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I’m decidedly indecided to begin the beginning of my spiritual path.
Read that three times fast.
Vaisakhi is around the corner. And in each of the five different gurudwaras I have visited during the past few weeks, Bhai Sahibs have been encouraging their congregations to feel the spirit within, and with Waheguru’s grace, embrace Amrit and join the league of saint-soldiers.
And I’m inclined to do so. I would have walked forward at Guru Gobind Singh’s request. I live the Sikh way of life… well, kind of.
I’d say that I’ve got the seva and compassion aspect covered in some sense. But can I wake up at amrit vela everyday instead of only on days when I have to be at work at 4 AM? Can I do nitnem and reflect on it each day? Can I immerse myself with the sangat as much as possible rather than only on the occasional evening or weekend? Yes, I’m disciplined and guru-centered and I already do much of the above. Yes, I can do this.
Where is the hesitation coming from then? Deep down inside I think about how it would be to stop shaping my eyebrows. I’ve been able to put the razors and wax aside for a few years, but I can’t seem to get over the tweezer-to-eyebrow action completely. Deep down inside I wonder if this would make the circle of guys I may be interested in become even smaller than it is already. That sounds so horribly lame. And it is. I ultimately want to spend my life with someone who considers his spiritual growth equally as important and wants to raise a family of strong, open-minded, confident, and bright Gursikhs. So why am I even considering this notion? Deep down inside I wonder how I could even entertain taking this step if my knowledge of Sikhi just skims the surface and I barely know how to read and write Gurmukhi. I mean, I just maintain a silly and superfluous blog that gets a total readership of 30 on a good day. Deep down inside I wonder if the non-amritdhari community will begin to maintain their distance from me because I am not one of them. I would be deeply hurt by this as inclusivity is what I strive for. But I already feel that way sometimes with those who are amritdhari so there’s another deep down feeling that lacks substance. And lastly, deep down inside I wonder how it would be to give up my family name. All its wonderful history and ties to generations past. The nice ring it has to it. Its uniqueness. And all the forms I would have to fill out to have it officially changed.
I’m decidedly weak. I’m indecidedly strong. I wish I could make a decision. With Waheguru’s kirpa I hope I make the right one in due time.
The embargo has been lifted. Enjoy.
May this month of Chet not only reawaken life from winter slumber but also blossom our spirits and minds. With Waheguru’s grace may his disciples always remember him.
I usually find that reading one interpretation is never enough to fully elucidate the poetic depth of Gurbani. A pamphlet published by the Sikh Missionary College gives a nice breakdown of the bani Barah Mahah, or Twelve Months. Two English interpretations, one in regular font and one italicized, of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s shabad on Chet are provided below:
ਚੇਤਿ ਗੋਵਿੰਦੁ ਅਰਾਧੀਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਘਣਾ ॥
In the month of Chet, by meditating on the Lord of the Universe, a deep and profound joy arises.
In the spring month of Chet if we meditate on the Lord, we obtain immense joy
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਰਸਨਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਭਣਾ ॥
Meeting with the humble Saints, the Lord is found, as we chant His Name with our tongues.
In the company of saints we enjoy the honey-sweet gift of singing God’s Name
ਜਿਨਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਏ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਗਣਾ ॥
Those who have found God-blessed is their coming into this world.
Whoever finds God in themselves, their life blooms
ਇਕੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਜੀਵਣਾ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਜਣਾ ॥
Those who live without Him, for even an instant-their lives are rendered useless.
Each second lived outside God’s Presence is wasted
ਜਲਿ ਥਲਿ ਮਹੀਅਲਿ ਪੂਰਿਆ ਰਵਿਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਣਾ ॥
The Lord completely pervades water, land, and all of space. He is contained in the forests as well.
God is present in water, land, sky and in the green forests
ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਕਿਤੜਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਗਣਾ ॥
Those who do not remember God-how much pain must they suffer!
If this Spirit of Life is not remembered, there is pain
ਜਿਨੀ ਰਾਵਿਆ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਤਿੰਨਾ ਭਾਗੁ ਮਣਾ ॥
Those who dwell upon their God have great good fortune.
Those who have made God their companion are fortunate
ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੰਉ ਮਨੁ ਲੋਚਦਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਿਆਸ ਮਨਾ ॥
My mind yearns for the Blessed Vision of the Lord’s Darshan. O Nanak, my mind is so thirsty!
Nanak, to meet this Spirit my mind-heart-soul is thirsty
ਚੇਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਏ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਪਾਇ ਲਗਾ ॥੨॥
I touch the feet of one who unites me with God in the month of Chayt ||2||
In the Spring month of Chet I will joyfully fall at the feet of whoever unites me with the Spirit of Life ||2||
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, page 133 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Folks in the tri-state area may still be talking about Mr. Caberwal’s likeness plastered on a wall in Rockefeller Center, but images of Sikhs have long been incorporated into various forms of art in the United States. Walk along the meandering streets of Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts and you may just come upon this cheerful wall mural. Pay attention, though. I managed to miss it completely the two times I walked by. Good thing editors at Sikhswim have better eyes than I do. Although now that I look at our smiling representative Singh closely he doesn’t seem to be wearing a kara…
Have any neat Sikh spottings of your own? Send them in!
Photo credit: Sikhswim
Caution: debatable word play follows.
- Washington Post: Sikhs Say They Won’t Meet With The Pope
- Newsday: The US Secret Service gave the World Sikh Council a choice: leave your ceremonial daggers at the door or forgo a meeting with the Pope. So the Sikhs will not join a Washington, D.C. interfaith gathering with Pope Benedict XVI in April. The Secret Service considers kirpans a security issue, but Sikhs consider carrying the curved blade one of five sacred duties.
Headlines of nearly every article published in American and British media on this story suggest that Sikhs gave the hand to the Pope. And some continue in their brief summaries to describe the kirpan as a dagger.
I can imagine what editors were thinking when selecting synonyms for kirpan: “hmm, sword, the cutting edge of an enlightened mind, weapon, dagger. Eh, same thing.”
And why is the kirpan still a security issue with the Secret Service? Why hasn’t our work with the TSA carried over to other agencies? How could they not be aware of our panj kakaar when Akal Security provides security services to a range of government agencies including the U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security?
The World Sikh Council’s press release is aptly titled “Sikhs To Miss Papal Event, Secret Service Bars Kirpaan.” It has all the elements of a good headline. Catchy. Accurate. Avoids hyperboles. Why couldn’t I have woken up this morning and seen this in the paper instead? Let’s put it this way: if I did you may have been spared from another dull blog post.