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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
Those first lines, "1 Omkar" or "Ek Omkar" (more commonly rendered as "Ek Ongkar") are the opening lines of the Sikh holy book, the Adi Granth Sahib. "Ek Ongkar" forms a primary mantra and a core statement of belief for the Sikh faith.
Ongkar (Omkar) is the fundamental sound "Ong" ("OM" or "AUM") that permeates and underlies all of existence. Ongkar is understood as God or the "true name" of God. Ongkar is the sound or vibration of God through which creation comes into existence (what, in Christian theology, would be called The Word). Thus Guru Nanak refers to Omkar as the "Person who creates."
"Ek Ongkar" is read to mean "God is One," and since all of creation is the result of Ongkar's vibration of manifestation, all of creation similarly is One in God. "Ek Ongkar" is an assertion of supreme inclusivity and sacred unity.
The ancient truth, ageless truth
Is also, now, truth.
I love these lines, but they can cause confusion if we read them superficially.
Fundamentalists of various religions have a tendency to misunderstand statements like this and assert that religion should remain fixed. Too often that attitude leads to cultural and intellectual fossilization. They confuse religion with God, the practice with the Goal. This happens especially when the esoteric heart of religion is lost.
When the wise proclaim that truth doesn't change they are speaking of something deeper. Guru Nanak is proclaiming that Truth is eternal, not just in the past, not just in the distant future, but it is equally present right here, right now. It is "beyond time / Unborn, self-born." It is a living, accessible Truth, not simply a perpetuation of belief or form of worship.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am not at all suggesting we should neglect religious tradition. We must honor the traditions and practices that have brought us into this very moment. But we must honor them by understanding them. In fact, if we don't understand our religious traditions, we won't understand the present moment or our cultural identity.
But it is only through directly experiencing the Eternal that our traditions reveal their full meaning. Without that direct experience of Truth, we are simply acting as museum curators. Cultures change -- always. We must always be engaged in that change, intelligently adapting the ancient ways, integrating them into the living present.
To do that properly, we must be aware that beneath the shifting surface of time and human activity, there remains a fundamental state of being that is "beyond time," and this can be directly witnessed. We need true, deep mystics to understand how to live our ancient faiths in the present moment. Better still, we must each become true, deep mystics ourselves. Then we will know and properly honor "the ancient truth, ageless truth" that Guru Nanak and all great sages proclaim.
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M. Granger's original poetry, stories and commentaries are Copyright ©
2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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