, we shiver in the reverberations of the Atlantean drums hammering three thousand miles of ocean in the fury of irretrievable loss, and the sun rises and the light warms us and the Skull smiles and the arms open and the flesh takes wing and the defeat of death is at hand, but then the hour has ended and Frater Miklos has departed, leaving us blinking and stumbling in sudden disarray, alone, alone, alone, alone. Until tomorrow.”
from THE BOOK OF SKULLS by Robert Silverberg
* In Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels, the name struldbrug is given to those humans in the nation of Luggnagg who are born seemingly normal, but are in fact immortal. However, although struldbrugs do not die, they do nonetheless continue aging and decaying. http://www.online-literature.com/swift/gulliver/26/
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” ~ James Roscoe Miller
Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix
We live in a time pressured world where it is common to have multiple overlapping commitments that all require immediate attention now. Urgency is no long reserved for special occasions, they are an everyday occurrences. Missing deadlines is not the path to advancement or even good job reviews. So how can one manage the flood of responsibilities, do excellent work and maintain a positive frame of mind? The Covey time management grid is an effective method of organizing your priorities.
Stephen Covey’s approach to time management is to create time to focus on important things before they become urgent. Sometimes this just means doing things earlier. The real skill is to commit time to processes that enable you to do things more quickly or more easily, or ensure that they get done automatically.
The Covey time management grid is an effective method of organizing your priorities. It differentiates between activities that are important and those that are urgent.
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, we need to understand this distinction:
• IMPORTANT activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals, whether these are professional or personal. • URGENT activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else's goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are usually immediate.
As you can see from the grid below, there are four quadrants organized by urgency and importance.
Quadrant I Urgent And Important - is for the immediate and important deadlines. These are the most pressing of tasks.
Quadrant II Important Not Urgent — is for long-term strategizing and development. These are the things that matter in the long-term but will yield no tangible benefits this week or even this year. They are things we know we need to get to.
Quadrant III Urgent Not Important — is for time pressured distractions and interruptions. These are activities which we tell ourselves in the moment that we must do but — if we really think about — we’d have to admit they were a waste of time.
Quadrant IV Not Urgent Not Important — is for those activities that yield little or no value. These are activities that are often used when taking a break from time pressured and important activities. We prioritize these things in the moment and obviously derive some pleasure from them, but they are really time killers.
Stephen Covey - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.
Independence The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence and self-mastery: 1 - Be Proactive roles and relationships in life. To have a can do attitude. 2 - Begin with the End in Mind envision what you want in the future so that you know concretely what to make a reality. 3 - Put First Things First A manager must manage his own person. Personally.
Interdependence The next three habits talk about Interdependence (e.g. working with others): 4 - Think Win-Win Genuine feelings for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way. 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving. 6 - Synergize Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals that no one could have done alone.
Continuous Improvements The final habit is that of continuous improvement in both the personal and interpersonal spheres of influence. 7 - Sharpen the Saw Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, prayer, meditation, yoga, and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.
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