Sat Nam Dear Family,
What does this title, "Chief of Protocol," mean? Who am I supposed to be? I wasn’t given a handbook when this title was bestowed upon me. In fact, I’ve gone through many incarnations of this title, Chief of Protocol.
This journey began quite humbly. One of my duties was to pick up guests and other people at the airport, or drop them off when they left. I learned a lot about the Indian culture from transporting many Punjabi guests.
They were usually quite open with me in inquiring what this dharma, this yogi, these students are all about. Their culture didn’t click with what was going on here. How was their religion and culture so attractive to these Americans? Most didn’t get it, all they wanted to do is to live like most Americans with a lot of money.
I tried to explain it to them, but when the word yoga was mentioned, a communication barricade was set up. For whatever reason, and that reason made no sense or difference to Americans, yoga is a no-no to most Punjabi Sikhs (although that is changing rapidly). Americans have found that the reasons are good, but the experience of yoga was too good to be denied, so long as the right intent was attached to it.
At the time, little did I know that this humbling experience began my education into understanding the extent of my future job. I experienced the perspective of the Punjabi’s immediately and intimately. I began to understand that religion, protocol, are often mixed within culture and tradition. Really, there’s no different with any mature religion, culture, or lifestyle. Tradition and ritual attach themselves until they become part of the core landscape. Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not criticizing at all. I’m just analyzing so i can do my job better.
I didn’t know what my job would be, but I’ve always had a good interest and intuition in understanding more. These experiences were right up my alley. The Panjabi culture is deep and wonderful. It’s seeped in honor, service, and devotion. With Sikhism as it’s base, Punjabi’s have everything they need. And, for them it’s a rather natural religion and lifestyle, it’s within their scope of understanding. There are Gurus, teachers, holy men, saints. There are Gods and Demigods, devils, and their counterpart. Punjabi’s have a deep understanding.
They also have traditions, culture, rituals, many interests outside of protocol. I’m not in any manner judging it, but it is my duty to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff,’ the Guru’s teachings from all else.
Destiny has a way of playing itself out in spite of any and all perceived obstacles. My destiny, if I were blessed to meet up with it, was already laid out. This can be seen much easier if life were lived backwards, but, then again, although it would be easier, we don’t live our lives backwards. We usually can’t see what’s coming, so life usually appears with great obstacles. Seen in reverse, there were really no obstacles at all, just process.
The process of a Sikh life is to see the future retrospectively, as if our projected destiny had already been fulfilled. This is accomplished through chanting God’s name, loving, serving, and praising God more and more. With this understanding, my job has become clearer and clearer: What does Guru ji want us to hold as our protocol, our standard, the essence, the core, the base of Sikh Dharma? This is the my duty.
This is why my destiny has led me to also be bestowed the title of ‘Custodian General of Sikh Dharma.’ These jobs go hand and hand, one compliments the other. In fact, the duty as prescribed in the proclamation for both are the same: to create, promote, and expand an orderly and just dharma. Order and justice become the active words.
‘Order and justice’ is defined as Guru ji’s compassionate teachings used as the only judge for ‘order and justice.’ The teachings create order, and compassion is true justice. That means that I have nothing to do with the standards we set, I just maintain the integrity of Guru ji’s direction, apart from any traditional, cultural, ritual, or any other outside influences. Yes, everything else is available for change, but not the true protocol of Guru ji. That’s the duty of the Chief of protocol, to create a dharma flexible in all ways except in variation of the will of God. That’s our standard.
Are we perfect? Of course not. But, our standard is. That’s the bottom line. All may do, think, act, and believe as they may, but in this dharma, only one opinion matters and that’s Guru ji’s. He is what we ascribe to, worship, serve, love. He is Infinitely worthy of all praise. He sets the standard, the protocol. All else is just gossip.
Naturally, in defending the integrity of our teachings, it’s important to know the teachings. Anyone who claims to ‘know the Guru’s teachings’ has probably misinterpreted their abilities. Only Guru ji totally understand Himself. Therefore, the only way to truly understand Him is to become Him. Therefore, those who claim to know God declare themselves as God - doubtful to say the least!
The way to understand God is through God’s grace. There is no shortcut. He, God, Guru, selects who is bestowed this understanding. This blessing comes with the responsibility of humility, grace, and devotion. When these three virtues become acceptable to Guru ji, more and more understanding of Who Guru ji is, what He wants, and how He can be served him better, is bestowed through true intuition.
This is the way to deeper and deeper understanding of beloved Guru ji. What He wants from each who have been bestowed the blessing of His duty is to do as we may, but keep Guru ji and His teachings, His standard, His protocol, pure. This is what He wants from all. My understanding of His directions, free from any outside influences, especially mine, is what allows me the blessing of serving His will as His Chief of Protocol and Custodian General of Sikh Dharma.
All the essential teachings come from the teachings of Guru ji through His projection as Guru Ram Das. That makes my job easier. Guru ji protects and covers all of our mistakes. It’s through His blessings that the true understanding of His teachings continue to be our standard, and our interpretation of our standard, knowing full well that current interpretation is only that, current. All that matters is that current trends to truer. If that be the case, any limited previous interpretation will be covered. The only thing left is to keep living in gratitude, keep-up serving, and see God everywhere. Stay tuned,
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
MSS Hari Jiwan Singh Khlasa
Chief of Protocol
Custodian General fo Sikh Dharma