Guru Dev Singh, master of Sat Nam Rasayan, once defined meditation as the meeting of love and pain. The same could be said of seva.
What comes first is the discomfort. In fact, that is what defines seva. Seva is not supposed to be all nice, beautiful or amazing. All of those things come at the end, when the seva is over, the person renewed and the subconscious cleansed.
In the meantime you have to deal with the discomfort and challenge, face it and overcome it. That is what MPA is about and that is why, as an integral part of our program, we dare to include 40 days of Parkarma Seva at the Golden Temple.
Right now our students and some of our staff get up every day at 2:00 A.M., get on the bus at 2:30, arrive at the Golden Temple at 3:00, participate in the cleaning of the Golden Temple Parkarma until 4:15 and then go back to school at 4:45. And this goes on for 40 days. We started on October 15th and we will be done on November 23rd.
However, at some point, we stop counting the days because it doesn’t matter anymore. The weight of the experience just overcomes the entire being and, as in the process of meditation, time and space stop being points of reference.
What remain are gestures, sensations: the coldness of the air freezing your neck in the very early morning, the touch of the water on the marbled floor of the Golden Temple, the pressure of your arm trying to penetrate the water to fill up the heavy bucket, the pain in your lower back when you try to stand up with one bucket in each hand.
What also remain are strange impressions, like a dream. The light, for example, omnipresent in the night, sometimes too bright, sometimes too blue, creating fantastic settings where everything becomes possible. The water, too, scooped, splashed, pushed and brushed and mysteriously ending up drawing fantastic maps on the smooth floor, reflecting our souls.
And over all of the discomfort reigns a feeling of peace. Not the type of peace that we could naively imagine when we think of a sacred place.
Remains the peace of a mind that finally goes silent in the midst of the ballet of people coming and going in the night.