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“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight; create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous; be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten; do good anyway

Give the best you have, and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.”

~ Mother Teresa

My older sister read me this quote by Mother Teresa a few days back, and I was just thinking about it this morning. If there is any purpose in life worthy of living, it is to live a life as prescribed above. Every action a reflection of compassion formulated through forgiveness. All religions preach the same message and all purposes lead down this path of humility. What others think is important to society, but what we do when no one is watching is what makes the greatest difference between oneself and God. The thoughts, actions, motives, and desires which may be hidden from you or me, are very real and visible to the One who has created all. Without trust in ourselves, there is no need to look for success for even amidst mounds of wealth, sorrow and insecurity will devour one’s mind.

-GOD BLESS

 

Ek Onkar ( One God, One Truth)

   There are times the skies are gray and hope seems so distant a reality. Darkness lurks in the mind and mist blinds the shutters of perception. Looking outside the world seems so fake and lost. Nowhere can one escape once the mind turns to stone and the world to ash. Imprisoned within we are lost forever to ourselves.

          However, just as the great Phoenix rises out of ash and flame so does the human spirit and soul. In the most inopportune times, self realization is met and an awakening occurs to rid oneself of attachment. Only when the falsehood of self is lifted can one truly enjoy the peace, beauty, and immortal of life. The mortal life becomes a gift, and death an intrinsic passage into a new element of space unbound by time. Freedom from physical and mind.

           Life at this moment is grace. I am seated within myself. I have realized that I have no control outside myself, thus in God’s will I resume down the path laid in my destiny. What shall come will come, but at the present moment I am at peace. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and ego have fleeted in this moment as I reflect upon the beauty of life and those who I have been blessed to share this life with. 

         Over the mountains and down the deep valleys I see God. By the peaceful shores of the sea, and over the genocide laden deserts of Darfur I see God. Walking down the free streets of America, and down the volatile streets of a war torn Iraq I see God. In the eyes of those whom I love, and in the eyes of those who have betrayed and wronged me I see God. His plan may not be understood on this physical plane of suffering and happiness, but even within the finest grain of life resides the beautiful presence of the Creator. The One who created the universe and embedded the energy for all to function.

          Unity is the repetitive motif of all creation, but unfortunately many have become blinded by the single aspect of a self centered life while dismissing the overall mosaic that forms together to create a simple but compelling truth – One God. Ek Onkar

(“Sansar Samundey Taar Gobindey” – Please carry me across the world-ocean, O Lord of the Universe – Kirtan sung by Bhai Manpreet Singh.)

Man runs into many walls in the worldly nature of society. We are continuously stabbed and pinched by the jagged wrath of society judging, sneering, and gossiping our every move. The experiences of life and the way in which it substantially molds our perspectives strengthens the notion that life is not easy. There are many struggles and too many dead ends. When the road finally straightens and all seems serene, right then life surfaces and reminds man that nothing here is pure bliss. Beyond our control or liking, life continues to happen. Some may call this destiny, kismaat, or others may believe that our decisions lead us to our goals. Neither is known for certain, but one thing that remains unquestioned is that life is not a script written by us. We did not choose our birth nor our inevitable death; hence, we have control over very minimal attributes in life itself.

The life we have been given is a chance beyond that of impossible, so I call it a miracle. No two men are handed the same fate at birth. Some are born to families where loving parents honor parenthood, others are given a meager life of survival. Some are born to the riches of an empire of kings and queens, others are born in shanties of poverty and starvation. Some are born to the whims of prosperous times, others are born to die in the hands of tyranny, genocide, and evil. Some are always thinking of ways to help others, while others are always plotting the destruction of foes. Countless are given a healthy body that functions to do work, others are born vulnerable to handicaps and death. Countless are seeking God in caves, statues, books, and churches. Countless diminish the power of God and drown themselves in their own egos. However, throughout all of these infinite differences one component is universal and that is the pursuit of happiness. Every single soul on Earth seeks happiness, but the way to achieve it is perceived by each man separately. No two people on Earth share the same thinking, because each has unique experiences that have sculpted their minds. The perceptions begin setting in stone and begin crystallizing over the years. Whether the crystallization of ideals hardening into stone helps man or hinders him depends on the quality of life experienced and the thoughts materialized thereof.

“dukh daaru sukh roag paaya jaa sukh taam naa hoi” (Pain became the medicine, and happiness the illness).” In the Rehras Sahib, a Sikh prayer, the Guru warns that pain is a vital component in remembering God. Man begins to drown in his own fallacies if the pain and sorrow of living never existed. There would be no betterment of the spirit as the Earth would become the ultimate Heaven of bliss. Pain and suffering bring man to his knees, and he silently begins to surrender as he realizes that his place in the universal power of God is very small and minute. I never understood and I still have a hard time fully understanding how man can be so arrogant and egocentric when he is but an atom in the size of infinity. However, our existence has a purpose; no matter how small our effect on the universe. The life we lead day in and day out is lived for a reason, because our desire to keep on moving through even the worst proves that we are not ready for the final transition – the transition of death.

“Nanak dukhiya sabh sansaar (Guru Nanak, a man of such high spirituality and Godliness was not spared from pain and suffering and neither is the rest of the world).” Life keeps us on our toes. We somehow believe that our future is still in our own hands endowing ourselves with power and authority. However, what stops a car from ramming you on the highway on the way home? What stops a close member in your family from getting an illness that proves fatal? What stops the wildfire behind your home just a few feet away? It just happens faster than a blink of an eye – life. Some were lucky enough to question how they survived, others had no opportunity to ask as they were swiftly taken. Appreciate your transient senses in the present moment with all there is to be thankful for. Plan for the future and make proper precautions, but never forget that at the end of the day, life does not wait. No one is ever ready to battle the stringent winters and cold throws of despair. God becomes the hand, man so desperately seeks, for guidance across the massive ocean of mental and worldly gaps. We will never truly know everything or become perfect, so we merely surrender and pray for His mercy.

The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, continually warns man not to leave the world behind to find happiness. A man will not find happiness away from the world in which he lives. Running to remote caves, islands, and other areas will not help man find peace and content. He should live a balanced and disciplined life with God always on his lips and mind. I had at one point decided that I would lead my own life, and leave the people around me far away. I somehow believed that I was more righteous than them. The whole time I forgot that everyone has the God of light within, and every positive thing I do for someone else I am doing for God. Positive energy reciprocates into a positive lifestyle that sheds all the vices that make us so cruel and human. Actions speak louder than words, and positive actions are the real visible products of a pure soul. I decided that each man and woman on Earth was going to be a family member. I will respect every soul, because hatred will only cause me to hate myself. I will grow infinitely as a person accepting and loving all. Words hurt a lot less, because I smile a lot more. Backstabbing still pinches nerves, but no longer leaves me on the floor with blood squirting out of my heart. Like a bullet proof vest of love, I ward off the negative energy of the world and continue walking down the universal path of God.

In a recent movie called, Into the Wild, a young man leaves his seemingly perfect life in the pursuit of freedom and happiness away from the people he grew up with. He gets into Harvard and on the surface he has a perfect family life. However, he has grown up through rough times. He drives his new car for hours into the desert until he runs out of gas. He then burns his car and his wallet, leaving his identity and life behind. He was sick of the world, and how it so fatally butchered happiness. There was more to life than materialistic fulfillment, because the void within is so much deeper. He runs in countless circles on his voyage to the wilderness of Alaska. When he finally makes it, he starts going through depression and aimlessness. Life just becomes primitive and alone. There is no one else just him and nature. One day he accidentally eats a poisonous herb and begins to slowly die as his stomach and digestive system stop functioning. Too far from civilization, he stays in his shelter. In his notebook in his final days he wrote, “There is no happiness alone, it only exists in the company of others.” The movie was based on a true story. Life is meant to share, explore, and sail through in the company of fellow men dealing with the same journey in different ways.

Attachment begins to recede as one embraces God and his will. Surrender breeds selflessness in His submission. The limited time I have with those I love is minimal. All too soon it will be over. The moments I share with those whom I love dearly become precious treasures in a temporary life. We are all simply guests waiting in a room questioning what is on the other side of the wall. A barrier of dimensions shall sprout when death finally comes, but it will be nothing to mourn but rather to rejoice. A life well lived is a life emerged in the light of the Lord, Waheguru. Uniting with the supreme power and energy is the last hopeful stage in the soul’s progressive journey into the infinite unknown.

Be happy this very moment. Breathe and remember how grand the gift of living is. Be thankful. Look into the sky and reflect on the stars billions of light years away, and whisper to them that this life is beautiful. Just as they radiate from the depths of darkness in space, radiate your own life in the midst of worldly coldness. Warm the cold air in which you live every moment of the day. The choice is simple, “Be the candle to guide yourself and others or be the darkness of despair?

My senior year in high school was almost over as I stood in line with my friends to receive my yearbook. We all laughed and recalled the good old days of high school and how quickly it all happened. Faster than the blink of an eye we had all grown up so fast. Together we stumbled through elementary school and survived the volatile years of high school. Everyone was heading off to college in separate directions, a day that once seemed so far and distant a thought.

While we talked we failed to notice that we had almost made it to the front of the line. I walked over to the alphabetical section containing the first letter of my last name and waited. The PTA mother attending to the yearbooks took my name and scanned the list with her finger flying up and down the pages. Her eyebrows closed in together as she strained her forehead in confusion. She looked up past the rim of her glasses and exclaimed, “I am sorry but your name is not on the list.” I was shocked because I was pretty sure that I had paid for the yearbook in advance. Before I could say anymore, I was directed toward the vice principal who took my name once again and double checked the master list. My name was not on that list either, and I had no receipt from the beginning of the year.

I may have forgotten to reserve my yearbook, because I have always been known for my inability to take care of mundane tasks. Frustrated, angry, and annoyed I walked over to the student activities office to buy a new yearbook if there were any extras leftover. However, I was soon told by the office secretary that there may not be any extra yearbooks this year due to the overbooking of sales. I could not believe it, I had won the senior class best award for my car in the yearbook, and I wanted all my friends to sign it for future reference and memories. The last high school yearbook of my life and I would not have it. I was shot down and could only blame my own laziness and procrastination for not reserving it on time. The secretary said that the only way to try and get one was to arrive early in the morning before the other students arrived to buy an extra remaining yearbook out of the few left.

After school, I slumped down on the sofa while my mom was in the kitchen cooking food for dinner. She looked at me sitting there with a blue face and asked, “Kee hoya saara khush teeka?” (Whats wrong, is everything alright). I told her about the yearbook and how I somehow forgot to reserve it. Before I could even say a word more, my mom was already calling my Nana, grandpa, to go with her to the school to get me a yearbook. Although I told her what the secretary had said, she still decided to head off and have a talk with her. If anyone could save the sky from falling in my life it was always my mom.

Eagerly awaiting my mom’s return, I was confident that my mom would find a way to get it. She returned with my grandpa without a yearbook, but reassured me not to worry. “Just go to sleep and let me worry about the yearbook,” she told me before I went to bed. Sure enough I woke up the next morning with a yearbook on my side table. I could not help but feel moved.

My mom woke up at 4:30 in the morning to wait in line with my grandpa for my yearbook as I slept. My Nana and my mom waited for two hours in the blistering cold for a yearbook that meant so much to me. I sat in my bed speechless for the type of mother God had given me. I was never going to forget the story that went along with this sentimental yearbook. Twenty years from now when I show my kids my yearbook and the best car page with me on it, I will tell them most importantly about the story of how my mom and Nana ji did so much for me.

I am the luckiest son in the world to have had such a generous woman as a mother. Never has she complained about all she has had to put up with, all she has done, all she has sacrificed, and all she has worked so hard to accomplish in her life to make ours better. She is a mom who would rather think a million times before doing something small for herself, while never thinking twice when it comes to others. One in a trillion is the chance of having a mother like mine in a million births and deaths. For all she has done for me, I can only be embarrassed for the little I have done for her. We have been very close all my life and I admit without an ounce of doubt that I am, indeed, momma’s little boy to this day. No matter how old I will be, I will always be a little boy in the eyes of my mother and I love her for that. Some memories last a lifetime, and some people impact your life for all of eternity. I am forever in debt for all my parents have done for me throughout my life. Big or small I do my best to remember all, and I pray to God that one day I can follow in their footsteps. A huge task to accomplish to say the least.

There comes a time when one is forced to shove one’s anger and negativity underneath the bed. The threshold is reached as self-destruction beckons forth its fatal face. Negative energy engulfs our minds and lives through a continous stream of malicious thoughts throughout the day. One fateful day all of lifes’ stresses, worries, frustrations, and unknowns are left behind in the early morning as one awakes. They had gathered throughout the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months previous but now the mind could no longer handle the barrage. We are then forced to detach, not completely, but somewhat from the overload. The baggage still exists under the bed, but now it is not visible although growing. We hide the mental mess to forget and pretend it never existed. Life forces us to fall but then get up, and continue at a certain point. The cycle soon begins again, as one is now allowed to begin accumulating a new dosage of life’s toxic stresses to carry throughout the day and unload at another time. That time has come and I, for one, must let go. I need the peace, the surreal eye in the middle of the storm, to calm me. The security and serenity is real, but the mind warns of it being temporary. The time will come when the storm rushes back in with an intense gust of wind, but by then hopefully I will be ready. There comes a time…

There is a majestic whisper in the waves as they crash onto the shore relentlessly fleeting forth toward land. The gentle breeze brings with it a faint aroma of the vastness of the sea spanning the linear horizon. The mystery of the sea unfolds as it meets the sandy beach inviting man to seek solitude and content while basking in the presence of the unknown depth of life. Every person dreams of waking in front of the ocean and seeing it struggle through the seasons as they pass, because it is one of the last fronts on Earth unscathed by man’s invasive tentacles.

Last night there was an unbelievable showcase of nature’s raw power and beauty over the darkness of the sea. As the sun sank below the horizon of the ocean, all light ceased to exist allowing one to be emerged in the quiet darkness of space – alone. I was utterly sucked into the black hole of oneness with the quick pace of society and life slowly fading away far behind me. I stood immersed; listening with an ease to the soothing tranquility of the waves awakening my senses within. The serene tone and stillness lead me passively to the gates of surrender. I was alone and content.

Suddenly the darkness vanished for a sheer second as the clouds above lit up over the still sea. Although the lightning only harnessed its power for less than a second, the clouds took on a milky red color as they lit the sea beneath. I was awestruck by the mighty burst of light in the midst of a lonely dark night. The stars seemed to visit Earth in a ray of surging energy as the lightening ripped through the sky. My eyes widened in surprise as I witnessed the unpredictability of nature’s power and elegance. No expensive manmade firework finale could compare to the brilliance of nature’s own show over the infinite expanse of the sea. No sound of thunder met my anticipating ears as the mighty lights scattered over the far horizon. There was no remnant of thunder as the lightning lit the sky like random bombs chaotically exploding in the clouds overhead. It was an outward experience leading to an inward surge of selflessness within.

God is the power manifested in every ounce of energy in the universe following Newton’s law that energy can niether be created nor destroyed. He has been true from the beginning and shall be true for eternity. The energy carried in every atom, and in every electron revolving around the nucleus of life is bond by the mighty attraction of the Almighty. We are all but silhouttes floating in a maya projected movie known as life, the only truth lying in our inner soul immersed in the light of Waheguru. Do not listen to the Shabad of the Guru passively in routine, rather listen intently with all your being and instill every word in each cell of your body. Become a movement of positive energy symbolizing the elegance and power of truth, and like the lightining in the dark still of the night, light the world in which you live. The light is found nowhere but within.

When my sister and I were finally all settled in after a week of unpacking at SGU in the Caribbean, the time had come to say goodbye to my parents at the bus stop. I was preparing myself for what was about to ensue. My mom had not shown even the slightest sign of emotional anxiety in the last few months before our long medical school venture thousands of miles away from home, because she did not want to show us  weakness. She encouraged us by insisting on Waheguru’s powerful kirpa, and reassured me as she joked that after I made friends at SGU I would forget all about home. However, throughout this I failed to see the sadness of losing a son to time and studies in her eyes. There was a pain deeply embedded in her voice and eyes, which was subtle then, but very apparent to me now. She had to accept that her youngest boy was now becoming a man off to study and become what he had always wanted to become, a doctor. Time had not spared my youth.

I tightly hugged her with the Caribbean moon feebly lighting her thinning hair, and soon the silence turned into the harsh hurt and pain of separation from somebody I loved so much. I fought the lump in my throat with thoughts of me coming back home after midterms. I had prepared myself. I am sure my mother had too, but then she couldn’t hold it inside anymore. She began crying in my arms as I held her while she struggled to take a breathe. How could I comfort my mom who had raised me since my birth with insurmountable love? A mother who tossed and turned in bed if I stayed out too long or was away from home. She had every right to hold on to her little boy who unfairly grew up too soon. I could not solace her for the lump in my own throat now hindered my ability to speak. I looked over at my always calm and settled father for help, but was soon surprised to see a tear slipping down his face in the moonlit night as he quickly turned away. My father was no stone, but he was always ready to accept the inevitable with a face of reassurance, a symbol of strength and composure. However, that night he too was broken. It hit him hard seeing life fly by so quickly as he stood now an older man with graceful white hair not knowing where all the time had gone. He had listened to my crazy proposals of how much I would do for the world when I became a doctor soon before I had even received a junior high diploma in my hand. He always listened with a smirk, knowing the reality of life had not yet hit me. He stood there when I messed up in life with a stolid face of disappointment which was enough to make me shudder, but that night of our separation he was weaker. He lost that strength and composure as I hugged him. I reassured both my parents that I would see them soon and that time would fly by real fast, but inside I knew otherwise.

It has been a month since they left, and now I live a new life. My sister and I get into petty fights daily, and a night ago I decided that I had had enough of all the conflict. I told my sister in a heated conflict that I did not want to see her anymore for the remainder of the semester, and I left the room with my dinner in hand. I walked outside my dorm by the ocean to cool my thoughts and settle my anger. Soon enough my sister came jolting out of the dorm looking for me, and when she spotted me near the ocean she yelled out from the stairs, “Hey I’m real sorry, come back okay.” I did not want to accept it, and walked off into the darkness of the night with my frustration guiding the way. After sometime when I thought she had finally gone back to her own dorm, I retreated back to my dorm building. As I walked up the stairs, she startled me by jumping out of nowhere. She tried hugging me while apologizing but I just pushed her aside. She looked up at me helplessly as she was thrust backward with utter fear on her face as my anger surfaced an ugly face of its own. Inside I was still angry, but now I just felt guilty; however, my ego would not let this guilt stop my egocentric perception of events. I stormed back into my room as my sister furiously left for her own dorm room. We went our separate ways. Then at about three in the morning I sent her an email addressing all my grievances and how I felt about the whole situation, and stated why my anger was somewhat warranted. Although I love you so much, I told her, I need my space. She wrote back apologizing and understanding where I was coming from, and reassured her love for me too. We had a truce. Then I wrote her back and told her that I didn’t need “my space” anymore, only my ego did, and I could do without my ego. The next day she said that she had cried after reading my email as it made her feel ashamed that I had felt so negatively about her. Our bond grew a lot stronger that day after talking and listening to each other.

I told my mom the whole story when she asked how everything was generally going. I recounted the whole story of our feud and how selfish I can self-admittedly be at times. After reciting every detail, I could not hear anyone on the other line. I thought the phone had lost connection. “Mom are you still there.” No answer. I was about to hang up when I finally heard my mom respond after a while with a voice faint with emotion. She could not speak because she was overcome by emotion, because she was proud of how her little kids were growing up so quickly into mature young adults. We fought like every other close sibling in the world, but we could come together and respect and love on another so much more after it all. I understood my mom that night as she sat their with tears of happiness running down her face for she had raised two kids that were certainly human, but more importantly compassionate and loving people.

Emotions are an intangible stirring of feelings within each and everyone that occasionally take physical form to ensure that everything is not always kept to ourselves. Others need to see and feel others every once and awhile to remember that emotions are not individual but rather universal. We feel as humans because true life is the weakest numbing agent in the world.

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