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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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Letting Go

When I was a young girl, my family lived in an old 2-story home in a quiet neighborhood in South Jersey. Our house was only a few blocks away from St. Rose of Lima, the Catholic elementary school that my brothers and sister and I attended. We used to walk to school every morning through the snows of winter and the honey-suckle blooming of spring. So many children lived on our street that summer became an endless game of bike-riding, catching lightning bugs and playing Blind Man’s Bluff.

I’d like to remember my childhood as idyllic. But I was a little too internal, introspective and bookish to fit in with more than a handful of friends. Those early years passed in the paradoxical angst of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere; and having deep connections with a small group of people who understood what I meant, and felt exactly the same way.

Then, in the 8th grade, right before starting high school, my father got a job in Texas. We were moving. I would never see my friends again. (Or so I thought.) Even worse, I would never see that cute Italian (who shall remain nameless – but Liz – you know who I am talking about) again. It didn’t matter that the cute boy never looked at me, or that my closest friends promised to write. My life was comfortable. It was what I knew. And without having any say in the matter, it was about to completely change. My last day in New Jersey, as we pulled out of the driveway, the neighborhood kids rode past on their bicycles, waving and shouting good-bye. It was a teary but joyful escort away from the familiarity of my childhood home.

Since that time, letting go has been hard for me. I don’t like change. I want my life to be cozy, to have a sense of routine and stability. The same faces around for years; bonds and relationships that survive the test of time. I am not by nature a rolling stone. I am a stone that sits there, year after year, sinking deeper into the earth, covered with a soft, lacey moss while butterflies perch on me, and squirrels scamper across me, and the trees around me get older and more beautiful with the years. My ideal life is to be still, enjoy and watch everything in peace.

All of this is probably why, when the Universe needs to create transformation in my life, it tends to involve a Cosmic sledgehammer. Change rarely happens in my world in a slow and gradual manner. Rather, it comes through total upheaval, all at once, with nowhere to hide, no room for negotiation and definitely no road back.

I wish I could say that moving from New Jersey to Texas was the most traumatic experience of my life. But of course, it wasn’t. It was a child’s initiation into what the Masters call the “impermanence of life.”

I began studying yoga in my early 20’s. Yet, it is only in the last year that I have come to understand why yoga is connected with the image of the Divine called Shiva. Shiva – the Lord of Destruction. Shiva – the meditator and aesthetic. It isn’t so mystical, really. Destruction and endings are just so incredibly difficult to navigate that humans had to develop a way to cope. Perhaps yoga began as an experiment of how a person could keep himself sane while everything around him fell apart. Perhaps we reflect something in the Cosmic Play that mirrors an inner cycle within ourselves. Endings happen. Change is inevitable. Transformation can hardly be avoided. So how do we keep ourselves balanced through the experience? How do we handle letting go?

No one escapes the power of destruction. The problem is, from a spiritual point of view, destruction and learning go hand in hand. Sometimes, endings are the perfect path to find the inner strength of our own Indestructibility. It is only when we are touching the death of everything we know that we see within ourselves the Light that never dies. When the environments collapse, when the relationships no longer provide the support they once did, we have a chance to experience that we don’t actually depend on that, anyway. There is a soul in me, a spark of Divinity, a Divine Identity that can carry me through. And in that moment when we realize our survival depends upon what is within us, not on what surrounds us, then we experience ourselves as God.

The paradox of it is that you can’t have that experience when everything is cozy and nice and easy. That experience comes when everything challenges you and fights you – which is perhaps why Shiva, who represents the wisdom of yoga, also has to represent total annihilation. The path to self-realization requires the pressure that only intense change can bring.

The first week in Texas, I spent with my family in a condo at the beach along the Gulf Coast. I remember the sound of the ocean while I sat on the porch, the sun beaming down, the sand gritty in my teeth; and me, as usual, with my nose in a book. In the years ahead, it wasn’t that life was better or worse as a teenager than it was when I was a child. In retrospect, I dealt with many of the same challenges, and continued to experience many of the same blessings. It was simply on a bigger scale.

That is what I have found throughout my life. When something ends, after a time of repose, something new begins. Not better. Not worse. Just – more. More powerful. More expansive. More deep.

That, to me, is the nature of growth. We grow in cycles. When we’ve reached the limit of what we can learn and experience in one matrix of time and space, the Universe accommodates us – destroying one reality and replacing it with a something new. We go through so many cycles in the course of this life. And then even more cycles when this life, itself, needs to end in order for the soul to continue progressing. Destruction, wisdom, endings, union - they all work together in the Cosmic scheme of things.

But with destruction and endings, how do we survive them? The common sense, ages-old answer. Just BREATHE.

And how to touch the Divine within you? The foundation of all spiritual and yogic wisdom? Just BREATHE.

It’s taken me 20 years of study, but I finally understand. These are two sides of the same coin for a reason.

Yours humbly in Divine Light and Divine Love,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur


Anonymous sat atma singh khalsa said...

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.......
Sat Nam Khalsa ji, it is a nice story and hope that many people at large will learn from that and ebrace a spiritual life also the Yoga.
God Bless you
sat atma singh khalsa
Waheguru! Nanak Naam Cherdi Kala, Tere Bani Sarbhat da Bhalla.

10:18 AM  
Blogger passingby said...

Touching piece. Especially the mention of the italian boy. With advent of internet and Sikhism spreading into the western world sharings of such nature are coming into sikh religious community. Although this is happening online for now I hope soon in the new times it will be possible that people who are religious will not feel shy and awkward in sharing their natural human aspects of bonding and attraction.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

superb and heart touching story .......
the girl never ever felt shy in reveling her inner instincts ...
it made me proud to know that sikhism has spread wide in teh world and new mexico and texas and all reference made this 19 year boy very happy.
all the best for ur life .
waheguru ji da khalsa waheguru ji di fateh.........

4:41 AM  
Blogger Brijdeep said...

Sat Sri Akal Ek Ong Kar Kaurji .. your post was really good and it inspired me to write some of my thought down too .. could you take a look at and let me know you think


Vaheguruji ka Khalsa, Vaheguruji ki Fateh

1:15 AM  
Blogger Mandip Kaur Sandher said...

Thank you for sharing a wonderful inspiring story on Letting Go. Everyone is unique while we are on the planet, yet we are ONE. We are here to build our story and then share our story. Connecting with our intuition or in-tuition (inner teacher) is key to being guided on the path we are here to fulfill. Your story touched on all these key points and please continue to write more so that others may be inspired by your example to do the same.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Moecon said...

You know how sometimes things are just meant to be? I was emailed a comment from someone on facebook about your blog, interested I went to it and to this article that you must have written just for me. Not really, but your article about "Letting Go" was at the right time in the right place. Recently I was given the opportunity by my boss to not come back to work. In this now 30 years of my career it had never happened to me. Of course because I was so shocked, I cried for about 48 hours, followed by disbelief, then I got angry, and now I am very reflective and looking at this as the biggest opportunity of my life, "Fired at Fifty." I am without stress, not going to work each day under the command of a bully, and I am taking control of my life and I finally have it back! Ironically I just took up Yoga and I have heard the same message from several very wise people I know, "Just Breathe." So, I feel it more than a coincidence that I found your blog, from someone I have never met, and out of all of your writings, this one was the one I read. Do you know what I mean?
Thank you for inspiring me and sharing your wisdom.


12:45 AM  

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