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Sukhmandir Khalsa

Sukhmandir's Sikhism Blog


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The Exalted Spirit of "Chardi Kalaa"

Sunday May 25, 2014

Guru Arjun Dev the first Sikhism martyr, sacrificed his life for the scriptures which he had compiled in the sacred Granth and installed in Harmandir Sahib. When ordered to change certain passages which offended Mughal rulers, he refused. His unwillingness to comply resulted in his being arrested.

The fifth guru's captors detained him for five days torturing and tormenting him relentlessly. They  boiled, burnt, baked, and searing, scalding, and roasting him alive before plunging Guru Ajrun Dev into an icy river torrent.

Historian's record that the fifth guru never succumbed to his captor's demands, nor did he ever cry out in pain, but only gave praise to the sweetness of divine will. Guru Arjun Dev is remembered as an outstanding example of the exalted spirit known to Sikhs as "Chardi Kalaa".

If you should ever feel buried beneath a mound of troubles, remember this hymn composed by Guru Arjun Dev:

"Baah pakarr gur kaa-dti-aa so-ee outri-aa paar||3|
Grasping their arm, the Guru lifts them up and out, and carries them across to the other side." ||3||

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"Peace" a Call for an End to War

Tuesday May 20, 2014

Who can forget the unfolding horror of September, 11, 2001, a day which changed our nation, causing the kind of shock waves felt by the American people on December, 7, 1941, when the Japanese targeted Pearl harbor. Both were acts which resulted in neighbors regarding each other with suspicion, not knowing who to trust, and fostering bias related incidents. Both plunged us into war.

The 2nd World War ended after four years. The seemingly never ending war in which Americans are now engaged, threatens to continue for the next 100 years, and in fact has been ongoing for the past 2,000 years.

It's time we call our troupes home and put an end to a war which has driven American people into triple deficit debt while lining the pockets of war profiteering corporations, decimating the country and peoples we are supposed to be helping bring democracy to, and who want us to leave.

"Jin tum bhaejae tineh bulaa-ae sukh sehaj saetee ghar aao ||
The One who sent you, has now recalled you; return to your home now in peace and be comforted.
anad mangal gun gaao sehaj dhun nihchal raaj kamaao||1||
Blissfully, joyously sing His glorious praises; by this celestial tune, you shall acquire the everlasting kingdom. ||1||
tum ghar aavahu mere meet||
Come back to your home, O my friend.
tumarae dokhee har aap nivaarae apdaa bhee biteet || rehaao ||
The Lord Himself has eliminated your enemies, and your misfortunes are past. ||Pause||SGGS||678

Khanda Inter Faith Banner

Khanda and Inter Faith Banner
Photo © [S Khalsa]

One God and One humanity, what if we just lived in love?

Never Judge a Geode by its Cover

Thursday May 15, 2014

The outer crust of a geode has all the aplomb of a day old baked potato, resembling one in both color and texture, and even sometimes size. Inside, however are dazzling crystalline formations which may be produced by an array of minerals, and are found in any number of colors.

I am reminded of an article I saw in "National Geographic" about a  "Crystal Cavern" discovered by miners deep within the heart of the earth in Mexico. Enormous columns of crystal are likened by the author of the article, Neil Shea, to pillars in an other world cathedral, or an alien palace. A cross section sketch which does not appear online, but is included in the magazine article, depicted the cavern as the heart of a gigantic geode of unimaginable proportion, ensconced a thousand feet beneath the earths' surface.

Certain texts of Sikh scripture in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib allude to hidden treasure found in meditation. Extraordinary beauty hidden within a plain rough exterior, a geode exemplifies the words of Bhagat Naam Dev:

"Ratan kamal kotaree ||
The jewels are in the treasure chamber of the heart-lotus.

Chamakaar beejul tehee ||
They sparkle and glitter like lightning." SGGS||656

Like the humble exterior of a geode, humility may be one of the best predictors of a genuine heart in an embodied soul. A plain and quiet person, not interested in putting on a show, may be someone who is tuned to an inner display, put on by the divine.

Guru Raam Daas, wrote:

"Raam naam ratan kotaree garr mandar ek lukaanee ||
The Lord's Name is a jewel, hidden in a chamber of the palace of the body-fortress.

Satigur milai ta khojeeai mil jotee jot samaanee ||1||
The true guru meets the seeker, who finds that their own light merges with the light of the Divine." ||1||SGGS||1178

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Copyright Protected © [Permission Granted Courtesy Warriors in Name]

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Garden of the Heart

Sunday May 11, 2014

What do you plant in the garden of your heart?

"Man tan nirmal karat kiaaro har sinchai sudhaa sanjor ||
I make my mind and body into pure little gardens, and irrigate them with the sublime essence of the Lord." SGGS||701

In the garden of the heart
Amritvela is the time for tending the plot
In the sunlight of Naam jap
Plant the seed of Waheguru
Water it by singing praise with Kirtan
Feed with the nutrients of Nitnem banis
Cultivate by reading Paath
Weed out wrongful deeds
Maintain sangat as vigilant guards
Subdue the five predator's voices of ego
Build the fence of five kakars to keep out
Poachers the four bajjar kurehit cardinal sins
Do seva to reap the harvest of the heart in bloom

"Jap tap sanjam hoeh jab rakhae kamal bigsai madh asramaaee||2||
When chanting, austere meditation and self-discipline become your protectors, then the lotus blossoms forth, and the honey trickles out." SGGS||23

Impression of Sikh Couple Doing Naam Simran Meditation

Top Ten Tips for Establishing Early Morning Meditation

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Dog is God Spelled Backwards

Saturday May 10, 2014

One of my favorite riddles goes something like this:

What does an insomniac, agnostic, dyslexic do?
(see the end of the post for the answer, if you haven't guessed)

Clue: A little dog, by the name of Mini-me, yapping in the neighboring yard set me to thinking about the many me's, - the infinite manifestations of Ik Onkar, of whom we are all part and participle. One formless, creative, essence whose inventive and productive personality, with meditative focus, brought into being all of existence in an out pouring of prolific, unending, fruitful, fertility.

"Anik oop khin maa-eh kudrat dhardaa"||
"By His creative power, He assumes numerous forms in an instant." SGGS||519

It may be a bit backwards, but reflecting on a dog's name led to contemplating both God's name and bountiful disposition. The giver, the source of all resources, the plentiful replenisher, fulfiller, and refiller of all depletions, is the ultimate eliminator of all emptinesses.

"simrat simrat prabh aapnnaa sabh fal paa-ae aa-eh "||
"Contemplating and meditating on my God, I obtain all the fruits." SGGS||519

Answer: Stays up all night, wondering, if there is a... god.

I sometimes can't sleep at night, and I'm sometimes dyslexic, especially when sleepy, or tired. But I don't wonder whether, or if, there is a..., I simply marvel in wonder, at the wonder of God.

Dog Backwards

Dog Backwards
Photo © [S Khalsa]

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Dog Walk and Treasure Hunt

Friday May 9, 2014

"Sagal santan peh vast ek maago||
I beg of all the Saints: please, give me the merchandise". SGGS||99

Walking my dog is often an opportunity for introspection. One time I happened to think about prosperity and the laws of attraction.

I reflected on some earlier musings considering ways that Sikhs might manifest success in their lives perhaps by performing akhand or sidharan paath, complete readings of Guru Granth Sahib, by listening to or reciting the scripture of Sukhmani, performing seva, selfless service, or sharing of earnings.

Once when reading gurbani, the scripture of Guru Granth Sahib, I had come across a verse where Guru Arjan had written that he would give all his property to anyone who could unite him with God. Pondering the implications, I confess to having felt a bit shaken.

As I walked on I recited a bit of Gurbani still searching outwardly for clues to show me the path to prosperity. I imagined holding out my hands and having them filled up, as though the heavens opened up and rained down all blessings. Coming back to reality I could see they held only a dog's leash.

Walking on, I thought about how two magnets close together may either ,or repel. Turn one around and a reversal occurs. Of a sudden it came to me that I had been thinking in reverse attempting to understand and compel affluence.

The tendency is to look outsides oneself when seeking to fulfill, when in reality fortune is self contained. The greatest treasure is within. Looking inward one discovers the source of all abundance, the true and inexhaustible wealth, an inner emanating golden light welling up, spilling over, flooding, seeping, and saturating one with opulence.

"Satgur milai oultee bhee nav nidh kharchio khaao||
Meeting the True Guru, I am totally transformed; I have obtained the nine treasures to use and consume.||

Ataareh sidhee pichhai lagee-aa firan nij ghar vasai nij thaae||
The eighteen supernatural spiritual powers-follow in my footsteps; I dwell in my own home, within my own self". SGGS||91

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Blind Eyes Begin To See

Thursday May 8, 2014

Many people have perfect vision but I'm not one of them. I wear corrective prescription lenses. In a way this is selective vision because while it allows me to focus on distant objects it blurs those which are close up. To read I have to use an additional set of corrective lenses. This morning I decided to take a walk without wearing any lenses. I put my dog on the leash and let her go where she wished walking slowly along. I held a prayerbook in one hand and without lenses to correct distance I could see the words easily, but not much else.

We walked out into the tall grass along a narrow path. My dog sniffed around the trees and plants. Though focusing on the words in front of me, I began to notice wild flowers along the path in a way I usually do not see them. I felt much closer and connected to my surroundings. The colors of the meadow grasses waving on their tall stalks, though blurred, had a rich soft hue and the flowers stood out brilliantly. I bent to inspect them marveling at the detail and intricacies of nature.

Wild Flowers in Bloom

Wild Flowers in Bloom
Photo © [S Khalsa]

As I walked, I began to ponder the many ways our sight is filtered especially when we depend on others for guidance and see our world through their eyes. I had read a story earlier about two Singhs discussing whether their association with a saintly soul would ensure their place spiritually in the next world. I thought about how the message Guru Nanak imparted to us through Guru Granth Sahib teaches us to look inwardly for guidance from the divine. And how scripture is like the prescription lens which allows us to focus on the divine but to truly sense the connection we then must rely directly on the inner vision of our own insight, however blurry it might be.

True seeing comes from focusing inwardly steadily with attention fixed. Without our seeing, the divine reveals manifest presence within us the way that flowers, without my looking, caught my attention in my peripheral vision and showed themselves with such clarity, though all the while my eyes remained focused on scripture and my tongue on recitation. This is the power of the prescription of naam. Focusing the mind and the tongue on divine recitation and remembrance, with great good fortune blind eyes begin to see, and divine union may be realized.

Prayers complete, I returned to the house with my musings and a pot of flowers brilliant in their fading blooms greeted me. I marveled at how their color appeared so much richer and vibrant when seeing them without spectacles enabling my vision. Once inside, I unsnapped the leash. Though not a seeing eye dog, she had guided me along the pathway of spiritual meanderings and insight.

In truth words are inadequate for such experience.  Turning  to Guru Granth Sahib I found this written by Guru Nanak:

"Jo kichh hoaa sabh kichh tujh te teree sabh asanaaee ||
Whatever has happened, all comes from You who is All-knowing.

"Teraa ant na jaanaa mere saahib mai andhulae kiaa chaturaaee
Your limits cannot be known, O my Lord and Master; I am blind - what wisdom do I have? ||2||

Kiaa ho kathhee kathae kath daekhaa mai akath na kathanaa jaaee
What should I say? While talking, I talk of seeing, but I cannot describe the indescribable.

Kiaa ho kathhee kathae kath daekhaa mai akath na kathanaa jaaee
What can be said? While speaking, I talk of seeing, but I cannot describe the indescribable.

Jo tudh bhaavai soee aakhaa til teree vaddiaaee ||3||
As it pleases Your Will, I express just the tiniest bit of Your greatness. ||3|| SGGS||795

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Are You Credit Worthy?

Wednesday May 7, 2014

I overheard the words of a newscaster drift in from the TV blaring in the other room, "In California, 1300 homes are being foreclosed each day". I can't express how sad that makes me feel for homeowners.

Credit worthiness has been a big topic on the news these days as financial analysts continue to discuss the Wall Street bailout. The stock market is at an all time low. Unemployment is at an all time high. Banks are failing like dominoes crashing. Meanwhile computer screens ads are flashing, "Do you know your credit score?"

I thought I'd check mine out with the 'Bank of Gurbani'. For those of you not in the know, Gurbani is the Sikh scripture. Feeling like the scripture of the Guru Granth Sahib is just about the only creditworthy institution safe to bank on these days, I logged into Sikhi to the Max, a great Gurbani search engine. I typed in credit into English option box on the right.

So here's the score:

Jaa kai har dhan so sach saahu||
Those who possess the wealth of the Lord are the true bankers.
Gur poorai kar dheeno visaahu||3||
The Perfect Guru has established their line of credit. SGGS||189

So how do we obtain this wealth?

The answer is here

Follow the link and just type in the word "wealth" in the English option box at the top right. Come back and share any one of the 859 results, that you feel you can bank on.

True Wealth
Which is the True Wealth?
Photo © [S Khalsa]

Play Gurbani Word Association and begin saving up now.

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Dog and Master

Tuesday May 6, 2014

Featured: Master and Dog

Bhagat Kabeer ji, one of the authors of Guru Granth Sahib wrote:
"Ham kookar tere darbaar ||
I am a dog in Your Court, O Lord. SGGS||969

My son and I took our dog out a walk down to the river. She strained at her leash, every scent along the way a new sensation pulling her nose this way or that. In a bid to focus her attention, my son held her leash tight, bringing her to heel reinforcing his position as master. When we reached the river bank, he went wading with her into the water. Excited by a variety of water fowl swimming in the current, she splashed happily in the shallows. After a bit he let her go. Thrilled with her freedom, she raced giddily up and down the river bank and we lost sight of her.

Guru Arjun Dev likened the mind devoid of meditation to a mad dog, running hither and thither:
"Bin simran kookar harkaaiaa ||
Without meditating in remembrance on the Lord, one is like a mad dog." SGGS||239

Unable to follow her when the trail narrowed, we had to climb up to a path high above the bank and became separated. We called to her. Confused by the sound of our voices coming from different locations, it took her several minutes to find us. She ran up and down the trails through the shrubs and trees until, upon finally locating us, she ran up and slid between my son's feet, her head to the ground in submission.

Guru Teg Bahadur advised bind the mind to God as a loyal dog to its master:
"Suaamee ko grehou jio sadaa suaan tajat nehee nit ||
A dog never abandons the home of its master for another.
Nanak eh bidh har bhajo ik man hue ik chit ||
Nanak, single-mindedly contemplate God, whole-heartedly, with one-pointed consciousness." ||45||
SGGS || 1428

Dog is God Reversed
Master and Dog
Photo © [SatSimran Singh]

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Dogs Don't Like Pears
Evening Walk

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"Read With Love"

Tuesday May 6, 2014

I headed down the road for a walk with Luna, my huskie. My mind jumped ahead to the turn we would take towards the river. I imagined walking along the river all the time hurrying without paying attention to my surroundings. I rushed through my imagined walk, planning how many minutes it might take, thinking about all the things waiting for me to do upon my return. Luna jerked the leash pulling back to the present as she lurched forward to sniff something alongside the side walk.

I realized that my hurry to get to my walk over with and back to work actually defeated one of the very important aspects of the walk, enjoyment. Sure I would get some exercise but the opportunity for relaxation and pure pleasure of my outing had eluded me completely.

I thought how like this meditating or reading Gurbani can be at times. When I sit down to read Sidharan paath, fondly referred to by many sehaj paath, for its comforting ease, my mind jumps ahead thinking of my task. Counting the minutes, the words, the pages as they turn, contemplating all the many things that I set aside to read waiting to be done, I get the mental exercise of reading, but all the sehaj is lost from the paath.

A beloved sakhi (cherished friend) has been reminding a group of us reading together by turns, to read with love. Some of us refer to ourselves as premee paathees, lovers of paath, yet it can be so difficult to just sit and be in the moment, immersed in the Shabad, the hymns of Gurbani our Guru's word. What my sakhi is saying means much more than simple instruction to love Gurbani. It is a reminder to love the moment. Relax, enjoy, forget the cares of past and worries of the future, take pleasure in tasting each word as it is formed by the tongue. Be immersed in a moment which will never come again, fully aware and completely alive in the present, engaged in preet, the love of now.

I reached the river. An imperceptible breeze ruffled the surface of the water. It looked as though the current flowed backwards. Luna lapped the water pulling me along the bank and through the brush. I spied a river otter diving up stream. Clusters of ripe wild grapes hanging from vines wound high in tree branches, beckoned. Gathering the deep purple, perfectly ripe, treasures of nature and tasting of their sweetness, reminded me yet again, of Gurbani.

"Houmai vich sabh parr thhakae dhoojai bhaae khuaar ||
Reading in egotism, all have grown weary; through the love of duality, they are ruined. SGGS||650

Singhni Reading Paath
Singhni Reading Paath
Photo Art © [Khalsa Panth]

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