Monday, February 22, 2010

If I had my life to live over

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!

I found this very life-affirming... some may say it is manmukh to live in the present, but I think that is just as much part of being a Sikh as is working towards an ultimate union with Waheguru.

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If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love yous".. more "I'm sorrys"... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it...live it...and never give it back.

- Erma Bombeck

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shabd: Hoey ikatr milo mere bhaee

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!
Another favourite shabd, translations provided courtesy of SikhNet.com:

(1185-10)
basant mehlaa 5 ghar 2 hindol

ho-ay ikatar milhu mayray bhaa-ee dubiDhaa door karahu liv laa-ay.
Come and join together, O my Siblings of Destiny; dispel your sense of duality and let yourselves be lovingly absorbed in the Lord.

har naamai kay hovhu jorhee gurmukh baishu safaa vichhaa-ay. 1
Let yourselves be joined to the Name of the Lord; become Gurmukh, spread out your mat, and sit down. 1
inH biDh paasaa dhaalahu beer.
In this way, throw the dice, O brothers.

gurmukh naam japahu din raatee ant kaal nah laagai peer. 1 rahaa-o.
As Gurmukh, chant the Naam, the Name of the Lord, day and night. At the very last moment, you shall not have to suffer in pain. 1Pause

karam Dharam tumH cha-uparh saajahu sat karahu tumH saaree.
Let righteous actions be your gameboard, and let the truth be your dice.

kaam kroDh lobh moh jeetahu aisee khayl har pi-aaree. 2
Conquer sexual desire, anger, greed and worldly attachment; only such a game as this is dear to the Lord. 2

uth isnaan karahu parbhaatay so-ay har aaraaDhay.
Rise in the early hours of the morning, and take your cleansing bath. Before you go to bed at night, remember to worship the Lord.

bikh-rhay daa-o langhaavai mayraa satgur sukh sahj saytee ghar jaatay. 3
My True Guru will assist you, even on your most difficult moves; you shall reach your true home in celestial peace and poise. 3

har aapay khaylai aapay daykhai har aapay rachan rachaa-i-aa.
The Lord Himself plays, and He Himself watches; the Lord Himself created the creation.

jan naanak gurmukh jo nar khaylai so jin baajee ghar aa-i-aa. 4119
O servant Nanak, that person who plays this game as Gurmukh, wins the game of life, and returns to his true home. 4119

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting used to the gazes

When people ask me about my long hair, I tell them that I have never cut it because of my religion.

That is true about the hair on my head, but not about the hair elsewhere on my body. That is - I have shaved, waxed, and threaded. Does this make me a bad person?

I am not sure. Clearly, 98% of the rest of "my world" - particularly the females - remove their body hair. And most of these people are not, necessarily, "bad".

Do I feel guilty about it? To be honest - not really. It was something I went through to fit in. But my actions were still in line with Sikhi: nam japna, vand chakna, kirt karni.

About 2 years ago, after much meditation, I slowly stopped these hair-removing processes. It wasn't something that I woke up and immediately decided. It just kind of happened. And with Guru's grace, I have been entirely okay with it.

The only thing that has taken some getting used to is the stares. I generally keep my body covered, but I also like to swim. My swimming suit, if you will, involves shorts and a t-shirt. A lot of people - especially women - stare at my legs. It's as though they are willing me to feel bad about my choice to keep my hair.

Yet I do not give in to their desire to make me feel ashamed. I actually find my choice liberating and motivating, not to mention economical. Sikhs are supposed to be leaders - leaders do not care about what other people think when they know what they are doing in their heart is right. I am also saving money on these "cosmetic supplies" - money that adds up when you notice that the "treatments" are lifelong. Is there a reason that our hair keeps growing back no matter how much we try to stop it? Why not give in to the way Waheguru has made our bodies?

The most exciting part about this, however, is the opportunities it brings up to educate my brothers and sisters. When I catch people, especially children, staring at me, I look back and smile. If these people ask me questions, I have this golden chance to explain to people that I am a Sikh, and talk about the basic principles of our religion.

Several years ago, when I did shave my legs, I did not have this confidence. Now, ironically, when I am subject to public scrutiny, I do believe - in myself, in humanity, in Waheguru.

Utar gayo mere man ka sansa

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!

Another beautiful shabd... [translations courtesy of sikhnet.com]

(1218-16)
saarag mehlaa 5.

thaakur tumH sarnaa-ee aa-i-aa.
O my Lord and Master, I have come to Your Sanctuary.

utar ga-i-o mayray man kaa sansaa jab tay darsan paa-i-aa. rahaa-o.
The anxiety of my mind departed, when I gazed upon the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan.

anbolat mayree birthaa jaanee apnaa naam japaa-i-aa.
You know my condition, without my speaking. You inspire me to chant Your Name.

dukh naathay sukh sahj samaa-ay anad anad gun gaa-i-aa.
My pains are gone, and I am absorbed in peace, poise and bliss, singing Your Glorious Praises.

baah pakar kadh leenay apunay garih anDh koop tay maa-i-aa.
Taking me by the arm, You lifted me up, out of the deep dark pit of household and Maya.

kaho naanak gur banDhan kaatay bichhurat aan milaa-i-aa.
Says Nanak, the Guru has broken my bonds, and ended my separaation; He has united me with God.