Project Conversion

Project Conversion

How to Run from the Universe…and Fail.

You cannot run from the universe and you cannot run from reality because according to Sikhi, God is the universe and reality. So why even try?


Now, I consult no more with my Ego,
For, the Guru has warned that egoism is fool-hardy,
And that the Ego remains homeless ever; it finds no Refuge.
So I am attuned to God, being Saved by the Guru.
(Bibhas Prabhati M. 5, Ashtapadis)

“And that the Ego remains homeless forever…” How often, when we purpose to do our own thing do we find ourselves alone? Too many times it is when we struggle alone and insist on doing so that we dig ourselves deeper into the darkness.


I should know better.

A little over a week ago, I made this post called “The Rebellion.” Here I talked about my experiences at the river and how, because of their nature, I feared going back. In my great wisdom and unyielding will, I declared independence from the universe and left the river Temple, deciding when I’d return on my own.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been so full of yourself.


How, after all this time, could I be so naive? Where did this sudden rise in ego come from? I think it was fear. Fear is a powerful illusion and often prompts us to go after the next illusion in line: control. I feared what was going on at the Temple–not because it was scary–but because what it meant for me personally. The implication was that I would have to lose myself and no longer be the same. Regardless of the amazing transformation waiting on the other side of “I accept”, I ran out of fear. By rebelling against the invitation, I created a false sense of control. “Ha!” I said, “As long as I’m on this side of the Temple, I don’t have to deal with this.”

“Everyone is engrossed in his own gain,
None sacrifices himself for the sake of others,
Nanak, do not contract company with such men,
Who think only of their own gains.”
Guru V, Gauri Rag


I thought the same thing when I was a kid. If I hid under my blanket, the monsters at night could not get me. Little do we realize that the “monsters” are simply manifestations of our own egos–our desperate need to control what we don’t understand.

So I drew that line in the sand. I started Project Conversion and it was going according to my plan. Accordingly, things started going strange almost immediately.

I instantly felt “disconnected.”

Once I said “Thanks but no thanks,” to the Temple, nothing was really the same. My prayers and the reading of the Japji Sahib felt stifled. I just wasn’t getting that warm, soft feeling with each word that I was before. Meditations were also cold. My mind would race about everything and I couldn’t relax. Even my wife noticed, though I never admitted it. Everything felt like a useless ritual–a big no-no in Sikhi.


Burnt be thos rituals and formalities,
Whereby I forget my Beloved Lord.
Man practices rituals in order to control his body,
Yet his mind wanders in all directions.”
(Guru III, Vadhans Rag)

Frustration set in.

How many faiths have we talked about thus far that describe in searing detail the agony of separation? Hell is not in some far off place or awaiting us after death…it’s your abandonment of reality. Every religion speaks of this. I’ve been hit really hard by some nasty circumstances and some odd convictions since my “declaration” over a week ago. They’ve come from a variety of places, including a weekly Bible study meeting, scripture reading, comments on the blog, interactions with the kids–even jogging is different.


Yesterday however, was the last straw. I got an email that bore a highly ambiguous meaning. At first glance it was one of those “This must be bad news,” type things. I was so wrapped up in fear and anxiety over the unknown meaning that I started CREATING a reality that didn’t exist. How often have you done this, where you instantly create the worst case scenario based on what you think might be going on?

I did this for nearly an hour, thinking about how I’d deal with this email. Forget the fact that I’d find out exactly what I needed the next day. I was busy trying to control this made-up world, built upon a scaffolding of anxiety.


I thought about Sikhi, about all the scripture I mentioned above and others about depending on God. Then I thought about all the other faiths, how each one points out the futility of worry, but this wasn’t good enough. I declared independence again. My ego had indeed become homeless, and there was no refuge.

So I went for a jog. This time I didn’t follow my normal route. I went farther and didn’t want to stop. I turned into an older neighborhood after about a mile and a half and, instead of turning back, I got the urge to keep going down this back street. It’s not a good part of town, but I at least had my kirpan on me, so after some hesitation, I went ahead.


There at the end of the street was an abandoned warehouse, probably something from the big tobacco days.

I started to jog by the old ruins, but then I glanced back, and like a tractor beam, I was lured in. Something told me to walk inside and as much as reason screamed “Turn back!”, I obeyed.


Broken glass, metal studs without walls, the roof caving in, pigeons fluttering in the bent rafters…I wondered why I was compelled to enter, but kept going. I found random items–things I didn’t expect in an abandoned warehouse–littered all over the floor. There was a sullied bouquet of plastic red roses. I found a pair of plaid shorts. There was an unopened utility bill. Trees growing up through the cracks in the cement floor. Burnt evidence of camp fires. Beer cans…

Eventually I came upon a loading dock next to the train tracks. I turned, looked out into the interior of the warehouse, and knew right then what was going on. “Fine,” I said, and sat down. I gave up–not that there was a fight against anything at all–but the struggle within to be separate from reality. There’s no telling how long I sat in meditation. Five minutes, maybe twenty, who knows, but when I opened my eyes, the anxiety was gone. An “echo” lingered in my thoughts, saying,


You think I’m confined to a spot on the river? Look at the items you found in this warehouse. They all represent someone looking for refuge. Your ego is now one of those items left behind. Go in peace.

Guru Nanak was right when he visited Mecca. His feet were pointed toward the Kabbah and a guard asked him why he disrespected the house of God by pointing his feet toward the Kabbah. Guru Nanak asked the guard to place his feet instead where God is not present. The guard realized his mistake.

Your life is the temple and you are the priest. Reality is here whether you accept it or not. Worry, fear, anxiety…all illusions of control. What can you let go of today? What is seperating you from union with reality?

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posted September 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm


Yes indeed, the Buddha said that in the Dhammapada. Great stuff and very true, as well as the Baha’i quote you offer.

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posted September 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm


Great analogy with the deer. Guru Granth Sahib always seems to know just what to say ; )

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Sam Karvonen

posted September 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Aye aye Andrew, I hear ya… Proud of you (sorry for the avuncular sound of that!). It takes courage to take on oneself. I think it was Buddha who said it is easier to defeat 10,000 soldiers than it is to defeat one’s self.

“They say: ‘Where is Paradise and where is Hell?’ Say: ‘The one is reunion
with Me; the other thine own Self.’”

(Bahá’u’lláh, Ishráqát)

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posted September 23, 2011 at 7:32 am

ya this running/ wandering stops only when one finds HOME WITHIN , our wandering mind is just like a Musk deer which keep on searching ten direction the source of Musk scent , but the source of scent is always inside the deer .

The home within is filled with Ambrosial Nectar, but the self-willed manmukh does not get to taste it.

He is like the deer, who does not recognize its own musk-scent; it wanders around, deluded by doubt.
The manmukh forsakes the Ambrosial Nectar, and instead gathers poison; the Creator Himself has fooled him.

How rare are the Gurmukhs, who obtain this understanding; they behold the Lord God within themselves.

Their minds and bodies are cooled and soothed, and their tongues enjoy the sublime taste of the Lord.

Through the Word of the Shabad, the Name wells up; through the Shabad, we are united in the Lord’s Union.

Without the Shabad, the whole world is insane, and it loses its life in vain.

The Shabad alone is Ambrosial Nectar; O Nanak, the Gurmukhs obtain it. ||2||
(Guru Granth Sahib)

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posted September 23, 2011 at 12:58 am


Thank you so much for writing! Change can be scary, but peace and joy sometimes require a hard transformation. I think you can pull through it!

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posted September 23, 2011 at 12:57 am


Fantastic links, brother! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Ego is indeed a bitter enemy, but like you said, inner peace via letting go is the only way to effectively end the fight.

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posted September 23, 2011 at 12:55 am


Haha hard to play “hide and seek” with something that is EVERYWHERE!

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posted September 23, 2011 at 12:54 am


Great point and scriptural ref as always!

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posted September 23, 2011 at 12:05 am

I’d have to say my inner copter mom. I’ve spent a lot of time trying NOT to make waves and I’m not as happy as I could be. I’m trying to change that. I have some new friends one in particular who’s trong to change her life like I am. Things are looking up it just scares me a little who I’ll become in the next few years.

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posted September 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

reminds me of – beautifully read

i love “Your life is the temple and you are the priest. Reality is here whether you accept it or not. Worry, fear, anxiety…all illusions of control.”

i feel like one of the greatest challenge is to leg go of attachment, desire.. we always want more.. we think ..if i have this and that i will be happier.. but your thirst is never really quenched until you find inner peace… you could never have enough because what you really want is being one with god. but pain of seperation is always there. being one is what quenches your thirst :)
i dont know if i made sense. but i love what you wrote its so deep and pretty much sums it all up!

i absolutely love this shbd

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posted September 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm


I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion.

If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.

Seeing a theme here across all the Manifestations and Messengers? Or to put it another way – you can run, but you can’t hide!

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Art Sherwood

posted September 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm

The thing that always blows my mind in these things is how God never gives up on us. How many times have I rebelled against him? How many times have I heard what he had to say and simply turned and went my own way? How many times have I knowingly disobeyed him? And yet, despite all that, he is still pulling me back to him, lovingly calling me and pleading for me to return.

4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.

6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.
(Book of Mormon – 3 Nephi: 4-6)

He loves us. He loves us with a love that we may never fully comprehend and no matter how far we wander He will always seek after us, calling for us to return home.

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posted September 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

reading this just made my day :)

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Colin Faux

posted September 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm


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