From the Office of the Secretary of Religion of Sikh Dharma International
Builder of Community
Table of Contents
Leading by Example - SS Panch Nishan Kaur Khalsa, Goettingen, Germany
Constant Remembrance - SS Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Kansas City, MO
Accepting the Sacrifices - Interview with SS Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Guru Arjan: Example of Aquarian Leadership - Interview with SS Karta Singh Khalsa, LeMartinet, France
Community in Southeast Asia - by SS Sunder Singh Khalsa, China
An Offering of Service - MSS Kirtan Singh Khalsa, Los Angeles, CA
A Quote from the
Siri Singh Sahib
From the Secretary of Religion
The Siri Singh Sahib established the ministry for our Dharma as a leadership body to serve the sangat and the world. On March 3, 1971, before the Akal Takhat, the Eternal Throne established by Guru Hargobind to serve as the Chief Seat of Religious Authority for Sikhs throughout the world, Yogi Harbhajan Singh was presented with a sword of honor. He was charged with the responsibility to return to the West and establish the Ministry of Sikh Dharma.*
According to our Sikh Dharma historian, SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa, the concept of a Sikh Ministry was first started by the Third Guru, Guru Amar Das ji, in the mid-1500s. It was near the end of Summer Solstice in June 1972 when the Siri Singh Sahib called many students to come take Sikh Minister vows. From his wisdom and vision, the formation of Sikh Dharma’s Ministry (or the Sikh Dharma Brotherhood, as it was called in those early years) patterned itself on other religious organizations.
"The Siri Singh Sahib wanted to ensure that Sikh Dharma would be treated like any other religion, both legally and administratively," said MSS Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa. "But he also made sure that we knew that the ministry was to be an inverted pyramid, with the Siri Singh Sahib’s support at the very base, and the Mukhia Singh Sahibs and Mukhia Sardarni Sahibas on the next level of the pyramid, all serving the Dharma from the bottom up." The Siri Singh Sahib also made it clear that no Minister was to live off the sangat, as is the practice in other religions. Service marked the traits of a Minister then and now. (See the February 2006 issue of the Sikh Dharma Ministers' Newsletter - The Sikh Dharma Ministry: A Historical Perspective.)
He dictated a minimum set of requirements for our Ministers to be current annually, including a signed letter (now addressed to the Secretary of Religion) requesting renewal of your Ministership from Baisakhi of that year to Baisakhi of the next year, as well as annual dues, two passport size pictures (now updated every six years), and a written exam (every other year). He established these requirements to cover our Ministry legally and to have legal records of our Ministry. It seems to me that he also set these requirements because it is a conscious way for each Minister to renew their commitment to being a Minister and to reaffirm their duty and responsibilities of service in the domain of their ministership each and every year.
The Office of the Secretary of Religion is responsible for the administration of the Ministry. You have heard me say often that is important to stay current with your Minister requirements so that you can answer the call, however that manifests. I can remember SS Dr. Dyal Singh Khalsa telling me that he showed his Sikh Dharma International Minister’s card after the 9/11 tragedy in New York City and that, based on his Minister’s card, he was admitted to ground zero to serve in whatever ways he could.
The time is now, and now is the time. Please be current. May God and Guru always bless you for your service as a Sikh Dharma Minister.
SS Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa, Secretary of Religion
*Excerpted from The Man Called The Siri Singh Sahib, 1979, Sikh Dharma, pp. 117-119
Remembering Singh Sahib Dr. Dyal Singh Khalsa
Our beloved Singh Sahib Dr. (the Siri Singh Sahib always called him Dr.) Dyal Singh Khalsa left his body at 8:48 AM on May 3, 2012. The following are a few lines from the Sadhana Gurdwara Hukam during the Akhand Path, which was dedicated to Dyal Singh:
Siri Singhasan e Khalsa Gurdwara,
Espanola New Mexico
Thursday, May 03, 2012 6:40 a.m.
“Death is pre-ordained; the Gurmukhs look beauteous, and the humble beings are saved, meditating on the Lord, Har, Har. Through the Lord they obtain honor, and through the Lord’s Name, glorious greatness. In the Court of the Lord, they are robed in honor. Robed in honor in the Court of the Lord, in the perfection of the Lord’s Name, they obtain peace through the Lord’s Name. The pains of both birth and death are eliminated, and they merge into the Name of the Lord. The Lord’s servants meet with God and merge into Oneness. The Lord’s servant and God are one and the same. Death is pre-ordained; the Gurmukhs look beauteous, and the humble beings are saved, meditating on the Lord, Har, Har. || 3 ||” Page 447.
Dr. Dyal Singh was a devoted and genuine student of the Siri Singh Sahib. His dedication and love for his teacher was an inspiration for many others.
In the words of Yogi Bhajan:
"If love of the spiritual Teacher is in your heart, God is bound to love you and liberate you. Any person who loves his spiritual teacher becomes a Bodhisattva...a living Bodhisattva. The concept in Sikh Dharma is called Jeevan Mukht. Become a living Bodhisattva and liberate all on whom you look, see and who feel you are in their heart. To die is an art. Everything on this planet, every act is done so that dying may be graceful.
" All knowledge of spirituality is to mend one thing only, that when we die, we die in grace, without fear, without vengeance, without desire and we should just love to die that moment, that meditative moment. At the moment you die, everything is decided....There are people and there are people but great are those who have learned to die with smiles on their faces. And that is what we are trying to be and we are trying to reach that point of honor."
Dr. Dyal Singh was an exceptionally gifted healer, both in person and through distance therapy. He spent much of his time in meditation. selflessly healing others. He was passionate about Yogi Bhajan’s teachings and was an outstanding teacher in his own right. His fiery personality with his huge heart made him both formidable and loveable. He would often quote his beloved teacher’s directive: “Don’t love me, love the teachings.”
He was widely known for his service. He had tremendous wisdom that he shared freely and he worked endlessly to help improve people’s lives. He will be deeply missed on the earth plane and celebrated in the heavens. His cremation ceremony, which was held in an outdoor pyre in his home of Crestone, Colorado, was attended by his loving family, friends and yoga students.
May his soul’s journey be blessed.
With much love and respect, SS Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa, Secretary of Religion
The Yogic Concept of Death
There are Ten Bodies which comprise the human being incarnate. The soul (the spiritual body) is the finite part of the spirit. The subtle body is the capsule which carries the soul; the soul leaves the body in the capsule of the subtle body. The subtle body reflects the clarity of your commitment, your Dharmic faith and practice.
At the moment of death, the mental body (positive, negative and neutral) tries to send a final impression, a message to the dying person; this reflects the samskaras, the unbalanced impressions and residues left over from the karma of the person’s life. These residues may cause the dying person to attach him or herself to past memories, hopes, regrets, etc., thus interfering with the soul’s liberation. The practice of meditation is the most effective way of resolving these conflicts, and shedding these desires, frustrations and attachments, both positive and negative.
The soul is given a choice, between a warm, cozy, dark space, and a cool, quiet, white snowy light. This is called the magnetic field; if your Dharmic commitment is strong, you will naturally choose the white, snowy path, and you will continue on your spiritual evolution. Choosing the warm, cozy space leads to re-incarnation and more karma. Your spiritual teacher can guide you through the magnetic field; he has the power to extend his consciousness, to penetrate to the third ether, and pass your soul into the fourth ether, during the ambrosial hours of the Amrit Vela.
The soul, on its journey of passage, must pass through and escape the earth’s magnetic field. Those souls who do not are called ghosts. One of the advantages of cremation is that it denies the soul this vehicle of attachment.
Ramkali Sadd - Call of Death (PDF)
Pran Sutra - Soul's Journey After Death (PDF)
Facing the Little Death (Kirtan Sohila Recitation) by Guru Prem Singh Khalsa
from "Victory and Virtue: Ceremonies and Code of Conduct of Sikh
Dharma," published by the Office of the Bhai Sahiba of Sikh Dharma
of the Western Hemisphere. To purchase this manual online, visit Sikh
Dharma International. Please
feel free to submit your dharmic questions to:firstname.lastname@example.org .
Guru Arjan: Consolidating the Sikh Community
Under Guru Arjan, the Harimandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) was completed. Its construction required vast sums of money, and so a system of Das Vandh, giving one-tenth of one's income to the Guru, was established. Each month, the masands came to Amritsar with volunteers for the continuing
News and Information
Sikh Dharma Summer Solstice Minister's Gathering -
Minister Fees for 2012 now payable by Paypal. Contact SS Ek Ong Kar Kaur (Los Angeles) email@example.com for more information.
The Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji
By SS Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Espanola, NM
Guru Arjan Dev ji was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He built the Harimandir Sahib, complied the Adi Granth and composed heavenly Gurbani that opens our hearts. Gurdas ji wrote that whatever you say about Guru Arjan Dev ji, it would not be enough. Words will never describe the majesty and magnificence of the whole man. For me, Guru Arjan Dev stands as a link between my world and the real reality of the realm of Akal Purkh. He was a father and a husband, living life fully every day. At the same time he was the master of the unseen, and was able to effortlessly draw on that strength when the time called for the supreme sacrifice.
Guru Arjan Dev was a brilliant statesman, and through his social and financial reforms he shaped the Sikh community into a strong nation within greater India. The Muslim Emperor Akbar came twice to see Guru Arjan Dev, eating in the Guru’s langar and sharing spiritual discussions with the great Guru. When Akbar died, he nominated his grandson, Prince Khusro, over his cruel son Jahangir as successor to the throne of India. However, Jahangir would not honor the appointment, and a great family struggle for power ensued. Khusro claimed the Punjab and Afghanistan as his kingdom, and so Jahangir went in military pursuit of him. The young Prince Khusro was no match for Jahangir, and at the age of thirteen he found himself penniless and on the run, with his father in hot pursuit. As the young prince came through Amritsar, Guru Arjan Dev showed him mercy and hospitality in keeping with the Sikh tradition and in the memory of the young prince’s grandfather.
The local Mughal administration was suspicious of the growing socio-political strength and influence of the Guru and the Sikh community. So when Jahangir went on to take the throne of Delhi, crushing the Sikhs became one of his priorities. Jahangir hated all the people who were looked upon with tolerance by Akbar, and it was with this vengeance that he summoned Guru Arjan Dev ji to Lahore and levied a fine on him of two lakh rupees. Guru Arjan Dev refused to pay it. The Sikhs begged the Guru to let them pay the fine themselves but the Guru believed Jahangir’s action to be unjust, and he forbade them to do so. He replied to the Emperor, "Whatever money I have is for the poor, and the friendless travelers. If you ask the Guru for money, I will give you whatever you need; but if you demand it by way of fine, I shall not give you even a penny.”
Furious that the Guru would deny him, Jahangir imprisoned him in the Fort of Lahore and ordered him tortured to death. He was chained to a post in an open place, exposed to the sun from morning to evening in the hot month of June. He was put on a metal plate, and below his feet a heap of sand was put which burnt like a furnace. Boiling water was poured on his naked body at intervals. For five days and nights, Guru Arjan Dev was brutally tortured. Even the angels in heaven begged him to stop and return to his heavenly home, but sill Guru Arjan resided patiently in his earthly body. His devotion was like a mountain that could not be moved. On the fifth day, he requested to bathe in the cold waters of the Ravi. Assisted by his Sikhs, he took slow and painful steps, as there was no part of his body that was not badly burned. His skin was covered with blisters, and when the cold water touched him the shock was so great that his body could not sustain it. The great and luminous Guru Arjan Dev left his body behind.
The Guru accepted death by torture and suffered the first great martyrdom in the Sikh tradition rather than bow to the criminal demands of tyranny. The sacrifice of this blessed life steeled the faith of the Sikh community and lifted the illusionary boundaries of mortal life. Guru Arjan Dev’s son, Guru Hargobind Sahib, deeply integrated this experience into the psyche of the community. The Saint-Soldier rose under his leadership for the first time. The Guru is a monolith of radiant light that stood against tyranny and reached the pinnacle of human existence in the form of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji. In that Light we, as ministers of Sikh Dharma, have the responsibility to fearlessly take our own stand against tyranny wherever we encounter it.
Listen to Shanti Kaur's lecture on birthday of Guru Arjan Dev ji (May 6, 2004)
Leading Through Example
By SS Panch Nishan Kaur Khalsa, Goettingen, Germany
To be a leader, one must go beyond the comfort zone into the unknown in order to trust and lean on the One within. Guru Arjan inspires me above all to walk my talk and to lead through example. When the challenges of life come, I think of Guru Arjan sitting on the hot plate and it gives me the sense of equilibrium in the midst of extremity and remembrance that the challenges “are too thy gifts oh Lord.”
Thinking of Guru Arjan’s burning body and striving to look through his eyes, Maya can no longer disguise as the state of Jivan Mukta gives rise. Living in the Maya and not of it, living dead or liberated while alive is such a delicate balance that is an essential leadership quality. Often it is much easier to be in one polarity or the other: to either perceive that you are not living in the Maya by putting on spiritual airs and separating yourself or elevating yourself above others or through the other polarity of living in the Maya and being seduced by it, constantly pulled by the five passions of lust, anger, greed, pride and attachment.
It is safe to say we have all experienced variations of both polarities. The concept of Jivan Mukta is not a destination but rather a constant dance between Purusha and Prakirti so that life can challenge us to recalibrate and pierce through the Maya. If you can keep your cool through the burning heat you can keep your cool through anything.
“When I ask how to live my life you laugh and ask me why,
You tell me I’d be better off to ask you how to die.”
– Walking up the Mountain (lyrics by SS Guru Dain Singh, music by SS Guru Dass Singh)
Living in spiritual community, the state of Jivan Mukta is a useful tool, as the Sangat is not free from its own interplay of Maya. This state allows a shift from the model of “territory” to creating partnership. Seeing your life as something much bigger than yourself, seeing the community in which you live as a whole living organism requires many diverse components to keep it alive. The more you show up authentically in reverence of the whole, the more your unique service becomes clear.
One of the most elemental teachings of Guru Arjan is to lead through example. Since moving to Germany in August of 2011 and joining a small community in Goettingen, it has been my mantra, my focus and my guiding light to simply practice the teachings individually and together in community.
Working together, we organized the first 2 ½ hour Long Ek Ong Kaar Meditation for the Siri Singh Sahib’s birthday, the first 120-day event, the first Gurdwaras, the first workshop for Kundalini Yoga Teachers that drew about 40 people from three countries and the first 40-day morning sadhana practice as a community. Also the first Teacher Training program started this year in Goettingen.
With a small, growing Sangat we experience all possibilities. An asset of our community is that we don’t have just one leader, we have many. We are also blessed that we have a community with diverse talents and there is room for everyone to offer what they are called to bring forth.
Tilang, Fifth Mehl, Third House:
O Creator, through Your creative potency, I am in love with You. You alone are my spiritual and temporal Lord; and yet, You are detached from all Your creation. ||Pause|| In an instant, You establish and disestablish. Wondrous is Your form! Who can know Your play? You are the Light in the darkness. ||1||
You are the Master of Your creation, the Lord of all the world,
Azraa-eel, the Messenger of Death, is the friend of the human being
All worldly considerations are for the present only. True peace
by SS Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Kansas City, MO
It was Thanksgiving weekend, and a three-day Level 1 Teacher Training weekend. Because we had the extra day off from our regular schedules and a few extra people here in residence, we decided to hold a Siri Akhand Path, an uninterrupted recitation of the Sikh scripture, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is the only Guru of the Sikhs. This volume of some 1430 pages was declared so by the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It was compiled as the Adi Granth by the Fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji. In it, he included the poems, prayers and sermons given by his four predecessors and himself, Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das. Guru Arjan also took the unusual, unprecedented, and so far unduplicated step of including in the Sikh scriptures, the inspirational writings of Hindu and Muslim holy men. Among these 31 Bhagats were: Sheikh Fareed, a Sufi holy man; Ravi Dass, a humble shoe maker and Hindu holy man; and Kabir, a wool dyer and poet whose body was stained by his work, yet a man devoted to God, of pure mind and soul. Their words too, like those of the Sikh Gurus, were universally inspiring, uplifting, purifying and humbling.
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib begins with Guru Nanak’s Jap-ji Sahib, an astounding prayer often called the Song of the Soul. In a state of enlightenment Nanak weaves Hindu and Muslim philosophy, theology and history into a poetic revelation completely separate from those two faiths. He ridicules no one; rather he calls on those who would read and listen to their own voices, to achieve and enjoy and be blessed by humble acquiescence to the will of the Creator.
Guru Arjan was a leader, a teacher and an example to his followers of an authentic holy man. He showed them, by his intellectual prowess and later martyrdom, that faith can be found in many places, people and ways of worshipping. He honored the work of Guru Nanak, who traveled to many places in India as well as China and the Middle East. He walked far and wide and visited many holy men where he taught, listened, sang and inspired many people of many faiths, including Sikhs (to be sure but not yet named so), Hindus, Muslims, Sufis, Buddhists, Jains and so forth. All without encouraging people to follow him but rather to follow sincerely the dictates of their own spiritual path. His universality was well symbolized by his two traveling companions, a Hindu and a Muslim. Indeed, he is one of the few holy men or saints who were declared prophets by a number of different world religions.
This Holy Scripture that begins with Nanak’s JapJi, is housed in the Gurdwara at Sat Tirath Ashram and is at the center of all Sikh religious services no matter where the Gurdwara happens to be located. The continuous reading, the Siri Akhand Path, is considered very special and a Sikh holds it as both a privilege and a duty to participate. It is often held on a special occasion, such as a wedding, a death in the family, or a special holiday. On this Thanksgiving weekend we held the Siri Akhand Path in gratitude, that after a number of years we could bless our house, Sat Tirath Ashram, and the dawning of the Aquarian Age in this special way. Sat Tirath Ashram would be a place like the sacred shrines in India and Gurdwaras worldwide, in which the Guru’s words would ring continuously over 72 hours.
All that is required is the commitment of a number of people, willing to maintain the uninterrupted reading; willing to support each other in various ways, including staying awake and alert through the night while a relay of readers engage in the reading; being sure everyone is properly fed and Yogi Tea-d; answering the door when new readers arrive; checking the schedule to see who’s next and whether the reading should be sped up or slowed down, and so forth. It is a serious matter maintaining the vibratory atmosphere in which the words of holy men are read with reverence and enthusiasm.
We here at Sat Tirath Ashram are blessed in that we have a number of people who are committed to the Sikh way of life (as well as to the science of Kundalini Yoga) and for them this was an opportunity to serve God, Guru and each other.
Everything did go well. One resident, a young Indian Sikh man was the bulwark of our reading team. Any time there was a gap, or the danger of someone getting sleepy, he jumped in without hesitation. He slept outside the Gurdwara door every night of the Akhand path, ever ready to do what needed to be done.
Students from our Teacher Training Class also took turns behind the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, reading it for the first time. All reported incredibly uplifting experiences-- some crying, some gaining new insight into their lives and others reaffirming changes they knew they had to make. We all basked in the glow of the Guru’s words. Personally, each time I read I had my particular difficulties sitting comfortably, bending over the beloved pages, repeating the words sometimes in Gurmukhi but mostly in the English translation. These words of Nanak, and the words of Kabir and Ravi Das among others, turned my mind inward towards meditation but also outwards toward the universality that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib speaks of constantly.
Each time I read, I found that somewhere towards the end of my assigned hour I would get impatient for the next reader. My anxiety would increase, as the pages seemingly crawled past at a snail’s pace. My physical being wanted to escape this difficult task. When the next reader did arrive, I found myself almost resentful and unwilling to give up my place! But of course I did, crawling on hands and knees out from behind the sacred text, turning towards the Guru, pressing my forehead to the cool floor, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that my Guru had allowed me those precious minutes. I was almost immediately rested, refreshed and eagerly awaiting my next turn.
And so those 72 hours passed quickly, teaching, reading, prepping Guru’s Prasad, sleeping just a little and, admittedly, doing something other than my usual Aquarian Sadhana in the Amrit Vela, as Yogi Bhajan taught us. If this was not THE Aquarian Sadhana it was most assuredly AN Aquarian Sadhana!
I felt like a new person, renewed through the Guru, as if I were just discovering this original way of dealing with my pain and my joy, my depression and elation, my damnation and my inspiration, all the product of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
I finally realized that reading from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib would make almost any hour or hours the Amrit Vela. The precious 4 AM to 6:30 AM was also to be found at 5 PM or Noon or any time. Now I was where I belonged; in truth I had never left it. I was home, behind the Guru, beneath my shawl, embraced by my Beloved, slowly moving my finger across the blessed pages, sometimes whispering the words, sometimes almost shouting them as if to inform all of Creation of the blessedness of all of creation. Wahe Guru!
Accepting the Sacrifices
Interview with SS Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa, Belo Horizonte, Brasil
For me, to relate to the teachings and to live a life as Khalsa means to immerse myself in the sangat and inspire the sangat to be consistently present, living the teachings and serving. By God’s Grace, the most auspicious blessing that could ever happen to a sangat is to be faced with challenges and to get strength and to get re-affirmed in its goal and in its own way of existing.
In 1995 I returned to Brazil from Germany, where I had been living at that time. I had no thought of what was just about to come into my life: serving the Guru’s mission, which would be the creation of a very dynamic sangat. The blessings come when, without thought, we allow ourselves to be in the flow of the teachings.
Guru Arjan never asked how to get rid of his sacrifices; he never asked why he should do one thing rather than another; he just performed his duty, as the Gurus before him. I never asked myself what I should do and why I should do it. I simply was there and somehow God and Guru came along and instructed me.
Looking back today, I see that I wasn’t being told what to do through direct lines. I was being guided through service. I see how our sangat was created through service. Initially I was serving; by benefitting from those services, people were inspired to serve along with me; that produced a chain reaction. When we were faced with challenges, instead of getting out of the situation we worked together more closely.
Our organizational structure is based on the model that Siri Singh Sahib ji gave for the Khalsa Council. We have a council of 85 members. Every year, we gather for meetings. We set up the sacred space with prayers; we honor who has done what in the past; how we kept up. You see, we don’t have financial resources; we don’t have for-profit businesses. Everything is done by seva. We always establish a challenge/theme for ourselves and we set up our agenda for the next two years. That strengthens our determination to live as a sangat. Over the years these challenges have resulted in many service projects. For the past five years we have had a program in detention houses for pregnant women, We serve in nursing homes and in hospitals for chronic kidney disease patients. There is a protocol using Kundalini Yoga and the Shabd Guru in a hospital for hemodialysis patients.
Four years ago during our council someone brought a proposal to create a school. People in the sangat were asking, “Where are we sending our kids? We can not send them to Catholic schools. We cannot send them to Miri Piri India since we cannot afford that right now. We don’t have any options in town. So let’s create a school based on the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib and the Gurus.” A Sikh Dharma school in the heart of the Catholic state of Brazil. What a challenge! I told myself, I had better not think too much about this; otherwise I will freak out. So I thought, once again, if this is the Guru’s will, then it will be done. So we started developing the project four years ago.
The sangat came together. We have 118 donors; monthly donations pay the consultant fees, and all the other fees involved in the initial stages. We have now come a long way. Our vision is to open the school in 2014. I was thinking, how is this possible? We would need a beautiful large place to honor the Guru. We don’t have money for that. Last month we started a 40-day kirtan and meditation program in every sangat member’s home, for Guru Ram Das to guide us.
On the 16th day of that meditation, He delivered a perfect house on two acres of beautiful land in a pristine mountain area surrounded by forest for a price that was manageable for us to buy! Instead of renting a little house temporarily and having to make adjustments and compromises, we decided to go for it. It’s going to cost us two million Reais, which is a million dollars, the equivalent in the United States to buying a school for two million dollars. So we just need to get 2000 Brazilians donating $1000 each and we’re going to get that!
We have a community of more than 200 very active Kundalini Yoga teachers. Of these, five or six are Amritdhari Sikhs; all the others are Sahejdhari Sikhs. They have not taken Amrit but they live the lifestyle, dressing in full bana. It’s very inspiring. One of our sangat members, Guru Tej Singh, is the president of the University. He is now one of the Board members for the school. He is giving 12 years of his life for this project. One day he came to me during langar after Gurdwara. He said: “You know, Guru Sangat, we are the best Catholic Sikhs in this town!”
My name is Guru Sangat, which means I am completely destined to live that lifestyle and live in the sangat. What I have learned is that people don’t need to be Guru Sangat to be a sangat member or to be involved in maintaining the life of the sangat. People need to be involved with the Guru and with the mission, which is to be together, to struggle to have freedom, to have sovereignty, to have autonomy, so we can have a better world for everyone.
Phunhay, Fifth Mehl:
I have seen all places, but none can compare to You.
Guru Arjan: Example of Aquarian Leadership
Interview with SS Karta Singh Khalsa, LeMartinet, France
We start with the fire of Guru Arjan’s martyrdom. This is the merger that each soul must experience; it starts with the fire. Attachment, the dearest theory we hold, has to be sacrificed, has to be burned, in order for us to experience realization. Guru Arjan Dev is the example of this for us.
Guru Arjan as an archetype is very much a leader. He is always very present as a part of my self-expansion and personal vision. Guru Arjan represents for me the archetype of the lover, because true love encompasses the fire of passion that is subjective and self-consuming. It is this fire that is the merger of Aad and Naad and that creates the ability to transform frustration and anger into the essence of the teaching.
Anger makes you consume yourself; if you are afraid of your anger you are never going to crystalize yourself or purify yourself. When we face this fire, when we transform anger, then we can afford to express ourselves in our earthly identity. Guru Arjan proved that he has transformed any sort of attachment through the expression of his love. That is how he withstood five days of being boiled and having hot sand poured over him. For Guru Arjan, it took five days to burn and purify the five elements.
We have to go to that deep anger, where we are ready to kill. And then we face it. It is a self-confrontation where there is no fear. This is what the fire does. It dissolves, deflates. Then we use that fire. When you swallow it back, it is forgiveness. This is the role of the group consciousness. It provokes like a teacher. Each person moves as far as he or she can. The teacher never limits you and never pushes you.
In numerology, Guru Arjan is five; Guru Arjan is the teacher. The teacher accepts you and contains you while you are in the fire. He provokes and brings you into the fire, then contains you until you burn totally.
Our enemy is the best friend; we must have the betrayal to ignite the fire. The enemy may manifest as an outsider, but actually, it comes from within. Even as he was being burned in his martyrdom, Guru Arjan did not see his torturers as enemies. He did not see the Maya. He saw the Truth.
As long as we do not go through the fire to let go of the old, we will not be able to crystalize the new. In the fire we purify our metal; we temper our Self through the fire. If we do not go through the fire we do not--we cannot--even start anything. Provoking the anger and burning through it raises our consciousness to the level of the heart. This is the alchemy. This is the technique.
Guru Nanak installed a social system where we live without judgment. There is no community culture anywhere on the planet anymore; instead we are now creating seeds of community as Khalsa. This is not a religion; this is a way of living. We create avenues of participation. The essence of the teachings is the seed of Khalsa consciousness. We generate a sangat so strong that we attract those who long to belong. The more challenge we face, the more sangat we need. Our sense of family lets us face our reality. First, there is the “sangat at large.” This can be any student in a yoga class, a neighbor or anyone in the world.
Then comes the Sadh Sangat, where we create opportunity for those who are selected by their own soul to then embrace their responsibility to serve the sangat at large. Life is a self-initiation process. The minute you step into a committed life you enter the dharma where there is no karma. Then within the setting of normal life you can progress.
Any heavy metal has to be held in the fire to be purified. For us purification starts in the presence of the Sadh Sangat. The Sadh Sangat has been purified; they are crystal and ready. They are willing to die for each other. This is our initiation. We are not claiming anything. We are not asking people to join the community. We are the community because we have qualified ourselves, because we have gone through the fire. From the sangat at large we become the Sadh Sangat.
When we start trusting each other as a committed group, as a Sadh Sangat, then we can take action. Then we can work together to carry a project. But before we attempt to deliver anything together, we must first build a committed group consciousness. When you project an objective, whether you achieve it or not does not matter. We are not here to be successful; we are here to be realized.
Within the core of the Sadh Sangat we have these three: trainers, mentors and teachers. Trainers are the seeders. They spread the teachings. They share the seeds of Khalsa, the Rehit. They are committed to transfer the teachings to the householders, to the community, to the sangat at large. Mentors are self-initiated and are the gardeners of the sangat. In our community the Mentors meet with their study groups to build the consciousness of the sangat. In order to do this the Mentor knows, “I have come through the teachings myself and I want this for you.” They are committed to keep the garden growing. They stay with each other; they are consistent. This way the Mentor nourishes that seed so it flowers, so it blossoms. Khalsa consciousness is contained in the seed, although it is not identified as such. We are a gardener. We belong to the same garden and we need to garden it together. This is not for profit and we have to keep weeding it again and again.
We are all together building the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple that we build is the psyche in proportion to the actual Golden Temple that Guru Arjan built. It is an expression of consciousness. The culmination of absolute beauty is in the silence. The Golden Temple carries the silence; the shabad brings everything to silence. When we sit together and eat together we share our connection and our silence. We share our trust together. The work of the Sadh Sangat is to keep the fire lit until together we share in the completion of the Golden Temple. We resonate in that oneness; it does not matter what karma we have.
In our own life we each need to turn into a Golden Temple: to serve people, elevate them, feed them and give them a place to belong. If we are not there to help each other, to burn the karma is impossible. We help each other face the fire. The actual Golden Temple has four directions of karma, the four doors. Even with the worst karma in the world we are never dishonored as a human being; at the Golden Temple the lowest of the low is served.
Next is the teacher. Teachers emerge from trainers and mentors. This creates sustainability so that the garden will never end. We reseed, reinvest. Everything fathers itself. It is perennial. It flourishes year after year. When you wear bana or live the teachings, you are approved by the sangat; the leader is sanctioned by the sangat based on the behavior of the leader. The sangat has to recognize you. They have to see you. You cannot expect people who have not gone through the fire of Shakti Pad to see the teacher.
A teacher is self-aligned with the Guru. A teacher is love beyond; complete compassion and tolerance. The teacher invites you to burn beyond any attachment so you can realize your soul. Therefore, the teacher has to be committed. They must be proportionate in caliber in order to guarantee that the alchemy process will continue. A teacher is ahead of time, is a living unity in identity by example. A teacher must light the fire to purify the sangat. Our response to anger could be karmic, but instead we turn it dharmic. This is the principle of the teacher.
This is the technology and the process. The teacher takes you into the fire and generates the Sadh Sangat in small units that are so strong they can face the fire together. The Sadh Sangat builds trust to invest into action. Then they attract, create an invitation so that others may join the seva action. We are not promising anything; people come on their own.
We are not producing yogis this way. That is the path of Baba Siri Chand. Instead, we are producing Sadh Sangat. The message of Khalsa will never reach every person. Not everyone can do this. That is why we have the four stages: the sangat at large, and the core of the Sadh Sangat: trainers, mentors and teachers.
Life is a self-confrontation. What solution do you find to integrate this teaching? We are equally facing our own anger. This humbles us. By sharing our experience we build a trust beyond weaknesses. When we can trust each other beyond weakness then we can start to build a Golden Temple.
We do not yet have a plan to build a Golden Temple. Yet building a collective consciousness will ultimately free us. We give the values and leave a legacy, and are not limited by the earth. Guru Arjan taught us that together we build something bigger than ourselves that lives forever.
Community in Southeast Asia
by SS Sunder Singh Khalsa, China
The story starts with Yogiji in the early 1970’s telling me I am to teach Kundalini Yoga in China. He said that I have thousands of people waiting for me. At that time China was closed to most of the world. Over the years the subject would come up in our conversations. Although he never told me to actually go to China, he just said that I would end up teaching there. The seeds were planted.
In the early days I would go to the Siri Singh Sahib for counseling and he would say, “You are OK.” He would never counsel me. This went on for years. One day we were sitting together in his cabin at Summer Solstice and while looking deep into my eyes he said to me, “Do you want to know the truth? Your children are they beautiful? Well they were your past disciples. They follow you into this lifetime. You were a saint in your last life but something went wrong with the big computer and you didn’t forgive God. That is why you were born again.”
Years later probably because I continue requesting counseling from him, he asked me if I want to know what my problem was and when I said sure. He told me that I was not just a saint but a big saint and as he put it a “hoity-toity saint” and anything I ever did wrong I will resolve this time and that this is my last lifetime. That same day he had me sat in front of him as he did breath of fire and bunch of different arm movements. Meanwhile I had no idea what was going on. Finally he placed his forefinger on my third eye for about 11 minutes and ended by putting his thumb on my upper palette and pressed really hard. When he was done, he said, “You are initiated.” Whatever that may mean.
So to begin, I was and still am in the jewelry business and I used to go to Thailand every year for one of the international jewelry fair for the business. I decided that will be my entry point to start teaching in Asia. Since I had no contacts with people in the yoga field in that area, I started by trying to organize a Kundalini Yoga workshops with my business contacts in Thailand.
After a few months of trying it wasn’t working and we had to leave shortly for the jewelry fair. So I told my wife to book our tickets a week before the fair. She said are we going early to have a vacation and I said no I am teaching. She asked who are you going to teach? Nothing was set up. I told her I decided to teach and that it doesn’t matter who even if it was in the park teaching to the birds. However just after I made that decision, I got an email from a man in Thailand who inquired about Kundalini Yoga. I emailed him back and asked him if he will help me set up a workshop. He told he was praying for somebody to teach Kundalini Yoga and he would help. He arranged a course at the JW Marriott a five-star hotel and we had over 50 people.
To this day we still have Kundalini Yoga classes there and two of the original students from that first course are teacher trainers today. So the seeds planted in the heart of the Infinite and articulated by Yogiji came into fruition. Beginning in Thailand I started to expand the teaching to other areas of Asia and eventually to China. With a team of trainers we are now in most of the countries in Asia. The latest is Burma or Myanmar.
I feel China has a very important role to play in the Aquarian Age. The symbol of China is the Dragon. The Dragon is a symbol for heaven and can bring a shower of blessings or a shower of fire. So the mission for me is to plant the seed of consciousness through the technology of Kundalini Yoga for peace, goodwill and human excellence. The people we train in China are fairly accomplished in their personal and professional life and they want to serve. We want to reach people who can make a difference, who can bring peace and prosperity and blessings to China and the world.
Teaching in Asia has its own dynamic and it is a slightly different ball game. It is not just doing the yoga but how we applied yoga to our daily life The psyche of many people in these countries has been heavily impacted by war, poverty and trauma. For example in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge there was about 40 doctors left in the country with most of the educated class killed. For the most part, Guru Arjan Dev’s life was peaceful, yet he was a warrior in some ways. He taught us by example to be both flexible and strong. This understanding has helped us as we grew.
Since 2001, my team has spent more and more of our time and resources spreading the teachings in Asia including Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan and or course China with students from international destinations coming to courses.
One of our trainers has started a program in Cambodia training young people to teach Kundalini Yoga to other young people and children from disadvantage backgrounds. This includes people living with HIV and orphaned children. This program is so successful (it reaches hundreds and hundreds of children) he was invited into Burma or Myanmar by NGO affiliated organization to establish similar programs. Also after the tsunami another trainer spearheaded financial and emotional support to children orphaned by the tsunami.
From all this the idea came to me to establish Ramadasa as a training institution for the development of human excellence. Ramadasa is not a physical location although we do have one, but a space in the heart. Just as 3HO to me is not a place but a shared vision as held by Yogiji to live healthy, happy and holy. We are the out-reach and training institution for leadership, conscious business development, health and consciousness.
The Asian Yoga Festival brings all of the students and teachers from Asia and internationally together every fall. In the spring of this year we hosted a Yatra to India and the Golden Temple and Anandpur Sahib. We have teachers from all parts of the world including Europe and the US participating.
We are building a conscious community in Asia. Community does not mean conformity, but a common unity in which there is a unity that is common to all in the community. Of course that unity lies in the practice of Kundalini Yoga. However I like to think of it as something slightly deeper. In classical yoga, yoga means union which presuppose there is a separation to begin with. I use the idea of “saibhang” from the mul mantra of Guru Nanak.
I think of yoga as more of an awakening to our essential nature which is and always was and will always be complete. The analogy is we are like frozen blocks of ice floating in the ocean of consciousness searching for H2O. All it takes is to melt the ice. As Einstein said form is condensed emptiness. And that condensation is the labeling and the stories we create to justify our existence. Behind that is the essence, the ocean of consciousness where there exist a natural compassion, love with no object and happiness is what is as it is. That I feel is the unity common to our human heritage.
There is a saying and it goes like this “the map is not the territory.” All techniques are maps and they help lead to the territory. However to enter the territory requires a certain spiritual maturity. Our community is diverse with different cultural and financial backgrounds. Each person is unique and of value and that allows deep listening where instead of trying to agree to a certain perspective there is a recognition of the other person, which allows the space for infinite possibilities to happen.
As John Lennon sang in one of his songs, “There are no problems only solutions.” It is a blessing to serve in this way; it is both challenging and satisfying.
An Offering of Service
by MSS Kirtan Singh Khalsa, Los Angeles, CA
As the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and after a long trial of deceit and jealous ambition by his older brother, on September 6th, 1581, at the age of eighteen, Guru Arjan became the Guru. He was born in Goindwal in April of 1563, and under the special care of his grandfather Guru Amar Das he acquired knowledge in philosophy, poetry and language arts as well becoming proficient in music, equestrian sports and archery.
We know that before he became Guru, Arjan was sent to Lahore by Guru Ram Das to represent the Guru at a wedding. And it is well known that he was instructed by the Guru not to return until he was sent for by Guru Ram Das himself. What we hear less about is what the young Arjan Mal (as he was known then) did with his time during his stay in Lahore, which lasted many months on end. Most noteably, he used his time to hold daily sangat gatherings and meet the sants, faqirs and spiritual leaders of the region, including the Sufi saint Mian Mir, who later laid the cornerstone of the Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar. This time period served to nurture in him the kind of detached strength (caused by the separation with his father and Guru) that would be necessary for him to lead, for the remaining 25 years that he would serve as Guru of his Sikhs; until his ultimate merger with the Infinite in 1606.
Somebody once asked Guru Arjan, “How many Sikhs are there?” His reply was, “Three and a half; Guru Angad, Guru Amardas, Guru Ram Das; that’s three. And I’m trying to be a Sikh; one half.” It is this deep abiding humility and his loving devotion that ultimately lifted Guru Arjan to the status of Partak Guru; complete, exalted, King of Kings, Sache Patishah.
The life of Guru Arjan Dev Ji is an incredible offering of service; an offering that he consciously made in love and devotion to his Guru. Just to name a few of the key contributions his life has made to our lives as Sikhs, then and now:
Were his life not a great enough example for us to follow and aspire to, his death was surely the ultimate demonstration of Khalsa consciousness. He transcended extreme torturous physical pain in the very same way he lived detached while alive.
In the words of Guru Arjan Dev, Rag Dev Gandhari, SGGS p. 534:
"It is easy to be very beauteous, shrewd, wise, educated and of sweet speech. To let go of your pride, worldly love, 'my-ness' and 'thy-ness' though, this is a path on the edge of a double-edged sword."
Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s life and legacy have been uplifting to me in several ways. I have often benefitted from reading Sukhmani Sahib as a personal sadhana from time to time. I have had the blessing to share with MSS Shakti Parwha Kaur leading the early Sunday morning rendition of Shabd Hazaare. We have done this since the early 1980s and The Siri Singh Sahib Ji has said that singing or reciting Shabd Hazaare has the benefit of allowing one to never be separated from their loved ones or their Guru. To me though, the most inspiring example that we can derive from Guru Arjan is the dedication and commitment with which he carried out his father’s vision to see the Harimandir Sahib constructed. This reminds me of the opportunity and blessing that we collectively have before us; to manifest the vision of the Siri Singh Sahib’s mission and to serve his legacy and the future generations of Khalsa Yogis.