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I am Sikh – so what ? September 7, 2013

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 I am Sikh – so what ?

I know this comes out little too aggressive and it’s meant to be . because that’s the mood  I am in ..

I am underwhelmed with the media and what’s being said after Wisconsin shootings. I was shocked and felt how stupid media can be for labeling this act of crime as “mistaken identity” rather than calling it as “domestic terrorism”. Thanks to Valerie Kaur for being first one to raise this concern via her article “Let’s retire mistaken identity“.

And now 2 weeks later when we are still coming out of shock and getting back  to normal routine I am surprised all the awareness programs being created around states to spread information about Sikhs. Though I am proud to know that Sikhs are on lime light finally and people are getting to know us but it makes me think what about other minorities? Do we really need to go and teach people “Don’t kill me because I am so and so, and my values resonate with American values” . There are all sort of articles being written on how Sikh values are same like American values and how we all are Sikhs (students) but I beg to differ and ask “Really ? Are we ?”

I am not against people learning about each others’ faith, little bit of education never harms but I would like to see more talks about humanity going along with it. Wadge Page didn’t just kill people because they were Sikh, he killed them because these innocent lives were different to him and somewhere he was raised with hate against OTHERS. He would have walked down a mosque, a temple or any other worship place and killed anyone who didn’t look White.

It’s hard for me to comprehend what one must feel to get to the level and become ignorant enough to kill another human being. And to me teaching you about my Faith in order for me to make you feel at home and not be afraid of me is stupid. I rather see people teaching their kids about Humanity and how each life is important no matter what faith they choose. This will do better in making sure there are no Wade pages who grew up in hatred and feel threat towards “Others”.

If I have to teach you – I rather have you learn Humanity

If I have to teach you – I rather have you know Love

If I have to teach you – I rather have you know compassion

I can teach you about Sikhi and how Sikh values relate to American values but I rather you learn some humanity and respect humanity to make sure tomorrow we don’t have to about  faith to anyone’s faith to accept them.

Just my view..

 

Beliefs – don’t let them CLOSE you !!

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 3:44 pm
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ImageFew years ago I was traveling on a short flight to LA and picked up a conversation with a man, probably in late 50s sitting in seat next to me. He was probably curious about my faith and we began to share our beliefs and talk about religion.

As we were talking I remember telling him that in Sikhi we believe God is everywhere and in everything .. even in You and Me – God is within US. As I finished my sentence and looked at him, I could see discomfort in his eyes.  He said he doesn’t believe God is in us and then mumbled  a bit .  Then he said “It’s probably sin to think like that” and then he went silent.

Few minutes later he got up, picked his stuff and went back. And I realized he changed his seat because he couldn’t handle my views and probably thought it was even sin to hear it.

It was weird for me too but I guess that’s how strong beliefs can be…  Once you believe in something with total faith – you shut your eyes/ears to everything against it.  i just hope I always have strength to hear and eyes to try seeing things from other people’s view, even when I don’t believe in them..

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This can’t be my Waheguru !! December 18, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 3:12 pm

Before I write what I want to write, I want to put a disclaimer that I am not an expert, scholar or researcher on the subject. This writeup is purely out of my life experiences, learning and beliefs I have grown up with. I can be right or wrong and honestly I am not bothered. I am just going to express something I strongly feel about.

There has been quite a few times that I have been into discussions with friends over the topic like “Is there something like destiny?”, “Is our fate already written?” and more often than normal group has agreed or semi-agreed that our fate was already written before we were born.  I somehow was never convinced either way (whether it was already written or we control it).  And this question has always been on mind. I have tried to find logical explanation, tried to find the answer from Gurbani ( you have to understand that my knowledge in Gurbani is limited) but there was never something more convincing than the recent events.  Be it event of shooting at Wisconsin temple or shootings at Sandyhook or more tragic gang rape in Delhi (capital of India). When I look at these events, it makes me wonder how can someone go to that level of hate where one not only kills the people he doesn’t know but he also kills himself.  That is really deep for me to understand. But what I can make out of all these events is that my Waheguru (your God, Allah, Jesus -whatever name you give) can’t plan/write something like this for anyone. I used to say “I am not the DOER – HE is the doer, God has already planned it, God is the force behind everything” . but not anymore. I can’t worship, pray someone who can write put this as destined plan for anyone. One may argue with me that Life, Death, Good and bad its all in our mind – but I won’t go there. All I know is the ONE upon whom I put my faith is neither the planner nor the doer of such horrific acts. We have to resolve and accept these actions are our own doings. We can’t just play the game of whatever good I do it and whatever bad blame it on God.

I feel sad for the victims, may Waheguru provide them strength to deal with the brutal realities of life.

 

 

Saanjh – an Experience !! March 1, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 1:07 pm

This post has been probably long due as it’s been over 6 months now that I went to Saanjh 2011 retreat. But what if I said memories are still fresh and beautiful in my mind and I am still reaping from the seeds that were sowed during the event.

I went to the retreat with intention to learn Gurbani and connect more with Guru. Before I go further with the experience I have to admit that this was second time I registered for the retreat. Though I cancelled my 2010 registration because I didn’t have courage to go alone and I was probably not ready. However 2011 was a big year that brought huge changes in my life and yes I did finally go to the retreat. If you ask me what made me go, simple answer – I was ready and looking to learn and connect with the Guru.

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Retreat took place in beautiful woods around Santa Cruz (CA) where huge trees welcomed you into fresh, chilly and sensational nature. On arriving there was warm welcome by the volunteers. As I interacted with the people I realized Saanjh wasn’t just about the organizer but about the people who attend it.  It was Saanjh where for the first time ever I actually tried to understand and make meaning out of Gurbani. It was amazing to hear the different views and perspectives on the same shabad[s]. I was amazed to experience how multi-dimensional Gurbani is and how each individual develops his/her own relationship with the Guru.  Apart from the knowledge of Gurbani, listening to amazing experiences, learning history, rang manch/games the most beautiful part were the morning and evening diwan.  It was blessing to be able to get up in morning and not only do collective banis with Sangat but listen to amazing kirtan and all that sitting in a glass hall, right in middle of woods. It’s an experience that can’t be described in words, it’s something to experience.

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To end I will say only this, I went alone but when I came back – not only I had better understanding of Gurbani, our History and current affairs of Punjab but I actually came back with a Saanjh family – beautiful memories, beautiful people and beautiful Sangat.  As I planned to move back to India, only thing that I knew I was definitely going to miss and didn’t want is the sangat and beautiful people I met during Saanjh.  I may miss the Saanjh events but the “Saanjh” I was able to develop with the sangat and the Guru, it’s going to go on with me forever. That’s what Saanjh is about…

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Here is a short clip on some of the moments from Saanjh 2011 – enjoy :-)

http://vimeo.com/29033359

 

 

An act of cleaning or An act of disbelief February 16, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 6:53 am
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Few months ago I came across a video that was going viral on internet. I saw countless number of people post the same video on their Facebook and I believe countless people admired it too.  A lot of people felt “Wow” watching the video and may be few like me just didn’t like it. The video was unseen footage of Harmandir Sahib and it showed the cleaning process of the diwan(main) hall. This is the cleaning process that is said to be followed every morning. Since it was “unseen footage” I was really curious to see it. But when I saw the video I ended up questioning the process and I couldn’t believe it was happening. Basically part of the process is to clean the hall with Milk. Buckets and buckets full of milk are thrown onto the floor of hall for cleaning all in the name of purity and then floor is cleaned again with water. Thereby making floor pure and holly. The pity is that in a world where so many people die of hunger everyday, there are buckets and buckets of milk drained in the name of holiness, cleanliness and faith. As I watched the video I felt like as if we haven’t really learned to live our Guru’s teachings. As uncomfortable and displeased I was watching the video, I didn’t know what to do about it.

Obviously the reason I wrote this blog is that somewhere I still hope that one day this will change. The least I can do is at least share and try to bring awareness among us. I beg to remind us that Guru taught us against blind faith and myths and if we still continue to perform such acts then are we really obeying our Guru? It’s like we worship, we listen and do all the other nine hundred and ninety nine things but we forget the most important thing, that is acting on it.

I will end this blog with a Shabad by Bhagat Ravidas Ji, where He talks about the various methods that were being used to clean and please God during those times. Let’s introspect if we are caught up in such acts even today or did we really learn to listen and practice what our Guru taught? I do want to thank Sarabjit Singh Dhunda (gem of a Sikh preacher) for enlightening with this Shabad in his katha and guiding us Guru’s way:

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Bhagat Ravidas – Ang 525

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ਗੂਜਰੀ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਕੇ ਪਦੇ ਘਰੁ ੩
Gūjrī sarī Raviḏās jī ke paḏe gẖar 3
Goojaree, Padas Of Ravi Daas Jee, Third House:

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik▫oaʼnkār saṯgur parsāḏ.
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

ਦੂਧੁ ਤ ਬਛਰੈ ਥਨਹੁ ਬਿਟਾਰਿਓ ॥
Ḏūḏẖ ṯa bacẖẖrai thanhu bitāri▫o.
The calf has contaminated the milk in the teats.

ਫੂਲੁ ਭਵਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਮੀਨਿ ਬਿਗਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥
Fūl bẖavar jal mīn bigāri▫o. ||1||
The bumble bee has contaminated the flower, and the fish the water. ||1||

ਮਾਈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਹਾ ਲੈ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Mā▫ī gobinḏ pūjā kahā lai cẖarāva▫o.
O mother, where shall I find any offering for the Lord’s worship?

ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਫੂਲੁ ਅਨੂਪੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Avar na fūl anūp na pāva▫o. ||1|| rahā▫o.
I cannot find any other flowers worthy of the incomparable Lord. ||1||Pause||

ਮੈਲਾਗਰ ਬੇਰ੍ਹੇ ਹੈ ਭੁਇਅੰਗਾ ॥
Mailāgar berĥe hai bẖu▫i▫angā.
The snakes encircle the sandalwood trees.

ਬਿਖੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਬਸਹਿ ਇਕ ਸੰਗਾ ॥੨॥
Bikẖ amriṯ basėh ik sangā. ||2||
Poison and nectar dwell there together. ||2||

ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਹਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥
Ḏẖūp ḏīp na▫ībeḏėh bāsā.
Even with incense, lamps, offerings of food and fragrant flowers,

ਕੈਸੇ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥
Kaise pūj karahi ṯerī ḏāsā. ||3||
how are Your slaves to worship You? ||3||

ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ ਪੂਜ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Ŧan man arpa▫o pūj cẖarāva▫o.
I dedicate and offer my body and mind to You.

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੪॥
Gur parsāḏ niranjan pāva▫o. ||4||
By Guru’s Grace, I attain the immaculate Lord. ||4|

ਪੂਜਾ ਅਰਚਾ ਆਹਿ ਨ ਤੋਰੀ ॥
Pūjā arcẖā āhi na ṯorī.
I cannot worship You, nor offer You flowers.

ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਕਵਨ ਗਤਿ ਮੋਰੀ ॥੫॥੧॥
Kahi Raviḏās kavan gaṯ morī. ||5||1||
Says Ravi Daas, what shall my condition be hereafter? ||5||1||

 

Puta Mata Ki Asees December 12, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 1:03 am

This post comes out of a beautiful moment from last year around this time. On my birthday we had Sukhmani Sahib Paath and Keertan session at my home  to Thank Waheguru for all the blessings and life. Though you don’t need any special day or moment to be Thankful but I guess one’s birthday is another reason to be thankful. During the Keertan time I over heard my Mother requesting Kirtan Jatha to sing “Puta Mata Ki Asees” Shabad.  At that moment I didn’t remember the Shabad and neither did the Jatha so they sang some other shabad and day went on. Few weeks later when my Mom had already left for India, I somehow remembered how she wanted to listen to this Shabad and so I kind of ended up playing the Shabad and listening to it. As I listened to Shabad and later read the meaning, I just left me in a complete “Awe” and a moment full of Love. I was so touched by the meanings, purity and the history behind the Shabad. When Guru Arjan before He became Guru  was asked by His father Guru Ramdas Ji to go and attend to a wedding at a far away place and to teach Sangat, Guru Arjan Ji was filled with great pain of separation and His mother gave Him this blessings. It was really beautiful to know my Mom wished the same blessings for me. Just reading the following lines I was in state of pure bliss:

O son, this is your mother’s hope and prayer,
that you may never forget the Lord, Har, Har, even for an instant.
May you ever vibrate upon the Lord of the Universe. ||1||Pause||

Anyways without saying anything further I just want to share the Shabad and you would know why it was so special to know the meaning ..

You can listen to the shabad by Chardikala Jatha at following link:

http://www.sikhnet.com/audio/puta-mata-ki-asis

 

O Nanak where have your Sikhs gone ? November 8, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 4:55 pm

Every now and then when I meet a fellow Sikh person for first time, I get asked “What’s your caste?” and most of the times person asking happens to be our older generation.  I have always felt unpleasant talking about it.  As a kid, I didn’t like discussing castes because I feared that kids will make fun of my caste as the name sounded funny. But as a grown up man, I find this question more disturbing.  More than 500 years ago Guru Nanak Dev Ji started the fight against discrimination, caste-system and gave us the concept of  “EK ONKAR”  meaning “ONE GOD”.  And over 300 Years ago Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave us title of Singhs and Kaurs. But today we are proudly known as  Rajputs, Jatts, Ramgarhia, Labana, Ramdasia, Khatri, etc. etc. and then we add a subtle suffix “Sikh” at the end to make it as “Jatt Sikh”,  etc. It almost seems like an oxymoron to me. Because first part denotes “division” while second part is supposed to be the one who believes in ONE. Our Gurus didn’t believe in inequality or division. They believed in ONE and they only taught us ONE. I may not know a lot about Sikhi and still learning but this is one thing I really know and believe that Guru Nanak Ji was against any kind of discrimination and division and He believed in equality in all aspects.

As I started search for my spouse questions like “What is your caste/sub-caste?” started to come my way more often (I will refer to these questions as “the question” here on). My response back in days to the question used to be “I am Khatri”. The interesting thing is that even though all my life I have grown up listening to  “Ek Onkar” but in very subtle, unaware mind I became the part of the problem by identifying me as Khatri. Thanks to the rejections that came my way due to my so-called caste that made me sick listening to the question and whole caste differentiation. I used to ask these questions in my mind “O Nanak where have your Sikhs gone? How can we call ourselves Sikhs, if we still practice casteism”. But the funny thing is that even at that time I was not looking at myself, I was rather pointing fingers and blaming people for practicing caste system and not adhering to the basic principle taught by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. And as it always happens,  one day it dawned upon me that even though I don’t like whole caste system and I don’t practice it but I was part of it – the minute I said “I am Khatri”.  The minute I identify myself as any other Sikh, I falsify my Sikhi.  So with this realization my answers changed as did the outlook towards the question. I have tried answering to the caste question as “I don’t believe in caste system” but I guess it didn’t feel like much of impact.  Recently I have started to say “My caste is same like Guru Nanak Dev Ji” – go figure and if nothing else it makes me giggle inside for throwing this puzzle back at the people.

As I finish this blog I just hope that WaheGuru gives us enough wisdom and awareness that we can come out of these little differences and follow the path of Guru – away from discrimination and caste system. 

 

Beard Up or Down – I am no clown October 11, 2011

This summer I went to Summer Solstice camp hosted by 3ho Organization in New Mexico.
Kundalini Yoga and Meditation are the two key ingredients of this camp. At this camp for the first time in my life I let my beard down in public. It was not because I was required to do so but there was no need of any artificial look.  And I enjoyed it because it made me feel “This is me“. For the first time in life I didn’t have to spend time fixing it, using hair spray or hair gel so that hairs are tucked in properly. As I look back, it wasn’t just about looking certain way it was more about being acceptable in society. Some call it “being presentable” and others call it “well groomed”. Like anything else this thought process of staying socially acceptable in my looks didn’t come over night, it’s something that developed through my childhood. As I grew so did the fashion industry and the definition of what is acceptable. As for beard there was a time when it was considered as a masculine attribute.  In beginning every male kept it, then it became a commodity of holy men and may be later for the men who wanted to feel more masculine. If you look into the 19th century around the world most men wore full beards (even American and European) it was sort of fashion of that era.  But this changed slowly after Fashion industry gave birth to the term “Clean Shaven” which cleverly not only planted idea of shaving but also in subtle ways said “You look clean when you shave”. Today in order for you to look clean you should shave and be well groomed and that’s what is socially acceptable.  I must mention that I have nothing against people who shave, keep beard up or down or trim – it’s a personal choice and there is no right or wrong to it. I keep it as part of article of faith. For observant Sikhs, the body is a gift to be honored by leaving it in its natural state. Maintaining kesh, or hair, is one of the five articles of faith as ordered by the 10th guru.

Anyways, after I came back from the camp I was in dilemma because I wanted to keep my beard down but my mind was talking me out. It was making me worry about how people will react, how I will look, what will people think, etc. etc.  I played this battle with my mind back and forth.  It continued over the weekend till the very morning I was getting ready for work. My mind almost talked me into going back to keeping my beard tucked in. But there was a strong part of me that revolted and was really uncomfortable to pick up the hair spray and tuck beard in. And in the moments I made decision to keep my beard down and go to work.  As I walked into the office, I saw the reaction of people – some through the eyes only and some through words,  some in polite manners and some with their crude words. I wasn’t surprised when some co-workers of good intentions actually suggested that I should keep beard rolled up as it looks cleaner and presentable.  I got similar reaction from good friends and family. They didn’t mean any harm but probably felt that they it was not at par with so called “Clean looks”. I struggled through my decision in days to come later, as every time I met anyone who hasn’t seen me in my new looks (friends, co-workers, or clients) – I caught myself questioning “What will he/she think of it?”. I was also advised that girls these days want guys with clean looks and if I keep beard down I may not find a girl who would accept it and want to marry me. As sad it was for me to see the mental state of people and the reactions I got, I was happy that I didn’t give in either to my mind or to the talks of these people of good intentions. In fact more pressure I got, stronger my decision to keep beard down became. At a point I felt what a pity it is that most people see me as who I am outside – my physical looks.  People want to accept me for who they think I should be like and not for who I am. While truth of the matter is that I am not the body, I am the soul, my physical looks should be far less important than the person I am inside.

It’s been few months now that I have kept my beard down and I am totally comfortable with it.  I must admit before I kept my beard down I was also against the idea because I felt it wasn’t presentable and some how I won’t be acceptable / liked in society. But of course, until you experience you don’t know what you are missing. On the lighter note, this change has also brought me some attention and looks as I walk down the malls, shops, attend business meetings and during normal course of my life. Only difference is that before I used to be uncomfortable when people looked at me as if I am some alien (which I am and I have an alien# too) but now I just enjoy the attention and smile knowing that most of these eyes can’t see me beyond my physical looks. I just know that I am not trying to be someone just to be acceptable and I am as open outside as open inside.  Hence, Beard up or down – I am no clown of my mind or  yours.

 

The Me in You August 12, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 12:05 am

Have you ever heard of the statement “People are reflection of who you are“?  In other words you always see people the way you are towards them.  It’s quite an interesting topic because at first it’s hard to believe that someone is way he/she seems because of my own thinking.  Secondly, in my own eyes I am a fair dealing and good person. But not necessarily, everyone I come across is good. Not everyone I come across is patient and humble, so how can be those people reflection of me?  And then bigger question I have is “If we all are part of one soul (As per Sikh teachings) and God resides in everyone and everything than why is it hard to see everyone as ‘One’?” Why can’t I see myself in someone else too? These are some questions that I still don’t have answers to but I guess this blog I wanted to share a realization of mine.
Before I share what I experienced/realized I want to build up the case for it. So, I have a tendency to judge people, especially when I come across people who are too nice. It’s like when I see someone too nice, my radar goes up and tells me “there is something fishy, what does he/she want?” especially if this person is someone I hardly know. Like everything else I know this pattern of thinking and belief didn’t just come over night, it had to have deeper roots and the roots probably lead back to childhood. I grew up in a very insecure society and during the times when you had to mind your own business or else you were calling trouble to your home. You were taught that you have to be careful about who you associate and what you do because apparently people around you were there to take advantage of you. So basically, you had to build a shell around you and be watchful for everyone. You were told “Never trust anyone, else you may get hurt”. Whether it was right or wrong, it was the mentality for survival and existence.  And as I grew older this just became as something that I didn’t even have to think about, just stay watchful and in process be insecure.

It was just like another day and I guess I had judged or found someone not real because somehow I wasn’t able to accept that someone can be as nice.  And for some reasons my mind was fighting this battle if the person was really what he projected. And out of nowhere in the middle of a shower this thought dawned upon me that it’s not that the people are not real or nice,
they probably are nice in reality – it’s ME who has a challenge accepting because somewhere I am not nice or as giving and as loving as them and/or my deep rooted belief of beware of nice people. This realization made me look deeper and find why it is so hard to give be it love, a hug, a warm smile that too from deep within. I mean I can fake a smile or say some nice things even when I don’t really mean, to impress or to make other person feel good but not always what I say is sincere and from somewhere within me. It takes time for me to open up that way and be giving to someone who I just met or to someone who I barely know. And I ask myself,  “If WE all are children of same FATHER, our almighty God – then why so hard to Give and share?”. One can say that my behavior is the result of upbringing and the society I grew up in, the beliefs and situation made me put a wall around me to be watchful for people around me and hence my outlook and tendency to judge nice people.

Anyways without going deeper into the topic, now I know that when I see a lacking or when I judge someone – it’s not about that person. It’s something that lacks in me, my beliefs and my projections.  If my projection is of Love, I will see Love in everyone and if my faith is strong in Guru then I will only see perfection and beauty. And as I write this I just hope Waheguru blesses me to see Him in people around me.

As I finish this blog I am reminded of Shabad:

 

Minding my Mind March 8, 2011

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 6:36 pm

I was listening to Yogi Bhajan’s talk on “Mind” he gave in summer of 1987.  He touched upon an interesting yet very deep true human behavior.  I have recently started listening to Yogi Bhajan’s talks but I really love his thoughts as he makes you think, think out of the box and think different from what you were told all your life.  In this particular talk he mentions how we are always in race to control other person’s mind and we seldom stop and make conscious efforts to control our mind. Let’s explore what he was referring to.  He said that most of our actions and behaviors, thinking is all about how to please other person. For instance our clothing, way we dress up. I asked myself following questions:

  • Why do I like to dress up nicely?
  • Why is it important to look good and presentable?
  • Do I get happy just by wearing what I wear or Do I get happy when I know I am wearing something that’s acceptable to the people around me?
  • Would I wear for instance dhoti (traditional men’s garment) or shorts or my pajamas to a party? – Probably not, why because I am too worried and fearful that people won’t accept it and I may end up as the talk of the party.

As I look deeper to find answers to these questions I know most of what I do whether in terms of dressing or actions, my aim is  to be acceptable to the people around me and I don’t want to look different.  And that’s what is funny because in fact, I am different, you are different and everyone is different.  No single person on this earth is exactly same as other.  It’s even true for any other living thing in world, no two people, animal, birds, vegetables, flowers, etc. are exactly same.  The creator created it so perfectly well that everyone is different and unique;  We are part of ONE soul but we are different. In fact it’s irony that when Guru Gobind Singh Ji formed Khalsa, He gave us an identity that was different and was easy to distinguish and today I find myself more often trying not to look different.

I am amazed how we have evolved with all the rules for our society, what’s acceptable and what’s not.  And then we seek freedom out of these rules.

Let’s see how deeply all this “pleasing others” or shall I call “trying control other’s mind” has infected our minds.  Let me take an example.  Let’s say I am going on date with someone I really like or someone I am attractive to, how would you think my thought process for the date would be? In a right mind or shall I say socio-acceptable mind, I would dress up nice, act gentle, show my best out and not miss a chance to impress the date. Now play close attention all I am doing is so that I am acceptable to the person, in simple words I want her mind to think I am good for her. Right ? And if she finds me good then we may have the future? So, basically my actions may lead her to behave in way I want and way it is benefits me. This all sounds all normal, isn’t it? But what am I actually doing? I am trying to control her mind with my actions. In simple English, I am trying to IMPRESS her and most likely she is doing the same too.  But when we try to impress and show something that we may be are not or not in whole we bring ourselves and others the pain.  Why? Look closely the word “IMPRESS” as “I aM PRESSing”  implying I am pressing something onto you, your mind so you can accept me.  Isn’t it almost like a disease to not be yourself and show something that you are not in whole, just so someone can think you are good and accept you.

I thought about it some more and sadly more I looked more I found how addicted we are in mind controlling business. It’s taught to us as a child, our society feeds it more and thanks to all the so called evolved modern media, the definition of beauty is totally changed.  And it has changed from the stone-age.  What one considered beautiful back then is called “old-fashioned” or “outdated” in today’s reality. The early man who came up with the clothing concept to cover the body now has a whole and must I say gigantic industry for the clothing.  And then we have whole other industries like Gym, Body building, Make up, Cosmetic surgeries, etc. List goes on and on.   As someone born into a Sikh family I have gone through the phase of trying being acceptable. It wasn’t as bad as it is in the nations where community is not as diverse.  I was told by a friend of mine how her brother (a Sikh) was picked up by fellow classmates because he looked different, kept hair wore Turban.  And yes, kids can be cruel and they are. How good of self-esteem do you think a child like him would have? Do you think he would be focused on his studies or his thoughts would be around how to avoid all the exploitation?  This is not limited to guys.  My friend (Sikh) girl, who was not allowed to shave legs,  cut hair for the religious reasons; how do you think kids were with her? Did they accept her for who she was or being different became a curse for her? Just because you didn’t shave your legs all of sudden you are not cool, sexy and happening? But where did this thinking came to kids? I am sure there was a time when no one shaved and back then to shave was considered different and not acceptable. Irony is that if we go back in history, then most of the things that were not acceptable back then have not only become acceptable but also these are the things if you do, you are COOL and if you don’t you are old and boring. This is not limited to just clothing though, it holds true for clothing, marriages, relationships, work, raising children; everything has new rules that either makes it cool or outdated.  Do you ever wonder where kids learn to pick on kids who are different or how they learn to accept what is not different.  And yes of course this behavior doesn’t stop with kids (at least not for most of the kids).  You grow up into a society where not only you have to look certain way: clean-shave, have good hair style but should have good body and all the six=packs,  slim-trim, nice figure, etc, etc, etc. all the so called COOL things.  Imagine what kind of self-esteem of an average person in this kind of society be? Do you think he/she is forced to have a thinking where being different has now become a curse?  We are so taken away by focusing on our OUTER-SELF so that we can be acceptable and control someone’s INNER-SELF, that it’s almost a pain. We may not be aware of it that’s a different issue but in fact we are infected with this mind-control syndrome.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji guides us in Raag Aasa with following words :

He may wear ear-rings and fine clothes,
and have a comfortable bed, and his mind may be so proud.
He may have elephants to ride, and golden umbrellas over his head;
but without devotional worship to the Lord, he is buried beneath the dirt.


I am not arguing that exercising is wrong or wearing nice clothes is wrong.  It all has its values and importance but doing any of it just so you can fit in the society and be acceptable to someone else other than you is the concern. There is a constant mind control game and truth is we are so unaware of it.  According to Yogi Bhajan only few people today really work on controlling their own mind and soul, and that is the cause of all the unhappiness, frustration and pain.  It’s also probably one of the big reason for more failing relationships, more divorces and more dysfunctional families.  If you look 50-100 years back, you probably would see more successful marriages than now and less divorces, ever wonder why? May be because divorce wasn’t something acceptable back then but now it is. In fact quitting has become a way of our life, we seldom commit and finish what we started be it an assignment or a relationship. When going gets tough, we quit and find an easy way out.  Of course I am not saying people get into a relationship with this thinking. But yea since it’s acceptable and it may be easier than the commitment to work the marriage, it’s more happening now than before.  Another reason of failing relationships is the Mind control game. We don’t want a partner who has his/her own mind for the most part. We want someone who does the things way we do, rather way we want them to do.  He has to have certain education, family, social, etc, etc background. Now as much as these things are important in my thinking they are no where closely important to the character of the person.  And then of course before marriage we are playing that mind game, we show each other our best.  Reality kicks in just few months/years of marriage and we end up complaining about how he/she has changed or is showing the true colors. When in fact what we saw before wedding was what we wanted to see.  A True test of any man/woman is the tough times, anyone can be good and nice during good times but you find your own true self during hardships and that’s why one should be thankful for tough times.  Going back to the mind control game,  I am  just amazed and yet taken away by the fact that how deeply we are addicted to this game.

Last weekend I attended an engagement party of a family friend. It was a normal scene, food, drinks, people dressed up nicely or shall I say “Dressed to Impress”.  As I was standing, I saw a young guy probably in early 30s walk into the party but with an all together different outfit.  He was wearing a long chola (a lose fitting tunic), with a kamar band  (a cloth wrapped around the mid torso region to maintain mild pressure on the solar plexus and internal organs) and kirpan. It was probably very unusual and very different for someone to wear such simple clothing to walk into a party where everyone is dressed up in suits and best dresses. This kind of dressing is called “bana”. The “bana” or form, the personal appearance of a Khalsa, is one of the foremost ways that a Khalsa maintains his or her consciousness as the Guru Gobind Singh ji intended. But one must admit it’s different. I could see reaction of people seeing this young man. I told myself “Wow, that’s courageous”. As I observed, I realized the man wasn’t worried a bit of what people may be thinking, he was confident, peaceful and enjoying who he is. I knew that moment that he is gone beyond mind control game and is living a healthy spiritual life.  I went up to him and spent some time getting to know him and his views.  He mentioned there was a time in his life when he was just like most people out there, busy working and spending the free time with friends, drinking, parties and all that. But after years of it, he felt tired of it. He wanted a break away from his drinking and partying habits so he said instead of going to clubs/bars, he started going to the Gurudwara (Sikh Temple).  This was his way of getting rid of clubs and all. And then one thing lead to another and 4 years later he is totally changed man. He moved to Espanola (New Mexico) and spends his life with the spiritual and like minded people.  Before he was a good Indian clothing designer in New York but now he is a great spiritual clothing businessman. As we were talking, he mentioned “all this is good”. And I asked “What do you mean?”.  He responded “This life, partying, drinking, etc and The spiritual life in Espanola, all is good”. And I was confused because somewhere in my head I thought or assumed that he now probably thinks this party scene is a waste.  But he went on to say that “The reason anything or everything exists because God wants it to be this way. And if He wants it this way then it’s all good. You can’t say this is wrong or that is right.  The minute you judge anyone, you have already lost the essence of God”. And I must say, deep inside I knew he was telling truth and I told myself  “wow”.  I know this can only happen in a state of mind when you are self-awakened and aligned to the Source, the Creator.

Of course it’s a challenge and work to be awakened and to be yourself, do the things that pleases our soul and makes us happy but truth is only once we are happy it’s easier to make people around us happy. Happiness breeds upon happiness, and it’s not outside it’s inside. You can’t give someone that you don’t have and you have to have it within you.  Since we now know it’s a disease to live in mindset of trying impress and have people to like you and not be yourself, we need to find answers to following questions to get rid of this disease:

How do we control ourselves and our mind?

How do we break away from the habit of pleasing people and unnecessarily worrying about them?

What if people don’t accept me and laugh at me?

First we need to be aware of our behavior. We need to watch our actions and see why we do what we do. Then we need to ask if what we doing is making us happy or it’s just an attempt to please someone else. And then if we encounter something that’s just for sake of pleasing we have to give it up.  It’s a challenge but it’s easier if we take a leap of faith in God and accept that we are actually the way He intended us to be and how can He make a mistake?

As I was thinking of controlling our own mind I was reminded by following lines of  Raag Maaroo Guru Amar Das:

ਜੋ ਜਨ ਲੂਝਹਿ ਮਨੈ ਸਿਉ ਸੇ ਸੂਰੇ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥
Jo Jan Loojhehi Manai Sio Sae Soorae Paradhhaanaa ||
Those humble beings who struggle with their minds are brave and distinguished heroes.


ਹਰਿ ਸੇਤੀ ਸਦਾ ਮਿਲਿ ਰਹੇ ਜਿਨੀ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥
Har Saethee Sadhaa Mil Rehae Jinee Aap Pashhaanaa ||
Those who realize their own selves, remain forever united with the Lord.


ਗਿਆਨੀਆ ਕਾ ਇਹੁ ਮਹਤੁ ਹੈ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥
Giaaneeaa Kaa Eihu Mehath Hai Man Maahi Samaanaa ||
This is the glory of the spiritual teachers, that they remain absorbed in their mind.

ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਚੁ ਲਾਇ ਧਿਆਨਾ ॥

Har Jeeo Kaa Mehal Paaeiaa Sach Laae Dhhiaanaa ||
They attain the Mansion of the Lord’s Presence, and focus their meditation on the True Lord.


ਜਿਨ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਜਗੁ ਤਿਨਹਿ ਜਿਤਾਨਾ ॥੮॥
Jin Gur Parasaadhee Man Jeethiaa Jag Thinehi Jithaanaa ||8||
Those who conquer their own minds, by Guru’s Grace, conquer the world. ||8||


Let’s be aware of our thoughts,  mind our own mind and spiritually be aware that God didn’t want us to control others. He wants us to control ourselves, accept ourselves and give the best of ourselves.  That is the gift He desires from us.


 

 
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