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MySikhSense.com
Dialogue for those who dare.
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One Skin, Different Perspectives
"There needs to be a conversational relationship
between white eyes and colored eyes in America."

"99% of the issues facing humanity today can be resolved with dialogue.
If we fail to maintain open communication and dialogue we are at risk of
increased dysfunction, increased conflicts, and inevitable irrelevance."


White Eyes                              Colored Eyes

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Where's the love?

Sat Nam. It has been reported that the Sensitivity Summit motion was summarily rejected as an agenda item at the recent September, 2015, Sikh Dharma International, Khalsa Council meetings in Espanola, NM.

It is my understanding that the supporters of the motion met the protocol established by the Khalsa Council for bringing this motion to the floor for consideration, but the Secretary General chose not to proceed. Our question is why? What is the problem with providing time for debate on the motion?

It took almost two years from inception to bring this motion to the floor, which would have the Khalsa Council sit with the Sadh Sangat including those people of color within the community for the purpose of promoting dialogue (example) regarding issues of diversity, including religion, gender and race.

The wording is as follows: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma shall convene a biannual 'Sensitivity Summit' to include 'Light on Diversity' conversations with people of color in joint session with the Siblings of Destiny (Sadh Sangat).

In other words, the motion proposes that immediately prior to Sikh Dharma International, 3HO teachers and trainers, and other community members convening their biannual meeting, we shall sit together and have a conversation, a dialogue, which includes people of color (see example) and other marginalized members of the community. Simply stated, it's an opportunity for us to listen and learn, and to monitor our success at practicing pluralism as taught by Guru Nanak, i.e., it's an opportunity for a much-needed exercise in personal and social introspection.

Motions are usually presented for the purpose of discussion, including their appropriate venue. Detractors of the Sensitivity Summit have suggested that the Khalsa Council is not an "appropriate forum" for a summit. My question: What is an appropriate forum? See A Matter of Optics. See What's Wrong With These Pictures?

"Any organization that fails to maintain open communication and dialogue with
its constituency is at risk of dysfunction, loss of credibility, and irrelevancy."

NOTE: This motion does not propose that the summit be convened during the Khalsa Council meeting, but a day earlier between council members and the greater community. Also keep in mind that the summit could occur whenever the Council determines. The summit would be a 'town hall meeting' for lack of a better expression.

Questions: How many Khalsa Council initiatives and-or motions have been passed or even made in the past 40 years? Other than convene meetings and receive and deliver financial reports and requests for funding, what does the Khalsa Council do?

Here's why you should support the Sensitivity Summit:
a) How many White American Sikh families can you identify in the 48 years since Siri Singh Sahib began his mission?
b) How many Black American Sikh families can you identify in these 48 years? (There's only one.)
c) How can Sikh Dharma International not discuss this disparity, along with other diversity issues?
d) How long can Sikh Dharma International fail to hear the voices of people of color and those of other marginalized members as to their perception of Sikhs whereby Guru Nanak's message and 3HO's Healthy, Happy, Holy technology are made manifest?

BTW: There's been some unfriendly and off-the-record push back regarding my attempts and the efforts of ACT to encourage Sikh Dharma International to address diversity issues in-house, as well as within the greater community. For example, it's been suggested that MySikhSense.com be removed. Instead of engaging in open dialogue, the attitude of detractors is to dismiss, deny, delay, defer, and deflect.

"Question: Are we looking at the issue of diversity through
white eyes or through colored eyes? Think about it."

Something is not right with this rejection of the Sensitivity Summit motion, especially in the eyes of people of color, the optics being that the meaning of Guru Nanak's message of inclusion and his practice of pluralism is being subverted. Where is the love?

If you support more dialogue on the issues of diversity and pluralism within 3HO/Sikh Dharma (see example), add your name to the list of Sensitivity Summit supporters here.

In service and humility,

Mukhia Jethadar Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa,
Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa,
Mukhia Singh Sahib Hari Singh Bird Khalsa --

Your thoughts can be posted here.

I have been blessed with the life experience of
colored eyes as well as white eyes. While most folks
see diversity issues through either white eyes or colored
eyes, I see the issues through both.
-- Hari Singh Bird

First you have to master yourself and then you will become teachers.
Teacher is very open, a public park where anybody can walk in; so teacher
has to be very clean. Your conduct has to be crystal clear and you have to be
absolutely transparent. Only then can you be a teacher.
-- Yogi Bhajan

More Sikh Sense



As humanity moves into the Age of Space, how will we resonate with Grays and
Greens when we can't relate to Blacks, Browns and Whites?
-- Hari Singh Bird

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

A matter of optics.

"It’s not the life that matters,
it’s the courage that you bring to it." Yogi Bhajan

Sat Nam. Please join the signataries below for the purpose of encouraging the Khalsa Council to allow a duly qualified motion for a Sensitivity Summit to proceed to debate. (See details.) Failure to implement this motion creates a negative impression and an inaccurate image of Sikh Dharma among many people of color, which is inconsistent with the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. See Optics.

The wording of the motion follows: "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma shall convene a biannual 'Sensitivity Summit' to include 'Light on Diversity' conversations with people of color in joint session with the Siblings of Destiny (Sadh Sangat)." See the complete motion as presented to the Khalsa Council here.

We, the undersigned, petition and pray that by Guru's grace the recent action to dismiss without debate the Sensitivity Summit motion will be reversed whereby the Khalsa Council, acting on behalf of Sikh Dharma International with the Siblings of Destiny in attendance, will demonstrate to the international community of color Sikh Dharma's commitment to diversity and inclusion at the next Khalsa Council meeting in 2016.

Step up, sign up, show up for diversity.

Sat Hanuman Singh Khalsa, Troutdale, OR
RamDas Singh Khalsa, Albuquerque, NM
Sande Shuman, Knoxville, TN
Siri Narayan Kaur, Buffalo, NY
Darshan Singh, Boulder, CO
Amrit Kaur Khalsa, Troutdale, OR
Sat-Avtar Kaur, Kirkland, WA
Himmat Kaur, Boulder, CO
Christ-Singh Khalsa, Austin, TX
Siri Bandhu Kaur Khalsa, Ottawa, CA
Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Harimandir Singh Khalsa, Ottawa, CA
Tejinder Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Aftab Singh Khalsa, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Gurumeet Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Satpal Singh Khalsa, Beverly Hills, CA
Vince (Henry) Melito, Lavillita, NM
Gurukarm Kaur Khalsa, Millis, MA
Sat Mohine Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Dharam Singh, Millis, MA
Awtar Singh Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Sirichand Singh Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Walter Presley, Ocala, FL
Ram Dhan Singh Khalsa, Grand Junction, CO
Satpavan Kaur Khalsa, Eugene, OR
Hari Kaur Bird Khalsa, Winter Park, FL
Hari Singh Bird Khalsa, Winter Park, FL
Your support can make a difference. Click here to add your Name, City and State to this petition or call 800-528-0413, Ext 354, for more information.

NOTE: Feedback from a few individuals indicates they feel constrained to support this effort. Think of the thousands of souls who felt constrained when their time came to step up. Think especially of the Five Beloved Ones who overcame their constraints.

"It's difficult to get a person to understand something
when their paycheck depends on their not understanding."

POINTS TO PONDER

"Liberation is not that from this Earth you will go to God's
kingdom. The kingdom of God is where you are, and liberation
here is when you are a carefree and frank being. -- Yogi Bhajan

"A holy man is one who sees a sinner and a saint alike. Saints
are those who have the greatest compassion; a human being on the
path of righteousness who has compassion is a saint.
-- Yogi Bhajan

"Nobody is complete. Everybody has a cavity. One may have a complete personality,
but still have a throbbing heart, which doesn't rest. If you can reach this always-
moving heart, you can move anybody. Whenever you start going head to head you
are creating a clash because it is the habit of the head to clash. If somebody is all in
his head, get to the heart. If somebody is all in his head and you get to the head,
then you are playing a game. If you can't play it, then you will blow it." -- Yogi Bhajan

"Watch your heart and watch your head in relation to others. If the heart gets stuck,
the head will get stuck automatically. When somebody pounces on your heart,
use your head. When somebody pounces on your head, see the heart. Then
you can always balance out your life. It is a practical way of living. This is reality.
If you want to think about everything with the head, you won't make it. Everything is
not the head and everything is not the heart. Passion and compassion, advantage
and sacrifice. These are the interrelated facets of human action." -- Yogi Bhajan

"Exclusion breeds intolerance. Intolerance breeds tribalism. Tribalism
breeds racism. Racism is contrary to Guru Nanak's message. Inclusion
begets tolerance. Tolerance begets diversity. Diversity begets pluralism.
Pluralism is the essence of Guru Nanak's message to humanity." -- Hari Singh Bird

First Teachers Are Women

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Where's The Love?
A challenge to all ministers of Sikh Dharma International.

Sat Nam. The name of everyone that resonates with Guru Nanak's message, especially the name of every minister of Sikh Dharma International (319 ministers at last count), should appear on the above list of supporters of the Sensitivity Summit motion, which reads:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma shall convene a biannual 'Sensitivity Summit' to include 'Light on Diversity' conversations with people of color in joint session with the Siblings of Destiny (Sadh Sangat).

In other words, the motion proposes that immediately prior to Sikh Dharma International, 3HO teachers and trainers, and other community members convening their biannual meeting, we shall sit together and have a conversation, a dialogue, which includes people of color and other marginalized members of the community. Simply stated, it's an opportunity for us to listen and learn, and to monitor our success at practicing pluralism as taught by Guru Nanak, i.e., it's an opportunity for a much-needed exercise in personal and social introspection.

"How can any organization monitor member attitudes toward diversity issues
including race, if it does not know the demographics of its organization? A
common requirement amongst governmental agencies is to regularly inquire
of ethnic and marginalized members as to their perceptions and grievances."

In my view, the absence of such a large number of Sikh ministers' names on the above list indicates the presence and the extent of tribalism that exists within the ranks of Sikh Dharma International. See Case of Classic Tribalism. Watch Tribalism For Those Who Dare.

Question: If the Khalsa Council can't provide a forum in which to sit down twice a year with the Sadh Sangat for conversations regarding issues of diversity, including religion, gender and race, who can?

Please register your support for this effort. Click here to add your Name, your City and State to our list of supporters.

"Truth is the highest path. Higher still is truthful living." Guru Nanak Dev

"You're not going to solve the problem if it's not being talked about."
President Barack Obama on race, December 19, 2014.

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa



Act without fear.
Act without anger.

Sat Nam. The following commentary is my reply to a friend's request for me along with ACT to stop pushing for diversity and inclusion within Sikh Dharma and the international community.

Sat Nam, my friend!

Thank you for your candor! However, your repeated use of the word "anger" to describe my statements and those of the ACT group are a projection of a flawed perception.

As a person of color and mixed heritage and having been marginalized while growing up, I fail to see the anger of which you speak.

And you seem to be unaware of the true aegis of the Sensitivity Summit motion. The reality is that I was asked to formulate a motion, dealing with the subject of diversity within Sikh community, by a Khalsa Council member, whereupon I assembled a small diverse group, which became known as ACT, which in turn developed the Sensitivity Summit motion for presentation to the Khalsa Council. The resultant motion says:

"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Khalsa Council of Sikh Dharma shall convene a biannual 'Sensitivity Summit' to include 'Light on Diversity' conversations with people of color in joint session with the Siblings of Destiny."

This motion simply proposes that when 3HO teachers and trainers, Sikh Dharma ministers, and other community members convene for their biannual meetings, they shall sit down to have a joint conversation, a dialogue, which will include people of color and other marginalized members of the community. Simply stated, it's an opportunity (see example) to monitor success or failure at practicing the pluralism taught by Guru Nanak, i.e., an exercise in group introspection. That's it! (See A Matter of Optics. See Case of Classic Tribalism. See What's Wrong With These Pictures?)

You wrote, "Why would Khalsa Council be asked to solve a problem they really don’t have the capacity to solve? Why this constant barrage of requests to do something?"

Why not? What does the Khalsa Council do if it does not lead, advise and direct? Are you, like many others, reluctant to expose the tribalism existent within 3HO/Sikh Dharma? Tribalism is the main social issue that Guru Nanak opposed over 500 years ago. Tribalism breeds racism.

According to the Siri Singh Sahib, it is 3HO that will lead humanity forward with the technology of Kundalini Yoga. Sikh Dharma will lead humanity forward with the teachings Guru Nanak. How can this happen if we are unable to sit down and talk with each other?

The Secretary General reportedly claimed that a summit is not an appropriate forum for the Khalsa Council. Well then, what is?

The purpose of the Sensitivity Summit is not to create a sense of guilt, but to open our hearts to tolerance, inclusion, justice, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and love through the spoken Word, through Naam, through dialogue (see example).

Detractors call for action, not rhetoric. My first action? Let's get rid of fear and anger, nirbhaur, nirvair. Second, let's sit together and have direct and open dialogue on issues of diversity, including religion, gender and race. Let's have conversations instead of confrontations, a Sensitivity Summit.

What's wrong with these pictures?



It's a matter of optics. Where's the diversity?

Where's the love?

"Exclusion breeds intolerance. Intolerance breeds tribalism.
Tribalism breeds racism. Racism is contrary to Guru Nanak's message.
Inclusion begets tolerance. Tolerance begets diversity. Diversity begets
pluralism. Pluralism is the essence of Guru Nanak's message to humanity."

"99% of the issues facing humanity today can be resolved with dialogue.
If we fail to maintain open communication and dialogue we are at risk of
increased dysfunction, increased conflicts, and inevitable irrelevance."

Here to serve,

M.S.S.Hari Singh Bird Khalsa

"Question: Are you looking at the issue of diversity through
white eyes or through colored eyes? Think about it."

"Discourse about racism is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt.
Discourse is meant to drive people to action against injustice.
Question is, are we mature enough to sit down and discuss
issues of diversity, including religion, gender and race?"



 

More MySikhSense.com

                                          

                                 

See SensitivitySummit.com. See Desmond Tutu's Plea To Israel.
See The Homeless Banned And Jailed In 'Christian' America.
See Let's Have 'The Race Conversation' For Real, This Time.
See More Diversity Dialogues. See Institutionalized Racism.

See Required Reading. See Recommended Reading.
See Why Are White Tantra Yoga Classes So 'White'?

See Islamic Extremism vs Christian Extremism.

See A Native American's Thanksgiving Rebuke.
See What White People Need To Know.

See Americans Need To Pay Attention.
See What's Wrong With This Picture?
See A Case Of Unjust Enrichment.
See A Classic Case of Tribalism.
See What Tribalism Looks Like.
See Guidelines For Facilitators.
See For The People Of Color.
See What Is White Privilege?
See KRI Needs To Go To Jail.
See Jon Stewart On Racism.
See The Ubuntu Philosophy.
See TheMahanTantric.com.
See Example of Tribalism.

See ACT For Diversity.
See Comments Con.
See Comments Pro.

See Obama 43 To 1.
See My Main Point.
See Definitions.
See Questions.

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Sat Nam. These are the replies I received so far, from Summer Solstice 2015 attendees to my request for feedback regarding diversity in Solstice attendance. My response/questions follow these comments.

. There were an estimated 25 people of African descent, about 50-75 Latinos, 40-50 Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians, along with a small number of Indian Sikhs out of a reported total of 2,040 attendees.

. It seemed that there were more people with black skin at Summer Solstice this year (2015). Maybe I was just more aware? I also don't know countries of origin. It was pleasant to see the variety of skin tones, facial features, languages and accents.

. You need a team, working at registration, as part of admin, doing roving demographic composition observations and analysis. Where are people of color represented, and where do they work seva. What workshops do they attend, etc... What workshops would they like to see at Solstice? Would they recommend attending Solstice in their communities? I know of some African-Americans who've attended once, and didn't come back for whatever reasons. And by that I mean, the obvious non-economic reasons, that show there is a lot of work to be done.

"How can any organization monitor member attitudes toward diversity issues
including race, if it does not know the demographics of its organization? A
common requirement amongst governmental agencies is to regularly inquire
of ethnic and marginalized members as to their perceptions and grievances."

My Questions:

1.) Do the numbers referred to in #1 above include Summer Solstice PLUS Peace Prayer Day attendees? (25 Blacks out of 2040 total Solstice attendees is an extremely small number after 90 plus events at 2 Solstice Sadhanas per year over 45 years, 1970-2015. How many all Black families would one expect to see by now?)

2.) Other than the Peace Prayer Day attendees, what were the numbers of people of color?

3.) Of these, how many were Sikhs, i.e., people of color wearing turban/bana?

4.) Any Native Americans present?

Important distinction: Given the fact that there's only one all Black family, Awtar Singh, Hari Krishan Kaur and 2 sons, in 3HO/Sikh Dharma after 45 years, I am particularly interested in the number of African Americans attending Summer Solstice 2015 who can be counted as 3HO/Sikhs, i.e., those wearing turban, unshorn kesh, etc.

Of course the end-point is not to try to acquire Sikh adherents but to reach out more effectively to ethnic groups and other marginalized folks with affordable 3HO technology, the Healthy, Happy, Holy lifestyle.

For instance, 3HO can make a good start in the jails and youth detention centers. Although there are a limited number of prison classes at present, this outreach needs to expand and accelerate with some urgency. See 3HO/KRI Needs To Go To Jail.

Peace Prayer Day attendance by people of color cannot be used as a true indicator of diversity within 3HO/Sikh Dharma. Non-Sikhs of color attending Solstice and/or Peace Prayer Day is a whole other metric that tells a different story and involves a different dynamic.

My sense is that there's a tendency to mix demographic apples (Sikhs) with oranges (non-Sikhs) with respect to the attendance numbers. 3HO/Sikh Dharma history involves three basic groups, 3HO yoga/students, 3HO/Sikhs, and Sikhs who attend Solstice Sadhana.

What I want to know, and I think 3HO/Sikh Dharma would want to know, is why 3HO/Sikhs are represented by so few people of color, especially African Americans?

Does 3HO/Sikh Dharma collect any demographic data?

The absence of proportional representation has to give people of color pause and may be a key reason for their lack of participation.

Question is, does 3HO see this disparity as an issue to be dealt with?

Thanks to those who responded to my request! --

*"Looking at the one and only Black family in 3HO/Sikh Dharma
after 48 years
from my perspective as a person of color I have to
ask, why are there so few Blacks, e.g., how many White Sikh families
versus Black Sikh families after 48 years? Oh sure, there are a few
African Americans
, but they are disproportionately represented.
Think about the optics from the perspective of most people of color.
Do people of color see this disparity as a positive or as a negative?
And how many Black Kundalini Yoga teachers-trainers are there?"

*"In 2013, the population of African Americans, including those of more than one race,
was estimated at 45 million, making up 15.2% of the total U.S. population." Source.
U.S. organizations should reflect about 15 African Americans out of every 100.

Your thoughts can be posted here.

My Sikh Sense


Gurukarm Kaur Khalsa

My response

Sat Nam. I have little hope at this point of any actual Khalsa Council action now or in the future. I think instead that it is incumbent upon each of us to continue to engage as much as we are able with friends and neighbors of color both near and far - both those who might be yoga students and those who are exploring the Dharma, as well as anyone else we may come into contact with, as an antidote to the recalcitrance of others in more "official" positions to the idea of diversity within our Dharma.

We also need to show people of color and everyone that people who wear turbans, people who promote Sikhs, and also the teachings as given us by Yogi Bhajan aka Siri Singh Sahib Ji, want and are open to people of color as friends, families, and Sangat. Use connections, use social media, meet people you might otherwise not get a chance to, and live openly and with love.

What do you think?



 

More MySikhSense.com

                                          

                                 

See SensitivitySummit.com. See Desmond Tutu's Plea To Israel.
See The Homeless Banned And Jailed In 'Christian' America.
See Let's Have 'The Race Conversation' For Real, This Time.
See More Diversity Dialogues. See Institutionalized Racism.

See Required Reading. See Recommended Reading.
See Why Are White Tantra Yoga Classes So 'White'?

See Islamic Extremism vs Christian Extremism.

See A Native American's Thanksgiving Rebuke.
See What White People Need To Know.

See Americans Need To Pay Attention.
See What's Wrong With This Picture?
See A Case Of Unjust Enrichment.
See A Classic Case of Tribalism.
See What Tribalism Looks Like.
See Guidelines For Facilitators.
See For The People Of Color.
See What Is White Privilege?
See KRI Needs To Go To Jail.
See Jon Stewart On Racism.
See The Ubuntu Philosophy.
See TheMahanTantric.com.
See Example of Tribalism.

See ACT For Diversity.
See Comments Con.
See Comments Pro.

See Obama 43 To 1.
See My Main Point.
See Definitions.
See Questions.

My Sikh Sense
By Henry J. Ebers
Submitted by Hari Kaur Bird

August, 1952

For thousands of years the White man has dominated the world. He has been living under the illusion that: ”God created the world for Whites". He seems to think that he should have all the “cake and goodies” and any crumbs that are left are good enough for all the other races. Now his conscience is beginning to bother him and he is afraid. He can see that the world has “shrunk” and he can no longer hide his treatment of people whose skin is not white. He has counted the people in the world and can easily figure that the White race is greatly outnumbered. He is worrying about what is going to happen to him when he can no longer tell the other races where they can live and what jobs they can have.

Here in the U.S., he doesn’t want to get rid of the Negro because he needs him. There are a lot of menial jobs he doesn’t want to do. Also, there might be another war and he might need the Negro to help fight for him. If we review some history we find out the Negro didn’t just come to the U.S. and take over – In the beginning he was brought here in chains and sold into slavery. It was quite a long time before the Negro was given his “freedom”. We also find out that the Pilgram Fathers came over here without being asked by the “Indians”. The White man kept taking over the land from the Red man and finally after killing most of them, he put the remaining ones onto reservations. Most of the Indians have led a miserable existence ever since.

We can see how the White man has lost some of his dominance by the decline of the British Empire. It hasn’t been too long ago that the British Empire could make the proud boast “the sun never sets on the British Empire". The sun has set and is not likely to rise in the foreseeable future.

IF we go back to 1931, when the Japanese overran Manchuria, we continued to sell the Japanese scrap iron. This was very profitable and besides, the ones who were being killed did not have white skin.

So what, if a few hundred thousand were killed, who would miss them, out of some 400-500 million Chinese and Japanese. Now we move to 1941, when the Japanese threw some of that scrap iron back into our faces at Pearl Harbor – now boys with white skin were being killed and maimed. The anguish and shouting was something to listen to. But is the anguish of a father and mother whose son is killed in war any less because his skin is Yellow or Black or Red? No matter how many of them there are, each is still an individual to his parent.

It was less than 10 years later when the White man was fighting for his life in Korea and the Chinese were coming across from Manchuria where this first began. The White man used to be able to go to any port of the world he wished and “bask in the sun". He can no longer do this as he is not welcome, and he is afraid.

I believe that by the time the sun sets on the 20th Century, the gathering shadows of the “White twilight” will have lengthened into darkness. The dominaton of the world by the White race will have come to an end. --

Your thoughts can be posted here.

My Sikh Sense
By Dr. Harbans Lal


Dr. Harbans Lal

"An exceptional gift from my Creator... What a bargain!"

August 8, 2015

Recently, I was visiting a Christian family that we’ve been friends with for several years. They were in the waiting area of the hospital where their teenage son was admitted following an auto accident.

He was severely injured. The doctors were not sure if he would survive but they continued to do their best.

I had known the boy for many years but more closely in recent years when I began to call him for help with my computer or mobile phone. He was a techy and always obliging.

Besides his family, there were many friends in the hospital waiting room anxiously wanting to see him and to touch him. On account of my rank in the health sciences professionals, the medical staff was particularly courteous to me and gave me a real rundown on his condition. That placed me in the role of consoling the family and still alerting them as to what may be ahead for them.

All of us continued praying that the young man may get well.

There was something else that caught my attention and motivated me to write this piece. A delegation of three ministers from the church of the grieving family walked in. Their role was first to pray for the injured, then to console the family, and more importantly to provide counselling on an imperative decision that parents must make if things take a turn for the worse, i.e., planning of the final rites.

Unexpectedly to me, the clergy began to counsel the parents to consider body and organ donation of their only son’s body. All of them politely but realistically counselled that they consider this ultimate charity right away so that the body is not let deteriorate to diminish its maximum utility.

Sadly, the son did not survive.

The parents were listening to the ministers as the dead body of their son was hurriedly wheeled to the surgical suite as soon as the brain waves flattened and the boy was certified dead.

I saw an unusual glow on the faces of the parents. They whispered in my ear and asked me to help them donate their own bodies to the Willed Body program, when they too would lose the ability to make such decision for themselves.

Indeed, one could see a positive glow around what was otherwise an immense tragedy for the family.

As I have grown older, I have had many occasions to be with families when their loved ones were breathing their last. I have also been asked to speak many a time at the last rites service of some of our community members.

Only a few months ago, a friend of mine pulled me aside after a cremation service to make an unexpected request. With a serious face he asked me to speak at his funeral when he dies.

My point is that, during all these years, I never heard of or even thought of the type of counselling that the Catholic priests were offering to their member of their congregation. I was indeed thankful that they alerted me on a serious gap that exists in our community.

We do not think about donating the body of a deceased member. Our clergy are not trained in the type of counselling that I was witnessing.

I am fully aware that there is no official position taken in the Sikh Rehat Maryada for body and/or organ donation. Certainly, this is because such opportunities were not there in the countries where most of the Sikhs lived at the time of the Gurdwara Reform Movement. That was the time when current the Rehat Maryada was formulated by our Elders. Thus no provisions were made to utilize the body or its organs this way after a Sikh was deceased.

It is only very recently that opportunities began to become available to donate a human body to save other lives.

Although the Maryada document does not provide a guideline, it certainly did not include anything which would prevent us to consider such an exalted act of altruism.

It is for the same reason that one may not find a reference to organ donation in Gurbani, although I did not find any hymn averse to this act of compassion either in the Guru Granth Sahib, in the Dasam Granth, in the writings of Bhai Gurdas or those of Bhai Nand Lal. Rather, any opportunity to serve others, even with one’s body organs, was considered a fortunate opportunity in the scripture.

Let me give two illustrations.

Sayeth Kabir, if someone speaks even in dreams the Name of the reality expressed in all creation, I would give my own skin to be made into the shoes for the feet of this blessed person. [GGS:1367]

Although describing a different situation but in a similar spirit, in the following verse, the scribe of the Guru Granth, Sikh theologian Bhai Gurdas, mentioned the act of giving his skin, a body organ, to a person living a Sikh life. [Vaar 9, Paurri 18]

I believe that Gurbani is eternal and it is composed in metaphors to be interpreted in any time frame that we live it. Certainly, the Daan doctrine of the Gurmat troika of Naam Daan Ishnaan will include the ultimate giving away of one’s body and body organs so that others may live.

Thus, among Sikhs, organ and tissue donation may remain a matter of individual conscience but it may readily be included in the array of acts of compassion that have been valued throughout Sikh history and traditions.

I certainly wish to encourage body donation as an act of Sikh altruism and include it among Sikh practices. It is something noble that can arise from loss and tragedy. Our families at the time of extreme grief may find comfort and solace by helping others in this specific way.

Pope John Paul II has stated, "The Catholic Church would promote the fact that there is a need for organ donors and that Christians should accept this as a ‘challenge to their generosity and fraternal love' so long as ethical principles are followed."

I applaud the late Pope’s urging.

Let me give you some widely known but ignored statistics to convince you how valuable an organ or body donation can be. Situations may differ from country to country but its level of significance remains similar as in USA.

More than 123,000 people are waiting for transplants, but the demand for organs far exceeds the supply. Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 22 people die each day in USA while waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives.

What a bargain for a donor!

For a Sikh, the organ donation process will begin with his Guru-given spiritual conviction that leads to a decision. I made my decision some years ago. I recognized the opportunity to help others by donating my body and organs when I die. As my Guru said, my body is an exceptional gift from my Creator to me. By donating it for a worthy cause I acknowledged that gift.

I mentioned my donation to a few of my friends; all of them followed my lead. Actually, not my lead but my Guru’s inspiration. All of us will enjoy our respective bodies and, at the same time, the satisfaction of donating our most valuable possession when we are still alive. Then, only by willing the body donation, we will permit the rare opportunity whereby others may continue to experience God-given life after we die.

Again, what a bargain!

Please consider enrolling in your state’s or country’s donor registry or a medical institution of your choice. Then share your decision with your family and friends. When your time comes, your organs may be used to save many lives. People most frequently become donors after a stroke, heart attack or a severe head injury.

But you do not have to wait.

I also ask that you alert officials of your Gurdwara or other institutions to train the Granthis in following the path of their fellow clergy in other religions, so that they may begin counselling their congregations in this ultimate act of altruism to relieve the pain and suffering of others. --

NOTE: In most states it's easy to designate oneself as an organ donor when renewing one's driver's license. A statement, or a symbol, is then placed on the license to let medical people know one's wishes. Some families have a hard time following the wishes of the person who wants to donate, so it's also a good idea to have their desires placed into a living will or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) statement.

Points to Ponder

Three things to keep in mind re organ donation:
1. Lives are not saved - only extended;
2. Death is the only true ultimate end of physical suffering, so if the goal is to end suffering, it is better to let the person die;
3. Hospitals may be less inclined to "$AVE" your life if they know you are an organ donor. I have this from the horse's mouth - a hospital nurse in Emergency told me never to sign on, because they let organ donors die.

Blogger #1 --

(See The Signs of Kali Yuga for more.)

I strongly agree with Dr. Harbans S. Lal's entire article!

The comments you listed below are akin to conspiracy theories. I know you like to express many views but the comments below, #1 and #3 (above), are (like) screaming fire in a crowded theater.

Three things to keep in mind re organ donation:
#1. Lives are not saved - only extended.

Not accurate - there is no difference between the treatment of a patient whether they signed a donor card or not!

#2. Death is the only true ultimate end of physical suffering, so if the goal is to end suffering, it is better to let the person die; They will eventually die, a potential donor will not be "kept alive" for an extended time since organs and tissues must be taken from the donor immediately.

#3. Hospitals may be less inclined to "$AVE" your life if they know you are an organ donor. I have this from the horse's mouth - a hospital nurse in Emergency told me never to sign on, because they let organ donors die.

Absolutely not true - there is no money involved in organ donation neither for the family nor for the hospital. There are so many life affirming stories of donors who because they had signed up previously were able to save countless lives with their donation. One lady told us the story that her teenaged son's organs and tissues saved 12 people including skin that was sent to Haiti after the earthquake. The man who has her son's heart visits and brings along a stethoscope so she can listen to her son's heart!
Blogger #2 --

I have to say though, I'm a bit boggled by the seeming attitude of the Anonymous Blogger #1 you also quoted.

As to the first point - yes, lives can be extended - so that person has more opportunity to do good, to spend time with family, to contribute to the world, to live a spiritual path, etc. etc. (I knew an MIT faculty member when I worked there who had a heart transplant, for instance, and continued afterward with amazing and useful biological research; if he had died instead, his lab would have been broken up and members gone elsewhere, perhaps also to do good things, but not under his guidance). Yes, everyone dies in the end, of course - but having more time seems a good thing, in general, especially if you're talking about a young person with potentially many years ahead of them.

The second point somewhat horrifies me, for many of the same reasons as above. "Let the person die" is a harsh assessment, in my view.

Regarding the third point, I'd be interested to see hard data about that rather than one anecdotal story from one nurse. Doctors take an oath, "First do no harm", and most of them take that to mean, "do everything in my power to help this person if it's at all medically feasible", not, "let this person die so someone else can have his/her organs".

Thank you ji!
Blogger #3 --

When we extend (save) someone's life we also extend the likelihood of their pain and suffering. There should be no argument there.

Re the 3rd item of blogger #1 - Blogger #2 and #3 need to be less naive
See -
Killed to harvest organs
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/organ-harvest-scandal/

Livers for sale $37000
http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1709006,00.html

Live donors not accepted - dead ones are
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/10/kidneys-sold-online-facebook-organ-donors_n_4936216.html

Chinese organ harvesting
http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/bitter-harvest-china%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98organ-donation%E2%80%99-nightmare

Speedy death for donor
http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20196126,00.html

Impoverished nations black market
http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-treatments/organ-donation7.htm

Thank you.
Blogger #4 --

Your thoughts can be posted here.

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Sat Nam. For those of you with a more idealistic attitude regarding the tissue issue, let me remind you that, like it or not, we are living in the depths of the Kali Yuga where money/maya rules. Please see KaliYugaSigns.com for more. --

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Here's an interesting development.

September 26, 2015

Sat Nam. A Sikh clergy order, regarding prior permission for opening Gurdwaras, is challenged.

A Punjab and Haryana high court advocate on Saturday filed a petition challenging Sikh clergy order, whereby it has been made mandatory to seek its approval before constructing a Gurdwara in any part of the world.

The petition was filed on Saturday by R.S. Dhull, an advocate with Punjab and Haryana high court seeking quashing of the order and has sought to make Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) as party in the case, besides, Punjab government.

The decision to this effect was taken by Sikh clergy on September 10, after a meeting, the petitioner said, adding that the order was against the freedom of religion as enshrined in the Constitution of India. The right of freedom of religion cannot be curtailed and no such restriction or prior permission could be demanded, it has been argued.

“Gurdwaras are declared as notified under the provisions of Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 by respective government order. SGPC shall have no power to get and manage affairs of a Gurdwara which is not declared as such,” the petitioner stated. The petition is likely to come up for hearing next week. -- Source.

What do you think?

RESPONSES

Jathedhars and Sikh teachings

At least our Jathedhars are consistent in trying to stop the understanding and dissemination of Sikh Dharma. (See previous post.)

I have a letter in my possession from the Akal Takhat to the British Library in London making it virtually impossible for it to make its historic copies of the Guru Granth Sahib available for study by research scholars. (It further suggests that the Guru Granth Sahib is the God of the Sikhs).

Then the issuing of decrees to stop the Guru Granth Sahib being read outside a Gurdwara.

Next making it harder to move a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib from one place to another by requiring 5 people proceed it while in transit.

Consistently, they are now tackling the problem of people opening Gurdwaras to listen to and take inspiration from the Gurus' teachings, by putting constraints on the opening of Gurdwaras.

What would Guru Nanak have said about Sikhs, supposedly in authority, trying to stop the wider understanding of teachings aimed at a world beyond Amritsar? -- Indarjit Lord Singh of Wimbledon

Organizations can become tribalistic and incestuous, i.e., when the 'gene pool'
of members is of one race the organization is at risk of becoming perverted in its
policies and procedures. The obvious remedy is to add outsiders to the member mix.

What do you think?

Sat Nam. All of this (see original post) sounds really disturbing. I remember the first copy of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib that was installed in the first Gurdwara in Ithaca NY, in the early 70s was the 8 Volume set we took out from the Cornell University Library. Because one of the Sangaat was a staff member of the school we could keep it indefinitely. It survived a fire in the Ashram and allowed us to have many kirtan programs. --

What do you think?

It is quite astonishing that Jathedars are becoming the obstacles in development of Sikhism. --

What do you think?

My Sikh Sense
By M.S.S. Hari Singh Bird Khalsa


Hari Singh BIrd Khalsa

Sat Nam. I have been made aware of situations within Sikh Dharma U.S. and Sikh Dharma International to which the following references seem quite relevant.

Our problem is that we do not relate to Siri Guru Granth as a living presence. We do not think it hears, sees and knows the innermost and True state of our heart, mind and consciousness. This is why Sikhs are making a ritual out of a beautiful reality, which is Sikh Dharma. Sikh Dharma is a living experience from minute to minute of values, which are above time and space. Those who live it feel the presence of the Guru at all times; those who ritualistically relate to the Guru shall experience nothing but their own ego. Sikh Dharma Training Manual of 1980, IV-16

THE GURDWARA: "The Guru Granthi, the one who attends to and cares for the Guru, is sitting in attendance to the Guru. He is not there for any other purpose. Therefore his focus and mind should be on the Guru. He is there to protect and care for the body of the Guru and is responsible for that even though it means his own death. (i.e., if someone tried to attack or damage Siri Guru Granth Sahib.) Sikh Dharma Training Manual of 1980, PREFACE: A Scientific Understanding: Pages. n. and o

Also see "Miracle of Siri Guru Granth Sahib" from lectures of the Siri Singh Sahib, the Summer of 1975, in Espanola, New Mexico, at: Sikh Dharma Training Manual of 1980, II-13. --

What do you think?

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