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Listening to The Land:
Letters From Espanola





In Guru Nanak's Japji Sahib, there are four verses (paurris) solely devoted to the praises of suniye. Of listening.

Therein, Guru Nanak gives us a stairway to understand human consciousness.

One of the most critical aspects of developing ourselves as human beings is through the art of listening. When we learn how to deeply listen, Guru Nanak tells us, all the mysteries of life can reveal themselves directly to us.

Within the human psyche, the doorway to knowledge comes when we quiet our inner thoughts, and just listen. From that stillness, so much can be learned, and known.

Deeply Listening,
The wisdom of all sacred scriptures in the world
Is revealed
. (paurri 9)

Deeply Listening,
The same honor comes
As if you had continually
Read and studied.
(paurri 10)

Deeply Listening,
Even blind
You will find your way.
(paurri 11)

Since I first began to meditate on these particular paurris of Japji Sahib, this practice of suniye has continued to show me its power. One of the most positive interchanges have come when I have learned to listen to the land.

To open my senses,and perceive in a way that is not linear or logical. But intuitive and wholistic.

Since spring has arrived, I thought that I would take a risk and write a series of three articles about listening to the land. About the land's innate intelligence and our ability, as people, to connect with that wisdom through suniye. Through listening.

This first column has to do with how the place where I live came to me.

It was 2005, and I was living in a tiny beat-up trailer close to the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ashram in Espanola, New Mexico. I had lived in that trailer for about seven years, and it occurred to me that I had paid tens of thousands of dollars in rent during that time with nothing really to show for it.

During the meditation intensive that happens in Espanola each year at Summer Solstice, something crystallized. For lack of a better way to say it, I "got a message" during one particular mediation. Buy a house. Do it now. Even if you have to stretch yourself to do it. If you do not do it now, it will be too hard to do it later.

This was a few years before the subprime mortgage crisis. And getting US government insured loans for first-time homebuyers was not too difficult, even for a woman of my own modest means. So I sat down, figured out my budget, and began to hunt for a new home.

It was tough going. New Mexico has this strange economic dynamic. So much of the land here belongs to Native American tribes, or the US Federal Government.

So there is a relatively smaller portion of real estate available for sale. This creates a peculiar economic stress where land prices are completely out of proportion to the relative income levels from the jobs located here.

As I began to look at homes in my price range, the situation looked dire. The homes would be falling apart, and needing major renovation. Or the homes would be so many miles away from the ashram, that it would take me a an hour to drive to work. Even though my meditation had been so clear, the situation on the ground looked impossible.

One house could have worked, but I hesitated too long, and someone snapped it up.

In the midst of all this, my landlord decided he wanted to replace the beat up trailer on his land with a new three bedroom trailer and charge twice the rent. That created a deadline for me to move no matter what. It was just a question of how and where.

Just as I was reaching the end of my rope, my real estate agent, who is also a good friend, called me and told me about a place ten miles north of the ashram.

"Ekie," she said, "I cannot get a key to look at the house today. But why don't you drive over there and take a look. Let me know what you think."

Another friend of mine came along to look at the property with me. The house was situated along the highway that runs from Santa Fe to Taos. A two lane rural highway with houses on one side, and acres of barren, federally managed land, on the other.

We pulled up to the property, hopped the fence and began to walk around. It was about 6 pm at night, and the traffic along the highway jarred my nerves. Car after car after car after car dashing down the road at the end of the work day. The house was small, but it came with an acre and a half of land, and a three car garage that was almost as big as the house, itself.

After investigating the property for a while, I thought to myself, "I cannot handle the sound of this traffic. Forget about it," and said to my friend, "Let's go."

We got back in the car when my friend began to panic. She had been wearing a beautiful necklace in the shape of a Khanda with a moonstone in the center.

Somehow, while walking around the land, the clasp had broken and the necklace had fallen off. Tears welled up in her eyes. "I cannot leave without finding the
necklace," she said.

As the sun began to set, and the light became more remote, we jumped the fence again and began looking for that necklace. It was impossible. A small piece of metal with a white stone against a landscape of weeds and sand. My friend insisted that we could not leave without it, so I did what I always do when I don't know what else to do. I began to chant. Quietly to myself. Pacing up and down the property. Chanting and chanting. Hoping to find it.

Well, the problem with chanting is that it opens you to a more subtle space. Anyone who meditates understands this. So while I chanted, my mind became quieter, and vaster.

I fell into that deep space of listening, of suniye, that Guru Nanak talks about.

All of the sudden, the grains of sand beneath my feet started vibrating. "Buy us! buy us!" they called out.

I stopped in my tracks. Am I crazy? It is the first thing I ask myself whenever that meditative space takes me somewhere that is difficult to explain. Am I crazy?

"No." I said to the land. "I am not going to buy you."

Chanting and chanting. Walking and walking. Looking for that necklace. A couple minutes later it happened again.

"Buy us! Please! Buy us!" All these little grains of sand called up in a chorus.

I shook my head and sighed. "No," I said emphatically. "I am not going to buy you."

Chanting and chanting. Walking and walking, And then it happened a third time.

"Please," the land said. "We really want you to buy us."

And I thought to myself, this is ridiculous.

"Fine," I said out loud. "Give the necklace back to me and I will buy you."

Within ten seconds, I heard my friend call out with surprise and happiness. "I found it!"

Believe it or not, this is really how my life works.

We got back in the car and she said, "It is so strange. I found it right by the gate, but I had looked there so many times before and didn't see it."

When I told her the story about the land calling out to me, she started to laugh. The land did not want me to leave without becoming its owner.

"It wants the presence of the Guru here," she said. "It wants you to do the translation work here."

Without even knowing what the house looked like on the inside, I called my real estate agent and put in an offer. A deal is a deal, after all.

When Guru Nanak talks about listening, and the power of it, for me it links into this fundamental observation he had that the Divine truly dwells in all things. And if we learn to listen, we can receive that wisdom wherever and however it presents itself.

It is a radically different way of living. A completely different approach to knowing. It does not require logic or rational explanation. It just invites us to
have this fearless, direct relationship with the voice of the Creator, as it expresses itself throughout the entire Creation.

And when we do simran, and open our hearts, and expand our awareness, there is so much more to perceive and communicate with than we realize.

At least that has been my own experience.

I spent the night tossing and turning. I had made the offer on the house without
knowing what it looked like at all. And I had seen so many gutted, burnout home
interiors, I felt a little afraid of what I had gotten myself into.

The next day, my real estate agent brought the key. When we walked in, I was
gratefully relieved. The house was small, but well built and sweet. The rugs were
old and needed to be replaced. But it had a sturdiness to it. And with the door and windows closed the traffic on the highway was hardly a bother at all.

But you know, none of it would have come to me if I had not allowed myself to listen.

To be open to a form of communication that most people may not even believe exists, but that Guru Nanak explained so beautifully in his own words.

Deeply Listening

Understand the unfathomable. (paurri 11)

April 24, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), April 24, 2014, 8:28 AM.

It seems, the author, Ek Ong Kaar ji, is intuned with Naam. Naam springs up and she makes the right decisions. Just by listening to her inner spiritual voice, she acquired the house. May God bless her devotion to gurbani. "gurmukh naam dhiaa-ee-ai ..." [GGS:1240.]

2: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), April 24, 2014, 5:31 PM.

You're in tune and vibrate on the same sympathetic frequency. Whatever you hear it is He who is speaking. How could you ever go wrong? "Jaa kai simran udhree-a Nanak tis balihaar" [GGS:282.9] -- "Meditating in remembrance on Him, we are saved. Nanak is sacrifice to Him." You are blessed and have His Hand on your head. "Jio bola-ay ti-o bole-aa jaa aap bulaa-ay so-ay" [GGS:39.4] -- I speak just as He makes me speak, when He Himself makes me speak."

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Letters From Espanola"

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