Thank you to Veer Dee Dee Mills for emailing me his story to share with the Sangat. Hopefully, it will give inspiration to other newcomers to Sikhi, and remind us all of Guru Ji's love.
The Story of a White-American falling in love with Sikhi...
(Part 1 of 2)
(Part 1 of 2)
My story begins with me being born near the banks of the Mississippi River in the United States of America. My father had left before I was born and the first three years of my life were spent in a modest accommodation with my mother. During my third year, my mother married the man whom I came to call my father. They have been married ever since. Both parents were brought up in Catholic households, and as a result, neither had any affiliation to religion whatsoever. My family consists of a mixture of Germanic, Irish, and Ukrainian genealogy. From a young age, my mother told and encouraged me to seek and study religion on my own when I was old enough.
My family practiced the typical and confusing traditions of their own background, i.e. Christmas and Easter. Although the baby Christ was never spoken of, they would spend the solstice weeks decorating a fir tree, and eventually exchange gifts on the supposed birthday of Christ of whom they had no knowledge of. As a boy I was utterly confused by this, and my confusion grew more intense with age. The following year we observed Easter, which was nothing more than a candy hunt with a giant rabbit presiding over the games. This was supposed to have something to do with the Christ figure as well, but even the adults knew the connection was obsurd. It was best to just leave it alone and indulge in the sugary treats.
As I grew into adolescence, my relationship to God remained untapped. I was certain that God was phoney (made-up), and religion was for fools. Having no source of spiritual support, as a young man I fell into drug and alcohol abuse. I was content with getting high. It was the closest thing I knew to experiencing another world. But alas, as many others before me had discovered, this high, like so many things in this world, was also temporary and even became painfull. As a young man I battled with what is called depression and anxiety. I always had the support of my mother, but her capacity to guide me was never her strongest point. She herself was slowly falling into the realm of self gratification through cigarettes and gambling. Although I loved her very much, I knew she could not solve my issues.
I immersed myself in music, particularly playing guitar and keyboard. I also grew very fond of eastern Indian music. I loved the long raags of sitar and tabla (drums). I would go to the public library and sift through the international CDs looking for appealing sounds. The fact that I didn't understand the language being sung was of no consequence. The singers voice simply became another instrument being played. In fact, I began to prefer foreign language song because my brain didn't have to contemplate the words. It allowed me to sink further into the music itself, without being interupted by thought cognition. My love for indian music grew, and I bought a tabla set of my own at an Indian bazaar. My tabla playing was rudimentary, having no lessons, but I was so very fond of my tabla. Sometimes I would just sit and stare at them and enjoy their beauty.
One day, at the age of 22, after spending my youth as a devout atheist, I found myself sitting under a tree in a city park. Peering through the branches and leaves of this tree, while taking in the bits of sky blue, I suddenly came to understand that there was more to my composition than mere flesh and blood. It was as if the idea of God came rushing to me from above and I sat up in stark realization. Thus, my search for God had begun.
I spent then next 10 years dabbling in spiritual studies with a passive demeanor. I found the study of Theosophy to be most intriguing. I was still gripped by the influences of alcohol, sex, and other extreme indulgences. God had become an interest, but not yet a hobby. I spent my twenties working in restaurant kitchens learning how to cook and eventually became a chef. I loved my line of work and it took me to many great places, including the largest metropolitan city in my country.
It was in New York City that I continued my pursuit of food knowledge and cooking technique. Now in my thirties I had begun to leave the dangerous vices of alcohol and tobacco behind me. Along the way I met a devoutly Jewish woman, and we kindled a romantic relationship. Although she was very beautiful, I was mostly drawn to her spirituality... she had introduced me to what is known as Shabbat. As we continued our relationship, I joined her congregation of orthodox Jewish observers. I took on an all kosher diet and began learning about and meditating upon the many names of God in the Jewish Kabbalah faith. After two years of observance, I decided to join the congregation on a pilgrimage Israel to visit and pray at many holy site and at the graves of Jewish sages, and I even took ritual bath at the Mikveh of the holy site of Ari.
|Entrance to the Mikveh of Ari|
My journey did not end there. I left the congregation in Israel and visited a friend in Kiev, Ukraine. The object was to drive to a graveyard in far western Ukraine to pray at the grave site of the Baal Shem Tov. After spending time in Ukraine, I travelled back to New York. Within a couple months, my relationship with the woman had dwindled, and my connection to the congregation had nearly vanished. I felt that even after all I had done with this group, something was not right. I had felt the surge of Light that comes from Kabbalistic meditation and wanted to chase that feeling. The Jewish community had too many rules and regulations as to how and when to commune with the Divine. I knew something was not right.
I had decided in Israel that I would stop trimming my hair and beard. As I left my old congregation behind, I looked forward to the possibilities of finding the truth. I felt it was so close. As my hair became longer, I decided I needed a special comb. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of comb, but I would know it when I saw it... My relationship with knives had always been a strong one having spent my life as a chef. Little did I know that I was soon to discover a deeper truth about myself, and that my connection to my blades and my comb were the catalysts to open the door to Sikhi.