December 6, 2020

Darshan

(c) J. Singh, 2017

Mandeep Singh closed his eyes and focused on the shabad. The musical accompaniment gave a depth and emotion to the words being sung, and it completely enveloped him and pulled him in, ensconcing him within it's complex tapestry of layers. He was lost in the shabad, delving deep in his mind and finding an inexplicable feeling of bliss.

Mandeep was sitting a little farther back than usual today. He didn't want to draw attention to himself, not that it would have been much of an issue here in this large Gurudwara. The halls were huge and could easily accommodate hundreds of people. To add to the ambiance, the high ceilings gave an impression of ample space. The sounds of the melodious and soul stirring keertan floated through the air bringing delight as it fell upon the sangat's ears. Mandeep was smiling. This was a rare, wonderful experience.

As he sat listening and soaking up the feeling, a thought entered his mind. "Just listening to the shabad is bringing me so much bliss," he thought, "How amazing would it be to actually meet Vaheguru, how blissful, how wonderful would that be." He mused on this thought for a while, and then tried to dismiss it and turn his focus back on the keertan. But the thought would not leave him. It hovered in the back of his mind, just outside of reach, hanging around like a neglected friend. Mandeep frowned as his attention turned back to the derelict thought. And despite himself, he began to dwell on it more. And the more he thought about it, the more he started to feel a longing, an ache, a feeling of an unfulfilled wish. This was distracting him from the shabad, to be sure. It was an uncomfortable feeling. He began to feel unhappy, almost despondent. Impatience grew in him. He began to realize that the thought was no idle passing fancy. It was something he deeply desired. And had done so, for a long time. He shifted uncomfortably, his concentration and focus broken.

He opened his eyes and sighed. The feeling of bliss was gone. It had been replaced by a deep yearning, a longing to see the Divine. This was not a pleasant feeling, it was wrought with the anguish of separation and it made him feel like sobbing in despair. He sighed again, shaking his head slightly. The melodious keertan continued, but it seemed to be in the background now. Mandeep looked down sadly. It was tempting to ignore this pining, to wrap it up under layers and layers of denial, to hide it and tuck it away in some recess of his consciousness. But he knew that doing so was not going to make him feel better. It would just delay the inevitable. Sure, he could go about his life as usual, numb and unfeeling, for weeks, maybe months or even years afterward. But the feeling would not go away, and in the meanwhile his unhappiness and despondency would just grow worse. No, he had to deal with this issue now, while he had the chance. He had to face it, and resolve it. Yes, it hurt, but he made the decision that he would rather endure these uncomfortable feelings now and be free, than bury them and spend perhaps the rest of his life being miserable and depressed.

He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes again, taking his mind back to the shabad. Focusing on the words and music, amidst all the turmoil of his mind, he turned his attention back to the Guru. He reached deep inside his own being, searching for the most authentic part of his self that he could express, the most real and raw and personal self. Vulnerable, trembling with fear, shaking, he connected to that most naked self, without any pretense or masks. From that place, he made his supplication to the Guru.

"Please, allow me to have a vision of the Divine."

It seemed that the sounds of keertan had stopped. They faded away into silence like someone turning down the volume on the radio. It was the strangest feeling he had ever had. Mandeep wondered if his plea had been heard. He listened intently.

And then he was interrupted by an abrupt touch on his knee. He opened his eyes and looked down. An infant boy had crawled over to him and was clumsily attempting to climb into his lap, drool hanging down from his lips as he looked up at Mandeep with a toothless grin. Mandeep was slightly annoyed at the interruption, but had to admit to himself that the baby was cute, with his lovable smile and that delighted look of pure joy on his little face. Despite his annoyance, Mandeep smiled at the little baby, who threw his head back and began chuckling.

The boy's mother came over and hurriedly picked him up, giving Mandeep an embarrassed smile. He nodded slightly and then, with the distraction gone, closed his eyes and tried to return to his meditation. But he was completely lost now, and had to mentally retrace his thoughts back to his supplication. He still felt that yearning, and he wanted to meet Vaheguru. If anything, the feeling had only intensified.

Again, he closed his eyes and he tried to focus.

"How can I meet the Creator?"

He longed for the answer. He searched for a clue, a sign, anything that would indicate to him what he should do. Intellectually, he knew that the answer would be to focus on the shabad. But he was feeling impatient and restless. He wanted to take some action, to do something to get him closer to meeting God. What could he do, he wondered. He started to feel anxious as he realized that there was a real separation that he had to overcome. And it felt like a deep, widening chasm, almost impossible to cross, so difficult to bridge. He felt the pangs of separation, the pain it created. As he sat there, he wondered and marveled at how ignorant he had been all his life, to not even realize or know that he had really felt this way. The whole time, he had been chasing after material pleasures, thinking that achievement and status might give him peace of mind and the fulfillment that he sought. Or family togetherness. Or financial security. Or any of the things that he had spent his whole life chasing. Sitting here now, he realized that none of that would give him what he really wanted. What he had been really searching for his whole life was a way to bridge this gap, to fill this aching void in his being, this emptiness that he didn't even know he had.

He sighed. It felt like torture just sitting here. He couldn't bear to listen to any more of the shabad keertan. Now, it only reminded him of what he was missing. It spoke of blissful union with the Creator, of unbounded joy and happiness. He grit his teeth. He was not experiencing anything the shabad spoke of. He was suffering.

And still, he yearned. His heart and soul cried out silently for even a glimpse of the Creator.

Mandeep had been lost in his own thoughts for a while, eyes closed and sitting perfectly still while all these thoughts and feelings swirled in his mind. He was oblivious to what was happening around him. So it was a surprise when he felt a soft touch on his knee again. He opened his eyes and saw the same little infant boy hugging his leg as he tried unsuccessfully to climb onto his lap, giggling and drooling at his own clumsy and ineffectual efforts.

Mandeep could not help but smile at the precocious child. In an instant, all his yearning and longing disappeared, and he felt calm and happy. It was perhaps a welcome distraction. He patted the baby on his little head and the boy chuckled in delight. Mandeep helped the boy into his lap, and held the baby while he made himself comfortable. He felt warm and cozy. The baby curled up and settled in his new spot, looking up at Mandeep with his deep, brown eyes. Just looking at the little baby uplifted Mandeep's spirits. Gone was his angst and tension, replaced with feelings of delight and wonder. The sight of the infant boy was enough to cheer him up.

Mandeep found himself staring into the baby's eyes, smiling, and making silly little noises to elicit a response. He realized that his focus had shifted from the shabad, and he was now totally engrossed in the baby. "Oh," he thought ruefully, "I'm not focusing anymore."

He turned his attention back to the sounds of keertan. As if the volume on the radio was being turned back on, he began to hear the keertan again, the melodious music and the sounds of the words of the shabad. It no longer evoked the yearning and deep longing that had captured his attention before. Now, it seemed to convey only the feeling of contentment and bliss. These emotions washed over him like a wave, and left him feeling completely fulfilled and exhilarated. Meanwhile, the carefree baby in his lap giggled and played.

And then it dawned on him. Suddenly, as if the fog had been lifted, he could see clearly. He had yearned for a vision of the Creator. He had pined for even a glimpse. His heart had cried out, beseeching the Creator. And the Creator Himself had answered his hearts desire. Mandeep stared wide-eyed at the baby in his lap, who had crawled to him when he had been asking for a vision of the Divine.

You asked, and I came. You wanted to see Me. Here I am.

Mandeep gasped. Here was God, answering his prayers. Here was God, whom he had longed to meet. Here He sat in his lap, without a care in the world, relishing His own creation. Here was the Creator and the Creation, merged in all and pervading all.

Mandeep closed his eyes as feelings of gratitude and joy welled up in him, and tears overflowed from his eyes.

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