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Respect

Every person on this earth craves love and respect. In fact, it is far more important than even money.

Every person on this earth craves love and respect. In fact, it is far more important than even money. People have tried many ways to influence others. They have imitated others, tricked others and connected themselves with organizations to which they do not even belong in order to try to gain respect.

Respect comes to a person through their integrity, compassion, kindness and seva, not because it is wanted, but because it is deserved.

I have been very fortunate to come across respected saints. Sant Gulab Singh Ji was more than 100 years old. He was hard of hearing. He was truly an awakened soul. He was a Sikh but he was above all religions. He loved everyone the same. He was overflowing with love. Even Hindus and Muslims flocked to him. He loved to hear hymns. People would sing them to him. For him everything was pure. If he was sitting in his garden, he may not have had his turban on. Some shrewd Sikhs objected to him not covering his head. They were mainly jealous of his popularity, but he did not care.

Yogi Harbhajan Singh Khalsa was overflowing with love. He did not care whether it was Indian Sikhs or American. He was pure in his heart. A lot of people were jealous of him too. Whatever he touched turned into gold. He achieved remarkable success. He lived a life of a King. He delivered the message of love. He did not force anyone to become Sikh. A lot of people imitate him. They try to influence others, but they usually fail. They do not understand what he did or how he did it.

I have also been influenced by Tibetan monks. They did not care if I am a Sikh or Indian. They just saw love in me. I remember in the 1980s when I was visiting some villages in the Himalayas close to Oachghat when I spotted some Tibetan flags at a distance. This is the same side road that you take to go to Baru Sahib. As coincidence, my friend, Kailash Chander invited me to visit the Bon Monastic Center for a Tibetan New Year Celebration.

From then on, visiting Tibetans became a routine. We would drive my motor bike till Oachghat and then walk some five miles on the dirt road to reach the Bon Monastic Center. Talking to the Abbot of the Monastery, His Holiness Jong Dong, was wonderful. His advice on compassion and love, and our religious discussion was really good. It was wonderful and refreshing to visit the Tibetans.

Drinking Tibetan tea (with butter and salt) would energize us after a long walk. Joining in Tibetan prayers, watching them debate and do their work was a beautiful experience. I made some Tibetan friends. I learnt a few words. "Tashi Dile" which is a Tibetan "hello" and "Thuji Che" which means "Thank you." These two words were enough to get me in communication with the Tibetan friends, although Guru ji told me that he knew of a few Sikhs who could speak Tibetan in Dharamsala.

My friend bought some land close to the settlement. Tibetans are a very friendly, welcoming and loving community. The welcome that we received and the time that I spent there is a beautiful remembrance that I will cherish all my life. I must confess I miss that atmosphere within my own Sikh community. It is this welcome that I felt when I went to see the Dalai Lama on his five day visit to Seattle at the WaMu Theater. Even outside, the Tibetans came to us to wish "Sat Sri Akal" and talk to us. I replied "Tashi Dile" (recalling from the old days). I started remembering the beautiful times that I spent in the village of Dolanji.

I have learned to simply be truthful to yourself. If you live authentically, without trying to please others or gain from others, then ordinary things will turn to extraordinary. Be human. Do not bow to others but stand your own ground. Most Sikhs are far from understanding Guru Granth Sahib Ji. If we read Guru Granth Sahib with an open heart and let the Gurbani penetrate into us, it tells us everything. It is very blunt. Guru Sahib Bani is truthful. It has survived because of truth and respect. Guru Nanak Dev cautioned us and said:

ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੧ ॥
Shalok, First Mehla:

ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣਾ ਗਾਵੈ ਗੀਤ ॥
The one who lacks spiritual wisdom sings religious songs.
ਭੁਖੇ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਘਰੇ ਮਸੀਤਿ ॥
The hungry Mullah turns his home into a mosque.
ਮਖਟੂ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਕੰਨ ਪੜਾਏ ॥
The lazy unemployed has his ears pierced to look like a Yogi.
ਫਕਰੁ ਕਰੇ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਾਤਿ ਗਵਾਏ ॥
Someone else becomes a pan-handler, and loses his social status.
ਗੁਰੁ ਪੀਰੁ ਸਦਾਏ ਮੰਗਣ ਜਾਇ ॥
One who calls himself a guru or a spiritual teacher, while he goes around begging
ਤਾ ਕੈ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਲਗੀਐ ਪਾਇ ॥
- don't ever touch his feet.
ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥
One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has
ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥
- O Nanak, he knows the Path. ||1||

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