First Adult Sikh Camp in Michigan a Success

"We found the whole experience quite beneficial and are looking forward.."

!st Adult Sikh Camp in Michigan a success!!

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With the grace of Waheguru ji we successfully completed our first Adult Sikh Camp in Holly Michigan.  There were 25 adults ranging in age from early 30’s to almost 80 and equal number of men and women.  We had 4 hours of lectures and discussion daily for 3 days.  There were also opportunities for recreational activities in beautiful nature surroundings which were very peaceful and provided a soul searching environment away from the hustle bustle of daily life.  The following are a few snippets of what we learned but there was a lot more!

Our first lecture was by S. Amandeep Singh and it was about “What is education”?

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He did a lot of research into how our education system has changed over the past several hundred years.  He traced how the British colonial influence has shaped how and what we study. He discussed the two forms of education one being secular and the other being religious and the gaps that are occurring between the two.  He emphasized that the current focus on capitalism in secular education is leading to a materialistic society and churning out students whose main motive is to earn a large sum of money even at the expense of inner peace and degradation of the environment.    He emphasized that in the religious side, our lack of interest in arts and literature, poetry and painting and language studies  has transformed the Sikh society form within.   The lecture was quite eye opening and it inspired us to make some changes in how we educate ourselves and our children.

Our second lecture was by Bhai Manohar Singh and it was on Tres Gun Maya and how to overcome this hurdle. He gave examples from gurbani on what is maya and how we were protected before birth.  After birth we are introduced to attachments and desires and most of us get so entangled that we remain here and never reach our full potential.  He described a shabad from Bhagat Ravidas of what it is like to be in chautha pad, where there is no high or low, no worries, no fear.  Everything is one and you are immersed with Waheguru.  However, to get to this stage requires a lot of hard work, kirpa and  Guru to guide us.  He gave examples of Bhagat Namdev talking with Bhagat Trilochan on how we can achieve this stage, but our chit must be with Waheguru all the time.  He gave examples that this is possible like women who carry pots on their head and are walking and talking with their friends, but their chit is with the pots and they do not fall down. Awareness is important to control our thoughts and actions.

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Our third lecture was by Rajwant  Kaur on Yoga practices and developing a routine for the morning and evening.  She taught us to be present.  Stretching and breathing exercises are also helpful in relaxing our minds and sleeping.  We practiced various routines for morning and for evening. 

Our fourth lecture was on relationships.  This is a very important topic in our community as we have immense problems that are hidden such as sexual abuse, gambling, spousal beating, alcohol and drug abuse, loneliness and abandonment.  Dr. Singh a psychiatrist and Dr. Joseph Walrad,  a clinical psychologist lead the discussion about the problems and ways to solve the various challenges.  First of all, as a community we should be open in seeking help and counselling and not consider a taboo subject.  Marriage problems are common, and lack of proper communication is a major cause.

Dr. Singh explained that most of us are not brought up to complement our partner such as you look nice, or that was a very nice dinner you made etc.  He also explained that ways of showing love is different for different people and each partner should explain clearly what they want from the other partner.  He also talked about studies that predict the demise of a relationship in 4 different phases.

  1. Frequent criticism leads to
  2. Contempt of a partner which then leads to
  3. Defensiveness and disengagement and finally leads to
  4. Unhappiness and breakup of marriage

Dr. Singh also explained the 5 phases of an apology.

  1. I am sorry for example yelling at you or criticizing you
  2. I was wrong
  3. I should not have done that
  4. I want to rectify this.  I would like to hear from you and your feelings.
  5. Would you have in your heart to forgive me

He talked about ways to repair relationships which include affirmation, quality time, acts of service and physical touch.

Some of us felt that this lecture should be given at the time of marriage but it’s never too late!

Our fifth and sixth lecture was by S Ramanpreet Singh and the topics covered were Mun Jeete jug Jeet and Antargat. 

Our body is made of the five elements.  There are physical and subtle factors so the karam (physical) and gian indryan (senses) are different but both are important to live in this world.  For example, our mind is the subtle form and the brain is the physical form.  Our mind is the slave of our thoughts and constantly escapes out of the 9 doors. Thoughts are constantly coming from the 5 thieves who want us to remain in tres gun maya.  Normally our mind is sleeping.  It can be awakened though Simran. Our chit has to merge with the shabad to get to the chautha pad.  This requires a lot of hard work, kirpa, following Guru’s teaching, finding sangat and being involved with seva, kirtan, Gurbani vichar and Simran.  We have to get to the stage of being aware so that we are in charge of the 5 thieves and our mind and not the other way around.

To go antargat our thoughts have to be controlled.  By slowly practicing being aware and following the path of love, we can get to a quiet state of the mind.  We become in charge of the mind. The guru guides us and It is then and with kirpa that our 9 doors can be closed and our formless can meet with formless Waheguru. This would be opening of the dasam duar.  Unfortuntely duality and enticement of Maya are very strong obstacles for us to experience this bliss.

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We found the whole experience quite beneficial and are already looking forward to our next year’s camp.  We encourage others in various communities to start adult gurmat camps in their cities. These are desperately needed and there is a strong desire amongst the sangat for this.  From our experience we would recommend limiting the size to 30 adults so there can be a lot of discussion and participation.

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