By Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa, reposted from Sikh Dharma Worldwide
About ten years ago I started a memoir writing group in Los Angeles called True Tales. We used to meet once a month, do a few writing exercises, and then share whatever stories we had written over the last month. That was the best part. As we read aloud the accounts of transformational moments in our lives, we found in our hearts a deeper acceptance and appreciation for one another. I found my own life deepened by the truths from theirs. Almost always, in fact maybe it was always, within the story shared there was a deeper truth than the story itself, a lesson learned, appreciation of the absolute perfection of God’s will and, on many levels, healing.
One night we delved into a discussion about “What is truth?” We had found while writing our stories that sometimes memories blended together, maybe we weren’t certain of the chronology, or really exactly what someone had said, or even who had said it. The gist of this came to: it didn’t really matter. While we did strive to get it all down “right,” what mattered most was that the truth of the story came through, its juice, the lesson, the purpose.
Then, as one who tends to categorize and calculate a little to the extreme, I began to wonder how that truth would fall into the types of truth the Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) had spoken of so many years ago: personal truth, circumstantial truth, and universal Truth. Personal truth is exactly that, what we each know. My truth can be different from yours. Then there’s circumstantial truth, that which is generally accepted and is true today, but may not be true tomorrow, or next year, or in a hundred years, or if you look at it in a different way. Universal truth is that which was true in the very beginning, has always been true, is true, and will forever be true: Aad Sach, Judgaad Sach, Haibee Sach, Naanak Hosee Bhee Sach.
On the other side of truth is falsehood, or lies. Siri Singh Sahib Ji once said, “There is no such thing as a lie, suffering, and a misery. Misery is our intelligence in short circuit. Lie is our non-attitude to confront the truth. Non-confrontation of truth” (1988). As hate is frustrated love, a lie is the inability to confront the truth, and misery is a short circuit in intelligence…. I love how the framing of these concepts allows us to have a clearer perspective on words that have such negative, judgmental connotations… lies, hatred, misery… and recognize them instead for what they really represent; the truths of those words.
There is also being true to yourself, being who you truly are. I think it was in the late 1970’s, Siri Singh Sahib Ji was teaching a series of classes at Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles called “Contrast Consciousness.” He spoke of how comparing ourselves with others is the source of so much pain in life. Checking out who is prettier, who is smarter, higher, lower, better, worse. I thought I understood it then, completely oblivious. A more recent process for me has been catching myself and rising above this state of constant comparison, measuring, calculating, judging, as a way to either make me feel better than others, or to confirm that I am hopelessly worthless. I used to think that if I could only get my chuni to hang as gracefully as So and So Kaur’s, if only I was more this way, or more that way, then I would be happy, then I would be loved, then then then… until I realized the more I tried to be something I wasn’t, the less I was of myself.
Sometimes truth hits you in the face; sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s blissful, and sometimes it simply wakes you up.
Siri Ved Kaur is the author of two vegetarian cookbooks, numerous food columns in Beads of Truth and Aquarian Times magazines, founder of the True Tales memoir writing group and OurTrueTales.com website, and has also served on the executive board of Writers of Kern for the last few years. After being an active member of the Guru Ram Das Ashram Community of Los Angeles for over 35 years, Siri Ved and her husband, Gurujodha Singh, moved to Bakersfield, California in 2008, where she works as a healthcare administrator and will complete her Master’s degree in healthcare management.