by SS Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa, Great Falls, Virginia
2023 (Fourth Quarter)
The Olive Branch report and the reports of abuse at the schools in India hit us like a bomb at a birthday party. Feelings have run the gamut from those of betrayal, to those of disbelief in the report, and loyalty to Siri Singh Sahib Ji as spiritual teacher in spite of the allegations, or revelations, according to some folks. Some love the teachings but not Siri Singh Sahib Ji. Some are totally done with 3HO or Sikh Dharma. Some want to change everything in the organization. Still others want to keep things the same as when Siri Singh Sahib Ji was alive. I believe we all want our community to heal.
In the midst of this turmoil, some of us still live in a 3HO community, and continue our various spiritual practices. Here in Virginia, some folks are adding new teachings for their spiritual inspiration and others are continuing with various 3HO disciplines. Most are still on a spiritual path—there’s just more diversity. Some folks no longer wear turbans, and some have changed their diets. We still share the values of truth, love, compassion, and honoring God in everyone, serving others, and providing space for meditation and praising God.
One couple hosts weekly Guru Ram Das chanting; some folks play kirtan; another sangat member does lots of interfaith work. Raj Yoga Center teaches classes and conducts Teacher Training courses, among other community services. Daily morning sadhana keeps going. Our Administrative Council meets monthly to address local sangat challenges. There are some very devoted sevadars in our community. Some folks are involved in politics, putting in many hours to keep democracy alive. Many of us reach out to each other to listen, love and support through both tough and terrific times. So often, I have witnessed how an individual’s positive radiance has uplifted another person and/or situation.
Our Gurdwara, Raj Khalsa Gurdwara, hosts about 500 attendees a week, and more for Gurpurabs. We also host Lohri, a traditional Punjabi celebration, with singing around a bonfire outside (as opposed to inside) the Gurdwara. There are monthly Akhand Paths, and many family Gurdwara services. Ninety-eight percent of our congregation is Punjabi, and they support us keeping the protocol given by Siri Singh Sahib Ji. The Gurdwara assists in a wide variety of ways, including helping with local free food programs. Volunteers from the sangat keep it clean and running, and the langar flowing.
While reeling from the AOB report, we had an Administrative Council meeting in which we each shared our feelings. There was no consensus by a long shot, but we did agree that we wanted to continue to serve the sangat and the community at large. We decided to put our personal emotions aside in the interest of service. This has worked well, and we have become more tolerant of each other’s feelings as time has passed.
Thanks to the current reduction of severity in COVID cases, our sangat has started to gather socially, and play music together—all of which helps us reconnect and appreciate each other. Many of us have loved each other for over forty years. We treasure our friendships and do what we can to help each other.
Personally, I am keeping up with sadhana (clawing my way towards the amrit vela), banis, Subagh Kriya (which makes me happy), and doing some seva within my health limitations. I have a six-minute segment on a weekly local TV show, in which I share aspects of Sikh Dharma. Right now, we’re exploring Jaap Sahib. I love it, especially as my son Sada Sat Simran Singh, with his vast knowledge of the Banis, is able to help me get to its true translation.
I teach yoga in our home studio; I make art and am a member of several artists’ groups. We just hosted a weekend studio tour—a fun and rewarding way to serve the community. At one point, nine people were painting in my studio simultaneously. One of the visitors is now coming to yoga class. Just as I don’t talk unprompted about spirituality with my art friends, I don’t talk about the allegations with my friends who believe them. I think we all have different opinions and feelings and we can love each other with all that. It doesn’t have to be a fight.
I can’t say the ministers in our sangat are serving more than everyone else. We all do what we can, through our work, spiritual practice, and our seva. After all, everything is in God’s hands, and we are part of His play—even when His play is wilder than we could imagine! By Guru’s grace, we can keep up together in love, truth, devotion, and service.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SS Guru Sangat Kaur Khalsa has been a minister of Sikh Dharma since 1977, and has taught Kundalini Yoga since 1972, starting out in the West Virginia mountains. She plays kirtan, studies and practices Sat Nam Rasayan as a Level 1 practitioner, and makes art. S.S. Guru Sangat Kaur and her husband, S.S. Guru Sangat Singh, live in Great Falls, Virginia. She is blessed to use her role as a minister to teach about Sikh Dharma in schools and represent Sikh Dharma at interfaith events. She is grateful and delighted to be blessed with two wonderful children and four delightful grandchildren.