(i) Good Conduct of Life

It is absolutely necessary for meditation that one earns one's own living honestly or by one's own labour. Only such persons can worship, whose earnings are honest. 

Bu' Ali says that for meditation one should eat honestly-earned food so that he may not have any grief or trouble.

For meditation, take food which is honestly-earned so that your grief and suffering may not increase.

Honestly-earned food produces a peculiar light in us, by which knowledge and intellect are sharpened and love as well as humility are awakened. If by eating something one has a feeling of envy or enmity or one does not remember God or his intellect is dulled, then it is a clear sign of the food having been earned by dishonest means. Food is like a seed. As the seeds are impure or pure, their fruits will produce bad or good thoughts in our minds. By intake of food earned both by hard labour and by honest means, we shall be inclined to contemplate and remember the Lord. By eating hard-earned bread we begin to imbibe good virtues. God has given us hands and feet. We should earn our food by their proper use.

We must not covet or desire the wealth of others. To beg is to be under obligation and to depend on others. Be content with whatever you get. Do not depend on anyone. Do not be tempted by the luxurious living of others.

Take the dry and unbuttered bread and cold water. Oh Farid, do not be tempted by buttered bread of others.

Farid, 1379-8

If our food is simple, we shall have fewer wants. When a person looks to others for his living, he does not remain independent but becomes slave of others and indulges in undue flattery. By not using his hands, feet, brain and ears, he becomes incapacitated. He is also affected by the food earned by others — if it is by means other than fair — his thoughts and his mind will be similarly affected. Maulana Rum says, "Do not take food at the table of others or without payment so that their blood might not affect you.

The food of others if it is obtained by force or injustice is like blood."

Turn away from living on the public so that you may not be affected by their blood consider this food to be their blood, because it is obtained by force.

Guru Nanak says that a piece of cloth besmeared with blood is considered to be impure. There are bloodsuckers who grow fat by unfair means and amass wealth by seizing the rights of others. The earnings of such persons are full of the blood and sighs of others. How can anybody's mind remain pure by eating their food! God's name should come out of pure minds and good tongues. But none can be successful on the Path of God by eating such foods.

If a cloth is blood-stained, it becomes impure. How can the mind of those who suck blood be pure. Oh Nanak, take the name of God with a clean tongue. mThe rest are empty shows and your deeds are false.

Majh War M1, 140-10

Guru Nanak, it is said, refused to accept an invitation to dinner by a wealthy and influential governor, named Malik Bhago. He, however, accepted and ate the coarse food offered by a poor carpenter named Lalo. Malik was very angry. He called Guru Nanak and asked the reason for such an insult. Guru Nanak told him that his wealth had been accumulated by sucking the blood of the poor, whereas Lalo's earning was based on meritorious deeds. Food prepared out of such wealth, that has been earned by fair means is full of milk even if it is coarse and stale. But food prepared out of unfair means is full of blood. He squeezed the two pieces of bread with his two hands. Blood oozed out of one and milk out of the other.

Money is essential for honest living.

Guru Har Gobind with his wife once went to Gujrat. People made fun of him saying that asceticism was not compatible with riches. Guru Sahib said that money is necessary for living whether one is a beggar or a rich man. To conceal one's riches and to show oneself as a detached person is to deceive the world. If one depends upon others through his lazy habits, he too deserves condemnation.

Saints have always taught that one should earn one's own livelihood. Such earnings help others. Meditation on God's name for some time is one's own earning. If a Sadhu lives on others, he should not take more than his wants and meditate for five or six hours as it is necessary to pay back the debt of the sustainer.

It is necessary to earn money for one's living by fair means. Money earned by foul means is really not wealth but blood of others. Earning by fair means is like milk. A beggar who provides food to his children by begging cannot achieve any success on the spiritual path. This principle applies equally to all, whether one is a householder or a Sadhu. To eat the leavings of another is like poison. This should be avoided.

The tenth Guru had received large offerings amounting to Rs. 2 lakhs (two-hundred-thousend), but he did not take a pie out of it for his own use in spite of heavy needs on account of many adverse circumstances but threw it in the river and raised fresh funds for war needs. On inquiry as to why he had done so, he said that it consisted of offerings and was like poison. No mother gives poison to her children, he said.

All Saints were against begging.

Guru Nanak says that one should be ashamed of begging at the door of others. When the transcendental One pervades everywhere, why should one beg.

Are you not ashamed of begging at the door of others?

Ramkali M1, 903-8

The transcendental One pervades everywhere, why should then one beg?

Ramkali War M1, 953-5

Guru Amar Das says that if a yogi moves from house to house as a beggar, how will he justify in the court of the Lord the account of his actions?.

After becoming a yogi he wandered all over begging from door to door. When account would be demanded, how would he answer?

Maru War M1, 1089-7

Guru Nanak gives a clear warning to the Gurus and Pirs that if a man calls himself a Guru but goes to his disciples to beg for the maintenance of his children, then we should not bow at his feet. He is far from spirituality. He who earns his own living and gives to others a share of the same is fit to understand spirituality.

If a Guru or Pir goes to beg, do not bow at his feet. Oh Nanak, he who earns and gives part in charity really knows the way.

Sarang War M1, 1245-17

A Sadhu begging from a householder loses the nobleness of his position as a Sadhu. A householder taking the money of another falls from his principles. If a householder takes money from a Sadhu, he is degraded and it is very difficult to redeem him. Kabir Sahib was very much against begging. He says that some persons do not meet a perfect master and on listening to incomplete teachings, assume the garb of a yogi but beg from door to door. Begging is like dying. One should not beg. This is the teaching of all Great Masters. It is better to die than to beg, for when one says, "Please give", the glory of living and respect for life depart. Fellow-feeling and brotherly treatment cease. The glory of this body lies in giving while alive.

Perfect Master is not met, and teachings are imperfectly understood. He puts on the garb of a Yogi and begs from door to door. Begging is like dying and no one should beg.

It is better to die than to beg. This is the teaching of the Great Master. Glory is lost, respect is lost and love is lost. These three are lost the moment a request is made.

Sheikh Farid prays, "O Lord! Do not force me to sit at the door of others. If such be Your will take away my life."

Oh Lord! force not Farid to sit at the door of others. If You wish to keep him thus, take away his life.

Farid, Salok, 1380-2