Most of us know Sikhs by the turbans men wear to cover their hair, which they do not cut out of love for God and respect for the perfection of God’s creation.
But what we may not know is the message of Sikh, one that resonates with me and perhaps with you.
The Sikh Creator, the One, is an infinite force all around us and the source of everything.
Everyone in the human race is equal and each has the One’s light within them. The light is free of gender, religion, race, nationality or sexual orientation.
Sikhs aim to connect with the One inside them through their 10th gate. It’s a blissful experience of divine love found by singing praises in holy company (kirtan, for example), meditation, honest living and serving humanity.
Their 10 Principles of Belief are beautiful:
- Worship one God.
- Treat everyone equally.
- Live by the three primary principles: meditate and pray daily, make an honest income, share earnings and selflessly serve others.
- Avoid the five sins of ego: pride, lust, greed, anger & attachment.
- Become baptized.
- Keep the code of honor, which includes abiding by the guru’s teaching, forsaking earthly worries and daily worship.
- Wear the five articles of faith: special undergarments for modesty and health, uncut hair, a wooden comb in the turban to keep hair untangled, a steel bracelet as a sign of faith and wear a small sword symbolizing the defense of religious rights of all faiths.
- Follow the Four Commandments: do not cut hair, do not harm the body with tobacco or other intoxicants, do not eat sacrificial meat, do not commit adultery.
- Recite the five daily prayers: three in the morning, one in the evening and one at bedtime.
- Take part in fellowship: worship, sing, cook and eat together.
Beautiful, isn’t it? There are so many different ways to worship the Creator and this has to be one of the most inclusive and representative of the unity that defines Source.
Sikhism started in the Punjab region of India in the 15th century.
For us in Silicon Valley, it’s one of the many cultures that make up the brocade of life here and so it’s no surprise that we have a large local gurdwara or Sikh temple. The temple is open to anyone of any background, “with no expectations.” And part of their mission is to feed people–free! So every temple offers free meals –lacto-vegetarian Indian food –every day.
This gurdwara partners with a local Christian church to serve the local homeless, together delivering blankets and other survival necessities. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.
The gurdwara we visited sits atop a hill in San Jose. Visitors are expected to cover their legs, their hair and to dress with decency. Shoes come off before entering the main buildings. Hands are washed.
The guru sits in the main prayer hall and although the day of our visit we didn’t see many worshipers, some did approach him, kneel and bow and some seem to have greeted him. Men and women sit on separate sides of the hall. We felt welcome.
Before my visit I knew very little about Sikh beliefs. It’s taken a long time for me to learn just this little bit, but I’m glad I did.
(Just a reminder that Hearts & Flowers candle orders close on January 28, so if you’d like one by Valentine’s Day, make sure to order now!)