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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.

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


Blogger Gurumustuk Singh said...

Thank you for sharing Ek Ong Kaar :) As always, it is nice reading your personal perspectives on life and just about anything.

You never know what is around the corner ....

8:08 PM  
Blogger Gurumustuk Singh said...

Oh yeah... now that you have offically created your own separate blog I hope you post stuff on it often :)

I'm sure many will enjoy.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Amarjot said...

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Ji thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us glimpse of your mind. I believe looking back, in our life, is easy and anyone can comment or give their opinion but to justify what we did might be difficult in some cases. What we did was based on the frame of mind, the mind set we had at that time. And if we happen to compare it with the mind set we have now, it might totaly seem ridiculous and we might find ourself saying, "how/why in world did I do that?" I believe you are at a level where you look back and might be asking the same question.

I will share something with you here. Something which stayed with me when I watched the movie "Phenomenon"

The boy said to the guy, "My mom says that we cannot take any material thing with us when we die." The guy replied "True we cannot", he then took a bite from an apple and said "I cannot take this apple with me when I die but the taste of this apple, the sweetness of the juices which I just enjoyed will go with me and no one can part me from this experience."

In the same way the sweetness of the Guru's words you enjoy every time you work on the translations is something you and only you will keep and will take with you to infinity. But since you are sharing that sweetness with us, we the lucky ones will be able to take some of it with us to infinity too.


10:03 PM  
Blogger Sifar said...

What ever is happening will happen anyways, weather or not you think about it. Like every other happening, aging also reminds us that nothing is going to remain for ever, except for the one and only “Supreme”. Also, a Sikh only follows the Hukam of the Guru as Guru is the only one who can command. As humans, one can be more learned than the other, but not as much as he/she can issue Hukams. Remember, Sikhism is all about equality. As humans we are all equal and here to help each other to accomplish any task by the grace of Waheguru.

Looks like you are missing your earlier life, the one before you embraced Sikhism. Weather you were wearing black earlier, and white now, will make a little or no effect unless the mind is tamed, and we learn to live in the Hukam of the Akal Purukh. Looking back and being judgmental is of no use as what ever happened was also his Hukam, what ever is happening is also his Hukam and what ever will happen will also happen with in his Hukam. We have no control, but to learn to live in his Hukam. Every body on this earth is for a cause, and once accomplished, the body perishes and the soul either get back into the cycle of life and death or get immersed in the energy of the Supreme, depending on the karma of that soul.

And I don’t know how one be a Sikh and a Yogi at the same time. You could be a Sikh practicing Yoga, which is different. But calling yourself a Yogi and a Sikh at the same time, as far as I think is incorrect because, the word “Yogi” has a very vast meaning that leads to the very fact that Sikhism does not goes along with. A yogi is one who leaves every worldly thing and relation and cuts him/herself out of the world to achieve closeness to the “Supreme” where as Sikhims teaches to get close to Waheguru by living a normal life with in this world, have a family, work and earn an honest living.

I am a born sikh and almost the same age as you are. I am not claiming to be the wisest guy on the face of this earth, but I am writing to you about my thoughts based on whatever little understanding I have of Sikhism. Still, if anything I wrote caused any unharmonious waves in your mind, I apologize sincerely.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Amarjot said...


With due respect I want to bring to your attention that the meaning of "Yogi" is not what you mentioned, it was a general practice that is/was associated with the word "Yogi". I will share with you a part from a hymn from Siri Guru that might help you understand the true meaning of "Yogi". "Jo jo deesay, so so rogi.. Roog rayhayt mera Satguru Yogi" It describes our "SatGuru" as yogi, and non of our Guru's left their house/world.

The way I understand and have experienced, the life of a true Sikh in itself is a life of true yogi, for a true Sikh cuts himself/herself from the world while dwelling in it. A true Sikh does that everyday, every morning when he/she sits in meditation/yoga/sadhna.


3:28 AM  
Blogger Nam Hari Kaur said...

Ek Ong Kaur, your posting was so poignant, so refreshingly honest and expressive of your deep reflections and questions.
Doing that, sharing that way, makes it safer for others to do the same.

Surely there are many who have some thoughts about what they are to do and become since the passing of the Siri Singh Sahib.
Being honest about the doubts and fears and nostalgia can bring people together.

I really enjoyed hearing your history too. Thank you for all this!

Nam Hari Kaur, Eugene, OR

9:00 AM  
Blogger Sifar said...

Amarjot jee

First of all, thanks for the refresher on the Yogis... As far as my knowledge works, I have never come across anywhere one of the Gurus or Hari have used “Yogi” with their names, nor did the Brahmgaynis like Baba Buddha jee has called himself a “Bhrahmgayni”. The world needs no proof of the self evident. Although there are several instances in SGGS where Yogis (jogee) have been severely criticized e.g. 1.kaahae bolehi jogee kapatt ghanaa
2.eik bhagavaa vaes kar firehi jogee sanniaasaa || naa oue jogee naa oue jangam naa oue kaajee munlaa || to cite a few...

Also I agree with you that true Sikh cuts himself/herself from the world while dwelling in it. And one who excels in doing so automatically fall under the category that we are talking about. As far as Meditation goes, for a Sikh it should be like exercising … Like when you are cautious of your health, you don’t exercise just ½ hour, an hour or two. You incorporate exercise into your life style… i.e. instead of taking elevator for a few floors, you take stairs, walk to the corner store instead of getting into the car… etc… etc… similarly, you meditate throughout the day/night in the back of your mind… but I guess to attain that stage where simran of Waheguru keeps going on within you 24/7/12/365, a person like me will have to come into life and death cycle, I don’t know how many times….

Bhul chuk dee Khema....

10:23 AM  
Blogger Ek Ong Kaar Kaur said...

Sat Nam, everyone.

Gurumustuk Singh ji, thank you as always for your kind words and support. Now that I've got a blog set up, you may seem more posts - and I may even splurge and purchase a digital camera to upload photos...

Thank you to all of you for your comments, as well. I'm really grateful for all of your reflections, kindness and kinship.

One thought on being a Sikh Dharma yogi. I can't tell you whether there is such a thing or not - I can only tell you that's how I see myself. So - maybe that means my very existence is questionable :) ...but there you are...it's just what I see when I look in the mirror...

And to Bobcat with his question via email about movies... I find movies to be a really good reflection of the issues that a society is trying to work out. Call me crazy, but I believe that the best way to understand a culture is to watch the soap operas - they're fake, but they're constantly playing with the core contradictions and issues that people are quietly struggling with. And the fantasy is all about the archtypes that we call upon to help vanquish those demonds. So yes - I do watch a lot of movies, and tend to read far more into them than the directors ever had in mind. :)

Blessing to you all and have a great weekend.

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

8:34 PM  
Blogger Ek Ong Kaar Kaur said...

Amarjot - I LOVE the movie Phenomenon - it's one of my favorites - thank you for the quote - it's really bueatiful.

Nam Hari Kaur - glad you enjoy the stories..As they say - a writer never has a bad experience because it's all just material, anyway. :)

8:38 PM  
Blogger Gurukarm Kaur said...

Ek Ong Kaar ji - just to share a bit from the opposite side of the country (the East Coast :-)) - for many of us who came into 3HO in the early years (69 thru the 70s) but lived out here far away from daily interaction w/Siri Singh Sahib ji, we had to every every day learn who am I without him? In fact, the very first Summer Solstice I went to (1972) he made us do a meditation that was all about "feeling" his presence in our lives after his physical body would leave us. Ever after I was grateful for that, never more than the past year; as well as grateful for all the years of learning how to "be" and continue to grow and give without being close to Siri Singh Sahib ji.

You had an immense blessing in your life to have him take you literally under his wing and direct your life so personally. I am glad for you and very much appreciate reading your thoughts on how things go for you now, and grateful that every day you continue to rise, put on your turban, follow his direction in translating SGGSji for all of us to have as well. Thank you! for all of it.

6:59 AM  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Dear Ek,

I loved your post. Thanks to Gurmustuk and you for sharing. All I would like say is that may peace be with you all the times whatever life brings you! All I know about trying to be a Sikh is that Waheguru works very mysteriously, and we are just puppets in a play. Share more please!

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u need to get married

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello my dear friend...It has been far too long, but I somehow never seem to remember to drop you a line or give you a call until my head is about to hit the pillow. I just got a notice for my 20 year H.S. reunion and I am amazed that a decade has past since I saw you last in person. Wonderful posts here and I see much of your writing style has remained the same...fiesty and imaginative. Drop me a line some time or give me a call... I am still State College, PA for now (though prob moving back to TX this summer). Lots to tell ya...


David Hermann

1:50 PM  
Blogger Siri Devta Kaur said...

Wow, oh wow!
Dear beautiful sister! I think I can remeber close to the day you arrived in Espanola, and I feel so blessed to know you, personally!
I can really fel your heart and your own personal truth, without the chains of dogma, come through in each line I read.
You are such an inspiration, you make me want to meditate!
I am curious, where do you get the energy to do all you do with so much....Ek Ong Kaar Kaur light!
Love you!
Siri Devta Kaur

10:32 PM  

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