I look around at my fellow Sikhs and see less and less people living the Sikh Lifestyle. On one side I see many who were brought up in a Sikh family but don’t really seem to have any real relationship with what it means to be a Sikh. Maybe they go to Gurdwara from time to time, but that is the extent of it. On the other hand there are the “Gursikhs” who on the surface look like Sikhs but seem so narrow-minded and disconnected with the teachings of the Gurus. They are quick to criticize you and tell you what is right and wrong according to their understanding of Sikhi. Itâ€™s as if they are trying to prove that they are better people.
I always have thought of the Sikh way of life as a â€œlifestyleâ€? and not a rigid religion. The Gurus taught about openness and acceptance and not getting caught up in rituals. So much of what we do as Sikhs has lost itâ€™s meaning to many and it has become a blind ritual. Everything becomes black and whiteâ€¦rather than being open-minded and looking deeper into the meaning of things. Living as a Sikh to me is not about â€œXâ€? rules that you have to follow. People get so into black and white rules, which in the end can divide and separate rather than include and unify. If you do â€œXâ€? than you are bad, or are not a Sikh. How about getting â€œEx-communicatedâ€?? I laugh when I hear stuff like this. It is between a Sikh and his Guru not someone else to define who is a Sikh and who cannot be a Sikh.
When you look at some of the fundamentals of Sikhism (like equality of gender)â€¦I always hear the lines that people say boasting that Sikhism is so great and has all these principles, however in practice these end up being ideals which to a large degree are not practiced by many. Its no wonder people are not staying as Sikhs.
I donâ€™t think Sikhi is lostâ€¦but think that it is in transition. I have found that in my personal life that sometimes things have to get really bad in order for me to get motivated enough to make a change. So, in relation to Sikhi I think there will be a renaissance. As the older generation passes on and the new generation of Sikhs grow, many of the old rituals and practices will fall away and Sikhi will flourish.
Ultimately what helps guide me as a Sikh is really being open minded, and seeing all perspectives. Not being quick to judge someone. We have to be open and welcoming. Our judgments and close-mindedness is what repels our youth.
So, the next time you see someone doing something that you donâ€™t agree with, think twice before judging him or her. Try to look at things from their perspective and be compassionate. You donâ€™t have to agree, but at least allow them to have their opinion, rather than get caught up in trying to define it as right or wrong.
Have you ever noticed that when you are irritated or having a hard time in your life that you see negative things in other people (which most of the time is a reflection of yourself)? This understanding helps give me compassion and understanding towards others. So, when I see someone being hurtful, or making fun of someone I can be understanding, and know that this person is this way because of something in their life that they are unhappy about. This awareness also gave me a clearer picture of myself. So when I catch myself being critical and negative about things I can look deeper and understand that something is going on within me.
Soâ€¦ I guess Iâ€™ll end here for today. There are so many thoughts and it is sometimes hard to crystallize just one point. As I get time Iâ€™ll write some more and get into some ideas for solutions. I always tell peopleâ€¦if you are going to complain about something than you had better be a part of the solution. We have enough complainers. What we need are people that are willing to talk the talk and make the changes they wish to see.
â€œBe the change you wish to seeâ€?.