- “The hours right before dawn are called ‘the Amrit Vela’, which means ‘veil of nectar’.” I explain to my new friend. “It is the best time to meditate. Then again, anytime is the best time to meditate. Lets just say, it is very easy to meditate if you are up before dawn each day. Hard to do anything else, in truth.”
“What sort of meditation do you do?” she inquires.
“I do Sikh practice.”
“How did you become a Sikh?”
“By doing Sikh practice.” I quip, then add, “Actually I should say that I am on my way to being a true Sikh. For Sikhs our scripture is our only teacher or Guru. I first encountered the Sikh scripture, in bad translation, at age 18, and it won’t let go. Can’t shake it. Don’t want to anymore.”
One morning, before dawn, Nanak rose from his bed and went down to the river to bathe. It was India and warm. I always imagine a sky overflowing with stars and a moon waxing full. Legend reports that Nanak stripped down to his kacheras, and left his clothes on the shore. He waded into the water and he sank to the bottom, and he sat on the soft wet river mud floor, in perfect meditation, for three days. Being a musician, he wrote a song.
Or it wrote him.
Facts are – I have never read them disputed – Nanak disappeared and his village thought him drowned. Nanak waded out of that river, three days after he vanished. The villagers came running to see for themselves that Nanak was alive and he sang them his song. It is called “Japji” and it is the very first hymn in the Sikh scripture, “The Siri Guru Granth Sahib” – roughly translated, “The Great Wise Book Teacher”.
“What do Sikhs believe?” she wanted to know.
“The very first words of the Sikh Holy Book, the most primal teaching of the Sikh Guru, is EkOnKaar; which means the Creation and the Creator are One.”
“The Creation and the Creator are One.” she repeated slowly.
“Yes, the very first teaching of Sikhi is that the Infinite One is not separate from Nature. Quite the opposite. Nature is not fallen, or sinful for Sikhs. You have to drop the Western mind/body split to understand.” I told her. “For Sikhs Nature IS God, and God is Nature…but also everything else. The whole Cosmos is Cosmic. It is ALIVE and AWAKE!”
Nanak was a troubadore. He walked all over Northern India, even into the Himalayas, and Nanak walked to Mecca. He made music everywhere he went, accompanied by his Muslim and Hindu musician sidekicks. He preached that there is ultimately no Hindu and no Muslim, just the EkOnKaar.
“All paths lead to the Beloved One if walked with love and humility is what Nanak preached.” I shared, “In fact, it is the walking with love and humility that is the true Way.”
“Nice!” she responded.
“Sikhs believe that the Creator is within the heart of every human; every being.” I explained, “Where is there not the Beloved One? If you wish to serve Creator, then serve the Creation, with love.”
“Serve the Creation with love.” she mused. “That is so simple. I like that.”
“Said a bit differently; for Sikhs, God is a Verb -. The Doer of Everything.” I concluded and then added, “And Sikh don’t proseltyze, so let us change the subject.”
“OK, but first tell me, what happened to Nanak next?”