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5 K's: Symbolic or Functional?

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by ActsOfGod, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. ActsOfGod

    ActsOfGod
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    Curious to see how you view the 5 K's. Some people I have talked to ascribe great spiritual significance to each one, but when it come to utility, there is nothing. For example, almost all of the kirpans I have seen coming from India are not sharp at all. They're basically a thin strip of metal that has been stamped out in the shape of a kirpan. It's less functional than a butter knife.

    What is the point of wearing such a kirpan? I guess if you viewed it only symbolically, you wouldn't see a problem. By that argument, though, you would have no problem wearing a necklace with a small half-inch plastic shaped kirpan on it (after all, it's just the symbol that's important, right?).

    On the other hand, looking at it purely from a utilitarian perspective, the kangha kept in the hair ensures you always have a means to comb your hair and keep it tidy, no matter where you are. The kachhera preserve your modesty, etc, etc.

    The way I see it: As tools, these 5 K's aid you in living the Gursikhi jeevan/lifestyle, but they in and of themselves don't make you any more or less of anything. It's like a person who keeps their hair but goes around getting drunk and passed out in bars, etc. The short-sighted focus from well-meaning folks has resulted in a myopic focus on the instruments instead of the lifestyle.

    [AoG]
     
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  3. eileen

    eileen
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    I think this is a really deep question and I don't really know the answer in terms of what one "should" believe, but it reminds me of the personal debate in my mind that goes something like this:

    If as a female, I choose not to remove any hair, I may do this as a means of accepting Hukam or as a means of trying to reduce Haumai, and there are a lot of layers of personal meaning.

    If I then subsequently choose to cover up any body hair with clothing, so that no one who sees me is somehow 'offended' by my choice, does this element of secrecy somehow spoil or undermine my original intent?

    And then I wonder if that one act of adherence of keeping hair would similarly be undermined by other acts, like for example, I can imagine I am somehow measuring my Haumai on a giant scale: +3 points for hair, -1 point for makeup, +1 point for Chunni, -2 points for nail polish, etc.

    I find that imagining perfection is fine, striving to be better is fine, but in the process of comparing oneself to that perfection there is a lot of scorekeeping that fosters negativity and doubt, which for me is counterproductive - the scorekeeping and judging never actually encourages me to do try to do more, it only makes me feel discouraged.

    So as relates to your question, I think my instinct would be to say that my belief is the Kirpan and other K's are intended to be BOTH functional AND symbolic, but maybe that is the image of perfection, and I would hate to create a sense of judgement as to whether a symbolic representation alone is somehow not 'good enough' and lead into that scorekeeping mentality.
     
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  4. ActsOfGod

    ActsOfGod
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    This is illustrative of what goes on in the brain, this is the human condition. You walk down the street, and you will be judged, no matter who you are. It's an almost automatic mental response based on the ability of discernment that we all have, which allows us to learn and make decisions (which is very necessary in order to make our way in the world). However, this same capability of the brain can be used in a distorted way to pick apart people based on their differences from us or what we consider to be acceptable or "good". It's a perversion of the brains abilities.

    It's all haumai, of course. Couple that with the fact that we're all so starving for love that we're constantly asking ourselves if we're "good enough" that others will love us, wondering if we're even worthy of love. And we're so horrified at the prospect of not being "good enough" that we're willing to undergo all kinds of painful rituals/procedures/lifestyle-choices (usually invented by clever marketers). It's all a big ruse, a trick of Maya and our own minds, that we fall into these traps. But the whole world is deluded by Maya.

    So yes, even while in the process, while on the path, we're still trapped in these same entanglements. We judge others, and we judge ourselves even more harshly.

    You can usually tell that someone has made progress spiritually when they let go of judgments. They feel free, happy, as if they've shed some huge burden, and tend to start smiling a lot more. It's part of accepting Hukam. When we judge, we are in effect saying that the object of our judgment is not perfect the way it is, and that only if <insert our view here>, then things would be "right" and "ok", and we could finally relax and be happy. That is our ego ruling our mind. That in turn causes consternation and that leads to our suffering. Our ego is the cause of our miserable state.

    It's a hard thing to let go, and to accept that the world is exactly as the Creator desires it to be, even with all the injustices and the suffering and ignorance. But acceptance is the first step, and then we can stop torturing ourselves needlessly. With that comes freedom.

    [AoG]
     
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  5. linzer

    linzer Mexico
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    They're basically a thin strip of metal that has been stamped out in the shape of a kirpan. It's less functional than a butter knife.
    AOG ji,
    Oh, so true, The 3HO community in Mexico City hosts Vaisakhi every year. We have a bakery so we bring a cake. The first year ,it came time to cut the cake and no one had a functional knife. How is it possible to be in a room with 200+ Sikhs and no one has a knife that can cut a cake?
    I always keep my kirpan sharp. It's really a useful thing to have. Just last week I was able to make a funnel out of a plastic wáter bottle to put gas in my truck. My wife laughs at me because I when I use my Kirpan I usually say "I love being a Sikh!"
    As for My Kara, I have two German shepards, one just turned two years old. She's very affectionate but she has a mouth like a crocodile and loves to chew on my hand luckily I wear a Kara that bangs into her teeth.
    So there you have it, faith and function.
    :grinningkaur:
     
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