by Sharan Virk
Do you ever wonder what happens after we die, or if God really exists, or the common question, “What is the meaning of life”? I think at some point in most people’s lives, these questions come to mind. I reached this point after the death of my parents. That’s when my spiritual journey began.
I grew up in England. I am the youngest of four siblings. My parents had me late in life (I was probably an accident!). I don’t really remember ever having lived with my siblings as my sister got married when I was just a year old. My other sister and brother were away at university, so it was always just “the three of us”: my mum, dad and me. My parents doted on me, being the baby of the family I was quite spoiled, and my childhood was filled with love.
At the age of 22, I married a wonderful man who brought me to Canada. He is an electrical engineer and came to Canada through his work. We had two beautiful children, a boy, then a girl. I loved living in Canada, but I missed my parents terribly and worried as they became older and frailer.
In 1995, my mother died of a heart attack. I immediately flew back to England for the funeral. Through my grief, I stood there looking at my mother in her coffin. I touched her face and kissed her cheek; my final goodbye. Her body was so cold and solid; an empty shell. Questions kept looming in my mind, “Where are you? Where did you go? You couldn’t have just vanished!”
I have a childhood memory of when I was really small of sitting in my mother’s lap with my face buried in her chest, her warmth and her smell giving me comfort. Now here she is cold, solid like a piece of wood, and empty. A few years later, my father died and I found myself asking the same questions and so began my somewhat distorted spiritual journey.
My mother followed the Sikh faith, but never really pushed it on me. My father was also Sikh, but was non-practicing. He never had anything good to say about the temple clergy. He thought they were all a bunch of crooks; always after money! I think his issue was more with the institution rather than with the faith. I started reading books like “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsh. I found them to be very insightful and not geared to any one particular religion. Some things started to make sense to me. For example, why does evil exist? Answer: If there is no evil, how would know what good is? You cannot have one without the other. Without the bad, we would not be able to recognize goodness. Well, anyway, it made sense to me! I continued reading other spiritual books, which I found to be insightful. I didn’t want to be focused on any one particular religion, but curiosity got the better of me.
My favourite time of year has always been Christmas. In England, the school I attended was a Christian school. In the 70s most of the schools in England were Christian. We said the Lord’s Prayer each morning and our curriculum included scripture. I remember one year I was in a nativity play, I wanted to be an angel, but ended up being a shepherd. I had to wear a white sheet tied at the waist with a rope-like belt and a false beard. That was my first active exposure to Christianity.
Many years later, a friend of mine was also searching for spiritual enlightenment and asked me to join her in some bible study sessions. It didn’t sound very thrilling, but I did what I thought a good friend should do and I accompanied her. I began to feel drawn to the church. I’m not sure if it was because of the wonderful people I met, or if the faith really meant something to me. I began to envision the image of Jesus whenever I felt lost or down.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was early detection and I was very lucky. After some treatment and five years of taking medication, I was cancer-free. However, during the early stages of my diagnosis, it was not known how far the cancer had spread, and there was a period of time when I had to wait for test results. I felt afraid and tried to prepare myself for the worst possible outcome. I found myself saying prayers, and in my mind’s eye talking to Jesus. It gave me some comfort and so I decided this is the right spiritual path for me.
I attended church regularly for a few years. I reached a point where I began to find the sermons boring and not as meaningful to me. Too many prayers became unanswered, the image of Jesus became less powerful to me, and eventually, I fell away. I don’t really know why I had begun to lose faith, or what had changed me. Perhaps, I felt the need to be more open-minded.
In the Christian faith, it is believed that Jesus is God. Not a profit or a messenger, but God. I still believe this, but in a different way. I’ve come to realize that people have different definitions of what they believe to be God. For some, it’s an old man with a long white beard, for some it’s Jesus, and for some, it’s a kind of “higher power” or energy. I believe God is pure love.
If you take away everything that is materialistic, that is most of everything that is earthly, there would be no hatred, jealousy, resentment, ego, low self-esteem, fear, or vanity. If you remove all these earthly things, all you would be left with is pure love. That is our natural state of being. To me, that is what God is. To me, God is pure love. Jesus is pure love, so in that sense he is God. I believe that every human being possesses that state of pure love. It’s all the outside (earthly) influences that change our natural state of being. To me, life is about harnessing that natural state of being as much as we can while we live our lives on this earth.
Recently I watched a show on TV to do with quantum physics. I don’t begin to understand the complexities of quantum physics, but this show talked about energy fields in the universe. It was fascinating to me, and it made me think that perhaps our deceased loved ones are all part of this energy. Perhaps after you leave this earth you return to your natural state of being, which is pure love in a place where time does not exist; therefore, perhaps we even get to meet our ancestors as time only exists on earth. Perhaps the key to a happy life is to have happy positive thoughts because the energy you send out into the universe is the energy that comes back to you.
Life is a journey of constantly learning. As my life goes on, I find my thoughts and beliefs change with life experiences. No one really knows what waits for us. I guess one day we will find out.
by Sharan Virk
This post is not meant to offend anyone or bash any faith or religion. I am just touching on my own, personal, journey through spiritualism. If you have any positive comments or questions, please leave them below!