From the Office of the Secretary of Religion of Sikh Dharma International
Dharma Minister's Newsletter
are the by-products of yoga. There's no untruth about it. We are not
to justify ourselves to anybody.
This is the way it is. We have adopted this Dharma because we realized
our consciousness, not because it was thrust upon us."
SS Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa, Secretary of Religion
It was the first morning of the Khalsa Council 2009 Fall meetings. As part of our initial process, we met in our check-in groups. I sat next to Kirtan Singh from Los Angeles. Before we started, his cell phone rang. I heard him say, "Oh, I am so sorry to hear it." I knew before he said the words: Guru Simran Kaur (14 years old) from Los Angeles had left her body. Tears started to make their way down my cheeks. The group wanted to know if I was okay. Kirtan Singh shared the news with them and then we both left the group to take care of our responsibilities.
I sensed that her blessed soul was fine but my heart went out to her family. I found the group of younger generation Khalsas and conveyed the news. They immediately went into the Gurdwara. I found the Chairperson, Secretary General, and Siri Sikhdar Sahiba and let them know what had happened. Soon the entire Khalsa Council convened in the Gurdwara. My heart was heavy with grief for the parting of this soul and the loved ones she left behind. I bowed my head to hear what Guru had to say. This hukam is what came:
SORATH, FIFTH MEHL: I met the True Guru, by great good fortune, and my mind has been enlightened. No one else can equal me, because I have the loving support of my Lord and Master. || 1 || I am a sacrifice to my True Guru. I am at peace in this world, and I shall be in celestial peace in the next; my home is filled with bliss. || Pause || He is the Inner-knower, the Searcher of hearts, the Creator, my Lord and Master. I have become fearless, attached to the Guru's feet; I take the Support of the Name of the One Lord. || 2 || Fruitful is the Blessed Vision of His Darshan; the Form of God is deathless; He is and shall always be. He hugs His humble servants close, and protects and preserves them; their love for Him is sweet to Him. || 3 || Great is His glorious greatness, and wondrous is His magnificence; through Him, all affairs are resolved. Nanak has met with the Perfect Guru; all his sorrows have been dispelled. || 4 || 5 || Page 609-610
Siri Singhasan e Khalsa Gurdwara, Espanola New Mexico
In hearing the Guru's words, my heart was uplifted and I was thrilled for Guru Simran Kaur's soul. The Guru completely shifted my experience of this event. I was comforted at a very profound level. The Guru spoke very directly and covered my darkness with light. The Guru's wisdom reassured my being. Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa! Wahe Guru Ji ki Fateh!
Don't we LOVE the Shabd Guru! That great Eternal Sound as Teacher, carrier of the flow and rhythm of the movement of the creative pulse of Infinite Consciousness, like a spiritual DNA that awakens our potential.
The Shabd Guru has existed through all time. Guru Nanak was a worshipper of the Shabd. And through his masterful surrender and flow, there came a point in the Infinite Flow of Time, when the Shabd was ready to be revealed for humankind as Guru.
On one of Guru Nanak's travels, he visited with a group of Siddhas. These Yogis asked Guru Nanak who was his Guru. It was important to them which lineage one came from, who was one's teacher. Guru Nanak answered that the Shabd is my Guru.
What is the root, the source of all? What teachings hold for these times?
Who is your guru? Whose disciple are you?
Guru Nanak answered:
From the air came the beginning. This is the Age of the True Guru's Teachings.
The Shabd is the Guru, and I lovingly focus my consciousness on the Shabd;
I am the chaylaa, the disciple.
SHAKTI. We raise our frequency through the technology. Using particular mantras, shabds, reading from the Siri Guru Granth for a particular experience, effect. Yet that can bring one to Bhakti: And in that way we bow, in great gratitude, great devotion.
BHAKTI. Then there is the bhakti experience of pure devotion for the miracle of it, which draws the person to the Shabd Guru, and the Dharma in that inexplicable devotional way. This eventually invokes shakti, and a great desire to reach excellence through the Shabd.
These are as intricately combined and interdependent as are the Teachings and the way our beloved teacher perceived, lived, and delivered them. May we carry this on.
Siri Sardarni Dr. Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa is the Bhai Sahiba, or Chief Religious Minister of Sikh Dharma. Mukhia Sardarni Sahiba Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa answers on behalf of Bibiji and the Office of the Bhai Sahiba. Please feel free to submit your dharmic questions to:firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sikh Dharma Minister Gathering at Winter Solstice - All Sikh Dharma Ministers are invited to participate in our biannual gathering. This year our focus is information sharing and skill building to meet the current challenges. Please join us!
Save the Date! Sikh Dharma International announces a NEW Japji Sahib Teacher Training Course to be held in Espanola, NM from July 4-17, 2010. We will publish more information or check online at www.sikhdharma.org for updates on this exciting new course.
Testimonial from a Minister (about the August 2009 Sikh Dharma Minister's e-Newsletter): "This was a very inspiring newsletter...we ARE BLESSED!" From Secretary of State MSS Sat Simran Kaur Khalsa (we love your feedback...hope to hear from everyone! Email Newsletter Editor Sarb Nam Kaur at email@example.com.)
www.sikhdharma.org - Sikh
Dharma International's website, including a section on the
by SS Jot Singh Khalsa
For over 30 years now, my art and craft have taken me all over the world displaying and selling knives and jewelry. Early in my career, I began to sense that there was more for me to do at the numerous exhibitions I attended annually than just showing/selling my work. Exhibitors and show attendees, a normal cross section of "folks" dealing with life's challenges as we all do, have afforded me many opportunities to listen and offer words of support. I endeavor to serve all whom I contact through these events anyway I can: sharing my tasty natural food, listening to their life stories and offering thoughts if so invited, giving them herbs to relieve muscle tension or shoulder massage for their stress, sitting with them and doing healing - even teaching morning yoga classes. Yogiji encouraged me to use my artistic gifts "to create things that uplift and inspire people." At times I'll offer generous discounts or give away something to someone who seems to need what I'm offering but can't afford it.
My morning sadhana, always something close to my heart, helps prepare me for anything that might come up at the Shows, and life in general.
Since 9/11 there have been many people who have passed by and even avoided my exhibit with more than a bit of trepidation. Not familiar with Sikhs, they wonder who and what I might be. I sense their fears and concerns and try to put out as much warmth, friendliness and smiles as possible. Years of martial arts training helps me to be less reactive toward some of the more rigid personality types, allowing me to reach out to them as well.
I've consistently offered free yoga and meditation classes at some of the exhibitions I attend. This is unusual for these events since all of the other workshops offered are related to the field of knife and swordmaking. I do a rather short introduction, then lead a Kundalini Yoga warmup set and meditation (around 30 minutes total). My main intention is to give them a bit of relief from their stress, energize and wake them up, (usually mid-late morning classes) and provide them with a little tune-up/tune-in. Class participants often come by my exhibit after the class and thank me, talk a bit or ask questions. Some will even buy something.
These days I'm doing fewer exhibitions annually,
but I still look forward to the opportunity to serve whomever God seems
to place in my path.
by SS Sada Anand Singh, Japan
My way of sharing Guru's wisdom in my daily life is simple. In Japan we often have holistic fairs where I offer free five-minute yoga counseling sessions as "Yogi Khalsa." I invite the individual to sit down, relax, close his eyes, take a deep breath, and we tune in. After a few minutes of sitting in this healing space, I ask him to open his eyes. A simple conversation follows: "How are you?" "So-so." "What's the difference between "so-so" and great? How do you get beyond the negative self-limiting mental mantras?" Then we will try a universal mantra such as "I am bountiful, beautiful, blissful" or Sat Nam; whatever is right for that person. I can tell you that, almost daily, I see people touched, expanded, elevated by the Shabd Guru. People who may have done yoga for years, yet without an experience of their true identity, may be forever changed by a 'chants' encounter with the Guru.
"Guru can be a word of wisdom coming through a person who has attained a state of mental consciousness to direct or guide or speak the infinite truth under all circumstances." This quote from the Siri Singh Sahib is in essence what he embodied as a teacher. He came from India, and although in the beginning, he felt that it was not the time to represent the Guru in the form of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, he still brought the essence of the Guru to his yoga students. Under all the adversity that he had to face, he always represented the Guru.
He always wanted us to reach out to others and to be examples of the Guru's light and truth and that is how I have tried to live my life. In Altadena, we have been blessed to have a wonderful spiritual community consisting of yoga teachers, students, and patients from my husband, Dr. Santokh Singh's, holistic Chiropractic practice. We have tried our best over the past 33 years to be of spiritual guidance to these wonderful people. Santokh has been the papa and I have been the mama to this amazing family of spiritual souls in our community. Whenever I tune into Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo when I am teaching a yoga class, I am in awe of the gift that flows from the Guru through those magical words. I truly am humbled and grateful that I am able to be a tiny part of that incredible Golden Chain. We are all so blessed to have found this gift and to be connected to so many souls who are all a part of this big extended family in all of our communities. We all play a part in bringing truth, light and love to the world.
The Altadena, California, ashram started in 1974. My husband moved there in 1975, and eventually became the director. Yogi Bhajan asked me to move from the Houston ashram to marry him in 1978. When I first moved there, we had 18 adult Sikhs and a few Khalsa children. We were able to have regular Akand Paths which created an amazing energy. As some of the turbaned members moved on to other ashrams, over the years we had more and more yoga students move in. We were still able to have regular Akand Paths and eventually that changed into Sahej Paths with our yoga students participating. We always were able to teach a lot of yoga classes to the community in our ashram (which grew into the Awareness Center) and also we kept up Yogi Bhajan's first yoga class at the Alhambra YMCA. We started teaching our students to be teachers in the 1980's and since the 1990's have taught Teacher Training every year. We have had 20 to 30 teacher trainers each year and they have gone out to teach countless classes, all representing the Guru in some way. A few of our teachers even have Gurdwaras in their homes like we do. In 1969, Yogi Bhajan dropped that small pebble in the middle of the pond and all of us in the 3HO family are a part of the ripples that keep growing outward.
In the first year that I moved here, I got pregnant with Guruprakash Kaur and decided that I would do a 120 day Sahej Path in her honor. I also went to ten tantrics (including both Solstices) with her in my belly. With the combination of daily sadhana and reading my daily banis, it was quite a special and spiritually potent year!
The experience of the Sahej Path was personally moving to me. It connected me to the Guru in a special way and I loved the feeling of reading it all in Gurmukhi. While reading, I felt that I was transported back to another lifetime in India where this was once my Beloved language. That next year was turbulent within the ashram dynamics and we almost lost the ashram. I did another Sahej Path for protection and realized that it helped to make things so much better. The following year, I was pregnant with my son, Sarub Sarung Singh, and of course did another 120 day one for him. I was establishing a meaningful ritual that was very healing for me and my family. With two young children, I was so busy that I took a few years off, but eventually continued even though it would take me a year and sometimes more to complete. Some years I skipped the Sahej Paths but would always take refuge in the hukams.
It is of course more potent if you read the whole Guru in a more concentrated period of time, but a Sahej Path is still a Sahej Path. The Guru holds the sacred space in that extended time between readings. If you have the intention of creating and holding the sacred space between readings, you will see for yourself the healing effects. I have lost count over the years but I know that I have completed well over 20 Sahej Paths by the Guru's grace. You can dedicate a Sahej Path to a certain person, problem or situation and hold the space open for them as you read. The Sahej Path takes on a life of its own and takes you on its own wonderful journey which includes everyone that you know, including past generations. Keep a pad of paper or journal by the Guru and write down where you left off each day. If you have a yogic number of days that you would like to complete one in, then divide that time into the amount of pages of the Guru. The Gurmukhi versions have 1430 pages. You can print out a chart that will have the exact pages you are to read each day and this really helps to keep you focused and on track. Sahej Paths are the most personal way that you can have an intimate complete relationship with the Guru . Try doing one and see for yourself. The Guru has kept us afloat in the face of adversity.
The Siri Singh Sahib also asked all of us to get to know our neighbors and to be of service to them in some way. I think being neighborly is another way of representing the Guru's love and light and embodies who he was as a teacher. We are blessed to live in a beautiful community against the San Gabriel mountains with a wonderful group of neighbors. All the children play on the street and run to each other's houses and there are block parties and holiday-themed events throughout the year. We all know that we can count on each other for little or big things and we have formed a close-knit community. (Even the Siri Singh Sahib's jeweler, Jerry Darakjian, lives four houses down from us.) Our family just totally fits in but at the same time, people here respect us for what we represent as Khalsa Sikhs. Neighbors come to my husband to be healed when they are in pain and they have also come to us for advice, counseling, yoga and meditation.
We have had day camps where the children go to each home for different fun things. Our home is where they come to do yoga, art, and splash in the Jacuzzi. I have had neighbors ask me to clear any stuck energy in their homes or our realtor neighbor has me do it if a home is not selling. I just come and meditate and move the energy around with the Guru's light. Our neighbor was recently very depressed because they were moving. She came and sat in our swing in our yard listening to our courtyard fountain at 3:00 a.m. She said our house is the most healing place that she knows. And she was comforted because of all the meditation that is done here. Recently, with the Station wildfire, our neighborhood had to mandatorily evacuate while we were on vacation. Our neighbors came in and got important pictures and papers out for us. The firemen took their stand outside of our house for four days and nights and saved our homes even though the mountains on the other side of our canyon were all burned. As neighbors, the experience bonded us even more.
I go up on the hill behind our house and surround everyone with love and healing light because I feel that it is my duty as a Sikh of the Guru. In some small way, I am trying to do my part. I am so grateful that my journey as a student, teacher, wife, mother, and minister started when the Guru led me to my first yoga class in 1974, which lead me to Yogi Bhajan and to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
The Gurmukh is like God's tree, always green, blessed with the Sublime Love of the True One, with intuitive peace and poise. - SGGS p 66
"Use the tools to take the fools to the Guru." Such was the simplicity and down to earth elegance of the Siri Singh Sahib as he gave voice to the Hukam that has been written in my soul for lifetimes. The same call to bring souls to the feet of the Guru can be found in this passage by Guru Arjun:
I have established the Temple of Truth.
The primary means to serve such a destiny is to perpetually re-calibrate myself to the word [Shabd] of the Guru. As in the Gurdwara the Shabd Guru is carried on the head of the disciple so I pause at times through the day and re-establish the sense of standing under the Guru's word. Then just like a fragrance seeps into the clothes I am wearing so I pray that the Shabd Guru will infiltrate my being.
Drinking the word of the Shabd Guru I become what I ingest and this does have a direct effect on what I speak. Any language is an exchange between people for transmission of information, giving or receiving a service, resolving some emotion or to experience a sensation, and so on. When the exchange is adjusted, or influenced, by the input of the Shabd Guru then the exchange becomes an agent for particular kinds of change in people's lives. Through a few simple words someone may experience healing, increase of awareness, realignment to the soul, general happiness along with deeper and fuller inner sense of self.
Being a channel is like being a clear mirror with the Guru providing the backcloth. When the word of the Guru comes through the mirror of the teacher it presents itself in a concave form. The concave mirror reduces the wide vision of the viewer and consequently redirects the attention back to self. As the focus is narrowed to oneself the head becomes small and the image is inverted. In other words the head is now where the heart would normally be.
So whenever Shabd Guru comes through it asks the other to move into their heart to find there what they are looking for. Shabd Guru directs me to direct the attention of others to their own soul within.
The Gurmukhs meet the Lord, and inspire others to meet Him as well. - SGGS p124
In the light of Shabd Guru it is clear that I am not swimming the world ocean but riding on the ship of the Naam. Furthermore it is not a ship for self but a ship in which others can be carried, trained and uplifted to uplift others. Equally important is the understanding that I am not the one sailing the ship. Shabd Guru, Sangat and Dharma are the essential ingredients for fulfillment of destiny and victory of truth. Shabd Guru is the pilot of the ship, Sangat is the ship itself and Dharma is how we take care of it.
As a disciple of the Shabd Guru my primary task is to remember that this is who I am. It simply means to stand transparently in the way, looking to, and addressing, the Guru as the Guru looks, and communicates, through me.
The Gurmukhs are the happy soul-brides; their minds are filled with kindness. - SGGS p 41
The discipline of reading, listening, contemplating and discussing the Shabd is a daily one. It becomes the anchor, mast and sails within everything I do. A reference for self-reflection and self-evaluation, independent of the opinion of others. For example, before a workshop I will use my laptop and do a search of the Shabd Guru for relevant key words. Then I print a few Shabds that I will take with me to read and recite when alone in my room. Drinking the Naam as the subtle, though real, food for the teacher. In this way, even if it is not necessarily explicit, I am aware that I represent the Shabd Guru and that the Seeds of Naam arrive on the soil of the students heart in accordance to God's own design.
The Gurmukh saves millions of people, O Siblings of Destiny, blessing them with even a particle of the Name. - SGGS p 608
Though thousands of devotees came to seek the blessings of Guru Ram Das he would sing to them songs of his own despair. With tears in his eyes his music begged that some dear disciple might show him the way to the beloved. The miracle touch of his prayers was such that it made the people withdraw the hand that wanted to take and extend the hand that wanted to give. In the same way our service, when selfless, bears fruit as it transforms takers into givers, and students into teachers. To serve and invite, or inspire, the attitude of service in others is to honour the word of the Guru.
Selfless service is the support of the breath of life of the Gurmukh. - SGGS p 229
Practically, this means:
In summary it means becoming still and embodying the nature of Shabd Guru, like a book that sits quietly but remains ever filled with timeless wisdom. Consistent in the message communicated. Responding in a way that always matches the nature of the inquiry or request from the other. Rarely giving instructions but always hinting at a radically different way of perceiving the world and oneself in it.
by SS Dr. Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa, Brazil
Have you ever heard the story of the Kiri Tree, also known as the Princess Tree in old China? One day a magician turned this powerful tree into a wonderful harp and in so doing cast the following spell: the rebellious spirit of the harp could only be tamed by a master musician. For years, the harp was kept by the Emperor as his personal treasure. Endless and useless efforts were made to find a musician who could play this harp. Whosoever attempted to strike a tune on its strings would always get frustrated. The harp always responded with horrendous sounds, refusing to recognize the master.
One day Peiwoh,
the Prince of Harpists, finally came to play the harp. His hands
had a kind touch and his fingers pulled the strings firmly yet softly.
In Peiwoh's hands the harp evoked Mother Nature and her seasons; slowly,
all the memories of the tree woke up and once again the glory
of the spring played in its branches. Water streams danced through
the flower fields right on the roots of the tree, tickling the
old dragon asleep under its shade. The
This story illustrates so well our relationship with the Master. We are the harp and the Guru is the Prince of Harpists. Touched by the Master, our w most inner and hidden strings are awakened, and we vibrate unique melodies, answering the call.
The Master awakens in us unknown tunes and pitches, and we are finally able to overcome the spell cast by our own minds, a spell which had covered us from time immemorial with great fear. Once free, we allow the infinite Truth to be, under all circumstances. By playing freely, hope is resettled and the sound of the Master's soul becomes one with our own. In such a state of mind, we are able to build trust and help others to explore their own excellence, their own uniqueness, their very own pitches and tunes.
by SS Harimander Jot Singh (as interviewed by SS Sarb Nam Kaur Khalsa)
There is a line in the Re Man Shabd written by Guru Gobind Singh that inspires me: "Jaap so ajaap japay." It means to recite without reciting. I believe that we should live our life as an example, rather than just preaching. Living in the consciousness that God is the Doer of everything, we will become self-illumined: Saibhang. This only happens by the grace of the Guru: Gurprasad. Guru is everything...it is that which brings you from the unknown to the known. A relationship with a Guru is like a mirror. When you look and see yourself, that is the inspiration. When others see you, dressed regally in your bana, they are inspired. You may not recognize what you do is healing yourself and others, but just let your presence do the work. Do your sadhana...that is for you and your relationship with God. Smile, live in compassion, and serve as a minister of Sikh Dharma. Our unity is the key. It is the test of our relationship with the Guru. Sing God's praises. That's the best form of service.
by SS Siri Krishna Kaur Khalsa, Medway, MA
I had a particularly hard time trying to decide if my story was worthy enough for the publication...but I suppose that that's not my job. My job is to tell my story and then let the editors decide if it is worth publishing or not. And if it inspires even one person, it is so worth it. So here goes.
My personal story started many years ago when I lived in Virginia. I was a 40-day sevadar for a lovely Sikh family in Herndon back in 1989, and during the time that I was there, it was the husband's birthday. Those were the days when money was not plentiful in any way, and I wondered out loud what I could contribute as a gift...that wasn't small or unappreciated. The man suggested that I do 40 days of the 25th Pauri in Japji Sahib for him and his family for prosperity, in lieu of a gift. And so I did. What a giant blessing that turned out to be for them I am certain, but also for me!
I had seen his wife doing her daily walks at Khalsa Women's Training Camp, always reciting many of the shabds or auris as she did her rounds each morning. I always admired her because of that, and I decided that this would be my jumping off point to begin this practice as well.
And so began my recitations. After the 40 days ended, I decided to continue but to dedicate them to my family instead. I started out with my Xeroxed copy in my hand that I read as I walked. I slowly began to memorize each line, and what began as a gift for someone else has now become an integral part of my day and life.
I do three pauris or shabds these days: Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru for miracles, Poota Mata Ki Asis for my children, and my oldest favorite (the 25th Pauri of Japji Sahib) for prosperity.
My days are different than when I first started the recitations. I have two children of my own now, one in college and the other two years away from higher learning. So now I do these recitations as I walk our small dog around our cul-de-sac. I always feel that saying these prayers helps to bless not only our family, but all who live in this neighborhood. It's a quiet contribution that no one is aware of. In addition, when people pass me on the street, I silently bless them.
Oh, by the way...that family back in Herndon is Sunder Singh and Kaur and I owe them much gratitude and admiration.
"God is within you. It is. It shall be."
(from Yogi Bhajan Everyday Calendar 2006, published by Sikh Dharma International/Dasvand)