The essential teaching of the Guru Granth Sahib is about being a good human being who keeps God in mind at all times, makes an honest living and shares with others. Without this start on the spiritual path one will not get anywhere.
But the concept of the Oneness of God and Creation that I found in the Guru Granth does appeal to me. God is One, Sikhs, Jews, Christians and even many Hindus agree on this. The idea that humanity is one, that we are all the children of the One is also not unique to Sikhs, although it is one of those wonderful ideas that people of all religions find difficult to practice.
But ‘God is All – All is God’ is, as far I know, an idea that is only found in the Dharmic traditions. God is not just present in all and everything, God is all and everything, and all and everything is God.
We know that in spite of what some agnostics say we are more than the physical elements we are made off. Without mind and spirit we would not be ‘Homo Sapiens’, the thinking man. Mankind cannot create but can creatively work with the elements that God provides and make wonderful and terrible things.
Equally the earth, the universe is more than the physical aspects of it. The combined minds and spirits of the living creatures are part of the universe. Both the physical and the minds and spirits are God.
If you want to see combined minds and spirits at work for good and for evil you just have to look at crowds, human crowds but also ‘crowds’ of animals. In the sangat you can feel part of the One and of All. A crowd at a football match or at demonstrations is bigger than the sum of the individuals.
The group or herd can rise to do wonderful things, but is equally capable of being negative and destructive. European pogroms against Jews, the 1947 massacres in Panjab after partition or the 1984 Delhi pogroms are good examples of the collective at its worst.
We do not believe in a devil who seduces us to do evil. We have been given our minds and spirits, we have been given our talents. We have been given the human life to get near to God, but it is equally possible to waste this chance.
We can use our God given talents as manmukhs, as self-centred beings or as gurmukhs, or God-centred beings. All this is part of God’s hukam.
The spiritual teachers tell us that the true profit is in having good thoughts and doing good deeds. But many look only for the short-term profit of serving the self and of looking down on others. When we realise that God is All and All is God, that God is part of all and everything, we are on the way to make the real profit, to gain inner peace and to be really happy.