Khalsa Council Fall Meeting 2017
The International Khalsa Council met in Espanola, New Mexico on September 20 – 23, 2017 for its Fall meetings.
Comprised of approximately 100 Ministers and leaders from the global Sikh Dharma community, the Khalsa Council serves as a leadership body for our Dharma, meeting twice a year to discuss issues of relevance to the present and future of our Dharma. The meetings were very dynamic, informative and uplifting.
The following are some highlights and updates.
MSS Nirvair Singh, MSS Guruka Singh and SS Pritpal Kaur led a presentation on the concepts, principles and modalities of leadership.
Guruka Singh shared that leadership is a journey for all of us and we are in a process of co-discovery to examine some of our pre-conceptions about what leadership means. He shared a slide presentation about different leadership models, including
- Transactional Leadership (hierarchical chain of command)
- Charismatic Leadership (a charismatic leader stimulating transformation)
- Participative Leadership (Diagonal Leadership – inclusive leadership throughout an organization)
- Transformational Leadership (Mission driven leadership)
- Spiritual Leadership
MSS Nirvair Singh shared about the active leadership training that is currently taking place in the KRI Aquarian Academy. He explained the types of leadership training at each level of the teacher training process, including team management, problem solving etc.
Pritpal Kaur then led a small group process where each member shared an experience of leadership that changed their life.
The Khalsa Council then participated in a process to define our “Pyramid of Promise”. We identified the tangible, functional and emotional benefits to those we serve, and ultimately to define our “transcendent promise” that is at the core of our mission of service.
A Minister is a Lighthouse to All
Secretary of Religion SS Dr. Sat-Kaur and SS Gurujodha Singh, spoke about the Siri Singh Sahib’s vision for the Sikh Dharma Ministry. Dr Sat Kaur shared that the Siri Singh Sahib focused on the caliber, character, commitment and service of our Ministry, rather than on competencies. She stressed that each Minister has God-given gifts and skills that contribute to the whole, working in unity and purity to serve humanity with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as our base and our touchstone. As Ministers, we represent a cross-section of Sikh Dharma and it is essential that we deliver.
Gurujodha Singh reminded the members that we are a lighthouse to all. He stated that our guiding light is the Siri Singh Sahib as a role model of what it means to be a Sikh Minister as he manifested all the attributes and capabilities that he delivered on, to help us understand what it means to be a Minister. Gurujodha Singh asked members to think of the problems in the world today and what actions we can take.
Dr. Sat-Kaur shared the results of a recent Minister Enrichment Survey with the top three topics of Minister Enrichment being Death and Dying, the Relationship between Sikh Dharma and Kundalini Yoga, and Handling Grief and Trauma.
Light into Light - Sikh Guidance on Death and Dying
SS Guru Sangat Kaur presented Light into Light, Sikh Guidelines on Death and Dying. She shared some of the protocols and practices of Sikh death ceremonies and guidance on ways we can serve those who are in the process of dying. She led a Meditation for Taking Away the Fear of Death. Guru Sangat Kaur plans to create a booklet on this topic.
Click here to download Slideshow
Community Seva - Food 4 Kids NM
Khalsa Call to Action - Answering the Call of the Times
SS Shanti Kaur, Sada Sat Simran Singh and SS Gurujodha Singh
During our topic, “Khalsa Call to Action – Answering the Call of the Times”, we discussed some of the current issues and events which are impacting our world today. Many are facing discrimination and intolerance, and have fear and insecurity about their future. We have had a series of natural disasters, and many are struggling for simple survival. This is a time when we can reach out to serve those in need.
SS Shanti Kaur shared that political engagement remains a priority and encouraged the members to get to know their government officials and cultivate relationships and engage with the people who represent them politically. She spoke about some of the ways we are reching out through our Legacy Organizations, including Peace Prayer Day, 3HO/ Sikhs Plaza Day, the Yogi Bhajan Life and Legacy Party. She encouraged each member to find their own Call to Action.
We reviewed an exceptional document distributed by the Southern Poverty Law Center entitled “10 Ways to Fight Hate”. Shanti Kaur highlighted ways the Khalsa Council and our Dharmic organizations can stand up to hate, and she created the “10 Khalsa Ways to Fight Hate”.
Click here for 10 Khalsa Ways to Fight Hate
She stressed the importance of reaching out to connect with active community groups who respond to hate acts, getting to know them now, as this can give an early warning if hate is brewing in your community.
SS Gurujodha Singh shared about his experience at the 5th anniversary of the Oak Creek Gurdwara shooting, and he mentioned a film titled ‘Welcome to Oak Creek’, which highlights the power of small acts of kindness, turning hatred into understanding and how we can neutralize hate. He stated that we must strengthen our resolve as Ministers to prepare for what is coming. Have the clarity to act as Khalsa. We must be prepared and able to show, as leaders to the entire world, what it means to be a spiritual warrior in the advancement of justice, righteousness, and peace.
SS Sada Sat Simran, spoke about the importance of maintaining connecting with people of consciousness and working together. He stressed the importance of supporting the victims and embracing those who have been hurt. This is not the time for silence. It is time to voice what is right. He asked us to remember Bhai Kanaya, who saw the face of a brother in both friend and foe alike. He asked us to examine our own attitudes about diversity. Doing our daily practice, will give us the clarity we need. We must represent the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. We must live through service.
After the presentation, members met in small groups to discuss how each one of us and our communities are being effected by the current political and social climate, and what actions we can be take, as individuals and as the International Khalsa Council to answer the call of the times.
Khalsa Council Statement
The Khalsa Council affirmed the following statement that we will be using for any of our Public Relations needs, individually or collectively.
International Khalsa Council Statement
As Sikhs, we believe in the equality and dignity of all human beings. Sikhs stand for truth, social justice and freedom for all.
The International Khalsa Council, a body of Sikh Ministers, stands united with all people of love and consciousness to:
- Honor and protect the right of each human being to live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life.
- Respect the equality and dignity of all living beings.
- Welcome and embrace the diversity of all humankind.
- Honor the dignity, divinity and grace of women.
- Protect and care for the environment
Together we are working towards a more loving, just and peaceful world.
LGBTQ+ Task Force Report
SS Viriam Singh, SS Dukh Niwaran Kaur and SS Jivan Joti Kaur
The LGBTQ+ Task Force has been meeting each month since our Spring Khalsa Council meeting. SS Viriam Singh, the Chairperson of the task force, spoke about their goals and objectives. They have been focusing on how, as ministers and teachers, we can serve the LGBTQ+ members in the Dharma, as well as the larger LGBTQ+ community.
Dukh Niwaran Kaur and Jivan Joti Kaur spoke about the work that is being done in KRI involving inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals. They explained that the LGBTQ+ community is a living community that is continuing to define itself. They spoke about “micro-aggressions”, which is a type of communication that creates degradation of identity. They urged members to be aware of any communication that degrades a group of people, and to speak out against it in the moment, if they hear it.
A very moving video was shown of LGBTQ+ members in our Sikh Dharma/3HO Sangat speaking about their personal experience, and their connection with our Dharmic and yogic technology.
Viriam Singh encouraged Ministers to embrace the role of an ally, not only to this community, but to all minority and targeted communities, and to take a stand against social injustice and discrimination.
Khalsa Council members broke into small discussion groups on the topics of what steps we can take to be more aware, serviceful and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
Let Us be Known for Our Service
We heard three presentations from our members about initiatives that are serving communities around the world.
MSS Nirvair Singh gave a presentation about the KRI initiative which is serving underserved communities around the world and helping to “jump start” those communities by developing local teachers. He introduced SS Amrit Singh, the new Executive Director of KRI’s Aquarian Training Program, who spoke about the training of Sevadars as a core part of KRI Teacher Training and supporting Teacher Training programs around the world that are being done as Seva. He shared that the East West Tea Company Board is sponsoring a Teacher Training course as part of their Doing Good initiative.
SS Pritpal Kaur presented about the 3HO Live to Give Grants, an annual grant from East West Tea Company to help fund small non-profits. She shared a video of a 2017 Live to Give grant recipient, a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Africa who teaches and inspires youth to incorporate healthy practices into their lives.
SS Dr. Harjot Kaur shared about the Guru Amar Das Niwas Senior’s Association who’s goal is to build a 120 bed, non-profit, Sikh nursing home in Calgary, Canada. Dr. Harjot Kaur spoke about the necessity for culturally-sensitive nursing home options and shared that the group has begun a volunteer program to support elderly Sikhs through serving Punjabi meals, playing kirtan, and assisting with turban tying. She noted that this is important to the entire community and may be the first Sikh nursing home in North America.
The Pink Brain Project - Research Using Kundalini Yoga and Kirtan Kriya to Prevent Alzheimer's in Women
SS Dr. Dharma Singh presented on the history of his Alzheimer’s research which was inspired by the Siri Singh Sahib in 1995. He reported on a number of his research studies showing the positive effects of Kirtan Kriya on the brain and that this meditation decreases inflammation, fights aging, and improves memory. He pointed out that 70% of all Alzheimer’s sufferers are women and he encouraged everyone to practice this valuable meditation at least 12 minutes a day to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Click here to download Slideshow
Dharmic Office of Public Affairs
SS Shanti Kaur and SS Sada Sat Simran reported on the work of the Dharmic office of Public Affairs.
Shanti Kaur shared about our Dharmic Disaster Relief Efforts, including
* A donation from Yogi Tea of $25K for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston
* SDI raising $10K and sending volunteers to do Seva with United Sikhs in the Florida Keys.
* SDI initiated a Seva Team to serve Langar to the areas affected by the recent earthquake in and around Mexico City.
Shanti Kaur related the positive outcome of our media and press coverage in India with over 40 articles published in India about our programs and activities in the past six months.
Sada Sat Simran Singh shared that we are working in conjunction with several Sikh organizations, including SALDEF, United Sikhs, Sikh Coalition, and Sikh Foundation and our Sangats are participating in common events and being more unified and more visible. SALDEF has asked us to offer names for a potential SALDEF board member to serve as an inter-organizational diplomat.
He shared about the SDI sponsored Guru Ram Das Chetna Yatra, taking place in October, which is a free Yatra with the focus of doing Seva and allowing us to have an annual presence in Amritsar to be with the Sangat there.
He also shared about the SDI sponsored Shabd Guru immersion course being lead by Siri Sikdar Sahiba Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur and SS Guru Kirin Kaur in Anandpur Sahib in November.
Siri Singh Sahib Corp Report
SS Satwant Singh, Executive Director, reported on the work of the Siri Singh Sahib Corp since the April Khalsa Council meeting. He reviewed the Vision and Mission Statements and noted the role of the SSSC in approving the affiliated non-profit Board Members. He updated the progress in finalizing the bylaws for SDEI, KRI, Sikhnet and 3HO. He also announced the upcoming creation of an SSSC website to provide board member info, agendas, bylaws, policies and election results.
He introduced the new SSSC board administrative assistant, Amrit Vela Kaur (Chile) and noted that Atma Kaur, Assistant Executive Director, is now taking a more strategic role, using her organizational development skills.
Satwant Singh reported on the progress of the restructuring activities of our Dharmic properties and also noted that the board is working on increasing outreach efforts with SSSC Board Members attending several events with Sikh organizations, working with 3HO on the Peace Prayer Day speakers (the Interfaith Amigos) and attending the European Yoga Festival. He shared about the board’s ongoing projects, including succession planning, board training, a shared services project and creating the long-term vision for the organization. He also reported on the activities of the Mission Commission and their long-term strategic plans including the establishment of a fundraising group and further refining the CCC grant process.
In discussing the ongoing settlement efforts, Satwant Singh encouraged the Sangat to chant the mantra Aap Sahaee Hoaa for 40 days, which helps to dissolve animosity and resolve disputes.
SS Gurujodha Singh, SSSC board president, honored the service of the outgoing board members and presented MSS Guru Singh, SS Jai Singh, SS Siri Pritam Kaur and SS Siri Vishnu Singh with plaques commemorating their service. Each outgoing board member addressed the Khalsa Council.
Gurujodha Singh welcomed the new members, SS Guru Darbar Singh, SS Guru Sangat Singh, SS Kulwant Kaur and SS Sahaj Singh, and noted that we now have two members of our second generation on the board and many of the second generation serving throughout our organizations. He commended everyone who is answering the call and helping to build the future of our Dharma.
KIIT reported on the activities of our for-profit businesses; East West Tea Co, Akal Security, KIIT Renewable Energy (KRE) and Yoga West.
Krishan Shiva Singh, Executive Director of KIIT, gave a brief presentation from the KIIT board to the Khalsa Council. He reported on milestones, including the launch of Khalsa Renewable Energy and exploration of a development/funding capability to raise funds for the development of new KIIT businesses. He reported that Akal Security is on an upward trend and they are looking at long term sustainability initiatives and diversification. He also reported that Yoga West has a new board and new management.
Sukhwinder Singh spoke about the activities of the East West Tea Company and reported that sales are growing and the new building project is underway. He also reported on the KIIT Renewable Energy project which is now a profitable business that is expanding and creating a healthy pipeline for future projects. They completed 5 solar projects within the past 14 months.
Defining the Electorate Task Force Report
SS Sahaj Singh, the Chair of the Defining the Electorate task force, gave an overview of the work of the task force since its formation at our last Khalsa Council meeting.
The task force has been meeting monthly and is exploring all the options for defining the electorate for upcoming elections of the SSSC Board, which will best serve our Sangat and the future of our Dharma.
SDEI and Alumni Association Report
Saraswati Kaur, the Assistant Principal of MPA showed an inspiring video of the school program, made by the MPA students. Each year, the school grows more and more diverse, with students from 19 countries throughout the world. She shared that one of the MPA Alumni from Mexico is helping with the earthquake relief effort.
SS Shanti Kaur, a member of the SDEI Board, reported about the issues of health concerns due to the growing pollution in India. India is starting to make changes relating to climate control and clean energy, which is helping. She reported improvements related to the efforts put into place at the school to improve air and water quality, and the plans for additional remedial efforts including an indoor gymnasium and a central indoor air filtering system. The board has also decided to introduce a new accreditation program to allow students to choose to take the Cambridge study or receive an equivalent of a US high school diploma through this new program. The school is now poised for growth and has members of the third generation attending.
SS Simran Singh presented the MPA Alumni Association report. He shared that we have 500 MPA Alumni spread across every continent, who are serving the Dharma and the world in various ways. Many have developed successful careers or businesses, and they are continuing to spread the teachings around the world. He reported on the first MPA art exhibit with 30 artists, including MPA alumni, which was held in Santa Fe in the summer. He encouraged us to invest in our future by investing in the MPA alumni community, and to create more pathways for greater participation, including the Ministry and Teacher Training.