Baba Prem Singh Ji, Anandpur Sahib, founder Dera Moyian di Mandi (dead men’s market, referring to our Maya world)
I used to think that choosing a monastic life was a way that people like me might escape not only from the world, but also from the pain of love, its loss or its absence. I thought that a commitment could be made, a discipline adopted, or a code agreed to that could fulfill the needs of our heart and provide ample solace because it would organize humanity’s chaos. Since I am a person who wants very little from the world and often as not want to recoil from what many call freedoms but I consider to be confinements I have felt the paradoxical need for some extremes in my life. I wanted to separate from Maya (illusion) and find truth and simplicity. I wanted to surrender to something larger than myself because it seemed only reasonable to observe that this world was crazy. I dreamed about living like the early New England colonists, but my parent’s and aunts quickly disregarded me for being overly romantic about dirt floors and naïve about living without penicillin. My personality could not accept any of the more common extremes like anorexia, drugs, suicide or even living in a cave, because, if for no other reason, they were ends rather than journeys. Also, I was never able to commit to those outermost extremes. I can’t even maintain a fast for more than a few hours. However, I did draw up plans for fasts in my mind and that’s exactly where they stayed, as psychological malnourishment. Then a path chose me by showing me, through the experience of yoga, that renunciation was a tool but without awareness it was an avoidance.
I began to understand my hunger. Through meditation and prayer my hunger grew and it expanded into emptiness and reached towards nothingness. The emptiness obliterated my collected emotional scars and made ridiculous and futile my attempts at deprivation. In the emptiness I realized that all I had was profound longing. That longing was a divine gift and for that gift I felt tremendous gratitude. I began to thrive on the source of that longing; it was love.
It has since become clear to me that not only as an ascetic, a nun, or priest of any persuasion, but as a simple adherent you cannot truly adopt a religious life, a spiritual life, unless you embrace love as a way of life. Disciplines, articles of faith and codes of conduct are guides. A very wise friend told me they are only signposts, don’t confuse the signs with your destination or you may never arrive. In Sikhism and I believe at the core of any faith, when we surrender to God we surrender to our profound longing; we surrender to love in all its wild abundance, its simplicity and its chaos.
With dedication to Baba Diaal Singh Ji, Anandpur Sahib, Dera Moyian di Mandi, who left his body 2/2013.