Going through my every day life there are times when I get caught up in this cycle and forget about the gifts that I have. No matter what our origins are it is normal to sometimes not recognize the beautiful things that we have in our life.
Over 35 years ago my parents and many other westerners discovered the Sikh lifestyle and the teachings of the Gurus. Slowly over time more and more people from non-Punjabi backgrounds have found a love of the Guru and this beautiful lifestyle. I was born and raised a Sikh so have never known anything else, so, just like many of you whose families are from India, you have been raised as a Sikh and it is very normal.
Now that I am almost 35 years old, much of what I have learned on this path has become so integrated in my being that I sometimes forget about the early days. The early days when everything was so new for the many souls seeking to connect with the Guru. There was no road-map for them & everything was so new! There had never been many Sikhs of non-punjabi background, so there were great cultural/language barriers to take the teachings of Sikh Dharma and learn/practice them. It was a slow and steady evolution of learning and growing as new "seeds" germinating in the sun. I’m sure many mistakes were made, but everything was done with such innocence and love for the Guru and just became part of the evolution like a child growing up.
Looking back 35+ years and seeing where we are today I still see these seeds slowly growing and producing new seeds which are starting to grow elsewhere in the world.
There are now small beautiful communities of Sikhs growing in various parts of the world. South America is one area that I always love to hear about. Every year a group of Sikhs travel on the Guru Ram Das Lord of Miracles Tour throughout South America to teach and inspire people. It is so inspiring seeing and hearing about these travels each year & as people from all different backgrounds get touched by the light of the Guru!
I have never been to South America but I love to read about the people there, hear stories from friends, and meet some of them when they come to Espanola. Americans can often be so blunt and callous, so it is nice when I get to meet people from different cultural backgrounds who are so sweet and kind.
When I meet and read about them it reminds me of the early days 40 years ago when my parent’s generation were just starting on this path. There is a deep innocence and longing to learn. They soak in everything and are so appreciative of this path and anything that is shared with them. Having grown up in this lifestyle it is inspiring for ME, as it is for many of you, to see people adopt the Sikh lifestyle and live it with such enthusiasm, love and dedication. It is also a reminder to me of the Gifts that I have been given and to not take them for granted.
There are many different countries in South America where pockets of Sikhs are growing, however the past few days I have been thinking about the Sikhs in Chile. When I was visiting my son in Amritsar I stayed at a friends house for a few days and got to hang out with 3 Sikhs from Chile & my USA friend. Everyone in the house was not only great people but all shared a love of Gurbani Kirtan and Music. A bit part of there every day life was studying Gurbani Kirtan and playing music. The night I was leaving they had a "jam out session" singing shabads and various mantras from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Then recently I got a skype message from another new young Sikh from Chile who had just created a beautiful CD called Akash. I started to realize that many of the Chilean Sikhs were very into Music. In fact pretty much all the music that I had which was of Spanish Language background was produced by "Sikhers" from Chile.
There was "Mahaband" who were a few of the people I hung out with in Amritsar and gave me a few of their live recordings from morning Sadhana. Then there is Sat Shabad Singh who had produced two beautiful CDs already. And recently I started listening to new music by 26 year old Satya Amrit Singh.
Over the past few days I have been listening to the AKASH CD by Satya Amrit Singh and enjoying it a lot. As I listen to it thinking of these beautiful seeds growing in South America. Satya Amrit Singh was one of a group of others who took Sikh vows, which for many is like a first step to commit to living the Sikh lifestyle. For most of us we are born into the lifestyle, but for those who are new to Sikhi it is a conscious act of commitment to the Guru.
With so much hate, anger, politics, judgment and loss of Sikh values within the Sikh community I often get questions from Sikhs who just can’t believe that other people would be interested in "converting" to the Sikh religion. I suppose for some of those people living as a Sikh has become a cultural/ritualistic thing which doesn’t have much meaning. So WHY would someone else be interested in Sikhi?? Obviously they are missing the "juice" that these other "Sikhers" are experiencing.
So often Sikhs get so stuck on rules, regulations and intellectualism, and I think miss the whole spirit of being a Sikh. For me the simplicity, innocence, love and acceptance are key things which are often lacking by many Sikhs. When we start dividing ourselves and not seeing the other person as God or a mirror of yourself (God) then we become stuck in this cycle and loose the Pyar/Love in the purest sense.
When I imagine the Gurus I invision such humility, love, acceptance, courage, non-reactiveness, joy, happiness and oneness in their meditative beings! In my every day life I try to remember the example of the Gurus and to live in their example. Seeing these beautiful souls growing in South America and other places reminds me of this "root", this beginning, this innocence. It is a reminder of that beginning of what the Gurus started hundreds of years ago. It is a reminder of how distracted we can all get, in the emotions and reactiveness of every day life. All these dramas & situations with people & situations are just maya. They are just distractions which are tests for us to remember why we are on this earth.
As you listen to the music below & looks at the pictures I hope the inspiration you get stays with you. Keep up with your spiritual practice as a Sikh and keep that door in your heart open, so that rather then judge or criticize others, you focus on yourself and become a shining light for others to grow from.
Below is a selection of some music by three South American Musicans: Satya Amrit Khalsa , Sat Shabad Singh and "Mahaband". Click on the "show playlist" in the upper left corner of the player to see the track details and jump around
Below are some pictures taken by many different people which I downloaded from some previous SikhNet news stories as well as some friends facebook photos.