I am a Turkish-American Sikh woman teaching Italian at the University of Oregon. I came a long way to realize myself as an individual, a wife, a mother and a spiritual being. The open-mindedness and acceptance I found in Eugene is a true blessing for me. The physical journey was worth every single mile of it.
The population of Turkey (my country of origin) is nearly 97 percent Muslim. My family did not practice religion. This did not mean I was deprived of learning about God and being prayerful, which is the kind of person I have always been. Even as a child I strongly felt the presence of a guiding light in my own heart as well as in others. I prayed for everyone to find that light and be guided by it to live in peace and harmony with themselves and one another. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/yoga/3020-heart-heart-yoga-takes-consciousness-higher.html
After going through the transformational teenage years, my life's journey brought me to Eugene. While I was studying at the UO, I started practicing Kundalini Yoga. Besides improving my overall mental and physical well-being, this ancient science started to take my consciousness to higher levels.
One morning I woke up, then closed my eyes again and had a crystal clear vision. I was standing on a mountain with a bright sky. Turned to the heavens, I saw two hands cupped, carrying a big ball of light. They gave the ball of light to me and I was told to carry this source of light and to give it to everyone. I took it.
A few years later I found my true source of light, my guru, in the Sikh Dharma. The word "guru" creates confusion for some people. It simply means "teacher," the one who brings you from "darkness" (gu) to "light" (ru). It is the cosmic/teacher/consciousness that resides in every heart, the source of light itself.
When I asked my spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, for my spiritual name, he blessed me with the name Harinder - "Har" meaning "God" and "Inder" meaning "the light that comes from within." Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=3020
For Sikhs, the guru is embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, a compilation of poems of saintly beings who spoke of their experience of the light after coming out of deep meditation.
The guru is in a special place adorned with flowers. We go to the feet of the guru and bow. Our forehead touches the ground and we open our consciousness to merge with the consciousness of the guru.
It is a time and place where all differences dissolve, including the ones we carry within our individual selves: fears, emotions, worries, anger and attachment. We come out of it with the experience of guru, the expression of ecstasy in consciousness put into sounds. This is where I find my source of light, where my physical journey ends and my spiritual journey begins.
May the pure light within all guide our way. Sat Nam (a salutation used by Sikhs meaning, "Truth is My Identity").
Harinder Kaur represents Sikh Dharma on the planning committee for the Interfaith Prayer & Reflection services held on the 11th day of each month. This column is coordinated by Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries, a network of more than 35 spiritual traditions. For more information, call 344-5693 or visit www.interfaitheugene.org