Interestingly when I woke up this morning and when I got to work was two entirely different feelings. When I woke up, it was one of those rare days we've all had when you are struggling to get yourself together. I have hundreds of shabads recorded, but when I sat down in my car this morning, the shabad that played was “Gur Mere Sang Sada Hai Naale.” (My Guru is always with me, near at hand)
Har Ka Naam Riday Nit Dhaye
Sange Saathi Sagal Taraaee
Gur Mere Sang Sada Hai Naale
Simar Simar Tis Sada Smaale (Rahao).
Tera Kiya Meeta Lage
Har Naam Padarath Nanak Mange
“Mediate Continually on the Name of the Lord within your heart
Thus you shall save all your companions and associates.
My Guru is always with me, near at hand
Meditating, mediating in remembrance on Him, I cherish Him forever. (Pause).
Your actions seem so sweet to me.
Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.”
Many of you may remember that these lines were read by Guru Arjan Dev Ji at the time of his shaheedi (martyrdom). I immediately found great comfort that whatever lied ahead for me in this day, I would be able to face it with the Guru by my side. Thus, by the time I arrived to work, I transformed from physically prepared to mentally prepared for a day of sewa (service).
Maskeen Ji talks about the Bhagats in his book “Laavan.” He writes “Ravidas may be mending shoes, this is his profession. But this profession is also his religion. He is mending the shoes with a feeling of welfare service for others, with a ‘Bhav.’ In his heart , he says ‘O’ God You have made this as my profession to earn my living and all these people whose shoes I mend are Your forms only. I am doing their service, so thanks to You my Lord. Such a person’s profession becomes his religion, his way of thanks and gratitude to God" (p.57 of the book Laavan). Maskeen Ji describes that an action with a desire attached is a business, and one with devotion and dedication is a dharam (spiritual action, religion). He gives the example if someone visits the Gurdwara for 40 days to get their desires fulfilled- this is a business transaction, not a dharam, but if your heart and devotion is in it, then it is a dharam: “If the mind has only materialistic gain as its prime requirement then doing kirtan is also merely a profession, a business and if a heart is full of gratitude, of thankfulness, of dedication, of devotion, of love for God, of welfare service for others then even weighing of objects, mending shoes, weaving cloth, every action is a ‘Dharam'” (p 58).
I think this brings us to a point about job satisfaction as well. I was talking to someone who saves lives for a living yet has no love for it, still no satisfaction. I was shocked because I thought that saving lives would be satisfying for anyone. It really made me reflect on what satisfied means. It’s not about the job itself, but the mindset of the individual. I think that Maskeen Ji is reminding us of that here- that it's about dedication in your heart that determines if it's work or spiritual action. Of course working fulfills our body’s need for food by making money, but there's one path where one fuels ego and greed, and there's another that trusts that God will provide, and this is my spiritual fulfillment. I feel that I definitely have a lot of job satisfaction, and my heart lies in the families I see and the people I get to sit with to hear their stories. I think that there is a far distance to travel though from not just doing it with love, but doing it for God like Bhagats Ravidas, Naamdev, and Kabir. Naamdev who dyed clothing said “I dye myself in the color of the Lord, and sew what has to be sewn” (Ang 485 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji). To get to that level, the pride and the ego has to be taken out. Each action is not for ego, each action is service to God as sewa. Unfortunately for a lot of people job is a place of great ego, of attachment, of pride, of making a name for yourself and in that way work becomes everything. Work becomes identity, work becomes a business, and not a dharam or any part of a spiritual journey. As we walk that spiritual path through the laavan these are the types of things to think about- where we sit on this spectrum, who our inspiration is, and how we work to get there. As we mentally work with all the tools we have- simran, sangat, Gurbani, katha, kirtan, etc. then we certainly will reach that state over time, by Waheguru’s grace as the 4th laav tells us.
Listen to this shabad by Bhai Niranjan Singh https://www.sikhnet.com/gurbani/audio-play/track,7998