The Flip Side of My Life Test
The most seeming impossible challenge in my life was what my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, called my "Life Test"--losing custody of my three year old daughter, Adi Shakti Kaur, to an abusive, manmukh husband. He sought the help of my mother, promising to raise our daughter as a Christian. My Christian mother testified against me in court. This was after the mass suicides in Jonestown. A cult expert claimed that American Sikhs also belonged to a cult and were not true Sikhs.
Yogi Bhajan called this my life test and told me that the pain would be with me for the rest of my life. I thought the worst was forgiven and behind me until Summer Solstice, 2008. On the last day of the Solstice celebration in New Mexico, God threw the full pain of that life test back at me.
The following excerpt from my memoirs describes the sublime reality hidden by endless turmoil:
July 27, 2008
I huddled in my quilt cocoon in warrior pose, chanting "Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Jio"--the twenty-two minuted mantra praising God chanted every morning during our sadhana meditation. Today it sounded like a dirge, evoking deaths of dreams. Was it so sad for others? I could not see.
My life test, losing custody of my daughter, Guru's daughter, to a man blinded by intellect and ego, with parents and family members supporting him and God and Guru seeming far, far away, was being thrust into my awareness by Wahe Guru, full in my face. I asked God, "Why now? Why during our last full day of Solstice? It should be blissful. Why won't you take away my tears?
The more I resisted the cruel confrontation, the more I cried. To soothe the pain, I drank from a water bottle as though drinking Amrit nectar from the Cosmic Mother. Still, I left the Tantric shelter to go to the lady's room and splash my face, blaming my mood on the chanting, calling it a dirge under my breath. Bhai Kultar and Jatha had arrived to play kirtan and saw me, a tearful mess.
On my way back I approached Bhai Kultar Singh and noted how sad the Wahe Gurus sounded this morning. He answered, "We are just now going to join the chanting."
"Perhaps we can chant to uplift it," I suggested, before returning to my sheepskin. Instead, my depth of grief only intensified. Sweeping from behind me, a yard-wide, gloomy snake-like river appeared in my mind's eye, winding around along my left side towards the front of the sadhana stage, twisting in S-curves across the Tantric Shelter floor. Greater was the darkness that wrapped itself around me. I wiped away tears with my hands, trying to be brave, tears that flowed hopelessly from depths beyond control.
During the last five minutes of sadhana following Wahe Gurus we call upon Guru Ram Das to soothe the transmutation of karmas. The only relief I found with these wondrous blessings was a serene face, enabling me to calmly set my sheepskin down near the Gurdwara stage and step into the line forming to bow before the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, a holy scripture that is our living Guru.
On approaching the Guru, I noticed a roll of toilet paper on my sheepskin along the aisle and mentioned to the woman sitting behind it that toilet paper does not belong in Gurdwara. She said, "It isn't mine." Reaching down I tucked it out of sight beneath my sheepskin.
I bowed before the Guru to empty my bottomless grief, to be filled with bliss, and sat upon my sheepskin in front of the Ragis in tears. Bhai Kultar and Jatha played a Wahe Guru Shabad that felt as mournful to me as the sadhana chanting, further evoking life-test pain.
The roll of toilet paper was God's gift to me, soaking up my tears.
I kept questioning Wahe Guru, with a stuffy nose, my lower lip trembling-- "Why, why, why are you doing this to me???
Now, as if in answer, I saw the same snake-like river winding around right before me, only this time it was luminous and pure white. I gazed towards the Siri Guru Granth Sahib through closed eyes and saw a shimmering white waterfall falling from the top Ramala cloths gracing the Guru, down the steps of the stage towards the devotees gathered below.
I thanked Guruji, opened my palms and poured my grief into this river of God. Mercifully, it felt as though all my sorrows were swept away. I knew that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, with all the Gurus graces, was the divine origin of the gloomy, sorrow-filled river I had seen earlier, winding through the Tantric shelter during sadhana, absorbing everyone's turmoil and anguish.
"Why," I asked, begging to understand, "Why was I made to go through this hugely painful life-long test?"
Abruptly, a black, monstrous wall of pain towered within me more powerfully than ever before, and just as suddenly vanished. In its place I saw all my beloveds, all ten Gurus emerge from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib on the same river of white light and flow into my heart, imbuing my being with sublime understanding, courage and heavenly love.
Tears of gratitude and awe welled up in my eyes, humbled by the sacred responsibility of the Gurus' presence within me, knowing that my life is no longer mine. My sole purpose on earth is to share God and Guru's message of peace and subtle living with the world.
The full understanding of my life test as seen through the Guru's eyes came minutes later in the random reading from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Hukam, which made reference to my husband's cultivation of love for another women, being self-willed and telling lies. Yet the Hukam concluded, "She who has such a pre-ordained destiny obtains the True Guru as her Husband...she is enjoyed by her Creator Lord and stands out; she does not blend with the crowd"..."O Nanak, the Gurmukh is the happy soul bride forever; she has the imperishable Lord God as her Husband."
The flip side of my life test revealed through its dark gauntlet the Gurus' profound life blessing--God and Gurus' realm of light and healing, wherein I shall dwell forever in Divine Union in prayers for the world.