This question is very relevant for Sikhs. In our view God is not the saviour, but the liberator. There are two ways in which we are looking for liberation. The first one is God who liberates us from the cycle of births and deaths and joins us with Him/Herself.
Secondly there are the important freedoms that Guru Gobind Singh offered us. Most of us refuse the gift of Kul Nash, we prefer to be bound by caste, race, clan and heritage.
I was born in the Netherlands, and I lived there for about 47 of my 62 years. Obviously this is an important part of who I am. But I should not accept all things Dutch as good and everything ‘un-Dutch’ as bad.
I used to attach too much importance to the family that my father came from, but I now realise that there is both good and bad in my family. I grew up in the sixties and believed in sexual liberation and used to drink alcohol and smoke ‘pot’. Befuddling your mind with drink and drugs is obviously not part of the Guru’s path, but the equality of Dutch society, without caste and with less class consciousness than in the UK does fit into Sikhí.
I lived in Panjab for four years from 1996 till 2000 and have been in West London since then. When I lived in Panjab all my values were challenged, both by the Panjabi culture and by Guru’s teachings.
I have accepted the Guru’s teachings, although I am in no way perfect at living the Sikh way of life. But there are two ‘issues’ that come from the Panjabi heritage of many of my fellow Sikhs with which I struggle.
My Dutch culture emphasises equality, the Sikh Guru agrees with that but most people who I met in Panjab did not even know what being equal means. Even in the UK many Sikhs struggle to accept that all are equal, including women, young people and those with darker skins.
My other ‘issue’ is around sexuality. I am perfectly comfortable with the idea of ethical and honest sexual behaviour. I am a married man, and I do not want to have ‘adventures’ with other women. I have good female friends, but I am loyal and faithful to my wife.
Since we stopped thinking that a woman’s role is only to satisfy men’s desires, sexual relations have become more complicated but potentially much more rewarding. I would like to discuss sexuality, including homosexuality, without running into a concrete wall of pre-conceived ideas. Friendship with women and discussions about sexuality are not understood by many Sikhs. They are the prisoners of their heritage and do not understand that trying to come to a better understanding is not un-Sikh.