Introduction by SS Sangeet Kaur Khalsa:
In the midst of the funeral and cremation service for a beloved Khalsa brother, my longtime dear friend Guru Meher Kaur and I sought out a quiet spot to sit and share our thoughts and emotions around this day. In marveling at the huge turnout, which included many who no longer attend Gurdwara or other Dharmic events, Guru Meher Kaur observed the irony that we can come together at the time of death, but why not life? She was feeling the need to write an article about this. I naturally seized the opportune moment to invite her to write such an article for the November issue of the Ministry newsletter!
S.S Sangeet Kaur Khalsa, Articles Editor
For the Sikh Dharma Ministry Newsletter Team
Article by Guru Meher Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico
2022 (Fourth Quarter)
I recently attended a Sikh funeral in our community. People showed up in droves—some who had not spoken to each other in years; some who had been hiding away from the public since the pandemic; still others who had no affiliation with our Sikh community. All sat silently in the sanctuary for one purpose: to honor the life of someone who had finished his journey on this earth.
Once again, I was struck by this troubling question: Why do we have so much difficulty relating to each other in life, yet when someone dies we are able to shed our differences and come together as one peaceful and respectful entity?
It is no secret that we, as a Sikh organization, are experiencing a slew of challenges that have resulted in a great deal of polarity. What has caused this distance, this separation that we may feel from one another? When I delved into this question, I found that the only way I could approach it was by examining my own feelings.
This is what has surfaced for me: I believe that doubt and fear can chip away at the psyche. When I began to experience doubt about something I had believed in and discovered that it may not be true, it brought up fear—fear that I had been bamboozled; fear that I could no longer trust something or someone. Doubt rendered me helpless and unable to act because I was afraid that if I expressed my true feelings, I would be rejected or attacked.
This brought up the next challenge: deciphering what was the truth. For us as Sikhs, we turn to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, our infinite source of universal truths. These truths were true at the time when the scriptures were composed; they are true today and will continue to be true tomorrow.
The Guru speaks frequently about the world being filled with evil and duality. In today’s world it is evident that people are bombarded, as they attempt to navigate the chaos of daily life and find what is true for them. Our organization is just a tiny microcosm of this bigger world. We are experiencing the same trials that so many are having with the pandemic, politics, racial and sexual discrimination and more. Lies and deception are rampant in the news and social media, making it harder to decipher what is true. The events that we face as a global community are creating tremendous stress—compounding what we are dealing with in our personal lives.
This made me realize that exploring the dilemma of our Dharmic community is complex. What has happened in our personal relationships with each other has been impacted by the loss of trust. Trust needs to be nurtured by honest communication; by a willingness to listen with an open mind, without judgment. Easier said than done and extremely hard to achieve.
But how are we going to find that joy and happiness in our lives now if we cannot give up the hurts and misgivings of the past? Trust is the crux of moving forward with a positive outcome. If bridges have been broken because we do not trust the intentions of another, how can they be mended?
I recently read about an organization called “More in Common.” Their mission is: “to build more united, inclusive and resilient societies in which people believe that what they have in common is stronger than what divides them…to understand the forces driving us apart, to find common ground and help to bring people together to tackle our shared challenges.”
This group has done extensive research on how to find common ground. One of their tenets to achieving this goal really moved me: “We commit to moving beyond describing the problem to focusing on solutions.”
What is important in finding common ground is working to strengthen understanding, trust and inclusion. We may have a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences, but if we have a common goal to bring greater unity in our understanding of each other, we can be more successful in healing our differences. As we include the perspectives of new voices on the horizon, and as those individuals feel that they belong and can thrive—greater unity is possible. Still . . . the question of how we are going to achieve this remains the task we face.
I believe that the work I need to do for myself is the most important. Finding compassion and openness to a new paradigm in a changing world will give me the strength I need to move forward. As I think back to the funeral where everyone stood in deep meditation and prayer, I think of the words I heard from the Siri Singh Sahib: “Many paths lead to the same destination. It doesn’t matter how you get there.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Guru Meher Kaur Khalsa has been a part of the Espanola Sangat for over 48 years and enjoys spending time with her husband, Noor Singh, their four children, and nine grandchildren. She is a retired state government employee and now devotes time to serving Hacienda de Guru Ram Das ashram by maintaining their website and collaborating on their monthly newsletter. In her spare time, you can find her in the garden, knitting, writing or in the kitchen cooking up some new recipes.