Kids Corner


Getting Ready for Tomorrow:
Letters from Espanola





When a woman reaches her mid 40's … yes, I do not mind talking about my age … she stands at the mid point of her life journey.

Looking backwards to see what she has achieved in life, compared to the dreams and hopes of her youth. Looking forward to what is still possible, and how she might gracefully progress towards the moment of departure.

It is a "Rahao" moment, if you will. A space to pause in contemplation. Considering the past and the future. Deciding what is valuable to take with her as she goes forward, and what to leave behind.

I look around my life and ask myself: what is it time to let go of?

Those poetry books that I bought in my 20's. Do I really need them with me for the next forty years? How many times do I actually read them?

That little painted stand, that I found second hand 15 years ago. Do I want to keep looking at it for the next decade? Or is it time to give it away and find something nicer?

This journey of life only lasts so long. I do not believe mid life has to be a "crisis." I think it can just be a time of creating clarity, of getting lighter.

As on the physical, so, too, the emotional.

Despite the fact that I meditate every day, when I open the closet of my subconscious mind, it, too, needs a good sorting out.

The litany of complaints. The people or situations where I felt betrayed, let down, or attacked, for example. How much of THAT do I want to hold onto? How many "unresolved issues" do I plan to carry with me for the rest of my life?

For many years, I have had the blessing to study and work on a translation of Sukhmani Sahib. [‘Sukhmani‘: literally, The Psalm of Peace.] Guru Arjan's words have been changing my perspective on a lot of levels. When I think about some of the key banis, Japji Sahib awakens the soul to the vastness of Creation and to our relationship with the Divine. Anand Sahib is for the mind and the senses, to train them to see and deal with the earth from a spiritual perspective.

But Sukhmani Sahib is about non-duality. There is just the One who does it all, who sees it all, who moves it all, who is responsible for it all. No one and nothing else exists but the One. It is within everything, playing Its game.

When we are younger and emotional, we feel the powerful effects of betrayal. Blame, hatred, anger - they come naturally to the surface when someone or something moves in a way that we believe causes us harm. But when I get into the depth of Sukhmani, it challenges those feelings. The Guru says the One is the cause of everything. In which case, betrayal is not actually the truth. Those feelings are a stage that I have to go through in the process of my own maturity.

The more I study Sukhmani, the more I have to study my own feelings. What I have come to understand is this. I have never been betrayed by another person. The other person moves through time and space, according to his or her own consciousness, and there is a Divine cause behind it. Rather, I have been betrayed by my own expectations.

It is my mind, and the picture it paints of how things "should be," or how I thought one day they "would be." That process of projecting my hopes and desires onto other people and onto the future - that is what creates the sense of betrayal.

Some expectations are accidental. They come from assumptions which turn out to be false. Some expectations are deliberate. A person promises something, and then breaks that promise. But in both cases, the mind has attached itself to what is believes the future will look like. And when reality contradicts the attachment, the sense of betrayal is the result.

In Sukhmani and in other passages of Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru calls us to a life where we simply watch how the Divine moves, and then move with it - intuitively and with trust.

Guru Arjan's life proved the point. Being tortured on the hot plate, he only saw himself in those who were torturing him.

Guru Hargobind picked up the sword, but never stopped seeing the Divine in those he defended us against.

Understanding life from a non-dualist perspective removes the feelings of being hopeless or helpless. It heals the pain that comes from a mind lost in its own fantasies.

Guru Arjan's words help me see that the One has a purpose for what It does, and that purpose may always be beyond my understanding. In other words, "Don't take everything so personally. It is not about you. It is about a much larger play that you get to be part of."

When I look around my life these days, I find myself making lists: Find new curtains for the living room. Give away those books you haven't opened in the last five years. Keep investing in your semi-arid desert garden ...

But there is an inner list, as well. A list of memories, feelings, and conflicts that it is just time to drop. Create some space. Get lighter. If the One is the cause of everything, then It is responsible for the outcome, not me.

The second part of my life lies before me.

An uncharted road, ending in a bridge across the cosmos.

I think I will enjoy the journey more if I carry less weight along the way.


June 20, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), June 20, 2013, 11:04 AM.

"Getting ready for tomorrow" for a Sikh can mean only one thing! Remembering the Creator before sleep and remembering the Creator on awakening to fight the battle of life, not only the external enemies but equally importantly, fighting the inner enemies.

2: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), June 20, 2013, 11:54 AM.

It has been a pleasure to have your sangat and benefitting from your writings for the past several years. Please continue translating gurbani, it is a meditation in itself ... and also a seva.

3: Dr Pargat Singh (Nottingham, United Kingdom), June 20, 2013, 4:41 PM.

What an inspirational piece of writing from Ek Ong Kaar Kaur ji. By the way, where can your Sukhmani Sahib translation be found?

4: Gurpal Singh (United Kingdom), June 20, 2013, 5:06 PM.

One of the best spiritual pieces I have read in a long time. Thank you.

5: Ek Ong Kaar Khalsa (Espanola, New Mexico, USA), June 20, 2013, 9:41 PM.

Thanks to all for your very kind comments. Dr. Harbans Lal ji, I am so grateful to have known you for all these years and deeply appreciate your encouragement. Dr. Pargat Singh ji, the Sukhmani Sahib translation is still in process. But I hope that it will be completed next year.

6: Harminder Singh (Jalandhar, Punjab), June 21, 2013, 3:27 AM.

Thanks for writing such a beautiful and inspiring article.

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Letters from Espanola"

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