by SS Awtar Kaur Khalsa, San Francisco, California
2022 (Fourth Quarter)
Every day I feel the pain of division in the sangat. Every day I search for inspiration in Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak uses the image of a forge in the 38th Pauri of Japji, to remind me of the tools that can help me affirm our shared humanity.
ਜਤੁ ਪਾਹਾਰਾ ਧੀਰਜੁ ਸੁਨਿਆਰੁ ॥
jat paahaaraa dheeraj suniaar ||
Let self-control be the furnace, and patience the goldsmith.
ਅਹਰਣਿ ਮਤਿ ਵੇਦੁ ਹਥੀਆਰੁ ॥
aharan mat vedh hatheeaar ||
Let understanding be the anvil, and spiritual wisdom the tools.
ਭਉ ਖਲਾ ਅਗਨਿ ਤਪ ਤਾਉ ॥
bhau khalaa agan tap taau ||
With the Fear of God as the bellows, fan the flames of tapa, the body’s inner heat.
I work within the Compassionate Reconciliation Project to begin to heal our Dharma and build connections beyond position.
ਧੌਲੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੂਤੁ ॥
dhaual dharam dhiaa kaa poot ||
Dharma is born of Compassion.
(16th Pauri of Japji Sahib)
To form the Compassionate Reconciliation Commission, we started by reaching out to all the communities that comprise our sangats and putting together advisory teams. With the help of Just Outcomes, we oriented to the task. Each team meets every month and sends representatives to meet as the Core Compassionate Reconciliation Commission.
Even with all our desire to find reconciliation, it has not been easy for Core CRC members with such big differences of perspective to meet in a safe and constructive way. In fact, it became impossible at one point. We had to meet separately and process in small groups.
Last month, we gathered in person for the first time. Some of us arrived at the event discouraged or still unsure about the value of working together. But we acknowledged the possibility of chasing miracles. (It was the weekend of Guru Ram Das’ birthday!)
We sat together and spoke to the circle, rather than to sides. We listened to each other.
ਸਣਿਐ ਹਾਥ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਸਗਾਹੁ ॥
suniaai haath hovai asagaahu ||
Listening – the Unreachable comes within your grasp.
(11th Pauri of Japji)
We had people there who experienced being harmed by Yogi Bhajan. We had people deeply concerned with sharing his legacy and teachings. They not only sat together with the rest of the Core CRC, but we all collaborated on goals and a shared purpose statement.
I ended up inviting people from all perspectives to my home. The sense of trust and affection that we developed over those three days gives me profound hope for our future.
Thorough preparation, brave conversations and effective facilitation over the last year enabled us to de-escalate the level of conflict. This empowered us to acknowledge disagreements while forging the healing of our Dharma, our communities, and the members of our sangats.
This experience with the Core CRC brings me back to the 38th Pauri of Japji, which reminds me how the amrit, the subtle nectar, becomes the currency of the Shabad, the Word.
We melt it in the crucible of love.
ਭਾਂਡਾ ਭਾਉ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਤਿਤੁ ਢਾਲਿ ॥
bhaa(n)ddaa bhaau a(n)mrit tit ddaal ||
In the crucible of love, melt the Nectar of the Name.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS Awtar Kaur Khalsa
Awtar has been serving on the Siri Singh Sahib Corp board since the beginning of 2021. She has devoted herself to the Compassionate Reconciliation Process.
Her academic and work experience in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion helps her connect with those who have been marginalized in the sangat. Non-1st Gen people, members living outside major sangat communities, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ members and reporters of harm are all essential to the Dharma.
She is based in colorful Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, USA, where she and her husband have co-directed Guru Ram Das Ashram for over 25 years.