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Opinion It's Been A Year Since I Started Following Sikhi. Here's What I've Learned And Would Like Thoughts

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Rajveer_97, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. Rajveer_97

    Rajveer_97 United Kingdom
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    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

    Hello brothers and sisters, this is my first time posting here after being a long time lurker. I truly admire the community on here, many people who're aiming to follow the spiritual path of Sikhi.

    Now, I haven't had much company of other Sikhs throughout my life. There's been some influence since I was born through stories and what my parents taught me every now and then. But my parents don't dedicate much time to learning gurbani so that was limited. Most of my learning has been through reading books, doing kirtan and reading gurbani (with heavy reliance on English translations so far but I'm trying to move away from that).

    I have seen this as a positive thing so far, I wanted to ensure I walk on this path without an influence of the cultural bias many Sikhs can have, those who have fallen prey to empty ritualism and following heavily culturally influenced beliefs (the appalling caste system, worship of paintings).

    But now I am at a point where I can't walk this path alone, it is not a path to be walked alone and as I have learned the Gurus emphasised the importance of the company of the holy, of keeping a good sangat. But I find that difficult since I am not too in touch with other Sikhs, there's a gurdwara in my city and I go there when I can, but mostly I learn and meditate on my own.

    I now have some questions, some uncertainties I'd like help in getting clear. I am finding it hard to understand how it is that Sikhi went from being an open, simple way of life to an organised religion which to me it feels like some of its beauty has been lost. Sikhi is an excellent path of finding God, I believe it to be the best and simplest but it seems people have made it complicated.

    The Rehat Maryada for example, it seems to me like it's given far too much important, more than it possibly deserves. The Gurus did not write it, it was a noble attempt made by some Sikhs to simply Sikh philosophy into a "rule book" and I feel it can act as a guide for new Sikhs but importance and emphasis still really needs to be given to the study of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I mean seriously, as Guru Ji says: Practice truth, contentment and contemplation. Contemplation. Not follow a rule book. Not once have I seen keeping long hair mentioned in SGGS ji, yet some Sikhs have given it far more importance than the practice of kindness and meditation(but don't get me wrong, I realise the significance of unshorn hair in Sikhi and it is something I am working towards achieving). Also meditation, why is it that I never learned about meditation until just a year ago when I was 19? I always heard about praying and meditation, yet I never once was taught of the importance of meditating in order to try and find oneness with Akal Purakh?

    Well these are my thoughts. I'd love to hear what you think! I am still a beginner, I have a long way to go and I need the help of people on the same journey.

    There are some other questions I'd like to ask and if you could help me it'd be great: Where in SGGS ji does it say we can't eat halal? I have been told all my life we can't eat it, but could I get some verses from SGGS ji supporting this? Because I found out from some Muslim friends that Halal meat involves a certain procedure which involves ensuring the animal doesn't see the blade (which needs to as sharp as possible) and that it's a swift cut causing as little pain as possible while the Muslim says the name of God. I see such ritualism as being unnecessary, but I don't see what's wrong with this method? What am I missing?

    I also read something about Guru Gobind Singh Ji saying that those parents who let the hair of their children be cut should be shunned. This was a shocking thing for me to read, I can see doing such a thing as being looked down on if you're a Khalsa who made an oath and gave his/her head to the Guru so I'm hoping that's the context within which this applies. But even then, doesn't seem like the kind of thing the Guru would say...but again, I would like your thoughts.

    One more thing, I've recently come to really enjoy Sufi music. Looking more into Sufism I realised it has lots in common with Sikhi. Mian Mir, the man who layed down the foundation stone of Harminder Sahib by Guru Arjun Dev Ji's request was a Sufi saint. I know there are some verses in the SGGS ji which are from saints that weren't "Sikhs" but their teachings were in line with those of Gurus. So is it alright of me to listen to Sufi music, if the teachings are in line with those of the gurus? Would like your thoughts and why. No opinion, but something to back it up.

    If you read this far, thank you very much I really appreciate it and would also love some of your thoughts on the matters I touched!
    Bhul Chuk Maaf karna.
     
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  3. sukhsingh

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    Great post
     
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  4. Harry

    Harry United Kingdom
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    Rajveer_97ji,

    maybe it is you that will teach us something rather than the other way around...

    I don't think you need any help, I think you just need like minded company-welcome!
     
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  5. OP
    Rajveer_97

    Rajveer_97 United Kingdom
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    Thanks! I'm glad to a part of this community and wanted to get a bit of my story out there
     
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  6. OP
    Rajveer_97

    Rajveer_97 United Kingdom
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    I'm humbled by your words thank you. But I still have a long way to go on this journey!
     
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  7. Harry

    Harry United Kingdom
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    yes, some might say that is all we can hope for, to aim to follow the spiritual path, and then maybe to find the answers through Gurparsad.

    This is not a terrible thing, there is now so much misinformation that is now accepted as word amongst many Sikhs that you can subscribe nearly every facet of every religion to SIkhism if you were to talk to our community. I think it wonderful that you are able to ask the questions you are asking, maybe when we stop asking questions and feel we have the answers is when we stop learning.

    Any translation, any interpretation that is not yours, should be taken with a pinch of salt in my opinion, yes, some of these are way of mark, and full of agenda, but they do act as a guide to us, to help us form our own interpretation, which I believe is hugely important, rather than relying on others.

    absolutely

    I, myself am not a huge fan of meditation, however, there are many members that are, Chazji has a blog he started to encourage others to share their experiences, it makes a good read, rather than see this forum as the answer to questions, see yourself as another contribution in order to help us all find the answers.

    agenda, there is always an agenda, some might say purity is to have no agenda. Sikhism without agenda is pure, you just have to strip away the signs of agenda..

    Personally I wished the SRM had tackled pragmatic and important Sikh issues rather than whether it is ok to dye your beard, so I hear you.


    What is your definition of meditation?

    there are many different thoughts on this, I know of at least one member here who does eat Halal, and is prepared to argue the point why they do, but I am no expert, just a learner like you.

    Yes, you have formed your own litmus test, and this has failed it, why would a Guru say or do certain things? Is it a story made by people with agenda? did it really take place? if it did, is it consistent with the teachings of the Guru? such can be applied to many myths in Sikhism. For instance, did the Guru's have more than one wife, history says yes in parts, but to me that fails my own litmus test, given the stance on equality for the sexes. Did the Gurus wear earings as depicted in certain paintings? again, this fails my own litmus test, they were unconcerned with such in my opinion.

    I know of many Sikhs that use many many different music in order to contemplate, meditate, call it what you will, ranging from Bani, classical, love songs and even heavy metal, its alright to do anything you wish, to expose yourself to anything you wish, how else can one learn, grow? Be aware of everything in this world, experience as much as you can, life cannot be experienced through meditation alone, one has to live, to make mistakes, to learn, that is not to say one should head for the fleshpots of Thailand and the smoking cafes of Amsterdam in order to learn, I think a big part of Sikhism is discretion and intelligence, do not follow blindly, instead hone your understanding. No one has the right to tell you what to do, no one has the monopoly of understanding of the SGGS, some might say that anyone that does, is a fool.

    When you have a bunch of people together that do not know, it is a wonderful experience to grow and learn together and get a bit closer to the truth, so much more fun than a bunch of people that all know everything and then spend eternity arguing about who is right.
     
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  8. Original

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    Rajveer Ji -

    Welcome and thank you for sharing your experiences and learnings with us !

    Normally, I'm pretty vocal to point out minimum age requirements necessary for the want and proliferation of spiritual wisdom. The reason for this is two fold:
    1. age distils maturity
    2. maturity fermentates wisdom

    Age, maturity n wisdom evolve organically to yield fruitful disposition, which of course, has a linear relationship. They work in tandem to shape intellectual and spiritual growth necessary to conceptualise particular world view. Exonerating youthful exuberance for evolutionary experimentations to prep you for the contemplative stage later in life is a must, then and only then will you be ready to see the wood for the trees. For otherwise, it's like the blind studying vision.

    As regards your assertion of moving away from third hand translations, that indeed is noble, for you will understand the emotional content with which "gurbani" is sung and composed. It will touch the parts that no other instruments can touch with direct effect. That is to say, chewing a raw sugarcane from the land of five tastes sweeter than drinking it out of a glass, albeit, chilled and content unchanged.

    The ability to take on conceptual world-view of Sikh theoretical thought requires preliminary essentials to be learnt and understood first and foremost. Having knowledge of the perspectives' distinctive vocabulary and conceptual toolkit allows you to contribute this knowledge through to application to objects of enquiry and resolutions, questioning and pushing at the boundaries of their respective traditions, with which I sense an element of preoccupation on your part. This can then be said to yield at least two important aspects. First, it's a sign of increasing intellectual maturity, demonstrating as it were, a familiarity with, and confidence in handling the vocab and conceptual framework of Sikh theoretical thinking. Second, the confidence and the ability to take sides in intellectual and spiritual debates.

    All in all, I wish you the very best as a student of Sikh belief n value.

    God bless you !
     
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    #7 Original, Mar 1, 2017
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  9. lionprinceuk

    lionprinceuk United Kingdom
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    In Adi Guru Granth Sahib the term abhakhiya is used somewhere for halal. There is also something about slaughtering an animal in Allah's name or something very similar.
     
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  10. OP
    Rajveer_97

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    yes, some might say that is all we can hope for, to aim to follow the spiritual path, and then maybe to find the answers through Gurparsad.



    This is not a terrible thing, there is now so much misinformation that is now accepted as word amongst many Sikhs that you can subscribe nearly every facet of every religion to SIkhism if you were to talk to our community. I think it wonderful that you are able to ask the questions you are asking, maybe when we stop asking questions and feel we have the answers is when we stop learning.

    This is something that's actually been driving me mad. There is so much of a mess regarding some of the things in our history. The Dasam Granth, Rehitnamas, the 52 Hukams of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji - their authentacity mainly. One tries to go looking for a source and often comes back empty handed. Their needs to be effort from all of us in trying to clear out these questions.


    Any translation, any interpretation that is not yours, should be taken with a pinch of salt in my opinion, yes, some of these are way of mark, and full of agenda, but they do act as a guide to us, to help us form our own interpretation, which I believe is hugely important, rather than relying on others.

    It was actually a Christian friend of mine that opened up my eyes regarding this issue. He told me how he always referred to the Bible to check claims by Christian speakers and priests. I was shocked I had never thought of doing this myself. At that point I was an agnostic atheist, now I am a Sikh.

    absolutely



    I, myself am not a huge fan of meditation, however, there are many members that are, Chazji has a blog he started to encourage others to share their experiences, it makes a good read, rather than see this forum as the answer to questions, see yourself as another contribution in order to help us all find the answers.



    agenda, there is always an agenda, some might say purity is to have no agenda. Sikhism without agenda is pure, you just have to strip away the signs of agenda..



    Personally I wished the SRM had tackled pragmatic and important Sikh issues rather than whether it is ok to dye your beard, so I hear you.

    I realise the importance of SRM after I've read the context within which it developed. It helped make the panth stronger when Sikhs were starting to mix other beliefs with ours. The not dyeing your beard is an interesting one, it's found in a rehitnama. But yes I agree, there are more bigger issues.

    What is your definition of meditation?

    For me meditation involves reading/listening/reciting gurbani and contemplating on the message, with no distractions.

    there are many different thoughts on this, I know of at least one member here who does eat Halal, and is prepared to argue the point why they do, but I am no expert, just a learner like you.

    Compared to the way animals are treated in the current meat industry, there's probably not a massive difference. However it's the ritualistic aspect of it that we should try to not accept.

    Yes, you have formed your own litmus test, and this has failed it, why would a Guru say or do certain things? Is it a story made by people with agenda? did it really take place? if it did, is it consistent with the teachings of the Guru? such can be applied to many myths in Sikhism. For instance, did the Guru's have more than one wife, history says yes in parts, but to me that fails my own litmus test, given the stance on equality for the sexes. Did the Gurus wear earings as depicted in certain paintings? again, this fails my own litmus test, they were unconcerned with such in my opinion.

    I find it a bit wrong how some of the Gurus are "decorated" with so many jewels and fancy clothes. Yeah sure, the very people who encouraged a simple living and not wasting money on wordly things but rather giving to the poor will spend money on gold and jewels...kind of blasphemous to be honest.

    I know of many Sikhs that use many many different music in order to contemplate, meditate, call it what you will, ranging from Bani, classical, love songs and even heavy metal, its alright to do anything you wish, to expose yourself to anything you wish, how else can one learn, grow? Be aware of everything in this world, experience as much as you can, life cannot be experienced through meditation alone, one has to live, to make mistakes, to learn, that is not to say one should head for the fleshpots of Thailand and the smoking cafes of Amsterdam in order to learn, I think a big part of Sikhism is discretion and intelligence, do not follow blindly, instead hone your understanding. No one has the right to tell you what to do, no one has the monopoly of understanding of the SGGS, some might say that anyone that does, is a fool.

    You hit right on the nail. Well said.

    When you have a bunch of people together that do not know, it is a wonderful experience to grow and learn together and get a bit closer to the truth, so much more fun than a bunch of people that all know everything and then spend eternity arguing about who is right.

    I like keeping company of all who are trying to find the Truth, regardless of their faith.

    Sorry for the late response! Things are busy for me right now.
     
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  11. OP
    Rajveer_97

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    I have at the very least come to the conclusion that the ritualistic and sacrificial aspect of halal meat should be good enough for us to avoid it.
     
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  12. RD1

    RD1 Canada
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    Idol worship - images of the Gurus are worshiped, rather than the messages they spread. It is interesting how humans are so susceptible to this type of behaviour - which was not encouraged by the Gurus. I suppose blindly worshiping an idol is much easier that actually studying the teachings, and applying them to one's life....Or perhaps, as you have touched upon, the actual simplicity of Sikhism has become so convoluted, making it seem more complicated than it really is.

    I once heard someone say that Sikhism was 'a way of life,' and not a religion. I was surprised at this statement and completely disagreed. However, now I see it, Sikhism is fundamentally and simply a way of life. Organizing it into a 'religion,' perhaps to adapt to the style of western religions, may have taken more away from Sikhism than added to it.
     
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  13. OP
    Rajveer_97

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    You're absolutely right. People who worship the photos of Gurus rather than the message are, I'd imagine, also the ones who've never tried learning gurbani beyond the mool mantra. I know because I used to be one of them.

    I at first struggled to understand what one meant by Sikhi is a way of life rather than a religion, but now to me also it makes sense. I'd say we do have elements of an organised religion, such as the Khalsa code of conduct but even that for the most part comes from our philosophy.
     
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  14. Original

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    The Sikh way of life is "dharm", meaning , the righteous path [religion].

    All religions are moralising in that they all promote the good, great and the beautiful characteristics of the human being. In order to protect, preserve, instill and promote the teachings of SGGSJ, an institution such as "Khalsa" was a necessity rather than a want. Evolution deemed it a must for otherwise, as you will no doubt agree, time would've eroded it and human nature would've got the better of the simpleton Punjabies; practice n protection ensured indefinite survival. And, the only toolkit available for that undertaking was Institution.

    On the whole, religion bestows meaning and significance on human existence. It defines what is true, absolute and allow humans to realise that grandeur a little bit better. Essentially, religions are choreographers of spiritual moments and I think their genius is that they structure the inner life. Hence, the three pillars of kirat kar, vand shak and nam jap.

    Enjoy Sunday !
     
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  15. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    #14 Sikhilove, Mar 10, 2017
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  16. RD1

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    Would you say that it still has eroded somewhat with time?
     
  17. dalvindersingh grewal

    dalvindersingh grewal India
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    Your thinking is perfectly right. Sikhism was never a rigid religion; it is plain, simple, straight path leading to The One. complications and impediments have been created by those who claimed themselves to be more religious than others. For a Sikh the preaching of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the main lead. In case of any doubt, answer is available in it. The worldly attempts to bind Sikh Way of life to a rigid pattern is against the very basis of Sikhism. Reht Maryada is a guidelines prepared later and an ideal way of living Sikhi but it does not create rigidity.
     
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  18. Original

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    ..depends how you look at it ! Given that the Sikh maxim of chardi kala is a continuum of progress and prosperity, everything happens for the best. In short, I wouldn't say eroded, but rather, that it has "evolved" to become one day, a dominant ideology [Sikh]. You yourself is a prime example, for look how you've matured spiritually n intellectually in a distant land by remaing connected to the shabd guru [Sikh]. That in itself is the measure of proof necessary to determine whether time has eroded it or perfected it.

    Take care - goodnite !
     
  19. sukhsingh

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    Totally disagree. . Chardi kala is not a fatalistic acceptance that everything happens for the best. .but rather come what may it will be dealt with and overcome in high spirits. It is not a resignation to fate but rather not letting circumstance be deterministic. . Literally eternal optimism. Or transliterated as "living creatively" ie. You are the actor, you can overcome. Chardi=rising, kala=art
     
  20. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    Yea it's Truth recognition, no matter what happens, bhagats laugh and say, oh God its just you, I can see you.
     
  21. Original

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    ...you would disagree because you do not know the rationale behind the maxim "chardi kala". The lexicon within which it was founded was "spiritual" and not physical as you seem to have literally translated. It means "ascending spirit". And just as the wearing of the seatbelt was legislated to save NHS expense and not objectively to save human lives so was chardikala coined to stimulate the soldier-saint to attain spiritual heights and not physical proliferation.

    TC
     
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