Monday, June 12, 2017

Maya's Trap: Power and Control

Last year’s trip to Toronto was definitely life changing, as I wrote about in my previous posts. It was really when I found my inspiration and my own path in Sikhi. I think it is extraordinary how our destiny brings us people and experiences that fit together like a puzzle, and everything lays the foundation for what is next. Currently I’m back in Toronto mostly to work as part of my training, but I am still learning a lot (including how to play tabla!). Working in a multicultural urban setting has definitely opened my eyes to people’s stories and how they leave behind their homeland to escape violence, poverty, and discrimination to find new opportunities in Canada. When I see the struggles with unemployment, health, language difficulties, being away from supports, etc. it makes me realize the privilege I have had in being born here and knowing how to speak English. It deepens my appreciation for my parents and grandparents, in the work they did to make this life possible for me. I am thankful that I got the opportunity to come here so I could get a different experience and expand the way I see the world and the lens in which I see it.

I’m going to share something I’ve observed while I have been here. Everyday, I have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice, sometimes forcefully, about what I should be doing with my life. This advice comes from South Asian taxi drivers, patients, strangers you meet at the Gurdwara or stores for example. In our culture, people believe that young women like me don’t know what to do, or what’s good for them, and that other people should be telling them what to do. There is supposed to be no role for independence in a young woman’s life, and maybe only a limited role in a man’s. The problem is that it’s an important phase of development to find out what you want in life, what you expect, what you like, and try things out. I’m glad I’ve already gone through that and I have a strong sense of personal direction for my path, so I feel less reluctant when I decline opportunities that don’t fit what I want.

I was reading Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen’s translated book, Shabad Guru Surat Dhun Chela. He writes, “According to the Indian belief uptil today maturity, elderliness, spiritual power and foresight comes after the age of 35… It has also been agreed that wisdom develops along with the development of the body.” He goes on to describe how this isn’t true because your body can grow older without gaining any wisdom at all, and on the other hand some are born wise such as Dhroo, Prehlad, Baba Buddha Ji, the 4 Sahibzaade, and Sri Harkrishan Ji.

I think a lot of people’s forcefulness is driven by maya- people arbitrarily decide what is important. It’s important to have kids before this age, to make this much money, to work this much in this kind of job, etc. and then if other people don’t meet that, they say they have failed. They want the power of having other people live like they want them to live- it is a greed for power and control. It bothers me that people try to pressure and force others, because this is not what Sikhi taught us. This is actually one of the examples that is given in the book: Harnakish is the 70 year old father of 5 year old Prehlad, and tells him that he must worship Harknakish. Prehlad refuses and says that God is the only one that must be worshipped and remembered. Eventually Harnakish makes many attempts to kill Prehlad and is unsuccessful because Prehlad has met God. Who was wiser? Force doesn’t get us anywhere, because it falls under the category of maya. God gets us everywhere and anywhere we want to be. People’s lack of faith and trust in God makes them manipulate everything, but if we were to just see how perfectly God arranges everything maybe we would relax a little and enjoy this life! Enjoy the gifts we are given daily. We should remember to use Guru’s compass to guide our lives: “Everyone longs for You Name, but without the Guru, no one finds You. All are enticed and trapped by Maya.” Guru Ji never said life had to be unenjoyable to be successful in our religious goals. Perhaps it is the trap of old patterns in our cultural thinking that create arbitrary rules that prevent us from being able to live life to it’s fullest potential. 

Let us reflect on Giani Ji's words, "Meditation is the grand act out of all religious acts. The sound of meditation awakes the sleeping consciousness. The more a person awakes, more mature he will become, more bliss he will get and more wisdom he will acquire. A fully awakened person will become almighty God" (p. 119 Shabad Guru Surat Dhun Chela). 


  1. "They want the power of having other people live like they want them to live- it is a greed for power and control"...

    I was born in Punjab,immigrated at a young age,face lot of hardship went to school,graduated with very little input from my family. What I learned about Punjab, Sikhs and my own family was they are Still Hindus(mindset) with Sikh bana and 5 kakars. It is very hard for them to "deal" with an INDEPENDENT female. How dare she stepped out of line. People's animal instincts come out like as if people live in animal packs,lead by alpha males and everyone should behave according to the pack's rules. If one is financially independent they can survive outside of the "pack" otherwise if you give any hint of emotional vulnerability, good luck.

    Social media is having tremendous positive affect on highlighting issues of inequality such female rights, caste issues etc.

    Seems like after the Mughals were defeated, Sikhs went back to being "Hindus" again because True Sikhi is life of restraint(See what Maha Raja Ranjit Singh did with his life and the British grabbed Punjab after his death. Reminds me of the Shabad," ਕੇਤੇ ਰੁਖ ਬਿਰਖ ਹਮ ਚੀਨੇ ਕੇਤੇ ਪਸੂ ਉਪਾਏ ॥ ਕੇਤੇ ਨਾਗ ਕੁਲੀ ਮਹਿ ਆਏ ਕੇਤੇ ਪੰਖ ਉਡਾਏ .. Mere Saahiba Kaun Jaane Gun Tere....Soul's migration from stone,trees,animals, human,saints to Guru. If you see Punjab via Google satellite it is the Only fertile land in India, a bread basket like California. One has to wonder why people want to migrate from such a fertile land. Not because there are no resources, it's the PEOPLE's mind set crooked. Compare Switzerland,a land locked country with say Nepal. Why the former first class,later poor. It's the PEOPLE who make up the group. It's their thinking. If you have time, watch Harvard Prof Nial Ferguson's PBS videos, "the West and the rest". How come the Anglo Whites are and were the most prosperous people. I can't remember on which episode about the western history on PBS I saw time and again how power was shared amongst people, how democracy and FREEDOM of speech played a huge role in development and the whole world. How China and India, Brazil and even Russia, South Africa has received technology and money flows from the West(BRICS). Nial Ferguson interview with Charlie Rose(google if you like)

  2. During the process of self discovery I learned how I always referred to Asians, Punjabis in particular, as Apne(our) people and was always eager to strike a conversation or offer help. Oh man, was I ever wrong. The whole world is Apne people, especially the Europeans who came here to establish this system from which all of us are benefiting tremendously. I can't imagine what it must have been like for them to just arrive on a canoe or boat one day,landing in a jungle with no ammenities, no heat during winter howling wind, no air conditioning during Ontario sweltering heat..Oh Canada,,,

    1. don't forget the First Nations before the Europeans. They survived here in the harsh climate long before any of us!

    2. Yes that example reinforces my point,it's the MINDSET of the group which creates prosperity,security,wealth,health and success for the whole of the group...Switzerland vs Nepal. Given the technological advances, no place on Earth should be poor. People are ONLY poor because the Leaders of the system are corrupt and inept!!! Reminds me of Charles Darwin's quote about success of a species...paraphrasing,"those who can adopt to changing condition are successful"..See how Sikh Gurus advocated change from the thousands of years of group thinking..but nothing changed. People took the Bana not the bani.

  3. A while back we were conversing about Female empowerment,especially girls/women from Eastern societies. Sikhs,according to scriptures,should treat all members of society regardless of gender,color,religion,financial standing,etc equally but most people are still engrossed in the OLDER, animal instincts/hindu cultural mindset. Opressed members require uplifting, guidence from not only family members but also for society at large and govt. Govt has done a lot as 33% now 50% village mayoral posts, provincial, federal seats are reserved for women. There are women in all areas of administration and public office.

    Here is a refreshing change from PUNJAB: a grade 12 student who participated in state elections last march. She campaigned in the Premier's constituency,for an unknown party: the AAM adami party(common man's party).

    Her name is Navjot Kaur(Lambi is her consitituency so she attached that name for reference)Navjot Kaur Lambi. She and her sister help their father with chores on the farm like chopping hay for the farm animals, did really well at school.

    Good idea to show it the whole family

    ਸੁਣੋ ਨਵਜੋਤ ਕੌਰ ਲੰਬੀ ਦੀ ਜ਼ੁਬਾਨੀ

  4. Another trap of Maya: Difference. Even color still matters to LOT of people. I don't know if you have noticed, most Indians don't like blacks!!! especially the ones born in India..not only blacks, but Caste(lower casts, women, poor)

    This is shocker story from the CBC about a white woman(young) asking for a white doctor in a Mississauga walk in clinic

    "Dr. Nadia Alam, the president-elect for the Ontario Medical Association, says she's experienced racism throughout her medical career. 'We need to deal with it not just as the medical community, but on a broader scale as a community,' she says. (CBC)