Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma, a small group tele-course in its 18th year, is a unique opportunity to deepen your experience and understanding of Sikh Dharma, and to take a spiritual journey of transformation and inspiration.
To bring your knowledge and experience to life, each session covers a different topic, each led by one of our fourteen amazing teachers. All of their precious offerings together create the most deep and uplifting experience for the beautiful souls who are called to these teachings and are so committed to work on themselves. In experiencing each presenter’s perspective, you can develop your own approach to and application of the teachings. The growth and connection in our virtual JHSD sangat ripple out to contribute to the peace and consciousness that is so needed in the world today.
In this course, we celebrate and support each other’s uniqueness. The intimacy of the group and the ongoing personal support of Mata Mandir Kaur, the course facilitator, help each person grow and flourish in these seven months. It creates a trusting environment for you to delve deeply into your experience and understanding of Sikh Dharma and of yourself as a human being.
The make -up of the small group is diverse and inclusive. We welcome those who are new to the Dharma, those who may be of a different faith, those with a longer term relationship with the Dharma, and those who are considering serving as Sikh Ministers.
Among others, the course covers topics such as these: The Four Pillars of Sikh Dharma (Bana, Bani, Simran and Seva), Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma, Siri Guru Granth Sahib, and much more. This year, we have added a new topic that focuses on the Daily Banis and goes more in depth into Bani beyond Japji. The presenters include some of the best teachers within the Sikh Dharma community: Snatam Kaur, Shiv Charan Singh, Guruka Singh, Dr. Harjot Kaur and Ek Ong Kaar Kaur. The complete list can be found on the website JHSD.org.
The course starts in late September and meets every 2 weeks over seven months. Three sections are available. We have found that this format fits most schedules and allows our international attendees an opportunity to participate at a reasonable hour.
Space is Limited!! We recommend that you register early (registration opens May 7th) to save your space and to take advantage of the early discount of $75. Payment plans are available. For more information, please visit our website, www. Jhsd.org and our Facebook page, Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma.
We hope the following thoughts fomr one of our participants, Siri Didar Singh, will give you some insight into his experience of the course.
All right, let me be honest here. I didn’t want to take this course. I’ve been a Sikh and a Khalsa for forty years now, and I’ll be one for forty more. When I asked my friends here in the Dharma (who’d been here around the same length of time): “Should I do it?” They all said no, implying that there was nothing new to be gained. That was the right answer, because, contrarian that I am, that simply prompted me to do the opposite. Plus, I wanted to please my wife as she was committed to taking the course as well.
So just off the bat, let me say that in any situation there is always something new to be gained or learned, depending on whether or not you’re open to it, and I gained a lot in this course. A major part of Sikh Dharma is about community, what we call the Sangat, and by participating in this course, sharing deep experiences with people I didn’t know before, I expanded my sense of community. In a very real sense the Heart of Sikh Dharma is all about the heart. Back in the early days, we sang songs like “We are One in the Spirit…” and “We are the people, the people of Love…,” songs that, to me, had a decidedly hippie-ish ring to them, but were all about the heart. As we grew into this Dharma, the Sangat of the people of Love became the Sat Sangat, or Sadh Sangat, the congregation of the holy ones, of the saints, of the disciplined ones, as through the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib we became more aware of our identity as soldier-saints, and that a certain kind of discipline was needed to protect and keep our hearts strong and our consciousness high: for me this evolution signified the birth of the Khalsa within me, and prompted my legal change of name to Khalsa. But the concept of the soldier-saint can be a razor’s edge, and for a while it seemed to me that we became more soldier than saint—that is, with the emphasis on the discipline and not the heart.
The sun rises and sets, and the lives of all run out.
The mind and body experience pleasures; one loses, and another wins.
Everyone is puffed up with pride; even after they are spoken to, they do not stop.
O Nanak, the Lord Himself sees all; when He takes the air out of the balloon, the body falls.
The treasure of the Name is in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation. There, the Lord is found.
Like a lot of us raised in the various religious traditions and coming of age in the sixties I rebelled against organized religion (among a lot of other things), but delved deep into spirituality, which led me to the heart of all religions. In college I changed my major to Religious Studies, and although it comprised some enjoyable and revelatory courses, the main thing I learned was that true religion required more than just talk, and it was then that I realized I needed an actual spiritual practice. Interestingly enough, at that time, my bible for spiritual practice, turned out to be Baba Ram Das’ BE HERE NOW. The yoga & meditation exercises in the back of the book became the beginning of my actual spiritual practice. From there I went through Zen, Jesus, theosophy, etc. until I came to Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma.
I started doing Kundalini Yoga with my friend before I knew anything about Sikh Dharma per se, and it was through the yoga that I was graced with a powerful Chardi Kala moment, a phenomenon which gave me a direct experience of the Guru, even though at the time I was unfamiliar with the Guru of Sikh Dharma, or even the concept of the Guru itself. Yet I felt, on a level beyond what is normally called feeling, the presence of the Guru, guiding and directing me from before I was born to after I dropped my physical form, future, present and past spreading out before me in a transcendent Unity.
Strangely enough, (or not), from there I went through several years of resistance, rationalizations, justifications, and just plain excuses before joining an Ashram. And, as they say, the rest is history. (I’m trying to keep it short.)
What I’m leading up to is the question: What, to me, is the Heart of Sikh Dharma? What attracted me, an inveterate opponent of organized religion, to Sikh Dharma? Obviously, first of all, it was the experience: as Siri Singh Sahib always said, Sikh Dharma, if you can call it a religion at all, is first and foremost a religion of experience: as opposed to Piscean religions, which propound belief above all. Sikh Dharma is about direct experience of God and Guru—and that is why I can’t separate the Kundalini Yoga from Sikh Dharma: for me personally, it is an innate, natural progression, an evolution of consciousness, from one to the other. For me, Sikh Dharma is a way of life based on practice and experience. So again, what then is the actual heart of Sikh Dharma?
I venture to say, from my own experience, that the Heart of Sikh Dharma is the Guru. The Guru is so pervasive and all-encompassing that it can’t be confined or defined in words alone, as, paradoxically, the Siri Guru Granth reminds us of all the time. The Guru Granth, as I see it, is the outward manifestation of the GuruDev within, the pure light within us. With words, the Guru speaks the Unspoken language that calls us back to ourselves, back to whom we truly are, even before we are born. (The Guru gives the answer to that Zen koan: “What was your original face before you were born?”)
When, as spiritual beings, we search and search for that indefinable something we call the Truth, what we are looking for is who we already are and have been all along, our true home, deep within ourselves, deep within our own hearts. It is this Truth that we have forgotten, since we live our lives for the most part in the forgetfulness of Maya. Though we may call it by different names, it is the Grace of the Guru that brings us, that brought me, to the practice of Kundalini Yoga, to Ashram living, to adopting an entirely new identity (or so I felt at the time) as Khalsa, and ultimately to the Sat Sangat of Sikh Dharma.
For me we are still the people of Love, and One in the Spirit: for me, the Heart of Sikh Dharma is not made up of rules and regulations, it is the experience of an all-encompassing Love that is beyond any mere emotionalism or sentimentalism, and that reveals our Oneness in the Spirit: and to me that means living in Remembrance—Remembrance of who we truly are, where we came from, and where we are going—an unflinching Remembrance of Death, which brings me back to myself and gives meaning to my life.
So here is my personal assessment of this course: I do not presume to be immune to the forgetfulness that pervades our day to day lives, I don’t think any of us are, and even while living this lifestyle it is possible to succumb to a forgetfulness of varying degrees: like the Guru, this course helped me come back to myself in Gratitude and Remembrance. So I would like to thank Mata Mandir Kaur and all the participants in this course for allowing me to Remember and Reassess my commitment to the Dharma, to learn from your openness and honesty and vulnerability that in a deep sense it really is all about Love and Community, and to once again validate the Siri Singh Sahib’s maxim that the way to Cosmic Consciousness, or God Consciousness, is through Group Consciousness. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!