Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beneficial or Not?

Yesterday I was working on taking some notes on old lectures I’d seen and I realized there were a few things I wanted to read up on. So I looked up some stuff (it was about chitr gupt) and it still didn’t make sense. I got more and more confused because most of the information I could find was only on forums. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib english translation offered me little information because the translation is only line by line- it’s just the direct translation without the context or background information. That’s why I’ve been spending further time now reading on things like dharam rai, dasam dwaar, anhad shabads, etc. In the process of all this I became frustrated at my lack of knowledge and wondered if there was any use in me reading translations if I still didn't understand after i read them. I also went to Sukhmani Sahib prayers yesterday, and someone I know said to me today (note she doesn't attend the prayers) that "if you just read and repeat, I think it's of no use." That made me feel like well then I guess I don’t know how to spend my time anymore.

Having had some time to think about it, I came back to my uncle’s statement that Simran is the way to everything. In Sukhmani we read “Simro Simar Simar Sukh Pavo, Kal Kalesh Tin Mahi Mitavo”= “mediate, meditate, mediate in remembrance of Him, and find peace. Worry and anguish shall be dispelled from your body” (translated from Srigranth.org). Obviously the more time you can spare for simran the better, but we have to work and have other responsibilities too- just remember to make this a priority. I still have a hard time getting myself to sit down to do simran. My mind wants to wander, and the first 5 minutes are brutal as my mind is all over and I force my body to stay put and not go on facebook or watch a movie or whatever my mind wants me to do at that moment. Then the mind starts to settle and it feels better. With practice, it is getting better. Which is the point of all this. It IS beneficial. If I was to say “well there’s absolutely no use in me doing simran if my mind is all over the place.” How will your mind learn? It needs practice! Give it the chance to practice. Similarly, I’m going to keep going to the Sukhmani prayers. Why? Because it IS of use to sit there. You are learning to read the prayers, and then you will start to understand too over time. You can’t master something all at once. At least I spent those three hours at the gurdwara thinking and focusing my mind on God rather than doing something that isn’t furthering my purpose. So I will keep doing other things like reading translations of shabads, hukamnamas, etc. because even though I may not fully understand, at least I understand something and at least I’m working towards understanding. I’m building up my knowledge and one day God will grant me with the understanding I desire, at the right time. The lesson I want to share is that we need to continue to practice doing simran and we will get better at it. Make an effort to understand gurbani. 

Sidenote: igurbani is a great app for searching hukamnamas and shabads using the first letter of each word in the line; I use this to search hukamnamas and shabads and punjabi/english translations while they are reading at the Gurdwara. I have found the sikhnet gurbani app great for listening to gurbani and searching in english. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Deciding how to spend your breath

One year ago if you told me I’d be spending my summer travelling just to go to camp, and devoted to doing simran and listening to katha, I would have said "no way!" That’s not where I imagined myself to be. I could say I have worked really really hard in order to get to where I am today. But really it’s not about what I did. It’s by God’s grace that I am where I am, how I am- He is the Giver, He is the Doer and I am the medium through which this work happens.

My life used to be entirely about maya. I didn’t allow myself to stop to really focus on what I was doing, my mind would be fragmented into 2 other things I should be doing in the moment. It reminds me of the story of when Guru Nanak Dev Ji when to the mosque and didn’t participate in the Namaz because he said no one else there was really praying; their minds were elsewhere. I felt guilty, but I couldn’t figure out how to pause my life, and my priorities were elsewhere. Meeting God was a theoretical that would happen one day, I didn’t know how or when, or even what it really means. A big factor in me taking out the time to make God a priority now is that I have a little bit of knowledge which I have used to remind myself of my purpose. That’s why I am going to be continuing to spend time sharing my knowledge and experiences on this blog to spread the knowledge. When I was younger I thought maya was money. Then I thought maya was just kaam, krodh, lob, moh, hankaar until recently. Now I know maya is so much more than that, including our thoughts and what is in this physical world. The knowledge of the different qualities of maya helped me be more aware of how I am using my precious breath in this life. I remember in one of the early katha lectures on mysimran.info he said something along the lines of “why not gain the knowledge and then make a decision on how you want to live your life?” He explained that without having met God, how could you really make a decision, right now you don’t have a choice, all you know is maya. That makes me really want to share what I’m learning with other people so that we can all choose. 

I used to really rely heavily on other people that I trusted to make big life decisions. I knew they’d give me good advice, but the real reason I went along with it, even if I disagreed, was that I was too scared to be wrong when the stakes were so high. I was too scared to be hurt and then also told “I told you so,” and feel dumb for not having taken the advice of someone who has more experience and wisdom than me. There came a point I had to make decisions all on my own, and I had no one else to blame, but I also knew that I was the one that had to live with my choices and I would regret not having made the choice I wanted, regardless of outcome. I'm glad I made those choices myself because it's strengthened my ability to choose my path now. If you think about it, we all make decisions every moment- how will I use my breath? Only you make that decision, and it’s important as I said last post, to choose sangat wisely as well. Try to be around people who support the person you want to be. If people are wasting your time, remember it’s you who has to live with the decision that you stuck around to waste your precious breath too. Honestly I was nervous and maybe scared to start spending so much time on simran and gurbani because I was sure I would fail at continuing to do it. Each time I make a post about this I think, this is all going to fall apart because I won’t be able to keep up with it and then people are going to be like “well what are you doing with your time now? you’re trying to tell other people but you didn’t even stick with it yourself!” Well that’s actually ironically the thought that led me to posting in the first place. To send the message that I’m a person just like you and I’m scared, just like you might be, that I won’t succeed in this. Maybe there’s people criticizing your path. I want you to know you're not alone in feeling like that. Even if I fail, other people might get help and at least I would have tried. Each time we try we get one step closer. I’ve had times in my life I’ve become more spiritual and then less spiritual. Maya pulls us back- that’s the game! But each time I come back, I am closer. I'm never at square one, the knowledge I learned is still there. I'm going to use my voice, and the power in that voice, to talk about important issues, and remind other people of their purpose. 


Remember, our mind is never satisfied at the amount of information, we need to do the practical work of simran (close your eyes. start with pulling your belly button in as you say Wahe- then pause, push it out and say Guru. Just let the breath happen how it does). I got a lot out of meeting people who have met God and realizing that they are in bliss and I could be too. They are people who taste amirt raas and hear shabads and other things I didn’t know existed before now, and I want to experience that too! So, I’m encouraging everyone to take out the time to do simran. We are blessed with human life, and let's use it to meet God. 

Check out this pdf (short!) book called "The Purpose of Your Life is to Meet God" from mysimran.info: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/62963343/Book%201%20The%20Purpose%20of%20Your%20Life%20FINAL.pdf 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sangat

I listened to a great lecture on sangat from mysimran.info (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PHBvH27img&feature=youtu.be ). Sangat is not just at the gurdwara- its all the people you spend your time with. It’s really interesting I happened to watch that lecture today because that’s something I have been thinking about a lot since I got back from my trip: Who do I choose to spend time with?

Right before my trip to Ontario I realized that there were very very few people that knew how to give me what I need in my life right now. What I needed required a combination of trust, understanding of who I am/what I believe, spirituality, and emotional maturity. On top of that, there is consistently a question of how much the friendship means: is it worth it to address ongoing problems, or do you just distance yourself and eventually cut them out? I left being uncertain of who I wanted as part of my life because I hate (and almost never!!) cut people out. 


When I went away, I met people who had met God. This was a new type of sangat for me and really changed the way I think. It fulfilled my need for what I needed in my life and what I was searching for. I knew after that, that I needed most of all to be in the presence of people who understood this game and desired to meet God, or at least had that interest and we could work on it together. That meant most people I knew just didn't fit. Those friendships were based on gossip and negativity, which I only realized after being in the presence of a different type of sangat. I've realized that I don't want to continue to spend time being weighed down by relationships that don't feed me. One of my friends said you need to ask yourself "is this person feeding me physically, mentally, spiritually?" That's a good way to assess the sangat you are with in my opinion. 

In the lecture they post a slide that has this line from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib “Kabeer, I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company, like the banana plant near the thorn bush. The thorn bush waves in the wind, and pierces the banana plant; see this, and do not associate with the faithless cynics.” 1369. Being around people all the time who don’t believe in God or spirituality, or don't care about the path and are only interested in maya are not going to help you escape it. They will pull you back in. So I'm being more careful. I’d rather spend time figuring out my path on my own than being  pulled into a path of negativity and anxiety which seems to already be naturally pulling at my mind. I now pose the same questions to you that they have posted in the lecture “what do you discuss and who do you discuss it with?”so that you can figure out what sangat you are in! 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Recorded Shabads!

I posted more shabads +keys. I’ve got tons of shabads left to record! But coming up next will be the keys to some of the ones I haven’t posted yet.  I added playlists to make it easier to see the shabads vs. the ones with keys. Seems to take me a really long because I’m new to uploading videos, etc. on youtube but I really wanted to be able to share my love for kirtan! Finally got around to editing and uploading these ones. 

Deh Shiva Keys (see post from Vaisakhi for video of the shabad with tabla)
Kab Gal Lavenge Keys (see old post for video of the shabad with tabla)
Bhaj Man Mere Eko Naam
Bhaj Man Mere Eko Naam Keys
Gali Jog Na Hoi
Gur Ka Shabad Ratan Hai
Gur Ka Shabad Keys
Mehrvaan Sahib Keys
Jap Man Mere Govind Ki Baani Keys
Taih Nar Kya Puran Sun Keena
Taih Nar Kya Puran Sun Keena Keys
Main Bin Gur Dekhe
Thir Ghar Baiso Harjan Pyare
Thir Ghar Baiso Harjan Pyare Keys
Gur Ji Ke Darshan
Mohan Ghar Aavo Karo Jodhariya
Mohan Ghar Aavo Karo Jodhariya Keys
Kali Koel Tu Kit Gun Kali
Man Maahi Keys
Ghol Ghumai Keys

Keys for Tum Sio jori I actually learned from youtube so here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPg9DHw5xwQ

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 gurbanihealing.com). 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 Srigranth.org). 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 mysimran.info 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)