Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding My Way Back to God

Sorry it’s taken so long to post. I’m going to talk about how I ended up going to camps at the gurdwara in Ontario and how this trip really changed things for me. I hope other people can learn from my experiences!

I had spent the last several months struggling in my connection to Sikhi. I felt distant from God, even though I knew that He is around us and loves me. I just couldn’t feel it and it frustrated me a lot. June was a tough month for me. I had sacrificed, worked hard, prayed, begged, wished and hoped, but I didn't get what I wanted in my life. In my sadness, I wanted to turn to God but I felt distant, and angry at myself for allowing this distance, for not being able to find my way. I needed help regaining my connection. It was at that point I suddenly remembered about Sarab Rog Ka Aukhad Naam (thank you God for reminding me!) and that maybe there would be camps happening in the summer. I had heard of SRKAN a yr and a half ago through relatives and sure enough there were camps running. I booked my flight and left a couple of days later before I had too much time to rethink my decision.

I attended the Rog Niwaran Camp at Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Brampton. I was nervous to be all alone at a new gurdwara. I didn’t know the camp schedule or what would happen, I had just booked the flight with full faith in God that this was what I needed to do and I showed up! The first day I sat down and there was someone on stage reading shabads and the sangat was repeating them after him. I thought “I have no idea how I’m going to survive 6 hours of this. Plus two more days. My mind is wandering, my back is going to hurt and I can’t do it.” But the morning passed and as more and more sangat joined in, my mind stopped racing and started to focus. The camp leaders (including a medical doctor) talked about how the camps have helped people around the world. He explained that people of many different types of diseases have experienced relief, even cures and they have medical evidence from their doctors. People of all religions were welcome at the SRKAN camps. (Note they do advise people to continue to see medical treatment as prescribed by their doctors!) Gurbani healing is free and available to everyone. The shabads read at the camp are just a starting point to help people learn gurbani because the whole Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has the healing power for physical, mental and social ailments. We read translations of the shabads during the camp. This one was mentioned many times in the kathas that I attended later on in my trip: “Immense pain, murders and sins numerous, povery and misery since birth, troubles and disputes of major girth, All that is destroyed by Divine Name contemplation, Nanak says as a flame of fire can burn piles of wood.” (p.1355 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, translated on The power of having everyone speak in unison in the sangat was amazing. I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to attend and watch as people came to the stage to talk about how their symptoms were gone. The camp increased my thirst for the Naam.

For the rest of my trip, I visited as many gurdwaras as possible and I attended the gurdwara every day. I’ll admit I’m one of those people who used to dread listening to katha. 5 minutes into katha I usually lose interest because I don’t understand or its the same katha I have heard before. This time it was different. It was an akath katha, a different type of katha where the Gyani talks about the story of creation. He explained that we do simran to meet God. We meet God through shabads (naam) which is the voice of God and from which everything is created. Therefore Naam is inside of us all the time but our minds our sleeping therefore, we cannot hear the shabads. He described Maya as our adoptive parents, which makes us forget our real parent, God, and we need to remind our minds again who our real parent is. To wake up our mind, we do simran. He said “Simr Simr Simr Gur aapana soiya man jagae” – “Remembering, remembering, remembering my Guru in meditation, my sleeping mind is awakened “ (pg 758 translated from I was amazed at the fact that I had understood most of the katha and that I had learned so much. I heard a few other kathas in different gurdwaras on my trip that added to my knowledge base.

The sangat at all the gurdwaras was extremely welcoming. I met a lot of people with knowledge of gurbani who inspired me and were role models for my path. We even got the chance to meet with one of the Gyanis in the kirtan jatha from Mukhtsar who had stayed in Prince George a few years back. My uncle taught me a lot. He changed his life completely using simran. He talked about how he used to meet a lot of sants. He explained that just like its easier to find a place with a map, we can learn the shortcuts from the sants who have been there already and experienced God. He attended the Prabh Mile Ka Chao camp in Moga and in just one day (the day before he was supposed to fly back to Canada) his life changed and he started on this path to meet God. He is an inspiration to me so I am going to pass on some of the knowledge he shared with me. He told me that being able to focus on simran comes with practice, and to not give up. Over time it gets easier and the simran happens automatically 24/7 in your mind, even during sleep. Do as much as you can. When you are waiting for example at the dr. or in a line-uup, taking a shower, eating, etc. I told him there is so much to do: read hukamnamas, nitnem, other paaths, kathas, kirtan, sikh history, reading the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, simran, and I didn’t know where to start. Everyone was telling me different things and I couldn’t do them all so I started to do nothing because I was discouraged. (I had tried to do them all actually then I would get discouraged and gave up). Everything has a place and teaches us something different but I needed a good starting point. He told me simran is the place to start and is the path to all else. Everything else becomes easy after that. Even those that are illiterate and unable to read gurbani can achieve mukhti through simran. When you do ardaas, do ardaas for the Naam instead of asking for things that feed maya. We often ask others to do ardaas for us, but we can do ardaas ourselves to God. He said Naam is like coins in a bank and we can spend it on someone else but why not teach them to be self-sufficient instead? So we should teach other people how to get the Naam too. I felt clearer about this path and more confident I was going in the right direction everytime I talked to him. Whereas I had felt extremely nervous about this walking in because I was unsure of whether I could do it, I felt now that at least I had to try.

During my trip I started learning more about simran from because the kathas were similar to the ones I heard in Punjabi but these were in English. (I really recommend the videos they post on youtube!). I learned that pavan (breath) is what we measure our life in. Our purpose in life is to meet God, and we can only do that by doing simran, to control our pavan, in order to stop our thoughts because thoughts are maya. I learned that there are three qualities of maya: rajo gun (hopes, anxieties, wishes, desire and worries), tamo gun (anger, greed, attachment, pride, lust), and satogun (compassion, contentment, humility, tolerance, moral control). We have to make simran a priority because we should be motivated by our love for God who has given us everything, including this breath so use it to remember Him.

Here are pictures from the gurdwaras.
Baba Budha Ji Gurdwara Hamilton

Dook Nivaaran Gurdwara Sahib Brampton

Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Malton

Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib Brampton

Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Brampton

Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Brampton

Sri Guru Nanak Sikh Center Brampton

Ontario Khalsa Darbar Mississauga. We went into the museum here as well. It was really amazing (sorry they don’t allow pictures!).

I also went to a hindu temple (mandar) which was an amazing experience. The inside of the mandar had intricate wood and marble carvings (sorry no pics allowed inside the mandar!) and we got to see the Indo-Canadian museum inside as well as attend the aarti.

So going back to the reason I ended up at this camp. Before this trip I was feeling like wow no matter how much you care or what you give, sometimes its not enough. But now having the perspective of the last few weeks, I accept it as God’s will. I have refocused my mind on my purpose. My faith is stronger and my love for God is stronger. Letting go of my attachments and the people I care about is going to take me time. It's painful and it's hard, but I know I have to give up my desires on this path to God. I trust God. He is in every direction and every person I meet. We are all playing this game of love with God. Some of us just don’t realize the rules of the game yet.  

“Why wander around, and why go searching, when the Guru's Shabad reveals Him to us?” (p. 419)

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