Ok…as you can probably tell… my brain juices are flowing and many thoughts are coming out. The previous post made me think more about some things relating to Sikhs and our direction.
When I think about Sikhs and the direction that we are going, I remember my days of school in India. One thing which I noticed was that the whole orientation of Indian families was very focused on studying really hard and going into a career that made a lot of money (doctors, lawyers, computer professionals, etc). It all seemed to revolve around worldly success and financial goals. I think this priority has left a big part out and has slowly skewed our direction and identity as Sikhs. I think it is great to be prosperous, and I see nothing bad with making a lot of money in some job. However, what I see is emptiness for many people because it is not balanced. The spiritual side of things is left as a lesser priority (if given any attention at all). So what we see now is lots of financially prosperous Sikhs, but who are poor spiritually. This direction I think has lead to less and less understanding and practice of Sikhi.
When the parents stop practicing being Sikhs the kids don’t get the connection to the Guru and thus the cycle has started. Slowly with each generation a little (or lot) of their connection to their roots as a Sikh is lost.
Ask yourself: What does it mean to me to be a Sikh? Spend some time to think about this. I think everyone should ask that question. Is it wearing a turban and going to Gurdwara? Is it thinking the Sikh Gurus were great and having a Guru Nanak picture on your wall? We each have a different answer depending on our experiences and how we relate to the Guru.
I was raised with the Guru being the center of my life. Everything that we did as a family revolved around being a spiritually conscious people trying to live the teachings of Nanak. I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal and declare myself any better off than anyone else. I’m just sharing that I was raised with a very different focus. Money and financial success was never the main objective in my life. Everything that I did with love, service, and devotion gave me such inner satisfaction, that no amounts of money could give. To this day… everything that I really needed has come to me. I have an amazing wife who continues to inspire me with her devotion to the Guru. I have a beautiful energetic son who is really strong. I have a great house, cars, live around great people. Whenever there is something that we need….extra money come from somewhere. It is amazing! Sometimes my wife gets worried about money…and I remind her, "When have we ever had a problem with being taken care of?". When you give your head to the Guru he takes care of all your affairs. I can vouch for that!
"There are two ways of living in this world; the way of worry and the way of relaxation. If you worry, you have to concentrate to imagine, and it becomes physical work. But if you turn your mind to the Universal Mind, then things will come to you" – Yogi Bhajan
So…you can have a fat wallet…but if that is at the expense of not being happy and not living as the Gurus taught…then for me it is not worth it. All that is accumilated on this earth definitely will not go with you when you die. It is so easy to get caught up with Maya of this world.
My point of all this is that we as parents have to work harder at living the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. Setting an example that our children can learn from. We have to put more stress on the lifestyle and sacrifices that our previous generations made, so that we could be here as Sikhs today. Making your kids do banis or go to Gurdwara doesn’t cut it. They need to understand why they should be a Sikh and what is has to offer. They need an experience that helps them feel what is is all about. Being a Sikh is not an intellectual thing. Explanations will only go so far.
I am a father and this very challenge is on my shoulders too as I raise my son. I am definitely not perfect. I am constantly going through my personal internal battles trying to maintain a disciplined lifestyle as a Sikh. It’s not easy for anyone. All I know is that when I am disciplined and have a regular Sadhana that my life has soo much more joy and things flow easier. Sikhs have always faces hardship and challenge really well. We don’t have the same hardships as they did in the days of the Gurus. We have a whole different challenge which is mostly internal, within ourselves and our minds. Are you ready to take the challenge?
I’ll end with a quote to think about….
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. . . . Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, to be gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God within us. And as we let our light shine, we consciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others." – Marianne Williamson
Ps. If you want to discuss this topic, I posted this message also on the SikhNet discussion forum.