Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma Tele-course
If you’re thinking about what you’d like to do to expand and enrich yourself in the coming year, consider joining the virtual sangat of Journey into the Heart of Sikh Dharma. This small group tele-course has been a wellspring of valuable teachings, enduring connections, and real transformation for many people over the last 12 years. This year we are also adding a section that is time convenient for those in Europe as well.
I was asked to develop this course in 1999, in answer to a need for some form of basic education for those aspiring to be Sikh Ministers. The first class included ten students, ranging in age from their twenties into their sixties, and included people from all over the country. Three were already ministers and some were just beginning their Dharmic journey. Some of the most respected members of our community volunteered to share their expertise in keys areas of the Dharma. The classes are also fed by contributions from and discussions among the students. Some of them have gone on to be presenters, some have taken minister’s vows and have found JHSD to be a real springboard and source of inspiration for them in various kinds education and service. Over the years, many students have come straight from Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training, and have been inspired to dive deeper into the path of the Shabad Guru. We’ve had students from all over the world, some calling in from India and Australia after their morning sadhana, some from Europe at 1am! (Now we have a new section that is time convenient for Europeans) Sikhs of Punjabi origin make a special contribution to the class because of their deep connection with the roots and the spirit of our path. We have had students of different faiths come also to be a part of the experience. Both our shared purpose and our diversity allow us all to learn from, support, and inspire one another.
I’ve been blessed to get to know and serve all of these people, and to learn from them and the presenters each year. Each class is a source of renewal for me. Some of our presenters have been contributing to the class since the beginning. Shanti Kaur begins by offering her informed and expansive view of the Sikh Rehit to set the tone of the course. Others who have been presenting for years are Gurumeher Singh (Dasvand and Prosperity), Hardarshan Kaur (Death, Dying and Funerals), Dr. Sat Kaur and Dr. Shanti Shanti Kaur (Experiences in Peer Counseling), Sewa Singh and Kaur(Sikh Marriage), and Snatam Kaur (Gurbani, Gurmukhi, Naad Yoga, and Nitnem), and Ek Ong Kaar Kaur (Understanding the Banis). These are only a few of the more than 40 presenters who have generously contributed to the class. This past year, Amandeep Singh from Singapore joined us for an enlightening and experiential class on Kundalini Yoga and Sikhism, and Mata Mandir Singh taught things about Naad Yoga that were new to me but dated back directly to Guru Ram Das. Sardarni Guru Amrit guided us through a beautiful process on the power of prayer. The course is truly informative and a real learning experience.
Each participant has seva projects they work on during the course focused on serving the Sikh community and the general community, many with incredible devotion and creativity. Some of the seva projects have become enduring community traditions, like the community langar program and the children’s Dharma program in Espanola. Other projects have been interfaith events, a Peace Park, and knitting prayer shawls for the needy.
One beautiful thing about JHSD is that it provides a safe space for people to openly share issues, questions, challenges, growing edges, gifts and victories. What was so important to many of the students was the presence, support, and valuing of each other. As facilitator, I try to give each participant nurturing and honest feedback, and it is easy to appreciate their special qualities, as each person blossoms and expresses themselves in their own unique way. I so deeply appreciate each person’s beauty. It used to amaze me that the people who take this course are each so special, but I have come to learn that each soul is so very unique and beautiful if we can just take the time to listen to them, to experience and nurture them, and to give them a place to blossom. I love how we all hold this space for each other on this journey of self-discovery.
Here are some things that students have said about the course:
“Most of all, this course has taught me about the simplicity of authenticity. It has taught me that “keeping up” means not just doing things, but keeping up in devotion and courage, each and every day.”
“I was impressed by the diverse ways people engage with their spiritual journeys. This helps me see that my way is valid and beautiful, too.”
“I feel like I have tapped into my passions about these practices by listening to the teacher’ passions.”
I feel like I have been a dormant Sikh for years and I am now an awakened Sikh…. I have such gratitude for this course. ‘It doesn’t get any better than this!’”