Monday, December 11, 2006

Here is a personal essay from Ariel, Grade 12:


Everything is blank; a tranquil blackness. Within this serene state, I am completely untouched: a process of rejuvenation. It’s soft in this place, quiet, dark, uneventful, brief. Sleeping for me is not common. I am awakened by the intruding melody of the ring tone on my mobile phone; a tune that will forever trigger the familiar feel of unwillingness conquered: getting my ass up for Sadhana. Torn from the security that my warmly loving comforter never fails to give me, up and out I go into the unwelcome bitter cold darkness of my room. Immediately, my skin tightens. I absent-mindedly brush my teeth, dress myself, pop on my chapals and off I go.

The night Jugat made the announcement that the annual MPA 40-day-Sadhana was going to be the notorious “bowing Jaap Sahib,” something shifted in me. A commitment was involuntarily made. Amongst all the whining and mumbled objections of our uneasy formation, I whole-heartedly promised that there was nothing that could prevent me from fully engaging myself in every aspect of the challenge.

I sit down in my usual spot: behind the Pulki. Sleep is still in my eyes and everything in my body is telling me that I don’t want to be there. I don’t. We sit up to tune in and I join with partial effort. My voice is scratchy and Jugat’s pitch is far too high. We begin our regular yoga exercises as a small attempt to wake everybody up. They seem too short and despite my efforts, my disinclination to be there still lingers. Inevitably, I hear the words I’d been dreading: “Everybody prepare for the bowing.” ‘Such a strange way to say it,’ I think. ‘It sounds like a death sentence or a punishment.’ Regardless of my reluctance, I come sitting on my heels, ready to begin. The music starts, and with the first bow, everything changes. My lack of enthusiasm: non-existent.

As I adhere to the stream of MPA students who are all at once leaving our broken formation and impatiently crowding the entrance to the Gurudwara, I began to wonder what this Sadhana would do for me. I had an unclear idea of the benefits of Jaap Sahib and I vaguely remember Jugat mentioning it once in class. I acknowledge my obedient adherence to the Sadhana and my eagerness to be contained within a discipline. I realize that this is not a quality that I always had.
I feel the cooling droplets of sweat begin to trickle down the smooth of my face and with every bow to the repetitive beat of the probing music, I question why I might ever voluntarily submit myself to such a slicing pain. My mind is inundated with the voice of the rhythmic recitation and with every pulse of the music, a rush of blissful pain courses throughout and into every crevice of my mind, body, and soul. Within every moment, I feel tested and challenged. Every doubt in my mind is flooded by my incontestable and absolute understanding that I will stand victorious over all my skepticism. Nothing can stop me, not even the deepest pain. I refuse to let myself miss even one bow. Just when I think there’s only a hairline trace of my strength left, I perfect everything and suddenly that inkling of hope transforms into a sea of energy that I know will keep me going. The lights are dimmed and the air is thick with devotion; with perseverance. I feel inexhaustible.

It’s an incredibly peculiar thing: a congregation of long-haired teens at 4:30 in the a.m. simultaneously bowing their heads to the beat of a strangely-toned, rhythmic prayer. I often think about what I might be like if I never came to Miri Piri Academy and how much I’ve changed. Much of it seems very unclear to me and impossible to pinpoint. Despite my lack of clarity on the subject, I know for sure one thing that’s changed: I’ve reinforced my ability, through endurance and fortitude, to push through challenges. I have never in my life felt so focused, disciplined, and self-regulated. For this, I can only credit one thing: Sadhana.

Here is some work from the Grade 9 Punjabi History class about the life of Banda Singh Bahadur.


Here are three stages of a acrylic painting by Harijot Singh

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Here is a personal essay from Sat Mandir Singh, Grade 12:

The Beggar Boy

A few weeks ago, during a so-far uneventful G.T. trip, I was walking along, minding my own business, when I suddenly felt a tug on the side of my chola. I looked down and saw a scrappy-looking beggar boy about seven or eight years old staring up at me, hand outstretched. He looked pitiful. He had long, greasy hair that was draped sloppily over his face and almost concealed his big, round eyes, which portrayed an emotion of deep sorrow. A tattered hemp shirt that was much too small for him was pulled as far as it would go over a cavity of a stomach which indented his skeletal frame. Covering his twig-like legs was a pair of old, hand-me-down trousers that were torn and faded from generations of use. His feet were shoeless and calloused from many years of walking barefoot through the rough streets of Amritsar . From head to toe, he was covered in a thick coat of dirt and grime that darkened and splotched his skin.

He was repulsive, and he’d touched me! I felt contaminated. I quickly turned and hurried back up the street. Pausing at a nearby shop, I bought an ice cream, thinking it might help purge my mind of the dirty little boy. It didn’t. I kept thinking about those big, sad eyes staring up at me. Why did he make me feel so guilty? I wasn’t responsible for putting him on the street, for forcing him to beg. I hadn’t hurt him… but I hadn’t helped him either. He was in need, but instead of feeling sympathy for him, I felt disgust, as if he didn’t have feelings, as if he weren’t human. I was angry with myself. How could I have brushed him off so easily, without a second thought, as if he were some insect crawling up my leg?

I finished the ice cream bar, bought a second for later, and continued on up the street. About a hundred feet away, I came to a second shop. The storefront was packed with MPA students, all matching in their blue cholas with miniature adi shaktis patched onto the sides. Each one had a five or a ten or a twenty rupee note in his or her hand and was jabbing it at the men behind the counter, hoping to catch their attention so that THEY would be first to be served. I realized how awfully rude this was and made a mental note to myself to be a little more respectful in the future.

I turned away from the shop and continued on my journey up the street. I heard someone call out my name. Still walking, I looked back over my shoulder to see what he wanted. I never found out. Just after I had turned around, my legs hit into something and I had to stumble forward to prevent myself from falling. Startled, I looked down and standing there before me was the little beggar boy, in exactly the same position with his arm outstretched, palm cupped, staring.

My first thoughts were similar to the ones I had had during our previous encounter, but I soon silenced my mind and took control. Remembering the ice cream bar in my pocket, I took it out and handed it to him. His eyes instantly illuminated, and he smiled so widely that I could see tops of his gums. In the blink of an eye he had the ice cream out of its wrapper and into his mouth.

A few seconds later, I was surrounded by an entire posse of children, all looking at me hopefully. I turned back to the shop, ordered ten more ice creams, and began handing them out. The rest of the children’s reactions were similar to that of the first. One by one they took their treat gratefully, being extremely careful not to drop it. Then they slowly licked away, savoring every moment. When they finished they skipped away, rejuvenated and content. As I watched them go, I realized how such a small sacrifice on my part could make such a large impact on others less fortunate.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A poem about meditation from Gurusurya Kaur, Grade 11:


My breath slows
The pain intensifies
I can feel the sweat tickle my leg
as it drips from the crease on the back of my knees
my left ankle
my arm
Twitching, almost feels detached from my body.
I keep telling myself don’t think about it
keep up
you made a commitment to make it to the end
until the timer goes off
every bit of your body tenses
Then you release you put your arms down
and the past eleven minutes makes sense
The whole time you were questioning
What am I doing?
Why am I doing this?
it now makes sense
you do it because you made a commitment in the beginning
that you would not give up.
Your body is filled with a feeling of freeness
you feel light
like you are almost floating
you could sit there for hours.
your mind is thinking everything
and nothing, at the same time.

My life is a hard meditation
you keep your arms up your whole life
you don’t always know why
sometimes it’s harder than others
you always question why you’re doing it,
what it means to you
you just have to trust.
I trust
That since I have made that commitment in the beginning
I will not give up
when I finally inhale at the end of my life
I will know why I did it
It will all make sense
I trust that holding my self up
even when it is the hardest ever
will bring a feeling of true liberation.

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