The Ideals of the Sikhs

I read broadly in matters religious and find much to admire in the faiths of the world.  Most particularly, I find the convergence of certain themes in faith quite provocative.  I draw these reflections from one of a very nice series on world religions.  This one Sikhism by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh provides an overview of a faith much misunderstood, and perhaps not even on everyone's radar.

I excerpt parts of a discussion regarding the ideals of Sikhism.

from Sikhism
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh

Worship of the One Ultimate Reality--Sikhs worship what is to them the Ultimate Reality, the timeless, formless force that is above all things and present in all things. . . many Sikhs feel that at dawn and dusk they can more easily focus their minds on the Ultimate One. Morning and evening prayers are offered in the gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship.

Dignity of labor--Earning one's living by honest work and working hard for one's livelihood are good deeds that earn merit toward a better life now and in the future.

Equality of all people--All people are equal because the Divine is present in everyone. Sikh's reject all distinctions of social class, race, and creed because they are artificial and because they separate people from the One Ultimate Reality. Men and women have an equal voice. Everyone is welcome to participate in the life of the Sikh community; no one is excluded.

Service--Sikhs express their beliefs through service to the One by reading from scriptures and helping with the upkeep of the gurdwara. They also serve the Sikh community by helping fellow Sikhs. . .[and] the disadvantaged outside the Sikh community, giving both money and time to charity.

Community--Fellowship is an act of faith. Sikhs everyone consider themselves to be a family united through the grace of the ultimate reality. . . . They freely extend hospitality and aid to other Sikhs, both friends and strangers.

The essential equality of all people is one of the radical things that Jesus taught and that Christians have fairly consistently ignored.  He dined with people in all states.  He had women among his entourage and within the group of his disciples.  In the face of the society in which he lived, this was a radical departure from prior convention.  However, too often, many Christians tend to focus on those things that divide rather than those that unite. How often have I heard sermons of "Women be submissive to your husbands. . ."  without continuing to the powerful qualification that Paul places on that submissiveness and without uniting it to the mutual submission that comes with marriage (and which has a prominent place in Paul's letters as well).

I sometimes wonder why we are so reluctant to gather up what is good in all of the world's faiths and to incorporate those things into our own practice.  We would do well to be more inclusive, less divisive.  We would do well to recognize the equal dignity of all people and to act on that.  Words are insufficient.  As James says, "faith without works is dead."  The Sikhs may take this to their own extremes, I do not know, but I look at these ideals and see much that is worthy of reflection and contemplation in my own practice.

Perhaps more later.


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