Sat Nam Dear Family,
In the spring of 1982 the Guru Ram Das Estate in Los Angeles burned to the ground. The Estate was a lovely home purchased on Preuss Road by the Siri Singh Sahib. It was used as a guest house, a residence for his family and some of his staff, and a place to entertain. It was well situated and well appointed. It served the Siri Singh Sahib’s needs and the needs of the Dharma. The eerie experience of seeing the police, the fire engines, the house with flames shooting out of every opening, the heat and smell, are permanently remembered.
I received a call from the Siri Singh Sahib the day after the fire. He requested that I get the house repaired in the exact manner it was before. My family was in the real estate development business and I knew about building construction and was well prepared and excited to deliver. Thank God we had good insurance. The adjustor was to meet us in a few days to decide on a plan of action.
Something happened which changed my whole perspective on life. It didn’t appear relevant at the time, but it changed my life – AGAIN! As I was reviewing the remains of the fire the next evening, a man approached me offering his help in dealing with the insurance adjuster and getting the house rebuilt exactly as we wished. And, here’s the best part, he said that he would do it for no cost to us. Well, my history told me, if something’s too good to be true, it usually is. He’s just another predator in pursuit of the smell of money. I was trained to avoid these types “at all costs.”
The next day I met with the Siri Singh Sahib to discuss what he wanted. During our conversation, I casually mentioned the encounter with the gentleman offering his services. I remember thinking to myself, I must tell him, but I’ll discourage it with my manner and speech. He didn’t let me get that far. He said emphatically, “Please use this man. “But, Sir,” I continued. He cut me off and repeated, “Use this man!” I got it. I did what he said.
As it turned out, this gentleman performed to the perfection of his word. He had such a comprehensive understanding of the insurance company's negotiation procedures that he was able to extract more money than had originally been allowed. The Estate was rebuilt to the specifications and delight of the Siri Singh Sahib. Every cost was covered by the insurance including his fee. And, my job was made infinitely easier with the assistance, knowledge, and grace of this man. I was able to perform my duty.
The experience changed my world view. First, it taught me that although I am firm in my way of thinking, there could be another which is better - be flexible; second, it showed me that the Siri Singh Sahib lived by intuition; third, and most importantly, it taught me that if I just heard and acted (without judgment) upon how my teacher was directing me, I'd benefit greatly.
M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol