The first verse of the Sikh Morning Prayer, Japuji Sahib, has always held a special meaning for me. So I would like to share it:
By rituals mind is not made pure even with a million rituals
Silence of the tongue does not silence the mind even when prolonged
Inwardly unsatisified do not find satisfaction even with all the world’s goods
Even with a million clever thoughts not even one accompanies you (at death)
How to become truthful? How to break the veil of illusion?
Says Nanak: “Accept the Will (Hukam) enshrined within”
This passage shows the futility of certain practices as paths to find truth, including ritual, asceticism (silence), materialism and empiricism (clever thoughts). So given that all these attempts fail, then how can one become truthful?
The veil of illusion mentioned is created by the ego-influenced mind that does not realize its connection with all life. The Will (Hukam) mentioned is similar in nature to the Tao in Taoism. Something that is subtle yet all are within it. When we search within ourselves, we find the understanding of the Hukam within. Then ego-based illusion of duality gives way to a vision of oneness.
The important aspect found throughout this passage is the contrast between outer practice and the inner state of mind. So that no matter what you attempt on the outside, it has little merit unless you can actually change the inner state of your mind. So Guru Nanak recommends that we look within our consciousness for the truth that we seek. The positive affirmation is that if we search within, we will find what we seek.