Use your critical sense

How was the sikh religion founded? How was the sikh lifestyle formed? It started with one wise man who used his critical sense. He raised questions around the customs in society. He asked why things were like they were. Sikhi started with argumentation. Guru Nanak Sahib ji and the following gurus used argumentation and their critical sense to raise questions – both philosophical and social questions. I talked with a dear uncle of mine who talked to me about this topic, and it appealed so much to me that I wanted to share it with you.

Let me give you an example. At the time of Guru Nanak Sahib ji many people blindly followed customs. It is said that people used to worship the sun by offering water to the sun thinking that the water would reach the sun. Guru Nanak Sahib ji used his intellect and started throwing water the other way and people asked him why he did that. He said that if their water could reach the sun, then surely his water could reach his farm. By asking questions like these he made them realize how their most basic assumption couldn’t possibly be right. Guru Nanak Sahib ji didn’t blindly follow what the other people were doing. He used his critical sense to raise questions against it.

Are we using our critical sense? I asked many kids at camp why we did matha tekna, why we do chor sahib etc. Many kids didn’t know the answer. Why? Because the community is not communicating to our kids that they should use their critical sense. We are just following the traditions blindly, and so are our coming generations. We are not being a role model for the coming generations on how we should use our critical sense.

What will be the consequences if we keep on following traditions blindly? I think the consequences will be fatal. Let me give you an example. Imagine you have a camp in your respective gurdwara. You invite someone from England to host the camp. The host says a couple of things, and one of the things he or she says is that you cannot read Guru Granth Sahib ji if you are not a proper gursikh. What will the consequences of this be if the gurdwara committee follows this blindly without using their critical sense? Or what effect will this have on children attending the camp? The consequences will be division and distance. This will create a wider gap between amritdharis and non-amritdharis. In addition to that it the nonamritdharis will be more distanced to Guru Granth Sahib ji and the sikhi way of life, because they will not be given the opportunity to even get the knowledge.

Another daily example is the first thing we do when we enter the diwan. We are used to do matha tekna and therefore bowing before guruji just become a ritual. We do not have the reason in mind of why we are bowing our heads. We are not thinking that bowing before guruji is actually saying that gurujis knowledge is bigger than our limited knowledge and that we want to leave our knowledge behind and be more receptive to gurujis knowledge. When we are just bowing as a tradition, as a ritual, we are doing what our gurus condemned.

Why are we not using our critical sense? Is it that we think we will become unpopular among the crowd if we raise questions of the customs they and we are following? Among many people Guru Nanak Sahib ji was not popular at that time. Why would a person who didn’t follow the traditions of society blindly, but rather raised questions, be popular?

Are we continuing with the tradition our gurus started or are we following traditions blindly? There must be a reason that we human beings have something that distinguishes us from animals. Our intellect. We have been blessed with the ability to use our intellect, use our brain to take decisions in life and reflect upon what we are doing with our limited time.

One thing we should have in mind is that children learn from elders. When we use our critical sense and ask questions to a person leading a camp, we are demonstrating to the kids that what the leader is saying may not be the right answer. We are encouraging the kids to use their own intellect. To go for their own search to find their truth. What they believe in. What Sikhi means for them. As a Sikh we should be conscious that every step we take, will have an impact on people around us. By using our critical sense like the gurus, we will raise more acceptance in society to ask questions.

PS: You want to be updated for new posts? Like the page “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook.

PS: I know I haven’t written for a long time. This post is dedicated to my dear grandmother who encouraged me to write. She wanted thoughtfulkaur back, and here I am, nanimama 🙂 Love you.

Advertisements

Expanding the concept of beauty

Society has set some rules of what beauty is. The advertisement featuring slim models with clean and hairless skin, big lips and a lot of make-up, is contributing to set these social norms. Men who desire for women with these qualities, are also participating in this. Even women are participating in this, as is written in the magazine Speilvendt which inspired me to write this post:

“It seems like the modern woman is caught in an endless struggle to not end up behind in the struggle to look good enough. For every new weapon women use in the war against bodily defects, they are not only raising the list for themselves, but also for other women. That which was meant to climb on the sociocompetitive list for one woman, is forcing the other women to do the same. The result is contrary to their wish, that none is in the lead… if all are beautiful, everyone is average”

Our gurus told us to keep our hair, as it’s a way to accept what God has given us and to shift our attention from the outer look to our inner qualities and values. They wanted us to focus on becoming better human beings, and not use all our time to look more attractive. Today this is a very difficult task for women. Today, when society has set some rules and defined what beauty is and how the bodies of women should be, this is becoming more difficult. I know this, because I have been through such experiences myself, and I know it’s hard. Still I am facing situations where I have to choose between what I want (which is to keep my hair and be fearless and proud of it) and what society wants (to conform to the beauty concept society has defined). I have always wanted to learn to swim properly, but the few times I have been in a swimming pool I have been too conscious about that I am different from how society defines a woman. The most difficult thing for me has been to walk to the swimming pool and knowing that I am different. And yes, till now I have been following what society wants, as I have been choosing to avoid the swimming pool or my wish to learn to swim properly. Isn’t it a sad thing to sacrifice your own desires because society wants something else? Moreover, if someone does talk behind your back because you look different, is that more important or that you do what you want to do? Why do we let the norm society has set for us to control and have the power to decide our actions or how we should look like?

Our gurus teached us to stand against injustice. Isn’t this an injustice? That society has the power to decide what beauty is? If women are participating in raising the threshold of what beauty is and what’s not beautiful, we together can participate in giving a resistance to this movement. If we can hold on our values, if we can be fearless and behold our hair, our body the way we want, we can fight this injustice. Yes, not cutting your hair and not going under the social pressures, is tough. However, we should think that actually we are not doing this for ourselves only – we are doing this for the society. We are participating in expanding the concept of beauty society is holding onto. We are participating in raising the self-confidence of those women who feel they are not good enough. If we look at it this way, we are actually doing a sewa – a unselfish act. We are preaching to society what humanity is through our actions. Not cutting your hair is not just your project – it’s so much bigger than that. Your actions has an impact on your near ones, which again has an effect on your community and which again has an impact on the whole society. Be the change. Be brave. Be what you want to be. Let’s expand the beauty-concept together.

I went swimming some time ago having this in mind while walking to the swimming pool. That I am doing this not just for myself, but for the society. Just this thought gave me a whole different experience than I have had earlier. I was more confident, I didn’t think about what others were thinking and tried to learn to swim with a friend of mine.

Is your actions a cause of what society wants you to do or is it based on what YOU want? What do you want to do the rest of your life? Follow what society wants or what you want? Give it a thought. As I think about it, perhaps I should start to go swimming more. Not just because I want to swim, but because I want to participate in expanding the concept of beauty. For the sake of all those women who conform to the society norms because the society force them to do it, not because they want to do it.

PS: You want to be updated for new posts? Like “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook

 

 

The lotus flower

It’s been long since I have shared something with you all. I started to write this post probably one month ago, but I never finished it. You know what? I am happy I didn’t post it yet because then I couldn’t have shared the process I have been through. It’s been a process and I wouldn’t say that I am finished with it yet. I shared this with dad some weeks ago and he said he too wanted to reach that destination and had thought a lot about this. That’s why I thought of sharing it with you, realizing that maybe this is something that you too could identify yourself with.

The last months I have started to become more conscious of how my feelings are changing every second. It’s like a rollercoaster, moving up and down, night and day. Some make me sad, some make me happy. Acting with reaction, I am changing every second. It’s troubling me that I am not able to keep myself balanced. My feelings are dependent of how my surroundings are – how people around me act, how their mood is or if something doesn’t happen according to my plan – everything is affecting my mood and then behavior. Frustrated from this, I am desperately trying to find the balance. Trying to reach the state where nothing affects you, where you are at peace. I have yearned for that state and will continue to strive for it.

All these thoughts has made me think a lot about the chardikala concept our gurus talked about. I haven’t understood that concept properly, but what I understand with my little knowledge, is that it’s a state of peace and balance. It’s a state where your inner world doesn’t get affected by what’s happening in our exterior environments. It’s a state when your feelings are stable and you remain in balance no matter what the people around you are saying or doing. It’s to be the lotus flower – growing up in mud, but not being affected by the mud. The line on ang 201 in Guru Granth Sahib ji encourages this state of mind – Thhir ghar baisahu har jan piaarae // Remain steady in the home of your own self, O beloved servant of the Lord. The next line tells us that everything will be fine, be relaxed, give it time, Guruji will solve everything – Sathigur thumare kaaj savaarae ||1|| Rehaao || // The True Guru shall resolve all your affairs. ||1|| Pause ||

Let me illustrate this state of mind, the power of it with an example from Guru Har Rai ji. The emperor at that time, Shah Jahan, had four sons. One of his sons, Dara Shikoh, became very ill and they couldn’t find the medicine to cure him. At last Shah Jahan contacted Guruji and asked him for help, because Guruji had established a hospital and research centre in Kiratpur Sahib, where he had some rare medicial Herbs he used to treat People with (and even animals!) Shah Jahan had previously discriminated people from other beliefs, including Sikhs. He had ordered to tear down many Gurdwaras and had a lot of wars with Guru Har Rai jis grandfather, Guru Hargobind ji. Guru Har Rai ji was aware of all these facts, yet he instantly agreed to give Shah Jahan the medicine. It’s said that he came with this statement: “Man breaks flowers with one hand and offers them with the other, but the flowers perfume both hands alike”. So no matter if someone does anything ill or good to the flower, the flower will still have the same lovely fragrance. This illustrates that Guru Har Rai ji was in chardikala – his state of mind was in peace and balance. Others actions didn’t disturb his peace of mind. The surroundings had nothing to do with his state of mind.

 

How to achieve the same state? How can we stop ourselves from being affected by our surroundings? How to remain stable even if a person around you is yelling at you, is angry or complaining about you? I think I have been too focused about others. My feelings have been dependent upon others or situational things. I have difficulty to accept that they have a bad day or that something doesn’t go the way I planned. After some contemplating, I have reached the conclusion that my happiness should not be defined by others, but by myself. If my happiness is dependent on others, my feelings will always move like a rollercoaster. However, if my happiness is dependent on myself, I feel it’s more under my control and a sense of responsibility to take care of it rises inside me.

Actually it’s not the people around me or the situations I find myself in that’s disturbing my peace of mind. My thoughts, my feelings and my actions are actually to be blamed. I am disturbing my own peace of mind by reacting to other people’s actions. I am disturbing my peace of mind by not accepting things. Not accepting that everything doesn’t need to happen the way you thought it would be. It’s my thoughts that cause how I react. If Guruji had thought that Shah Jahan has done so much ill to us, he had probably not helped him. However, if he thought that this is a father desperately trying to cure his son – this would likely result in a more helping behavior. So if someone has a bad day and yells at you, you have the choice to choose your thoughts, which again will affect your feelings. You can think that this person hates me or is attacking me, which can arise feelings of sadness or anger, and that again can either make you withdraw from the situation or respond when you are overwhelmed with your feelings and not able to think properly. If you think that he/she has some stress going into his/her mind, you will try to approach that person with sympathy and curiosity. That will maybe make you want to share his/her stress, help him/her through it. I am not saying that you should not react if something is unfair, then you defintely should react. However, if you are more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you are more able to judge if they are appropriate. If you truly are being treated unfairly, you should be honest with your thoughts and feelings.

The world we are living in and the environment we are surrounded by is chaotic. It’s so easy for us to identify ourselves with this outer, chaotic world, making our inner world chaotic too. Our feelings are defined by how the outer world is and what’s happening around us. When I act out of reaction, I am acting out of ego. If I learn to be stable inside, I will be able to serve others selflessly, see their perspective more clearly and be more happy.

PS: You want to be updated for new posts? Like “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook

 

 

 

Let’s appreciate people around us

I am starting a new project and it’s your choice if you want to join or not. This is a project of appreciating the people who made my day better in some way, no matter if I know them or not. I feel that many of us, including me, are not good at appreciating people who make a difference to our lives, people who do something good for society, people around them and so on. There has been many times unknown people has been the reason behind me smile, and I have lately been thinking that I would love to thank them and make them realize the difference they make in other people’s lives. That’s the reason behind this project.

Last week I went to a group-training session at the student gym. After attending the group session, I as usual, went to the wardrobe to change my clothes. When opening the cabinet where I had my belongings, a Muslim girl came and opened the cabinet right beside mine. I didn’t know her. However, she started talking to me. She had forgotten the “ticket” you have to show when you attend a group session – to prove that you have signed up for that session. She was joking around that she had to prove her existence and that ticket was in her cabinet. Actually, I don’t remember completely what she said, but she made me laugh and I wished her good luck for her group session. Five minutes after she left, she came back again and conveyed that she brought her bank card instead of the ticket. She continued joking that this was probably a sign from God. When she left, I noticed that I felt happy.

A sudden desire arouse that moment. I wanted to thank her. I didn’t know what to do with that desire. Then an idea came up in my mind – what about placing a sticky note on her cabinet telling her how wonderful she is? However, when I looked into my bag, I didn’t find any sticky note and I left the place without letting her know the impact she made on me. That day I sent a message to mum, asking her if she could bring some sticky notes from her workplace as an idea was gradually taking form in my mind.

wp-image-353599591jpg

 

I decided that I wanted to write a sticky note to those people who made an impact on me and give it to them. When I took the ferry yesterday, however, I saw again two small kids giving each other hugs while they were laughing with excitement. I also saw a young girl hugging another passenger’s dog with a lot of affection. All these three people made me smile and had an positive impact on me, and this time I even had sticky notes in my bag. However, thoughts like “What will the parents think if I give something like this?” “This is not normal here in Norway”, made me stay aback.

When I conveyed my idea to my father that day and asked him if this would look weird, he said that even if it looks weird, you are not doing any harm to anyone. You are not criticizing them, you are giving them a compliment. So what if it’s not usual? If your intention is good, then give it a try. To make a change, someone has to start. That’s when I decided that I am going to try this new project. I don’t know where this will lead me to, but I want to leave behind me sparkles of gratitude and appreciation – I want people to know that they are appreciated, that they make a difference to other people around them.

You want to join? Let’s together make an effort to appreciate those people who makes a difference to our lives or other people’s lives. There is much hate in this world and in media, but there is a lot of love too. WE have the power to spread more love and make this world a better place to live in. You know what? We can also make statistics of this – show how much love there is in this world. This you can by sharing your experiences of this project by commenting on this post, or

You want to be updated for new posts? Like “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook

Vacation time! Gran Canaria

We went to Gran Canaria for one week in December 2016. Same island, same city and same hotel as we have been to the last years. The great thing about a vacation on this island is that you get complete rest, enjoy the sunny weather before going back to the cold weather in Norway (which too has it’s own beauty) and also get time to read some books by staying away from the internet. I got charged up for the new, tough and last semester that’s waiting for me, and got an opportunity to read litterature for my clinical subject which I have been neglicting because of my thesis work. Thought of sharing some pictures with you!

wp-image-1860801685jpg.jpgwp-image-1259361563jpg.jpg

We rented a car for one day and went up to the hills. Here we visited the beautiful “landsby”, Tejeda. We were also going to see the Pueblo Nuevo (?), but didn’t find it, so we saw the mountain “Pueblo B..” instead. This was a beautiful ride. Unforunately, I don’t have any pictures of Tejeda as we didn’t stop to see it, but now it’s on my “dream travel list” to stay there once in this lifetime 🙂

 

wp-image-94188255jpg.jpg

 

wp-image-9369719jpg.jpg

wp-image-1329885385jpg.jpg

wp-image-234674351jpg.jpg
Sibling time!

 

 

wp-image-643589840jpg.jpg
This was a restaurant where we had lunch. Lovely service and a beautiful place – it looked like an old hut, and I love old huts. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the restaurant. Oh, and if you are going to visit this place, remember that when they give you white bread even when you haven’t asked for starters, and you think it’s free; you are wrong. They will charge you for that 😉
Isn’t this beautiful?

wp-image-906568098jpg.jpg

MASPALOMAS

wp-image-855443692jpg.jpg
Art on the beach in Maspalomas
wp-image-2145479965jpg.jpg
I wanted to go barefoot on the desert, and how lucky I am to have a mother who fulfilled my desire and walked on it barefoot with me. I know one thing for sure – if there is any desert in the countries I will be visiting, it will be on my priority list! The feeling of soft sand touching your feet while you are walking…

wp-image-2085248216jpg.jpg

wp-image-720525874jpg.jpgwp-image-1740397726jpg.jpg

 

wp-image-152428243jpg.jpg

PUERTO RICO

wp-image-419862381jpg.jpg

wp-image-590943534jpg.jpg
This is the most beautiful walking area in Puerto Rico. Walking near the ocean to the beach, Playa de Amadores

 

wp-image-508463104jpg.jpg
When you want to be as strong as your papa ❤
wp-image-612595538jpg.jpg
On our way to Playa de Amadores

wp-image-2031970088jpg.jpg

At Gran Canaria we passed by many areas where we could see those beautiful dark, pink coloured flowers surrounded by other dull colours. Whenever I saw those flowers, they catched my attention and I admired their beauty. Then I started thinking why I admire them that much, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

The dark, pink coloured flower has a special value in our eyes when it’s surrounded by dull colours, a lot of  brown colours and some green trees. We notice that dark, pink coloured flower more in surroundings like these. However, when the same dark, pink coloured flower is surrounded by a lot of flowers of the same type and same colour, we don’t appreciate it that much. It’s the same thing – yet we perceive it differently, judge it’s value differently depending on the surroundings. In reality the value should be the same, as it’s the same thing. In the same way, you and me have the same value, but are treated differently depending on our surroundings. In countries like Norway, white people appreciate the brown colour and want to get as much brown texture on their skin as they can in the summer time. Here most people have white complex, so they appreciate the opposite more and value it more. On the contrary, in countries like India, a lot of people try to get as white as they can by applying a lot of different creams or hiding their faces from the sun. They too are seeking the things they don’t have like most of the white people here in Norway.

Why is it like this? Why can’t we appreciate the value of everything and stop judging it by it’s surroundings? Why can’t we appreciate ourselves as we are instead of constantly striving to become something else?

The flower will be the same – even when it’s surrounded by other flowers and when it’s lonely. Our perception just perceive the flower differently. If we want to be more align to reality, we have to change our perception. Our way to look at things. Our way to judge things. We should learn to judge the flower as beautiful no matter what the surroundings are. We should learn to appreciate our skin colour no matter which country we live in. By constantly striving after the things we don’t have, we are indirectly telling ourselves that we are not good as we are. We are telling that flower that it’s not good enough.

wp-image-1677730067jpg.jpg

View of Puerto Rico

wp-image-945716980jpg.jpg
View from our hotel. This view was especially beautiful in the evening because of the colourful lights all the hotels had. I couldn’t capture a proper picture of that.

You want to be updated for new posts? Like “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook.

 

The biggest gift

...on Guru Gobind Singh Jis gurpurab for me today was to see that someone who used to cut their beard, keeping it.

While eating langar I saw up. There was a uncleji serving langar. I couldn’t recognise him first. Then I realised it’s the same uncle that always lighten up the atmosphere in every room he enters. I saw the beautiful beard and the new shine on his face. I got so happy. So happy that I felt like saying it to him, but I couldn’t see him after langar. So I approached his dear wife. I told auntyji how smart uncleji was looking with uncut beard. I could see the happiness in her face, and  I can’t describe how happy I was when she said “Maharaj di Kirpa hai, hun bass Amrit chakan di dehr hai”/ “It’s God’s Grace, now the next step is to take Amrit’. Coming home, the first thing I did was to call Papa. “Papa, I have a good news to you. You just have to daily the number of that uncleji now and congratulate him”. Papa asked why. I said: “He is keeping his beard. You have to congratulate him and motivate him!”

Why does this affect me so much? Why do I feel happy and proud? On the day where we are celebrating our tenth master, who sacrificed his whole family and himself, so that we could freely follow our religion. On that day, to see someone not caring about others, deciding to be unique, to become firm in his faith, makes me feel that the sacrifice our tenth master made, didn’t go in vain. This also gives me hope – that some people come back. Those who feel a connection with our faith, come back. It also remind me that we all are students. Students of life. We may walk different paths, but we are all learning. We never know if our path is going to meet some day or depart some day.

I wish everyone a very happy gurpurab! May we get inspired by the strength our tenth master had 🙂

Ps: you want to be updated for new posts? Like the page “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook 

New year resolutions 

So 2017 is just around the corner. It’s time for a new year, new opportunities. Actually I think this is an illusion. Every day, every second is a new day, new second with new opportunities. Every day and every second we have the opportunity to change. To change our attitude, perspective, values. I hope that I will welcome 2017 with this attitude. However, I have some general resoultions for this year anyway, as I think it will be good to look back to this whenever I need a reminder of how I wanted this year to be.

1. Forgive and let go of past mistakes. I saw a video by Xandria Ooi later this week and read Tony’s thought of the day on facebook about forgiveness. Sometime it’s difficult to forgive others who hurt you. Why? Maybe the reason is that we think that we are giving the other person a punishment by not forgiving him or her, and this way making the other person feel guilty. However, we can’t control anyone else conscience. In other words, maybe the other person is not feeling guilty, as our intention may be.

Then who will suffer if we don’t forgive? My past scars, only hurts me, not necessarily the people who did it. I am doing a huge service to myself if I forgive them. Maybe it could make me feel better if I make excuses for their behaviour – “he/she had a bad day that day”, “he/she were probably going through a though period”. I should lighten the weight I am carrying on my shoulders.

Forgive and let go doesn’t only apply to what others have done to me. It includes what I have done to others. To forgive myself for the past wrongdoings I may have done, the heartbreaking words that came out of my mouth. Forgive and let go.

This night I will go through every scar I am carrying, visualise that it goes into my heart, accept that it happened, forgive and let it go. This year if these scars come back in any way, I will do the same that day.
2. Forgive and let go. In life we will meet a situation where we get hurt. I will try my best to not let what others do to me, turn into scars. This is going to be a big challenge  in the future.

3. Be honest and true to my feelings. Inspired by my dear English teacher (the best one I ever had), who sent me this quote of Shakespeare: “to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man”. I am not sure I have understood it properly, but this new year resolution came as a result of my understanding of this quote.

If I feel hurt, treated unfairly, sad, happy, angry etc., I will be true to my feelings by accepting them and not being ashamed of it. By accepting my feelings and acknowledging that they exist, I take them seriously. When I take my feelings seriously, I think I will also be more confident in communicating them to others.

4. Reduce the time I spend on facebook. I will stop looking at the news feed on facebook. Why? Let’s take a simple example. If we use 15 minutes on facebook each day (I think I can use more than that). Then every year we use 5475 minutes, which is 91.25 hours. This is 3.8 days in the whole year just on facebook! I could use those days on other things – travel, have more quality-time with my near ones or further develop my talents. This leads me to my next resolution.

5. Nurture the potential in myself. Everyone has some talent or potential in some field. However, not everyone nurtures it or uses time on it to develop it even further. My excuse is often that I don’t have time. I know that if I will use less time on things that’s not necessary to do (like scrolling down the news feed on facebook), I can devote more time to this area.

6. Reduce the amount of time I spend on my mobile. Giving this less time and importance in my life.

7. Nurture and grow compassion and love. Try to use more time to understand why people do what they do. Remember that other people can also go through difficult periods. I want to try to shower as much love and compassion I can – not just to other people, but also to myself.

8. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. This is inspired by a dear uncle who said that he exercises 1 hour each day, no matter what. Exercise doesn’t need to be that I am going to do hardcore muscle training every day – I will listen to my body’s needs. If stretching exercise is what my body needs, I will do that.

9. Listen attentively. Have you experienced that sometimes you are not present and listen attentively when the other person is talking to you? That your mind is just another place? Well, I have, and I want to do something about it. I have felt what it does to me when I speak something, but the other person is so busy with his/her mobile that you don’t feel that they take you seriously. The same applies when you are occupied with other thoughts while someone is trying to share something with you. Then it’s better to say honestly that you are not present at that moment and want to hear more attentively to what he/she has to say later. To give other people attention, to give them importance, is an act of love, which I want to focus on this year.

What are your resolutions? It’s a good time to think about what change you want to bring in yourself. Write them down and go back to it in the morning to remind yourself of them and evaluate them in the evening if you have managed to do it or not. It’s not enough to just say or write what your resolutions are if you don’t follow them up. Wish you all a happy new year!

Want to be updated for new posts? Like “thoughtfulkaur” on facebook.