Faith and “I”

Good Morning.sky.jpg
I will be taking care of all your problems today. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of your day!
-God

This is what the sign on the wall read at the Salvation Army on the North side of Chicago. Prior to volunteering there, I only knew stereotypes of the homeless and hungry…just what you see on TV. But it didnt take long for those stereotypes to break down. The people we served meals to were happy, smiling, polite and full of energy. What surprised me most, wastheir deep sense of spirituality. Not only did I find this in my conversation with folks, but even in their greeting. My standard, “Good morning, how are you?” was often replied with “Blessed” or “In His Grace”, many with bible in hand.

I used to wonder, how could people so hard on their luck, have so much faith? I have seen so many times with family and friends, after they’vesuffered difficult circumstances or loss, God and religion are the first things questioned, i.e. “How could God do this to me?”

I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on “faith” lately, as I’ve noticed a growing pattern of Sikh Youth beginning to doubt their belief in God. In my conversations with some of theseyouth (many of whom come from wealthy backgrounds), I’ve tried backing off the subject of God altogether, and simply asking – “What do you believe in?” And it’s been pretty consistent. Most of their belief lies in achieving materialistic and financial goals – a high-paying job, big house, nice car, admiration and respect from the community etc. I would listen to this in awe, thinking to myself, that’s it? There is nothing else? Nothing deeper?

I’m not implying that poor people are more inclined to be spiritual or more likely to believe,while the wealthy are incapable of it – of course, all of us can think of examples to prove that theory wrong.

But in simplest terms – in order to believe in God, you must first believe that there is something bigger than yourself.

And therein lies the problem

I wonderis their doubt really based on any atheist philosophy or scientific theory, or it is just Haumai (I-am-ness). Is it our Haumai that convinces us that we know everything when we really don’t? Is it our Haumai that inhibits us from connecting with the Shabad? Is it our Haumai that prevents us from believing?

In page 346 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Bhagat Ravidas Ji says:

malin bhee math maadhhavaa thaeree gath lakhee n jaae
My intellect is polluted; I cannot understand Your state, O Lord.
karahu kirapaa bhram chookee mai sumath dhaehu samajhaae
Take pity on me, dispel my doubts, and teach me true wisdom.

I believe Waheguru is within everyone, believer and non-believer alike. But the force that connects us to that Waheguru within can be strong, weak, or non-existent depending on our Haumai. A friend once compared this to metal filings and a magnet. If you put a stack of papers in between the two and move the magnet, the filings will only move a bit – if at all. But as you remove the layers of paper, the filings will eventually move the direction of the magnet. And as the layers become less, the force between the magnet and filings become so strongthey will eventually be in sync. Similarly, we must remove the layers of Haumai to be connected with Him.

Thoughtsopinions? I’d love to hear.


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8 Responses to “Faith and “I””

  1. Kieran says:

    Can anybody explain the difference between faith and gullibility?

  2. Kieran says:

    Can anybody explain the difference between faith and gullibility?

  3. Phulkari says:

    RP Singh,

    Reading your post today reminded me of a question I heard during a discussion.

    The participant asked what is the difference between a good person who believes in God and a good person who does not believe in God? At the end of the day both are kind, loving, and humble.

    No one really answered the question; but I think your post today answered it. You write, "in order to believe in God, you must first believe that there is something bigger than yourself." That statement highlights the main difference between the two good people. The believer in God fundamentally believes in a power larger than themselves; where as the non-believer, most often does not. Thus, for the believer their "goodness" is rooted in this higher-power and for the non-believer the source is themselves. I personally think this dissimilarity creates a different relationship with Haumai. The believer works off a basis that they have to control their Haumaiin order to be good- part of being "good" means submitting yourself to a power larger than you. However, for a non-believer being "good" reinforces the idea that you are most powerful (i.e. Haumai).

    Just some initial thoughts. What do you think?

  4. Phulkari says:

    RP Singh,

    Reading your post today reminded me of a question I heard during a discussion.

    The participant asked what is the difference between a good person who believes in God and a good person who does not believe in God? At the end of the day both are kind, loving, and humble.

    No one really answered the question; but I think your post today answered it. You write, “in order to believe in God, you must first believe that there is something bigger than yourself.” That statement highlights the main difference between the two good people. The believer in God fundamentally believes in a power larger than themselves; where as the non-believer, most often does not. Thus, for the believer their “goodness” is rooted in this higher-power and for the non-believer the source is themselves. I personally think this dissimilarity creates a different relationship with Haumai. The believer works off a basis that they have to control their Haumaiin order to be good- part of being “good” means submitting yourself to a power larger than you. However, for a non-believer being “good” reinforces the idea that you are most powerful (i.e. Haumai).

    Just some initial thoughts. What do you think?

  5. RP Singh says:

    Agreed, Phulkari. Of course, even for the believer – truly submitting and controlling one's haumai is a challenge in itself!

  6. RP Singh says:

    Agreed, Phulkari. Of course, even for the believer – truly submitting and controlling one’s haumai is a challenge in itself!

  7. Camille says:

    Maybe this is a stretch, but I think the kind of haumai described is also rooted in a sense of maya (attachment). The attachment isn't necessarily pure materialism, but rather an attachment to the concept of self as the prime agent as opposed to Vaheguru. Instead of the world unfolding according to Vaheguru's Will or plan, there's a sense that achievement is measured in temporal terms, and that one's destiny is driven by one's actions. Like haumai, maya obscures our ability to be humble and exercise humility.

    That said, it's not really surprising because both materialism and an individualistic, enterprising approach to the world are central features of American society (I can't speak for other regional outlooks because I'm simply not familiar enough).

  8. Camille says:

    Maybe this is a stretch, but I think the kind of haumai described is also rooted in a sense of maya (attachment). The attachment isn’t necessarily pure materialism, but rather an attachment to the concept of self as the prime agent as opposed to Vaheguru. Instead of the world unfolding according to Vaheguru’s Will or plan, there’s a sense that achievement is measured in temporal terms, and that one’s destiny is driven by one’s actions. Like haumai, maya obscures our ability to be humble and exercise humility.

    That said, it’s not really surprising because both materialism and an individualistic, enterprising approach to the world are central features of American society (I can’t speak for other regional outlooks because I’m simply not familiar enough).

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