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Your mom is right, you are a student in life, that’s what a Sikh is. What I love about your message is that you are both willing to learn, and you are learning! It’s okay if you don’t know how to read or write Punjabi. You can learn, and its never too late (no matter how old you are). It would be helpful to be able to understand the original Gurbani. Prayers teach us the steps on how to meet God, which is the purpose of our life. But also you should know that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is for everyone! So you can read it in English too. You don’t have to be able to know how to read gurmukhi to be able to meet God. I went to visit my uncle this summer and he told me that some of the people in the sangat that he did simran with didn’t know how to read or write- they were illiterate. Yet they had worked hard at their spirituality, and they had met God. So don’t feel like it’s something that’s going to prevent you from reaching your purpose ☺

It’s always really nice when you have someone to work on learning more about Sikhi together. It makes it easier- in my experience I had a really hard time doing it on my own, but when I had people to clarify things, and teach me, it was a lot easier. That could be friends, relatives, or even your mom. But choose someone who knows more than you and you can learn from. Then you can also share what you learn. That’s why going into sangat is important (at the Gurdwara). It uplifts us and reminds us of the path. Keep going to the gurdwara. Sometimes it can be hard to follow along at the gurdwara if we don’t know as much as we would like. If you don’t know how to read gurbani and they are doing prayers, you can follow along in English for example (look up pdfs online, there are lots), or just listen. If you can’t find someone else who is willing to do this with you, it’s totally fine to do it on your own. There’s lots of resources online to help you.

Now coming to the point about paap. We all make mistakes. If you ask God for forgiveness, you are forgiven. When you are truly sorry and you are honest about what you have done, God knows that. It seems like the step you are stuck at is being able to forgive yourself. That’s a really important thing. There’s a difference between guilt and shame and a lot of people mix them up. Guilt is when you feel bad about what you did, but you learn from your mistakes and you move on. Shame is when you think you are a bad person for what you did and it keeps us from being able to move forward. So if you are ashamed, you need to heal that shame. You aren’t a bad person (I don’t care what you did). We are all children of God, and our souls are pure. You are a good person. Just look at your message- its filled with how you are going to better yourself and move forward. That’s amazing. Now some amount of thinking about the past is necessary to be able to learn from our mistakes. Like if you do something repeatedly, it’s useful to look back and see where that behavior is coming from and figure out how to fix it so it doesn’t happen again. That’s where working on the anger issues may help you. But if we keep looking back and the only thought is “I did a bad thing” then it’s really hard to move forward because the regret is not going to change the past. You need to use the past to learn. Learn from it and look for solutions to moving forward and preventing it from happening again. Remember, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. That’s okay. Now you know, don’t do it again.

Karma is cause and effect. Even if you didn’t intend harm we can be really doing a lot of hurt to other people (for example some people hit others because that’s how they had grown up learning. They didn’t realize it was wrong, because that’s all they knew. But it still did harm and it’s a paap). Although you can’t erase the past, you can attempt at making amends and doing what you can when you do learn and realize you did wrong. The importance is in recognizing, admitting, and not repeating those mistakes. Karma is undone when we do simran- we can get rid of many janams of paap (not just this life) when we remember God. It is described in the gurbani like this: “Excruciating pain, countless killings, reincarnation, poverty and terrible misery are all destroyed by meditating in remembrance on the Lord’s Name, O Nanak, just as fire reduces piles of wood to ashes.” (p. 1355). So you are right, as you do more on this path in Sikhi, you will reduce the negative effects of your karma. Spend your time really making an effort.

Gurbani also says “When you are under the power of sexual desire, anger and worldly attachment, or a greedy miser in love with your wealth; if you have committed the four great sins and other mistakes; even if you are a murderous fiend who has never taken the time to listen to sacred books, hymns and poetry -if you then come to remember the Supreme Lord God, and contemplate Him, even for a moment, you shall be saved.” (page 70 Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Even if you are a murderer (!!) you are worthy of reaching God! That reminds us that anyone can change and move forward. I have seen this in real life. My uncle was an alcoholic (actually a lot of my relatives are). He drank day and night, and he managed to turn his life around. He started doing sewa, he worked hard and met lots of religious people. He did lots of simran. He has met God now and he is the most loving person I have ever met. I use him as inspiration to move forward in my path.

The more gurbani you read (in English) the more you are going to learn. Doing simran is really important too. Personally I found the lectures on mysimran.info gave me a lot of knowledge about the path to God and what it means and its all in English! Go to the videos section and scroll to the bottom to lecture 1 (ignore the first 15 min or so, that’s for a course they are doing). But there are lots of good resources online if you are finding it too hard to follow.

I’m really sorry this is spiraling you into depression. I know first-hand that depression is painful, especially without good emotional coping skills. Personally, I had to go through counseling to learn those (although it took me some time to find a counselor I liked). When the pain went away, I realized I transformed who I am into a more well-rounded and healthy person. The skills I learned stuck with me forever, and will help me for the rest of my life. So my advice would be that if the depression is sticking around even after everything I said above (gurbani helps to heal depression too), then don’t be scared to get help. I can’t speak to what’s going to help you emotionally, but I found exercise, sleep and relaxation techniques to be really important (if you don’t take care of your body the mind starts to fall apart). Because I felt really bad about myself (a symptom of depression), I wrote down a list of positive affirmations. I can start off your list for you right now based on what you have told me in this message: you are brave and courageous, you are open-minded, you are caring, you are kind-hearted, etc. You can add to the list and remind yourself daily of your good qualities. Social support is really important, and its really amazing that you were able to talk to your mom about how you’ve been feeling. A lot of people keep the feelings bottled up and that really feels horrible. Feeling alone worsens depression so make sure to keep talking, your mom sounds like she knows the right things to say.

You can do this. It’s a struggle right now but also a huge opportunity for growth. It's going to get better. You are an awesome beautiful human being. Best of luck

Bhul Chuk Maaf

Your mom is right, you are a student in life, that’s what a Sikh is. What I love about your message is that you are both willing to learn, and you are learning! It’s okay if you don’t know how to read or write Punjabi. You can learn, and its never too late (no matter how old you are). It would be helpful to be able to understand the original Gurbani. Prayers teach us the steps on how to meet God, which is the purpose of our life. But also you should know that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is for everyone! So you can read it in English too. You don’t have to be able to know how to read gurmukhi to be able to meet God. I went to visit my uncle this summer and he told me that some of the people in the sangat that he did simran with didn’t know how to read or write- they were illiterate. Yet they had worked hard at their spirituality, and they had met God. So don’t feel like it’s something that’s going to prevent you from reaching your purpose ☺

It’s always really nice when you have someone to work on learning more about Sikhi together. It makes it easier- in my experience I had a really hard time doing it on my own, but when I had people to clarify things, and teach me, it was a lot easier. That could be friends, relatives, or even your mom. But choose someone who knows more than you and you can learn from. Then you can also share what you learn. That’s why going into sangat is important (at the Gurdwara). It uplifts us and reminds us of the path. Keep going to the gurdwara. Sometimes it can be hard to follow along at the gurdwara if we don’t know as much as we would like. If you don’t know how to read gurbani and they are doing prayers, you can follow along in English for example (look up pdfs online, there are lots), or just listen. If you can’t find someone else who is willing to do this with you, it’s totally fine to do it on your own. There’s lots of resources online to help you.

Now coming to the point about paap. We all make mistakes. If you ask God for forgiveness, you are forgiven. When you are truly sorry and you are honest about what you have done, God knows that. It seems like the step you are stuck at is being able to forgive yourself. That’s a really important thing. There’s a difference between guilt and shame and a lot of people mix them up. Guilt is when you feel bad about what you did, but you learn from your mistakes and you move on. Shame is when you think you are a bad person for what you did and it keeps us from being able to move forward. So if you are ashamed, you need to heal that shame. You aren’t a bad person (I don’t care what you did). We are all children of God, and our souls are pure. You are a good person. Just look at your message- its filled with how you are going to better yourself and move forward. That’s amazing. Now some amount of thinking about the past is necessary to be able to learn from our mistakes. Like if you do something repeatedly, it’s useful to look back and see where that behavior is coming from and figure out how to fix it so it doesn’t happen again. That’s where working on the anger issues may help you. But if we keep looking back and the only thought is “I did a bad thing” then it’s really hard to move forward because the regret is not going to change the past. You need to use the past to learn. Learn from it and look for solutions to moving forward and preventing it from happening again. Remember, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. That’s okay. Now you know, don’t do it again.

Karma is cause and effect. Even if you didn’t intend harm we can be really doing a lot of hurt to other people (for example some people hit others because that’s how they had grown up learning. They didn’t realize it was wrong, because that’s all they knew. But it still did harm and it’s a paap). Although you can’t erase the past, you can attempt at making amends and doing what you can when you do learn and realize you did wrong. The importance is in recognizing, admitting, and not repeating those mistakes. Karma is undone when we do simran- we can get rid of many janams of paap (not just this life) when we remember God. It is described in the gurbani like this: “Excruciating pain, countless killings, reincarnation, poverty and terrible misery are all destroyed by meditating in remembrance on the Lord’s Name, O Nanak, just as fire reduces piles of wood to ashes.” (p. 1355). So you are right, as you do more on this path in Sikhi, you will reduce the negative effects of your karma. Spend your time really making an effort.

Gurbani also says “When you are under the power of sexual desire, anger and worldly attachment, or a greedy miser in love with your wealth; if you have committed the four great sins and other mistakes; even if you are a murderous fiend who has never taken the time to listen to sacred books, hymns and poetry -if you then come to remember the Supreme Lord God, and contemplate Him, even for a moment, you shall be saved.” (page 70 Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Even if you are a murderer (!!) you are worthy of reaching God! That reminds us that anyone can change and move forward. I have seen this in real life. My uncle was an alcoholic (actually a lot of my relatives are). He drank day and night, and he managed to turn his life around. He started doing sewa, he worked hard and met lots of religious people. He did lots of simran. He has met God now and he is the most loving person I have ever met. I use him as inspiration to move forward in my path.

The more gurbani you read (in English) the more you are going to learn. Doing simran is really important too. Personally I found the lectures on mysimran.info gave me a lot of knowledge about the path to God and what it means and its all in English! Go to the videos section and scroll to the bottom to lecture 1 (ignore the first 15 min or so, that’s for a course they are doing). But there are lots of good resources online if you are finding it too hard to follow.

I’m really sorry this is spiraling you into depression. I know first-hand that depression is painful, especially without good emotional coping skills. Personally, I had to go through counseling to learn those (although it took me some time to find a counselor I liked). When the pain went away, I realized I transformed who I am into a more well-rounded and healthy person. The skills I learned stuck with me forever, and will help me for the rest of my life. So my advice would be that if the depression is sticking around even after everything I said above (gurbani helps to heal depression too), then don’t be scared to get help. I can’t speak to what’s going to help you emotionally, but I found exercise, sleep and relaxation techniques to be really important (if you don’t take care of your body the mind starts to fall apart). Because I felt really bad about myself (a symptom of depression), I wrote down a list of positive affirmations. I can start off your list for you right now based on what you have told me in this message: you are brave and courageous, you are open-minded, you are caring, you are kind-hearted, etc. You can add to the list and remind yourself daily of your good qualities. Social support is really important, and its really amazing that you were able to talk to your mom about how you’ve been feeling. A lot of people keep the feelings bottled up and that really feels horrible. Feeling alone worsens depression so make sure to keep talking, your mom sounds like she knows the right things to say.

You can do this. It’s a struggle right now but also a huge opportunity for growth. It's going to get better. You are an awesome beautiful human being. Best of luck

P.S. https://www.scribd.com/document/154186761/FORGETTING-THE-WAY-OF-LOVE-1-By-Bhia-Sewa-Singh-Tarmala This book (I got the actual book as a gift and i have no idea where to get it), is hands down the best sikhi book i've ever read. it explains a lot and I'm only partway through. The more you read it the more you will understand the purpose of our life, etc. in Sikhi. I actually didn't know any of that stuff until this summer, even though i have grown up reading paath, going to the gurdwara, and doing kirtan etc. Now every night (usually the time i'm most overwhelmed/stress), i open it up and read a few pages.

Bhul Chuk Maaf