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By Siri Pritam Kaur Khalsa
There are these moments--these experiences of total clarity, where time stands still as we transcend life around us. I remember one such a moment one hot, dusty afternoon at Summer Solstice some 20 years ago, in the early nineties. Arlo Gurthrie, part of Ma Jaya’s entourage, had come for the day, up the hill to where we all were camping out during this special time of year. It might have been Peace Prayer Day but more likely it was an afternoon following a long day of Tantric Yoga, when the hard work was behind us. The Siri Singh Sahib’s (Yogi Bhajan) Jeep pulled up in front of the Tantric shelter, paying us a surprise visit, and with him came a group of people we didn’t really know.
Ma Jaya, a spiritual teacher to many and head of the Kashi Ashram community, loved Siri Singh Sahib Ji very much, visited him often and expressed her affection in gesture filled, lively ways. That day, the two of them would fall into a teasing, loving dialogue right there on stage. There was much laughter, more dialogue, and then pauses when the dialogue slowed down. Sitting close to Ma, I saw her gaze out and around until she spotted what she had been looking for…Arlo. She gestured to him and asked him to play for us. Play something. More laughter.
He hesitated, saying that any song he might sing would never be worthy of her, his teacher. He called her his beloved Guru, his light. Gradually a circle formed around Arlo and we joined him as he picked his guitar strings, hummed a few tunes and eventually delighted us with popular tunes of the sixties – “Where have all the flowers gone” and a few more songs we remembered, cherished and even knew the lyrics of.
It seemed like Ma had something else in mind…she wanted more…another sixties tune for which Arlo didn’t even remember all the lines. Lots of laughing as we all helped out with the words.
Then, an imperceptible shift. It got more quiet as Arlo, once again picked the guitar, testing the strings. He knew Ma wanted more. Then, it happened. With his lone voice, so familiar to his fans, into the vastness of space, he poured forth his next song, which he said wasn’t really his, but befitted the moment. He dedicated it to Ma, on this day, his teacher, his Guru.
“My love, you are the song that sings inside of me. The words are always the same. They start with love and end up with your name. They say that love grows old, but ours turned into gold.” This was not his, but Pete Seeger’s song.
Arlo Guthri’s voice, filled with sweet, pure devotion, poured forth this melody, these words. The rest of us were still, not joining in. This was his song for his teacher… behind us the vast Jemez mountains. We felt so deeply this offering to Ma. Love without condition or limit, love as wide and as blue as the skies over Ram Das Puri, of merging with all that is. Only bliss…. bliss and total love… timeless, space-less, endless love.
And that is what love is, a totality. All these hard ‘things” we did then and still do now, like driving out to hot New Mexico for our yearly “vacation” in hot tents and outdoor bathrooms; the years of Ashram experiences with a guarantee that someone will irritate you, take the last of the milk or the only remaining parking space. The 40 day diets of just zucchini and the never ending Mondays of only wheat berries. The letting go of our attachment to our children so we can experience them as the divine beings they are, and in the process experience that same quality in ourselves.
All these years, months, and hours of chipping away that wall of separation, and then come the moments when all else falls away like dust in the wind for an experience of total love; no past, no present, no future. Just that moment where you and God merge, suspended in time and space, total clarity, total love.
SS Siri Pritam Kaur has lived in Yuba City, California for over 25 years. She is a founding member and past President of the Punjabi American Heritage Society which serves as a bridge between the Punjabi sangat and the community at large. Each year she hosts many of our sangat who travel to join the Guru Gaddee Day Jaloose. Contact her at [email protected].