Welcome Home

The title of this blog comes from the words of Indian Prime Minister Nehru after the passing of Mahatma Gandhi. "The light that shone in this land was no ordinary light," Nehru said of the peaceful modern saint. The name of this blog, which chronicles my journey deeper into Spirit, is to remind us that there is no such thing as an ordinary light. The spiritual scriptures of many traditions such as the Bible, the Vedas, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Koran and others all tell us that God is Light and so are we. It is the essence of who we are as a universe. Turn on your inner glow and shine it like a search light across the darkness of the world. We are the stuff of suns and stars.
We are no ordinary lights.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Enlightenment Story: An Old Man in the Himalayas

I don't remember where I first heard this story. I just know it is a deep part of me, a kind of personal mythology that helps me to understand the world and living in it. When I move through my day, even when I feel good, I whisper this story into my own ear, and good turns into great. I hope it does the same for you.

Once upon a time....

In the mysterious and sacred land of the Himalayas, deep within a dark mountain cave, sat an old man. He was a sadhu, a man who had chosen the holy life of a renunciate. In the caves around him were other holy men, deeply involved in their spiritual practices from morning until night. In the cave to the right of this old man was another sadhu who had not eaten for 3 years except for a thimble full of water and a blade of grass each day. In the cave to the left, was a man who had kept his left arm in the air for 10 years. The old man in the cave went on about his day, cooking tea over a fire, tending to a small garden, and waving to the animals that passed by his cave door. He did not appear to be deep in meditation, and yet his eyes glowed with inner wisdom.

Early in the morning, before the light of dawn kissed the earth, the old man would climb up to the tallest peak and wait. Just as the sun rose in the sky, as the first rays of light hit the valley full of flowers below, he would hoot and holler, shouting "Good job, God!" and clapping endlessly, laughing in joy with all of his being at the radiance he saw.

His gratitude was his spiritual practice, and near the end of his life, fully and completely enthralled with creation, he reached enlightenment.

The End.

Try it. Whisper to yourself as you go through your day. Feel the warmth of the sun, the beauty of a flower, and give credit where credit is due.

Meister Eckart, a mystic, said that if the only prayer we ever said in our whole life was thank you, it would be enough. "Good job, God!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Letting Go

Even now, in this moment, is it hard to let these words go. When words hit the page, the author is revealed. You can see the inner working of my mind in an intimate way. I cannot pull them back once they are out there. It's not quite the fear that they won't be good enough; that would be too easy, too predictable. I haven't figured it out yet. It is a difficult thing for anyone...artist or not...to give all they are to the world and then let go. To deliver what they have to offer and trust it will be enough. Mothers who watch their children go off to school must feel similarly. She who was one body with that divine, young creature must trust that this now separate being will be safe without her.

Letting go is part of life. Death is the only guarantee for each human, and so everyone must let someone else go. The seasons change, lives move on, the world is not the same. Our cultures do not stay stagnant, nor return to any golden days of yore despite political pressure. You cannot return to any value fashioned out of old...nothing will never be the same. Life moves forward, never back. We let go of each breath, each heart beat. We let go of each birthday, each birth. We become very accomplished at letting go, and yet, it is so easy to fight nearly to the death to hold onto the things.

This does not make us weak. In fact, this is natural. We are eternal beings in bodies that die. This illusion of impermanence offends to the very core our endless nature. If we identify with the illusion, letting go wounds us. If we identify with our infinite nature, with the boundless creativity of the Universe, we begin to realize that letting go is a perfect part of constant expansion. We can't think our way into this peace. We can't reason our way into this knowing.

We must experience a connection with the larger plan to know this gentle grace. We must reach out to the Infinite and say "Are you sure?" in order for God himself to lean down and whisper in our ears "Yes!"

Choose the pain you need to let go of. Choose the fear, the anger, the thing you did years ago that you can't forget. Choose the situation you are ready to leave behind. And chant this mantra:

Ardas Bhaee, Amar Das Guru,

Amar Das Guru, Ardas Bhaee,

Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru,

Ram Das Guru, Sachee Sahee.

This is a way of calling upon Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das (who represent the Hope of the Hopeless and the Lord of Miracles). It begins by affirming that what you are saying is a prayer. You then connect with their powerful energies. And then "sachee sahee"....you release it and let it go. You know that your prayer is heard and it is done. This is the mantra of answered prayers, of moving beyond difficult situations, and gracefully letting go.

Need to "Let Go and Let God"? There's a mantra for that. And an answered prayer waiting for you just around the bend. And me? I let my words out into the world...see? It works..

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 40 of the So Purkh Global Sadhana

Sat nam beautiful ones,

Day 40 of the Spirit Voyage Global 40 Day Sadhana Challenge: So Purkh. Final count: 360 women, 6 men and 26 countries.

I am humbled and honored to have shared every story, every question, every dream, every hope, every tear, every fear, every victory, every smile, every prayer, every word, every ounce of joy and love and peace with each and every one of you who has walked on this path with me.

What started as a birthday present for Harnam Singh grew and grew and never seemed to stop....like love, like God.

I thought perhaps 10 women might join with me and walk along this path of prayer, but God and Guru Ram Das had very different plans. And I find myself now, not at the end of a road but at the very beginning of one…my heart is wide open and I have gained prayer partners in parts of this world that I could never have imagined. Just like I have made friends with parts of my heart that I never thought I could touch.

I bow to each of you for your bravery. Some of you have finished valiantly. Some fell and had to start again, bravely dusting yourselves off and deeping into your commitment to yourselves. Some have had miracles, some fell in love, some released years of tears, some left relationships that no longer suited you, some saw profound changes in the men you prayed for, some experienced tremendous pain, but all of us -- all of us -- have experienced the power of the Infinite at the center of a prayer within our own hearts. It is not always easy to make a commitment for 40 days and keep it. But it is always worth it.

You have in me a prayer partner for life, a coach and cheerleader in your journey through this crazy age. You have in Spirit Voyage a family and tremendous resource on your path of life and growth. Spirit Voyage will always be there for you, sharing the music and the teachings that we know can help.

Everyone at Spirit Voyage is amazed by every one of you. I am in awe of your trust and love, letting me into the deep stories of your hearts. I prayed for all of you that contacted me in pain, and for all who reached out to me with joyful news. I am honored to be your teacher, and I remain your student.

Some say a woman's heart is a treasure trove of secrets. You were brave enough to clean out those secrets, some privately, many publicly. Many of you reached out for help when you needed it, either to me or to your fellow So Purkhers. The ripple vibration of the field of love and light that you created, and continue to create, cannot ever be measured in human terms, but I am sure that the furthest reaches of the Universe feel the power of 366 of us unified in praise of the Divine. There is more Light on this planet today, and I believe there is also more Love in our hearts and the hearts of the men we prayed for. Prayer works. Mantra heals. Miracles happen.

Although Spirit Voyage will not officially be leading the So Purkh past day 40, I will personally be continuing the So Purkh, as it is a part of my daily spiritual practice. Many of you plan to continue on, and I hope you forge bonds of friendship and sisterhood in this process. I will let you know when Day 90 has come, should you choose to continue.

Spirit Voyage and I, joined by special guests, will be leading another 40 Day Global Sadhana Challenge (to be announced soon...you are going to LOVE it!), and I hope that you join me in creating another powerful global field of prayer and meditation. It will be another amazing opportunity to deepen into yourself and into the teachings of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.

I thank Nirinjan Kaur for her amazing recording that so many of us use to bond to the sacred Naad of this technology of the So Purkh, and I thank her father Hari Singh for producing it. I thank Nirinjan Kaur, SatKirin Kaur, and Snatam Kaur for their kind words of wisdom and encouragement that they sent to us throughout this journey.

I thank my team at Spirit Voyage, especially the amazing Jeanne, who set up so much of the technical wizardry behind the scenes (including the UStream Live Video Recitation) and works so hard, and Danny, who shipped out each of the So Purkh cds to all of you. I thank Patwant Kaur who translated everything into such beautiful Spanish and opened up this sadhana to a whole other part of the world. Hargobind, Karan and Guruganesha Singh at Spirit Voyage have all been watching you every step of the way with pride.

I thank sweet Harnam Singh, for his inspiration to do the So Purkh and to share it with all of you (Happy Birthday!).

I thank my master Yogi Bhajan for sharing this amazing technology with the women of the world. And I thank the great Guru Ram Das for writing these transcendent words of tender devotion. I bow at your feet in gratitude.

Most of all, I thank you all for participating. Each one of you made this so special and it would not have been the same without you. Thank you for being my soul's companions. Thank you for keeping up.


Peace to all, light to all, love to all.

So Purkh nirinjan, har purkh nirinjan....


Ramdesh Kaur

Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Inner Harvest and Gobinda Hari

The leaves outside my window have begun their gentle transformation from brilliant emerald green to rich golden yellows and warm plum-toned reds. I regretfully close my window to the chilly air, taking a final whiff of the woody, pine scented breeze. The season is changing and our hearts undergo their own transformations.

Too often we develop an idea of ourselves that we forget to update. We give ourselves and our lives labels…what we do, who we are…and treat them as if they are static and stable. But the leaves on the tree of our hearts, grown from the roots of our karma, change color and fall to the Earth in one last, glorious dance. Our hearts are microcosms of the beautiful world that surrounds us. Ek ong kar. The creator and the creation are one.

The fall is a time of harvest, and we have an opportunity ourselves to take a moment, center ourselves into our breath and reflect. Hit the pause button. Take a deep breath. Be here now. What have we done this past season of action and growth? What have our lives become? Who is better off for our having been in this world? Often we don’t want to reflect because we are afraid of our own answers, afraid that we won’t measure up to the expectations of the world or of the little critic that lives inside of our own minds. But if we look with different eyes, determined to our fan instead of our critic, we can also find moments of goodness and grace. We can find times where we lived up to our potential and smiled in the face of adversity.

This world, for all its chaos and challenges, is a beautiful world. The leaves could fall off the trees with no real fanfare, but instead they change into a rainbow that circles the globe, each leaf falling at its own time, spinning and twirling to the ground in graceful tumble. Humans are like that, too. Our lives could just exist and end without any real trace left on the world, and often we feel like that is exactly what is happening. But we grow and expand, we change our colors from green to yellow and red, we sway in the wind, and then finally we dance home to arms of our Creator in our final flight.

In this time of change, I can feel myself changing. I look at the leaves and feel my own transformations in my heart. I see the harvest brought in on the farm down the road, the glorious orange pumpkins, the blue gnarly squash, and the knobby and humorous yellow gourds. What have I created this year within me? I can feel the pulsating, warm pumpkin shaped joy inside me, created by chanting and mantra and yoga and most of all love. I can see a few blue gnarly squash created my moments of sadness and loss. And there are the funny little yellow squash from times of laughter so intense my sides might have split to reveal the seeds within!

This season for me is contained within the mantra “Gobinda Hari”. Its words are simple, like falling leaves, Gobinda Gobinda Hari Hari. Gobinda is the aspect of God that is the Sustainer that has kept us going all year. But it is also the aspect of God that is beautiful and lovely. Hari is the aspect of God that is the Creator, that is action, but it also the healing force within us. When we chant Gobinda Hari, we connect with the beautiful harvest within ourselves and we connect with the creative aspect that accomplished it. It’s like saying, “Beautiful! Beautiful! I did that! I did that!” We connect to God in a way that allows God to experience His own creation through us and our lives, and allows us to connect to the beauty of our own experience. Gobinda Hari also allows us to heal ourselves and feel security in a deep place in ourselves through a connection with the knowing that God is a sustaining and healing force at the center of our own hearts.

For 11 minutes, cross your hands over your chest at the wrist, right over left, palms resting near the shoulders. Close your eyes and chant “Gobinda Gobinda Hari Hari” feeling the grace and the kindness of the One who lies in the center of your own Being.

When you are finished, look outside with fresh eyes. See the bountiful harvest of the Universe. See the play of life in all its cycles and rhythms. Then look inside with fresh eyes, and see the beauty of God’s harvest within You. See the miracle of every breath you take and every smile you give. See yourself as a leaf in God’s forest -- unique, beautiful and bright. Happy to sway in the breeze until that day when we all fall into our last dance, embraced at last by the One.

Gobinda Gobinda Hari Hari.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Ocean

Recently, my father had surgery. He'd been in a lot of pain before the surgery and upon waking up, although he was in additional pain, said that he felt a kind of internal release, as if a long held grimace had left him.

Now my dad isn't really the kind of man who gets involved in yoga and chanting. You're more likely to see him watching Fox News than a kirtan concert and more likely to hear him listening to the Rolling Stones than Snatam Kaur.

But when he woke up from the surgery, just a short time out of recovery, he called me closer to his bed and said in a kind of whisper, "On the way to the hospital, your mom played some music in the car. They were singing about the ocean. Who was that? What were they singing? It was really nice. Made me feel peaceful."

Once I got over my shock, I realized he was talking about Mirabai Ceiba's Ocean. The words he was referring to are "The ocean refuses no rivers, no rivers. The open heart refuses no part of you, of me. Guru Guru Waheguru Guru Ram Das Guru." Somehow, despite his constant vigilance against public participation in the overtly spiritual (I promise not to tell anyone about how he meditates silently every morning with my mother, owns a tarot deck, and loves to juice veggies so much that his juicer has a name -- Penelope), he felt within him something move and shift when listening to Mirabai Ceiba. Not surprising of course, given the power of their music to heal. But I felt like in spite of his growing curmudgeony-ness (that CANNOT be a word), the healing energy of Guru Ram Das pierced through his veil and brought him comfort.

I cannot pay a higher compliment to Markus and Angelika of Mirabai Ceiba. You got my dad to open his heart and heal. And his new hip is doing just fine, too. And that takes one heck of an Ocean.

(You can listen to a clip of this song, or purchase it for yourself on SpiritVoyage.com at this link: http://www.spiritvoyage.com/yoga/Ocean/CDS-001910.aspx)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Falling Star

It has taken me awhile to write this blog. Grief and shock go hand in hand, neither lending themselves to an exalted piece of writing. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to write something miraculous…nothing that I write with stale words could ever do justice to the vibrant life of a friend.

Lindy “Morningstar” Morris was a dear friend. A master of living off the land, she revered animals in a way far too few do today. She knew the old ways of living, of brain tanning your clothes and making fires in the outback of Australia. She taught a return to the wisdom of living with a small footprint. She heard the voices in the wind and the trees and the brook and the hoof and the scale and the feather. She lived on the leading edge of thought and remembered the divine each and every day.

She passed in a flash of lightening and a fallen oak, deep within the forest of her adopted home. She was surrounded at her end by mutual loved ones. I wish I could have been there to hold her hand and remind her, needlessly, to be brave. She was always brave.

I can offer her no stunning eulogy, no worthy prose. I can offer her only the Akal, the chant of a tradition that was not hers, but which she would have appreciated. Chanting “Akaaaaal” is said in the Kundalini Yoga tradition to help liberate the soul from the dense field of the earth, giving it a boost into the peace of the divine beyond. Akal means undying, and it is the truth of the soul.

Shine like the Morning star, dear one. We will meet again.


(Want to use the Akal for your loved ones? There are two beautiful recorded versions. One by Snatam Kaur available as an MP3 free download, and one by Simrit Kaur on The Sweetest Nectar, both on www.spiritvoyage.com)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clean! Clean! Clean!

My last few days in India have not been what I had hoped. I suppose that a last hurrah at the Golden Temple and parties with friends in Amritsar just wasn’t in the cards.

Food poisoning. There is nothing, my friends, nothing like food poisoning in this country to make you homesick. Horrible, intense food poisoning no less. I think I threw up nearly thirty times in a 24-hour period, accompanied by severe diarrhea. I had a high fever and was sweating out of nearly every pore of my body. The headache and body aches couldn’t really compare with the knives stabbing me in my stomach, so I hardly noticed them.

My friend Ravinder Singh went to the chemist to get me some medicine. It promptly made me throw up again. But knowing he was checking on me from time to time as I lay moaning in my bed made me feel safer, because certainly he would get me to a hospital if it looked like I was on my way out.

Two absolute angels showed up in my life. Siri Atma Kaur and Balwant Kaur, both from South America, stayed up with me rubbing towels dipped in ice water over my body to draw out the fever. Balwant gave me a few hours of reflexology to try to stop the vomiting. They spoke to me softly and gently, keeping my mind off of how sick I felt. I literally fell asleep on them. After a beautiful night’s sleep thanks to these angels, I’m strong enough to go to the airport at least.

Thanks, India, I think. You have a way of cleaning the poisons out of people. (Although, the reverse is also true, for you always have a way of putting poisons into people.) When I was studying with Ustaad-ji one day, he looked at me and said “Ramdesh Kaur! You have to clean, clean, clean your insides! Clean your body! Clean your mind! Only then will you be able to sing!” I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for the universe. I’ve never been the best housekeeper. India thought, “I know! I’ll clean her up!” and promptly polluted my body just enough to make me think death was a possibility and then pull me back.

What an end! If nothing else, it helps mitigate the nostalgia. It is easy to romanticize India. Easy to make it a land of red and pink saris, of painted elephants, of sadhus with their hair wrapped up into rishi knots of the top of their heads, of naughty monkeys cavorting in the branches of banyan trees, of magical rivers and hidden caves. It is all of these things, but it is also the opposite. It is a land of incredible poverty, of terrible corruption, of extreme pollution. Anything you can say about India is true, and at the same time, the reverse is also true. That is, of course, one of its greatest lessons. It’s all God, all the time: the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. Most of these states are just human judgments anyway. Let go of judgment, and you feel the presence of the Divine.

Ek ong kar: the creator and the creation are one. You and I are one. Thanks to India, I’m a leaving a little cleaner than I came. Thanks to Oneness, so are you.