If we can learn to have control over our mind and keep it stable, the world would be a better place. However, recent events have opened a lot of discussion about the right to own a rifle. I am not writing to discuss the rights of owning or carrying weapons such as rifles. Rather, let’s take a deep dive into our minds, and what one Sikh spiritual teacher taught us centuries ago.
First let’s look at 2022 so far. On May 24, tragic events unfolded in Texas that resulted in the death of 19 children and two educators by the use of a rifle. And, on the other side of the world, in Punjabi, India, on May 29, there was another tragic shooting using an assault rifle. This time a young music artist, Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, better known as Sidhu Moose Wala, was shot 25 times and lost his life at age 28. Two completely different events but resulting in the same outcome: life taken away at the hands of fellow humans carrying military-style rifles.
Are we the only species in the world who can’t keep our minds controlled? This and other questions have come to my mind, which takes me back to the words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the Sikhs’ first spiritual teacher.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji states, “Ai panthi sagal jamati, Man jithai jag jit”: One must see the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order, and know that if you conquer your own mind you will conquer the world.
This verse in no way implies literally conquering the world by taking control of it. Rather, the reverse sets the stage for living a positive life, one that focuses on universal brotherhood and having control over one’s mind. If we can control our mind, everyone around us can be viewed as a special creation. We begin to see that love and brotherhood become part of our everyday lives. We eliminate the dark thoughts that can haunt our minds — thoughts that may tell us to harm someone; Thoughts that can lead us to unthinkable actions, which have plagued the human race since the beginning of mankind.
We are faced by a plethora of events and occurrences that create endless thoughts and feelings. For example, we may try to make sense of recent events by asking why and how, thus creating an unstable mind. Watching the news and social media reports of the same stories, over and over, can also lead to haunting thoughts. All of this results in us having a destructive mind, which opens the gateway for humans to be at a higher risk of acting and reacting in negative ways.
Our minds are altered by everything around us. Whether it is a feeling of happiness, sadness or anger, these emotional expressions are triggered by events around us. When your emotions and other worldly attachments impact your mind, that is when actions and reactions begin to change. The verse by Guru Nanak Dev Ji helps to illuminate the darkness by shedding light. “Conquer your own mind and conquer the world” can guide us to a world of peace and tranquility. If we can control our mind, we are less likely to do things that we normally would not do. And if we can travel on this path, we can conquer the world around us.
Simarjeet Kaur Sandhu is a graduate of Hood College and an English as a Second Language teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools. She is the author of the Simran and Sehaj book series that is geared toward raising awareness for the Sikh community and creating more multicultural books for classrooms across the US