Sat Nam Dear Family,
The last few years of his life the Siri Singh Sahib was pretty much confined to his quarters. His illness curtailed his ‘out and about nature.’ His enjoyment of the world was on hold, so, I brought some of the world to him. We would watch a lot of movies on T.V. and he especially loved John Wayne movies, not for the politics, but, rather, for the values they usually included. It was a great lesson for many of us to see that was the only judgment our teacher had was in evaluating the good in someone or something. He expressed to me that everyone comes as a mixed bag. ‘I help them work on the improper portion,” he said, “and I enjoy the correct version.” Whether it’s in John Wayne or a student was not the issue.
It was on these days that I brought some jewelry into the Dome at the Ranch (the geodesic dome where the Siri Singh Sahib lived out his days). I wasn’t in the jewelry business at that time, but, because of our previous buying, I had access to a wide variety at very good prices. I don’t know how it happened, but in these last few years the Siri Singh Sahib bought jewelry from me, rather than me buying it for him. We would haggle, we would jostle, and we would have a bluff argument over value. We had a grand ol’ time. Here’s the best part: I would always negotiate for more than I paid. In my mind, that made me not only a dealer, but a profitable one as well. I was sometimes his son, sometimes his friend, sometime his confidant, and invariably, I was at all times his student. Now, though, I was also his merchant. I brought more jewelry as these turned out to be glorious occasions. I thought rather than test me, my teacher was now buying from me. I Thought I’d graduated from the school of hard knocks. Boy was I wrong.
One afternoon in the summer of 2002, we were sitting in the Dome. His accounts secretary came in and announced, “Sir, our bill to Hari Jiwan is getting up there.” He asked "how much," and the answer was, “Oh, its $38,850.” “HOW MUCH?” he exclaimed in beautifully feigned amazement. She repeated the amount in a much lower tone. “Pay him $6,000,” he said, flicking his hand as if he were ever so generous. I pretended astonishment, as if I was not expecting it, and smiled. We both felt satisfied. And, here’s the worst part: I had to accept that I wasn’t the great businessman I thought, nor the great graduated student I had thought myself to be. He got me again and I had no choice.
When I began to accept that I had no choice because that was going to be no end to challenges. Then I started to get it. There was no choice but to master any challenge, he wasn’t going to let up. He was going to keep testing until I got it or not. So it is with all our lives. We struggle so much in our effort to avoid struggling, with hopes that we can escape it. We look to lessen the grip of circumstances, but the best we do is temporary. When we surrender to there being no choice, no end to calamity, we practice dealing with it from an elevated perspective, consciously, spiritually, in reality and totality until it becomes effortless and life becomes content. This is who he was and what he taught.
M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol