Monday, September 10, 2018

Vahiguru and the mirror...

 

Raag Kaanraa - Bhagat Naam Dev Ji - Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - Ang 1318 

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥  
ikOankaar satigur prasaad ||
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru.

ਰਾਗੁ ਕਾਨੜਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਾਮਦੇਵ ਜੀਉ ਕੀ ॥
raag kaanaRaa baanee naam-dev jee-o kee 
Raag Kaanraa, The Word Of Naam Dayv Jee:  

ਐਸੋ ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਅੰਤਰਜਾਮੀ ॥ 
aaiso raam rai antar-jaamee || 
Such is the Sovereign-Lord that he sits inside all life and is the Inner-knower of all; 
ਸੁੱਧ-ਸਰੂਪ ਪਰਮਾਤਮਾ ਐਸਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਹਰੇਕ ਜੀਵ ਦੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਬੈਠਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਹੈ 

ਜੈਸੇ ਦਰਪਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਬਦਨ ਪਰਵਾਨੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ 
jaise darpan mehi badan parvaanee ||1|| rahaa-o || 
(Dwelling within all) He sees everything as clearly as one's face reflected in a mirror (but remains distinct and detached). ||1||Pause|| 
(ਪਰ ਹਰੇਕ ਦੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਵੱਸਦਾ ਭੀ ਇਉਂ) ਪ੍ਰਤੱਖ (ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈ) ਜਿਵੇਂ ਸ਼ੀਸ਼ੇ ਵਿਚ (ਸ਼ੀਸ਼ਾ ਵੇਖਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਦਾ) ਮੂੰਹ ।੧।ਰਹਾਉ। 

ਬਸੈ ਘਟਾ ਘਟ ਲੀਪ ਨ ਛੀਪੈ ॥ 
bassai ghaTaa ghaT leep na chheepai || 
He dwells in each and every heart but no stain or stigma of Maya (the material world) sticks to Him. 
ਉਹ ਸੁੱਧ-ਸਰੂਪ ਹਰੇਕ ਘਟ ਵਿਚ ਵੱਸਦਾ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਉਸ ਉੱਤੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਨਹੀਂ ਪੈਂਦਾ, ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਦਾਗ਼ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੱਗਦਾ, 

ਬੰਧਨ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਜਾਤੁ ਨ ਦੀਸੈ ॥੧॥ 
bandhan muktaa jaat na deesai ||1|| 
He is liberated from bondage; He does not belong to any social class. ||1|| 
ਉਹ (ਸਦਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ) ਬੰਧਨਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਾਲਾ ਹੈ, ਕਦੇ ਭੀ ਉਹ (ਬੰਧਨਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਫਸਿਆ) ਨਹੀਂ ਦਿੱਸਦਾ ।੧। 

ਪਾਨੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਦੇਖੁ ਮੁਖੁ ਜੈਸਾ ॥ 
paanee mehi dekh mukh jaisaa || 
As one's face is reflected in the water (but unaffected by the water), 
ਤੁਸੀ ਜਿਵੇਂ ਪਾਣੀ ਵਿਚ (ਆਪਣਾ) ਮੂੰਹ ਵੇਖਦੇ ਹੋ, (ਮੂੰਹ ਪਾਣੀ ਵਿਚ ਟਿਕਿਆ ਦਿੱਸਦਾ ਹੈ, ਪਰ ਉਸ ਉੱਤੇ ਪਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਅਸਰ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ), 

ਨਾਮੇ ਕੋ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬੀਠਲੁ ਐਸਾ ॥੨॥੧॥ 
naame ko suaamee beettal aaisaa ||2||1|| 
so does Naam Dev's Beloved Lord-Master appear. ||2||1|| 
ਇਸੇ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਹੈ ਨਾਮੇ ਦਾ ਮਾਲਕ (ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ ਨਾਮਾ) ਬੀਠਲ (ਆਖਦਾ) ਹੈ ।੨।੧।

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Khalsa Camp UK 2018: A Camper's Testimony

Before camp and during camp
Below is an article written by sister Danielle who attended Khalsa Camp UK 2018. From day one of the camp Bhenji had a Dastaar (turban) tied on. I thought Bhenji was a Western Sikh, however after being introduced found out that Bhenji was not a Sikh but just a spiritual seeker looking for some positivity and direction. I was taken aback at Bhenji's courage and boldness to wear a Dastaar from the first day of camp, and throughout the camp. It seemed a part and parcel of who she was and it seemed hard to imagine her without it. I hoped that Bhenji didn't feel bored in Divaans and feel disengaged when Gurbani is recited or sung because she is not familiar with it. However, quite the opposite, Bhenji was one of the early comers to the Amrit-Vela divaan and sat attentively with a peaceful pose throughout the whole divaan (unlike the average Punjabi who slouches and shuffles around).

When I spoke to Danielle Bhenji near the end of the camp, she said: "I first came to the camp as an observer but then it felt like I was part of all of this and everyone..." Camps are wonderful opportunity to self-reflect and connect with the Ultimate Reality, Vahiguru, with the help of the Saadh Sangat, the Holy Company. I hope Bhenji's reflections of Khalsa Camp UK 2018 gives inspiration to others to come to the Saadh Sangat and begin experiencing Sikhi through Nitnem, Simran, Sangat, Kirtan, and Seva.



'From Faith to Knowing' Khalsa Camp 2018

'From Faith to Knowing' Khalsa Camp 2018
“The moment I remembered”
Sometimes in life the most extraordinary things happen and it’s difficult to express them in words as the experience is completely personal, but today I will try. For the past two years my friend Harmeet Singh has been asking me to join him on the Khalsa Camp and this year I made the decision to go. Harmeet and I have been friends for nearly 4 years, we met during our time served in the Army. At that point in our lives when we were searching for something but not entirely sure where to look. I had separated from my husband and was following the yogic path in the hope that I would find some peace and balance. As much as I dedicated my time to the practice I would still have fluctuations of the mind. One moment I could be brimming with energy and the next I could not see any meaning to my life. But something deep down inside of me never gave up the search. I looked for it in the clubs, in food, in yoga, in partners, in friends, in travel but my initial highs soon faded, and I would be left with a deep feeling of loneliness. The point came when I realised I was no use to anyone. I decided I needed to make a drastic change and signed off from the Army, from there I travelled to many places around the world in search of my answers. I met incredible people who I can only thank for the point I am at today, now I see each person as a gentle guide showing me the way. After my travels I moved to France to work on a project on a property which was purchased 4 years ago. The space is open to the community and volunteers to practice yoga and connect back to the earth. So, I am not completely sure why I agreed to the Khalsa camp this year as I was so busy. But I never questioned my decision or even considered the experiences I may have.
The time came to leave France and reunite with Harmeet to attend the camp. I had no expectation, my reason for attending was to see Harmeet and have a week to reflect and meditate in the company of spiritual people. So, to be sat here now and share with you the most life changing experience to date is a complete surprise. As soon as I arrived I knew something magical was going to happen, the love and warm smiles made me immediately feel at home. Everybody I met had a soft glow and welcoming eyes which I became absorbed in. I think I was the only person who was not practicing Sikhism, but this didn’t matter. The days were filled with inspiring lectures to fit with the theme ‘Win your mind, conquer the world”. There was a perfect balance of spirituality and science to open the mind of all who attended. Something was happening deep inside of me each time I heard the words of the lecturers, it was like I was being re-taught something I already knew. My mind wasn’t aware, but my heart was. I discovered that Sikhism is all about love, compassion, strength and self-discipline. It is about seeing yourself as a drop of water from the vast ocean, it is about having the courage to stand up for what is right, it is about seeing each person as your family and taking responsibility for the whole. It is about discovering that by understanding the mind we can achieve bliss in this life time, this bliss comes with no selfish gain or desire, this bliss is pure.
I have struggled with my image over the years and have covered it up in many ways or have looked for praise and love in ways that disrespected my gifts. That week I saw the beauty in everything, inside and outside of me. During one of our evening divans I cried as I mother would for their child. I saw my life in flashes of images, getting tattoos and piercings, intoxicating my body, self-harming, meaningless relationships and words of hate. I cried because I saw the perfect creation I was destroying to fit into an uncompassionate society. This realisation made me remove my piercing and vow to care of my body just as you would for a person you loved. This body is a gift to experience this world and be used to serve others to raise the awareness about our deeper connection. 


Each morning we sat for Simran at 2:30 am where we repeated ‘VaheGuru’ until the morning prayers and Kirtan began at 04:45 . It sounds insane to even consider waking up at this time, but I have never felt so much joy in all my life. My mind was at peace and my whole body vibrated, to be merged within the Darbar Sahib with Guru Granth Sahib and all who attended was where I found my home. I looked around and saw myself in each person, I let the words reach my soul without labelling or challenging the meaning. From that moment I knew this wouldn’t be the last time I would be doing this practice.
The Guru Granth Sahib is unique among the world's great scriptures. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person. It is also the only scripture of it's kind which not only contains the works of it's own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths. This is the living Guru of the Sikhs, the book is treated with the upmost respect. Sikhism rejects idol worship, so the Guru Granth Sahib is not worshipped as an idol, but rather emphasis is placed on respect of the book for the writings which appear within. Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of devotional hymns and poetry which proclaims God, lays stress on meditation on the True Guru (God), and lays down moral and ethical rules for development of the soul, spiritual salvation and unity with God. (sikhs.org, 2011)
One afternoon we sat overlooking the ocean and discussed the matter of love. The answers and reflection led me to this; When we are no longer attached to the fluctuations of the mind and do not allow thoughts of anger, desire, jealousy and lust to rules us we are living in a present moment. We are at our purest state, we live our life with the purpose to help others. We are no longer enslaved by the ideologies of society, are needs for worldly goods and moments of excitement are observed as a distraction to the evaporation of our Ego. We can wake up every day fully energised and ready to make changes in the world. The idea of ‘I’ turns to ‘We’. The beauty of the world is magnified as we hear the gentle sounds of each creation. At this point you no longer live with a faith that you will meet the right partner, you have a knowing that when the time is right that person who will stand by your side and support your journey will come into your life. You will not need to rush into anything as when this person arrives they will stay with you. Here love is not something you possess or need from a person, it is a gift to enjoy.
I will never forget the day when Harmeet pushed me out of my comfort zone to chant, I had no time to let my fears in because before I knew it I was seated in front of the microphone facing Guru Granth Sahib. I was surprised that as soon as I let the sound leave my mouth I had no negative feelings. I spent many moments of my life on stage singing and being judged and compared. At that moment I realised that this was no longer about me. This realisation I will hold with me. When you focus so much on what others think, you lose yourself to the mind. We need to act as role models to everyone we meet to support and encourage. When we judge we are working from the mind and not the heart. In this space you lose your place in this moment.
I can now take this moment to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for helping me to find peace. You are all my gifts.  I apologies in advance if any of the terms used were not correct or if any of my words offended anybody.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh
Danielle
www.khalsacamp.com/uk
https://www.sikhs.org/granth.htm


http://daniellebaker.over-blog.com/2018/09/from-faith-to-knowing-khalsa-camp-2018.html

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Khalsa Camp USA 2018...

This year Khalsa Camp USA was launched in California. The camp was held from 5th to 9th August at a camp site in the mountains about 2 hours away from Los Angeles. Khalsa Foundation UK Sevadaars helped to set up the camp with the help of USA sevadaars. The camp was filled with Guru Sahib's Kirpa and left a positive mark on all those that attended. As a first camp, it was not as big as the UK or BC Khalsa Camps, however, the Sangat that came were like one big family with lots of positivity and love for the Guru to share with another. It was really inspiring.

Hopefully with Guru Sahib's Kirpaa, Khalsa Camp USA will grow and campers from this year's camp will be the one's organising next year's camp.

Some photos from the camp:

Sevadaars - Bhai Harsimran Singh (LA) and Bhai Harbakhshish Singh (LA)

Veer Jagdeep Singh (UK) introducing the camp

Bhenji Mandeep Kaur (UK) giving her lecture.

Evening Kirtan

Evening ice-breaker with Bhai Sukhwinder Singh

 
 Even the elder campers got involved in the ice-breaker. Baba Ji playing Charades.

Late evening Kirtan session on the piano

Amrit-Vela

Lecture hall

Workshop by Bhai Manvinder Singh (Clovis)
Workshop with Bhai Ravinder Singh Lal (LA)

Late afternoon Kirtan - Bhenji Manpreet Kaur (with some help)

Veer Fareed Singh, a Mexican-American who discovered Sikhi on YouTube and attended Khalsa Camp for the first time

Bhai Sukhwinder Singh leading Rehraas Sahib in Kirtan form

Satguru Ji

Hukamnama

Bonfire night

Sangat enjoying hot chocolate and some late-night stories

 Hike group

Hike group

Last day - fun session outside

 Ending camp with some last messages

 Post-camp mini reunion

Post camp Kirtan at Mata Kuldip Kaur's home. Local Gursikh Sangat came to do Seva.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Gurbani Vichaar: What can I do to get Guru's Kirpaa (Grace)?

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji tells that mind can only be controlled if one get's Perfect One's Grace:

 
ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥
salok ||
Shalok:
 
ਦਸ ਦਿਸ ਖੋਜਤ ਮੈ ਫਿਰਿਓ ਜਤ ਦੇਖਉ ਤਤ ਸੋਇ ॥
das dis khojat mai firio jat dekhau tat soe ||
I have wandered, searching in the ten directions - wherever I look, there I see Him.


ਮਨੁ ਬਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜੇ ਪੂਰਨ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੧੦॥
man bass aavai naanakaa je pooran kirpaa ho ||10||
The mind comes to be controlled, O Nanak, if He grants His Perfect Grace. ||10||


(Raag Gauree - Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Ang 298)


The question that follow's on from this is, "Is there anything I can do to get Guru's Kirpaa (Grace)?"


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in the Pauri (verse) that follows from the Salok (couplet) gives 7 things that one can do as part of one's way of life that can help to achieve the Perfect One's Grace:
 
ਪਉੜੀ ॥
pauRee ||
Pauree:
 
ਦਸਮੀ ਦਸ ਦੁਆਰ ਬਸਿ ਕੀਨੇ ॥
dasmee das duaar bas keene ||
(1) Control the ten doors (motory organs - arms, feet and mouth; and sensory organs - touch, smell, sight, taste and hearing).
 
ਮਨਿ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਿ ਲੀਨੇ ॥
man santokh naam jap leene ||
(2) Through chanting the Naam the mind becomes content.
 
ਕਰਨੀ ਸੁਨੀਐ ਜਸੁ ਗੋਪਾਲ ॥
karnee suneeaai jas gopaal ||
(3) With your ears, hear the Praises of the Lord of the World.
 
ਨੈਨੀ ਪੇਖਤ ਸਾਧ ਦਇਆਲ ॥
nainee pekhat saadh dayaal ||
(4) With your eyes, behold the Home of kindness, the Holy Saints.
 
ਰਸਨਾ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵੈ ਬੇਅੰਤ ॥
rasnaa gun gaavai beant ||
(5) With your tongue, sing the Glorious Praises of the Infinite Lord.
 
ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਿਤਵੈ ਪੂਰਨ ਭਗਵੰਤ ॥
man mehi chitvai pooran bhagvant ||
(6) In your mind, remember the All-Pervading Lord God.
 
ਹਸਤ ਚਰਨ ਸੰਤ ਟਹਲ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥
hasat charan sant Tahal kamaayeeaai ||
(7) With your hands and feet, work for the Saints.
 
ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੧੦॥
naanak ehu sanjam prabh kirpaa paayeeaai ||10||
O Nanak! Following this way of life (as mentioned above) one obtains God's Grace. ||10||
(Raag Gauree - Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji - Ang 298)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Be careful when driving...

Last month I was driving to East London. I was on the M25 and turned off at junction 27 to turn on to the M11. There is a sharp bend as the road curves around. On this bend, I saw what seemed to be a broken down vehicle. I couldn't see too clearly, but it seemed a light-skinned Pakistani or perhaps Eastern European man and I assumed his family was with him. 

He was waving towards the traffic and seemed to be flagging for help. I thought perhaps someone is having a heart attack or perhaps he doesn't have a mobile phone and needs urgent help with ringing emergency services or something. So I decide to pull up on the hard shoulder about 30 yards away from the broken down car. Seeing me slow down, the man ran towards the car. 

Having read a few news items about car jackings, I pressed the central locking system so the doors were locked. I then put my window down just enough so I can hear him but not enough for someone to put their arm through the window. The man came right up to the window and said, "Hello Sir! Please help me." I replied, "What help do you need?" He said, "Can you please give me £10. My car has ran out of petrol and I am stuck."

I thought, hold up, how is a £10 note going to get his car going when he has ran out of petrol on the motorway? Thankfully I had my phone on and on display in the car as I was on the phone to another Singh when this was happening. I said, "If you have ran out petrol, you need to get to a petrol station and get petrol - not ask for money on the motorway!... Ring your breakdown people or shall I call the police for you?" He quickly responded, "No, no... no police... just £10. You give me and help me.... I can get home... I have my family... You good man."

Something inside me made me look into my rear mirror, and guess what... he didn't have a family with him. Instead a black guy who was standing to a side (on the hard shoulder of the motorway) got in this car and was about to drive the car towards me (proving the story false that the car had ran out of petrol). I thought this looks like a gang trying to get me to stop and have me pass over money and then have the rest of the gang steal my car. I said "I will call the Police for you now..." He said, "No its okay and ran off." I quickly drove off before they could get close with their car.

It said that criminals are taking advantage of people's good will and more dangerously it is important to say safe and keep your car doors locked when driving.