Thought for the Day - Lord Singh - 28/11/2012
I spent yesterday morning helping look after a poorly granddaughter. We watched a TV programme on general knowledge on a variety of subjects taught in schools; the idea being to test the knowledge of an adult against that of a schoolchild. RE was one of the subjects chosen and the question was about the number of arms of a certain Hindu goddess.
The question of course, had nothing to do with the ethical teachings of Hinduism, and, like so much that passes for RE, was about the peripherals of belief found in all religions; about the quaint and exotic; about the form of worship rather than the substance.
Today Sikhs celebrate the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith who urged the importance of translating rituals of worship, often seen as an end in themselves, to responsible living.
The Guru taught that pilgrimages, penances and ritual acts of giving were, in themselves, not worth a grain of sesame seed in the court of God. He said that such rituals were chains of the mind if they took us away from religious imperatives of leading an honest life in the service of our fellow beings.
Some five and a half centuries ago, the Guru in a major move towards understanding and cooperation between different faiths, taught that the one God of us all was not interested in our different religious labels, but in our attitude and behaviour to those around us. This required accepting the oneness of all humanity, gender equality and social responsibility for the less fortunate. The Guru’s popularity, humanity and compassion was welcomed by people in all communities and when he died he was popularly regarded as a Pir or religious leader of the Muslims, and a guru of the Hindus.
Today Sikhs throughout the world will reflect on Guru Nanak’s teachings couched in clear uplifting language. Such teachings, like those of the founders of other faiths, give meaning and direction to life but are not always easy to practice. It’s much easier to sing or chant religious imperatives than to translate these into responsible living for ourselves and others. But, as Guru Nanak reminded us, unless we live true to such teachings, unless we walk the talk, it all amounts to nothing, reinforcing a growing perception of religion as being irrelevant to the challenges of modern society.
Available since: Wed 28 Nov 2012
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