This week, people are thinking and talking a lot about the nature of sadness and depression; how a person who appeared to have “so much” could be suffering so deeply. There is an outpouring of disbelief, grief and love. Unless you know that depth of yearning and sadness and the pull of addiction, you could never really know why someone like Robin Williams could have taken his own life. I find solace in the idea that he came to do his job and then he went home. And what a wonderful job he did.
“It’s the purity, is the piety, is the purpose, is the projection, is the protection of that self-elevated exalted self with which God, hand and will, is projected in every deed of ours. Therefore, please understand we who live through marriage, through happiness, through sadness, everything, we always sing the song of Anand. That’s the Song of Bliss. There is not a one congregation which has not ended up in a feast, whether it is a marriage, whether it is a death or a departure is a sadness or in happiness. Why? We do believe these are the duties and there’s no beauty in life if the duty is not performed well, done well and done in good faith. It is my prayer here and to those who are in Los Angeles going through the rain and sweat and figuring out whether you will ever see a clear sky or not may understand as weather changes rains come so is the sunshine, earthquake comes and so is the stability. It’s all mental. Life and death is a pure cycle of shadow and light and man as only in prayer understands each day lived is a great fullness in gratitude. With that attitude keep proceeding and be blessed. May God be with all in His self within yourself and for yourself forever. ” – Yogi Bhajan, 1/15/95
A story in India tells of an old yogi who spent his life in the mountains in meditation. He had achieved many sidhis or powers through his devotion and practice, but felt that after it all, something was missing. He had heard of an old and wise sage who lived in the real world but yet still practiced deep meditation with his community. When the two finally met, the yogi humbly asked this Teacher to help him to understand how to live life to the fullest. The Teacher replied “leave your body and be reborn in my family. When you are reborn in my family , then I will teach you how to live”. The old yogi accepted the Teacher’s command and later that day, consciously left his body. Many months later, the wife of the Teacher’s son gave birth to a baby boy. The presence of the yogi’s soul in his grandson was recognized immediately by the Teacher and he asked that the boy be brought into his presence. When the baby was presented to him, the Teacher smiled and sang a song.
The Teacher in this story was Guru Amar Das, the third master of the Sikhs and the song he sang to teach the reincarnated yogi how to live his life is the Anand Sahib also known as The Song of Bliss. The purpose of the Anand Sahib is to help us to develop the capacity to live in the world and not lose touch with our Divine nature. We experience sadness and suffering when we chase fantasies and dreams in our minds instead of seeking the bliss within. It’s very easy to get caught up in seeking happiness from without but the true source of happiness is always inside ourselves. Anand Sahib provides 40 lessons delivered in 40 verses which guide a person from birth through their 40th year. The idea is that during this developmental period, a person who learns these lessons will experience Bliss naturally.
What is Bliss? It is happiness despite all odds. “It is serving those who have slandered you, being kind to those who are cruel to you. Being conscious with those who are arrogantly ignorant, being smiling to those who are after your blood. Just remember you have been given life by the hand of God and you live by the will of God. You shall die at his kindness, we who believe in deathlessness never have died we have just come to serve do our job and we go home.” -paraphrased from Yogi Bhajan
I have been listening to versions of Song of Bliss and Anand Sahib a lot lately because I find that it pulls energy UP. It makes me feel better. It gives one strength against all odds, gives one peace in turbulent times. It takes away the sadness and brings happiness and joy. It helps me to realize that life and death are two sides of the same coin, a cycle of shadow and light, and that each breath is a gift. Here is the 1973 version of Song of Bliss by the Khalsa String Band adapted from a translation of the first stanza of Anand Sahib. Yogi Bhajan said that you can meditate on Anand Sahib in its entirety or on a portion of it. He said “Follow its words. Ask yourself questions. Befriend it. Practice it and live it. You will realize what you have and what Guru Amar Das gave you as the best gift.”
I am in ecstasy, O my mother, for I have found my True Guru.
I have found the True Guru, with intuitive ease, and my mind resounds with the melodies of bliss.
The jeweled melodies and their related celestial harmonies have come to sing divine hymns.
Singing divine hymns, the Lord is enshrined within the mind.
Says Nanak, I am in ecstasy, for I have found my True Guru.
Rest in Peace, Robin – you went where no man had gone before… and we are all so grateful to you for that.