Working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) absorbs me both mind and soul. The ICU is not only a sanctuary for those who are critically ill; it is my tent within the camp of caring for others. It has propagated my desire to capture the spirit of Khalsa: to be selfless, noble, and brave while in constant meditation of Waheguru. I am a strong, spirited and optimistic soldier protecting the sick. My ego, however, is tamed as I see Waheguru’s expression in every thought, decision, and action that is made by both myself and others. Although my attending may believe otherwise, I kindly obey the orders of my guru to assist in both the processes of restoration and death.

The ICU can be terrifying and stressful to both young doctors and patients alike, yet it is a place where miracles often happen and it always manages to tug at my Sikhi strings without fail. I feel the rhythm of Khalsa enrapture my senses when I enter the unit. I hear it bounding against me as I make my rounds through each patient’s room. I hear it in the beeps of the telemetry monitors and ventilators. I hear it permeate through the chaotic motions of a resuscitation. I hear it softly emerge behind conversations of end-of-life care. I hear it shout gloriously when a person leaves the ICU alive and well.

“When the Khalsa runs, he is in trance. On the bed of thorns, he lies on roses. Outside is immaterial; it is the aim of life that matters. The Khalsa is he who has found the centre of life and has enshrined God in the temple of his heart. The Khalsa looks at the world from a supreme height, blessing all, helping all, loving all, with his beautiful looks from the inner self of all life.”1

I often yearn to leave my Sahajdhari status and live as a Khalsa, and it usually reaches its zenith when I’m in the ICU. Recently, however, I have noticed the rhythm of Khalsa pulsating within my consciousness even when I’m outside of the ICU. I remember singing “we are the Khalsa, mighty mighty Khalsa” when I was a child and wondering whether a modern Sikh could truly invoke Khalsa and live in a similar fashion. Funny how opinions change over time. Perhaps feeling the rhythm inside oneself is the first step to realization of its possibility.

1 Creation and the Purpose of Khalsa, Puran Singh

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