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Personal Reflections from an Imperfect Pen

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Location: New Mexico

Publications: Japji Sahib: The Song of the Soul by Guru Nanak translated by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa. Anand Sahib: The Song of Bliss by Guru Amar Das translated by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa. Available through www.sikhdharma.org.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why I Still Believe in Santa Claus

When I was a child, Christmas Eve was my very favorite night of the year.

Maybe it was because of the fire roaring in the fireplace, and the little colored lights on the Christmas tree. With all the other lights turned out, it created a feeling of magic, this sense that something special was about to happen.

Maybe it was the way my mother would put electric candles in all of our windows – so when we walked upstairs to go to bed, there was a warm orange glow bathing all the rooms in a luminescence that seemed almost other worldly.

Maybe it was the special food that she only made once a year - the brownies with chocolate and marshmallow frosting, or the "Yum-Yum" cake - moist, warm and crumbly with raisins, nuts and spices.

But mostly it was because of Santa Claus.

As a child, the spirit of Christmas for me was not in the fat, jolly figure who slipped down the chimney and left presents under the tree. It was the experience that, every Christmas, there was a spirit that came through the house and touched us - touched all of us - with love and joy, with peace and kindness. Though I stopped calling myself "Christian" long ago, I still love to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. There is a power in that night - when prayers are prayed, and songs are sung in celebration of a soul who came and gave us..something...some hope, some teaching, some wisdom of how to care for each other during our stay on the earth. And it was that spirit more than anything else that seemed to be Santa Claus to me - a palpable spirit that did visit everyone on the earth for a night.

As I got older, my friends would whisper in the school yard that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Their older brothers and sisters had told them. It would lead to long debates. What we'd seen and heard on Christmas Eve, sneaking out of our beds, trying to catch Santa in the act. Trying to prove to ourselves whether Santa Claus was real or not. I was an adamant supporter of his reality. And even remember one young schoolmate who said that his parents had told him Santa Claus wasn't real. "Your parents are wrong," I told him, and proceeded to convince him just how real Santa Claus was. In later years - my father used to tell me I would have made a heck of a lawyer - and yes - my powers of persuasion were fairly potent - because even that young school-mate doubted whether his parents knew what they were talking about by the time we'd finished the conversation.

Precursor of spiritual counseling, I suppose.

I don't remember how old I was the year that I found out there was no Santa Claus. My parents were telling my younger sister that Santa didn't exist. When I protested, my mother said to me, “Bernadette - you're so smart. We thought you'd have figured it out a long time ago." And for about 2 seconds, I went along with it. But then it just kept coming back to me - no - there really IS a Santa Claus. There really is a spirit that touches all of us that night. OK - maybe my parents buy the presents, but there is definitely something else going on here.

This year, I felt it again. During the holidays. That change in the air, that sense of something special. That spirit touching everyone. And this year, I finally understood the mystery behind Santa. I finally understood what it was I had been picking up on all those years ago.

The Guru talks about the power of prayer, the power of just remembering the Creator. In Sukhmani Sahib, Guru Arjan says:

Simarao, simar simar sukh paavao
Kal kalays tan maahi mitaavao.

Remembering, remembering, remembering the Creator
Peace comes to you.
Pain, worry and anxiety just disappear from your body.
(SGGS, page 262)

Pain leaves. Peace comes. Just from simran – just from remembering.

In a world that’s obsessed with money, power, sex and conquest – here we have– during this one time of the year – a time of remembrance. A time of remembering the Divine. Whether you are Christian or Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim, or Sikh – it’s just in the air wherever you go (in Western countries, anyway). The story of Christ – the story of something sacred. The songs of praise – the songs that express gratitude to the Creator.

I never realized how powerful it is - to just remember the Divine - but it is a power, it's a tremendous power that creates a sense of peace, ease, healing and love. And even if those songs, that remembrance isn't sung in every single home – it doesn't matter. Just the fact that some people are doing it creates a vibration in the collective unconscious of humanity. It brings to life a spirit of good will that can sweep through every house, touch every person - because prayer - no matter what religion you believe in – has power.

I always knew there was a Santa Claus. This year I have seen it with my own eyes - that We are Santa Claus. The prayer that is created during this time of year from the hearts and lips of millions - that is the spirit that touches us, that gives a feeling of peace and love. Just because we are taking a moment to be together, and to remember.

Ho Ho Ho.

All love in the Divine,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Year End Musings: Happy 2006

A dear friend of mine and I share the same age: 37. What I say these days is, "I can see 40 from where I’m standing," but this bothers her sooo much. "Ek Ong Kaar – stop saying that! We’re not old yet."

Well, we're definitely not getting any younger.

I had a good long look at myself in the mirror this weekend. The once dark brunette hair is starting to develop a salt and pepper look, and when I smile, there are all these little smile wrinkles around my eyes. When I was a girl, I used to wonder how my face would age – you can always tell people's temperaments from their wrinkles. It's nice to see laugh lines. It means I've used my face muscles the right way all these years.

Maybe it's the fact that it's been a year since the Siri Singh Sahib passed away, or maybe it's just being 37 that I'm feeling compelled to stop at the end of this particular year and sit back and examine my life. Measure where I am now with where I thought I would be when I was young.

Hmmm…nothing in common, actually. What I pictured for myself. What happened. If I were to be completely honest, anything that happened after age 33 was a bonus, because I never thought I'd live past 33. Don't ask me why. I always assumed I'd die young. The Janis Joplin of the 21st century - playing in a different city every night - dying in some kind of passionate, romantic way tragically youthful. Oh right, I'm supposed to be spiritual and pretend I never had dreams like that. But there you are - all that guitar playing, bluesy voice, tempting brunette curls - imaging that was where the real LIFE was, that was where the passion was…

It's part of the great contradiction that has become my life - where I was - everything that's happened in the last seven years - where I am now. And the only way that I can make peace with it really - is to look back at that oh so misspent youth and say:

Right spirit. Wrong behavior.


A little over a year ago, when the Siri Singh Sahib left his body - I didn't have any illusions about what was going to come next. It was going to be a time of tests. Who am I, now that he's gone? What's my relationship to all the people around me, to the organizations he created, to Sikh Dharma, to the Guru?

Maybe that sounds a little silly - yes? Who am I - now that he's gone? But you know - it's the naked truth. There I was - in my hip Austin house, teaching Kundalini Yoga at "Yoga, Yoga," living with my boyfriend/common-law husband, wearing black all the time, eating at the trendy vegetarian restaurants, checking out the alternative theater, the music - I was part of the scene, you know? One pierced ear, an avid reader of the Chronicle, and a position in the corporate offices of Whole Foods.

For someone who was 30 and not part of the mainstream, it was as good as it gets.

And then the hand of the Divine smashed my world apart and Yogi Bhajan scooped me out of the splinters and said, "Come move to Espanola and do marketing work for me." It was a huge leap of faith - to just pack up everything, leave it all behind and go work for him. But God had arranged it so that staying would have been next to impossible, anyway. So one fine Saturday morning, I packed my trusty little Toyota Tercel full of everything it could carry, let my little dog Macey jump into the passenger's seat, and set off across Texas to the Land of Enchantment - New Mexico. It was a 14 hour drive. I think I cried for about 13 of them.

6 months later, I was wearing a turban and had a new name.

A couple years later, I started studying with Dr. Balkar Singh.

A couple years after that, the Siri Singh Sahib worked with me on translating Japji Sahib and gave certain guidelines and instructions on translating the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib into English.

A couple years after that - he died - and - well - here I am….

A Gen X-er turned Sikh Dharma yogi…

Wondering what the heck comes next.

It is my personal belief that the joy of life lies in our relationships with each other. It's not so much what we do –but how it gets done. What we accomplish together. The spirit of it. The love behind it. That's what gives life its taste, its meaning.

When the Siri Singh Sahib was alive, I didn't think about the life I’d left behind, or what I might have done, where I might have gone - because there was this love between us - not something I can explain or understand, even. But still -there was this love and because of the love, I never thought about the life I'd left. It was just a constant willingness to help him, to help him create whatever he wanted to create - because it was just so much darn fun, and so completely challenging, and there were so many ways that you grew as a person by working with him, and it took life to this completely different level that you just don't find everyday.

But now that he's gone, and the last seven years have brought so many changes to my life - I wear white all the time, I'm celibate (don't even ask how my friends from the old days deal with that – I don't think they even know what the word means…) - there's this moment, this pause, this need for me to catch up with myself somehow.

Because when I look around the world, there are just not many places where a 37 year old Gen-Xer turned turban wearing Sikh Dharma yogi woman who practices celibacy and meditates on Gurbani can find her peers. It's not like there's a club where a bunch of us hang out, you know?

I am taking a good look at myself in the mirror, with streaks of silver in my hair and smile wrinkles around my eyes, knowing that I've made a choice with my life that means I can't go back to the way it used to be - but wondering what it looks like to go on without him?

Closing my eyes slightly, I let the memories of the last 12 months flow through me - and ask myself - what actually worked this year?

Inviting friends over and cooking them dinner, laughing and sharing stories.

Going to a lot of movies.

Writing and translating and translating and writing - because he gave me a hukam that would keep me anchored to the Guru, anchored to my soul and in completing that hukam, something good will come out of my life. Something pure and real and deep.

Keeping up with my sadhana.

Remembering how everything he did, he did with love. And he made it fun - in that Cosmic, we're all just souls enjoying the earth, don't worry kind of way. If I can find that place inside myself where the love lives, where the FUN of it all lives - and just relate to the people I know in that spirit- then whether he is with us on the earth or not, the joy that touched our lives with his presence will be with me and never die.

May you eat good food, go to lots of movies, meditate deeply on Gurbani, find the love inside of you and have a blessed blessed blessed 2006.

All love in the Divine,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur