Random Calligraphy

Personal Reflections from an Imperfect Pen

My Photo
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, March 23, 2006

Photos from the Japji Sahib Course

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.

So - as promised - a few photos from the Japji Sahib Course in Virginia that happened March 10th and 11th this year.

First photo: being half-Italian- I talk with my hands a LOT - and that happens especially when I teach. Thanks to Gurvinderpal Singh who took (ohmygoodness) over 200 pictures of the course. You can see them all if you click here.

Second Photo: Guru Das Kaur from Virginia (formerly of Barcelona) was a great support - chanting and singing together. (You'll see me with my guitar a lot in some of Gurvinderpal's photos.)

Third Photo: Here's the class. Thank you to Sirmukh Singh, S.A.M. Video and Photography and the Sikh Broadcasting Company for the photos.

Fourth Photo: Meditating. Thank you Sirmukh Singh for the image.

Fifth Photo: Hanging out.

Sixth Photo: Elder Sister Anju Kaur with www.sikhnn.com. So good to finally meet her in person after many years of email correspondence.

Seventh Photo: Anju Kaur's daughter - Kirn.

Eight Photo: Just talking during breaks.

Ninth Photo: Thanks to all those people who worked so hard to make this event possible. And thank you again to Sirmukh Singh for the image.

Many blessings to all of you.

All love in the Divine.

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Falling in Love Again: Guru Nanak, Japji Sahib and our Truly Precious Global Sangat

February was a rough month for me. Somewhere around Feb. 8th, I started to feel feverish and dizzy. And with this flu that’s been going around, I ended up in bed for almost three weeks. Temperature reaching 102 degrees, hours and hours re-reading every Harry Potter book, too tired to do anything more than drink Emergency-C, take my Chinese herbs and watch the sun rise and set through my bedroom window.

I’ve got a 5 karma, in the parlance of yogic numerology. It means that I process a lot through the physical body. I’d like to say that those weeks in bed were because of the flu. But the flu was only part of it. The real reason my body had such a hard time fighting off that little virus was because of my heart. Because of this grief that I just can’t seem to shake.

It’s kind of my private joke to myself that if I had never met the Siri Singh Sahib, I’d be dead by now. Well – it’s part joke, part true. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been struggling to find some meaning in my life, some reason for being here. I never considered the pursuit of power, wealth and status to be a reason d’etre for living. I can honor that we all need a respectable way to make a living, but for me the living was to provide the base of the life. And the life was always about so much more... The journey of learning, the discovery of the mystery, the curiosity about what’s truly possible in a human life, about what the limits really are…

When I met the Siri Singh Sahib, he saw that thirst for knowledge, that willingness to push my own limits. And he played into that energy. Pushed me harder and further than I would have ever dreamed of pushing myself. Demanded learning from me that to this day I still struggle with. And I appreciated it so much, though I rebelled against it. Appreciated the challenge, the unexpected, the opening up to new dimensions of reality and experience.

A teacher is someone who loves you so much, he is willing to take you to the depth of your own neurosis, the depth of your own pain and insanity, and make you face it….and never let you go.

It never occurred to me how much I was going to miss him. Miss his presence. Miss his laughter. Miss his pushing me and challenging me. It never occurred to me how large of a hole there was going to be inside of me when he was gone. Lying in bed for days and days, sick in my body, sick in my heart – it was like love had just disappeared from my life.

The love of a teacher. And the other kind of love – the family love, the love of a spouse, of a mate. There is this strange karma that I have around all of that. The Guru keeps guiding me step by step. But if there’s one thing that I’ve realized it’s that there are some deep wounds inside of me that I am powerless to change. And healing them will take time. It’s my condition. What I was born with, what I was raised with. No matter how many hours I meditate or how many lines of Gurbani I translate, it doesn’t override the reality that there are things inside of myself that need to be healed, things that make love so hard.

My month of February – feverish deliriums – way too much time on my hands and so many sad thoughts repeating themselves over and over again. Grieving and grieving and grieving…

Last Friday morning, I set my alarm for 2:30 am. Although I’d been back to work for a week or so, it was still difficult going. Not so easy to breathe, lots of coughing, exhaustion. Months ago, Kartar Singh from our Virginia sangat and I had planned a Japji Sahib weekend in the Washington DC area. The day before the flight, I woke up with another fever. “It doesn’t matter how sick I am – I am getting on that plane. It doesn’t matter if I totally collapse when I come home and have to stay in bed for another three weeks,” I told myself. “I just cannot miss this.”

When I woke up to get ready to leave – the flight left at 6 in the morning and it’s an hour and half drive from my house to the Albuquerque airport – I made myself a promise. “This weekend is not going to be draining at all,” I prayed. “It’s Guru Nanak’s energy. It can only be a healing experience. It’s going to renew me. This is not going to take any effort at all.”

All I can tell you about the weekend is – Rock on, Guru Nanak.

The few times that I’ve had the blessing to teach Japji Sahib in the past, there is only one thing I know. You gather a group of people together who all have a love or even just an interest in the Guru’s words in their hearts. You tune in. And then you let the energy flow. It’s all Guru Nanak. He comes in and takes it over.

The class began on Friday night – about 6:30 pm at the Khalsa Raj Gurdwara in Herndon, Virginia. My dear friend and host, Kartar Singh took me to lunch at this most excellent Thai restaurant called Thai Basil ahead of time. “It’s really important that you tell stories about your experience with the Siri Singh Sahib when you were translating Japji Sahib with him,” Kartar Singh told me. So during lunch – I told some stories to him – to see how it felt. In some ways, they are such private stories and they have such an emotional weight with me – he had to keep encouraging me throughout the weekend. “Tell more stories. Tell more stories.”

So I did.

You know – honestly, I can’t remember one thing that I said during the entire weekend. I talked about Japji Sahib. I told stories about the Siri Singh Sahib. We meditated together. We chanted together. My dear friend Mata Mandir Kaur organized a Jetha to open the weekend with chanting the entire Japji Sahib. Another dear friend, Guru Dass Kaur helped me lead some chanting during the course. We had a video clip of the Siri Singh Sahib at one point. We talked and shared, with lots of Yogi Tea and cookies during the break. And as I looked out at everyone in the room (there were between 40-50 people there), the only thing I could think was something one of my Buddhist teachers had taught me early on. How precious it is – these times we spend together studying Dharma. How rare. And how we don’t know if we will ever have this chance to be together again, to study Dharma together again – so to value it and appreciate it as a gift.

The Siri Singh Sahib held the vision given by Guru Gobind Singh of a global Sikh Dharma community – that touched every land, every culture, every language, every place – united by our common love of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and our common commitment to living the Rehit to the best of our capacity. But for so many years, it was a vision he held on his own and there were forces that wanted to tear that vision apart, that wanted to destroy it.

But this weekend, I saw a tiny glimpse of that vision, of the Guru’s vision, starting to come to life. We were in that class young and old together. We were Punjabi Sikh and American Sikh together. We were yoga students and long-time GurSikhs together. We were TOGETHER. There was love in that room. Community. Sharing. And a common bond in our awe for the gift of Guru Nanak’s wisdom given in Japji Sahib.

Japji Sahib is the base and the essence of our entire way of life. Guru Hargobind said that one who takes the time to understand Japji Sahib will have all his desires fulfilled, and be liberated in this life. The entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib is a commentary and explanation of Japji Sahib. The Mul Mantra is the essence of it. We live in a very modern world with thousands of amazing technological achievements. Yet Guru Nanak meditated in the ethers for 10,000 years (according to the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib) before taking birth so that he could bring the Shabad, the Guru’s bani to the planet. This jewel of Japji Sahib is a wish-fulfilling jewel like no other. By meditating on its words, all sufferings vanish. The very sound of it heals the body, the mind and the spirit. It clears all karmas and brings life into balance – where prosperity, bliss, happiness, health and spiritual awareness can prevail in the human life on the earth.

It is the chance of every Sikh- of every seeker of Truth – if they choose to take it - to open himself or herself to the truly transforming wisdom of Japji Sahib. If I died tomorrow, I feel my life is complete because of the incomparable blessing of being able – just once – to sit with so many genuine seekers of truth who surrendered themselves to listening to what Guru Nanak has to say.

What other purpose in life can there be?

For me, I have no memory of what happened. I only remember the bliss that I felt. The peace. The contentment. Whatever grief I had been clearing in February, sick in my bed, totally dissolved and I fell in love again – fell in love with life, fell in love with the people around me, fell in love with myself. Just fell into love – the love that exists at the base of everything, the love that asks to flow and express itself – just because.

Saturday, the class lasted from 9 until 5:30 and at the end of it – a group of us went out to dinner. Sher Singh, who had done so much to organize the course, and his father Preetam Singh who video-taped the course, couldn’t join us. But others did – including Anju Kaur – the founder/editor of www.SikhNN.com. Anju Kaur and I have been email pen pals for years. Meeting her was like coming home. She is my long-lost soul sister and, as any good elder sister will do, she spent time scolding me for not writing enough. So for her, I have promised to write more about Gurbani and committed to giving her an article a month that she can post on SikhNN.com if she sees fit. :)

Dinner was, for me, a moment that I haven’t felt since the Siri Singh Sahib passed away. We were together – different ages, different backgrounds, sharing a meal. People who might never have met otherwise –getting to know each other, enjoying each other’s company. This, I realized, is the future. My future. This is my family. These are the people I love. And love filled me up and the grief disappeared and there was the sweetest feeling of contentment inside of me. Like some deep question that had been bothering me for eons finally had an answer. Like something that I was unsure of was settled in my subconscious mind once and for all.

Some people told Kartar Singh privately that the course transformed their lives. Me? It transformed my life, too. What changed? Nothing that I can describe. But there was a gentle grace that descended upon all of us during that time, a blessing, a love that took us all a step closer to experiencing the Divinity within ourselves and within each other. That showed us a glimpse of how life could be. Together. At the feet of the Guru.

On the way to the airport on Sunday, Kartar Singh discussed possibly doing the course again next year. My honest feeling is that I am not going to do this as a business, though I am a woman with a good business mind. If any community would like the course in their area, and they are willing to organize it – it will be an honor and blessing to come share and talk and teach what little I know. Honestly, it is the only thing I want to do now. But Sikh Dharma needs me during the week to help with the fundraising….so…it’s all about balance.

May your life be touched by the words of the Guru. May you open yourself up to the miracle and magic of your birthright and heritage. And may the jewel of Japji Sahib guide and light your way on forever.

All love in the Divine,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur

P.S. As soon as I figure out how to post photos here - I will post some cool photos of the event.