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The Face We Meet

Sat Nam Dear Family,

Let's dive into something T.S. Eliot once wrote in his famous poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” He said, "There will be time, there will be time, to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." It's like a poetic metaphor for how we navigate life. It's true, but also a bit sad. Perfect poetry, right? 

Being aware of the struggles and battles we all face as earthlings can be both terrifying and inspiring. Face after face, we shape our perception, trying to make others see us the way we see ourselves. That's the game of life. Our face changes with circumstances, moods, phases of the moon, or whatever suits the moment. More faces often means that there’s less trust in the face we see. We become blank canvases for the projections of others; our own faces have been highjacked. 

Mr. Eliot's poem is, in a way, a reflection of what's sometimes inaccurately labeled "Eastern Philosophy." It's not just philosophy; it's the way life. This poem draws on an awareness of the human condition. In simpler terms, we often wear masks. That's the reality. We're content with our masks, sometimes unaware of them, other times just too lazy to take them off. We don't see it, don't want to see it, and deny it. That's what makes us both false and ignorant. It's humanity's struggle, not the way it should be, but that's karma for you. It's painful, and the cure is even more painful.

Now, Mr. Eliot, I love your poem, but where's the guidance on how to be real and wise? All that's left is someone else’s technique. One typically filled with indifference and apathy. This leads to the eventual self-mortification of humanity. Yes, this is where we live, unfortunately. 

Don't get me wrong; maybe it's just a poem, not a profound teaching. It's enough for humanity just to grasp this awareness and call it great. Many will read or hear this poem. It's a really good poem; it imparts what can be understood within the context of the times. But, there’s more.

For us, we have a way, a method to minimize the number of faces we wear. It's called Sikh Dharma. Our way combines the focus of yoga, the love for our Guru, and unwavering effort. It's a demanding path, but that's what makes it worthwhile. Sikh Dharma is one of the powerful tools to overcome the insecurity of wearing different masks. Understanding this made me think that Eliot's poem, in its simplicity and complexity, it is indeed great poetry. It resonates with all people. That's why it's so popular.

I recently attended a reception at the Governor's Mansion for Gov. Bill Richardson's funeral. It was a gathering of diverse faces – political, business, entertainment, sports, you name it. These celebrities carried their adopted personas along with their bodies. This diversity was a testament to Richardson's ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Some wore somber faces, others were cheerful, and there was everything in between. He embraced them all.

Bill Richardson had a unique talent – the ability to deal with all kinds of faces. That's what led him to become the Governor of New Mexico, a US Congressional representative, the Secretary to the United Nations and the world's top hostage negotiator. He secured the release of more political prisoners than anyone, period. How did he do it? According to President Clinton, who gave the eulogy at his funeral, Governor Richardson saw the potential in everyone, not their limitations. He believed that everyone has the ability to do what's right. He focused on understanding of the faces of others rather than the limitations of his own.

President Clinton was spot on. "It takes one to know one." Clinton understood Bill Richardson. That's why Clinton became president – he was also adept at reading faces. This ability is a virtue that not many possess, at least not to Richardson's level. He read the face of Sikh Dharma well. He was our friend, and his memory is pure love.

Reading faces, especially our own, provides us with protection, understanding, and intuition. These benefits come with a higher level of consciousness. As the student becomes adept at reading faces, he grow. He begins to see himself in his face and the face of others. 

So, thanks to Mr. Eliot, Mr. Clinton, and Mr. Richardson, we in the West have a taste of Eastern wisdom and a wonderful example. Wisdom from any source is always welcome. This poem and Richardson's approach align well. They both communicate the same truth clearly - listen and understand yourself and others. Stay tuned. 

Your Friend,

Hari Jiwan