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Summary of Question:When someone asks what is Sikhism...?
Category:General Sikhism
Date Posted:Monday, 8/02/1999 6:57 AM MDT

Sat Sri Akaal Ji,

Many times a westerner will ask what religion are you, and one would reply Sikh.
Then they would ask what is a Sikh. Sometimes they are looking for a short answer...other times you have the opportunity to enter a discussion. I would like to know the best way of answering this question, where would I start? What can I say that will enlighten the questioner about how beautiful Sikhism is?
What do you say when someone asks you what Sikhism is about?

AND...the meaning of the Khanda. Many books write about what the khanda means...but these explanations are not very informative to a westerner who has no understanding of indian cultures and sikh religion. What is your answer to them when they ask the meaning of the khanda?

Thanking you with all my kindest regards.
People are able to read encyclopedias, but encyclopedias are not able to read people.

When a person you don't know approaches you and asks <What are you?>, you have to read the person. Just as the Guru was known as the <Searcher of Hearts> you can do your best to search the genuineness and sincerity of the questioner. You will come to learn alot about the subtlety of people in this way.

If the question is casual or shallow (or sometimes even mildly or directly disrespectful), one needn't (shouldn't) offer spiritual jewels to a worldly mind. You can simply smile honestly, with honest respect for the humanity within the person, and say nothing. Just see the person, smile and continue on. A truthful, respectful, quiet smile is sometimes more meaningful than words.

Sometimes a person may be attempting to bait you into debate about his or her religion, <Have you been saved by so-and-so>, etc. Don't even bother to engage, because a person convinced against their own will, always remains unconvinced.

However, sometimes a person approaches who is really sincere. Perhaps they are really hurting inside and the sight of a GuruSikh can be the most beautiful thing in the world to behold, because a true Sikh is a signpost to something beyond the world. At such times, speak from your heart first. Your heart knows what to say. Most westerners don't know what a Guru is or what a Guru can be. They confuse it with charlatans whom they've heard manipulate people. So you don't have to use the language about <guru>. You can say simply, in your own way, that to sing and praise the beauty and kindness of God is the most healing thing in life. A Sikh doesn't believe in fear and a Sikh doesn't believe in sin. Every person is made in the image of God (Akal Moorat), and the way to sing about it is our Guru's Prashad, or blessing. What more should we have to say. If a person really wants to know more, they can ask. Otherwise, they will have already heard far more than they expected, and if they are sincere they wil
l thank you and hope that you continue to have a wonderful day. And, certainly, to be able to speak naturally in such a way, about God and Guru, is the most wonderful way to spend any day.

You can explain the Khanda, or Kirpan, by saying that it symbolizes eternal Truth which cuts through all doubt, ignorance, suffering and negativity. And be sure to say that it is never used in anger or ever to attack anyone. It is a sacred thing to remind us of the blessing of our connection to the infinite, compassionate Source of everything.

While in the world, you are the Guru's representative. Your own intuitive mind can discover the best words to win the heart and gain the respect. Otherwise, hold the truth dearly and save it for those who are ready to hear.

Many blessings to you,
Krishna Singh Khalsa

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