Wednesday, August 7, 2019

We are not a product of fearful men

So I just finished watching a documentary called "Free Solo", ever since it's pre release some of my friends told me "You have to watch it".  For some reason I waited for a pretty long while.  There are times I know I have to be in a certain place before I watch things and this morning seemed like a good time.

It brought to mind the word "Courage", so I thought today I would try and convey my thought on being courageous.  Ya see the word courage means different things to different people but I understand it to mean being scared but doing it anyway.  I also know it to mean that you know what the consequences of that action may be and that you have decided that the risk you are going to take is worth the possible consequences.  It's easy to pursue a course of action that requires little to no sacrifice but when that sacrifice could possible have the consequence of death then things start to get real.

Courage can be a reflex as a result of training and preparation.  In the military we like to call it muscle memory when the fighting begins and fear is overridden by reflex as a result of training and preparation.  We just act because we have trained our body and mind respond in a certain manner in response to a certain stimuli.  Sikhi stresses this very thing through Nitnem, Simran, Seva, and Rehat.  Things that we train our mind and body to do will come naturally when most needed.

I saw a T-shirt the other day that had the American Flag and a soldier on it, the stripes on the American flag were made of muskets and the shirt read "We are not a product of fearful men".  To most Americans and especially those that have served in the military that is our legacy and what we strive to live up to.

As Sikhs we are not a product of fearful men!  There is story after story of Sikhs that had the courage to stand when no one else would.  Martyrs that would rather sacrifice themselves than violate the principles of Sikhi. Sikhs that stood up to insurmountable odds even though the end result would be their death.

In my opinion one of the most courageous souls in Sikhi is Bhai Mardana.  As a convert I see how he served Guru Nanek, this is a man that was a convert from Islam and without fail served the Guru in every capacity that was asked of him.  He left his family and traveled on every  one of Guru Nanek's Udasi's because the Guru asked him to.  Never leaving the Guru's side even when they were were face to face with lepers.  I'm amazed by his courage.

There is the story of the Sava Lakh, 40 Khalsa and Guru Gobind Singh faced down 10 Lakh of Mughul soldiers.  Without hesitation these 40 Khalsa fought for and protected their Guru.  "Call me Gobind Singh only when each of my Sikhs will fight with more than one and a quarter lakh of enemy."  We do call him Guru Gobind Singh.

There are so many more stories, so many more courageous siikhs even today.  I guess all i really wanted to say is be courageous in pursuit of your faith, be courageous in the protection of the innovent and always remember:

"we are not a product of fearful men"

Monday, August 5, 2019

Just one little Step?

“A disciple who walks one step towards Guru to take his refuge and goes to him with devotion and humility, guru advances to receive him (devotee) by taking million steps.
He who unites with the Lord by remembering the incantation of the Guru even once, the true guru remembers him millions of time.
He who makes an offering of even a shell before the True Guru with loving worship and faith, The True Guru blesses him waaith the countless treasures of invaluable wealth that is Naam.
The True Guru is a repository of compassion that is beyond description and understanding.  Therefore myriad salutations to him because there is no one else like him.” 
Bhai Gurdas Ji  Vaar 111

I had read this in several translations and they all seemed a little watered down. I had read one translation that didn’t even feel like anything that I’d read before. Then I found this one and it finally made sense. Ya see, most of the time the first couplet is the only thing quoted but in my own readings I’ve discovered that only reading one couplet can lead to misrepresentations of actual meaning.

All of that being said what does it mean to take one step? I suppose since everyone follows a different path to meet Waheguru then taking a step towards Guru can mean a lot of thing. What I do know that although the number of steps we can take are finite the number of step Waheguru can take are infinite.

I read a Facebook comment recently that no matter how much you do you aren’t a member of Sadh Sangat until you took Amrit…so I suppose in their mind the first step towards Guru is Amrit Sanchar (Khalsa Initiation). In my personal situation I think my first step was acknowledging that I was Sikh and pursuing my place in the faith.

The second couplet could actually be the step you take by doing Naam Simran and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be remembered by Waheguru? My opinion and forgive me if I’m wrong on this but the second couplet is actually the key to this Vaar. Remembering Naam and doing Simran is at the center of Sikh practice.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it but the third couplet talks about giving with loving worship…I understand this to mean that all things we do in the name of Waheguru are to be done with loving worship. Doesn’t matter how much Simran you do or how much money you give or how much Seva you do, if it’s not done in loving worship then why are you doing it?

The fourth couplet goes to my first statement. Wahegru is infinite and so are his blessings and to that I can’t say too much more.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr said my conclusion best:

If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”