What is Hukam?
Please allow me to share a slightly different perspective on Gurbani understanding. It is based on phonetic conversions. Close equivalents from English vocabulary are substituted for Gurbani phonetic to better understand Gurbani. Following example is for first two panktiaa :
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਆਕਾਰ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਕਹਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਜੀਅ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥
Who comes how in crafts how come key ( remains) unknown
Who comes how in grows how come may live in delight
So Hukam is the key / high in-live that dwells along the researcher, seeker. The purpose of life is seeking, researching, making efforts to exhaustion limit to recognize Hukam and how to remain in constant companionship of Hukam.
What is Karma?
When your inquiry leading to action doesn’t go deep; when actions are not grounded in research; when repercussion are not well thought, reflected, researched, then these actions are “karma” that will have consequences.
Is there Fate or Freewill, according to Sikhism?,
Sikhi – seems a process of learning, though, Sikhism has a narrow meaning to a select group; Sikhi encourages you to make a decision ( a free will to choose ) whether or not you want to follow the path of inquiry into the source from where you originate?
A companionship with those who are treading the same path? Learning from those who have accomplished the destination? Who are these companions? How to find, validate- if these found ones are genuine? and continuing in their company.
Fate on the other hand - seems without rational inquiry, procrastination or hastiness/rush to decide and not to select the path to understand relationship to the source; decisions based on fate may or may not have intelligence but surely are without extensive research and validation. Gurbani calls this researching process as reflection, churning ( mathnaa, vichar, steadily inquiring until exhaustion) . Gurbani encourages to explore both extremes of a scenario and settle in the golden middle where astable peace persists. Astable is dynamic peace not static.
How do you square Guru Nanak's injunction to "surrender to the Will" with your sense of having your own conscious will?
Let’s see how y/our conscious will has originates.
Awareness about Space and Time : Watch a baby- trying to understand and match the physical and mental world of vision ਸਾਢੇ ਤੀਨਿ ਹਾਥ ਤੇਰੀ ਸੀਵਾਂ ॥੨॥ ( Ank 659). Although y/our eyes can see distance object, physical touch is limited to three and half hands of distance in space. Your own conscious will thus has a physical limit. Can you fill the entire space/ time even by flying in an aircraft? However, when following Gurbani, surrender to the Will, you become part that will, a constant companion of that larger Will – you transcend the physical limit introduced by your own conscious will.
Does submission equate to placid contentment?
Sikhi encourages dynamic submission. Research and inquiry to exhaustion are the key characteristics of this submission. Further :asking GoRoo, connecting with GoRoo by singing, reading, chanting, writing, researching, reflecting, fellowship, and repeating this process to reinforce the submission. This makes a Sikh's journey more optimistic where the protection from GoRoo guaranteed subtly and through what GoRoo does “ਪਾਲਹਿ ਅਕਿਰਤਘਨਾ ਪੂਰਨ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਰਾਮ ॥“ providing seeker with certainty and positivity “ਅਪਨਾ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਰਖਿਆ ਪਰਮੇਸਰਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ॥੧॥“