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Lots Of Questions :)

Discussion in 'Convert's Corner' started by Ester, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Hi,

    I'm new to Sikhism and I have many questions. I'm in the hope that I can find some answers here :)

    I'll start introducing briefly myself a bit to put questions in context. I'm from Barcelona (Spain), I've considered myself "spiritual" for a long time, I usually do zazen meditation and sometimes attend religious events of different kinds (for ex pujas at a tibetan Buddhist place) but I never considered taking a religious path myself since now.
    I got in touch with Sikhi a few months ago and different aspects of it attracted me enough to take me to the local gurudwara to where I have been a few times now. One of the things that attracted me a lot was the idea of a self-existant God-Universe. It is very similar to the "feelings" I have had meditating. Also the strong emphasis in generosity and care of others and the equality among everyone. Some lines of the kirtan Sohila according to which (as I understand them) nature is the most perfect temple, resonated with me a lot too.
    I'm reading about Sikhi, learned the mool mantra and I'm reading the kirtan sohila most nights (usually a translation into English although my mother tongue is Spanish, and sometimes I read it transliterated) and I'm happy to wear a kara which is a present from the people at the local gurudwara.

    I have lots of questions and I cannot easily find the answers, so, I hope some of you can help me with some of my questions :)
    First I want to apologize in advance for my possible mistakes and misunderstandings. Correct me anywhere I'm wrong, please.

    1) why are Sikhs not completely vegan? I learned that Sikhs eat diary products but don't eat eggs. Is it maybe because in the times of Guru Nanak cows were well treated and not killed? I'm a vegan myself, btw, but I'm not meaning to.judge, just to understand.

    2) I'm reading the kirtan sohila in the nights. And at times meditating on the word Satnam.What should be my next reading/mantra to add to my rutine?

    3) what's the ultimate goal? Is it anything similar to the Buddhist enlightenment in.Sikhi?

    4) I keep on doing zazen. Is there anything similar to it in Sikhi?

    5) I'm still shy to ask for the first letter of the Hukamnama to the members of the gurudwara. I'm considering having a Sikh name as a symbolic way to mark the beginning of this new path. I think I might be ready for the name before I overcome my shyness. How do you think they might react if I ask for.it? Some of them already know me but still...I fear they might deem it strange.

    6) I sing traditional music from different countries with two bands. I want to start a new project and I want to sing mantras and lines from the Guru Granth Sahib. But I want to.make sure I'm very respectful with the tradition. We want to compose our own music or to.use music which has been alredy used for particular mantras. I aim to help to bring some light and peace to the world if it makes sense.This is maybe a very complex issue technically speaking and I wonder if someone can give me some pieces of advice. Or maybe it is as simple as "just sing any line with any music you like" I don't know...But it seems that banis are linked to particular ragas, right?

    7) what is this community opinion about the 3ho foundation? They seem to be very popular in the UE but it seems to be a lot of controversy. I'm somewhat curious about it.

    I might have more questions soon, provably I will :") but for now this is all.
    Thanks in advance for anyone taking the time to answer any question or correcting any mistakes. I'll be grateful for any other thought anyone wants to share with me too.

    Ester
     
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  3. Original

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    Ester Ji
    You're not alone, your questions aren't whimsically strange and your quest is intrinsically natural - so please, feel at home. If anything it's your perspective that, in my humble view, warrants change. That is to say, if you were to change your lenses you will change the way you perceive reality [PR]. Take for example, Dorothy n the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz gave Dorothy a pair of "green glasses" to wear and when Dorothy had put them on she saw everything turn green. It wasn't that the perceived reality had changed colour, no, it was Dorothy whose perception of reality had changed because of the green glasses she was wearing. Similarly, if you were to look through Sikh lenses you will begin to see the "ultimate reality" [UR], which is different from the perceived reality. This will help address your questions in the best and perhaps the most rational way to set sail en route to a journey of a life time. But first, what is Ultimate Reality ?

    May I suggest you read around the subject matter [UR] to make sense of PR with which most of your questions are loaded. This will help pave way for Metaphysical truths to present themselves to you in a more rational and logical sequence.

    Thank you and Welcome to Sikh Philosophy !

    Ps - I'm currently away from my base in UK and am enjoying a short vacation in India celebrating Diwali. It may not be possible to reciprocate at the speed of lightening so pls make allowance accordingly. I'm back in UK 21st and will be available to chat freely.

    Warm regards
     
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    #2 Original, Oct 18, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  4. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Thank you so much,

    I will read about UP-PR. It intrigues me a lot :). Thanks for your offer to chat with me and answer further questions. I'll be very grateful. Enjoy your holidays!

    Best Regards,

    Ester
     
  5. Ishna

    Ishna
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    Welcome, Ester. I'll take a swing at giving input to your questions. I'm a person of north-western European heritage, though, so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt.

    The only dietary restrictions for Sikhs apply to baptized Sikhs, and consists of 1. no alcohol and 2. no meat slaughtered in the Muslim way. Sikhs can eat meat. There is no requirement for Sikhs to be vegetarian or vegan. In Gurdwara, langar is vegetarian to avoid lots of drama about meat preparation so people with different meat preparation preferences can sit and eat together. Your find a lot of vegetarian Sikhs, and this is largely an Indian cultural thing. Lacto vegetarianism is a common thing in India where dairy has been a big part of the diet for a long time. It has nothing to do with the treatment of animals in history, or now. It's completely personal preference.

    The first 13 pages of the Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, contain a morning, evening and bedtime hymn (bani). You're already familiar with the bedtime bani. You might want to introduce the evening bani, or the morning one, or your routine. The morning one is called japji Sahib and starts on page 1 and finishes on page 8 (the last line in English is "O Nanak, their faces are radiant in the Court of the Lord, and many are saved along with them! ||1||" in case you're not sure where the bani ends). The evening one is called So Dar (or Rehras Sahib) and starts immediately after Japji Sahib finishes on page 8, and ends on page 12 with the English line "O Lord, I seek Your Sanctuary; please, preserve my honor! ||2||4||". Then you'll find Kirtan Sohila pages 12-13.

    From page 14 onwards the scripture is arranged according to musical measure "Raag".

    Here's a good site for reading Gurbani: www.srigranth.org

    Does your reading of Kirtan Sohila give you any hints about the goal? I don't want to spoil the surprise for you. But what do you think the goal might be from what you know so far?

    Can you explain what zazen is please, as I and many other readers may not be familiar with it? Then we can do some interfaith comparison :)

    There is no rush on this - it's just a name, and you don't need a new one. Usually you can ask for a hukamnama to be take specifically for the purpose of obtaining a name. Also, a hukamnama is always taken when people are baptized, so perhaps you'd like to save your name hukamnama for one day when you might be ready to be baptised. Whatever you do, don't pay a website for one.

    I can't help you with this one, sorry.

    The community here is not supportive of this group. I myself got sick of explaining to people that no, I'm not into yoga, and yes, I take Sikhi seriously, and no, I'm not one of those "white Sikhs" and no, I don't bow to any yogi.

    Wishing you all the best.
     
  6. dalvindersingh grewal

    dalvindersingh grewal India
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    Dear Ester,
    Nice to know that your experiences with Sikhi are positive. Sikhi is a way of life. I will try to reply out of my experiences for 73 years as a Sikh.

    1. Thogh most of the Sikhs prefer being vegetarian, there is no taboo as such on eating eggs in Sikhism.
    2. Sikhism does not believe in mantras. It believes in reading, understanding, living and having love for the Great God. Kirtan Sohila is just a part of 1430 pages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I will request you to start with reading understanding and living Japuji and then go on to othrt hy,ms, though there is no binding as to which hymn is to start with first, but Japiji has been found to be the essence of Sri guru Granth Sahib.
    3. Ultimate goal of a Sikh is to become a true human being who loves God and His universe equally and serves them sincerely. His blessings are sought through practical performance and meditation on Him, seeking His love. Finally it is to be one with Him. This can be attained by attaining the qualities of the Lord being like him and merging in Him like water mixes with water. Budhism primarily dwells on removal of pains of self and humanity however its approach is different. It believes in hard penance and seclusion. Sikhism does not believe hard penance and seclusion. Sikhism believes in living a nornmal life and attaining Him living within the world format and society.
    4. Since zazen is not practiced in Sikhism nothing can be said on its usefulness in Sikhism.
    5. Naming ceremony by taking the first word from Sri guru Granth sahib is just a ritual and not necessary for being a Sikh. You can adopt any name which you feel will provide you a Sikh identity. Even requesting for the first word from Sri Guru Granth Sahib for naming yourself willnot be questioned. You do not have to worry about it. Go to the person reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib and he should oblige you without any question, though he may ask you some thing out of inquisitiveness. It will be better for you to prepare yourselfmentally to become Sikhism, since Sikhism has to accepted voluntary and never forced. It will be more appropriate if you prepare yourself and partake Amrit.

    6. You are most welcome to sing hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Panjabi or any language which you find easier to recite and you have listeners. The Shabad (not mantra) can be sung as per the tunes mentioned in Sri Guru Granth sahib itself to be more appropriate, but singing God's Name in any way is encouraged by Sri Guru granth sahib as well hence you can sing these Shabads in your own language as well.
    7. Thereare many organisations which have found their own ways to remeber God based on Sikh principles. Some of them have started their own ritualistic practices which actually are not according to Sikhism since Sikhism does not believe in Sikhism. It believes in simple living, earning through true labour and sharing with other and keep on reciting Lord's Name. The Sikh way is very simple and based on humane principles.
    I hope I have replied to your 7 questions. I am not an expert on Sikhism but with whatever knoweldge I have got through my experiences I have projected it here. You may be getting many more views. You must analyse all of them with a cool mind and consider whatever is appropriate. You are the right judge of your own decisions in that case.
    With regards
     
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  7. Original

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    Ester Ji - Good morning,

    Thank you for the warm reciprocity. I shall pick up from where I left [post #2], but first a few words on "habits".

    Does god care what you eat, who you bed and where you live ? No ! But you do don't you ? That's because part of you is spiritual and it's that spiritual part that's waking up to moralising trends and habits. As an intelligent human being you question the rights n wrongs of your everyday doings don't you ? All humans do, you're not alone. Well, here's [below] how Sikhism [wider belief] views slaughter of animals for human consumption.

    Sikhism believes that all Life Is One Family [note: the operative word is belief, meaning, an ideology]. Humankind and its destiny must deal with the universe of which it is a part, a mere unit. To understand the unit [you] the whole [universe] must also be understood because you are an integral part that makes up the whole. The spirit that is within you is also within all creatures great n small. Do you want to be killed ? No ! Then why should animals be killed ? There is no moral justification [note, moral and not logical or ecological].

    Spirit is God's essence, an all-pervading vital energy that takes up innumerable forms. Every part of creation, whether it'd be a rock, an electron, a galaxy of stars, a cloud formed from dust or a human mind, has an intimate connection with a higher being [satnam, ultimate reality, UR] through the wave of spirit that enlivens and energies each particle of existence. If you [Ester] accept this view, then the spiritual you will begin to connect with the spirit Satnam [UR].

    Doesn't that dovetails neatly with where I left off the other day when we were talking about perceived reality [PR] and ultimate reality [UR] ? I think it does, I'll continue.

    Guru Nanak [founder n father of Sikh way of Life] believed that the unreal [PR] has no existence and the real [UR] never ceases to be; the reality of both of theses states of Being was thus perceived by the seers of Truth [Satnam]. And since this Satnam has a metaphysical existence, one must naturally use a non-physical means of traveling to theses metaphysical regions. Guru Nanak recommended meditation [nam simran], a non-physical mechanicism to traverse to these metaphysical regions. This is a practice that helps develop the spiritual faculties that are intrinsic to one's consciousness to enable connection with Satnam [anhad shabad, page 124 SGGSJ]. An example of such wonderous excursion is evidenced in verses 34 to 37 of japji Sahib on pages 7 n 8 of SGGSJ. These refined planes [soul's planes] of existence are not an idea, or some abstract theoretical thinking. They are actual levels of Being which can be entered and explored by anyone who know how to experience them.

    More another time -

    Have a good blessed Sunday !

    Buenos días
     
    #6 Original, Oct 22, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  8. Jasraj

    Jasraj United Kingdom
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    1) I think back then there weren't labels like vegetarian or vegan. The Gurus sort of taught compassion and to refrain ourselves from eating meat, fish, or eggs etc. And to dress simply with clothes made from simple materials. Things like milk weren't an issue since back then they didn't exploit cows for their milk like they do nowa days. In my opinion veganism isn't too widely encouraged amongst the Sikhs but I do agree with it and if it were more popularised then i'm sure more sikhs would take it on.

    2) for sikhs, the daily routine is waking up early in the morning, take a cold bath and then meditate on the vahiguru mantra followed by 5 sacred compositions known as japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Svaiye, Chaupai Sahib, anand Sahib. In the evening after your days activities rehraas sahib is recited and before sleeping korgan sohila is recited. It seems a lot so I would definitely advise meditating on the Vahiguru Gurmantar, it's one word and has a deep meaning but it Is basically like calling our creator and connecting with ou true form of compassion that comes from the One True Creator.

    3) the ultimate Goal of the human life is to connect to the divine Lord who resides within us and around us. It's about detaching from the worldly illusion and attaching ourselves to the truth of love and of the One who we all come from. Sikhi can be seen as the "path of the saints", it's a path that through humility and love, makes us people with bad worldly habits to People with loving and compassionate qualities that brings out our true nature as drops in the ocean of the loving Lord.

    5) sikhs are known for being loving and welcoming, don't ever be afraid in the Gurdwara to ask what you feel. Hopefully they welcome you with love and respect

    I'm only able to answer these questions for now but I am going to say that If you want to learn more about Sikhi then the best resource is the basics of Sikhi YouTube channel. There are many more resources too like sikhnet, Nanak naam. But defo check out basics if you haven't already. They have over 1500 videos and there are playlists that go through the meanings some of the compositions we meditate upon such as Kirtan sohila.
     
  9. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    Hi, meditation is just going within and silencing the mind from endless noise and chatter (maya/ illusion).

    How you sit and meditate is largely irrelevent.

    When we meditate we go into Samadhi/deep meditation. In reality we are already in samadhi, meditation.

    The world is an illusion, everything u see smell touch and hear has been created from the Nothingness, the Silence- which is our True Origin.

    Truth is One. Sikhism is not a religion, Sikh means student and in this case, a student of Sat/ Truth.

    The Gurus taught the eternal truth which other truth teachers have also taught previously, but the messages had been corrupted by humans over time.

    They were sent to set things straight and teach the pure uncorrupted Truth, which isn't confined to any religion or sect. Guru Nana ji was a highly evolved soul and was able to teach truth to a great extent.

    Unfortunately Many Sikhs of today have tried to confine the truth into a sect and culture and fanaticism has taken over.

    I would suggest read Guru Granth Sahib Ji and apply its messages to your daily life. Don't bother about outer dress and changing your name. Purify yourself internally, that's the Goal. Kill the thieves, silence the mind.

    Mediate from 12:30am onwards for 2.5 hrs, it's the most powerful time to meditate.
     
  10. Balbir27

    Balbir27
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    Dear Ester
    As a newcomer myself, I would also like to bid you welcome.

    I believe you have already taken the first step a pupil takes in order to learn, which is what a Sikh is basically and the members here have no doubt given you lots of useful advice. Perhaps I can add to this, as another recent newcomer who is looking how to learn ABC, what tools to use and what to achieve. Also, one must have a purpose and aim in life, otherwise it becomes meaningless and our journey leads to nowhere. This is a good site and there is a lot of information, but you have to find it
    although you have companions and guides as well!

    A Sikh endeavours to learn from the Teacher (True Guru, in this case, The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, abbreviated to SGGS, which is the sum total of the wisdom of the Ten Gurus or Teachers). As this is the written word, it has to be read, pondered over and understood, then followed in deed.

    There are many sources out there which give access to the SGGS. one example is
    Sri Granth: Sri Guru Granth Sahib
    where you can search for things or simple read from page to page or selected pages.

    In order to understand the message (Bani), it is always better to read the complete message. You will notice, there is numbering e.g. ||8||1||, given on page 968, denoting an end to that particular thought which began on page 966 with Salok (Bani) Fifth Mehl: (Fifth is the 5th Guru, Mehl means House). The poetic nature of the Banis is beautiful but requires understanding.

    Besides numbering of the Banis, there are page numbers where a certain part of the Bani is found, and Names of the Original Source.

    When I first started out, I felt that the first page is where I should begin. This is what is called the Mool Mantar (Prime Prayer). It was written by the 1st Guru - Guru Nanak Ji as follows:

    One Universal Creator God. The Name Is Truth. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Hatred. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace ~
    Chant And Meditate:
    True In The Primal Beginning. True Throughout The Ages.
    True Here And Now. O Nanak, Forever And Ever True. ||1||

    It encompasses everything in this single Prayer. This is usually read first thing in the morning after bathing and forms the first part of the JapJi Sahib, which most Sikhs read in completion.

    This might also answer your question -
    Additionally, perhaps you may wish at first to focus on one (method/source) because conflicts and confusion may arise. As you progress, you will know what you feel is right and comfortable for you.
    May you find what you are looking for.

    Apologies if I appear too basic for you and, Sadh Sangat, please correct me for any errors.
     
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    #9 Balbir27, Nov 12, 2017 at 7:28 PM
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017 at 7:40 PM
  11. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    Ah your post is pretty much perfect :)

    So nice to see a soul uncorrupted by rituals and the fanaticism that's so common in Sikhs today, and just speaking about Real Spirituality
     
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  12. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Thank you all so much for all your kind and thorough responses. They provide with lots of very useful information to reflect about and also practical information to guide me in my journey. I have read them all and I will reread them again quite a few times provably :)
    I'm very grateful for so much care and love.

    Love,
    Ester
     
    #11 Ester, Nov 14, 2017 at 1:16 PM
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 1:49 PM
  13. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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  14. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Thank you so much. Not basic at all for me, but full of very useful information :) . Thanks!
     
  15. Balbir27

    Balbir27
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    I see you have been travelling through the forums, which is good.

    A Sikh is accorded “Free Will”, so can choose whatever greeting, words etc. for the start and/or the end. There are no formulas – I believe you refer to abbreviations. Some simply chat without any particular start/end greetings/courtesies while others choose to add something extra.

    Let me list some (which are different than any other normal expression) and explain:

    Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa (WGJKK) (The Khalsa belongs to God)

    Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh (WGJKF) ( Victory is God’s)

    Ek Oankar (There is only One God) (I sometimes use this before starting as a reminder to myself and others)

    Sat Sri Akal (Literally – “Truth is Respected God) (commonly and traditionally used amongst Sikhs when they greet each other, accompanied by hands joined together. Nowadays, some have replaced this with the WGJKK and WGJKF which is said together, making a long statement of 10 words – thus some abbreviate this)

    Ji is normally added after someone’s name or title to denote respect (e.g. Guru Ji, Guru Gobind Singh Ji)

    In a nutshell, be respectful. It may also be helpful if you read what is advised in the “Help” section (Forum Etiquette, Rules and Guidelines etc).

    Kind regards.
     
  16. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    Formalities don't matter. As long as the heart is pure.

    Language is limited. Yeh be respectful but remember that the Gurus called God Ram, Allah, etc. As long as you know who youre talking about.

    Be careful not to fall into ritualistic or even fanatical behavior, the downfalls of many of today's Sikhs.

    The Gurus Specifically said that what is required on this path is Love.

    Without Love, there's no point. We can go mad with formalities n rituals. The point of Bhagti- is True Unconditional Love.
     
  17. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Can you please define unconditional love for me

    thank you
     
  18. Sikhilove

    Sikhilove Qatar
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    I believe I already have several times
     
  19. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    then kindly supply a link, being a man of nothing, with no special cosmic powers, I am unable to simply find it by closing my eyes and tapping my heels together.

    thank you
     
  20. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Thank you so much, Balbir Ji :) !
     
  21. OP
    Ester

    Ester Spain
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    Thanks, Sikhlove Ji. I'll remember. Provably one of the things that, as new identifying Sikh, appealed me from Sikhi is the flexibility and the detachement from rituals :)
     
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