Jerry’s shop was much bigger than it appeared. Behind the showroom was a private negotiation room with a couch, table and a chair or two. Behind this room was a large fully equipped kitchen where we enjoyed many delicious Armenian meals.
On a gorgeous spring afternoon in 1989 the Siri Singh Sahib was viewing a special Cartier broach and chain when he received a call from one of his secretaries. “Bring him right over,” I could hear him say as he handed the phone back to me. This was somewhat unusual as he kept his counseling private.
An old time student arrived twenty minutes later. He was from out of town and had a flight to catch so meeting with the Master was now or never. I had known this gentleman for over a decade. He was a respected member of our Dharma was known for his sincerity, discipline, and devotion. As he entered the shop, the Siri Singh Sahib motioned for me and him to go to the private room. He led the way and settled down on the couch. We joined him. Jerry made sure that we were not disturbed.
After a few pleasantries, this gentleman began to describe his condition, “Sir,” he began, “I don’t know what to do. I do sadhana every morning, extra meditations every evening, seva (selfless service) is my life, I read my banis (prayers) daily, and practice carrying myself properly. Still, I’m frustrated. Nothing seems to be working; I don’t seem to be advancing spiritually. I feel the same as I have for the last eight years.”
The Master began, “First, I don’t care about your feelings, why should you? Feelings are for the neophyte, not the advanced student. You’ve been here too long to relate to your feelings. Second, I want you to be ‘first rated, not frustrated.’ Your frustration comes from being raised in the west. Guilt, judgment, doubt, comes with westerners.”
The Master continued by giving a great example. “Hold your hand out and close your eyes,” he instructed as the student obeyed. “Now, imagine that you’re holding a cup and I’m pouring delicious honey milk into it. Can you imagine that the cup is being filled, can you hear the sound, can you feel the cup being weighted down, and is your mouth starting to salivate as this is happening?” “Yes I can,” the student replied.” Open your eyes,” the Master commanded, “see that there is nothing in the cup because there’s a hole or two in the bottom.”
“What’s that mean,” I blurted out. Rather than recriminate me for my indiscretion, he gracefully answered, “Well, the cup is us. The honey milk is our blessings. We put in so much effort, so much time, and so much devotion into our duty and, still, our efforts go to waste, or at least they don’t correspond to our deeds, our aspirations, or desire to be elevated. This is because we have a hole in our head through which God’s blessings, God’s grace, our fruits fall. We don’t hold on to our benefits. Our insecurities, or worthiness factor (or lack thereof), or our attitude doesn’t allow us to hold on to what we’ve already earned. So, just plug the whole.”
“Well,” the student asked, “how do I do that?” “Easy,” the Siri Singh Sahib explained, “Every morning as you bow before your alter, say and embrace the following prayer, ‘Good or bad I belong to you Guru Ram Das.’ If you truly represent Him, it’s His duty to plug the holes. Don’t believe me, just do it and see what surrender and obedience will do.”
I got it. We’re allowed to feel good about or self, in fact, we’re able to even feel so good about ourselves were able to be worthy and confident in being the Guru’s servant. I got it again. I liked that way of thinking. Bye, bye, guilt; bye, bye, judgment; bye, bye doubt; bye, bye insecurities. Then, I got it more. He was counseling me as well as this gentleman.
Well, I’m happy to say, we’re both still here and really enjoying life. Everyone should have a teacher like ours.
M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol