Shukar, Shukar, Shukrana

7.8.2020

PART 1: Gratitude

If you were to liken your life to a glass with some water in it, then how do you see yourself? Half full or half empty?

Maybe both?

Some days we may seem to be really empty and on other days we may feel exuberant at life’s fullness or half-fullness. Perhaps on some days the water completely fills up to the top and it feels like the glass is full and it’s overflowing. Gratitude fills our very being, and spontaneously we become aware of this grand feeling of gratefulness or perhaps we can say – Great-fullness? It’s at times like these we feel positive, optimistic and joyful.

However, these feelings are inconsistent and they are not assured; the water seems to ‘evaporate’, leaving us feeling hollow, empty, negative, pessimistic and anxious and we have to deal with immense emotional upheavals.

Is it possible to stop that ‘evaporation’, that emptying out?

Certainly, there is – Guru Arjan Dev ji guides us in the following manner:

Stay grounded, stay still and remember that nothing lasts.

Good or bad.

Instead, try to remain grateful for simply having a glass.

Without it, half of anything wouldn’t matter. Would it?

Our well being sprouts from a deeper source. Recognizing this we can access that balance point of equanimity and equilibrium, returning solidly to the mid-way point, the mark of both half-full and half-empty, with less concern, feeling the fullness even when the glass is empty. Aware that all is in Hukum -Divine command. 

In the midst of a million forces pulling us toward settling for just one more drop, in a relentless pursuit of “more”, why not spend our lives seeking, accumulating and counting good times and reasons for gratitude as one way to shift the equation from lack to sufficiency; from half-empty to half-full, even gratitude for individual moments and things that can come and go.

  Gratefulness is about being able to notice and appreciate the gift of the glass itself, amidst the ups and downs. It is about knowing in our very being that life is a gift, no matter how empty we may feel.

Gratitude is a feeling that spontaneously emerges from within; a gift that is being given to you – gratis – freely!

By practicing gratitude, we are following a path that puts living fully in this moment at the centre of everything. The result is that the more appreciative we are the fuller our glass gets.

While many of you may have already been practicing gratefulness by writing in a Daily Gratitude Journal, I would still like to invite you all to share what you are grateful for in The Gratitude Project, in an artistic, creative way like the yellow picture posted on Nihaal IG.

If you are uncomfortable revealing your name, it can be anonymous, just let me know. This Sunday is the deadline for this project, see more information in last week’s Wednesday newsletter or email me.

This video clip is approx 5 minute, most of it is in English. It shines a beautiful light on the Art of Gratitude. Hope you will take the time to see it:)

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN

With Warmest Nanak Love

RA

PART 2: Shukrana

I think the above excerpts taken from Prof Puran SIngh’s divine poetry says it all. TAke time to read it once and then again and again until the meaning sinks in.

How totally blessed we are to have had the time to dwell on the loving qualities of our beloved as we yearn to follow in His follow steps, slowly, one baby step at a time but with the shining star always in focus.

For almost six months now, while the Corona Virus has had the world wrapped around its fingers and we too got inflicted with its illusory dance, as we got together every week our focus was able to shift to the thousandfold blessings and we were awash with gratitude and His wonder continued to entrance us. For that how does one say enough thank you to our beloved Mahapurakhs who have bestowed upon us the precious gift of Sangat – Sat Sangat- Sadh Sangat. Even though we have a long way to go at least we are on the road and every second spent in His thought is a seed just waiting to germinate as we water it lovingly with constant mindfulness, simran and stay in the company of the Divine.

I would like to express my sincerest, heartfelt gratitude to all of you for making it possible to have an aura of Sangat. Your enthusiasm, appreciation, participation made the moments we spent together totally blissful. I learnt a lot from your observations and contributions. 

I know that each of you will continue on your path as destined by Guru Nanak but for now our journey on Sundays and the newsletters ends as our friend co-vid bids us farewell slowly but surely and we get back to our normal routine, local Sangat and hopefully very soon Samagams.

Until we meet again, please know that I love you from the bottom of my heart and I am so so grateful to all of you for your generosity and largesse of spirit . It has been a gloriously joyful Nanak Love blessing experience for me to have your loving support.

Thank you Bauji, Mataji for your constant companionship for all of us.

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN

With Warmest Nanak Love

RA

PLEASE NOTE:

1. Nihaal IG (https://www.instagram.com/nihaal.ca/?hl=en) will stay afloat so we can still share loving thoughts:)

2. The recordings and powerpoint presentations of the past webinars will be made available on www.nihaal.ca.

3. To all the beautiful souls who shared their gratitude thoughts-Thank you! May all your heartfelt wishes come true.

Learning to be Aligned with the Divine Will

4.25.2020

To a certain degree most of us are aware of the story of our Tenth Master, the tribulations and sacrifices He and His family went through. However, we are not aware of the story of a brave soldier, khalsa Spirit, a Sikh lady, who fought courageously with the demons of her mind  and learnt to align herself with the Divine Will as she faced adversities life brought her; each one bringing her closer to the ultimate moments of revelation of the Divine Light.

Who was this Sikh Lady?

Bhai Vir Singh, in his majestic way of prose writes the tale of this beautiful soul. It is called “Sat Aukhian Ratan” -“Seven Difficult Nights”. It is a historic eye-opener; a gloriously inspiring story which always leaves me feeling at first quite  sentimental and then immensely hopeful and uplifted in spirits.   

It is a bit long too read in the time we have allotted for the webinar, but at the request from some of you i thought it might be a good idea to introduce you to the story here in the newsletter, and then allow you to read the first few pages as preparation. This will allow us to dive right into this beautiful story and we will have ample time to finish and discuss it too. 

I will let you to figure out exactly who this lady is!

Click here and it will take you to the first four pages of the story. Please please do read them. It will take you about 15 min-20 min. 

Bhai Vir SIngh ji is a magician with words that transport you, calm you, flow over you and moreover have the capacity to bring you to awareness, consistently elevating your consciousness.

Come feel the magic of our Mahapurakh’s! 

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

Please continue to practice social distancing!
Please Stay Safe.
Wear a mask!
Please Wash your Hands.
Stay in the Moment. 
Eat well. Exercise. Laugh.  
Shukar! Shukar! Shukar!
 
With Warmest Nanak Love
RA

Always looking forward to getting contributions from you all!!  

Please do share your thoughts.

Beyond Anger

7.15.2020

PART 1: Beyond Anger

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in our personal relationships, and in the overall quality of our life. And it can make us feel as though we are at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.

Anger pervades our age. Modern society seems to give us more opportunity than ever to experience irritation and annoyance. Traffic, relentless negativism in the news, instantaneous communication that provides us with the opportunity to respond to one another before we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what we are communicating. The violence in the world reflects how people are living with feelings of hatred and anger, irritation, annoyance, and frustration. Anger has always been part of the human condition. It exists in us because it offered our ancestors, both human and nonhuman, an evolutionary advantage. It is actually a powerful and healthy force in our life if used properly.

How can we transform the lower qualities, like anger, ego, greediness and deceitfulness, into higher ones?

Can anger serve a useful purpose in the spiritual life?

Even though we are all aware that living with anger, resentment and frustration can lead to many mental and physical conditions we continue to live with anger every day trying to learn to manage this emotion. However, the more we try to control our anger the stronger it gets, as we give it 

 Imagine fully letting go of our frustration, anger and irritation by learning to dissolve and transform it into the higher power of supreme love and compassion. Like the proverbial saying – Charity begins at home – only when one can be loving and compassionate to oneself can one be loving and compassionate to others.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion, If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”- Dalai Lama

So, what is the relationship between spirituality and anger? 

When we get angry, our energy begins to flow downwards (lower negative thoughts) thus creating uneasiness. Typically, one of the primary emotions, like fear or sadness, can be found underneath the anger. Fear includes things like anxiety and worry, and sadness comes from the experience of loss, disappointment or discouragement. Anger is merely energy that has gone the wrong way. When the energy is transformed and flows upwards (to higher consciousness), as it is supposed to, the resulting effects are love, compassion, peace, and balance in our life. These higher qualities are our true nature.

Only when we are truly there for ourselves are we able to be part of that universal energy, that higher consciousness that is in each and every one of us and we are able to give it even to those who harm us, because it is what we have inside of ourselves. It truly is in everyone, to be love, if we allow it, we can begin by sending love and compassion to that part of ourselves, which is struggling with pain, sorrow and anger.

Giving, in any capacity that we can muster, without any expectations of return for our efforts, is the biggest step we can take to bring abundance into our life and to eliminate the need to forgive. Paradoxically because we don’t expect it we will find ourselves receiving more and more as well. Ultimately, we will discover that giving and receiving are the one and same thing.

Our anger is no one else’s responsibility.

We have to own our anger, befriend it, move with it, release it, transmute it. Recognized, anger can be dealt with in healthy ways that leave us feeling empowered, understood by others, safe and connected. 

PART 2: The Holy Man

There was a holy man who lived in a hermitage on a mountain. Although solitary, it was not strictly a hermitage because some monks lived there with him. Even before the world began to seek him out, he was rarely alone.

            When word got out about him, people came to see him during the summer months when the hermitage was accessible, first a few people then more and more until there was a long line climbing the steep mountain single file- tens, hundreds, and then thousands, some of whom never made it to is door before the snows came and forced their return.

    There were no inns so the pilgrims had to be prepared to camp, which wasn’t a hardship as the weather was warm and dry. The views were outstanding and wildflowers flanked the path. At night the stars were dazzling. However, it did take strength to carry the camping gear and food, so anyone who was frail did not attempt to see the holy man who in any case was not a healer.

     The line (can you make it out in the picture above)  moved slowly, but it moved continuously during the few hours a day he welcomed people. In fact, those who were near the head of the line and could observe were amazed by how many people he managed to see, even though they were admitted one at a time. 

    Sometimes the pilgrims had to step aside for one of the monks who lived with the holy man as he or she stepped rapidly and lightly upon the path carrying supplies from the town ten miles below. These men and women were easily distinguished by their wheat-coloured robes.

   Each pilgrim had a different type of issue they had come to see the holy man about. When after waiting days, sometimes weeks they knocked at the door, it was opened by a man in a wheat-coloured robe, a small non descript looking person.

“Yes?’ he would ask when the pilgrim reached the threshold.

“I have come to see the holy man.”

“Follow me please”

He or she would follow the small man through the house along a hallway, and in no time at all they had passed  through the entire floor of the house and were at the back door.

The monk opened it wide and said, “Good bye”.

“But I have come to see the holy man” the pilgrim would say.

“You have seen me.” He gently replied.

Most times the holy man would add, “If you look on everyone you meet as a holy person, you will be happy.” Rarely, but sometimes, he sat down and talked to a pilgrim.

This story about a holy man, written by Susan Trott, is about several people who came to see the holy man to seek solutions to their problems. Following is an anecdote of a man who could not control his anger.

One pilgrim, when the door was shut behind him, felt enraged. His blood in a tumult rushed to his brain, breaking blood vessels in the whites of his eyes.

He pounded on the door. He shouted at the top of lungs, “Let me back in! You can’t do this to me! Who do you think you are? You fraud! You pipsqueak!”

Angrier and angrier he grew. He banged on the door, then went down the steps, stomping on the ground, flailing his arms, looking for something to harm, to break, a rock to throw, flowers to trample, but his red eyes were too blind with rage to see a rock, a stick, a flower.

            So, he roared louder, calling up every vile, vicious profane foul word he knew, and he had many at his command, for the sort of temper tantrum was not new with him. What was new was being alone. There was no one to cower fearfully before his wrath, no one to try to placate him, shudder, turn ashen faced, wring hands and infuriate him further.

            So, his anger ran out and he began to return to his senses, but an echo was coming back to him from the hills across the valley. His words were coming back at him as is usually the case with echoes. No, when he fell silent, the entire vile, vicious, foul-mouthed, disgusting tirade came back to him word by word, and at the same time his shadow reenacted his insane dance, his berserk leaping, stomping, and flailing. For the first time he saw how he looked and heard how he sounded and he was ashamed.

Please note that  Anger was discussed at length in Wednesdays’s Newsletter.

Also check this out  

It appears that many things are returning to near-normal now and most people are becoming more busy and have places to go out to. Keeping that in mind, please note that starting next week there will be only one newsletter (Saturday).

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN

With Warmest Nanak Love

RA

The Music of the Heart

7.11.2020

If our consciousness could be visualized, then perhaps it could be likened to a lotus flower. In the same manner as a bird flies in the sky without leaving any mark, a fish swims in the water without making any footprints, and the swan swims across the stream without getting wet similarly the lotus lives in murky waters but remains untouched. Gurbani urges us (our consciousness) to live in the materialistic world without being affected by it just like the lotus. This analogy of the lotus flower helps us better understand this Reality.

Everything exists in the Consciousness, rises from It, and finally merges back into It. Just as all the pictures thrown on the screen are visible by the light projected from a spot; similarly, the body and other objects are all visible in the reflected Consciousness.

The Heart-Lotus is the seat or the centre of the Infinite Consciousness. The enlightened souls (Gurus, Saints, Bhagat Jan) ) are likened to such a fully blossomed lotus flower; they remain untouched by the so called impurities of the material world (Maya, body-consciousness…), just like the lotus flower which remains untouched (unattached, uncontaminated, unaffected) by the slimy water. Just as the waves rise from the ocean, subsist in the ocean and then merge back into the ocean; similarly, the thoughts (mind) rise from this centre on which they exist and where they are dissolved.

How can a lotus plant grow deep within the Heart or the mind?

How can the feet of Guru-God exist in one’s mind or Heart?

Neither the Heart is physical, nor the Lotus and nor the Feet.

They are without any feature or form – pure consciousness.

Therefore, the “Lotus of the Heart” mentioned in  Gurbani represents a subtle centre and not a physical one. We are guided to intuitively see the Infinite Consciousness as the lotus flower within.

The Heart-Lotus is none other than the Divine Light within everyone.

We are That Light!

In order to realize these “Lotus-Feet”, one needs to link his individual consciousness to the source within through earnest Shabad-Vichaar –Wordless Word Contemplation. Similarly, we are instructed to connect with the infinite music – the unstruck sound or melody within. This is referred  to as “Anhat Dhuni“, “Anhata Baaje“, “Anhata Naad” in Gurbani. So, in order to “look within” one has to focus the attention on this Infinite Consciousness. This un struck melody!

So what is this Anhut Dhuni – Aaoji -let us try to learn more about this in the upcoming webinar.

DHAN GURU NANAK

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN

With Warmest Nanak Love

RA

Unleash Your Inner Potential: Discover The Creative Force Within

6.27.2020

PART 1:

I am always blown away with how gifted and talented you are – ALL OF YOU!!

In fact i feel both humbled and proud (if that is even possible!) because in you I see the glorious loving, nurturing effects of Sadh Sangat. I am not kidding when i say – ALL OF YOU!

Seriously, when you bring to the forefront your thoughts during kid’s classes, your well written contributions for Nihaal, your general remarks, your emails and your expressions of art which still hang at the Bunga Sahib in Montreal you leave me with a deep sense of gratitude and amazement. The Grace is flowing in different ways in each and every one of you, and in expressing yourself you are allowing your light to shine for others. This is the blessing of our Mahapurakhs. 

I would like to invite you to shine even more.

The world needs extra doses o love, joy, gratitude and truth seekers.

What better way than art to do so?

So guru pyaree sadh sangat jee: SHINE: SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS 

I am proposing a GIVE AWAY of three copies of the book (Mantra Art: The Journey Within) to the best contributions and any three from the Reflective Mini-Series as prizes.

What:  Make your personal  8″x8″ Gratitude expression -see yellow one above. It can be the same, it can be in Punjabi (wow!), it can be any other design your heart desires. 

It can also be something a blog post for Nihaal.ca on a topic of your choice.

When: You have until next Sunday morning (July 5th) until noon

Where: Submit to jussrani@gmail.com

Who: Anyone- no age restriction

Why: To share your creative expression – your inner authentic self so we all can do sangat

How: By just doing it! Let all the love flow!

Aao jee..tun aao hamarey. Har juss tum sang gavna.

Please do share about this with those who don’t know about it.

PART 2:

Art is a form of meditation when you get absorbed in it. It brings you to the present moment. It is a great tool for bringing forth the inner voice and ground you. It would be amazing if we can do this all together.

I am sending the same message as i did on Saturday just in case you didn’t see it. Maybe you can also let others know so we get quite a few entries. Collectively we are trying to be grateful, collectively we are trying to bring positive vibrations by bringing love and gratutude vibes with the art about Gratitude (see last post) .

 Will you give it a shot? Will you get involved?

 No age restriction. The more the better.I was asked if i could extend the time to July 15th. 

With Warmest Nanak Love

RA

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

Please continue to practice social distancing!
Please Stay Safe.
Wear a mask!
Please Wash your Hands.
Stay in the Moment. 
Eat well. Exercise. Laugh.  
Shukar! Shukar! Shukar!
 

The Moment

6.24.2020

Are you tired of people suggesting you “live in the moment”, “be present”, or “stop to smell the roses”?

Sorry – I might be one of them!

Apologies for that. The intention however is that we all learn together and reminders are always helpful. I seem to forget each time ‘life takes over’. For example, I recall at times as I am driving, I am so absorbed in listening to what is on the radio, or my own thoughts that I have no idea how I reached my destination. It is as if life is on auto-pilot. This is certainly not being present. If you pay close enough attention, you will notice that you spend an unbelievable amount of time thinking about something other than the present moment. Research has found that on average our minds wander about 47% of the time!

We are told life is a process not a destination so that the more we focus on our destination, the more we push our happiness and satisfaction into the future. The more we focus on the process, the surroundings, the easier it is to see the joy and satisfaction in the work we are doing today because we have to understand that what we are doing now will ultimately get us to where we want to go.

Does this require patience? Yup!

Does it require commitment? Absolutely.

Is this easy?  Nope!

The present moment matters because it’s the only place where you can do the work that will ever allow you to ever achieve your goals.

Examining ourselves, it is easy to recognize how absorbed we are in what we are doing – cooking, cleaning, working, resting, eating? Certainly, the example above of me driving is not the type of absorption I am talking about. It’s the complete opposite. I am very passionate about teaching and art – in either situation, I experience the joy of ‘Now’. The moments I spend in these two occupations bring meaning to life for me because I don’t WANT anything else but to be there.

But you may ask, surely desires and goals are a natural part of being human?

Sure, they are, but have you ever noticed a commonality among them all? We mostly live our lives fixating on the future, for salvation, because we think our present circumstances aren’t good enough. This is the perpetual cycle we find ourselves in. We pursue our desires and goals thinking that they will give us some lasting satisfaction but once we get them we find there is more to achieve. There has to be a way of finding satisfaction todaynowin this moment.

Setting goals for ourselves and determining how to achieve them is critical to self-improvement and realizing our potential, but we do need to be careful that we don’t shortchange ourselves of happiness by always wanting to be like someone or get something else. The constant cycle of wanting to be somewhere else robs us of our inner stillness.

In the beginning we have to pull ourselves in the present. How? Simran is the tool that we have been graciously guided towards. Practice being in the ‘sadh-hun’ – the present as Bauji puts it and pay particular attention to your thoughts– are you thinking of what you don’t have- because that is what you are attracting. When we are in sangat, we get an opportunity to practice gratitude, love and grace follows in the form of a surreal feeling of ‘all is well’.

Actually, all is well now! NOW!

DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

A Message from Your Inner Voice

6.20.2020

PART 1:

Within you is a small still voice- present not only to light your way but to guide you on your authentic path, lovingly, unconditionally. Here is what your inner voice would like you to know:

 “You are everything! Present in everything! You are the shooting star, the rose bud, the rainbow, the tree roots, the baby, the old man, kitties rolling around, the first sprig of the leaf emerging in spring, the sunset, the sunrise, the snake, the mosquito and the grass blade. You are the dolphins frolicking in the ocean, the seaweed, the lion, the strawberry and the pancake.”

“You are a poem, a masterpiece, a one-of-a kind painting, the music notes and concert itself. You are everything.”

“You are what you are seeking for.”

“I am present always to remind you of your true nature (tun jot saroop hain), to accept you as you are and to gently but fiercely remind you of who you are when needed by reminding you of your wholeness, even when you forget. I am here to heal whatever wounds you may have accumulated on your journey. I am here to help you forget everything you think you lack, any hurt you might have suffered.”

“There is however one requirement.”

“You have to have the conditions in which you can hear me. How else will you get the guidance that will elevate you? How else will you recall your own radiance? I can’t help you if you don’t listen. You see, the noise – the constant chatter of your mind drowns me. I am here for you always but you have to find ways to hear me. Meditation, Cultivation of Silence, Solitude, becoming an Introvert, avoidance of unnecessary sensory stimulation (social interactions off and online ones) are just some ways that really help. I guarantee you that once you start hearing me others can come and go, I can love you so fully that you need nothing. So, to create space for me, your inner voice, to come through, set the intention to tune into it, don’t let your mind take over. Breathe into it.”

“Oh, a last reminder, I am not a part of you – I am you. I am the you that is not a part, the one who can love all of your precious, messy, scared wounded parts, no matter how unacceptable you may judge them to be. I love you unconditionally. Give it a shot, try coming closer, listen…hear me – you are beautiful, complete and all love.”

“Psst – sometimes I am known as Intuition.”

Gurbani also advices us about what learning to listen to the inner voice can do for us:

PART 2:

The  golden voice within utters softly, sending signals – both outer and within for you to pay attention to it. It implores to you -are you listening?

There is a story that goes something like this:

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
-Author Unknown

Which wolf are you feeding?

With so many enticing stimuli drawing our attention outward, most of us have lost touch with our ability to connect inward. Listening for your inner voice is like training a new muscle. It won’t happen overnight, but if we make a consistent effort to hone it, the stronger it will become—like a tuner tuning into the right frequency. By cultivating present moment awareness, by practicing mindfulness in all activities, by following a healthy diet, exercising and surrounding ourselves with like-minded spiritual seekers and by meditating we can learn to tune in to the right wavelengths. With meditation, we can find stillness and it is here we finally meet our true self, the one whispering to us all these years.

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

Please continue to practice social distancing!
Please Stay Safe.
Wear a mask!
Please Wash your Hands.
Stay in the Moment. 
Eat well. Exercise. Laugh.  
Shukar! Shukar! Shukar!
 
With Warmest Nanak Love
RA

Laughing Matter?

6.7.2020

Q:  Is it considered bullying if I make a joke about someone, and that person and the others around us laughs at it too? No, right? 

Q: Could “just teasing” become a euphemism for “bullying?”

Teasing is light-hearted, playful joking around between friends and family mutually. It is done with a sense of fun and to create laughter and amusement between the people involved. Teasing is friendly and fun even if it makes someone a little embarrassed sometimes. What we laugh at – seems both important and relevant. Laughter is as important as contemplation and is said to release endorphins which help us feel good and help us bond to others.  Laughter has also been called the best medicine.

But is there a relation of laughter to humiliation and bullying? 

Bullying—publicly ridiculing and laughing at someone, helping to normalize the humiliation of one’s friends, and the intent to ridicule them is a completely new ball game. Sharing a laugh positions those who are amused (fans) as insiders, and those who are the object of chuckles as outsiders, or “others.” The insiders laugh at an individual; the “other,” and in so doing connect onlookers.

What is “teasing” to one person may feel like bullying to another. How can one be sure that the other is laughing with you or just pretending and is actually feeling very uncomfortable? There can be a fine line between the two. Teasing can become bullying if it hurts a person even if is done with the intention not to hurt the other. Bullying comes in many shapes and sizes. There is the proverbial mean kid at school who mistreats others, and is easy to identify. Then there is the more common and subtle form of bullying which comes in the disguise of playing and joking. When playing turns into teasing or targeting an individual or a group it has become a form of bullying. If one person is creating humor and causing others to laugh at the expense of another, and everyone else is laughing except for the individual who is at the blunt end of the joke, it is a form of bullying.

Teasing usually comes from someone we trust and that we know is only messing with us as a friend and can be seen as mere camaraderie. It can even be seen as helping one another to face our own dis-ease, to ‘take-the vulnerability’ in stride and help facilitate taking our own selves less seriously- letting laughter of others roll off our back stoically. Does that mean also not acknowledging our emotions? What if we really feel so uncomfortable that it causes anxiety, sadness, fear, depression, discouraged. What if the very ‘family’ ‘friends’ we go to escape from the world begins to become just like the world.

Could it then be called bullying?

Would you agree that there’s a fine line; teasing can have the effect of bullying but it is not usually intentional and is disguised as “humor”.

Cyberbullying has been on the rise since Co-Vid has forced more and more people in isolation with more time to be online. This form of harassment is a way to inject excitement and drama into their lives, and it has become a form of entertainment; it can give a sense of power and status to those doing it. Having an audience, especially those who laugh at the bullying, gives that person a feeling of control and importance inflamed by egotism.  Many who get involved give in to peer pressure. They want to fit in or not be seen as the odd one out or uncool. Groups spur each other on. Some really don’t see that they’re doing anything wrong. They see it as just a harmless joke, especially when they have the sense that everyone does it. Online, there’s a sense of invincibility because one never sees the pain and discouragement of the victim, which makes it harder to have empathy and far easier to continue .

As a bystander, one is playing a role in the bullying.

One can choose to make things better or worse. You might wonder, “How can I be a bystander if the bullying (laughing @) is not happening in front of me?”

You are a bystander if you read it, see it, or hear about it and here is how you are supporting it:

  • Seeing the bullying online and doing nothing.
  • Participating and going along, being disrespectful to elders.
  • Calling people and telling them to log on to see the comments or pictures.
  • Talking to others about it or laughing about it.
  • Commenting on wall pictures, or messages in a way that encourages the bully.
  • Forwarding messages, emails, instant messaging chats, tests, etc.
  • As a bystander you have a choice to take actions when you see or hear and help guide the others.
  • If they make fun of you for being uptight, they are bullying you.

Are you Prejudiced? Do you Discriminate?

6.13.2020

 It would mostly likely be a lie if anyone of us says that I am not prejudiced or that I don’t discriminate.   What stories do we tell ourselves about ourselves? 

What are our most subversive beliefs or biases?

Everyone is talking about hidden superiority complexes, racial discrimination (said to be more pronounced in white people) yet we all have many hidden biases, whether we acknowledge them or not.

If we wish to stand up for the rights of those who are being trampled upon and if we want to bring any lasting change then the change has to begin within each and every one of us. We have to address our own prejudices first.

When I look within myself, I find an army of prejudices that need to be addressed, biases I learnt from the society I grew up. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya under the British rule, a highly stratified society. Everyone had their own schools – whites, browns, blacks and we did not mix. It was only when I moved to the UK and found myself to be the first brown girl in an all- white school that I realized there was something different going on here.

Most of our core beliefs are formed when we are children. When we are born, we enter this world with a clean slate and without preconceived beliefs. We are not born prejudiced but we cultivate biases at an early age influenced by family, friends, religion and first-hand experiences. Stored in our subconscious mind, which does not even care if the belief is true or false, we cling to an endless supply of prejudices which create automatic thoughts and responses. It is hard to stop that first emotional reaction that goes on inside of us.

All human societies have prejudices in some form and to some degree. Let’s examine some behaviours, multiple prejudices that we as Sikhs or Indians may be inflicted by. In spite of our Masters command – Bandeh Khoj Dil Har Roj – O’Human Being search within your heart every day, we enshrine many biases:

Colour Bias – White/Fair/Gora complexion is favoured over darker ones. In fact, when we look for marriage partners this becomes a priority! A learnt behaviour from the British Raj we inadvertently contribute to the white being better complex. In fact, in India there are creams and facial procedures that claim to make you ‘white’.

Gender Bias– Even in these so -called modern times, women are not allowed to have full rights. Wife-beating and worse abuse is tolerated. Rape is still rampant, not enough people speak out. Women still do not have all the privileges in education and jobs. Males still rule. Girls are still being murdered before they are even born.

Weight –We have no qualms about making jokes about someone’s size – fat or thin. Thin and fair is given preference because of cultural indoctrination.

Religion- Most people think that their own religion is the best, in spite of the fact that each one urges us to embrace the principle of oneness.

Social Stratification– Prejudice exists not only at the personal individual level, but also at the collective societal level. Rich/poor, Higher caste/lower caste. Particular biases that Sikh Masters tried to eliminate but which are right back in our society.

Educational Preferences– We still give preference to Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers over Musicians, Plumbers or Artists.

Intuitional Realization

6.10.2020

Most of us who have been attending the Sunday Sangat Webinars and reading the newsletters will be probably aware that much time and attention has been given towards understanding of the two realms -The Materialistic Realm and the Divine Realm. We all seem to know about these terms intellectually yet don’t really understand what is meant by Intuitional Realization. An enigmatic process – which can only by understood by each person when it is felt intrinsically because of a certain experience in their life. One cannot be taught, it has to be caught J

Intuition is said to be the gateway to inner realization, the only way we can find entrance to the Divine Realm. By and by, as more and more intuitive understandings dawn upon us, we begin to grasp the inherent meanings of Gurbani – it’s like using a map to find a treasure chest full of precious gems by unraveling hidden signs buried deep within us.

I am always most grateful when I receive your feedback and it brings me great joy when you share your own reflections. The following contribution from RPS last Sunday brings home the above point of Intuitional Realization.

What a valuable intuitional realization!

We only have this moment! Remain in it. Stay aware of it.

Nothing belongs to us and nothing is going to go with us. So why worry?

No one is ours and no one can help.

Yet we are not alone – not if we realize our Divine heritage.

Constantly remain in the consciousness of Presence.

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!

DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

Please continue to practice social distancing!
Please Stay Safe.
Wear a mask!
Please Wash your Hands.
Stay in the Moment. 
Eat well. Exercise. Laugh.  
Shukar! Shukar! Shukar!
 
With Warmest Nanak Love
RA

Always looking forward to getting contributions from you all!!  

Please do share your thoughts.

Friends – Friendship

6.4.2020

PART 1:

What is a friend? Who is a friend?

What is the nature of friendship? How do we choose our friends?

Why is it that friendship seems to be essential to the human experience?

Children befriend everyone – not cognizant of learnt patterns of fear they see no divide and love unconditionally until they get touched with the intellect/mind. Our society, culture, media, advertising make us believe that we are abnormal if we don’t have enough connections or friends from where we derive the sense of wholeness, a sense of belonging, a sense of security. As children start to develop their ego consciousness, they too begin to firm up their sense of self, their identity and their profile. This is done through friendships, and relationships with a significant other. With a perceived sense of belief that we are somehow incomplete, we tend to believe that it is through our connection with others that we will find the sense of completion we believe is lacking. But we will never truly find that which we seek, if we only look outside ourselves.

We must, rather, turn our focus within and make our first priority “befriending” our own inner Self.

Gurbani instructs us in the following manner:

Be a friend even to your enemy. (bureh da bhala kar)….Why?

If we engage in animosity we only fuel the fire and it gets worse on both sides. Vibrations of hatred travel through the universe and anyone who tries to harm anyone else ends up harming themselves first.  One cannot hate others without first poisoning themselves. We have to remember that God resides even in our so called ‘enemy’ just as much as in our friend. When we can recognize God both in those who love us and in those who hate us, only then can we realize His Omnipresence. Only by recognizing that the same divine spark animates us all can we can hope to eliminate conflict, both within ourselves and with others. When we are tuned to love, no matter how many hateful vibrations are sent, we will not receive them. Remember the example Bauji gives us of tuning in to the right broadcasting station.

When we direct our focus toward discovering and befriending our own Self/Soul, we come to truly understand and embody our independence and individuality. When we understand the Self is the Force that animates us, that sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes, that thinks our thoughts, and breathes our breath, we can allow ourselves to become dependent on the Divinity within us.

We are all very fortunate to have the constant guidance of our Beloved Masters – all we have to do is tune into the wisdom and let it guide us home. We are blessed to have their friendship. 

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!
DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

PART 2:

According to Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend”

The events of the past weeks have left us with heavy hearts, reeling from the injustice and heartbreak left by oppression. All our Sikh Masters have modelled for us compassionate behaviour as they themselves stood in solidarity with all who were being persecuted and exploited.  They have also shown us the path of “Love and Forgiveness”. Balancing the two is tricky but the only path that can lead to resolution of conflict both within and without – allowing Light/Naam to guide us when we feel overwhelmed with emotions of rage, despair, powerlessness, and grief.

Only by staying grounded and connected within can we offer any support  in this struggle, otherwise we are just adding to the raging inferno with our own burning feelings and emotions.

We can help by first grounding ourselves in the belief that we are all intrinsically Spirit/Awareness/Consciousness/Naam and that we are all connected.

As you cultivate love and peace, you add to the ether loving vibrations which help to negate vibrations of pain, anger and suffering – even if it is a little at a time, believe me you are helping. 

To be effective advocates of change we have to stay strong and proactive about our own emotional health and spiritual wellbeing. Only then can we become instruments of seva, instrumental in bringing peace in the world.

Your only task is to know your own SELF.

DHAN GURU NANAK! DHAN GURU NANAK!
DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN!

Please continue to practice social distancing!
Please Stay Safe. 
Wear a mask!
Please Wash your Hands.
Stay in the Moment. 
Eat well. Exercise. Laugh.  
Shukar! Shukar! Shukar!
 
With Warmest Nanak Love
RA

Always looking forward to getting contributions from you all!!  

Please do share your thoughts.