Can Sikhs go to heaven? Religion and reiki

I was born into a Catholic family. My mom was a Catholic school teacher during her career, and my dad’s family was über-duber religious… like 5 kids in the seminary religious.

My grandmother was really quite holy – that’s the only way I can describe her. My memories of her mostly include bible recitations, long bouts of prayer dedicated to Mother Mary through rosary decades, and trying to sit still with my cousin, “J”, as we prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Oh, I also have the odd memory of bringing my lovely grandmother brandy for her heart. But that’s another story.

“J”‘s dad (my closest and favourite uncle) was born in India, and he grew up in the Sikh religion. He had an Indian restaurant in Toronto in the early 1980s and so as a young child I experienced different cultures and different foods up-close and personal. “J”‘s other family fascinated me – from their beautiful saris to her babaji’s long white beard and wrapped turban. I remember sitting with her babaji and learning how to say the numbers 1 through 10 in Punjabi. “J” had to go to Punjabi classes (which she hated) but I remember looking over at that beautiful mystery script in her workbooks with reverence. The writing was so elegant, and I was secretly envious that she had the good fortune to learn it.

Fast forward to grade two: I was sitting in my classroom with a crotchety old teacher, Mrs Schwryer. That day she was teaching us a lesson about purgatory, and explaining how it would be similar to a stuffy doctor’s office with an eternal line. We would sit patiently in that waiting room… forever… there would be no getting up to leave, no recess and snacks, no going outside… and we would simply sit. And wait. And wait.

In my mind’s eye, all I saw were rows of knees and pantyhose that fit too loosely at the knees as I waited on the floor of the Doc Purgatory’s office. It was terrible. Oh, and the boredom! I remember with a special sort of grade two panic how horrific it would be to have to wait at the doctor’s office, forever. She also told us that every time we sinned that we would get a little black mark on our soul. When we were bad little boys and girls, our souls would be black and sick. (Oh gawd, the extreme darkness of it all. I cringe just writing this.)

Then, as class was almost done for the day, she nonchalantly added that only Christians can go to heaven, and that everyone else would not be admitted. Everyone else would remain in purgatory, or simply get a one-way ticket to the fiery gates of hell.

I had a vivid imagination as a child, and I literally witnessed my family entering heaven. Hand-in-hand we walked towards the beautiful white gates and the puffy clouds. A few angels floated around for good decor.

It was beautiful and glorious, but it was all wrong. Like a harp out of tune, we were all looking back at my poor Uncle Gill and J’s babaji, as they cried and pleaded at the gates. They were Sikhs, ergo – you shall not pass. (Insert Gandalf image here.)

That couldn’t be right. In all of my seven years I had never heard anything so cruel, mean and unfair. This was my favourite uncle. The cuddly, laughing, big-hearted and soft-spoken uncle Gill that was part of my circle of trust. He was family.

I raised my hand in trepidation, afraid for her answer but I simply had to ask, “Ummm, what about Sikhs, Mrs. Schwryer?”

“What on earth do you mean?” She peered at me, ruler in hand, over those tiny reading glasses that sat near the end of her nose.

“Well,” I gulped, and struggled to fight back the tears, “Um, What I mean is, can Sikhs go to heaven too?”

“Of course not! Only Christians go to heaven.”

{Snort. Guffaw. Sneer.}

Well, that was the answer then.
I trusted that this lady knew more about heaven than I did, and my tears started flowing. I put my head down in shame so that no one in the classroom would see me crying. I was angry and heartbroken: Angry that heaven would be so mean and racist, and heartbroken that my Uncle Gill couldn’t come to the clouds and the angels with my cousin “J” and I. It was not fair. At the core of my little girl heart I knew it was wrong. I didn’t like heaven nearly as much as I had liked it the day before.

I went home upset, and cried. I explained to my mom that it wasn’t fair, and that heaven shouldn’t be so mean.
Thank goodness I had the parents I did, because they pulled me from that school the very next day.
It was loving and validating, and I learned very young that not all adults have the answers, and that not every religious law is a good one to believe in. I learned that acceptance, love and kindness were infinitely more important than ancient rules – even if they were written in the old testament.

Needless to say my spidey-sense for dogma has been tingling ever since.

I lost faith in any one overarching religion claiming to be the only “one true path.” I disbelieved preachers who claimed to have the true key to the kingdom of the divine, and I began to make up my own set of beliefs that were a mish-mash of bits and pieces I picked up along the way.

I found spirituality, quantum physics and the Eagle Nebula.

I found goodness and light and healing energy. I found love. And yoga. And meditation.

And Ithought I had left the Catholic pantheon behind me for good.

And I had.

Until last month, that is, when it popped back into my awareness rather unexpectedly.

While receiving my Reiki Level 2 attunements I had the distinct sensation that there were angels near us. The one with me was winged and peaceful and blue and loving. S/he was comforting. And powerful. And near. And called itself Gabriel.

Yes, I know that they may have been conjured up by my overactive imagination.
But this angel-thing during reiki is way more common that one would think. (Google reiki and angels if you find this insane!) Religion and reiki have been working together for quite some time.

Since reiki is really just tapping into healing from source, or from the divine, it makes sense that angels are part of people’s experiences in the western world since angels are a common part of the prevailing spiritualities here.

I didn’t think they would pop up for me, though. I thought we had decided to split paths and never look back.

Upon reflection, I realize that in my attempt to curb racism and intolerance, that I have been excluding traditional Catholic personas in my explorations of spirituality, while including deities or ideas from other faiths. I think that it’s finally time to let them back in. Angels are lovely. Ethereal. Holy. Powerful.

And I often see my dad’s side of the family (that holy side with all the nuns) as full-on angel guardians after they passed. I suppose I do believe in angels. Or angelic energy. I sure know I believe in goodness, kindness and love. Certainly angels fall under that umbrella?

I had let one silly grade two teacher effectively destroy my beliefs in the good things about the Christian faith along with the bad, and it’s time to recover the good. I’m okay with allowing that angel love and goodness join in while I welcome Kwan Yin or the source, or all that is bright and good in the world. It seems that the angels were more than happy to be a part of my day, and to come into my system, without prejudice – even though religion and reiki did not go hand in hand in my mind.

I am happy to be welcomed into their circle, and to be a channel for whatever goodness and healing they want to send into the world.

I’ve been on an airkick lately…
I’ve been feeling the fae and feather frequency… bigtime.
I guess lovely angels fit right in.

Wings and feathers and love.

I’m excited to see what will happen in the future. And Gabriel, for whatever it’s worth, I heard you. And I want to heal. I am hoping for fertile thoughts and warm tidings of happy hearts. xo

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