In less than two months, I will be turning 44. Yogi Bhajan once said that after 44, money doesn’t work anymore. The earthly realm becomes less attractive and important. 44 is the double-cup of prayer. What works after 44 is a person’s wisdom.

I have been watching myself these last few months processing a lifetime of memories. What it means to be a woman. What it means to be spiritual. What it means to not “fit in” to the world around you. Yet, somehow manage to find a place in it, anyway. My experience of life is filled with a profound contradiction. I know that I live in a world where there is so much war, hunger and pain. Yet somehow my own life has been incredibly peaceful, blessed, and prosperous. Overflowing with opportunities to explore the unlimited possibilities of the human potential.

What would it take for that prosperous, blessed and unlimited possibility to exist in more places than it exists now? I really believe that change begins with women.

From the time a woman is born, she is bombarded with images and stories that try to shape her concept of who she is. The cultural wars that are playing out in US politics right now focus so much on women because how a woman acts and what she believes ultimately defines what a culture is. For thousands of years, cultures have been tribal, or geo-political or religious in nature. A “Greek Christian” or a “Russian Orthodox Jew” or a “Navajo Indian.” But those definitions are not carried from one generation to the next because of men. The self-concept of the woman – how she identifies herself, what she believes and what her values are – that is what imprints the future generations. In mothering lives the future of the human race.

It is no wonder, then, that so many cultures try to control how a woman sees herself, or what a woman thinks about herself. By forcing a definition of what it mean to be “a woman” upon her, it is much more likely that she will go along with what has existed before. But those cultural imperatives never give her a chance to just go within and touch the authentic, genuine being that is her soul, her spirit and her birthright.

How much different would the world look if every daughter had the chance to just discover her Self, instead of being told what a woman is, what a woman is not, and what a woman should and should not do.

During the journey of these almost 44 years, I have made my share of mistakes. Some of them heart-breaking. But when I go back and self-reflect, it is shocking to see that my deepest sensitivity was always right. I never had the wrong answer about what to do in a situation. There were simply times when I couldn’t follow the quiet, subtle voice of my own being. In those moments, maybe I didn’t have enough support from my friends or family to listen to myself. Or maybe I didn’t have the inner strength to do what my spirit was calling me to do. Yet, the answers were always there – inside of me.

This, for me, is the greatest gem of wisdom that I have mined from the experience of my life so far. Even as a child, my sensitivity worked on my behalf. The pain in my life happened because I wasn’t trained to listen to it, trust it and flow with it.

It is the greatest irony and tragedy that the human being – the being with the mind of light – has the possibility to create heaven on the earth. And yet chooses to create war, heart-ache, poverty and pain. I know that I have no power to control people’s choices. But every woman has the power to create a different imprint – on her family, her society and her children. That different imprint begins when a woman belongs to her Self first. Before she belongs to any religion. Before she belongs to any culture, history or tradition. When we can just belong to that sensitive, subtle voice that lives within, to the spirit that transcends time, space and definition – then we have a chance to truly elevate the world.

May you be blessed to discover the answers that have been in you all along. And may you surround yourself with people who encourage you to live in the light of that truth.

With Divine Light.

Yours humbly,

Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa

The “I Am a Woman” Reader contains many of Yogi Bhajan’s lectures to women.

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