Shared years ago by Hari Jiwan Singh from Espanola, New Mexico, in the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das newsletter.
Deal with chaos and become good at dealing with chaos. Deal with others and become good at dealing with others. Deal with adversity and become good at dealing with adversity. Deal with prosperity and become good at dealing with prosperity. Become so good that neither adversity or prosperity affect you. Now you get it. This is the difference between Sikhism and other religions, philosophies, lifestyles, you name it. Please, let me explain further.
Let’s take an example in the Judo-Christian tradition, one we’re all familiar with. There’s a famous saying in Bible, the Book of Proverbs (27:17-19), which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
The usual understanding of this proverb is understood to mean that competition makes each of us better. I know, competition is a bad word these days, but the truth is the truth no matter what we think or want. Especially, if competition becomes a graceful adventure. Competition hones our skill in any field, we become better at whatever we compete. It’s the truth behind the spiritual warrior. It is embedded in Sikhism. It’s true, and it’s great.
In addition, Judo-Christian epistemology has another method of interpretation. Understanding this proverb is further gleaned when it is cross-referenced with many other quotes from the Bible. A deeper meaning is found. For example, the Book of Hebrews (4:12) is used to further interprets this proverb as it states, “The word of God is a ‘double-edged sword’ and it is with this that we are to sharpen one another” And, this too is true. How can we deny this.
This is where the spiritual warrior’s nature expands into teaching. Teaching further sharpens the teacher and the student. Teaching the word of God is the motor, the arm, the energy behind this sharpening. As we teach, we sharpen one another and become better and better examples – examples of a true spiritual warrior, sharing our service and devotion to God, and, thus, His Blessings with others
The beauty of a true tradition like Judo-Christianity is that one truth doesn’t cancel out another. They just add-on. This is God’s protection. For us, this is where the individual and/or the organization is covered by Guru ji. There is no discount of one over the other. All are covered, carried and protected under His grace. There’s harmony, There’ cooperation, there’s teamwork, there’s joy. These are great universal truths verified in Sikhism as well. If I deny them, I deny my whole existence. They are great, period.
Nevertheless, there’s more. Sikhism has another truth to add-on to the understanding of this proverb. So far, all we’ve talked about is how great it is to deal with every situation, and it is. But, what about enjoying every situation as well as dealing with them? Isn’t that another great add-on benefit? Don’t we want to embrace this joy if it helps our karma and our contentment? Don’t we want to experience God’s love through the enjoyment of everything? Isn’t that what life’s about? Our concept is to never giving up and to keep-up until God sharpens us through our service to His Will.
This Dharma has the promise of Guru ji to protect the reputation of its beloved students. In order to activate this promise the student has the responsibility to teach, and act, and love Guru ji and His teachings. And don’t forget, Guru ji is the only judge. If he grants his grace, His Infinite truth covers all, past and present and future. The individual life and the life of the Dharma is protected. Magically, previous statements become stepping stones rather than misstatements on the way to the Infinite truth.
In never giving up your service and devotion to God, you’ve understood that true competition is competition within yourself. This is the only true standard, the only one where cheating is eliminated through self-awareness. And, if your standard is elevated, you have a chance to serve and love God. You can’t fool Mother nature. Thank God for His mercy. We all need His help. Just the practice of ‘keeping-up’ awakens His mercy. It’s the secret everyone wants to share! Be that special exception and just ‘keep-up.’ Experience God’s mercy.
‘Keeping-up’ is what allows God’s mercy to be awakened and bestowed upon you. The blessing of a wonderful, glorious, elevated, humble, prosperous, committed, focused, disciplined, rewarding, special, sacrificial, serving, loving life is the blessing which befalls you when you know you don’t deserve it. That’s how you know God’s Mercy has overridden your judgement and karma. It’s a humbling, confident, enabling, and submissive experience all at the same time.
Devotion and service to God becomes an endless JOY. There’s that word JOY again. Devotion means no more judgement; service means obedience to God’s command. And joy means perpetual gratitude for the process, the experience, and the deliverance. Where teachings are found, one has the opportunity to live a discipline where God’s obedience is followed, unity abounds. For us, our teachings, which create our obedience, are found only in our living Guru, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Our directions come from this base. We are not the creator, He is. We must be obedient to His commands, HIs teachings, HIs directives, not ours.
We were blessed enough to have a teacher of compassion who taught us what he had learned, and that was plenty. I can honestly say, ‘he didn’t teach me everything he knew, but almost everything I know I learned from him.’ He didn’t hold back. He was honest. He served us; he didn’t cheat us. What did we know? We could have been easy game, but he never took advantage. He served us as defined in his living legacy. He was us.
Today, our beloved teacher is not physically with us. Nevertheless, his gifts are still found in his legacy, his teachings, the teachings of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and the direction of God Himself. They’re all in line. One adds-on to another until some way of teaching appeals to almost everyone who identifies with this Dharma. Our challenge is to maintain this harmony. And, our duty is to not only maintain harmony, but to transform it into teamwork.
This Dharma is where our teacher sharpened his iron. And, it sharpened just fine, thank you. Our teacher transitioned from Yogi Bhajan to the Siri Singh Sahib through ‘keeping-up’ in sharpening his iron through his service and devotion to Guru Ram Das’ Will. We became his duty, his service. We scored, and, yet how many of us really understand the blessing we lived under? We lived under the blessing of seeing an example of how iron sharpening iron leads to God’s Mercy. ‘Keep-up’ practicing the blessed standard we’ve been given and see what happens. Remember, there’s no time limit, so you can’t be the judge.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
MSS Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa