Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma, a small group tele-course now 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. As part of the course, participants are asked to share their thoughts on many topics. One the those topics is their thoughts on what it means to be a Spiritual Warrior. The following are the thoughts of three of these participants.
Keherjeet Kaur on the Spiritual Warrior:
My ideas of the spiritual warrior have morphed this past year. I thought I had developed grit through my practice of kundalini yoga. I had, but my grit changed form. I had become used to using strength and will to hold my arms up through practice. Using the strength of my muscles and focus of my mind I would bear down and tighten up, and somehow get through a hard exercise. The thoughts that would go through my mind were not always that nice. I would berate myself, and yell at myself to keep up, to have courage, to have strength. It was always exhausting and left me feeling like I wasn’t much of a warrior, even though I was able to hold my practice steady and strong.
This year was different, I was in a difficult situation and my strength was not there. I could no longer hold my practice with the same intensity. My body had taken a hit and I had an injury. This injury shifted my practice. I now had to soften my body and breathe deeper, holding strength only in the muscles needed. I had to relax in and out of difficult postures.
This was to become the metaphor for the spiritual warrior. Softening and allowing, strength and courage through grace, allowing things to be what they are and drawing on my radiance.
The arena of life brings up a vision of the gladiator doing battle. Life is like that sometimes, it’s an arena. How do you show up to the battle of this life? Through the strength of the Radiant Body. Developing the flexibility of the body and lung capacity has only gotten me so far. The Radiant Body will carry me the rest of the way. My warrior lives in my Radiant body.
I walked with my teacher through the woods. My teacher was in bana and we were about to cross a bridge where two men were sitting on the railing. I immediately felt my body tighten up. I was getting ready for the nasty comments I often get from men when I am walking alone. This time something happened. One of the men elbowed the other man and told him to stand up – that these women looked like royalty. We crossed the bridge without incident. I was astonished as I had never not been harassed by men when I walked in the woods. I asked my teacher what had happened. She told me when you are not for sale, people treat you differently. I think we, as people, are for sale in so many subtle ways that diminish our purpose.
To show up to this life and all its twists and turns, willing to take the ride wherever it takes you with all of its suffering, joy and surprise takes nothing but a warrior. The spiritual warrior is a warrior not doing battle in the arena alone, but with the support of the community. Entering the arena with purpose and grace in community feels like a winnable battle.
To hold the space for people who don’t feel strong. To hold the space for the people who can’t love. To hold the space for people who don’t have courage. This is the strength of the Khalsa. To sing the song of the Khalsa in community recalibrates me to do just that, be strong and radiant for those who can’t be.
Even with all the pain and suffering and abuse and darkness and racism and toxic hyper- masculinity and seemingly unforgivable earth-crushing brutality we daily endure and visit upon each other, I STILL love this weird amazing life on planet crazy!! Thank you, Great Spirit, for waking me up alive so I could make prayer this life and greet this dawn, one humble shiny particle in this vast sea of consciousness abiding in LOVE as it sails through REALITY, ENGAGED IN THE ETERNALLY FASCINATING EXPLORATION OF ITSELF. What a miracle it is to be in this arena with all of you. I weep in gratitude and bow. Keep up, and together we will be kept up.
Dharamdhyan Kaur on the Spiritual Warrior:
The words that kept arising for me as I contemplated the spiritual warrior were: Chardi Kalaa. That keep up spirit that keeps us focused and constructive in the midst of life’s challenges. The spiritual warrior is not a worrier. The spiritual warrior displays integrity and courage in every circumstance. But courage doesn’t always roar; sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the days that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”
I believe that quiet courage and keep-up spirit is my brand of courage. It is not brandishing a sword to defend another’s right to worship. It is showing up and doing the messy work of life. It is supporting the growth of my children and modeling generosity and virtues to their friends and classmates (not to mention my colleagues).
As a sangat, we can encourage each other as we show up and keep up. We can share our stories of victory—large and small—so we can learn from others’ acts of spiritual heroism. It is wonderful to draw strength from another’s example, and perhaps be inspired to act with similar courage if the opportunity arises. We can encourage one another (there’s that word, “courage” again!) to show up, keep up and help out.
For the assigned arm raising meditation, I did a doozy for purifying the body—with one arm overhead and one out to the side parallel to the floor (done on alternate arms on alternate days). While challenging, it wasn’t impossible as I focused on my breath to carry me through. I experienced an amazing lesson about sacrifice in the process. One night I was so determined to do the meditation, I became exhausted and drifted off to sleep during the prescribed relaxation. I ended up missing my regular meditation that night, the one I had committed to for 40 Days. I had persevered through the warrior meditation, only to sacrifice the one my spirit had been calling me to do. I knew there was a lesson in that for me!
Sacrifice: to make sacred. Being a spiritual warrior is more sacred than the desires of the heart. It is more sacred than the “everyday.” It is an ideal, and something to strive for. I can always “start over” with a 40-day commitment: but when a task calls on the spiritual warrior she must show up and perform. That is sacred work.
May we all continue to keep up, and lift each other up. Sat Nam.
Avtar Kaur on the Spiritual Warrior:
I was born a spiritual warrior but it’s only by the age of 31 when I started Kundalini Yoga that I dared admitting it to myself and to the world. The first set I ever did in KY was the warrior set!
Unlike the soldier who is given a command, the warrior is volunteering to enter the battlefield. The spiritual warrior doesn’t fight against something but for something. He fights for the virtues that are guided by Universal principles, his fight is impersonally personal, like was the fight of Guru HarGobind who after the sacrifice of his father, Guru Arjan, took on the two swords of righteousness, Miri and Piri, in order to defend the Heavenly and worldly realms.
Being born in France, I was missing living examples of this archetype, especially as a woman-who was not supposed to be anything else than what her environment was expecting her to be (it has changed since then, fortunately). Joan of Arc was one example or Mary Stuart, but not so many more; Francis of Assisi or Saint Martin who both gave up the use of the sword to bring love and compassion to the world. Their lives were constant fighting for bringing these values to our society through peace, understanding, compassion, and infinite love for the Creation and the Creator.
The period of the Middle Ages had seen the chivalry, flourishing, where it would be customary to have mastery of the art of fighting, as well as of the art of poetry. Guru Gobind Singh was a Master in that art, attracting to his court the richness of all poets, musicians and artists existing and mastering this art himself from a very young age.
Which correlates Yogi Bhajan saying that the guitar would be the sword of the Aquarian Age!
For me the examples of the Gurus were and still are a strong reference and guidance to embody and manifest the qualities of the spiritual warrior. Fearlessness is essential (Nirbhao), deep faith, commitment, sense of justice, intuition, grace, sensitivity, humility- which bring us to Royal Courage.
Through time, it became more and more obvious to me that I have a responsibility to train women to discover that part of themselves and use the sword of compassion and clarity of consciousness, rather than the one who is creating conflicts and fights and is not serving anything but the reactive ego.
In connecting to my spiritual essence, I can better stand my ground and terminate my inner conflict of fearing the conflict, I can sharpen my consciousness like I would sharpen my sword, and make my words reach to the souls of those I meet. When, as women, we can stand for this aspect of ourselves, there will be peace on this planet.
In this course, we celebrate and support each other’s uniqueness. The intimacy of the group creates a trusting environment for you to delve deeply into your experience and understanding of Sikh Dharma and of yourself as a human being.
To bring your knowledge and experience to life, each session covers a different topic, each one led by one of fourteen amazing teachers. Each class is facilitated by Mata Mandir Kaur Khalsa.
All of these precious offerings together create a most deep and uplifting experience for the beautiful souls who are called to these teachings and who 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 overall peace and consciousness that is so needed in the world today.
For more information about Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma, visit www.JHSD.org.
Registration for 2018-2019 session ends on September 7, 2018. Payment plans are available. Join your spiritual brothers and sisters for your own Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma.
For more information and to participate in this course, visit our website: www.jhsd.org, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Mata Mandir Kaur directly at +1 703-887-2111. Sat Nam.