by SS Siri Hari Hari Singh Khalsa, Anchorage AK
2022 (First Quarter)
Overall a core value, or what I would call a useful skillset, which I rely upon, is tolerance—the capacity for and the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
For me, achieving tolerance depends on several other core values. Those are: the ability to genuinely communicate; to be empathic; and to have compassion for each individual’s cumulative circumstances. Using these core values gives me tolerance to accept all individuals for what and who they are at the present time.
Years ago, someone recommended the book, The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge, which included a discussion regarding communication. Among the many insights I gained from reading it was that all too often, rather than have a “dialogue” where two individuals are sharing the “why’s” upon which they base their opinions, we engage in a process of merely restating our opinions in multiple ways without understanding the “why’s” of the other person.
In a discussion, the ability to genuinely communicate and to pry out these “why’s” is extremely important in order to truly understand individuals.
Once I gain an insight into a person’s thinking, it becomes easier to have compassion for where they (and their souls) are in this life’s journey. It’s the realization that this person has unique experiences and beliefs, often vastly different from mine, which they act upon in their daily life. I may not agree with their actions, yet I can understand how their life experiences have molded them to where they are presently, just as my life experiences and beliefs have molded me to where I am presently.
When the people I meet act or believe as I do, there is a satisfying resonance. However, where there are differences, it becomes more of a challenge. I have to take a deep look into that person and search for their soul and recognize that there is another creature of God trying to make it through this life and doing what they think is the best way to achieve that end, the same as I am.
Having tolerance for all the varieties of people’s actions and underlying beliefs can be challenging for me. I will say that having tolerance for differing beliefs provides me relief from a lot of the stress of interacting with people when I don’t resonate with their actions or beliefs. Definitely a work in progress.
It is my hope that, overall, the Ministry (and I assume that means my fellow Ministers) would also continue to practice or consider embracing the values I mentioned above, as well as other values they deem important, in order to increase compassion and kindness in action and communication with those who they disagree with.
Additionally, I hope we can expand our vision of who we are and what we want to become, in order to provide light and hope to those who have the desire and need for light and hope in their lives. In expanding that vision, the Ministry needs to have the strength to embrace inclusiveness to a much higher degree than we have done up to this point.
As far as the Ministry overall, I would like to see us become bolder in our global leadership as to what it means to be a Sikh. I understand the valued legacy of the Gurus upon which we base our beliefs and which guide our actions. I also can see how the world is rapidly changing and how we need to change with it, in order to help bring light and hope.
About the Author
SS Siri Hari Hari Singh is a Sikh Dharma Minister. He was born and raised in Ohio, and attended Kent State University after high school until the Army scooped him up and sent him to Alaska in 1972. He fell in love with its mountains and vastness and remained there, working as a short-order cook, fisherman, and construction worker, before deciding to return to school to become a teacher. He moved into the ashram with Nirvair Singh and Kaur shortly after starting yoga classes, doing Tantric, and attending 3HO Winter Solstice in 1977. In 1989, he married SS Amrit Kaur. A graduate of the University of Alaska in Anchorage with a Bachelor of Education, majoring in Mathematics, he taught math to middle and high school students for over 22 years before retiring in 2013. He enjoys a variety of pastimes, including skiing, skating, hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, woodworking, reading, motorcycling, remodeling their house, playing video games, baking, doing mechanical work on autos, and attending summer and winter solstices.