Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This morning's shabad from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib reads:

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਬਹੈ ਸਪਰਵਾਰਿ ॥
In the midst of his family, the Gurmukh lives a spiritual life.
[Raag Raamkalee on Pannaa 941]

I find this line enthrallingly accurate. In Punjabi, Gurmukẖ popularly translates to 'follower of the Guru' - but taken literally, the term disjoins into 'to face' (mukẖ) the Guru (gur)'. The image is poignant; a person of faith finds herself constantly turned towards - facing - the divine. Much as a flower grows into bloom through direct contact with the sun, so too, here, the Gurmukẖ moves towards God for spiritual germination.

Notice, though, the context for this flowering: the family. In this regard, the text achieves a multi-layered meaning. On the one hand, it suggests that the God-facing person attains a deeper spiritual existence in and through family, understood both narrowly (nuclear or extended family) and broadly (family of co-religionists). An intimate community of trust and vulnerability, it seems, helps bring the individual closer to that which sustains and transforms all meaningful existence. On the other hand, this line could similarly be read as an indication that God resides within and among family. To encounter God, then, is to live with and love one's relatives - a hard truth, perhaps, to swallow at times!

On my view, both of these allegations resonate with those fleeting moments of sanctity and solidarity with the eternal web of one's heritage and/or religious tradition. Transcendence, in such moments, blossoms with the overpowering awareness of relative-ity: we are all bound to an interwoven braid of kinship.

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