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New to Sikhism, I Have Questions

Discussion in 'New to Sikhism' started by Bunky, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Bunky

    Bunky
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    Hi,

    Let me tell you about myself. I'm in a commited relationship with two children. My partner and I are not currently a part of any religion, she enjoys some aspects of buddhism but wouldn't call herself a buddhist. I myself don't lable myself for the most part, but for the sake of it you could say i have agnostic tendencies. I'm interested in possibly becoming Sikh, and my partner - she is supportive and likes some of the values she's read about Sikhism.

    My question is how would an unmarried man (which isn't important to me, though we do plan on getting married) with two children (planned :) ) be accepeted into the Sikh community under these circumstances?

    Also I fully intend to let my children grow up and decide on their own belief system, and not make them follow my beliefs.

    Thanks
     
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    #1 Bunky, Jun 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
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  3. Ishna

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    Hi Bunky ji, welcome to SPN. I'm a bit of a junior member here, so others may give you more appropriate advice. But here's my take on things:

    1. You say you have agnostic tendancies - what do you mean by this? Do you mean you're generally atheist but sometimes wonder about a higher power? That kind of mindset probably fits OK with most Buddhist traditions, but in Sikhi the entire 1430 pages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (scripture) is about (cue wrestling announcer voice) "The One, The Only, The Amaaaaazing Diviiiiniiiiityyyyyy!!". Aka, Waheguru or Universal Creative Force. Without acknowledging that Reality, you can't play the game as a Sikh. This is the number 1 unquestionable part of Sikhi you can never forget.

    2. As far as how communities will regard you: it really depends on the community. I've found, Sikhs broadly are accepting of people. Some are unaccepting of some people's lifestyles, and when they gather in groups it's obvious and you get the heck out of there. But more often than not, even if they don't agree with your lifestyle, they'll let it alone because it's none of their business. Especially if you're white (which I assume you are, like me) but it might be different if you've got Indian heritage or are actively engaged in your local Indian culture.

    3. You will come up against more argument if you were to consider becoming "baptized", ie. become Khalsa. But that's probably a ways down your track, if at all, and in the meantime there should be nothing stopping you from exploring Sikhi and the Sikh community.

    4. Your children... my POV will differ from most here. From my point of view it is very important to raise children with a wonder about the Divine. If you don't have any input into their spiritual development, it's like not watering a plant-- it witheres up and dies and then you end up with children like my step-children who have no believe what so ever in a higher power and focus on materialism exclusively. They've got no sense of anything higher, seem devoid of a desire toward nobel actions or thoughts. That's the way their parents raised them, with no talk of anything spiritual. That's their perogative, but I think it's good to plant the seed and water the sprout. You're not telling them which spiritual plant to grow, but you're not sending the message that spirituality is useless and not to bother about it.

    Just my 2c.

    Ishna
     
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  4. Bunky

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    If god is considered "a formless force that is above all things and yet preseent in them at the same time" you can call me a believer. Correct if I'm wrong but is that a general/basic concept of god in Sikhism?
     
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  5. BhagatSingh

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    That is a good place to be. :)
     
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  6. Ishna

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    Yes, that sounds right to me as a basic statement.

    I read this just the other day, how does it fit with you?
    sukhmani Sahib (Peace of Mind) Sri Guru Granth Sahib JiJ Page 292 (Section 22, Stanza 1)

    You are the speaker, You are the listener too,
    You are both the Single One and the Infinite Expanse.
    When You Will, creation is formed,
    By Your Will, it is dissolved.
    Without You, nothing comes to pass,
    Our whole cosmos rests as a bead on Your thread.
    Only they whom You enlighten recognize You,
    They receive the True Name,
    Wise to Your Essence, they see everyone alike,
    Says Nanak, they triumph throughout the world.
    -- translated by Nikki-Guninder Kaur Singh, in her book The name of my beloved : verses of the Sikh Gurus (I hope it's OK to use her translation like that here admin)

    And here is the Gurmukhi and transliteration of the same stanza:


    ਆਪਿ ਕਥੈ ਆਪਿ ਸੁਨਨੈਹਾਰੁ
    Āp kathai āp sunnaihār.

    ਆਪਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਆਪਿ ਬਿਸਥਾਰੁ
    Āpėh ek āp bisthār.

    ਜਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਾ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਉਪਾਏ
    Jā ṯis bẖāvai ṯā sarisat upā▫e.

    ਆਪਨੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਲਏ ਸਮਾਏ
    Āpnai bẖāṇai la▫e samā▫e.

    ਤੁਮ ਤੇ ਭਿੰਨ ਨਹੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੋਇ
    Ŧum ṯe bẖinn nahī kicẖẖ ho▫e.

    ਆਪਨ ਸੂਤਿ ਸਭੁ ਜਗਤੁ ਪਰੋਇ
    Āpan sūṯ sabẖ jagaṯ paro▫e.

    ਜਾ ਕਉ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜੀਉ ਆਪਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ
    Jā ka▫o parabẖ jī▫o āp bujẖā▫e.

    ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੋਈ ਜਨੁ ਪਾਏ
    Sacẖ nām so▫ī jan pā▫e.

    ਸੋ ਸਮਦਰਸੀ ਤਤ ਕਾ ਬੇਤਾ
    So samaḏrasī ṯaṯ kā beṯā.

    It might not speak to you the same way it speaks to me, but I put it out there, you might be inspired by it like I am.

    What have you learned about Sikhi, Bunky, which brings you here?

    Ish
     
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    #5 Ishna, Jun 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Ishna ji, SPN does not have a rule about what translation to use.

    My personal reaction? You are now in the top 10 percent in my book because you did use the translation of Nikki Gurninder Kaur ji.

    So few people know of her work. All that she translates fits with the "sense" not the literality of Professor Sahib Singh. I checked this myself systematically. In other words, she studied his interpretations and then translated accordingly....but with her own insight and in her own voice. That is what a translator is supposed to do, in any language and for any literary form.

    Let you in on a secret. I have myself been panned badly for quoting her work. So what! People who do that...it is their loss.

    I am very happy you found that book and that it made an impression on you!
     
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  8. Randip Singh

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    The Sikh view on all things is that what ever we do we do it infront of everyone. We don't hide away. we have a duty to ourselves and to society.

    In this respect marriage is seen as a public affirmation that we take each other and that we have nothing to hide.

    On a spirtual level, the actual act of marriage is seen as fomalising the union of two souls.

    Marriage for a Sikh is very different from the Abrahamic sense, which is seen by many feminists as a form a bondage and more to do with property that a union of souls.
     
  9. Bunky

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    So would I be frowned upon?

    My Ms's does not intend to convert.
     
  10. Bunky

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    I'm looking for a community to belong to. Sikhism is what i'm investigating, I agree with their definition of a Force/God or what have you. I believe it will be good for my mental health.

    i investigated lots of beliefs in my early 20's and none of them really stuck, I like the Sikhism promotes living the faith as opposed to rituals and idol worship etc...
     
  11. Bunky

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    I should also add that I won't fit in with rest of the Sikhs, i'm also anxious about if i'll be judged or and liked where i'm not from the same Sikh/Punjabi culture.
     
  12. Ishna

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    Well, in my humble opinion, and I apologise if I offend any members here, but your life is your own and you've lived it up to now the way you want to. Anyone community who looks at your past and judges you by it, without taking into consideration where you're going, isn't worth associating with.

    Sikhi is a religion which has its traditionalists and it's progressives and you get a mix in every community. You might fit in with some sections, you might not fit in with others. The only way you'll know is to go and participate and see what happens. Sikhs are supposed to welcome anyone to their Gurdwaras (temples), no one is barred from entering, as long as you behave with respect.

    Also, what do you want from the community? Why not join a club for one of your hobbies - that's community too. Are you more interested in the community aspect than you are the Waheguru/spiritual aspect?

    I'm not a good one to give advice on community. I'm very much a fringe-dweller. As far as I know, I'm the only white convert who goes to my Gurdwara. I'm married to an atheist whose much older than me. He has been divorced and has two children. I have told all this to many of the aunties at my gurdwara and they don't seem to have a problem with it. What everyone does seem concerned about is my level of education (I have a trade certificate, not a degree or diploma!), but they've gotten over that. hehe

    But it's easy for me being such an anomaly. If you've got Indian heritage, I don't know if it will be different for you. You might be of another heritage, Asian or African or Croat, whatever - I'm sure that won't be a problem.

    When I first started going to Gurdwara I did have concerns about acceptance. When I first started going I wasn't married, I was living with my boyfriend. I worried that people would see me as a bad example for their daughters, and as a white devil with regard to their sons. But if they did, they didn't show it, and I was welcome. Now I'm married, it doesn't seem to bother anyone either. But I don't socialise with the community at my Gurdwara... I go there to do seva (you socialise while you do that), for the kirten (spiritual music), for the discourse (which sometimes has English slides), for the karah prashad (hehehe), for the spiritual boost. You might be looking more for friends?

    Having said that, I do go to a progressive Gurdwara. Maybe it would be different at another more traditional Gurdwara. I don't know.
     
  13. Bunky

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    I'm interested in the spiritual aspect. I would however like to fit in and not antisocial.
     
  14. Ishna

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    I think it comes down to the sangat at your Gurdwara. I've found, Sikhs don't baby you. You've got to show initiative and get in there yourself. I spend many a langar sitting by myself with no one to talk to because I'm shy and often can't be bothered butting into someone elses group. But I know that if I ask, I will be welcome. I don't know if it's the same everywhere.

    I doubt you'll be judged and turfed out on your ear if that's what you're worried about.

    I've also found that, unless you speak Punjabi, you probably won't "learn" too much at the Gurdwara - you're better off using the Internet and reading books. Gurdwara is about the experience for me.

    You can always contact a Gurdwara first, and ask if someone can show you around. That way, you already know someone!

    As far as fitting in, you might find you walk into a very tight-knit, traditional Gurdwara. Or you might find it's progressive and diverse, like mine. That will determine whether you "fit in" or not. Just like church, if you go to one that's tight knit, the same people have been going there for decades, it can be harder and take longer to carve out a place for yourself.

    You won't walk in and have a vibrant, loving community handed to you on a plate. You've got to work for it, participate, get to know people over time, just like anywhere, I think.
     
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  15. Ishna

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    Awe thanks SPNadmin. I've only read that one book of hers, but I go back to her translations all the time because she's tried to retain the poetic beauty of Gurbani. A couple of times I've raised an eyebrow at her choice of translation, but having read others and having a general idea, you can see around it. Gyani Jarnail ji would say, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. And hey, pobody's nerfect!
     
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  16. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
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    The relationship of Sikh Guru is such that a Sikh accepts his Guru first and then becomes part of community. So the first question is.. do you accept Guru Granth Sahib as your only Guru? Do you realize the meaning of Guru? It means dispenser of darkness, complete knowledge.

    Regarding getting along with the community, I am sure there are many people here who can help you depending on your location in Canada.
     
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  17. Bunky

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    I thought guru meant Teacher. What do you mean by "dispenser or darkenss?"
     
  18. Ishna

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    Bunky ji

    Guru does mean teacher, usually "spiritual teacher". It can be translated as "Gu" meaning darkness and "ru" meaning light, the combination of which is "one who dispels the darkness of ignorance with the Light of spiritual truth".

    In Sikhi the word "Guru" is used to refer to a few things:

    • the ten human Gurus from Guru Nanak Dev Ji thru Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
    • Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib Ji
    • God (Waheguru - Wonderful Spiritual Teacher... that translation hardy does the word justice to me)
    The top most aim of a Sikh is to tune in to God's Will and become God's servant -- lay your own ego down and become an instrument of the Divine. That's my interpretation anyway. Others might be able to explain more clearly.

    I've also recently been mulling over the idea that Guru could also mean "higher self", the part of the human psyche in touch with God and able to guide us per Divine Will. But that's purely my own thought and better for another thread when I've bubbled it in my brain for a while longer.
     
  19. Bunky

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    Another question I have is. Do most Sikhs believe that God spoke directly to the Gurus, or that the Gurus were inspired by God, were they singled out?
     
  20. Ishna

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    Hi Bunky

    You're welcome for the information given so far... :unsure:

    Sikhs believe that every human has divine light inside them (jyot). The jyot in the Gurus was more intense than regular people. And that was just Waheguru's Will -- it's the way it happened.

    You could say the Gurus were inspired by Waheguru. They are not seen as incarnations of Waheguru, and when you say "were they singled out" - it just happened that Guru Nanak became enlightened, and passed his enlightenment on to his successors, until Guru Gobind Singh put it into Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

    Why don't you tell us a bit more about yourself and your thoughts around Sikhi?

    Ishna
     
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  21. Bunky

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    Thank you. :)

    Is the Sikh definition of enlightenment similar to the Hindu or Buddhist definition of enlightenment?

    Is it believed possible that that jyot could be as intense in someone today as it was in the original 10 gurus?

    I don't have much to tell you about myself, I dont' like to give to much personal information onilne. Perhaps in the future if I continue to use this website I will.

    I'm just exploring Sikhism right now.

    Thanks again! :)
     
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