I Never Fully Understood How Much You Gave Me

August 26, 2019 |

Categories: Our Stories

Who is Snatam Kaur

Snatam Kaur was introduced to music and spiritual practice at an early age. Schooled in kirtan, meditation, and Gurmukhi, the Sanskrit-based language of Sikh scriptures from Northern India, the young Snatam Kaur began to develop the devotion and skills that have grown and blossomed into a compelling, profound talent.

Snatam Kaur’s parents brought her up in the Sikh tradition as taught by Yogi Bhajan. From an early age, she practiced yoga and meditation daily and her mother taught her Gurmukhi. “My mother taught me the alphabet on my way to school every morning,” recalls Snatam. Her Sikh community augmented these lessons with instruction in kirtan (devotional chanting). “Through these experiences, I learned the pronunciation,” she says, “but also I learned the passion for what I was singing because these gatherings were so spiritual.”

How My Relationship with Shabad Guru Began

This story was originally published on Snatam Kaur’s blog in 2016

When I was eighteen, Yogi Bhajan asked me to move to Los Angeles. Living just a few blocks away from his home and the community Gurdwārā, I was quite busy with work, community activities, and taking part in Yogi Bhajan’s classes.

Within just a few months, he gave me three essential teachings about Shabad Gurū: First, we must listen in order to truly understand ourselves, our surroundings, and the truth. Second, we must surrender our egos and allow ourselves to become channels so that the timeless wisdom of sound can come through. Third, let us sing the words of the Shabad Gurū with intention and love. Doing so saturates our being with positive vibrations so that the sum total of who we are aligns with our highest self and the Divine.

After a Gurdwārā service one Sunday afternoon, Yogi Bhajan called me to sit beside him as we all partook of the community meal. Everyone sat in rows, in the traditional way that food is served in Gurdwārā, while the servers came around with big pots of yogurt, rice, dahl, and whatever else had been prepared. The little hall was packed with at least eighty people, so there was a lot of talking and laughing going on.

I had been feeling frustrated. As an eighteen-year-old, I wanted so much to begin my life and to do something important. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to do, and I also didn’t feel understood by anyone. The thoughts of frustration welled up within me, and I wished to speak to Yogi Bhajan about it.

As I sat down trying to formulate my question, all of my thoughts seemed to scatter in the intensity of his presence. I couldn’t even say hello; I just sat down. The servers brought all of us dahl and rice, and we began eating as I struggled to formulate my question in my mind. How could I ask him my question if I didn’t even know what was going on inside me?

Thought after thought ravaged me, and my frustration continued to grow. After a few moments of eating in silence, Yogi Bhajan said to me, without even looking, “Listen, listen to all of them talking.”

So I did; I listened.

I began hearing the conversations around me. A man just a few feet away was talking about a movie he had recently seen. Another woman spoke of seeing some beautiful flowers on her morning walk and how she would love to grow some roses in her garden. A child cried. Someone laughed at a joke.

“Their voices flow out, like rivers, telling the story of their lives,” he said, leaning over slightly so that I could hear him.

And then I truly listened without getting caught up in the details of individual conversations. Their voices began to merge into one flow, like little ripples in a river. Talking, chattering, flowing. My heart skipped a beat as I realized the sound was life itself: their lives, pouring out, moment by moment, carrying the story of each soul.

The specifics didn’t matter — the sound streamed forth, guiding each soul forward into its next experience. And there I was, listening to it all with my teacher.

As I listened, my earlier frustration of not being heard and not knowing what to do with my life melted. I began to understand that it did not matter who listened to me or if anyone truly understood me.

God was listening to me, as my teacher revealed when he showed me how to truly listen. What mattered was the vibratory frequency within my being, the thoughts that followed that vibration, my words, and my songs. Because then, my Soul would follow, my life would follow, and all things would manifest from the vibratory frequency that I chose to produce.

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