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SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

Discussion in 'Face to Face' started by Lee, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Lee

    Lee
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    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!!

    Preface:

    Dear SPN'ers, in our endeavor to make Sikh Philosophy Network a more closely knit community, beginning this fortnight, we are initiating a special section focusing on our members, who have over the years nurtured and patronized SPN to make it what it is today!

    Please Note: If you would like to share your life's experiences with us, or would like to nominate someone who has inspired you, please contact us here for the future interviews. :welcome:

    Thank You,
    SPN Administration



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    - Meet Our First SPN'er in Focus -
    - (Fortnight Nov 15,2009 to Nov 30, 2009) -


    Lee Douglas



    • Please tell us about your first experiences of Sikhi (either in your family or as a convert).
    I have always been spiritual in nature, ever since I can remember, despite or perhaps because I come from a largely atheist family.

    For many years my searching for God (although at the time I did not realise this was what I was doing) lead me down the Neo-Pagan path, which eventually lead nowhere, except round and round in logical circles.

    So, one day I decided to simply stop that part of my life and look elsewhere. After a few years, I found myself reading a book from the library about Sikhi.

    I was astounded! I found that Sikhi encompasses all that I had come to believe about God. I found it just made sense to me, and so I sought out Sikhs to talk to.




    • What events and experiences inspired you to continue on your journey learning about Sikhism, and deepening your understanding?
    I work in the IT industry; and so prior to making my decision to convert, I met many Sikhs via the Internet, which lead to a memorable email exchange with a young Sikh living in London. He invited me to a Sikh Summer Camp in which he was doing some fine Seva. I went to this camp, the only white man, and an older man surrounded predominantly by children.

    I was left largely to my own devices. I spoke to many people there, old and young. The children were full of exuberance and more than willing to come and talk to this strange, small, fat and hairy bloke. The elders initially stayed away, but as the two weeks progressed, I found them approaching me, and I asked questions. I arose at 4:00 am. I did all the things that the rest of the camp did, and went home with a very nice copy of Nitnem.

    Let me say this to any new non-Punjabi converts: The youth at that camp were a great help to me. I will never forget their kindness.



    • If you could name one thing about Sikhism that is most important to you (something that you would never give up) what would it be?
    When I first read Mool Mantar, again I was almost blown away by what it was communicating to me! It is I think the very essence of Sikh.

    One God who is all, all pervading, the realisation of the interconnectedness of everything, the idea that nothing exists that is not God! Wow! It has made me treat people better.



    • Were there individuals who were role models, who taught you how to be and live as a Sikh?
    Too many to mention: the Sikh youth from that camp, the young Sikh who invited me, his younger brother, and an old gentleman who did approach me on the very first day, and who spoke Punjabi to me. I shrugged my shoulders, he signed for me to wait, and he wandered off. A few minutes later, he was back with another man, who served as translator for us.

    I met a few years ago a white couple about 10 years older than me who had a very Western slant on the Sikhi they practiced, not by any means what I would call orthodox, but very nice, unassuming, friendly, gentle people.


    • Who may have motivated you to learn more about Sikhism?
    Everybody, but admittedly myself. I by this time had the bit between my teeth. I am dogged when it comes to trying to understand new things


    • Did you ever experience barriers as you continued on your journey?
    When I see the pettiness displayed by some Sikhs, it does bring me down, but not for long. What we do here on this earth? Well all of that is ordained. We all are little tiny facets of God. All that God does cannot be wrong, so if I can attempt to see God in others, then my mood improves.


    • Thinking of yourself today as a Sikh, how do you live Sikhism in your own way?
    I do the things that most of us do. I go to Gurdwara. I even awake early (some days) for Simran. I try to get up continuously, but Ahhh! Life has a habit of getting in the way. I help anybody that asks for it, even those who do not ask but I can see need it.


    • How do you understand Seva to the Guru and to the panth, in your own words and in your own experience?
    Seva? Well that’s a bit different for me. Sikhi has, over the last 8 to 9 years, made me a better man, more considerate, willing to forgive, more helpful generally. If you need help, than ask a Sikh. This is now a major belief of mine.


    • What is the most difficult part of being a Sikh?
    The hardest part of any spiritual path is not being too hard on yourself. We all fall from time to time. God will always pick us up, dust us down, and put us back on the road. That is if our intent is pure.

    So, guilt, you don't need it. Say, Sorry! Mean it! Then, forge ahead. God forgives.


    • Is there anything else you would like to share with the Readers?
    People are people the word over. We each of us are unique and individual, and the reality is that not all of us will reach for God. Those people who do not believe, or believe in another way from us: Well they are God too. We must treat them all as such.


    • What are the Top 5 Critical Things that you would like to suggest for the Overall Improvement of SPN.
    A tiny thing really. When you write or reply to a post, there are two buttons. Save and Submit, I often hit the wrong one. It would be handy if the Submit button was on the right rather than the left, but it is a tiny thing.



    • Sikh Philosophy Network thanks Lee ji for this interview with this prayer.
    Guru Ram Das Ang 775

    ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਕਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਪਰੁ ਕੀਜੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਕਿ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥੩॥
    jo prabh kehai soee par keejai naanak ank samaaeiaa ||3||
    Whatever God says, I gladly do. O Nanak, I have merged into the fiber of His Being. ||3||
    ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਕਾਜੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ॥
    har prabh kaaj rachaaeiaa ||
    The Lord God has arranged the marriage ceremony;

    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵੀਆਹਣਿ ਆਇਆ ॥
    guramukh veeaahan aaeiaa ||
    He has come to marry the Gurmukh.

    ਵੀਆਹਣਿ ਆਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਾ ਧਨ ਕੰਤ ਪਿਆਰੀ ॥
    veeaahan aaeiaa guramukh har paaeiaa saa dhhan kanth piaaree ||
    He has come to marry the Gurmukh, who has found the Lord. That bride is very dear to her Lord.

    ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਮਿਲਿ ਮੰਗਲ ਗਾਏ ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਆਪਿ ਸਵਾਰੀ ॥
    santh janaa mil mangal gaaeae har jeeo aap savaaree ||
    The humble Saints join together and sing the songs of joy; the Dear Lord Himself has adorned the soul-bride.
    ਸੁਰਿ ਨਰ ਗਣ ਗੰਧਰਬ ਮਿਲਿ ਆਏ ਅਪੂਰਬ ਜੰਞ ਬਣਾਈ ॥
    sur nar gan gandhharab mil aaeae apoorab jannj banaaee ||
    The angels and mortal beings, the heavenly heralds and celestial singers, have come together and formed a wondrous wedding party.

    ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮੈ ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾ ਕਦੇ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੪॥੧॥੩॥
    naanak prabh paaeiaa mai saachaa naa kadhae marai n jaaee ||4||1||3||
    O Nanak, I have found my True Lord God, who never dies, and is not born. ||4||1||3||

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  3. Sikh royalist

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Brother lee,

    since you parents were atheists that means they never told you that there is a god i think that those are one's parent's who first tell him about god and other religious acts but in some cases the god guided you your case is one of this kind isn't it incredible
    when did you first thought about the fact that there is a god?
    and the second question is that suppose if your parents were Christian or if they followed a religion which of course had a definition of god why do you think you must have chosen your present religion then?
     
  4. Lee

    Lee
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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Sikh Rolayist Ji,

    Like a lot of people my age and from my background, my parents paid lip service to the Church of England, I along with the next brother down from me (I am the eldest child of 5 of us) where actualy Christend into the Anglican faith, and also attended Sunday school. Don't read to much into this though, we where shipped of to Sunday school to give my folx some peace and nothing more(Imagine 5 kids all no more than 3 years apart!)

    So although I grew up in a household where God was never mentioned, I also grew up in a time where on the surface the majority of us in the UK were affiliated with the C of E.

    I never really thought about God untill I was about 10 years old, I mean of course I had heard of such a being, I had learnt about Christianity, and I am actualy a product of Imperial India before the partiation.

    My gradfather on my mothers side left Mumbai shortly after the partianion with his family in toll. My Mum was born in Mumbai, and so I also grew up with the stories of my Indian cusions who converted from Hinduism to Catholisiom.

    So I had an idea that there was more than one way to see deity.

    When I reach ten years of age I fell in with some Pagans, and Neo-Paganism was my very first direct dealings with deity, my first knowledge of a creative God come from this source. Now you probably think, ten is a little young to start down the Pagan route, but in truth 10 is the age in which I started secondry school, so I was only 5 years away from leaving school and staring work.

    I think that perhaps if my parents were truely religious and followed with their hearts the faith they paid lip service to thinks may have been differant for me. I may very well by now be a devout Christian instead. Who knows for sure, not it. Although I can say that I have always been a little bit rebelous, so maybe not.
     
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  5. JimRinX

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Dear: Lee ji
    I can relate to that (being born into the 'wrong' familly, that is)!
    My Father was - supposedly - a Catholic, my Mom 1/4 Jewish daughter of agnostic Dutch Republicans and 'English/Irish' ne'r-go-to-the-Catholic-Heaven' types. They raised us (three Boys, one Girl) as Catholics - but mainly just so that we could go to Catholic Parochial Schools; as we were a Military Familly, and the Base Schools often STANK.
    I believe in Reincarnation DEEPLY - I always have (first learned of it, at age 7 or 8, in the Movie 'Patton' - of all places!); thus, since I KNOW that I was a 'Dhamra Practitioner' in countless past lives, I've come to believe that people like you and I are often born into such families as a kind of 'test' - to see if the Dharma has, over the course of so many incarnations, 'stuck' with us well enough that we come back to it - even if the environment that we were raised in contained few if any clues!
    I haven't 'converted' to Sikhism (it's not a good time to make such decisions; many problems and challenges facing me!); I've always considered myself a Mahayana Buddhist - a devotee of the Dalai Lamas; but I agree with you - in spades - that the Guru Granth Sahib is a Truly Enlightened Text; a REALLY, REALLY good guild to Life, The Universe, and Everything.
    I, too, became interested after reading a book called, "An Introduction to Sikhism".
    Thanks for sharing your story!
     
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  6. Lee

    Lee
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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    JimRix Ji,

    And thank you sir for sharing your story. I particularly liked the expresion 'Dhamra Practitioner', don't know why, just has a nice ring to it.
     
  7. Sikh royalist

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    dear jimrinx,

    every page and every line in the Granth praises God and no one else i wonder how can anyone respect it without respecting god:hmm: i fear you are a spiritual atheist but still i appreciate your respect for Guru Granth sahib.:up:
     
  8. JimRinX

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Dear: Sikh Rolyalist
    I'm afraid you 'have me' - for I must admit that I've read MUCH of the Guru Granth Sahib, as well as a smattering of other Important Works of the Sikh Faith, most of this came to me in a rather abbreiviated form; in fact, the most informative book of them all was 'An Introduction to Sikhism' - written be a very loving Sikh Woman (sorry, I don't recall her exact name; but it's probably in most English Lauguage Print Databases) - as it Truly Impressed Me; or, in other words, I've yet to get the entire Guru Granth sahib off of my 'Read This' List - which is often dozens of books long.
    I was atrracted to SPN because of this; as I've read many, many books on Religion, Philosophy, Mysticism, Physics - everything! - and the Sikh Faith appeals to my sense of the 'oneness' of all Faiths - and my Belief that The Great Formless One was behind, at one time or another, the formation of All Beliefs; even if many a False 'God King' and corrupt Theocracy has sullied the orginal beliefs, inspired through mystic communion, of the Founding Saint/Prophet/Seer/Avdhoot/Messiah/Guru/Etc..
    After all; I said that I've always considered myself a MAHAYANA Buddhist - and we're not properly labeled 'Atheist', like most Theravadas at least 'sound' when they talk about 'no clear light' or 'no Formless Realm'; as where, exactly, do you think the 'Great Formless One' resides? Where Mahayana Buddhist go - to be Judged - when we Die; it's where I KNOW I'll 'visit' long enough to select my next Incarnation - as I 'Made A Deal' with The Great Formless One eons of lifetimes ago; I have to 'Work For It' - a Higher Incarnation, that is.
    I've promise to read ALL of the Guru Granth Sahib just for you, Sikh Royalist ji; but I also want YOU to read Thomas Paines "Common Sense" & "The Age of Reason" - the influence that Thomas Paine had upon America is one of the main reasons we have suffered through very little internal conflcit (just one Civil War - which was very just, as it was not only fought to abolish slavery, it also make a point - about the Value of The Principles of Thomas Paine!), as well as why some of the less ignorant Americans - the ones who've actually read Marx, instead of cursing him out of pure ignorance, say - are so 'proud' of our Form of Governance.
    But then Thomas Paine was a Great Guru if I've ever read of one.
    Have you ever read The Avesta? The (better say "Holy" - so my Muslim friends won't get upset!) Quran? The Bible? Any Sutras? Lao Tzu? Confuscius? Plato? Any of the Ghitas? Vedas? Upanishads?
    I envy people who speak Hindi or Punjabi - that has to make dealing with so many very un-western names so much easier!
     
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  9. Sikh royalist

    Sikh royalist
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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    dear jimrinx after knowing you to some depth i have realized that you are still in a kind of search for the truth and for that purpose Granth is of course very informative really sorry for asking you such a stupid question in my last post i have not read Thomas Paines but i will try to as soon as I'm free.
    i have a copy of Quran but never got time to read it have only read the index.i have read The new testament but a few pages from the front and it was so good to read it as if my eyes started to open up the best line i think was "Love even those who hate you do not only love those who love you don't even the tax collectors do that"
    Gita was perhaps the first scripture that came to my hands i think i was 13 or so the most inspiring quote was "do your deeds do not worry about the result"
    have read Plato to some extent not properly

    but most importantly i have read a thought by kabir ji
    "pothi padh padh jag mua pandit bana na koy dhai akshar prem ke padhe so pandit hoye"
    no one becomes a wise man by reading scriptures but by understanding them and loving every creature.
     
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  10. JimRinX

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Dear: Sikh Royalist ji
    Quite so! The part about Wisdom not being found in the Words within Books, that is!
    I recommended Thomas Paine because - though he 'sounds like' an Atheist, he inspired many of the Great Deist (people who believe in a God of some sort - but not a God who, if you pray to Hirm for every little thing in the hope of receiving some kind of 'Divine Intervention' in ones affairs, you're going to get it; Deist see the Universe more as a 'Wind-Up Toy', and God as an Caring Observer who set things up to teach us the difference between Good and Evil - through experiencing BOTH of them; which is why it's nonsense to constantly asking the Greatest Guru to let you 'cheat on your tests and/or homework' by praying for 'the answers) who helped to write our Constitution; as it's the one thing that keeps us Americans - who are descendants of the War-like Europeans that battled it out over the Reformation and Conter-Reformation (Catholic vs Protestant Christian - NOT what "Jesus would do"!) - from doing the same thing HERE.
    I'm very worried about the escalating crisis in, oh, say, YOUR part of the World, you see; and I'd like everyone to read their Thomas Paine - as the Ideals expressed in his writiings might just help you get some Real Peace!
    I'm sorry if that comes off rude - it shouldn't!
    I didn't get whatever Wisdom of that sort just from a Book though; I got it through Divine Communion - so, sometimes, I feel rather compelled to play the Guru myself!
    Peace, Sikh Royalist ji; I wish the People of India - and your Neighbors - all the best!
     
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  11. Sikh royalist

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    dear jimrinx brother thank you i was earlier not aware of the exact word for such people deist hmm sounds interesting somewhat similar to my thoughts.

    brother we are neither Americans nor Europeans we are Indians the oldest civilization of this world yet not civilized.one must come to India and go to places like Assam or Bengal or jharkhand,bihar anywhere and ask a poor man what does religion mean what is god to him he will surely reply i will thank god if i get a meal twice a day.on the other hand we have the westerners people who have everything(most of them) and they are looking for a religion atheism and all such sort of things are the inventions of such people westerners convert to Indian religions for spirituality and Indians are converting to their established religions for food,education and many other things a few years back if a poor man converted to Christianity he was given 5000 Indian rupees not much but enough for the poor his kids were ensured with proper education but most of them didn't even knew who was Christ?others converted to give away their "shudra" image
    religion is not an important thing for your people i have interacted with many westerners on Internet some of them have converted to Hinduism some to Buddhism and all they say is that people are not affected by our religion it is a personal choice but it is completely different here you can be targeted because of religion. acts like anti Sikh riots and Gujarat riots are claim to this and a few days back many Christians were killed in the south.

    you must watch this religion is a key to success in politics

    YouTube- 1984 Sikhs' film must see...

    brother India is a land where men like Guru Nanak,Buddha and Krishna were born they did their best to teach us books like Gita and Guru Granth sahib were composed in India if still we didn't learned there must be something wrong with our understanding and our perceptions i am not sure how much change Thomas Paine and his ideology will bring about(i am not trying to underestimate him not trying to diminish his personality) you know what i mean.
     
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  12. Sikh royalist

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    i surely missed some thing, how ever civilized people may become or may claim to become their true faces come in front of the world sooner or later what Indians did after the death of Indira Gandhi was not different from what Americans did after 9/11 human nature:eek: some qualities of human nature prevail every where :whisling:
     
  13. JimRinX

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Dear Sikh Royalist ji, et al
    I should note that I wrote a very long reply to your Important and Moving reminder of those evil days; but, when I tried to post it, it went 'bye-bye'.
    Soooo....let me try again; first by pointing out that I am, perhaps, running the risk of offending people (though Mai ji; who lost a child to Blue Star; has very nobily learned to 'forgive') with this reply; because you've asked someone who is still very attached to the Buddhas admonitions that 'Loving Kindness' and 'Compassion' (of which, "Forgiveness", is the hardest 'required thing' of them all to accomplish!) come Above All Else!
    I've spoken to and exchanged comments with Sikh's who saw this unfortunate incident two ways: That Armed Militants (if they weren't 'set up' that is) should never have holed up in the Golden Temple in the first place - and thus they brought Disaster upon all of you (and, yes, my Brother - I know that the British promised you, and the Kurds, and a thousand others, a 'Sikhistan'); That the Indian Army should not have fired upon them, either way - and they thus should take ALL of the 'blame' for it.
    Personally; I probably fall into the first category - though I'm by no means endorsing Blue Star, any more than I would endorse the assassination of Mrs. Ghandi - or the Cannonading of Sikh Freedom Fighters (who I, a Veteran of 'The Continental Army', can truly sympathize with!), by the British Army, in the 1800's.
    If it makes you feel any better: where is Ananda? In ruins. Have you ever seen Berlin? They've preserved sections of the city - including the Frauchurch - in it's post-WW2 ruined state, as a reminder to Dem Deutche Volk, that War never 'pays'.
    Herein lies the reason I recommended Thomas Paine; he is what we call a "Humanist" - not a Theocrat, a Demagogue, or (I'm sorry to point out) a 'Royalist'.
    He taught that God is Good in the Chruch, the Temple, the Gurdwara - but should be left out of Political Affairs as much as possible; which is why I pointed out we've had only one nasty Civil War in America - and that had nothing to do with religion.
    Or, to put it another way, we've had ZERO (almost - their are some who'd disagree; take Waco, Texas, and The Branch Davidians, for example; though I feel that, if you want a 13mm Automatic Weapon, and the FBI/ATF wants to see it - you'd better show it to them! What 'Civillian' purpose could there be for an Armor Penetrating Machine Gun, after all?) 'Blue Stars' - and no 'real' Wars of Religion.
    Woulds't but that we could say that about European - or Indian - History, eh?
    As far as our Post 9/11 response; you've been poisoned by too much CNN or, worse yet, FOX News! These organizations have turned News Reporting into a kind of 'Circus Maximus' or 'Gladiatorial Combat' type affair; all about 'EXPLOSIONS' - 'DEATH TOLL' - 'MURDER MOST FOUL!' - rather than Honest and Responsible News Coverage.
    I'm ashamed of Americans who demanded War (especially with Iraq!) - and Proud of thousands of New Yorkers who'd lost Loved Ones, in the WTC, who marched in the streets carrying signs that said, "NO WAR in OUR Names"!
    Did you see them? How about the thousands, and thousands of IRANIANS (of all the supposedly 'Axis of Evil' Impirialists!) who marched, carrying candles, through the streets of every major Iranian City, to express Solidarity with the 9/11 Victims?
    I didn't see THAT on the Mainstream American News - I saw it on FreeSpeachTV, LINK/Mosaic TV, and Reporters Without Borders.
    All of these Great Organizations have Web-links - I'd suggest that you check them out, when you get tired of the 'BOMBS' - 'DEATH' - 'MUTILATIONS' approach of the MSM (Main Stream Media).
    To conclude: It's only People like US, Sikh Royalist ji, who can make things different! Two 'Wrongs' DO NOT ever make a 'Right', my friend! I hope you - and all the others on SPN who share the Pain - the Humiliation - of having suffered through Blue Star, can find some solace in these words.
    Peace - I MEAN IT! Before someone 'pushes the Nuclear button'! Sikhsim holds the Answer! I KNOW IT! Be True!
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    :wah::wah::wah::wah::wah:
     
  15. MANCHANDA

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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    HELLO MR LEE,
    I HAVE ALSO BECOME AN ARDENT FAN OF YOURS AND HONESTLY SPEAKING IT IS JUST RECENTLY THAT I HAVE STARTED FEELING ATTACHED TO GOD AND SIKHISM AND WANT TO GIVE THE BEST IN SPREADING THE MESSAGE OF OUR GURUS TO THE REST OF THE WORLD,MAY GOD BLESS YOU IN ALL YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS AND THE SPIRIT OF "KHALSA" BRIGHTEN,CHAK DE,REGARDS

    PARMINDER SINGH MANCHANDA:up:
     
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  16. Lee

    Lee
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    Re: Meet Our SPNer in Focus - Lee Douglas

    Manchanda ji,

    Welcome then my friend, and please it is just Lee.
     

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