Why I Love Altars
This was shared by Sat Bachan Kaur Khalsa, from Espanola, NM, USA, in her “Sacred Share: A Yogic Approach to the Art of Living” series in 2017:
Sat Nam Dear Friends!
Let sincere faith be your bowing in prayer, and let the conquest of your mind be your objective in life. Wherever I look, there I see God’s Presence. || 1 || Guru Ram Das, Siri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 84
Let me tell you a story. And let me warn you as well – I am a Vaata (Aryuvedic type that can get way out there!) combined with DNA which is 1/2 from County Kerry, Ireland, where I hear story tellers tend to digress! This is true about me and if you can bear with me, there is always a purpose.
Almost 42 years ago in 1975, I was a 28 year old single woman, sharing a delightful house in the University Area of Toronto with three other Jewish girlfriends. One of them, Bonnie Alter, my oldest friend since 8 years old, suggested we go to the 3HO Healing Arts Center nearby and get massages. Back then massages were new on the block, even a rarity. I agreed, and that was my first contact with 3HO.
Cutting to the miraculous point, that suggestion by Bonnie, led me straight to the Siri Singh Sahib Ji and Guru Ram Das! I am constantly in grateful wonder as I see the extraordinary path my life took and how God was always looking out for me. Before I moved into the Ashram, 6 months later in Toronto, I was moved to set up a small Altar (I tend to capitalize these words that mean so much to me!) in my bedroom where one of the first items I put was the tiny piece of paper with my new spiritual name, Sat Bachan Kaur, given to me by Yogi Bhajan at the White Tantric Yoga Course he taught at a small Church in downtown Toronto that fall of 1975.
Six months later, I moved to Palmerston Blvd., into the big adjoining Victorian houses of 3HO. I took my few possession and a small Asian vanity table with me. I cleaned it and decorated it with pictures of the Siri Singh Sahib Ji, the Gurus and the Golden Temple. Finally, adding my Peace Lagoon covered with a sweet linen cloth, a candle and a small vase with fresh flowers, and behold…I had my altar, the touchstone of my new identity and life that was forming with joy and excitement!
The Siri Singh Sahib Ji once said that we bow more at our refrigerators than we do at our Altars! Back then refrigerators had the freezers at the top section and the produce part, which was opened more, was on the bottom 2/3! Bowing and bowing, we spent a lot of time opening that door to feed ourselves! The spiritual path shows us the ultimate way to feed ourselves. Bowing our heads at the Altar of the Divine, we activate our Destiny and feed our soul with the Nam, God’s True Name.
The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, wanted his students to “offer sacredness to everyone.” That is exactly what he offered to me- a connection to God, and a chance to honor a spiritual path by dedicating myself to that lifestyle. The value of his Teachings are that one is able to touch the sacredness of one’s own soul. Once connected to one’s self in this way, the awareness of sacred Grace becomes part of everything one sees and does.
Altars are a great way to bring that Grace into every room of your home. Simply keep a shelf or table completely cleared and clean, and only use it for certain objects which you want to honor. Automatically, this transforms these objects into sacred objects and brings up a sense of reverence in you! What a fabulous way to bring your attention to your soul and receive the blessings of a spiritual path.
The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, said,
“So it is in your life, if you make yourself an Altar and give yourself reverence, God shall seek you. You don’t have to seek God. God shall praise you. You don’t have to praise God. The cycle can reverse, because when a human becomes the Altar of reverence, then God comes on that Altar and prays.”
‘“Your word is the word of your first life Altar, that is the Shabad Guru. There is no difference what Nanak said, or what you said. Altar alters the fate to destiny.”
“Take the essence of your life, your condition, go at your Altar and talk to your Altar.”
“When you talk to your Altar, the divine will talk to you.”
Over the years, I have had many bedrooms, in many homes! Each one has had an Altar- that focal point being one of the joys of my life. I have used old coffee tables, handed down from my in-laws, and purchased furniture meant to be dining room servers, that became the perfect Altars. The Siri Singh Sahib Ji always said that this was a place for pictures of your family and loved ones, too. Your open heart pours out love and prayers for their protection, guidance, health, success and well-being. I sat in front of my Altar for years reading my Banis, the sacred prayers of the Sikhs. My second year at Khalsa Women’s Training Camp, the Siri Singh Sahib Ji inspired me to begin learning how to read the Banis in Gurmukhi, the language of the Gurus. He talked about it at every lecture and gave me the hope that my prayers would manifest through this sacred technology.
Coming back to the beginning of my story, I only realized a few years ago, that my dear friend Bonne Alter had the sound current in her name, to be my stepping stone to a vast new world of reverence, sacredness and devotion exemplified in Banis read at the Altar! God gave me a life-long friend who was part of my evolution towards change and transformation. You never know how God will send you a message for your good. I always try to be open to following the dots, seeing the signs, and I most often watch them appear in the silence and sanctity of my own Altar!
Sat Bachan Kaur Khalsa
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