Recently, we had a Gurmat camp for the youth and I went to listen to them do kirtan in the evenings. I remember one evening, the camp leader was talking about there used to be hours of kirtan, lots of sangat, and so much love that no one would want to stop. He was disappointed that this has dissipated over the years. I guess it got me thinking about our future generations. I mean it’s really hard even for me to be able to find someone my age to talk to about Sikhism… what about my kids one day?
The first sangat that we have in life is our family. Children are born into families based on our past associations and karma. Let’s say a soul just has a small distance to go before merging with Waheguru. That child will be born to a mom that did a lot of work towards reaching God, and into a peaceful family. The family unit is incredibly important, and I think the huge pressure of individuals being for themselves in western culture sometimes puts a wedge into our families nowadays. It makes young people think that there’s something wrong with the closeness of family. For example, people ask “why are you still living with your parents?” Then some people start to drift away from their families because of the judgment of other people. But we should actually appreciate the fact that in our culture we have this great value that we look out for each other, we are there for each other, that we take care of our elders, etc. Family is an important value.
The role of parents in role modeling for their children is obvious, but I think it still gets overlooked. A lot of parents are so busy working, sacrificing, that they think the bigger and bigger their houses, and the more cars, maybe that will fulfill them. In that, people not only don’t pay attention to what’s going on in their families, but they build greed and ego, and they lose away their own time too. I’ve read in Bhai Sewa Singh Ji’s books many times that people get to the end of their life and they wonder why they had worked so much for money, when they should have been working for Naam. That’s why I think it would be more beneficial if each of us tried to understand our own journey. If we want our children to know how to speak punjabi and read gurmukhi, then we should practice. We should learn the game of maya and walk the path to God. It’s easy in life to gossip, cheat lie, hate. It feeds the maya that traps us in various life forms. We should rise above that, if not for the sake of the future generations, then for at least ourselves and our own personal journey.
As we speak, gang violence is ripping through the South Asian community in Surrey. A lot of those youth were born into Sikh families and left their Sikhi behind. Our shaheeds (martyrs) in Sikh history, didn’t sacrifice their lives and families lives for our generation to let go of our values for nothing. We shouldn’t just dump this problem on authorities but also recognize our own roles in our homes and communities for preventative measures. As my 13 year old cousin says, that person that has a giant sher (lion) tattoo on his back, and a khanda on his arm, and needs to have a huge khanda in the front of his car with the music blasting doesn’t understand Sikhi or understand our values. It’s just show.
So my message today is not to forget the values that our Guru Jis instilled in us. Not to forget the values that the shaheeds have fought for. Then let’s carry these forward in our families and reflect on how we are doing in our own journeys. Ask yourself, is my Sikhi just for show, or am I doing my best to learn on this journey day by day?
Finally, to lighten up the mood I’m going to give a small example about tabla which I think is a metaphor for life. A week into my tabla lessons, the Gyani Ji told me to stop and just spend half an hour tapping with one finger to try to make a louder noise. I could have been annoyed that I was back at lesson 1, but actually I realized that this wasn’t square one, but a new layer of learning. I didn’t lose all the knowledge I already had about how to play the whole taal, I just needed to work again on one area so the whole thing sounded better. This is the same in life. Sometimes we worry we are back at square one, the same situations again. Sometimes I worry that I’m going to be far away from my spiritual path again. Every time something challenges me though or I'm confused, I find my way again. Sikhism is a base layer in our lives, the gel that holds us together. When we reaffirm those values, it moves us closer to god again.