I have not had an alcoholic drink, I have not used any recreational drugs since 9 January 1996 and I have not used any tobacco since 10 January 1996. I started on the Sikh path on 19 January 1996 and took Amrit (was initiated in the order of the Khalsa) on 14 July 1996.
Your copper jubilee in Dutch tradition is when you have for instance been working for the same boss for 12½ years. I am now more than 12½ years away from January 1996, and I am only a couple of months away from being a Khalsa for 12½ years.
If I talk in terms of being with the same boss than I have recognised God as my only real boss for the required period. I have also been trying to get nearer to the Groom, the Paramatma for 12½ year.
I want to talk to you about how I was liberated from my addictions. It is difficult to share this with people who have not been through this process. The best way to explain it is to use the term applied by Guru Gobind Singh : I have been liberated of the desire to use any type of drug.
I was not the sort of drinker that you find sitting on park benches with a bottle of cheap plonk or cider. I have never injected myself with anything. I have always kept eating, and even mostly ate quite healthily. But in spite of being in some kind of control, ultimately the drugs and drink were in control. If I did not get my daily dose I would be very uncomfortable.
In Amritsar in 1996 it took me about three months and loads of help from God to overcome my addictions. But from the day I started on this path I started feeling happier, started to have inner peace even when my body was still crying out for alcohol, drugs and nicotine.
God also helped me to overcome my biggest problem that dated back to my early adulthood when my wife died of a heroin overdose, which left me with a mixture of anger and guilt feelings. Anger because she preferred a junkie and heroin over me, guilt because I introduced her to the junkie and to a lifestyle where drug taking was the norm.
I can now talk or write about this quite easily and accept my responsibility, while realising that it was her decision to go with the junkie, not mine. I know that being depressed over this does not do anybody any good, and that my only real option is to go forward on the Guru’s path.
This summer I went through a difficult and challenging period. I am not claiming that I got everything right, but putting my trust in God I faced the challenges and came out feeling more committed to Guru’s way. Guru’s way is not easy, but Guru’s way is wonderful, even when we make mistakes.