We invite you to light a candle and send your prayers from your home, with your family, and with your community for those who lost their lives in the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting with these two sacred chants from the Sikh tradition (please click here for the free downloads of these chants). In the past few days since the shooting at the Oak Creek Gurdwara (temple) there has been a great outpouring of prayers, and compassion from the American public for the Sikh Community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and across the United States. As we understand the details of what occurred we see the pure ignorance that caused such an act, we see the anger, and we see the terror. We see the large gap of understanding and connection in our society, that such an event could occur in our country to such a peaceful community as the Sikhs in a place of worship. As the Muslim mosque was burnt down just the next day in Joplin Missouri our hearts wept once again.
However this blog is to call upon the light, the love, and the strength of human spirit. So how do we move forward? In the Sikh prayer that we recite every morning there is a beautiful line that comes to mind now. “May we remember those who saw the faults of others yet overlooked them.” And so as our eyes turn beyond the faults to find the connection, to find the way to move on, let us together find the light.
We see the incredible heroism, in knowing how the President of the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Satwant Singh Kaleka, faced the shooter with a butter knife and from what reports tell us was able to hinder his rampage for a time. We see the absolute shining spirit of humanity come through Lt. Brian Murphy as he encouraged his fellow officers to go inside the Gurdwara and help the people inside before tending to his wounds. We feel the love and beauty of the Sikhs of the Oak Creek Gurdwara who offered Langar (a sacred meal) to the police officers just hours after the shooting; always serving, always caring, true Sikhs to the core. We see the mass media coverage of Sikhs so that the world can better understand who we are as a community and we are grateful for it. We feel the outpouring of sympathy from people of all walks of life. We see the turning of the tide, as people in this country are truly supporting the Sikh American community in the wake of this tragedy.
So let us pray together. People of all walks of life, I invite you. Let us pray for all of those who died on August 5th in the Oak Creek Gurdwara. Let us pray for their families. Let us pray for the sanctity of the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, and for the sanctity and protection of all places of worship of all faiths. Let us pray for the Mosque in Joplin Missouri, may it be rebuilt as a place for this peaceful community to thrive. Let us pray for the strength of our commitment to reach out to each other in our diverse communities to find understanding and connection. Let us pray for the soul of the shooter Wade Page that the pain that was in his heart and is in the hearts of others in this country and in this world may be healed, healed, healed. And let us know deeply within that that the light of our prayers, our candles, and our courage, most certainly is overcoming this tragedy with the victory of the human spirit. I invite you to light a candle and send your prayers from your home, with your family, and with your community with these two sacred chants from the Sikh tradition. You can chant along or remain in silence. In the spirit of truly connecting in your prayer, we ask that you cover your head as you recite these sacred words, as is the Sikh way.
The first chant is “Guru Ram Das Rakho Saranaa-ee.” Guru Ram Das is the fourth Guru of the Sikhs. His life, his energy, his gift to us is the capacity to reach out to the homeless, to the hopeless, and offer healing, tangible, real healing.
Guru Ram Das Raakho Saranaa-ee. Guru Ram Das, protect me and surround me with your sanctuary.
Surround us with your light, Guru Ram Das. Protect us with your love, Guru Ram Das. Give us your sweet peace, Guru Ram Das. I give my life to you, Guru Ram Das.
The second is the Mantra “Akaal”. This is the Mantra that Sikhs chant when someone dies. It means “undying” and it identifies the true nature of the soul which never dies. In the strength of your prayer, and the Grace of God and Guru, this chant has the capacity to free the soul from this earth plain so that it can merge with the Divine Deathless energy of God, or Akaal Purkh.
(Please click here for a link to the free downloads of these chants.)
If you are inspired to donate funds to the families who lost a loved one, we got this information from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A memorial fund has been established to help the victims of the deadly attack at the Oak Creek Sikh temple on Sunday. Donations can be mailed to Victims Memorial Fund, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, 7512 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154.
Two separate websites: wearesikhs.com, and indiegogo.com/milwaukee-sikh also have been created to raise money to help the families.
To learn more about Sikhs you can visit these two web addresses for two good summary articles. I invite you to send these links out to your friends so that people can understand who Sikhs are.
Finally, the last thing that I would like to mention is that if you have a Gurdwara in your area, and you haven’t been there yet, I highly encourage a visit. There is usually a service every Sunday morning starting at around 10 am. Generally the main worship hall will have beautiful live music being played. The entire focus of the service is to pray and connect with the Guru, whose energy is embodied in a collection of writings from the Sikh Gurus and masters of other faiths called the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. These sacred scriptures will be in the main hall with beautiful fabrics adorning it. Offerings are made to support the workings of the Gurdwara including the meals. There is always an amazing cup of chai and the most delicious Punjabi cuisine you can imagine waiting for you in the kitchen during or after the service. The sound of children, laughter, and life will most likely surround you as you eat. If you do plan to go, bring a head cover and plan to sit on the ground for the service and the meal… truly an authentic and beautiful experience. Then again, I am biased… I am hopelessly in love with this way of life.
God Bless You,
In the Light of the Holy Naam, Waheguru.