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|General Q's from Non-Sikhs
|Wednesday, 2/20/2002 1:50 PM MST
coursework which involves Sikhism. This is the essay title I am researching;
?A study of the pathways to salvation in Christianity and Sikhism.?
I was hoping that you would allow me to ask you a few questions regarding your faith in relation to this title. I
am not required to interview a believer from each religion, but I am struggling a little to understand some of
the Sikh teachings, and I thought that the best way to clear up my view would be to talk to a believer.
I have read a lot of books and internet essays on the Sikh side of this topic, and I?m just finding it hard to
combine the relatively basic teachings from each one, because they all seem to approach the subject from
Please don?t think that I am trying to pull apart your belief in any way, but the essay itself requires me to look
very closely and try to examine in as much detail as possible the credits and shortcomings of the beliefs in each
faith. I?m finding this very hard to do because I am a Christian myself, but I am trying as hard as possible to
understand Sikhism in a greater depth so that my essay might be balanced and fair.
I understand fully that, as in any religion, there must be differing views within Sikhism, so I would appreciate
your personal answers to the questions I am asking. These are some of the areas where I have become
Requirements for salvation (or ?liberation?; freedom from rebirth):I understand that good works on earth
are required for liberation, and also the overcoming of the ?five vices?, but where does God?s grace that so
many of the scriptures talk about come in to this? What is the relationship/balance between the two? There are
many scriptures that talk about good works (?our service in the world gets us a seat in the court of the lord?;
Guru Nanak), and those which talk about God?s grace (?he is felt through grace. The Guru provides
guidance to the path of grace?; Gur Parsad), but are there any which approach the combination of the two
together? And then there are other scriptures which mention neither (?make your mind God?s home. If God
abides with you undisturbed, you will not be reborn?), which suggest that only human effort is needed for
Heaven and hell:I?m confused as to whether this is purely spiritual, if it?s physical in any way, or if it is
metaphorical. The only verses I?ve found on this are these two about heaven (?my heaven is where the praises
of God are sung?; Adi Granth 479, Guru Arjan), and about hell (?...if one cherishes not the lord?s name, one
lives as if in the deeps of hell. That place is no better than a wasteland.?; Adi Granth 707, Guru Arjan).
Karma and rebirth: I understand most of the rebirth teachings, except one long peice of scripture (which I?m
afraid I can?t remember the position of) which gave a long list of different forms a soul could become on
rebirth. Amoung the list of animals and even plants (I think), the Guru who?d written it wrote ?stone?. Is this
mearly to illustrate a point or do you believe that a soul with (I pressume) particularly bad karma can be born
as a stone, a non-living object. If you do believe this...how does a stone gain better karma; how does a stone
My only question regarding Karma refers to this paragraph; ?the potential for attatchment to maya is present
from the beginning of time. The posibility of being attatched to the world is the consequence of being born as
a discriminating human being able to make choices.? I found this written in a reliable book, based on the Adi
Granth 921. At the same time I have read that, unlike Hinduism, Sikhs do not tend to believe in ?Karma at
birth?; but surely this paragraph suggests otherwise?
Thankyou very much for reading my questions. I really would appreciate any views on this subject that you
would like to offer, or any other help in my research. I have a great amount of respect for your faith, and
would love to understand it in greater depth.
May God bless you,
Assuming its not to late to respond.....
In the Sikh way of life we have a "God" which is "One" and WITHIN all of creation. God is forgiving, kind and compassionate. Albeit, we are not
'born in sin' but we are born perfect as a creation of the Perfect God.
We do not need to redeem ourselves for we already contain God and are a part of Infinity. Life is a process of clearing away the veil of illusion that the 'mind' creates. This veil; doubt or proccupation with the sensory world, clouds our perception of true oneness. Liberation is a state of mind that one acheives in this life when one feels no separation from God and takes all the tasks of this life as a gift.
Liberation comes from overcoming the pull of the mind. As the Guru states "win over your mind, and you win the whole world". How do we do this? We win over the mind by recitation of the words of the Guru....the "shabd". We win over the mind by feeding the soul with good actions: selfless service, kindness to self and others, recognizing the unchanging truths of existance and living according to these. We work and earn by the sweat of our brow(accept no handouts), share our earnings w/ others, chant God's name, do not alter our body(it has been created perfectly by the perfect God,
We have a very clearly defined lifestyle which gives us this attitude of liberation and strength to maintain non attachment to the trends of the times. Grace for us is when God brings us "to the feet of the Guru" or to live with the "Sadh Sangat" the community of disciplined ones.
We are all puppets in the hands of God. We have only the power to choose to walk toward God or away from God.
There is no heaven or hell. We reap the benefits or liabilities of our actions in this life. We believe in reincarnation. That is, the soul is a part of our being that is merged in the Infinite. It does not die as the body dies. But is reborn again and again. There is much more to life than the physical body.
God is even in the rocks and stones....Rocks stones, cement, are all a part of creation. They are just a more dense level of creation. The human birth is the blessing. This is the only incarnation or ohysical state in which the soul can experience its "source" or "God consiousness". So, this life is a treasured opportunity.
We live here in this life according to the results of our own actions as; actions create reactions....we have to live with the effect of our actions, words, deeds, now. Our Siri Guru Granth Sahib or Holy scriptures is our technology of life. It is a unique phonomena. We call it our "Living Guru". For, when we sing or recite the words of our Guru, we get an experience of elevation as well as the guidence of the meaning of those words. So, our Guru is like a friend. We cultivate a relationship with our Guru by, reading from it daily, asking it questions when we are in need, keeping the Guru in our home as a wise and treasured member of our family.
The examples that you refer to from the Guru are metaphors. They are not realities for us but examples of the moment we live in doubt versus the moment we live in our grace. We get grace by living and practicing the teachings of the Guru. For example, in the morning we recite "Jap Ji". It is a prayer that takes us: Body mind and spirit, up a ladder. The very act of reciting it with concentration gives us an experience. The ladder starts at the grossest point of our awareness, and takes us to our most elevated experience of our self. The last line of Jap Ji Sahib says, "after doing this work, putting in this effort of absorption to our discipline...our face becomes bright, shining are our faces and with this radiance we uplift and carry others with us. This is the essence of our way of life. All of us must help each other. Our ultimate goal is to live in our own "true radiance". Challenges are like the wind in the sail of the boat, they move us along the ocean of life.
Perhaps, you can take a trip to a Gurdwara and read from the Guru(in English). I would reccommend that rather than reading someone's description about the Guru. Better to understand and have an experience of your own. If you are interested, within Sikhnet is a wonderful book called "Shabd Guru, Quantum Technology for the Aquariam Age". It really explains the concept of Guru in the Sikh life which we all revolve around.
God bless you with success in your work.
In the Name of the Cosmos which prevails through everyBody and the Holy Naam which holds the world.