Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Get moving.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master's house it had leaked much of it's water and was only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, God will use our flaws to grace his table. In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

Author Unknown

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Japji Sahib

Japji Sahib - the song of the soul.

Jap means to repeat and Ji means soul. The repetition of Japji gives you a consistent projection and allows you to access your own infinite source of inspiration and depth. Japji is one of the five daily prayers of the Sikhs. It was written by Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru who, with his companion, Mardana, traveled thousands of miles on foot teaching and inspiring people to live exalted and simple lives through his divine songs. Stated very clearly, "Guru Nanak spoke Japji as a way to guide and enlighten other human beings about the reality of the Divine within the visible and invisible Creation. Japji is a teacher for anyone seeking truth. The sound current of Japji and the meaning of its words, when meditated upon with openness and love, awakens a soul to its destiny. Step by step, Japji gives you the comprehensive power to know yourself as you are, and to be with God's Creation in a spirit of joyful surrender." Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa

The power of Japji comes from the combination of its sounds. This is called naad Sounds have profound effects on the psyche, and when they are produced using the science of naad, they have very specific transformative power. In past Shabd Guru articles ( Aquarian Times), we have explored and discussed this transformative power and the specific practical effects of reciting different stanzas—or pauris—of Japji.

Yogi Bhajan has taught that by reciting any one of these pauris eleven times a day, one can produce very specific effects. Reciting the Mool Mantra, for example, gives an experience of the depth of your soul and can change your destiny and grant prosperity. Similarly, it is said that the total knowledge of God and ecstasy is contained in the first pauri. Recitation of this pauri eleven times a day will lift you from the deepest depression, insecurity, nightmares and loss. Meditation on each of the remaining 38 verses offers an equally unique, rich, and powerful pathway of healing, self-discovery, and revelation. With the complete recitation of Japji, it is said that every problem can be solved and dissolved.

The structure of Japji is beautifully technical and precise. There are 40 pauris. The word pauri means 'step.' Japji is actually a spiritual staircase. Yogi Bhajan has stated that Japji starts from God and comes to earth. There are five elements or tattvas of which all matter is composed—earth, air, fire, water, and ether. Additionally, there are eight chakras (including the aura.) Mathematically, five times eight equals forty—the number of pauris in Japji. When you take the first 'step' of reciting the Mool Mantra, this is associated with the eighth chakra at the frequency of ether. As you continue to recite, you work progressively through the chakras and the tattvas until you end at the 40th step with the first chakra at the frequency of earth. In this way, reading the entire Japji completely adjusts "all the elements in all of the chakras as well as your subtle and physical bodies."

- Dev Soroop Kaur Khalsa - Aquarian Times 2003

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Village Of Children

This story is an adaption of one of Baba Isher Singh jee's audio tape saakhis.

Something about the village graveyard set it apart. During my travels I had seen literally hundreds of graveyards. Usually graveyards are somber and somewhat resigned under the weight of death. But this one was different: besides been well-kept - which in itself was not unusual - it was designed more like a garden of life than a cradle of death.

What set it truly apart was the cheerfulness of its structure. Its' shady trees and sunny flowers seductively invited me in. Graveyards were my favourite resting places. It seemed that as soon as one exited a womb, Maya (worldy attractions) became a human's sole companion until the gates of a graveyard. Perhaps it was the absence of Maya in such places that kept my hopes of enlightenment alive.

I had left home when I had turned twenty. Although I didn't know it then, I had set out to find a place free of illusions. I had travelled to majestic temples, sober ashrams, holy rivers, renowned sadhus and any other religious place I had been told about, yet my mind was as restless as it was when I had first started. The holy places and the holy people at these places were among the most devout followers of Maya. After more than twelve years of searching, I had given up hope and had reluctantly decided to return home and begin a worldly life. It was on my journey home that I came upon this unusual village graveyard.

Although it was only mid-morning, I gave in to the cry of my aching muscles and entered the graveyard through a small wooden door. I put down my knapsack and looked at some of the tombstones. The tombstones entries always reminded me of my transitory place on earth. But this graveyard was full of surprises. There were three entries on each stone: name of the deceased person, the year of birth and instead of the usual 'death of year' the third entry was 'years of life'. Even more peculiar was that the 'years of life' entries were usually well under twenty. Although it took me all morning, I visited each and every tombstone; and to my utter astonishment, I could not find any 'years of life' over thirty. The most common entry was between ten and twelve. And there were quite a few with zero years of life. I was a curious person by nature (otherwise I would not have been here) and I had seen my share of amazing places. But this place truly mystified me. I decided to look up this "village of children".

I walked about a mile to the village gate. I was surprised to see people of all ages in the village courtyard. The villagers were extremely friendly. They came and not unlike children, touched and greeted me, and offered me all sorts of refreshments and foods. I was quite overwhelmed by their attention and love. Almost all of the villager's manners resembled the innocent nature of children. Even their faces were quite smooth and somewhat glowed with purity.

There was a group of elders sitting around an old banyan tree. I decided to ask them about this heavenly place. I approached the men. They greeted me warmly and at an appropriate time I asked: "Respected sirs, I have seen many places and many people. But even at the most holiest of these places I could not find the life and love that pervades this place. Perhaps I am in a dream...", I trailed off. They all smiled. I hurriedly continued, "I would very much like it if you would kindly explain this rather peculiar place. I was also very intrigued by the graveyard at the entrance of the village. Is it where you bury your young ones?"

After a short pause, the most elderly man spoke: "Traveller, you look like a man who would benefit much from the story I will tell you. Listen carefully and it will change your life." All the men around sat attentively. All the villagers within earshot came and sat to hear the old man speak.

He began, "My grandfather was the Kazi of this village. Each morning, well before sunrise, he would call out to the people and to the heavens with his namaaz (muslim call to prayer). One such morning he was in midst of his prayer when he heard music from the outskirts of the village. He was a devout muslim and was quite horrified to hear music at such a holy hour. He immediately sent some of his followers to put an end to this paganism. But to his surprise, none of them came back. The music meanwhile continued. After a long wait he himself decided to put an end to this unholy activity. So, quite angrily, he strode towards the music. But the closer he got, the more he realized that it wasn't his anger that was responsible for his hurried strides, rather it was the exquisite beauty in the music. Finally when he got close enough to see the music makers, not only did his body lose the ability to move, his mind too stopped the madman's dance it had been doing since his birth. He literally stood rooted to a spot for the duration of the recital. The music cast a spell on him. He travelled inwards to subtle places he had read about only in the scriptures. He would often look back at that moment and dreamily acclaimed, "I drank life to the fullest during those hours".

There was a long pause during which the story teller and the story listeners let the stillness of the story enter the depths of their beings. The elderly man continued: "The music makers were the great Guru Nanak and his companion Mardana jee. I am sure you have heard of him." I meekly nodded and mumbled, "I have, but haven't had the grace of meeting any of his followers".

"That is perhaps why, my friend, you are here," the man prophetically said. "At the end of the recital, my grandfather and all the others present simply surrendered themselves to the Guru. This was largely just a symbolic act because the moment each of them had seen the Guru they had lost themselves to him. Guru Nanak graced this village for three days and three nights. My grandfather named those days the "stillness days" because he said it was during those days that he and others learnt about the One found only within the stillness of the mind. We observe those days like others observe their birthdays. Indeed those days were the birthday of the village's inner life." He chuckled, "If you are impressed with the village now, you should see the love of the villagers in those fine days."

"But, as is the nature of the human mind," the elder soberly continued, "it wasn't long after Guru Nanak's departure that the village started returning to its normal numb and dark existence. This greatly troubled my grandfather and others like him who become Guru Nanak's and Guru Nanak's only. They tried very hard, through teaching and preaching, to keep the message of the Guru alive. Finally, after all normal means failed they came up with the following village tradition: Each villager keeps a diary. It is mandatory that each night before sleep, each person make an entry in the diary. Even children and people who cannot read or write have to get this entry made. The entry is simply the amount of time during the day that was spent in simran or in seva. At the end of the person's life, the entries are accumulated and that, my dear traveller, is the 'years of life' entry you see on the tombstones."

The story teller paused to let the magnitude of what he had told me to sink into me. He continued, "It is perhaps that which allows us to be free with our love. We are reminded each and every day what real life is. The time spent in simran or seva is the only life we consider as been worthy of been called life."

I travelled and searched no more. This indeed was the illusion-less place I was seeking.

(Story adapted from NaamNet archives)

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Miracle of Ardaas

The state of salvation and freedom from bondages is achieved after a long struggle. It is reached neither by mere aimless talks nor by book knowledge. Firm commitment in action is required. The most important actions are
1. Ardaas
2. The daily practice of tuning-in with the support of Gurshabad.

The restless mind wanders in the ten directions – it needs to be pacified and restrained.
Says Nanak, whoever knows this technique is judged to be liberated.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 201)

There is a huge gap between a restless mind and a still mind. This gap disappears slowly and over a long period of time. This is a journey which we have to travel ALONE by going within ourselves. The company of Saint Gurmukhs can only give us inspiration and encouragement but we still have to do the walking ourselves.

As a devotee goes within himself, his ego decreases and he becomes more carefree. This makes him more focused internally and he achieves increased stillness of the mind. Such a person is woven in humility and love and has overflowing sentiments during Ardaas. He reduces his awareness of the outside yet is aware of himself and moves inwards. Through repeated meditation, he reaches such a stage whereby he becomes totally unaware of the outside world and feels bliss within himself. In this bliss, there is an intense yearning. Sometimes there is restlessness in this yearning. However, even in this restlessness and yearning, there is pleasure, encouragement, harmony, coolness and peace. After sometime of yearning in this state of bliss, one day, Grace comes suddenly. He then experiences the existence of the all-pervading, all-powerful Master – GOD.

(Adapted from the Book THE MIRACLE OF ARDAAS - available from www.sikhnation.com)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Let us all receive the blessings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by taking out a few seconds each day to do the following: Upon waking up early in the morning, repeat the words "Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji" 5 times, before proceeding to perform anything else.

(These inspiring words were taken off a WAHEGURU 2005 calender which a friend from Singapore gave to me).