On Sunday, March 25 I gave a speech at an interfaith event here in Kansas City. It was at Unity Church of North Kansas City
and bore the title "We Are One peace rally." It included, as these events often do, a pot luck meal and a program of singers and speakers. I was asked to focus on salient points of Sikhism, events, as a Sikh, which have affected me in a positive manner and to finally end with a prayer from the Sikh tradition for peace. The only problem I encountered was that I, for some reason, was the last speaker scheduled except for the program's organizer. Of course, there were numerous (8 speakers and at least a dozen singer/musicians) before me who spoke and performed far more eloquently than I ever could! So this of course resulted in an alteration in my words. What follows is part prepared speech and part improvised remarks viewing what had gone before.
(Native American Prayer group, Lee Slusher
(Stumbling Deer), Joseph Snoderly-Cox,
and Kara Hawkins.)
Let me first say what an inspiration your attendance here is. It grants me hope. Not only that, to hear the words of those who have preceded me is also tremendously uplifting and at the same time a great challenge. All I might promise is that in these troubled times, if the time ever comes that any of us are subject to persecution because of our race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality, I will, as a Sikh, stand with you.
If they ever ask, "Are you a Muslim?" I will stand with you.
If they ever ask, "Are you a Jew?" I will stand with you.
If they ever ask, "Are you gay?" I will stand with you.
If they ever ask, "Are you a Pagan?" I will stand with you.
I promise that whatever difficulty they try to impose on you, I, as a Sikh will stand and share with you.
This is what you may expect from anyone who claims to be a Sikh. We are obligated to defend those who cannot defend themselves. I will, I promise, stand with you no matter what the situation. You can and should rely upon a Sikh.
Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, in the prayer, Jaapji Sahib, which he authored after his enlightenment experience, separated the genuine spiritual life from empty rituals. He showed instead, with his words, a common path to God for ordinary human beings who wished only to live in purity. Whether we claimed any religion or none, he showed us how to remember our own divinity and the divinity of ALL of those around us.
KartaPurkh S Khalsa (Sikhism)
He gave us a systematic representation of his perception of God. He suggested in a simple way how to lead a peaceful and meaningful life. He showed the imbalance of the powers of the ego driven social life and explains his true philosophy. Ek Ong Kaar, Sat Naam, KartaPurkh ... “The One, Manifested as the Word, the True Name of God, a Creative Being, Without Fear, Without Enmity, Whose Form is Infinite, Unborn, Self Existent, we realize this through the grace of the guru.”
“One” or the numeral “1” is the first word in the Sikh scriptures. This is not just an expression of monotheism, but it is a statement that there is but one God. (Your God plus My God equals Our God)
It goes further. God is in everything.(and EVERYONE.)
The Sikh Gurus teach that God is “pervading everywhere, totally permeating the water, the land and the sky.” And the gurus mention that, “having created the universe God remains diffused throughout it. In the wind, water and fire he vibrates and resounds.”
In an enlightening and stunning poetic metaphor, the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das says:
“He Himself is the field, and He Himself is the farmer.
He Himself grinds the corn.
He Himself cooks it,
He Himself puts the food in the dishes, and He Himself sits down to eat.
He Himself is the water, He Himself gives the tooth-pick and He Himself offers the mouthwash.
He Himself calls and seats the congregation, and He Himself bids them goodbye.”
Try to unravel that! It means that the One Divine Being has not just created the universe but is every part of the universe and is in every process that goes on in the universe. (God creates, processes, consumes, serves, is served, invites, and bids farewell).
These quotes can be found throughout the SGGS, the Sikh scriptures, which were written not only by the Sikh Gurus, but by 41 other men, wise and wonderful Hindus and Moslems such as Ravi Dass, and Kabir and Sheik Fareed.
Through meditation and service, we are able to let go of our subjective point of view and take on a more objective perspective, sometimes called the point of view of the universe, the view from nowhere or the view from the perspective of eternity. Taking that view, if we feel particularly sorry for ourselves we can help relativize whatever it is which causes us to feel sorry for ourselves, or perhaps remind us to be grateful for what we have and what is going well in our lives.
Bishop Saundra McFaddenWeaver
Feeling connected with other people, just having social contact, has been shown to be a major factor in increasing well being and happiness. Taking altruistic action, doing someone a favour, giving to charity or to someone in need, has equally shown to be able to improve happiness.
Feeling connected to nature, even if it’s a green space in an inner city improves well being. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve health impacts. Hospital patients with a view of plants or trees, the great outdoors, have been shown to recover faster than those who had no such view.
Paul Vascovo, Sheriff Clay County
Then there are also the many weird and wonderful factors that research has identified, such as the fact that we tend to be kinder (warmer) towards people if we’re holding a warm drink like a cup of tea, or that we negotiate more sternly if we are in contact with a hard surface, or that people are statistically more likely to live on roads or in places that start with the same letter as their name. My name is KartaPurkh, I live in Kansas City and I am happy here. I arrived in KC some 40 years ago as a bearded, wild haired and red-eyed quasi hippy who was trying to save his second marriage and at least be for a time with a beautiful infant daughter. My third marriage has lasted nearly 40 years so far thanks to my conversion to Sikhism and a wonderful graceful woman.
If you ask a Sikh, "How are you?" He or she may answer, "I am in Cherdi Kalaa." Chardi kala can be translated as “relentless cheerfulness, optimism and hope (even in the face of challenges or disaster).” (It might be annoying if it were not so genuine.) It explains events and clarifies the Sikh version of faith, and view of life. Like the willingness of Sikh Gurus and their disciples to face martyrdom cheerfully rather than to change their faith, to account for their positivity in the face of things that get thrown at ordinary people like you and I.The Ninth Sikh Guru, Teg Bahadur, who faced martyrdom without blinking or regrets said, "Neither do I strike fear nor do I accept fear."
The link to chardi kala is that we don’t need to be too judgmental of ourselves about the eventual outcome of our actions and activities. We can neither attribute our success to ourselves, nor blame ourselves for failure. God’s will is the prevalent cause of all causes.And a Sikh accepts God's will.
Reflecting on the message of Guru Nanak, our actions as Sikhs are guided by seeing the Divine in ALL of humanity, irrespective of what they look like from the outside, how they dress, how they speak, where they come from, and how they worship, and let us pledge to practice what Guru Nanak preached: Nanak Nam, Chardee Kalaa Tere Bhaane Sarbat Daa Bhalaa
"Through Nanak May the remembrance of God forever increase and, by Thy Will may the Blessings of wellness and prosperity for all beings grow and may ALL people prosper by thy Grace. Sat Nam."