“God breathes through us so completely…so gently we hardly feel it…yet, it is our everything.” –John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
Long ago there was a holy and devout man named Pandit Shivdat. He was an idol worshipper and practiced renunciation. Despite the deep respect so many had for him, he grew tired of his ways and felt something was missing in the objects he had worshipped. He was looking for something to fill this void in his heart. As the story goes, early one morning Pandit Shivdat sat quietly with his eyes closed on the bank of the Ganga with his heart and mind in search of God. At that moment, a young Guru Gobind Singh Ji (at the time Gobind Rai) walked up behind him and sweetly whispered in to his ear “Pandit Ji Bo!” After seeing Guru Gobind Singh’s charming face, Pandit Shivdat forgot about the idols and gods he had prayed to, for he saw in Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the manifestation of the one and only Waheguru. The Pandit was liberated. He had found the Beloved in the child.
Sharing this story with our class yesterday, I was reminded of a time many years ago wrapping up my counselor duties for the day at a gurmat camp. As sohila ended and our kirtani led the sangat in simran, it was my job to quietly dismiss each group from the divaan hall back to their dorms for bedtime. After motioning several groups to leave I noticed one of the boys, with eyes closed deep in simran, was left behind by his group. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to catch up, but he just closed his eyes and returned to his simran. A few minutes passed and the last group had left, I tapped the boy on the shoulder again…but he wouldn’t budge. A few minutes later it was just me, the boy, and the keertani left in the divan hall – both of us waiting for him to leave. I started to get upset at the boy for ignoring my instruction, after all, I had a lot to get done to prepare for the next day. As I walked over to him for the last time ready to order him back to his room…I paused. He was maybe 9 or 10 years old, engrossed in simran, and there was a look of contentment on his face that I simply couldn’t interrupt. In fact, it was a contentment that I so lacked. Looking at this child so in tune with the divine made me realize the void I’ve been feeling for so long…going through the daily motions of a Sikh, yet failing to connect. Frozen and unsure what to do, I put my things down and sat next to the boy…joining him in simran. I’m not sure if it was minutes or hours that passed, but it didn’t matter. In that moment, all I wanted was to feel what he was feeling and wished that perhaps by proximity alone the light that shined through him would somehow shine in me. Eventually the simran stopped. At least it did for me, for the boy, I’m not so sure.
Looking back at that experience, I wonder…maybe that was my moment.
Maybe that was the child-Beloved softly whispering in to my ear
And to think how close I was to missing it altogether
Oh Waheguru, grant me the state of awareness so I that I never miss your embrace…