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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.

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.


Blogger Gurumustuk Singh said...

Thank you for sharing such heartfelt and personal stories. You are a true poet and sister to me. You have such a gift to tell stories and inspire with your words. Please continue to share!

9:19 PM  
Blogger Shakti Kaur said...

Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. You really touched my heart and have so much to share. Japji is one of my touchstones and I learned a great deal from your post.

Have you tried Photobucket.com for posting your pictures...I'm finding it a little more user friendly for a novice such as myself.

Take care!

12:07 AM  
Blogger Gurvinderpal said...

Oh BHen Ji
thank you so much for this seva that you did, and had we known the you had a fever we would have told you not to come... b/c u need ur rest but than again "DUkh Bhajan Tayraa Naam Ji =)"

Thank you So much i still have to blog about this past weekend....
Humbly waiting at your CHaran for any poss. seva i could do
-Gurvinderpal Singh

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Kiren said...

this is my first visit to your blog and i was not prepared for the way with which your words reached out and tugged my soul. thank you so much for a wonderful experience.


8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ek Ong Kar Kaur,

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Your sincerity, devotion and commitment to the Sikh way of life is elevating. Your writings are deep, philosophical and empowering. The sense of service and purpose you bring to your writings is earnestly appreciated and admired.

I often run into Sikhs who don't view Sri Singh Sahib as positively as you do - but then this is just a difference of opinion.

As you know - all Americans don't hate George W Bush equally nor do they love Martha Stewart in equal measure. Our biases and opinions are determined to a large extent by our experiences and the level of information available to us. As humans all we can do is - strive to be honest and objective.

Please keep up the good work. Your divine nature, love for the Sikhs and personal sacrifices will definitely be honored in Guru Sahib's court.

Regards !!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Sifar said...

I hope the February rough phase has passed and you recovered well. You write very well and you have up to certain extent very rightly said that the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib is a commentary and explanation of Japji Sahib and that the Mul Mantra is the essence of it. The same Jaapjee Sahib also tells us “kiv sachi-aaraa ho-ee-ai kiv koorhai tutai paal” and you very well know the meaning, which is “So how can you become truthful? And how can the veil of illusion be torn away?”

It is human to get attach with worldly matter and relations. But Gurbani tells us to do Saadh Sangat, and live in this world without getting attached to it. It is very well said in these lines of Sukhmani Sahib “Braham Gyani Saada Nirlep, Jaise Jaal mein Kamal Alaep” which means "like the Lotus flower that blooms in the middle of water but still it does not get wet with it, similarly, one has to live in this world full of Maya but without being shackled in it". It is important to do Saangat of Gurmukhs to be guided towards the right path, but all I am trying to say is that one should not be too attached to anyone in that process.

I wish you find peace in what ever you do. Please share more as we are here to learn from each other.

1:41 PM  
Blogger kiran said...

I totally agree with Gurumustuk, you have a unique way with words and telling stories. Yes definatly please do continue to share...

lots of pyar


ps...it was 3* in London today lots of cold wind going down...xx

6:54 PM  
Anonymous sat dharm said...

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!

Dear Ek Ong Kar,

Discovering your blog has been the best thing along this day. Just a little time before I get all prepared and ready to our gurdwara here in our humble community. What a great timing, I am so inspired!

I would like to say so many things that were going through my mind and my heart while reading your post. I felt so identified with you, your words really touch my emotional being in a way I didn't expect. I have to applaud that you're such a gifted writer. Honest, intelligent and from the heart.

I had read some of your posts that were previously featured in Mr. Sikhnet and I immediately loved them, wanting to see more. It's a real pleasure to see you have a space where we all can learn from your sincerity, challenges and devotion to this path. You truly achieve the "translation" of what happens to all of us who walk on every step in the Dharma.

I am looking forward to read more. Somehow, it is through reading and writing that I can connect more with the stuff that happens in my meditation sheepskin.

All the blessings, gratefulness and support.
Sat Dharm Singh Khalsa

Sat Nam.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post made me cry.

1:19 AM  

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