Kids Corner


Sat Sangat:
Letters From Espanola





We had a death in the community recently. A truly tragic death. One that makes you question all your assumptions. What it means to walk a spiritual path. Why people spend years, even decades, giving their Spirit the best possible shot, only for things to take a drastically dark turn in the end.

Why do we do it? Why do we try? The meditation, the bana, the discipline.

Because, let's face it -- it is not a magic spell to whisk you into some perfect world where nothing ever goes wrong.

That is one of the strangest contradictions I have seen in my experience. When people engage in a spiritual discipline to work on themselves, the polarity of life does not go away. By some unexplainable spiritual physics, the polarity often intensifies.

There are those who thrive and grow, and become truly amazing people. Outstanding leaders. Sevadars with hearts of gold.

But there are also those who become bitter and negative, who lose their mental balance, who turn to rage and violence.

Saints. “Sinners.” “Sinners” who look like saints. Saints who look like “sinners.”

The sangat has it all.

So why do we do it? Why do we try?

There is a line in the Ardaas: "May we see the faults of others, and then un-see them …’

Such a deep and profound statement!

The line doesn't say, "Turn a blind eye to the faults of others." You see the faults. You cannot avoid seeing them. And frankly, if someone has a little bit of trouble doing honest business or someone loves to gossip, it is good to see the flaws. Then you can avoid getting caught in their trap.

So seeing is a necessity.

But unseeing the flaws is where compassion comes in. To not judge a person for those flaws. To not condemn them or put them down. To develop a tolerance towards the other person. We don't get caught by the flaw. But we don't get caught in our own reaction, either. Unsee the flaw, and see the Divine Light in the heart of the other person, instead.

What I have seen in my life is something very simple. The Guru's touch can come through anyone, anytime. There are people I know, very dedicated Sikhs. They meditate every day. Wear their bana all the time. But they can be the most socially difficult people to interact with. They can step on your toes a million times without noticing.

Yet, when the Guru wants, He uses them to help others, to serve others, to uplift others. It is the Guru's Light that comes through them.

I have witnessed this so many times. Their dedication and love still allows them to be a channel for Light. The Guru does not care what flaws they have. The Guru really doesn't care what flaws any of us have.

Do you know what I believe the Sat Sangat is? A group of human beings with karma they have to work out. Some days, sometimes, each of us are "in it." In the thick of that karma. Blind to our own flaws. Creating problems for ourselves. Hurting or annoying others. But we do a sadhana. We meditate. We keep the best discipline we can.

And the Guru doesn't abandon us just because we have "stuff" to work out.

Then, every so often, the Guru uses someone in His sangat to do His work. No matter what their state or condition. And the sangat is blessed by it. The person is blessed by it. And sometimes, even the entire world is blessed by it.

That is how I think it works.

When you come into the Guru's court, it is not a fairy tale land. It is a practical workshop. You work on yourself. In moments of Grace, the Guru works through you. And when you take your last breath, the account is nobody's business but your own.

The ideal world does not exist. We try to create it, but the shadow creeps in. This Dharam has been built by a lot of men and women who have karma, and who may be difficult to deal with.

But they loved the path. So the Guru came through them anyway.

That is what I see when I look at the Sat Sangat. A work in progress. And one tragic moment does not negate a lifetime of trying to get it right.

So why do we do it? Why do we try?

Because God only knows what any of our lives would look like if we didn't.

October 23, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh  (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 23, 2014, 5:10 PM.

The Sat Sangat is not really for mechanical Sikhs. Every single gathering of Sikhs in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib is a sangat. The true Sat Sangat is where Sikhs get together as individuals with complete respect for the Gurus and their message of one Sikh Panth without any groups, factions and cults using Sikhism for acquiring money, power and fame.

2: Richard (Bradenton, Florida, USA), October 23, 2014, 5:19 PM.

Thank you for these words. Beautifully said. Sometimes we have to be reminded that just because we work the work, do the sadhana, practice the yoga, sing, meditate, and try try try, doesn't mean an action of another won't come one day and make a huge blow. And that doesn't mean we have been forsaken. Stuff just happens, and we have to pick ourselves up and continue ... Sat Nam.

3: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 24, 2014, 6:44 AM.

"He is the Great Giver of the Universe, the Lover of His devotees, throughout the three worlds. One who is merged in the Word of the Guru's Shabad does not know any other ..." [GGS:923]

4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 24, 2014, 3:54 PM.

Commentator #2: There is no place for yoga (as popularized today) in Sikhism as a religious or spiritual activity. As physical exercise, it is valid ... just as tennis or swimming is. Spiritually, in Sikhi there's only the yoga of Naam. Walking and running are the true natural ways of keeping physically and mentally fit and healthy. Yoga was brought to the Western world as a commercial scam.

5: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), October 24, 2014, 7:37 PM.

The discussion on "Sat Sangat" leads us to express the aim of Sikhi in light of teachings through our Gurus. Guru is identified with God. The aim of Sikhi is to have the spiritual transformation of a person to make him/her a God-conscious person. It enables him/her to discover the 'true self' seeking reunion with the Source of his/her being, for perfect peace and happiness. The Guru transforms a person into a god in no time. "Jin maanas tai devtae ..." [GGS: 463].

6: Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa (Espanola, New Mexico, USA), October 25, 2014, 3:37 PM.

Baldev Singh ji: With all due respect, you are incorrect. Patanjali is called a Gurmukh in the Vars of Bhai Gurdas. As much as the Udasis have been vilified by some Sikhs, they began with Guru Nanak - not with Baba Siri Chand. Guru Nanak practiced yoga and the first throne he bestowed was the Udasi throne upon his son. Because of political identity issues in India, the Sikhs have forgotten that their connection with yoga is historical and goes back to the very beginning. Your own traditions are being lost to you because of a need to separate Hinduism from Sikhism. However, yoga is a very human wisdom, and Guru Nanak liberated that wisdom for all of humanity. You do damage to your own generations and to the thousands of people around the world who have found the Guru through yoga by forgetting, rewriting and politicizing your own history. Without yoga, there would have been no Rishi Dusht Daman. And without Rishi Dusht Daman, there would be no Guru Gobind Singh. The Gurus do not end at yoga, but yoga has always played a very critical part. I understand you will not agree with me. But I do not want Richard to misunderstand that your point of view is the point view, nor even necessarily the correct one. Thank you and blessings.

7: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), October 26, 2014, 6:28 PM.

I see Sikhs choosing the Guru and even speaking like they are enlightened and making efforts including yoga or playing tennis. Dopamine is not grace. Dopamine is dopamine - intentional efforts to feel good about ourselves. If the Guru wants us to know, the Guru will arrange a meeting to tell you the efforts to make - to be - be dead to the world and maybe chill with the efforts. All you have to do is give up your mind.

8: Rup Singh (Canada), October 27, 2014, 2:58 PM.

@6 - You state "Without yoga, there would have been no Rishi Dusht Daman. And without Rishi Dusht Daman, there would be no Guru Gobind Singh. The Gurus do not end at yoga, but yoga has always played a very critical part." I find this a contradiction, either the Sikh Gurus and Sikhi exist because of yoga or they don't. On page 473 Guru Granth Sahib says: "From woman man is born; within woman man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married; From woman woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman." As Sikhs, then, is it okay to take literally the mythic poem which uses the metaphor of Guru Gobind Singh ji as a reincarnation of Rishi Dusht Daman, and Dusht Daman was created by Samaundh Rikhi from the dust he shook off from the lion skin he was sitting on? This, as the myth goes on, apparently happened when Durga came to ask Samaundh Rikhi for help to defeat the demons. If we were to believe this mythological story, who would we revere more, Guru Gobind Singh, Dusht Daman from who he was ostensibly reincarnated, or Samaundh Rikhi who created Dusht Daman from dust? I suggest we stick to Sikhi and not wander off into distracting frolics.

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Letters From Espanola"

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