Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: April 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Soul is not Sikh

As a part of my job here at KRI, I get the honor of attending what are known as TTEC meetings. It's essentially a gathering of some of the most esteemed and long-standing students of Yogi Bhajan's and the lead trainers of our Aquarian Trainer Academy from around the world. Needless to say, the discussions are right up my alley. . . . .for example, the question posed to the group one afternoon was, "What defines Spiritual Maturity?" A beautiful conversation then followed. But the most meaningful comment for me--the one that struck right to the core of what I've been dealing with personally, before and after, my trip to India--was this: "My soul is not Sikh."

Krishna Kaur from Los Angeles said it. She to me embodies the Bhakti-Shakti Ideal that is this path. A powerful, humble, radiant woman who speaks the truth with compassion, challenges you with tenderness, and inspires you with every breath she takes. I was so struck by this simple statement, realizing that even though we define ourselves through form, we are always, ultimately, formless.

So here is a poem, in reflection of that conversation--and the power of those simple words:

My soul is not Sikh
no, my soul cannot
be confined

to one name
to many names
to any name

My soul is as wide
as a sea with no horizon
no shore

My soul is not Sikh
no, my soul
speaks a greater truth

bows to all names
or no name
my own name

My soul is as endless
as the summer sky
a mile wide

No -- My soul is not Sikh

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cacophony of Sound and the Experience of Silence

Well, I got an e-mail from a reader--asking for photos and stories. . . .so first let me apologize for being so absent. And second, it's very challenging to think about writing about my experiences, which is why I've been avoiding it--along with working like a maniac since I got back home! Literally not a day off in over 17 days. So--with all my excuses out of the way, I'll simply begin.

Here's a link to some great photos taken by my friend and one of the leaders of the yatra, Guru Kirn Kaur Khalsa:

Here's a short story I wrote for Aquarian Times--you'll get the preview!

Singing gurbani kirtan is very silent. You have to cut down everything to create the music and the words and the sound. Kirtan is the absolute experience of silence because nothing is yours. –Yogi Bhajan

Recently I went to India for the first time. I am a reluctant traveler; but somehow the pieces fell into place and I found myself on the roof of Le Golden, a small hotel directly across from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. From this tiny deck, I could hear the sounds of gurbani kirtan mingling with the sounds of the streets, the seemingly endless blare of horns, children playing, dogs barking, carts groaning—all that is India. I listened and I wrote and I listened some more. The world of sound opened up to me.

As I left for my trip, Gurucharan Singh, The Director of Training here at KRI, looked at me and said, “You will come back with a different voice. Notice. Pay attention and report back.” Now when Gurucharan Singh asks you to pay attention to something—you do! So, I listened and I sang; I sang on the prakarma; I sang in Guru Tegh Bahadar’s gurdwara; I sang on the sidewalk with an old man as he took people’s shoes; I sang with young girls and old women; I sang in the early morning hours and late into the evening. I sang as I dipped myself into the cold, early spring water. I sang.

I walked along the prakarma and I prayed. The birds arrived, their chatter carrying over the waters of the Harimander Sahib. The sound of gurmukhi—the Shabd Guru—resounded from every corner. Prayers of old women and young boys, the splash of water, the ‘wahe guru’ of the sevadar with every sweep of the marble, the clank of metal, the rustle of cloth—the cacophony of sound became a symphony of naad. And in the midst of that cacophony came a profound silence—a pulse. All sounds merged into the one sound of creation, the pulse of the universe, the beating of my own heart. And my prayer for the Golden Temple became a prayer for my Self, my own temple, my own purity, my own divinity, my own sound of praise. And that prayer merged with the pulse of the naad—and I knew that all had been fulfilled. There was nothing more—and nothing less—than this resonance, this embodiment of the Naam: God and me, me and God, are One.