Friday, December 3, 2010

Why complain about multi-akhand paths at the same time? A candid conversation with my Jija Ji

I don't know if the title of the post is worded correctly, but what brought this subject was that I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law last Saturday. Even though he is way older than me (25+ years or so) but somehow in the conversation he expressed his feelings of being unhappy in life. He mentioned how happier he and his wife were when they were working harder and had less money about ten years ago. He is a nice man who always seemed in good spirit when I was growing up in India. He started to say that this whole life is just "jhooth" or false. And, I agreed with him and told him that Gurbani says the same thing especially when Guru Nanak Sahib gives answer to how this wall of falsehood could be broken thru His Hukum or will. He goes on how he spent thirty years in India in government service and felt he got nothing and made more money here in U.S. in less time than all of those thirty years and how he helped his brothers, sisters and raised a family. I think I replied that if one is meant to enjoy it he or she will but if it is not in their kismet or karma, it is not meant to be. Another thing I mentioned to him was that think of it as seva you have done over your life when you helped your family and don't expect much if you want to be happy. I mentioned that if one expects low or nothing in return for something he or she does, then there is very little or no disappointment at all. One is extremely unhappy if the expectations are set way too high but they are not met. He said why one plants a tree, take care of it and feed it if he or she won't get to enjoy the fruit of it later? I think this was in reference to his life here with his son and daughter in law but not sure what he meant and din't want to ask. I told him one's job is not to worry about the fruit, but keep watering it and taking care of it. Fruit of your actions is left to God. I happen to remember an example of conversation between Krishan Ji and Arjun from Bhagwad Gita where Arjun is questioning and contemplating his actions (and the fruit of this action thereafter) in the battlefield if picking up the weapons and fighting against his own uncles and cousins was right or wrong? Krishan Ji tells Arjun how his job is just to take the right action and pick up the weapon to fight and leave the results of that action to Almighty. I also gave example of a student studying in a class for a test. His or her job is to just study, work hard and try their best and not worry about what grade they are going to get. The grades depend upon the teacher and the work you put into it. How we say in Punjabi "kar seva milega meva" or "Do the good service or hard work, and fruit shall come". He didn't really seem to agree with me on this contentment thing without having high goals. I explained that I didn't mean that one should not aim high and set high goals.

At this point my brother in law started questioning if there was really God? He starts asking me what is the purpose of people having 21 akhand paths in Gurdwara at the same time and what purpose does it serve reciting same thing over and over in reference to nitnem everyday since he knows it is telling you to be good?

I gave him the example from one of my previous posts a few weeks ago about how repeating Guru Ji's mantra equates to churning the milk to get butter. If one has never tasted the butter and wants to taste it, he or she has to do the hard work of churning the milk which is a repetitive process and at times sounds boring or seems to be serving no purpose. That is why Nitnem is important even though it may seem to be just a daily ritual but one has to also spend the time to try to understand it as well.

About his question of 21 Akhand-paths, I agreed to disagree and explained that I feel everyone is at a different level of understanding when it comes to understanding, experiencing and worshiping God. We were sitting on the couch so I gave example of a gaddi (sofa cushion) that was sitting away from four of us. Gaddi is one, but gaddi looks different to everyone in the room because each one was sitting at a different level and angle to it and hence hsi or her perception of gaddi is different. Simialrly, God is one, but everyone sees or experiences it differently because they are focusing from a different perspective. Gaddi remains a gaddi and the person remains a person, only the perception is different. It is neither the fault of the gaddi or the person. But if you combine the perception of everyone, a complete picture of gaddi would be known, which is why being in the company of Sadh Sangat is important. It is kind of like getting a 3-D view of God.

Last week being a Thanksgiving weekend and all, I reminded him of our Sikh version of Thanksgiving:

"Sukh valay Shukrana, dukh valay Ardas"

"Be thankful to Lord when happy and peaceful, and pray during sadness and sorrow"

I told him to be happy and do more jap Ji sahib and try to understand it. I wish him and the family all the peace and happiness in life. He is great guy!

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