We often think of inspiration as a momentary, sort of transitory experience. One that comes and often disappears as quickly as it appeared. Yet, Sikhi has taught me that inspiration is constant, it is always there—I just need to remove the veil of maya in front of my eyes to find it greeting me eagerly. When that happens, that is Gurprasad.
This understanding didn’t come by any doing of my own, but was rather the work of Akal Purakh. I remember attending Khalsa Camp BC in 2011. I flew out from Boston where I had been working for a year after finishing my degree. I had attended the camp the year before and knew that I wanted to come back in 2011. At camp it was amazing to hear one of the speakers, Bhai Manvir Singh, talk about countless inspirational moments—it seemed like everyday situations always turned out to be such deep inspirational moments for Bhai Manvir Singh. Towards the end of the blissful camp, I asked Bhai Manvir Singh, “How does all this cool stuff [that reminds you of Akal Purakh] always happen to you?”
To which he responded “The moments are there, we just have to have the vision to see them.”
I didn’t really make much of Bhai Manvir Singh’s comment and went on with the rest of camp. A few days later I found myself back in Boston’s North End. It was 7-8 PM at night and being unmotivated to cook, I found myself wandering the North End’s narrow one-way streets. After 30 minutes or so of aimless wandering I found myself hungry. Those of you who have been to Boston, and the North End, know that everything is close by and that inevitably means a drugstore. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to address my hunger and walked inside of CVS.
As I perused the aisles looking for something to eat that was safe for Sikhs, filling, and not junk food (must’ve been feeling motivated that day) I found myself look at juice. Given my sweet tooth, juice seemed like a great combination of filling/healthy/sugary. Like any self-respecting Punjabi I chose mango juice made by Naked. Little did I know that choice would turn out to be more profound than I could’ve imagined.
As I walked to a park near my apartment, I opened the juice and out of habit started reading the packaging and noticed the words “Shake well. Separation is natural.”
These words started a chain reaction in my head. I immediately related them to the state of my soul which has been separated from Akal Purakh and is in need of some serious shaking. I thought of Khalsa Camp BC as the necessary shaking as it created a desire to live a meditative life.
Then I thought about how shaking the juice and shaking my soul are really no different. Just as the shaking of the juice will destroy the division between liquid and pulp, the shaking of my soul will rid it of the division between myself and Akal.
That is when Guru Gobind Singh’s words of “ਹੌ ਖ਼ਾਲਸੇ ਕੋ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਮੇਰੋ ॥ ਓਤ ਪੋਤਿ ਸਾਗਰ ਬੂੰਦੇਰੋ ॥ I am the Khalsa’s, The Khalsa is mine. There is no difference between us like there is no difference between a drop of water and the ocean” came to mind, followed by “ਏਹੁ ਵਿਸੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਤੁਮ ਦੇਖਦੇ ਏਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਰੂਪੁ ਨਦਰੀ ਆਇਆ ॥ This whole world which you see is the image of the Lord; only the image of the Lord is seen.”
It was as if a spring of Gurbani quotes and thoughts about Sikhi just erupted out of that bottle of juice. As my mind slowly came back down to the mundane, I realized that this is what Bhai Manvir Singh was talking about. This was the Gurprasad moment of recognizing the inspiration around me.
Tarun Singh is a graduate from Harvard who is involved in many endeavors both online and off. Tarun Singh founded Khoj, a series of Gurmat based lectures and workshops, in California and has done Seva in several Gurmat camps.