ਜੋਤਿ ਕੀ ਜਾਤਿ ਜਾਤਿ ਕੀ ਜੋਤੀ ॥
Joṯ kī jāṯ jāṯ kī joṯī.
The creation is born of the Light, and the Light is in the creation.
(SGGSJ Ang 325)
In Sikhism, reality exists as two emanations – the unmanifest or Nirguna and the manifest Sarguna. As ONE and yet ALL. The Creator – Akal Purakh – exists as unified ONEness, without form and beyond space and time, yet also exists as ALL forms within the expanse of Creation. And the Creation exists entirely within the ONE.
How can we, existing within manifest reality, understand how this can be? How can we possibly hope to understand ONEness from our perspective which is painted by duality. We automatically think in terms of separateness because we experience reality as an individual living among many.
We have to use concepts that already exist within Creation to explain concepts that exist outside of it; a daunting task. But we aren’t hopeless…because the Creation itself being of the Creator, is imbued with the same light, the light of Akal Purakh. And the proof is to be found everywhere, including our own being.
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥
Sabẖ mėh joṯ joṯ hai so▫e.
The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light.
(SGGSJ Ang 663)
In fact, Gurbani often likens this world as a dream…
ਇਹੁ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਸੋਵਤ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਨੈ ॥
Ih supnā sovaṯ nahī jānai.
This is a dream, but the sleeper does not know it.
(SGGSJ Ang 740)
…and it’s a very appropriate metaphor.
Imagine when you go to sleep tonight you dream you are a surgeon. You are in the operating room and have your assistants and nurses with you and a patient on the table. Now imagine in that dream there was nothing you could do. The patient dies. When you wake up ask yourself some very important questions:
Who was the surgeon? Were YOU the surgeon? Or was the surgeon just a part you played in the dream? After all, it seemed so real while you were dreaming. Just like the tuk above mentions, that while dreaming, the dreamer does not know it’s a dream. You could feel the instruments in your hand, smell the smells in the OR, hear the sounds of machines beeping and hear people talking. While in the dream you ‘forgot’ you were the dreamer and so you believed you were the surgeon. Your identity was effectively that character. In that moment you knew no other identity.
The surgeon, however, really was a false identity, a transient part you played, one that ceased to exist when you woke up.
When the dream ended, I highly doubt you would question if the surgeon was ‘reincarnated’ or moved on to some afterlife. When speaking of the surgeon’s ‘soul’ you know now it is a useless question. You understand that the surgeon was inconsequential, was not a real identity and that YOU were not really a surgeon.
But be sure, the surgeon DID ‘exist’ somewhere.
Also who was the patient? Did they REALLY die?? Were they reincarnated or sent to some after life? What happened to their ‘soul’?
You may be thinking it’s silly to think about just a dream in this way but there is a point to this metaphor…
Though you may not have thought about it, and though you were experiencing the dream through the surgeon’s eyes at the time, the patient was in fact also YOU, as were the nurses and assistants. In fact even the machines, and instruments and even the grass and sky outside. They were all existing within your mind, and you controlled everything in your dream. Even though outside the dream, you are ONE conscious entity.
That reality WAS real while you were there. That world did exist somewhere. It had substance. It was an entire Creation within your own thoughts which could grow with each new idea. And you can remember it within your memories as if it was real.
And now you have just been given a way you can envision how the ALL can exist within ONEness. How Creator and Creation can be the same thing. How the light of Akal Purakh (the Observer) can be the same ONE in ALL. No wonder we see dreams used as metaphor in Gurbani!
And what are thoughts/dreams anyway? They are pure frequency. Brainwaves can be measured as frequencies on EEG.
In fact you may be surprised to know that the entire Universe as we know it is actually just energy in vibration, or pure frequency. We see it in light, heat, radiation, and sound (word).
ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ ॥
Kīṯā pasā▫o eko kavā▫o.
You created the vast expanse of the Universe with One Word!
(SGGSJ Ang 3)
Matter essentially has no substance. It’s an illusion of our perception.
Einstein once said “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
So reality isn’t an illusion in the sense it doesn’t exist. It does exist. However it IS an illusion of perception. What we experience as physical reality is the illusion. The existence itself does exist but just not as the solid tangible thing we think it is.
Did you know that electrons themselves which make up every single atom in existence, can either behave as a particle (something tangible) or as a wave (something intangible that moves through a medium)? And that the one thing that decides if an electron is a tangible particle is a conscious observer???
Scientists are baffled by a phenomenon called the measurement problem. I’m no quantum physicist however I will try to summarize. In an experiment called the double slit experiment, it was shown that electrons passing through a slit produced a predictable pattern on the back screen, basically a line of dots. When they put two slits they expected the electrons would pass through one or the other and create two lines of dots, but instead what they saw was an interference pattern. It was as if the electron went through both at the same time; something that indicates the electron was a wave not a particle. So how could this be?? A wave is itself not something tangible. It’s just energy passing through a medium.
So they put a camera to observe that exact moment right before the electron hit the slits… once they did that there was no more interference pattern. They were dumbfounded! Now they had two lines of dots. It was as if the electrons now ‘chose’ one or the other slot each time. So what happened?
The very act of a conscious observer caused the electrons to pop into existence as matter. A conscious observer collapsed the wave function and created something tangible – Sargun. Without a conscious observer, they remain something intangible, a wave or pure frequency – Nirgun.
The big takeaway? Consciousness creates matter (and not the other way around as commonly always thought). It’s a huge discovery which still scares physicists! After all, our own bodies and even our brains are made of these same subatomic particles!!
(After reading between the lines, we can ask ourselves just who is observing US into existence? And why are we consciously aware? Why can we also affect the outcome of the experiment?)
It’s interesting that what Einstein said also agrees with Gurbani. Gurbani itself is steeped in metaphor and there is one beautiful example that explains the relationship between consciousness, and the creation and destruction of matter.