In an old makeshift South African schoolroom, crowded with 20 HIV-stricken small children and teeming with the smell of chronic open wounds and a listless whimpering, Subagh Singh Khalsa crouched near the highchair of a 4-year-old girl who looked no older than a year-and-a-half, who could not lift up her head, and began to meditate.
“It certainly didn’t cure her, but it led to a moment of quiet joy that we shared,” Khalsa said. “At the end she finally looked up and smiled at me.”
Khalsa said the moment has followed him through the decades and continents, a reminder of the healing power of meditation, that his life’s work has meaning. This week for the Mystic Heart Meditation Program, Khalsa will draw further on his experiences in South Africa to help Chautauquans realize the healing power of meditation. Classes will be held at the Main Gate Welcome Center 7:15 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday, and Khalsa will co-teach seminars at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday titled “Heart Practice and Inner Healing: Buddhist Loving-Kindness Meditation” and “Meditation as Healing for Self and Others” in the Hall of Missions.
Peace, Khalsa said, is all most people want. Yet, people often think they can find it by eliminating problems in their lives, acquiring more material possessions or achieving personal goals. That is misguided, Khalsa said. Arguing that satisfying ego-driven goals gave him no long-lasting satisfaction, he said he was only able to find peace by looking for what was broken in himself.
“There is a way of meditating that uncovers what is false: the barriers to love,” Khalsa said. “It is not, I find, necessary to seek for what is true but it is necessary for me to seek what is false and heal that. When I do, there is a possibility of entering into real relations with others, relations based on love.”
It’s the type of relation Khalsa found with the South African toddler and one he has formed many times over in 25 years teaching meditation across the globe. Before that, as a dentist, he found the meditation can have physical healing effects, helping people deal with ailments like chronic pain.
Employing a range of techniques, Khalsa hopes to form those relations with Chautauquans, too.
“It is always a delight to practice in these ways with others,” Khalsa said.