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Growing Pains, Or, How Can I Learn To Love The Chaos?

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Growing Pains, Or, How Can I Learn To Love The Chaos?

seekingsikhi

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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Sangat Ji,
This weekend I've gotten my first real taste of how taken by maya I've been my entire life. I live a very fortunate existence. I've never denied this; and, even though my life has had its share of serious struggles, I still live an incredibly privileged life - as do my children. Over the holidays last year my family was given a vacation, which we're currently on. We've been sent to a nice resort with many luxurious amenities. Normally I would thoroughly enjoy this kind of thing, but this is my first trip since my coming into sikhi, and it's changed my perspective.

We didn't earn this trip, and that's the first thing that's bothering me. I married into a family that could occasionally do this kind of thing - that's all. When I got here I was excited, but after about 5 minutes my feelings changed. Something akin to guilt washed over me, mostly because it is just so extravagant and luxurious here. I will be looking for an opportunity to do some seva when we get back.

Not wanting this weekend to go to waste by bringing my family down with me, I pushed it out of my mind. I think in doing so I haven't been as connected with Waheguru as I've grown accustomed to. Compounding that are two other factors.

First, my wife is not totally on board with my involvement with sikhi. Her concerns, I believe, are partially that people will be upset that I (a white man) will be wearing a turban and a big beard. This particular concern comes in two flavors: "what if some of our less intellectual neighbors here in Texas decide I've become a muslim and do something terrible" and "what if people think I'm committing some kind of act of cultural appropriation". I'm not overly concerned with either - it's hukam, and I'll defend myself and my family if it comes to that. The other issue comes from some of the more religious individuals we've been forced to interact with over the years; specifically I think she's worried (though she's never voiced as much) that I might become "so spiritually minded that I'm no earthly good." That is also not of a concern as sikhi is far too practical for that to be an issue. Never will I waste time praying about what clothes to wear or what food to cook, as some people we know have done. Again, it's all hukam. No decision is mine anyway, so why waste time freaking out about what pants Waheguru wants me to wear today?

All that is to say, that because all four of us are in a small room together, and to allow my wife a little peace of mind on our trip, I have not been waking early to observe Amrit vela in the way in which I've grown accustomed. If my kids were in a different room it would be different, but they're really light sleepers, and I theoretically have enough time left in my life to make up for what I'm losing here. I've been waking and japing naam in my head until I drift back to sleep, and that just isn't cutting it.

Sangat ji, since I've been detached I've noticed old habits creeping in. Lots of poor eating choices, a lack of patience, and (as this is a resort with lots of water-based activities) a LOT of staring at women in swim suits. I don't like it. I catch myself doing it and I feel guilty. They are people, not objects. Food can be pleasurable but it shouldn't be pleasure. My children don't deserve to be yelled at for being sleepy and a little crabby before bedtime. It saddens me that the peace of mind I've been finding through my reading and observances can be so easily stripped away and replaced with crummy pancakes and impure thoughts. I don't blame the women, by the way; they have the right to wear what they want. It's my job to control my eyes and my mind. While I believe that having outward reminders of my commitment (keeping kes and wearing the kara being the ones I'm taking on first) will help, I implore the sangat for any other suggestions for this and similar situations in the future.

Thank you.
 

Harry Haller

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Sangat Ji,
This weekend I've gotten my first real taste of how taken by maya I've been my entire life. I live a very fortunate existence. I've never denied this; and, even though my life has had its share of serious struggles, I still live an incredibly privileged life - as do my children. Over the holidays last year my family was given a vacation, which we're currently on. We've been sent to a nice resort with many luxurious amenities. Normally I would thoroughly enjoy this kind of thing, but this is my first trip since my coming into sikhi, and it's changed my perspective.
The last time I looked Sikhism was not against luxury per se, or indeed nice things.

We didn't earn this trip, and that's the first thing that's bothering me. I married into a family that could occasionally do this kind of thing - that's all.
I still cannot see the problem, is that a pride thing?

When I got here I was excited, but after about 5 minutes my feelings changed. Something akin to guilt washed over me, mostly because it is just so extravagant and luxurious here. I will be looking for an opportunity to do some seva when we get back.
For some seva is a 24/7 state, to others it is something they do to rid themselves of guilt, again, to some seva is done for the self, to others, seva is done for the recipient, and yet to others seva is done for God, there is an opportunity to do seva anywhere, listening to a fellow guest who has problems is seva, giving advice to the person on the next seat in the plane is seva, making sure your kids and wife have a good time is seva,

Not wanting this weekend to go to waste by bringing my family down with me, I pushed it out of my mind. I think in doing so I haven't been as connected with Waheguru as I've grown accustomed to.
Interesting, for some time I have been pondering on who the 'true' me is, after many many years and much thinking and internal debate, I finally found out who the 'true' me is, deep in the bowels of my mind is a room, and that contains the true me, the me, who in the absence of all external forces, would shine through, upon opening the door, I was disappointed but not surprised to find a {censored}ing monkey, maybe your true you is different, but for me, anything other than that is just a show, a {censored}ing monkey dressed as a man, I suppose my argument is that if it takes a connection to bring out who you perceive to be the true you, is it the true you?

First, my wife is not totally on board with my involvement with sikhi.
of course she isn't, and I have no sympathy for you in that regard, she married a normal white man with normal aspirations and normal goals, how would you feel if you had not found Sikhism and she had found Islam, and now insists on wearing a burkha? you would be pretty confused, where has the woman gone that you married, you may think, I am sure she is thinking the same.

Her concerns, I believe, are partially that people will be upset that I (a white man) will be wearing a turban and a big beard. This particular concern comes in two flavors: "what if some of our less intellectual neighbors here in Texas decide I've become a muslim and do something terrible" and "what if people think I'm committing some kind of act of cultural appropriation"
they are valid concerns given her background and given the shift in your relationship.

I'm not overly concerned with either - it's hukam, and I'll defend myself and my family if it comes to that.
I have been studying Sikhism for quite a few years now, and I still have not come across a definition of hukam that made any sense to me, in the context you are using it, it sounds like fate, the will of God, a path that had no choice, but that is not what hukam means to me, or else, and I have said this many times, the states of Manmukh and Gurmukh would not exist,

Never will I waste time praying about what clothes to wear or what food to cook, as some people we know have done. Again, it's all hukam. No decision is mine anyway, so why waste time freaking out about what pants Waheguru wants me to wear today?
Again, the word Hukam, could you define your own meaning of the word Hukam?

All that is to say, that because all four of us are in a small room together, and to allow my wife a little peace of mind on our trip, I have not been waking early to observe Amrit vela in the way in which I've grown accustomed. If my kids were in a different room it would be different, but they're really light sleepers, and I theoretically have enough time left in my life to make up for what I'm losing here. I've been waking and japing naam in my head until I drift back to sleep, and that just isn't cutting it.

Sangat ji, since I've been detached I've noticed old habits creeping in. Lots of poor eating choices, a lack of patience, and (as this is a resort with lots of water-based activities) a LOT of staring at women in swim suits. I don't like it. I catch myself doing it and I feel guilty. They are people, not objects. Food can be pleasurable but it shouldn't be pleasure. My children don't deserve to be yelled at for being sleepy and a little crabby before bedtime. It saddens me that the peace of mind I've been finding through my reading and observances can be so easily stripped away and replaced with crummy pancakes and impure thoughts. I don't blame the women, by the way; they have the right to wear what they want. It's my job to control my eyes and my mind. While I believe that having outward reminders of my commitment (keeping kes and wearing the kara being the ones I'm taking on first) will help, I implore the sangat for any other suggestions for this and similar situations in the future.
Sounds like a lot of ritual and mind games in order to get away from who you are and try and be someone else, for me, I would prefer being a {censored}ing monkey trying to understand himself, than a {censored}ing monkey in disguise.

this post may sound harsh, but it is not mean't to be, you are as Sikh as any Sikh I have come across, you will change, you will learn, we all do, pleasure to meet you Sardarji.
 

seekingsikhi

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The last time I looked Sikhism was not against luxury per se, or indeed nice things.
That's fair. In retrospect I think it wasn't so much the luxury itself as much as it was just how separate from the reality of the world it felt.


I still cannot see the problem, is that a pride thing?
Perhaps it is. Or perhaps I poorly articulated my issue. Mayhap it has less to do with Sikhi, and more to do with my own efforts to become aware of the condition of individuals in less fortunate situations. While the two are related, they're by no means mutually exclusive.


there is an opportunity to do seva anywhere, listening to a fellow guest who has problems is seva, giving advice to the person on the next seat in the plane is seva, making sure your kids and wife have a good time is seva
Well said, and I took your advice a couple of different times for the rest of the trip. Smiles were brought and problems solved. Everyone wins.

a {censored}ing monkey dressed as a man, I suppose my argument is that if it takes a connection to bring out who you perceive to be the true you, is it the true you?
Admittedly, I've missed the point of this paragraph. Maybe I'm getting hung up on the Johnny Chimpo visuals.


of course she isn't, and I have no sympathy for you
Don't misunderstand, amigo. I ask for, nor expect, any sympathy - except maybe for her. I'm a big boy and can live with the consequences of my decisions.


they are valid concerns given her background and given the shift in your relationship.
Again, totally agreed. I mostly included all of that to make sure I didn't give anyone the wrong impression of my wife.

Again, the word Hukam, could you define your own meaning of the word Hukam?
To use the word fate would simultaneously be inadequate and overcomplicated. Life is made up of decisions that are made by us and made for us. You wake up and decide to have cereal for breakfast. You go down and discover you're out of milk or your cornflakes have gone stale. You're not having cereal, and that decision was made for you. You can fight and rage against it and bring yourself more negativity, or you can accept it for what it is and move on. The same can be said for everything.

Hukam, for me, is like the river of life that we're moving down in the rowboat of our own existence. You can fight the current and try to head where you feel you need to go, paddling upstream until you exhaust yourself. Sometimes you'll get there and sometimes you won't. Sometimes you'll get there but be too tired to remember why you went that way to begin with. Similarly, you can use your oars to steer yourself toward a more desirable position if the current allows. Other times, you simply let the current take you wherever. The point is, the river wins, and we can be mad at the river or we can say "well, guess I'm not going to that shore." For me, it isn't even worth considering the question of fate or predestination. It's a pointless conversation. What's going to happen is going to happen; predestination or no. It's what we do when we get there that matters.


Sounds like a lot of ritual and mind games in order to get away from who you are and try and be someone else, for me, I would prefer being a {censored}ing monkey trying to understand himself, than a {censored}ing monkey in disguise.
There's some truth there. I think it's less trying to be what I'm not and more trying to be what I know I can be. I'm not going to obsess over it to the extent that I'll ruin my own life, but there's something to be said for wanting to live up to the standards you set for yourself; especially when they're not unreasonable.

this post may sound harsh, but it is not meant to be, you are as Sikh as any Sikh I have come across, you will change, you will learn, we all do, pleasure to meet you Sardarji.
Likewise, {censored}ing-Monkey ji!
 

Sikhilove

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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Sangat Ji,
This weekend I've gotten my first real taste of how taken by maya I've been my entire life. I live a very fortunate existence. I've never denied this; and, even though my life has had its share of serious struggles, I still live an incredibly privileged life - as do my children. Over the holidays last year my family was given a vacation, which we're currently on. We've been sent to a nice resort with many luxurious amenities. Normally I would thoroughly enjoy this kind of thing, but this is my first trip since my coming into sikhi, and it's changed my perspective.

We didn't earn this trip, and that's the first thing that's bothering me. I married into a family that could occasionally do this kind of thing - that's all. When I got here I was excited, but after about 5 minutes my feelings changed. Something akin to guilt washed over me, mostly because it is just so extravagant and luxurious here. I will be looking for an opportunity to do some seva when we get back.

Not wanting this weekend to go to waste by bringing my family down with me, I pushed it out of my mind. I think in doing so I haven't been as connected with Waheguru as I've grown accustomed to. Compounding that are two other factors.

First, my wife is not totally on board with my involvement with sikhi. Her concerns, I believe, are partially that people will be upset that I (a white man) will be wearing a turban and a big beard. This particular concern comes in two flavors: "what if some of our less intellectual neighbors here in Texas decide I've become a muslim and do something terrible" and "what if people think I'm committing some kind of act of cultural appropriation". I'm not overly concerned with either - it's hukam, and I'll defend myself and my family if it comes to that. The other issue comes from some of the more religious individuals we've been forced to interact with over the years; specifically I think she's worried (though she's never voiced as much) that I might become "so spiritually minded that I'm no earthly good." That is also not of a concern as sikhi is far too practical for that to be an issue. Never will I waste time praying about what clothes to wear or what food to cook, as some people we know have done. Again, it's all hukam. No decision is mine anyway, so why waste time freaking out about what pants Waheguru wants me to wear today?

All that is to say, that because all four of us are in a small room together, and to allow my wife a little peace of mind on our trip, I have not been waking early to observe Amrit vela in the way in which I've grown accustomed. If my kids were in a different room it would be different, but they're really light sleepers, and I theoretically have enough time left in my life to make up for what I'm losing here. I've been waking and japing naam in my head until I drift back to sleep, and that just isn't cutting it.

Sangat ji, since I've been detached I've noticed old habits creeping in. Lots of poor eating choices, a lack of patience, and (as this is a resort with lots of water-based activities) a LOT of staring at women in swim suits. I don't like it. I catch myself doing it and I feel guilty. They are people, not objects. Food can be pleasurable but it shouldn't be pleasure. My children don't deserve to be yelled at for being sleepy and a little crabby before bedtime. It saddens me that the peace of mind I've been finding through my reading and observances can be so easily stripped away and replaced with crummy pancakes and impure thoughts. I don't blame the women, by the way; they have the right to wear what they want. It's my job to control my eyes and my mind. While I believe that having outward reminders of my commitment (keeping kes and wearing the kara being the ones I'm taking on first) will help, I implore the sangat for any other suggestions for this and similar situations in the future.

Thank you.
All women other than your spouse are sisters. All men are your brother's. Easy.

You dont need to Don a beard and turban to be a good Sikh. Just apply and practice gurbani from GGSJi to your everyday life.
 

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