Vegan Sikh Geek

Who Am I?

July 11, 2012

Note: This post is going up unfinished, with multiple introductions, incomplete thoughts, improperly referenced statements, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and bad layout. Too many thoughts, arguments and counter-arguments started flowing and the inability to document them in a coherent way led to the decision to simply publish as-is.

My brother Paneet Singh, with his great commentary for a brilliant (and hilarious) video he made pertaining to groups/labels, and the documentary Freakonomics, with a segment on names and what they say about you, both got me thinking: Who am I? What label do I apply to myself? Under what banner do I stand?

Paneet Singh recently wrote an intriguing commentary for a brilliant (and hilarious) video he made pertaining to groups within the Sikh religion. These aren’t sects, but schools of practice which coexist and progress mutually with one another. I knew already that I don’t identify myself with any one of those groups and love them all equally. Does a label still apply to me?

Freakonomics had a segment in which baby names were discussed and how names do/don’t impact children’s futures. One interviewee off the street commented that the name is the identity of a person and is of utmost importance. I’ve known the meaning of my name for a long time and only a few times have I reflected on its impact to my destiny. Does a name really matter?

Labels are thrown around and used correctly and incorrectly all the time. The otherwise brilliant Dr. Zakir Naik would have us believe, by twisting words and logic, that Jesus Christ was a Muslim.

What or who, then, am I?

At my core, I am a soul. More specifically, I’m a soul fragment which is part of an almighty soul. Fragments are all around me in all beings. What is so interesting about this is that we all have it in us to be whole. It comes with realization from within - not simply with words as I’m writing - that all these fragments are actually whole. This applies to “soul” in both the spirit tense and the mind/individual or, perhaps, physical tense. Both of these approaches or philosophies lead to a humbling realization: We are all connected.

As a spirit, realizing that each and every other being also has a spirit and, really, is actually a spirit that has a being, causes one to stop and reflect on the relationship between the two. Appreciation for the existence of the other is had and a bond is created at the “being” level which already existed at the spirit level.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it in such an eloquent way I’ve heard only Carl Sagan do when he speaks about how each and every being is connected to the universe and all that is in it at an atomic level. The same physical elements out of which we are composed are the same elements out which most of the universe is composed, linking our origins. In the beginning of this universe, it is hypothesized that every being/thing was concentrated into one point. I’m humbled to think that I was a part of that. I was there, and so was everything else, and so we’re all connected.

So, I am a soul. I am a being composed of matter. I am you. I am everything. I am nothing.

Navdeep Singh

Written by Navdeep Singh. His work is on GitHub. He's also on LinkedIn.