Love, Change, Sikhi, Sangat @ Winter Solstice Camp

A friend who works with the 3HO events office forwarded me the following email from a “Punjabi” Sikh who participated in the recent “Winter Solstice Camp” which took place last week in Florida. It is always nice to see people go through their own personal growth and make positive changes in their lives. We can all learn from each other’s experiences. (Ps. The Summer Solstice Camp is in the middle of June here in Espanola, New Mexico. We are also going to be holding another camp on “Jaap Sahib” right before that camp. More info to come in the spring)

“As I sit here getting ready to write about my experience at winter solstice my mind is struggling to find the words. After all how do you put into words the emotions of love, peace, acceptance, universal oneness? I am almost afraid to write these words because I know they will not do these emotions justice. But I will try with my limited capacity as a writer to express what I experienced. I feel like it to be a duty to tell the world (especially the Punjabi youth) about my experience with the 3ho sangat. Before I start I would like to tell the people this is my own personal experience of just meeting the sangat. I did not do much yoga there because I am a beginner and it was difficult for me to participate in the main events. So I am writing about only my experience with interacting with the sangat.

I would like to tell the readers a little bit about my background. I have done personal development courses in my life which have opened me to new experiences. However it has been a long time since I did these courses and I found myself going back to my same old mundane life. The experience at 3ho has rejuvenated me; it has touched my heart in such a profound way. I have been into Sikhi pretty much my whole life in one form or another. I have taken guru ji’s amrit about 2 years ago. It was a wonderful time in my life. I had so much pyaar for Guru ji and this kept me on track and happy. However along the way I started to become more strict for whatever reasons. I somehow forgot about the love of Sikhi and focused on being strict in order to achieve my spiritual goals. Do not get me wrong, I believe it is fine to be strict IF your soul asks for it. For example if through simran you naturally do not want to watch t.v. because your soul (inner self) feels it is distracting and taking you away from meditation, then that is wonderful and beautiful. However if you stop watching T.V. because you are copying someone who is spiritual, then it can be dangerous. If you do not know why you are doing what you are doing then you can lose that pyaar for God. My point is always know why you are doing what you are doing. Do not let Sikhi become ritualistic. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way. I had lost the pure emotion of love for my guru and it had been replaced with love buried in rituals and superstitions. After attending this solstice camp my heart has become open to love again.

I have experienced so much love energy from the sangat at the solstice that my heart became opened once again. When I become strict for the wrong reasons I automatically started putting up walls. I started havingjudgmentss on people who weren’t as strict as me. I was like this because of my environment of fear based thinking. “God will punish you if you do this or that”. “You need to be perfect, or God will not love you”. I started thinking about people who trimmed their beards as wrong, people who were amritdhari yet wore make up as weak, people who went out to see a movie, as sinners. Why? Because I was so miserable with myself I had to make myself feel better by judging others. I made thesejudgmentss without even realizing it. My heart had been closed. So recently I gave up being strict and decided to just be. I’m not saying I went out doing kurheits (braking my amrit). I just stopped depriving myself of small pleasures. However my heart was still closed. After going to winter solstice and seeing their love for humanity and love for people in general my heart has become open once again.

What I have seen is that the 3HO sangat do not push their views on others. They do not put up walls, instead they build bridges. They show people nothing but love. And this love is like a tidal wave that bursts through the barriers of the heart which are preventing one from realizing God. There were many Sikhs and non-sikhs attending this solstice camp. The key that opened my heart was the way they just loved everyone and anyone regardless of how much simran they did, or what religion they were. The lesson that I have learned is that every one person is their own and they have the right to find their own way to practice sikhi. Why should I impose my beliefs on someone? A person is an individual child of god who has the right to practice however he or she wants. I also realized that it iridiculousas to interfere or pasjudgmentsts on another individual. Who am I to say what is right or wrong. There is only one way to god, and that is through love.

Only through love will you be able to touch another persons heart. Only through love will people listen to you. Not througjudgmentsts. This lesson has been implanted in my heart after being around some of these beautiful Sikhs at the solstice. Through love they have touched my heart and opened it once again. I have realized that walls melt away when you have love. But if you have rituals and you follow other people’s version of sikhi blindly then walls get put up and you end up cold and alone. Thank you 3ho for showing me how to be compassionate again. Thank you for showing me that sikhi is inclusive not exclusive. Thank you for showing me that Gurbani can only be understood fully through love. “Sach kahon sun leho sabai jin prem kio tin hee prabh paio.” (All should listen to this truth that only those who love God can realize Him.)” – Sehajvir Singh