Both transcendence (nirgun) and immanence (sagun) aspects play an important part in the awareness of spiritual life. Transcendence requires an expansion of our awareness through Grace, while immanence requires for the Divine to be brought to our level of understanding.
The Opening Stanza of the Sikh Morning Prayer, Japuji Sahib, offers an exploration of transcendental attributes from a unique perspective. Contemplation of Transcendent qualities of the Supreme Soul, Paramatman, will fashion our own soul.
Here is a rendering of the Opening Stanza of Japuji Sahib called Ml Mantra with explanatory notes below each attribute:
1 OM Manifest,
Please read Connectedness in Ik Onkar Symbol for a detailed explaination of this attribute. It is a transcendent quality that is both manifest and yet always remains unchangeable in its oneness. Ordinarily our mind is in dualistic thought, dividing reality into categories, labels and opposites. During a mystical encounter with the underlying Oneness behind appearances we are granted an undivided, non-dualistic vision.
Satya, derived from Sanskrit root “to be,” refers to “existence,” “being” and “consciousness.” The truth rests in conscious awareness. Therefore, Ikonkar and Satinam together can be translated as “The One Onkar, whose name is existence.”
This attribute signifies that the doer of all actions is the Supreme. By ascribing all actions to a higher power, we can control pride and ego.
In our life, we have fears – fears of economic hardship, political instability, crime, war and ultimately of death. These fears originate from attaching ourselves to temporally real and changeable aspects of life. When, however, we recognize the eternal ultimate reality behind appearances all our fears are erased from our mind.
Hatred can often be rooted in our own projected fears. When we fail to examine our own shortcomings, we have to tendency to see them in others. If we examine our own heart, we would recognize that what we hate in others is often an aspect of us that we have hidden from awareness.
As we connect to the Real, we lose our fears and no longer need to feel hostility to others, since our self regains its natural confidence in knowing its real spiritual worth.
The physical forms in the temporal world are not eternal. This is a quality of the spirit-soul, atman, as the eternal form.
Literally “not of the womb,” hence unincarnated. This also shows transcendence over transmigration of the soul from countless births and deaths. The Real is omnipresent and cannot be limited to any human birth.
In the natural world, existence depends upon an external cause. A human being came into existence through parents. Even one-celled organisms derived their existence from the division of a “parent” cell through fission. Fire cannot burn without fuel and in an ecosystem a balance is achieved through the interdependence of various animals upon one another.
Self-existence means that your personal existence is no longer dependent on something outside you. The Real is complete on its own and requires no other support for its existence.
By Guru’s Grace
We believe that we create all changes in our life, yet the presence of a Higher Power in our lives can transform us. Our belief of independent action is only true to the extent that we are guided and inspired by Divine Grace. Personal effort has a place, yet it yields to Grace to refashion the senses, the heart and mind. We have difficulty controlling or forcing change in our lives on our own, though with sincere prayer we find strength to persevere.
We are like farmers of our consciousness, who through our efforts till the soil with meditation, plant the seeds of good action, and take out weeds of egoism. Yet without Grace like the farmer waiting for rain during a drought, our efforts will not yield harvest and at such trying times our faith is tested.
When the time is right, Grace will enter our life. We cannot control when it comes and instead we develop gratitude for all gifts including our life at all times – whether good or fraught with difficulties.
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