Hello! Dear friends, wish you all a happy 2022, hope it will be full of sunshine and will dissipate the dark clouds of the last couple years.

On New Year’s morning, as I went to wake up my daughter for a shower, she was desperately rubbing her nose and trying to open up a blocked nose. She got up to shower, hoping the shower will do the trick that her rubbing the nose did not do. After the shower as I was dressing her, she had continued her efforts to unblock her nose. By now she was really frustrated that her nose was blocked. She thought maybe mum can do something better with it. She said pointing with her chunky finger, to her stubby little nose which was now red from rubbing, “Mob (mom)! Mob (mom)!”
“I know honeybunch, you have a cold and you are upset because your nose is blocked. Unfortunately, mom is not going to be able to help much, you are going to have to be with it, until it gets better. We can have some medication and it might get a little better,” I said. This was one of those moments, where the supermom in me felt defeated! We rang in the 2022 with a cold and self-isolation! 

Add to this mix we got a big dump of snow 45 cm in 24 hours. With all hands on deck it took us couple hours to shovel the snow out of our driveway. Usually we all love to shovel snow because it is a fun workout, although we have a snow blower we don’t use it. So it was not in this state of readiness to function at this point in time. This was not fun!! Just in case I was sounding like a cry baby! Of course this is not what I wanted to share with you.

In this first post of the year, I want to take a little dip in the vast ocean of spirituality, this is what I really want to share with you. This post is inspired by Annu’s post I think it was called ‘My first time.’ Thank you Annu for the inspiration! She was describing her first real meaningful spiritual experience at a religious gathering. As I read it, it felt like, so true! We walk in and out of religious functions, pooja or path and we do it so casually and don’t actually realize the essence of the ceremony. It is such a divine experience to live the ceremony in spirit as well as physically. Here’s when, I first became aware of this change in myself.

I carry a vivid memory of those moments as they ushered a realization of a shifting spiritual perspective within myself. I think a few years back, I was invited to attend a kirtan by one of our extended family as a part of their house warming ceremony. First they had the conclusion of an Akhand path followed by the kirtan. I never make it to the path because it is early morning on a weekend. Usually, I have no inclination to wake up a little early and get to a religious gathering on time, especially on a weekend. It is my time to sleep in. I did not make it to the Path Samapti even that day, “Shame on you Navjot!” it feels terrible to write this but this is the truth.

Finally! when I did make my way over, it was the kirtan time. I sat there, I did not know what kirtan means even (I researched it after). Other than the fact that there are some Bhaiji’s singing something and playing some musical instruments. What they are singing, I don’t know. I have a pathetic knowledge of Punjabi leave alone Gurmukhi. It is apparently the language that they were singing in. I was raised in a Sikh family but I did not pay any attention to learning Punjabi or rituals. I can at least read Hindi but I can’t read or write Punjabi. I can speak the limited number of sentences that I speak at home with my parents or with my relative’s nothing more. I can converse in few standardized sentences in short. I know it is terrible but it is the truth. I can understand simple words but no clue what ‘Gurmukhi’ is. Apparently, it is the local dialect spoken at that point in time, when the Guru’s preached. Of course! I understand you just can’t wake up one morning and expect to understand everything spiritual!
I assume full responsibility for this ignorance. It has nothing to do with my parents just that they never forced this learning on me.
Usually, I am sitting there and chatting and eating, just waiting for it to be over, so that I could leave. I know this is awful! But it is the truth! Sorry! Babaji!

This day as I sat there it felt different. I felt I needed to be respectful of the divine energy that was being invoked there. Partly, because now I was aware of the power and potential of this divine energy. But I did not know what to do other than to close my eyes and fold my hands. I said to mother divine “Sorry! Mother divine, I don’t know what to do here so that this moment becomes meaningful for me. I feel terrible that a very divine energy is being invoked here and I am not being respectful of it. Please help me.” Still with my eyes closed and hands folded, in a few moments, I see besides mother divine the most unusual form of Guru Nanak dev ji. It was this marvelous bhakti form of Babaji, he was standing and dancing with instruments in his hands, floating in the air above his head soaked in ‘Bhakti.’ Usually Guru Nanak Devji is portrayed in pictures as seated in a calm and serene stance. I found it very difficult to understand why this Babaji was looking different. It took me a while to understand what this means. Until, I came across this video from Bhai Baldeep Singhji ‘Guru Nanak ki Holi.’ This is when I understood why the form of Guru Nanak Devji looked different to me. Thank you mother divine for revealing this beautiful aspect of the divine Guru Nanak Devji to me. Now, I know what to do when a divine energy is being invoked, imbibe it with devotion.

I think, once I came across a commentary from Swamiji as to what is captured historically does not completely reveal the actuality that the masters experienced in that moment. I think partly it is because expression captures the perspective of the historian and not necessarily that of the master. Most Masters or experts will capture their teaching that they want to pass on as a legacy. Hence their challenges or subtle aspects of their existence sometimes are not captured with as much emphasis hence some intangible heritage is lost forever!

I am sharing these videos, just in case you were interested, I love them and I keep going back to them again and again and yet again. It is lot for me to digest here! There are some really useful things that Bhaiji is saying here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE1q5cPYKwI – if you just want to hear it for a minute
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=firmz9iX_zk – this is the bigger video and covers much more.
I understood what I saw and what I needed to learn from that. That was my first real lesson from Babaji. ‘Bhakti’ – Faith. Thank you! Babaji for this beautiful and core lesson in spirituality.

‘Bhakti’ is a value or practice that is very strongly associated with success in spiritual goals.
In fact one of the weapons of mother divine namely the mace represents devotion. I am not surprised that devotion to a task or belief finds success. Science and Spirituality both meet here and accept the fact that undeterred focus and persistent efforts with firm belief to achieve success, fetches the desired goal.
Apparently, Mace, a weapon associated with Hanumanji, is an embodiment of Bhakti and Shakti. He is associated with executive excellence. One of the absolute strengths of Hanuman is devotion Bhakti.
I understand bhakti as this absolute compelling obsession of the soul that drives the mind and body to unite with the divine. It is this craziness and madness that takes people across the line.
Mostly in literature the portrayal of ‘Bhakt’ or devotee is very calm, wise, and lost in another world. However my understanding of Bhakti as a spiritual experience is that it is a revolution, a very intense powerful drive that compels and empowers people to loosen the hold of conditioning and let go of their inhibitions to unite with the divine.
Bhakti is an attribute of the soul and not a physical attribute. Hence physical appearance descriptive of bhakti is often not the actual experience of the devotee. Physical attributes of devotee, Wisdom, calmness and prudence are actually the values created by bhakti. In short, bhakti is this powerful revolution of the soul that creates value in physicality promoting peace and calm. Hence it is captured as peaceful, with calmness and wisdom in physical descriptions.
Now, the million dollar question is how does bhakti happen? I don’t know. However, it appears to me that bhakti is innately present in all beings. The basic nature of the soul is goodness and auspiciousness. It becomes hard to identify it as it is shrouded in layers of conditioning. As the wisdom dawns and the veils of darkness dissipate bhakti surfaces and creates a powerful movement of the soul. This intense desire of the soul then reaches out to the universe and finds its way to the divine.

How does bhakti influence and inspire physical existence? A firm belief in the fact that mother divine created a perfect body and gifted me with one. She resides in this body as the vital life force and my soul is the seat of the divine mother. She endowed me with the blueprint of this creation as innate body intelligence. It is my fortune to have it and it is my duty to use it diligently and in best interest of the divine mother’s creation. It is the divine mother who holds the key to effective use of all attributes of this physical existence. Nothing is useless, everything has a place and function. Key to successful life is to be able to understand the right balance in using these attributes to achieve a goal. Hence having respect for my body and its attributes is bhakti to me. Keeping it healthy, never abusing it and engaging in endeavours that promote peaceful co-existence. Is one aspect of bhakti for me, what do you think?

Smart leadership is about identifying all forces playing in the field and facilitating each force in a balanced way to achieve a goal. Staying situated and in control at all times. Leadership to me is a very dynamic stance, which is constantly accommodating and adjusting in amidst of this pressure. Leadership is not just about leading other people. First it is about leading your own self out of the darkness into the light.

Thank you! Swamiji for helping me to understand the key concept of a Guru. Though I inherited a legacy but it was you who gave me first real lessons in spirituality. You spoke in a language that I could understand and interpret in the current context. Thank you! For helping me understand the potential of what I had been born into. No one said being born into a legacy actually entitles you to its benefits. Either you are smart enough to figure it out or follow someone else who was smart enough to crack the code! Dear Swamiji, you are a strong support as I navigate some of these spiritual spaces.

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Navjot Lidder

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