Book ~ "Humility - A Spiritual Journey"

Guru Nanak Dev was epitome of humility, and he preached it all his life too

~SikhNet interview with author Bhupinder Singh~
Can you tell us about your writing back ground? What subjects you have written on in the past and what is your inspiration as a writer?

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Many years back, I was mowing my lawn and I cut tip of my left hand middle finger with the mower blade? So, I was recuperating and my wife mentioned the incident to Bhai Jaspal Singh (A classical Ragi based in Los Angeles). He said to her that my hands should not be used for mowing lawn, but writing Gurbani. So, after the accident I never mowed the yard, instead took this as my hobby.

I have written on understanding and incorporating Gurbani in our lives, in the earlier five books. My inspiration is Bhai Vir Singh. His words, imagination, and spiritual love just have me in awe.

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What prompted you to write a book on Humility?

We are constantly witnessing fights for the control of Gurudwaras. Then, on another front we are seeing that many of Babas are declaring themselves as spiritual leaders. But in both the scenarios the lead players display complete lack of humility. But, Guru Nanak Dev was epitome of humility, and he preached it all his life too. I kept wondering how followers of Guru Nanak could be so off the mark when it comes to humility. This is complete departure from Guru Ji’s path. Interestingly, we hardly hear about the subject in our Gurudwaras. So, by writing about it I was hoping to start a talk about it.

What will be the pinnacle of Humility?

The example provided by Kabir Ji in Guru Granth Sahib is a very beautiful analogy. Kabir Ji first proposes pebble of the pathway to describe humility. Then, he corrects himself as pebble with its sharp and rough edges can hurt the walkers. He instead offers dust of the pathway, which is just the powdered pebble as metaphor for humility. It has no sharp edges to hurt walkers, but rather provides added cushioning. Again, he corrects himself saying that dust can be blown by wind soiling bodies and clothes. He next proposes water. But he again nixes it, as water is affected by heat or chill becoming steam or ice depending on external factors. Getting affected by external influences does not appeal to Kabir Ji. Finally, he offers God as true pinnacle of humility. I found these metaphors very deep and symbolic.

ਕਬੀਰ ਰੋੜਾ ਹੂਆ ਤ ਕਿਆ ਭਇਆ ਪੰਥੀ ਕਉ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੇਇ ॥
कबीर रोड़ा हूआ त किआ भइआ पंथी कउ दुखु देइ ॥
Kabīr roṛā hū▫ā ṯa ki▫ā bẖa▫i▫ā panthī ka▫o ḏukẖ ḏe▫e.
Kabir, to what avail is to be a gravel when it causes trouble to the way-farer.

ਐਸਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਉ ਧਰਨੀ ਮਹਿ ਖੇਹ ॥੧੪੭॥
ऐसा तेरा दासु है जिउ धरनी महि खेह ॥१४७॥
Aisā ṯerā ḏās hai ji▫o ḏẖarnī mėh kẖeh. ||147||
O Lord, such ought to be Thy servant, as the dust of the earth.

ਕਬੀਰ ਖੇਹ ਹੂਈ ਤਉ ਕਿਆ ਭਇਆ ਜਉ ਉਡਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਅੰਗ ॥
कबीर खेह हूई तउ किआ भइआ जउ उडि लागै अंग ॥
Kabīr kẖeh hū▫ī ṯa▫o ki▫ā bẖa▫i▫ā ja▫o ud lāgai ang.
Kabir, what avail is the becoming dust by a man, which scatters and then attaches to the body limbs.

ਹਰਿ ਜਨੁ ਐਸਾ ਚਾਹੀਐ ਜਿਉ ਪਾਨੀ ਸਰਬੰਗ ॥੧੪੮॥
हरि जनु ऐसा चाहीऐ जिउ पानी सरबंग ॥१४८॥
Har jan aisā cẖāhī▫ai ji▫o pānī sarbang. ||148||
God's slave should be such, as is the water that cleanses all limbs.

ਕਬੀਰ ਪਾਨੀ ਹੂਆ ਤ ਕਿਆ ਭਇਆ ਸੀਰਾ ਤਾਤਾ ਹੋਇ ॥
कबीर पानी हूआ त किआ भइआ सीरा ताता होइ ॥
Kabīr pānī hū▫ā ṯa ki▫ā bẖa▫i▫ā sīrā ṯāṯā ho▫e.
Kabir, what then it one becomes like water? It becomes cold and hot.

ਹਰਿ ਜਨੁ ਐਸਾ ਚਾਹੀਐ ਜੈਸਾ ਹਰਿ ਹੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੧੪੯॥
हरि जनु ऐसा चाहीऐ जैसा हरि ही होइ ॥१४९॥
Har jan aisā cẖāhī▫ai jaisā har hī ho▫e. ||149||
God's serf ought to be such, as God Himself is.

Tell us about some benefits of Humility?

Well in our lives we only want to do things which bring us benefits. So, it is quite a relevant to ask this question. Here are some benefits:

  • Have a realistic understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses. We are not a bubble any more.
  • Humility makes us better person and better leader in life.
  • Humility results in better overall health (physical and psychological).
  • Humility leads to spirituality.
  • Finally it leads to merger with God. Guru Ji has vouched for it in these words:
    ਹੋਇ ਸਗਲ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਮਾਵਉ ॥
    “Hoai sagal kee renaekaa hari sang samavaavo.” (SGGS, Pg. No. 322)
    Meaning: Become humble, the dust of every one’s feet; and thus merge with the Lord.

How can we cultivate Humility?

Cultivating is very important word here. Humility and pride are like seeds, with both present in each of us, as part of the cosmic design. Whatever is nurtured within us, will flourish and other will get displaced. In this way Guru Ji wants to cultivate humility and purge pride. Guru Ji has defined a Sikh’s life style on how the daily life is to be conducted. This is like a core life style. Besides, living a life of thankfulness, and reflecting on the wonder of creation in awe nurtures humility.

Have you received feedback from anyone who has read the book?

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Well I have not yet formally launched the book, as I am waiting for printed copies to arrive. I had shared the book with Dr. Jaseem Pasha, who is a psychologist and also CEO of ISEEK organization. He read it and was so enthusiastic that he proposed I do a presentation on the topic at the monthly meeting of ISEEK. So, I am looking forward to share the subject with ISEEK members on 29 August 2018

What is elevator pitch for this book?

Today, in the selfie, Facebook and Twitter world, the talk and pictures are about me alone. The humility is not getting any light shined on it, as everyone is self-absorbed. However, if the humility is cultivated, then that person will be liked by everyone. If they are leaders with genuine humility, they will not have to fight to retain their power and authority. But masses will support such a leader. Best is person with humility will even be courted by God. Kabir Ji has made a portrayal of that scenario in Gurbani. Such a person merges in the Supreme and comes out of cycles of life.

Thank you, I am sure many people will enjoy the book!
Thank you, it's my honor. 

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