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My OnFaith 5: "The Entire Universe is Our Family"

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1. Is religion or spirituality important to you in your daily life? If so, how? Religion and spirituality are very important in my daily life. As a person who adheres to two faith traditions, it is a blessing and, indeed, a challenge to live out two worldviews in my life. With that said, they both serve as my checks and balances for the decisions I make and the life I choose to live on a daily basis. Since both religions are rooted in some form of spirituality, extra time in my day is spent contemplating and comprehending the world around me. Whether it is the simplicity of rain drops falling on my head or the complexity of current events and how they impact our society, I require a personal and "divine debrief" that encourages me to analyze a situation from all perspectives and have patience with every passing moment, even towards harsh people and situations. 2. How has your understanding of “God” evolved throughout your life? Absolutely. The foundations of religion as an institutions and the impact of dogma have always been a cause of questioning for me. I was always taught by my parents to respect and learn about the values and perspectives that others live by, even if they were completely different from my own; the common thread of kindness, service, and equality would be my way of associating with people. This led me to asking myself and my communities about the in depth and controversial questions that made religion become a deterrent for many around the world. It was through my search, my dissatisfaction, and my further curiosity that I became stronger in my faith and more respectful of the worldview of others. I became stronger in my faith because I learned about other religions and philosophies. I re-discovered important lessons, practices, and understandings about my Hindu and Sikh background only because of my exposure to Islam, Buddhism, atheism, and beyond. I purposefully say "re-discover" because our initial discovery of God and the depth of the cosmos comes from our first find, it becomes a re-discovery when we realize the core principle or idea had some root in your tradition this whole time. 3. What do you think about religions other than your own? They are wonderful and complex and important to learn about as they impact the way our world functions. 4. Can you share a time when your faith helped you understand a significant event in your life? In August 2012, a white supremacist walked into a Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in Oak Creek, WI, in the hopes of harming a Muslim community. In his blind rage and confusion, he killed several community members and severely injured a police officer, all because of a vendetta. When the attack took place, I was in India spending time with my family. Fear and confusion struck my heart as my identity was compromised as an Indian American. My sanctuary, my abode for prayer and love, had been desecrated at the hands of a hateful man who confused communities, traditions, and more in a facade to make an enemy of and dehumanize the "other." My faith traditions gave me the epiphany that got me involved in interfaith work as a passion; it is my responsibility to fight for what is right, no matter the community that is inflicted. If the Sikh community was falsely targeted as being Muslim, then I as a Sikh have a responsibility to support my Muslim friends. If I fall into the trap of hate and ignorance that the assailant did, I become a part of the spiral of chaos that continues to divide people. We do not change who we target in communities, because we should not be targeting any community for their differences. If we share anything as completely different individuals and communities it is that we share a common world. A common destiny. A common mortality that reminds us our time is limited on this earth. What I do to help and hurt others reflects on me and impacts me. 5. What is your faith in one word /phrase or image? The Hindu phrase vasudhaiva kutumbakam, the entire Universe is our Family it is only those ignorant of heart and mind who cannot learn to love and support the stranger. The Sikh phrase Nanak naam chardi kala, Tere bhane sarbat da bhalla. Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhism, reminds us to remain relentlessly optimistic when we remember God, for it is within God that the fate of all existence resides. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Read more OnFaith Five member responses here: https://www.onfaith.co/a/onfaithfive