I caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. We quickly dived deep into conversation about our own personal reflections about growth. She talked about how she was saddened to see some of her friends who had fallen into the trap of doing what other people wanted instead of pursuing their dreams and had ended up feeling trapped. It made me reflect on the importance of knowing who you are and having a path and purpose for yourself, of being a leader. It’s that moment that you know that you don’t have to follow other people when they chase after maya because you are following a different path. She said it's important to “think for yourself.”
In his book Karam Philosophy and the Aim of Human Life, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen Ji wrote about how the mind is won by moulding it using the Guru (1). He said that many of us get so caught up in our desires: “Man is living at the level of desires and the desires have got one rule. While one desire gets fulfilled, it gives rise to ten more desires while it is being fulfilled. In this way the desire would go on increasing and there would be an abundance of desires” (1). Yet, as we talked about in our previous post, only those desires were going to get fulfilled that were as per Hukam. Maskeen Ji uses this to explain the situation of deras (places where they have fake sants and babas who exploit people while pretending to help them). He writes, “Deras of some saints are going on, because out of hundred presons who had gone there, desires of sixty persons was to be ordinarily fulfilled and therefore they say that their desire has been fulfilled by the grace of Sant ji. These sixty people then bring at least sixty other persons to the dera” (1). If someone is promising you that your work will be done, of course a percentage of them will have a positive outcome because that was God’s will that they were going to have that happen anyways in their life. Those will become devoted followers of that person.
Dr. Harshinder Kaur also spoke about the topic of why women are so drawn to these deras and fake sants/babas (2). I personally was perplexed why people would go to these deras and I came to understand through her talk. It was extremely useful for all of us, regardless of which country we live in, and even for those of us who believe strongly in Sikhi and don’t believe in these babas. I watched it twice because she talks about the female psyche, and she talks about the general societal and cultural problems that affect us. What she said applies even outside the situation of deras. She explained that it is fear that drives us towards something. We want support and someone to save us from that fear (2). For example, she explained, that people see doctors as “God” because they were scared to die and the doctor saved them (2). People are looking for that person who is going to be there no matter what, who treats them well, and wherever they find relief from that fear, they will follow (2). She used examples to explain the types of conditions of the women who became followers of these sants. For example, for a woman who is physically assaulted by her husband, going to the dera is a five day break from that life (2). When a husband doesn’t recognize that his wife needs time to fulfill her own needs- for friendships, for her health and wellbeing, then a dera is can be a place for her to go and sit with friends and share some of her life experiences with other people (2). Unfortunately this creates the opportune situation for these fake “sants” and “babas” to exploit and abuse women there. Dr. Harshinder Kaur said let us look to ourselves to see what we can do to help the females in our lives to make their living conditions better so they will not think to go to fake babas and fall into superstitions (2). She gave the example that a wife should be able to think that she has the full support at home and that she doesn't need to go to someone else in a dera to look for that support and validation. Just like Maskeen Ji, Dr. Harshinder Kaur encouraged us all to look within ourselves and change our own mindsets so that we can live in sehaj (2). Maskeen Ji says that the mind must be studied, “Read the thoughts that are going on inside. Study your reminiscences. What is there in these? Guru Nanak Dev Ji says that man reads the books but does not study his mind" (1). This can definitely be hard at times. I remember some kathas I’ve heard and books I’ve read have really shown a harsh truth, but when you reflect on it and look inside yourself it really allows you to grow.
Dr. Harshinder Kaur emphasized the importance of believing in oneself, because for every disease there is an aspect of healing related to the mind. Many people go to deras because they look and see- many people are getting better here (just due to sheer numbers) and I must too, so they look to have faith in a fake baba (2). She said if we believe in ourselves and look back at all the hard times that we have successfully made it through, we can make it through our struggle (2). I find it helps if I remind myself Waheguru has determined there is a necessity to this experience and I will grow stronger from it. She talked about scientific studies that showed the effect of believing you can do something versus having doubt (2). We talked a lot about doubt in my past posts, and about the power of having faith in Waheguru. Bhai Dalbir Singh Ji Tarmala from Gurdwara Prabh Milne Ka Chao explains that kaal makes more efforts towards someone who tries to win this game than someone who doesn’t try (3). If you don’t try to win, kaal has won anyways but if we try, kaal will try to create problems that pull us away from simran, and test us. We have to believe in this path and say everyday “I’m not going to fall, I’m going to win” (3). So as my friend pointed out, rather than thinking using other people’s mat (understanding) we should think for ourselves. I will go one step further and say even rather than using our own mat (man-mat), let us use Gurmat which will never fail us or guide us in the wrong direction. Then we can fully awaken the mind. We need to have faith in the One and only, as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji starts, “Ik Onkaar” who fulfills desires according to Hukam, not due to superstitions.
Bhul chuk maaf karni. I would encourage all of you to check out Dr. Harshinder Kaur’s talk with your families even though it’s about an hour long. She explains way more beautifully than I could just paraphrasing it in English.
1 Karam Philosophy and the Aim of Human Life by Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen
2 Dr. Harshinder Kaur’s Talk:
3 Bhai Dalbir Singh Tarmala’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KeRTGsnq2E