27 April 2007
This is Suni. I have not written here for some time, but this is a very special day for Mai and I wanted to write an introduction for her. One year ago tonight, she died twice. The person she is now is both the person she was and someone new. All that the good that was in her is still there. She also still has her faults, but they are less pronounced. The person she is now is deeper than the person she was before. I hadn't seen her for twenty years before this happened, but now we are closer than ever. We are sisters and will remain sisters. Now I'll let her talk.
Love to all,
Today is a landmark day for me. One year ago tonight, I died. Twice. Two times. I had a major stroke and was not expected to live. But I am alive. And this has changed me. I had died twice before, once during surgery in 1983 and once in Delhi. The first time I was just glad to be with my husband and son. The second time I was furiously angry not to be with my husband and son.
I want to say one thing about dying. It is easy. It is nothing to dread or to fear. It is not painful or difficult. In fact, in my experience, it isn't anything. I saw no bright lights, no family, I remember no meeting with God. Death is nothing to fear. I feel I have the knowledge and experience to say that. 'Been there, done that.'
Four times in this lifetime I have died a physical death. Twice now, I have drank death from a bowl.* The second time was much deeper and sweeter than than first. I feel cleaner, more real, more alive than I have ever been before.
(*Scroll down to the entry of April 5, 2007. Please go to this link.)
The question, then is WHY am I alive? Everything has a purpose, including my continued existence in this partly functioning body. The cause and the reason are two different things entirely. To me, there can be no debate as to the cause: it is the hukam of Waheguru. S/he has decreed that I shall be alive in this form. And so I am.
But for what reason? I believe, after much ardaas and simran, that I am here to serve in whatever way I can find. This blog is a large part of that. I have learned that some of you have been inspired in various ways through it. I know this because you have written me, and I do appreciate the beautiful correspondence I have with you. It gives joy and meaning to my life. Some of you have suggested that I write a book. Perhaps someday, to be published after my death. But I could not accept any money for it. Then it would cease to be sewa and become just another money-making venture.
My physical recovery has been the fight of my life, a sustained battle against and with my own body. I can, with few exceptions, do everything I did before. I walk and talk and cook and write and knit, not as quickly or as well as before, but that will come with time. I am determined to continue working toward a total recovery. My doctors tell me that that is impossible, but I don't buy it. They also told my husband that I'd never do any of the things I do now, including breathe.
I have not regained my languages other than English. I have been struggling to relearn Gurmukhi, with very little success. This is incredibly frustrating, but I don't give up. I'll keep working on it. English, by the way, is my second language, just by a hair; French was my first. And the French is gone, too. Or rather, I have not yet been able to access those memory banks. I have hope that one day, I'll find the key and the languages will return.
My other daily problem is my hair. The electricity from the defibrillator that saved my life also destroyed my hair. No, that's a little too dramatic. I'm not bald!! But most of it has fallen out and what is left has broken off. So I have a kes that reaches, thinly, only to the middle of my back. And I can't tie it at all. I can wash it and comb it, but I have to rely on others, primarily my husband, to keep it tied and up and out of my mouth. One day try doing that yourself with one hand.
I was upset about the condition of my hair one day - what is left has the texture of lifeless straw - and was whining to my husband about it. (Confession: I don't whine often, but on occasion, I do.) He got annoyed with me and asked, 'What is more important, your hair or your life?' I thought of Bhai Taru, and didn't answer.
Now, please indulge me a bit longer and let me be a bit preachy. I direct this to those of you who are Sikhs.
We have been given a great treasure that we call the Sikh Panth. It is ours to guard, protect, love and, most of all, to live. It is written in our Guru Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We need him. We need to study and learn and love daily. We need to pass it on to our children.
We need to live lives of courage and conviction. We need to be people that others can look at with admiration. We must never conduct ourselves as objects of ridicule or accept being treated as laughing-stocks. That dishonours us as individuals and also dishonours our Gurus and our shaheeds. This is just my opinion, but I strongly believe that this is correct.
I have rambled on long enough. I still have some time, I think, to add anything I may have forgotten.
I will close with a big heart-felt THANK YOU to all of you for making this past year so rich and full and happy.
Peace, love and blessings,
24 April 2007
22 April 2007
God would like us to be joyful
Even when our hearts lie panting on the
How much more should we be joyful,
When there's really something
to be joyful for!
13 April 2007
Tomorrow is Vaisakhi, which is a big, fun, serious, religious, secular celebration. Since I know that some of my readers are not Sikh, I thought I'd write a post about the meaning of this holiday. Time, however, in its fluidity, has caught up with me and that post has not been written. So I am doing what I usually refuse to do and giving you a cut and paste. At least it's not from Wikipedia; it's from the Gurmat Learning Zone.
Vaisakhi - A Sikh Religious Holiday
Vaisakhi is an
important Sikh festival. It falls on April 14 and
celebrates the founding of
the institution of Khalsa in 1699 which made the current
outer identity of
the Sikhs – unshorn hair and beard and a head covering – as
a mandatory part
of their faith. In addition, members of the Sikh faith were
ordered to adopt
the additional name of Singh, meaning lion, or Kaur,
symbolizing equality, and to follow a code of conduct, which Sikhs
uphold today, practicing equality, kindness, courage, steadfastness,
leadership. The Khalsa was created by the founders of Sikhism to
people to stand up for their own civil rights and religious freedom for
Today, Vaisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs all over the world as a religious and
social occasion. They go with their families to the Gurdwara (the Sikh
place of worship) to sing hymns, and to read the Sikh Holy Book, Guru Granth
Sahib. Processions and feasting follow readings of the holy scripture.
brings together people of all backgrounds in a congregation in the
love and respect.
Vaisakhi is both sacred and secular, which
encourages everyone to
congregate, meet and mix amid festivity and
pageantry. The Vaisakhi is, at its
simplest, a time to rise above prejudices
and join in the unique celebration of
life. It embodies, at a deeper level,
the concept of cyclical regeneration as
in all harvest festivals. In Punjab,
(where Sikhism originated) in India,
Vaisakhi celebrates the bringing in of
the wheat crop with songs and dances.
May we all be aware of the love and blessings of Waheguru this year!
Guru Gobind Singh Ji!
Supreme Primal Power
Photo of Khanda by simmal tree
I do not know who to credit with the painting of Guru Gobind Singh taking amrit from the Pyare Panj, although I have tried. I have seen this picture on several sites. If anyone has information, please let me know.
08 April 2007
A young woman who is a good and much loved friend of mine wrote me a very beautiful letter for my birthday. In part she said:
...I see a woman deep inside you, a...warrior, a...victor, but you
won't let her out... Look in the mirror, see if you can see what I see.
I looked and this is what I saw. It came in poetic form, the first real poem I've written in nearly thirty years.
When I look in the mirror,
I see a tired, old weather-beaten lioness
who has fought too many battles
over too many years.
But when I look into her eyes,
I see the fire is still there,
ready to flare up
and burn away injustice
wherever it may be found.
I see an undying optimism
that says that life is worth living
for its own sake,
that humanity is, after all,
worthy fighting for,
and in spite of itself,
I see tenderness
and compassion and hope.
I see the certain knowledge that
love is the strongest force in all existence.
I see that the impossible
has indeed been accomplished,
I hear the sound of the Naam
reverberating through the cosmos.
I see a battle well-fought,
the final outcome still in the future,
mine to keep fighting, if not mine to win,
mine never to surrender,
but to leave the final outcome
in the hands of God
knowing that all will be according to Waheguru's hukam.
I see all this
with my own eyes
through my own eyes
in my own eyes.
07 April 2007
05 April 2007
sometimes 2, I need to talk to you very intimately today. I need the relief of talking to a good friend who knows me well enough to understand my heart. Mani is gone, so I'll have to talk to you.
I am feeling very emotional, an unusual state for me. I usually keep my emotions under a control that would do a Vulcan proud. But today I even had to cut short a chat with a friend because I was getting too emotionally overcome to carry on a decent conversation. I tend to get like this twice a year: the first week in November and the second week in April. The first week in November we all know. The second week in April is personal.
Next Monday is my birthday. I'll be 55. It's also the anniversary of my wedding to Mani. That would have been 37. He died 22 1/2 years ago. I have another husband who loves me dearly, another life, I live in another place. You would think that after so many years and so many events, the loneliness would dissipate. I keep hoping.
It is no coincidence that my wedding day was also my eighteenth birthday. It was the first day I could get married without parental consent. I not only had consent, I had joyful, overwhelming approval. But I am me, and I wanted to be totally free. Dad understood and was, in fact, amused.
If I may offer some advice, don't get married on a day that you will celebrate every year for some other reason. Each year on my birthday, which I can't escape, I am also transported back to that other day, eighteen years later. And it hurts.
This afternoon, I was watching Judge Judy on TV, when I was overcome by a sudden need to hide my face in Mani's hair. I used to do that when I felt overwhelmed by the world. I'd curl up next to him and he'd take down his kes and open it and cover me with it, especially my face. I'd feel so safe and secure and loved. His hair was always impeccably clean, of course, and had a distinctive fresh aroma. He'd put his arm around me and softly sing whatever came into his head. I could just lie like that for as long as he'd let me. The world would slip away until nothing but the two of us remained. Then we could share with each other whatever we had to share. I longed so much for that this
afternoon that it made me dizzy. Detachment has never been easy for me.
Something else I have carried in me for all this time is a picture, perhaps a vision, perhaps just imagination. I see Mani and Sandy running into the light, holding our two baby Kaurs, laughing and happy, all four of them. I see them joyfully greeted by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who is so very happy to see them. One by one, he gently tosses the girls up in the air and catches them as they come down into his arms gurgling happily. He puts his arms around my men's shoulders and greets them as his sons and they greet him as 'Dad.' It is all informal and familial. They are in a field of yellow flowers, with a pride of lions watching. The whole scene is one of joyful homecoming, without the slightest hint of pain or tragedy. I'm sure this all violates some accepted Sikh teaching, but still I wish I were a good artist and could paint this. Or maybe someday, I'll get enough money to hire some talented Singh or Kaur to paint it for me.
I close my eyes and see it all so clearly. Perhaps I should use that thought control I tout so often. Give me a few more days and I'll put it all away for another year.
Darling, be home soon,
I couldn't stand to wait another
minute if you dawdled,
My darling, be home soon.
It's not just these few
hours, I've been waiting since I toddled
For the great reliefof having you
to talk to.
from Darling Be Home Soon
Watercolour courtesy of jathedar
Used by permission