Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sex and the Spiritual Warrior

One of the things I agreed to when I received "Amrit" (Sikh Vows) last year was to remain celibate. In Sikhism "celibate" is having sex with your spouse, or not at all.

To be honest, since I got married the week before I was "baptized", it seemed like I was getting off pretty easy. There are a few other stipulations that I agreed to, but the most major one—in my view anyway—was already taken care of. I was simply reiterating my vow to my husband to be faithful.

Almost a year later, I am realizing that celibacy is about much more than having or not having intercourse...

Pre-Amble: I Don't Think Sex Is Bad
Let's get real. We are all sacred beings, having come to Earth by the grace of Cosmic Oneness, the egg of our mother and the sperm of our father. Sex creates miracles like you and me!

What I have learned from Kundalini Yoga, however, is that casual sex—with short-term partners or people whom we have not energetically or literally committed to—is actually a depleting experience.  Yogic science aside, is this really a surprising statement?

Anyway, this blog is not about how "sinful" sex is. It is a reflection on why celibacy (i.e. fidelity to a spouse or no sex at all) is part of being a Spiritual Warrior.


Discipline and Commitment

Celibacy, as agreed to in the Amrit ceremony is about making a commitment and living up to that commitment. No one can force you to make this decision... and I would be wary of anyone who tried. You can't push someone down the aisle and expect the marriage to stick, right? Same goes here. It has to be an internally-motivated decision.

So, why would anyone be so crazy?


Sacred Space

Not only can it be considered a challenging sadhana, choosing celibacy creates a boundary around a most sacred space—our own body. In my opinion, not enough emphasis is placed on this rather important point in our culture. Sex has been advertised as a basic human need, like food or shelter, when it seems to me that having meaningless sex is like drinking salt water—a similar consistency to water, but hardly hydrating.

Flash back to my past when I was eating nothing but raw food and doing hatha yoga daily; I would have screamed if you had tried to "poison" me with a chemically treated orange. And yet, I had no issues with sleeping with someone whom I don't even talk to anymore. Strange, no? Years later I realize that toxicity comes in many forms.


A Tale of Two Abstinences 

It seems like there are two versions of abstinence:

1) "I abstain because my body is an altar."
2) "I abstain otherwise God (and everyone I know) will condemn me."

There might be other reasons people abstain that are along the continuum of 1 and 2. For example, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, fear of intimacy, body image issues, etc...

Basically though, if we are only doing something out of fear, that's seems to diametrically opposed to the idea of being a spiritual warrior. A spiritual warrior is guided by the light of God that dwells within them (i.e. the definition of "Khalsa" in Sikhism).  A spiritual warrior is not swayed by ever-changing popular opinions on spirituality, not does s/he live according to doctrine and ignore her/his own intuition.

I realize this is a heated topic, but it's something I think about sometimes... Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic.


Love,
Sirgun

Friday, September 28, 2012

Keepin' It Indie

I had previously said that I would do 2 weeks of fundraising through my website and then take it over to kickstarter.com

Last week I realized that my website fundraising was doing really well, and, as the old adage goes "IF IT WORKS, WHY FIX IT?"

The Pros of Going Indie:

1) Fewer Fees: While kickstarter is an exciting platform for getting our projects off the ground, it charges a not-so-small fee for its services: approx. 10% of what I raise! I would be paying $1,500 for my total goal of $15,000. Sheesh! Paypal only charges me about 2% per donation. 

2) Friendlier: I get to interact directly with YOU when you contribute! I can send a "thank you" email right back to you when I get the paypal receipt.

3) Faster: With paypal, as soon as you donate, we get to use the money. With kickstarter, we have to wait until the entire campaign is over + the time to process everyone's payments (usually a few weeks later). 

That seems like good enough reasons to stick with what I'm doing.

On October 2nd I will start Phase 2 of my CO-CREATION CAMPAIGN. The rewards will change slightly (because I wanted to reward with early contributors with something special... get the current "thank you package" before Monday!), but the principle will remain the same: if you would like to see this album come to be, please help support it.

I will be posting more videos and scratch tracks soon, so you can get a better idea of what you are pre-purchasing. 

Many blessings,
Sirgun

Onward and Upward

Sat Naam Dearest Friend,

The producer of my new album, Ram Dass, is leaving today. We finished all our pre-production in just 5 days! 

If you're not familiar with pre-production, we basically made a "sketch" of each song so Ram Dass has a structure to work with as he arranges and records the "real" instrumentations for the album. I do my final vocals in 2013... once I've given birth. (A lot of creation in 2012-2013!)

Here are some "Scenes" from the pre-production process...


and a cute version of "Rakhe Rakhanhar" we worked on... kind of Motown-y, huh?


Anyway, moving on...

We're making an album!

We've raised over $1,000 so far in pre-purchases. The creation of this album is entirely dependent on contributions from YOU, so if you feel so inspired, we invite you to pre-purchase the album for just $11 (there are other "reward" levels too).

If you'd like to help spread the word, please share the link sirgunkaur.com/newalbum

Easy, right?

In excitement and gratitude,
Sirgun

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thankful Thankful

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." - Thornton Wilder

This post is not about the one day a great we formally express our gratitude (i.e. Thanksgiving), but about this moment, in which I am truly grateful.

As of this moment, we have raised $304 towards the new album! 

The idea to do my funding in 2 stages was my way of getting the $15,000 price tag of my next album slightly reduced before launching a kickstarter campaign. 

It remains to be seen whether this will be confusing to people or not, but there you have it...

Kickstarter is super fun. I will launch my kickstarter campaign after October 1, when the pre-sales on my website have closed. 

Kickstarter is risky. I love that about it! You ask for a certain amount, and unless you raise the ENTIRE amount, you get nothing. What could be more thrilling?

Well, for the next 2 weeks, I will continue to pre-sell my album on my website. After that, I will announce the grand total YET TO BE RAISED and plunge into the world of REWARDS, BACKERS, and all the is KICKSTARTER.

In so much gratitude,
in so much love,
in so much light,
Sirgun Kaur Khalsa

What to get involved? Click here for more info.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Together, We Can Create this Album

Last year, Sat Darshan and I were able to release "The Music Within" for, and because of, YOU!

I have been asked several times when my new CD will be available... and here's the answer: Summer 2013! It will be my first solo kirtan album (yep, I'm going solo this time). 

You can participate in the co-creation as of today: I am accepting pre-orders and donations on my website. After October 1st, my kickstarter campaign will launch. The idea of doing this in two stages is to put a significant dent in the total amount for the kickstarter. It's more profitable for me to collect your contributions through my paypal than it is to do so through kickstarter (there are big fees). However, I LOVE kickstarter, because it puts the project on the map and it's an exciting thing to be part of. 

So, that's why it's two things... not one.

Early contributors (before Oct 1) will receive a special "thank you package" that will not be available on kickstarter.

For this music to take life, I am asking for your creative assistance... help me CO-CREATE this music!

This is what we were able to do together last time. This time it's going to be even better!


Humbly, 
Sirgun

Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Get What You Give

Giving back is an important part of my spiritual path. We call it dasvandh.

Dasvandh is the practice of giving 10% of your earnings "back to God." I like to think of it as giving 10% of my earnings back to the flow of abundance.

Everything comes from the same place and goes back to the same place. Trusting in that Universal law strengthens our faith, and simultaneously helps someone out in the process.

I like to think of my dasvandh money as a separate bank account. Spending it each month on worthwhile causes feels like a fun (and un-frivolous) shopping spree. I don't even think of the money as mine anymore.

Since I started this practice, I am more comfortable putting out my own cause, because I know that giving feels really good.

Fundraising for my new album starts tomorrow.

Through my own experience, I've learned that the expression "we get what we give" is for real.

Besides the energetic "feel good" someone may get from pre-purchasing my new album, I have a few additional prizes to offer you for your generosity.

To find out more about my fundraising campaign, click here. The first step will begin tomorrow—September 17.

Two weeks later, on October 1st, fundraising through my website will end. I will then announce how much more I have to raise on kickstarter.... hopefully we will put a big dent in the total goal amount ($15,000)!

Making this album means a lot of me. These sacred vibrations have a life of their own—beyond anything I could accomplish through my voice alone. Chanting them makes me available to the ecstatic flow of life some call God, some call Waheguru. They elevate me.

Bringing this experience to others has become a passion for me. I think the more we flood the music market with kirtan, the more healing we can bring to this planet. The more we get people to chant these mantras, to connect to their own soul, the more peace we can create.

Thank you in advance for anything you contribute.


In love, faith, and deep gratitude,

Sirgun Kaur Khalsa

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back from the Desert Bhav



I have worked for Bhakti Fest since its conception in 2009. I volunteered my first year and got hired swiftly after. It has been one of the most challenging, and simultaneously rewarding, undertakings of my adult life. From this festival, an entire community of yogis from different traditions has emerged. I have made lifelong friends, learned to create boundaries and enforce rules, practiced patience... 

While I know the "back end" of the festival well—having coordinated for 5 festivals now—I have been slowly introduced to the festival in a creative capacity. 

You'd think as a singer I would have requested a kirtan slot from day one. Actually, I never imagined I would be a Bhakti Fest artist. While I have been invited to sing background vocals for several artists over the years, I never asked for a set of my own. I was quite taken aback when the producers offered me a modest slot in 2011... and again when I was put on the 2012 schedule. 

Here are a couple of excerpts from the Hanuman Stage on Sunday, September 9, 2012. I feel very blessed to have been asked. 

Bhakti Fest 2012 - a collage of my set

Thank you to Sat Kartar for coming all the way out to sing with me. Thank you Philipo Franchini, Corey Sokoloff, Siri Baldeep Kaur, and Mejda Das for your musical support. 


Bhakti Fest 2012 - "Mera Man Lochai"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Guru Ram Das


Guru Guru Wahe Guru ~ * ~ Guru Ram Das Guru

One of the amazing thing about mantras is that you can keep writing new versions of them. Kundalini Yoga classes, morning sadhana groups, and meditation circles will always need another version of this powerful chant in particular: Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru.

Unlike many of the mantras we use in Kundalini Yoga, this one is not all that ancient. It came to Yogi Bhajan from his etheric teacher (Guru Ram Das) when powerful protection was needed. 

It is one of my favorites.

Blessings,
Sirgun

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