Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ironic Idealism

The passing away of my client(X) was my first encounter with death. But I know per fact how it is like in the Indian culture, or the Sikhs, to be more specific. However, this is a unique experience. X was a Caucasian Native Canadian and a practising Catholic.

I wanted to let you all know that I am not really brave as you might have thought from my last post. Death and dying is tough. Indeed. But facing death in X's environment was definitely a better encounter. Death is welcomed and those left breathing after the demise of one accept it very gracefully and effortfully look for reasons to cherish fond memories and all that is good. His wife has cried several times. She always has her eyes flooded when she talks to me about him, but it is all with a smile or several smiles.

The day she called me to tell me about his passing away, I almost had a "discomfort fit" (is what i call it).
Thought 1: I am a professional, I am not suppose to let myself feel weak. There is nothing to feel weak. He was a client, that's all. Where are the detachement strategies???
Thought 2: Oh no one in the family should see me in remorse or any other form of distress over his passing away. This shall prove I'm a misfit for this job.
Thought 3: X, the one I knew, the one I spent so much time with, the one I just saw last week, the breathing, talking, the one acknowledging me so well, that man breathes no more. His body remains behind without his soul. He is dead.
Somewhere among those and several unacknowledged thoughts, I crashed. Luckily, no one found out.

Gosh. That reminds me that there is so much to figure out: Defining strength of this job; finding how to care without getting attached; ...

But in spite of all this, it was much easier than I could have thought. I saw X's family smiling the day after his death, not crying havoc over his passing away. I saw them emotionally intact, sharing wonderful memories of him, planning rigourously for his funeral for the coming weekend. This family was as attached to each other as any other wonderfully working family is, yet the house was spared the hue and cry over this natural a process.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib tells us to face and accept death gracefully. Mourn but do not do so in contempt to the Lord who brought that fate. In spite of such clear advice and order, how do we always miss? How is it that death in Sikh families never takes the toll of peacefully smiling people accepting of God's will? Instead is composed of anger and frustration on the course of events that take place...

all in (good) time...

If you're here now, you'll be there then.
~ Native American Aphorism

The continuity of being is inescapable. Life for all of us goes on in some form, in some place, realm, either concerete or subtle, on this planet or in another world in this universe. The mystery of death circumscribes each of our lives. Many feel, from time to time, an eternal sense of existence, the ineffable feeling of having always been. We cannot really die in any permanent way, but are ever called on from one transition to another until we are transformed. Once we know how to behere in the integrity of the moment, we enter the Eternal Now and we know we alwasy will be. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to learn tobe in the present moment and so to enter its eternal truth. Let us develop the motivation and determination to be in this most ordinary and extraordinary manner.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Life support?

When I first learnt about a DNR, I said to myself, yes! definitely I'd like to sign one. Even after a course in Hospice work, I thought, it is only sensible to offer least possible resistance to death when it knocks your door. Then, (recently) I watched the movie 'Just like heaven'...and I'm like "wow! if if if...". Then I saw my client's health degenerate every single day, leading to a day, when I am the only one he remembers and wants to be with, yet leading to another, when he won't be able to recognize. At such tender times, he was the only one who was still sure about his choices of no life support. But....today...the day after losing him...the day where I shake myself to fully acknowledge his absence from this world...I am not sure whether I am pro-/anti- life support.

As much as I thought, I'll be fine with his passing away, 'cuz my duty was to make his passing away as easy as possible and to add meaning to whatever remained of his life. Somehow, the loss doesn't miss to hit you. So think again and think it through your mind and the eyes of those close to you, whether the choice of life support is your final choice. But do make a choice.

And join me in making a prayer to the peaceful and restful transition of my client's soul from this world to another. May he rest in peace.

Waheguru. Waheguru. Waheguru.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Pant rattan" - Sant Makeen


I know it is a couple of days late. But this post is a tribute to a man who I definitely want to learn more about, always have and always will.

Giyani Sant Singh ji Maskeen was a Sikh scholar. I am sure no one is ignorant about his standings and work. He passed away last Feb. 18, 2005 'cuz of a heart attack. Even with an educational equivalency of grade 10 only, he has about 12 books and recorded a big numebr of audio and video cassettes with his vayakhya ( analysis and description of the Bani) to his credit. (Yeah, what's up with this stat? Even Bhagat Puran Singh ji could not even complete his grade 10, but evolved into such a wonderful and informative writer about all the global concerns. It's amazing!) Anyways, going back to Sant Maskeen ji, my memory instills the clarity and effectiveness in his speeches which were always wrapped in most convincing arguments and informative facts. He has provided the world with meaninful, interesting and enlightening information from Gurbani. May his soul rest in peace in Sachkhand!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

destinations


"Valley of Hands"

This is where I want to be - seems like no one can miss being one with Lord at a place so serene, a place so meditated, a place so humble.


...somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains

And this is where I'd love to pass away from this world into another. Appears that a part of me will be preserved forever and the transcendence of soul will be smooth and natural.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Neurotheology - worth taking a look at!

Let me begin with what I do currently. I work in a Neuroscience lab, as a Research Assistant and I study the brain and its working in Autistic kids. We are trying to determine the best intervention methods for Autistic kids. This lab has got the most wonderful grant ever for this research, basically ‘cuz it is a combined grant for York Uni and U of Toronto (touch wood :P). The reason I’m telling this is cuz this allows the lab to have the coolest equipment and 10 big mac computers to study every part of the brain. Neuroscience is fascinating. But the first time I heard about Neurotheology, was in my Cognitive Psychology class.

So what is neurotheology? It is the study of neural basis of theology. Certain parts of the brain seem to be leading to religious experiences. The one condition of Temporal lobe epilepsy (a part near the eyes getting affected), especially has been linked to such religious experiences. Scientists today (especially Canadian:)) are trying to research in this field.

This has lead to several debates and concerns: Is religiosity a talent that some people have and that others lack? Is it truly possible to determine the link between the unknown and undefinable with actual body processes? Has evolution supported religiosity? ‘Cuz research has proved that religious people have healthier and longer lives. So the query is if consciously or unconsciously, we evolved religious beliefs?

This branch is amazing. And if I opt for Neuroscience for my graduate studies, I think I’d be thrilled to work in this field. Let’s see what destiny has sketched. Until then, to feed your curiosity, I found that the easiest and most layperson friendly link to this would be on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotheology

Satnam Waheguru!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

W A H E G U R U

How many times do I use this word? How many times people have asked me its meaning for it is inscribed on my Kada and yet and yet, I'm ashamed to confess that I misunderstood it...or should I say that I didn't know it's meaning at all. My understanding of the phrase was:
Waheguru = God is great (like a literal translation as it sounds in Punjabi: Wah Guru)

Only today while browsing did i find that "Waheguru" is made of two words: Wahid and Guru. Wahid being a Persian word that means "one and only". Therefore
Waheguru = One and only Guru!
And it definitely makes sooo much more sense.

Well, rather late than never :)
http://www.singhsabha.com/discussion_topics.htm

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

what pilgrimages?

Today's Hukamnama states:

SHALOK, FIFTH MEHL:
That body, which does not meditate in remembrance on the Lords Name in the Saadh Sangat, shall be reduced to dust. Cursed and insipid is that body, O Nanak, which does not know the One who created it. 1 FIFTH MEHL: Let His Lotus Feet abide within your heart, and with your tongue, chant the Name of the Lord of the World. O Nanak, meditate in remembrance on God, and nurture this body of yours. 2 PAUREE: The Creator Himself is the sixty-eight sacred places of pilgrimage; He Himself takes the cleansing bath there. He Himself practices austere self-discipline; the Lord and Master Himself inspires us to chant His Name. He Himself becomes merciful; the Destroyer of fear Himself gives in charity to all. One whom He has enlightened and made Gurmukh, obtains honor forever in His Court. One whose honor is preserved by his Lord and Master, comes to know the True Lord. 14
Tuesday, 3rd Phalgun (Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)
(Page : 553)

I thought Sikhism does not support the concept of limited places of pilgrimage. I was wondering what these 68 number is referring to here?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Desperate

I recieved an absolutely remarkable thought of the day from Gurukirpa, which I'd love to share with all:

Remember, when the world pushes you to your knees, you're in the perfect position to pray.

It's also said that: It's hard to stumble when you are on your knees :)

And while I looked up for a picture to match this beautiful thought, I landed on this:(I love this pic :)) Even though this kittie aint on her/his knees...there is this desperation in the gesture which reminds me to share the zeal and enthusiasm which I think desperation brings about. This desperation need not be for specific 'needs'. It could be the earnest yearning of selfless love and care and devotion. A desperation that brings you closer to God for it nears your reading glasses on each line of the prayer you say with meaning resounding louder than words. Oh how I love desperate prayers :P

define it right

Containing any meaning in words is a difficult task, I agree. But when I land on things like this, I expect more perfection. While browsing around on what internet provides on world religion databases about religions, I found Sikhism defined as follows:

"Sikhism: Hindu - Hinduism Dictionary on Sikhism

Sikhism: "Discipleship." Religion of nine million members founded in India about 500 years ago by the saint Guru Nanak. A reformist faith which rejects idolatry and the caste system, its holy book is the Adi Granth, and main holy center is the Golden Temple of Amritsar."

Followed by another attempt to define Sikhism as per:
"Sikhism: New Age Spirituality Dictionary on Sikhism

Sikhism

A religion, based mostly in the Punjab province of India, that attempts to blend Hinduism and Islam. The movement is based on a vision and subsequent teachings of founder Guru Nanak in the 15th century AD. Disciples, called Sikhs, follow the one true God named Sat Nam (�True Name�). Their main scriptures are contained in the Granth Sahib (�The Lord's Book�), compiled by the guru Arjan, and salvation is viewed as a merging with the universal force"

I prefer definition 1 to begin with. I get quite worked up on the definition of Sikhism as a BLEND of Hinduism and Islam and my uneasiness has no bounds when I find such exclamations coming from Sikh resources that people shall look upto. It brings me to my unanswerable query of whether we'd be ever able to achieve a stage of standardized history and explanation - one that stands high in the rightful shade and guidance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The need for deed

When do you pray to God? When does it itch to think of Him and when do you feel that itch? It is human to think of God when we need Him the most. If one is remembering God through daily sadhna, I think it entitles that person to remember God in times of need. I don’t know why, but if daily sadhna (which I consider is the selfless and the purest form of Bhagti) is missed, I feel guilty for having to ask for God’s help when I need it most. It feels selfish on my part. I wonder as to what is a better course if that daily sadhana is missed: remember God in times of need and avert on the guilt trips or remember God in time of need, ask for his help, promise to get back on the selfless track, which we know won’t last long, or happen at all.

A dear friend a short while ago told me that Sikhs being the learners strive to reach that state of ultimate bliss where they think of Satguru with every swaas (breath). As much as I don’t expect to be a perfectionist in a day, I am inclined to get restless and anxious to fulfill that ordained destiny leading to a vicious cycle spiraling down.

Help formulate a new strategy to successfully and peacefully think of God with patience in a guiltless heart.