Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spirituality has no distinctions


For the first time, I entered a Sikh temple in Vancouver, British Columbia. While I was approaching the entrance to the temple, I started feeling the anticipation you feel only when doing something for the first time. I am a member of the United Center for Spiritual Living. We accept all spiritual paths as perfect and unique expressions of the divine.

This is my opportunity to put in practice my non-judgmental values. As I am entering the temple's large door, I take a deep breath and open all my senses. I grab one triangular scarf to cover my head. From all the colors, I choose gold. I take my shoes off and I proceed to wash my hands in one of the several sinks. There are several men in turbans around me; their deep brown eyes look at me with curiosity but with warmth and acceptance in their eyes, even though I am the only Caucasian person to be seen.

Inside the temple is an empty, rectangular room with clear windows inviting the bright light inside. The temple is adorned lightly, with sky and deep blue and gold colors. We walk on the center corridor. After we put our money offering in a long, rectangular gold metal box, I bow, kneel and put my head on the rug. I walk to the right corner and an old man with a handsome long, white beard, dressed in white, gives me a paste from a metal container. It has the consistency of

oatmeal and is made with flour, butter and sugar. It is called "karah-parshad." I carry it on my hand until I find a spot in the back of the temple. I sit on a pillow. I notice men sitting on the right and women on the left on the clean, carpeted floor. I decide to sit with my male friend on the male side. We can sit how we feel is comfortable, and it is OK to talk in a low voice.

After I eat the sweet paste, I look around. A slim woman in her 60s enters the temple and has an offering in a plastic bag. She is wearing a stunning lime-green and gold Indian dress. She does

the same as I did before and sits on the left with the other women. There are several groups of women talking. They seem joyful.

In the front of the temple, behind the multi-colored plastic flowers and other structures, there are five or six people reading the Holy Book of the Sikhs. Their words are beyond my comprehension, but the sound is pleasant and light. I take the opportunity to close my eyes and pray.

With my eyes closed, I hear a new voice reading the Holy Book; the readings continue all day. The Holy Book is the Guru Grant Sahib Jr., the eleventh guru of the Sikhs. It is respected, loved and cared for, like previous living gurus. The Holy Book has 1,430 pages, and is the size of an encyclopedia. It is a sacred source for wisdom and guidance. The Holy Book is opened at random by the Sikhs. The opened page is the guru's message for the day. I learn that God creates the environments, faculties, circumstances and facilities to make all my thousand desires a reality.

The Sikhs recognize people on the basis of their actions and make no distinctions on creed, color, race or gender. After I leave the temple, I wash my hands again, put the gold scarf back in the pile and put on my shoes. I enter a large dining room with cement floors. The kitchen is busy with mostly men in turbans preparing the food. There are four large casseroles with different Indian dishes, "roti" (a kind of thick tortilla) and a basket of sweets. With absolute generosity and without question, they serve me on a divided plate. I eat the delicious meal with hot tea and milk. The gold candy in the form of a lace is called "jalepi." It tastes like heaven. Sikh temples serve thousands of free meals, every day, all over the world to all the people who attend their temple.

I made the decision to expand my comfort zone going to a Sikh temple, and I had an encouraging experience. A new door opens in my spiritual journey and in my quest for being a better human being. And sharing all the spiritual wisdom with me, the Sikhs also nurture my body with Indian food and sweets? What else can I ask for? Life is a perfect expression of the divine.

"In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true."

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.