Monday, October 12, 2009

Train Meeting... (Part 1)

Two weeks ago, on Thursday, I was coming back from university and caught the train. It was quite busy and there weren't many free seats. Luckily I found a seat next to an elderly lady. I asked her if it was okay for me to sit next to her but she was facing the other way and couldn't hear me, so I just sat down. That day I had collected some religious education resources from my teacher. I had three packs of A3 photocards depicting different religious practices and ceremonies in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I decided to open the packs and have a look at the pictures as I had free time on the train. As I was looking the cards I could see the elderly peering over and taking an interest in the photos.

After a while, the lady pointed at the cards and said to me, "Which one of these is your religion?" I said, "None of these are my religion. I am a Sikh." She said, "Sikh?" with a tone as if she was not familiar with the religion. After pausing for a while she said, "I believe all religions are like different paths trying to climb up a mountain. Although they are different paths they are aiming for the same thing - the One God. I don't believe we have a different God - just the same God for everyone." I smiled and said that agreed with her.

I then asked her, "What is your religion?" The lady looked like as if she was in her mid 70s. She replied, "I am an Evangelical Christian but believe that everyone who loves God will get there." It was nice to hear that despite being an "evangelical" she believed that God's Grace was beyond religion and all were loved by God. We talked about the church she goes to and the community work they do and so on.

Then she asked me, "Do you have initiation or baptism in your religion?" I said, "Yes. We have baptism ceremony but its only for those who are old enough or mature enough to make the commitment to God and live the way of life instructed by the Guru. It is similar to confirmed baptism or initiation in Christianity rather than the baptising of babies." She said that her church doesn't do child baptism either and that their baptism ceremony involves immersing the individual into a pool of water and coming back out, which is to signify that the person has died and reborn. I shared that taking Amrit is the same principle that it is a spiritual rebirth.

The lady was interested to know about Sikhi and so I told her about the basic Rehit (discipline) a Sikh has to keep. "A Sikh maintains the God-given body and looks after the hair which is not to be cut, coloured, trimmed etc. The head is kept covered with a turban which is a spiritual crown and a sign of commitment to God." I went on to say, "The body is considered the Temple of God, so we do not pollute this sacred body with alcohol, tobacco or any drugs etc." The lady smiled and said, "We too believe the body is the Temple of God. Its fascinating. We too believe that God in the form of Holy Spirit resides in the body. But I must admit I do drink once in a while. But I understand why religion says those things."

I then went on to say, "Sikhs are vegetarian and do not eat fish, egg or meat. We see God's Light within animals also. Sikhs have a simple diet. The main reason is to be compassionate as possible. To consume the blood, sweat, and suffering of an animal killed for one's meal and to then sit and pray to God for his compassion and kindness seems hypocrisy. How can we have peace inside when we are eating something that has cried in pain and suffered in anguish in order to be put on to our plate?" The lady looked at me with a startled face and said, "You know something. I eat meat once a week. I agree with your religion and I feel bit bad now. But back when I was younger there was no variety of vegetarian food and it was difficult to live without meat." I said, "I agree that only recently the variety of vegetarian food in England has increased but now you can live without meat." She looked at me and smiled with amazement at the Rehit (discipline) instructed by Guru Jee.

To be continued.


satnam dk said...

Thanks for sharing this incident Manvir ji. Im looking forward to reading part 2.

It is actually very true that there is'nt a wide variety of vegetarian food here in the West. When i tell gore that im a vegetarien they look at me and ask "so you eat salat all day?".. I think that if people were presented with a greater variety of vegetarian food than just salat, then they would also become vegetarians. At present there is no alternative really. I have a danish friend who became a vegetarian and he mostly eats indian and arabic food now because there isn't that much danish veggie food.

Kulwinder Kaur said...

Bhai Sahib Jee, is it not true that the light of God is in plants as well?