Just Do It

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Last week, I had the opportunity to teach at a local gurmat retreat on the topic of the Singh Sabha Lahir.  I was excited, as this era in Sikh history is rarely discussed at youth camps, but it captures a unique time in the evolution of the panth.  While driving up to the camp site, reviewing names and dates in my head, I glanced at my Twitter feed (at a traffic light…I promise) and learned that Gurbaksh Singh had just ended his hunger strike upon agreement of further prisoners being released.  Although I’ve been studying the Singh Sabha Lahir for a while, these recent events in Punjab made me re-look at this critical time in history from a different lens and how it affects us today.

The fall of the Sikh Raj in 1849 left Sikhs with uncertainty and fear.  Sikhs were demoralized, leaderless, and our dwindling population became easily influenced by the Christian missionaries and Arya Samajists spreading throughout Punjab.  Then in 1873, a handful of Sikhs decided to do something about it.  An army did not back them, they were not political leaders, nor were they part of the elite, but most importantly…they were not waiting around for a leader.  This was the beauty of the movement; it was a “Just Do It” movement. This small group of Singhs took inventory of their own skills – their education, writing abilities, community organizing, and gurmat knowledge – and marched their way through the towns and villages of Punjab.  The next few decades would see a “back to the roots” movement that would inspire the masses and change the course of Sikh history for the next 100 years.

Although the beginning of the movement is clearly documented, the end is harder to tell.  As I see it, the Singh Sabha movement never dissolved, instead it evolved in to institutions, which all good movements do…many of which still exist today.  In addition to the gurdwaras, schools, hospitals, and orphanages built, the Singh Sabha Lahir led to the foundation of Khalsa College and planted the seeds for the Gurdwara Reform Movement, SGPC, Akali Dal, and even the Rehat Maryada.  Sure, some of these institutions have veered off track of their objectives, but I have faith they will eventually return to their original purpose and glory

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What’s remarkable about the Singh Sabha Lahir is although much is said about some of the early founders – Giani Ditt Singh, Bhai Gurmukh Singh, Bhai Kanh Singh, Bhai Vir Singh, etc.  The further you read about the goals and accomplishments of the movement, the number of names grow.  The number of people and organizations who carried the movement become so many, to the point where you stop reading about individuals at all.  Perhaps this is why the movement lasted over a quarter century…it became bigger than the individuals.

When I look at recent movements, they are largely based on individuals.  And I get it, we are drawn to heroes…I know I am.  Most of my connection with Sikhi began with learning about the lives and sacrifices of amazing personalities.  But heroes can only inspire a movement; they can’t sustain it, that’s on us…that’s our responsibility.  Too many times we have ridden movements on the backs of heroes.  And if the circumstances of the individual change, the movement fizzles out.  We need to be smarter than that.

This is not my idea…why else did Guru Sahib pour his heart and trust in the Guru Granth and Guru Panth? Being the visionary he was, he knew that continuing Guru Nanak’s movement will take more than individuals, it would take the toil, spirit, and ardaas of the entire Khalsa Panth.

As I reflect on the state of Sikh affairs in Punjab and the diaspora, I wonder if the same dark cloud that casted over the Sikhs in 1849 has returned, in fact, many of the same obstacles the Singh Sabhiye worked to eradicate have found their way back in to our institutions - caste discrimination, idols, empty ritualism, factions etc, among a host of many other political and socio-economic issues in both Punjab and abroad.  The challenges are many…we all know it.  We talk about it amongst our circles; blame the lack of leadership in far off lands and retreat to our feelings of fake helplessness, finding fake comfort in the hope that somebody else will take care of it.

Good thing the Singh Sabhiye didn’t think this way.  And if we intend to keep our Nishan Sahib flying high…neither should we.

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Kabeer, that which you have to do tomorrow – do it today instead; and that which you have to do now – do it immediately!

Later on, you will not be able to do anything, when death hangs over your head. ||138||


Between Gap Ads And Hunger Strikes

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It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people…”      - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This time a month ago, Sikhs across the country were engaged in debate over a Gap ad.  Opinions ran the gamut.  Some Sikhs were uncomfortable with the ad as the woman placed her hand on the dastaar, others were vehemently opposed to a Sikh being portrayed in any lustful way.  Some Sikhs thought the ad was cool and took a picture of it at the local mall.  Others were so overwhelmed by Gap’s decision to feature a Sikh model, they organized thank you tributes and facebook pages to express their gratitude to Gap.  And more recently, there’s been debate over the hypocrisy of Sikhs to glorify a company that has a history of poor treatment of its workers.  And then a counter-argument that those who are accusing Sikhs as being hypocrites are really just being over critical…after all, it’s just an ad.  What’s more surprising than the wide range of views, is that everyone had an opinion.  It was discussed, sometimes heatedly, at just about every Sikh event I went to.

In the midst of the Gap ad debate, A Haryana based Sikh – Gurbaksh Singh, went on hunger strike at Gurdwara Amb Sahib (Mohali) near Chandigarh to seek the release of 6 Sikh prisoners who have already served the terms of imprisonment to which they were sentenced by Indian courts…I repeat, “already served the terms of imprisonment.” With all the issues Sikhs throughout the world are debating today, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh decided to risk his own life to bring to light the plight of Sikh prisoners languishing in jails and the imbalance of justice toward Sikhs in India. As I’ve been following the story, I wondered…where is the outrage?  Where are all the tweets, lengthy facebook discussions, signs of solidarity, online petitions and calls to action the Gap ad drew?  Our brothers and sisters in Punjab, UK, and Canada have mobilized their sangats, but Sikhs in the US have been largely quiet in comparison.  As Bhai Sahib enters the 35th day of his hunger strike, those same circles that argued over the Gap ad do not know who Gurbaksh Singh is let alone feel compelled to act.

Over the years, I have engaged in many debates over my views on the state of the panth, 1984, and the dire situation of Sikhs in Punjab.  I would often walk away from these debates in frustration…but not anymore.  I’ve grown to appreciate people’s different views.  Because when you are debating, there is concern and thinking.  People who think and are concerned can change their minds, and even if they don’t, they continue to mould their opinions and help me shape my own.  To me, the biggest threat we face as a panth today are not the people with opposing views, but the people who remain indifferent.  Those who can easily dismiss the current state of Sikhs in Punjab as “not my problem.”

I’m too cynical to believe in complete panthic unity.  As I read through history, I can hardly find a time where Sikhs were completely united.  But there have been times, even in my lifetime, where there have been glimpses.  And when we’ve been united, we have moved mountains.  Let this be one of those times…

Learn more about Bhai Gurbaksh Singh’s fight

Reach out to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations to gain international support.

Call leaders of the Punjab government and Sikh institutions in Punjab and urge them to act!  - Click on the image below:

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Gurpurab: A Celebration Or Call To Action?

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For my 100th post, I’d like to share a speech I delivered at the gurdwara this past Sunday for Guru Nanak Patshah’s gurpurab.  It asks us to reflect on what a gurpurab is…a celebration or call to action?

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Baba liberated all four directions and nine divisions of earth.
Gurmukh (Guru Nanak) has emerged in this kaliyug, the dark age.

As a kid growing up, I never had much interest in Sikh History.  I would sit in khalsa school doodling on a piece of paper or staring out the window as our teacher would read us the same janam sakhis I heard over and over throughout my childhood.  I was, however, very interested in American history, particularly the civil rights era.  Activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X particularly inspired me because of their passion for social justice. I wasn’t interested in Sikh history, but I was very interested in revolutionaries.  It wasn’t until a gurmat camp I attended in my teenage years that I was really introduced to the life of Guru Nanak and came to realize that Guru Sahib was the ultimate revolutionary.

Wherever social injustice existed, Guru Sahib spoke out.

Whereas society was delineated by caste, designed to keep power with the few, Guru Sahib created a parallel society based on equality, sharing, and dignity.

Whereas women were positioned as lower than the lowest caste, Guru Sahib empowered women by prohibiting practices that lessened their role or potential.  And when the manji system was established, women were not only active participants, but also held leadership positions in the sangat and were expected to help spread Guru Sahib’s message.

Whereas religious discourse was only reserved to the highest caste, Guru Sahib spread his new message to the masses, so that everyone could be inspired.

Every way in which society was designed to suppress an individual, to limit their potential, to leave them powerless, Guru Sahib found a way to take the common man and uplift them and empower them, so they could ultimately challenge that very establishment that suppressed them.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world with rigid inequality – all kinds – race, gender, socio-economic, even caste.  And we only have to turn on the evening news for a few minutes to see what dictator is oppressing a minority somewhere in the world.  So I would submit that Guru Nanak’s revolution is not complete.  In fact, it was Guru Nanak in his 10th form that established the khalsa with the intention of continuing Guru Nanak’s revolution in our modern day.  And if you agree with me, then we must re-think what today really means to us and how we celebrate our gurpurabs.

Guru Sahib began a revolution…he did not tell us to go off to the hills in seclusion and meditate all day.  Instead he wanted to us to live in this world, to inspire ourselves through baani, simran, reflection, to live a disciplined life according to his teachings, so we can ultimately continue out his mission…and serve humanity.

So if today we simply listen to shabad’s written by Guru Nanak and all of us wish each other gurpurab di mubarak and go back home and on with our lives, then we will have done a great disservice…we will have missed the point.  In Sikh tradition, we don’t just celebrate…we reflect on the Guru’s teachings and try to live it.  Our gurpurab is not a celebration…it is a call to action.

When I ask the kid’s in our class or at any camp, what do you think of when we say ‘Guru Nanak’?  The answer is almost always the same – Naam Japna, Vand Chakna, and Kirt Karni – the three golden rules.  Although I grew up with these same golden rules, I wonder, where did it come from?  I’ve read books dating back 100 years that refer to these same golden rules, but of Guru Nanak’s entire body of work, who decided on these as the golden rules?  And why did we limit ourselves to these three?  Perhaps it is because they can easily be checked-off – if I do my paath, share, and not cheat people for money, I’ve accomplished all three, right?  But 500 years later, with the challenges we have before us, I argue we need to add to this list of golden rules – for ourselves and for our children…it’s time we up our game.

From my understanding of Guru Sahib’s baani and history, there are some powerful concepts that should also become part of our daily lives and discourse.  I will offer a few:

  1. Social activism.  During Babur’s invasion, Guru Sahib did not sit quietly.  And although he did not have an army behind him, he used his pen and his voice to speak out, and called out Babur for the tyrant he was.  Today, there is injustice all around us.  And I was impressed by the GNFA Khalsa School students who remembered Bandhi Chor Divas  last week by writing 115 letters for Amnesty International to free an innocent political prisoner in Angola because he wore a t-shirt protesting the president…this is the way we celebrate.
  2. Putting our faith in to action.  Whether it was Guru Sahib challenging the worshippers in Hardwar throwing water to their ancestors or Guru Sahib in Mecca challenging the Qazi’s on the focus of their Namaaz…and he could just as easily been talking about me with my mutha tek…when I bow my head am I really submitting my own head, am I letting go of my own ego, am I letting go of my own intellect and accepting his way?  Or is it just an empty ritual?  So what do I need to do make my prayer more genuine, what do I need to do to put meaning to my actions?  Guru Sahib boldly speaks to this in Asa Ki Var when he says:akv
  3. Self-awareness.  Letting go of my ego long enough to look within myself, to reflect on my shortcomings and make change.  Letting go of my ego long enough to see the oneness of all, to see Waheguru in all beings – whether it is people of different races, faith, beliefs, people who love, people who hate…seeing Waheguru in everything and everyone and therefore having compassion toward all.
  4. Humility.  The 1st graders are learning about Guru Sahib’s interaction with Bhai Lalo and Malik Bhago.  I’ve heard the sakhi hundreds of times, but last week hearing it again, it hit home.  When given the chance to dine with a king, Guru Sahib refused.  He preferred the company of Bhai Lalo, the poor carpenter…for what reason?  And it makes me wonder in my struggle for success and to provide the best for my family, am I spending enough time with the Bhai Lalo’s of the world…what am I missing?  What lesson could I be learning?

These are additional golden rules that I need to bring in my life.  What’s challenging about these additional rules is that they are hard.  They require me to get out of my comfort zone and change my lifestyle.  I’ve even tried to “unlearn” these rules because it is much easier to simply be happy with the way things are…but my Guru won’t let me forget, he tells me Jau Tau Prem Khelan Ka Chao, Sir Dhar Tuli Gali Meri Aou – “If you desire to play this game of love, then step on my path with your head on your palm.”

So let this gurpurab be a call to action…before leaving the darbar hall today ask yourself what are you going to do?  What change will you make?  What of Guru Sahib’s principles will you bring in to your life?  And let today’s ardaas formalize your commitment

By bringing these principles of gurmat in to our lives and developing our relationship with the Guru, the personality of Guru Nanak comes alive.  His desire to learn, his pursuit of justice, his compassion, his humility, his love for humanity…what better way to celebrate his life?

Here in America, we are constantly finding ways to explain to people who Sikhs are and what Guru Nanak was all about.  But the best way we can educate people about Sikhi is not by telling people about Guru Nanak, it’s about showing them the Guru Nanak within you.


My Lollipop Moment

Watching Drew Dudley’s TED Talk on ‘Everyday Leadership’ is probably the best spent six minutes I’ve spent in a long time.  Immediately after, I began thinking of my own lollipop moment, a moment someone said or did something that fundamentally made my life better.

I was transported back to the eighth grade.  After a whole summer of contemplating, I decided I was going to begin wearing my dastaar on the first day of school.  I practiced all summer to get it exactly right, and although it was imperfect, it definitely looked more appropriate for a kid my age, more so than a patka or rumaal.  But it was different, it was bigger, and I wasn’t fully comfortable with it.  More so, I was nervous how others would react.  Would it attract undue attention?  Would people tease me? None of my friends had seen me in it before, would they still hang out with me?  All these thoughts went through my head.  I was hesitant, but I knew deferring to next year, when I started high school, would be even harder.  I dreaded the first day of eighth grade, and soon enough it came.

I spent an hour that morning trying to get my dastaar just right, each attempt more frustrating then the last.  And I waited until the very last minute to walk to the bus stop.  Usually I would run in to some of the neighborhood kids on the way, but today, I could see everyone was already there.  It was a cold September morning, but I was drenched in sweat.  And with each step toward the bus stop, I wondered…was I really ready?

As soon as I approached the bus stop, an African American girl in my grade who I shared a few classes with the previous year quickly glanced at me and did a double take.  And she yelled over, “Hey Rubin, nice turban” and went back to talking with her friends.  Immediately, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Turns out…in all the fears, worries, and disastrous scenarios that went through my head all summer – not once did I consider anybody would think my dastaar looked cool.

Throughout the day, I received many compliments, many questions, a few stares, and a few people laughed and made jokes…but I didn’t care…I was free.  I had already gotten through the tough part.  And I wasn’t going to let the negativity of a few get in the way of the positivity of so many…sometimes it’s like that for a Sikh.

So after watching this TED Talk, I thought a few things…

I thought I should let my former classmate know her encouraging words that day at the bus stop over 20 years ago got me through a tough time…we’re Facebook friends and I will do that as soon as I find a non-creepy way of doing so :)

I also thought of my sangat, and as we make commitments toward the Guru, some of them very physical and external, how important it is to provide that “lollipop moment” for one another.

I thought of the counselors at gurmat camp and the powerful role they play for our children.  They have a tremendous opportunity to provide these transformative moments as well.  My wife and I raise our children with the hopes that their source of courage and inspiration comes from somewhere deep within, and not rely on others for it, but at the same time, we cannot deny the impact on what a few encouraging words can do.

I thought about how I as a Sikh should be more aware of this “lollipop” concept, and how I should try to be a source of encouragement to anyone of any culture around me.  Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to remember that 20 years ago a Sikh man or woman with a dastaar helped encourage them through a tough time?

But most of all, I thought about Dudley’s point about how he never remembered the event at all.

I’ve always believed this about Sikhi…that when we are living in simran, when we are connected with the Divine, there is no room for ego…all that’s left is love.  And where there is love, the everyday leader comes out…so quietly, you hardly notice.


Let’s Not Talk About Politics

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I cringe every time I hear these words…typically around discussions on 1984 or Sikh sovereignty.  As though discussing politics all of a sudden becomes off-limits in a gurdwara, or somehow gets in the way of one’s spiritual growth.

Merriam-Webster defines politics as “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy.”  Wait a second…wasn’t Guru Nanak Sahib’s writings on the Mughal invasion of India by Babur a political protest?  What else do you call it when one refuses to turn a blind eye to political suppression and speaks out against it?  And what about Guru Angad Patshah’s encounter with Humayun?  What about Guru Hargobind Sahib and his release of the 52 prisoners in our well-celebrated bandhi chor divas…was this not influencing governmental policy?  Guru Sahib wore a sword that symbolized Miri, or earthly power, yet politics shouldn’t be discussed in a gurdwara?  And wasn’t the establishment of the Khalsa a way of empowering the common man/woman and organizing the political power of the community?  And what about the establishment of the misls?  Or the gurdwara reform movement?  Or the punjabi suba movement?  The list goes on and on.  Are there really no politics in Sikhi?    Ever wonder why the Guru’s challenged nearly every single political ruler during their time?  The Guru’s mastered the art and science of guiding and influencing governmental policy and if they didn’t, Sikhs wouldn’t exist today.

So when you tell me you don’t walk to talk about politics, be honest, you don’t want to talk about MY politics.  But the truth is, it is not my politics or your politics – it is our history and it is filled with revolutionaries who disrupted unjust rule and refused to sit quietly in the face of tyranny – and that will always make people uncomfortable…even Sikhs.

Often the same people who don’t want to talk about politics have no problem celebrating political activists like shaheeds Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh or are more comfortable talking about the heroes of yesteryear.  How is it that we can celebrate the likes of Bhai Sukha Singh & Bhai Mehtab Singh yet vilify Bhai Sukha Singh & Bhai Jinda Singh…I’ll never understand it…is it just too soon?  Are we going to wait another twenty years or so before we embrace our history?  Not me…our community needs uplifting and empowerment now more than ever, and we have too much inspiration to take from 1984 and those who led the struggle for justice to just sweep it under the rug.

Call it politics, call it something else…I call it the truth…let’s talk about it.


The Kids Are Going To Be Alright

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In a few weeks, khalsa school will be starting up again…

It must have been a quick summer, because it seems just like yesterday we were quizzing our children on the punjabi alphabet and the meaning of several saakhis as they were preparing for last year’s final exam. The khalsa schools have come a long way since my time, with many of the teachers collecting attendance on iPads and posting homework online for parents to check assignments.  Lesson plans have also progressed thanks to the hard work of SikhRI and their Sojhi curriculum.  And I know the children are learning, as we see their progress first hand at home.  Looking at the progress in it’s entirety, I feel proud to say, “the kids are going to be alright.”  But it raises another question…what about us?

I come from the school of thought that a Sikh is a student and a gurdwara is therefore a place of learning. And although here in the US, we’ve made significant progress creating learning opportunities for our children, and committees proudly beat their chest over how much they are “all for the kids“, why is it that adults are ignored?  We surely don’t know it all.  I’m the first to admit having to do a little “research” in order to help my daughter with her khalsa school homework.  But more importantly, why don’t we value the importance of continuing gurmat education while in adulthood?  Sure, there are plenty who take enough from their individual learning or listening to katha, but there is a certain value to consistent and structured learning through interactive sessions by an instructor.  Without this, our children will learn and grow toward Sikhi while we remain stagnant.

Why is this important?  Any educator will tell you that lessons are most effective when parents reinforce concepts at home.  And if the parent don’t have strong gurmat fundamentals, how is there supposed to be any such dialogue?  Instructors at schools and camps work had to to inspire children to further their commitment to the Guru, and if that is not encouraged at home, all is lost.  I’ve seen it too many times where kids in our community leave camp inspired to make a change, be it wear a dastaar or ready to take amrit only to be discouraged by their parents when they get home.  It’s as though everything that was done at the camp is simply undone.

Years ago as a camp director, parents would push me to hold simultaneous parent workshops along the same theme as the children, so the parents can learn as well.  And although we tried, limited resources made it tough, and now I find myself as a parent asking for the same thing.

Incorporating gurmat education for adults in our gurdwara is no easy task.  There are certain things you need (1) a group of adults (willing to admit they don’t know it all) that are committed to attending weekly classes and completing assignments (2) a committee willing to invest resources in adult education (3) a knowledgeable and charismatic instructor who knows how to manage a class of adults with varying degrees of knowledge (4) and let’s face it…a keertan jatha who is willing to sing to a sparsely filled hall at times while parents and adults are in class.

As impossible as this seems, I had the opportunity to visit a gurdwara in Southern California that has most of this figured out.  Some of the young adults even attend the class along with their parents…and both are raving about the results!

Some may be thinking I’m making a “mountain out of a molehill” here.  And I’ll admit the ramifications of this issue are harder to see.  But in my opinion, gurmat education for adults will be the most critical thing to help Sikhi flourish here in the US.  It is imperative we create an environment of gurmat learning in both our households and gurdwaras.  And until our gurdwaras catch up, we as parents must take the initiative to create learning groups amongst friends and sangat for our gurmukhi learning and perhaps parent/child co-learning groups for gurbani.  Think about it…as Sikh families we get together all the time, wouldn’t it be nice for one of those gatherings to be themed around a shabad, with translation activities, discussion, and crafts all around that shabad?  Can you imagine the drive home discussing the shabad with your kids?  Sure this co-learning may expose what we don’t know…but we need to get over it – not only for our own personal development, but it also sends a clear message to our children that in the life of a Sikh, the learning never ends.


There’s No "I" In "TEAM"


I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”  -Michael Jordan

It was bound to happen at some point.
I was hoping somewhere in my graduate studies I would bump in to some concept or idea that I could relate to my interest in Sikh thought, and sure enough it happened in the oddest of places…a business ethics seminar.  In reviewing David Brook’s New York Times article titled “If It Feels Right”, Brooks finds that young people in America are mostly disconnected from any moral sources, and as a result find youth in an “atmosphere of extreme moral individualism — of relativism and non-judgmentalism.”  This doesn’t mean they are immoral, but their morals are based on “what feels right.”  
At first, I was relieved that this phenomenon was not limited to Sikh youth.  As one who has been working with Sikh youth for a good part of my life, I’ve noticed this growing trend of “moral individualism” and “non-judgmentalism” when it comes to their Sikhi and dynamics within the larger sangat.
I’ve seen it time and time again…a young Sikh makes a commitment to further their Sikhi development, say grows out their hair, receives amrit, charni lagna, or begins wearing a dastaar.  They are happily willing to receive the support and encouragement by their sangat as they begin this new journey.  However, if they fall off the path, or back out on their commitment, all bets are off.  That same sangat feels threatened to say something at the risk of being “judgmental” and often times the struggling Sikh themself casts everybody off with a “hey, leave me alone…this is my personal journey” attitude.  But is it though?  And is that all your sangat is supposed to be?  Just people to listen to kirtan with and cheer you on during good times?
Sure, I do believe the journey of a Sikh is largely personal.  It’s about building and developing that relationship with the Guru through personal discipline, simran, and reflection on gurbani.  However, there is a very public aspect of Sikhi too that is quite unique.  Let’s face it, Guru Sahib gave us a distinct uniform that not only reminds us of our principles every time we look in a mirror, but it also proclaims to the world who we are and what we believe in.  And if I am going to publicly don the uniform of my Gurus and the heroes that followed, shouldn’t I be held accountable by my sangat when I misrepresent it?  If I have willingly knelt before the Guru and offered my head, shouldn’t my sangat challenge me when I break that commitment?  So It begs the question…where does accountability end and judgment begin?
Some say it depends on the approach…those who are humble, loving, and compassionate in their criticism are okay, while the others are just being judgmental.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, I do believe sangat should be kind and compassionate when trying to guide their fellow brother or sister back on track, but realistically, it won’t always happen that way.  And how often are most of us willing to graciously take criticism regardless of how it is delivered, especially for something that means so much to us as our Sikhi?
There is one thing about being a student I know for sure…I will fail at some point or another.  Maybe once, maybe many times…It’s inevitable.  But if I believe my path is true, I simply cannot throw my hands in the air and give up every time I fall, nor can I dismiss everybody around me in fear of being judged.  I need to check my own ego at the door, and humbly take the criticism and advice from my sangat…because if I believe they are my sangat, than I have to believe their intentions are good and that we’re all in this together.
In my days playing football, I recall what it’s like to have the ball slip through my hands on an important play and feel like I’ve let my team down, as we’ll as myself.  But something interesting happens immediately after that.  The coach rarely puts you on the bench after a botched play, instead he puts you right back in.  Why?  So you don’t dwell on your mistake and instead get right back out there and rebuild your confidence.  Similarly your teammates may be disappointed, but they’ll still give you some tips on your technique and cheer you right back on to the field.  And on the way back to the huddle, you have no time to wallow in despair or let your ego get the best of you – because after all, it’s not all about you…you play for a team.


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