Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spiritual Experiences At the Gurdwara

I stand with my hands joined, eyes closed, body completely relaxed. Do my ardaas. And I bow before the Guru. As my head touches the ground, its like a weight has been lifted off me, and I have been blessed. It is a great blessing to be able to attend the Gurdwara each Sunday. In fact, when I have the time I go many times a week to matha tek. And it gives me a sense of peace, connection, it grounds me, reminds me of who I am, and the journey of my soul.

When I sit down, I actively try to push aside everything else and just listen. Absorb. Learn. I cannot describe the blissful state of my mind when someone is playing kirtan and the singing of their voice vibrates through every cell of my body, healing. Reminding it of its natural state. That is what kirtan is to me. The ultimate peace. The ultimate relaxation. In my own home, I place the shabad in front of me on the vaja, fingers on the keys, and my eyes close. I transport to the deepest part of myself, my inner being, and I sing. Directly to God. I heal the pains that chain my soul. Sometimes I sing with a smile, sometimes I sing with tears flowing down my face, choking on my words as I am moved by the depth of emotions conveyed by the gurbani. I become fulfilled, I become whole again. Whether listening or singing, it’s in those moments I don’t fear, I don’t worry, the past and future become irrelevant, and only the single breath right now exists. The gurdwara transports me back to the protection of my mother’s womb, the ultimate safety in which I no longer have to think about anything but Waheguru.

A couple of years ago I moved away to Vancouver for school, and it was the first time I had been away from my family. A few weeks in I decided to go to the gurdwara one Sunday. I started to walk to matha tek and do my ardaas. Emotions overcame me. It wasn’t really the fact that I missed my family though. It was that for the first time since I moved, I was home. I was finally home! I started to choke up so that by the time I put the parshad in my mouth I could barely swallow and tears were running down my face. Wherever I go, whenever I travel, my family has always found time to go to one, two, sometimes multiple Gurdwaras! Each time, I am home. I am safe. I am protected. I have everything I need. Education, shelter, food, safety, and sangat. The Gurdwara is a place to come to celebrate, and also the place to come when you are sad and feeling broken and lost.

Of course, sometimes when I sit down, I have millions of other things on my mind and I just simply can’t focus. Even then at least, there are a few minutes here and there that I paid attention, that I fed my soul. At least I was at the Gurdwara instead of somewhere else. And sometimes life gets busy and we don’t have the opportunity to go, God is all-knowing and understanding. But I still miss it. 

Bhai Harinder Singh Ji from the UK recently visited PG and I particularly appreciated his message that we need to remind our young people what is good about the Gurdwara, and speak about the benefits/what we learn, so that the young generation also attends. He emphasized that when we only speak about the negativity or gossip, that obviously our children will not want to attend. I really agree with that point. We go to the Gurdwara to gain knowledge from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It’s not about the politics, and if we go with that in mind, then that’s what we get. I am really saddened that so much of my generation has given up on going to the Gurdwara. They haven’t been able to make it a spiritual experience. I know that there are probably a lot of factors at play: difficulty understanding what’s going on. For example we tend to assume that just by attending each Sunday since we are little that somehow we will automatically understand the reasoning for everything. I think parents can play a big role here, but people should be asking questions or can read up about stuff too. Language becomes an issue because people are losing their Punjabi so they don’t understand the katha. For kirtan, I have found the Sikhnet gurbani app to be really helpful to read translations of the shabads in English. Sikhnet also has a great app for daily hukamnamas and their translations. But it’s understandable that if you are sitting there totally lost not knowing what’s going on, that you will have trouble connecting. And it’s understandable that maybe you won’t value going to the Gurdwara then. So I think it’s important, then, that we use our time at the Gurdwara valuably to make an effort to grow spiritually, and to encourage our kids and others to do that as well.

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