Sada Simran Singh Khalsa, beloved husband, tireless teacher, and compassionate friend to so very many, transitioned to the infinite after an arduous journey with Covid-19 at 4:30am on October 1, 2020. While we celebrate the liberation of his spirit, those of us left behind mourn him and, more importantly, honor and thank him for teaching us and blessing our lives.
Born John Burke Suzick, Sada Simran was raised in Renton, Washington by his parents John and Frances (d. 2011) Suzick along with his four sisters, Margie, MaryAnne, Jane, and Nancy. His father, now 99 years old, was the football coach for Renton High School. As the Team’s “ball boy”, everyone knew Sada Simran and he was given the privilege of running out on the field with the team. He often shared vivid memories of how much he loved entering the stadium with the band playing, and feeling the energy of the crowd. One of his fondest childhood memories was a cross-country road trip with his whole family packed into a camper van. He loved being outdoors! On this particular trip, he recalled the love and effort his mother put in to making the experience so special for the kids. They stopped at national parks and beautiful spots on the side of the road for picnics, and enjoyed singalongs while in the car, their favorite song was “On Our way to San Jose”.
Sada Simran graduated from Seattle Prep High School in 1970 and then attended Western Washington University. In his 20’s, his destiny came into sharper focus with three events. First, a good friend wrote a paper about living at an ashram. The second, was another friend who wrote a paper about “kundalini yoga.” The third, was when he signed up for a kundalini yoga class through the experimental college at the University of Washington. Sada Simran was inspired by the teacher’s energetic presence and immediately realized that his own destiny would be to become an extraordinary, joyful and radiant teacher of Kundalini Yoga.
In 1976, at 24, he set out to pursue his spiritual journey and headed to California. As he cruised down the coast blasting the Rolling Stones, he contemplated this next stage of his life. As he arrived at his Ashram in LA, he was ready to devote himself to a life of service and leave behind the negative habits he had developed in his youth. On his first morning, he woke up to piles of potatoes, garlic, onions and ginger that needed to be peeled and chopped for the ashram’s kitchen. He wondered what he had gotten into, however, his father’s example of service to community was a solid base for a life of humility and devotion. It was just days into ashram living that Sada Simran learned of the spiritual teacher that would become his for life, Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji.
“When I was young… I was searching to be somebody… my teacher reminded me that what I really want to do… is to find myself” – Sada Simran Singh
He was a direct student of Harbhajan Singh Khalsa for 27 years. It started with three years of chanting the Guru Ram Das mantra, which was instrumental in driving positive change in his life. He also operated businesses within the organization, including the Yoga West Studio in Los Angeles. In the early years, at a Winter Solstice event in Florida, Sada Simran received his spiritual name: Sada Simran Singh (the one who always meditates on the name of God). For Sada Simran, it wasn’t just a name: it was a way of life.
After his dear teacher’s death in 2004, Sada Simran needed to make a change. He eventually moved back to Seattle to reconnect with his family, and married his high school sweetheart, Cindi Johnson. Sada Simran was able to make new memories with his mother Frances before her passing. He and his father remained very close, talking on the phone daily and watching sporting games together. His four grandchildren Kaily, Brooklyn, Lina and Jakey were the lights of his life! You could often find him playing games, reading books, and – Sada Simran’s favorite – dancing with the kids. He loved to make them laugh, and could talk to them for hours. Because of his belly and beard, the kids called him “Sada Claus.” All these moments and experiences with his family, new and old, opened his heart in new and profound ways.
Coming to Seattle allowed Sada Simran to expand his Kundalini teachings to a new community of students. A series of synchronicities were the genesis that led to the launch of Guru Gayatri studio in 2012. Cindi had taken a class at Unity Church and suggested their going together. He was hesitant to go, but when she said a swami had spoken the week before, he agreed. There, he was looking at the different altars in the sanctuary and saw one for the Sikh founder, Guru Nanak: immediately, he knew he was in the right place. A week later, the minister, Richard Levy, met him and simply said, “We’ve been waiting for you.” It was magic. Thus, Sada Simran and Cindi started Guru Gayatri Yoga and Meditation studio with Kundalini Yoga classes in the chapel of Unity Church. Those first classes at Unity Church only had a few people. Cindi dutifully wrote down the names of the students and then prayed aloud for them when they got home. Sada Simran asked her why she was praying for them. She replied, “I’m praying they come back!” They did! And the studio grew each year. Cindi and Sada Simran were a great team, her the business mind with a friendly smile to greet students, and him the brilliant teacher. He would often say “Cindi does all of the work…I just get to show up!”
Sada Simran’s yoga classes were always welcoming…and always fun. A master teacher, one of his special gifts was his ability to make yoga and meditation so accessible, so possible. With Sada Simran, everything was possible. His classes included students from all walks of life and of all ages and all abilities. Students who could not sit on the floor sat in chairs. All we needed to do was breathe. Just breathe…deeply. And for those who wanted to try a little bit more, his gentle encouragement, indescribable laughter, and transcendent joie de vivre helped us extend long- hold poses for just one more second. The highlight of many classes was the moment when he played the gong. A natural sound healer, the ethereal vibration of his earth gong took us to a place of deep relaxation and healing. What began as fun ended up touching us deeply. His classes were always profound.
One of his greatest legacies is the number of students who will carry the Kundalini Yoga teachings forward. Together with Guru Singh Khalsa, he held four level one and four level two teacher training courses with almost 300 students graduating. He taught regular Kundalini Yoga classes, rebirthing workshops, and directed Men’s Camps. With a flair for staging, lighting, and sound, he also organized and led Solstice and Equinox yoga and sound healing celebrations, bringing together teachers, sound healers, and yogis from Seattle and beyond. These events, classes, and trainings created a network, a community of Kundalini yogis who will carry Guru Gayatri’s message forward and touch others, as he touched us. A true teacher, he met us exactly where we needed to be met and seen. He taught us patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance. He loved Guru Ram Das. He taught us how to trust the infinite and let go. Happily. He is still our teacher, even now.
Towards the end of his hospitalization with Covid-19, he shared the experience he had in the Cosmos, dancing among the stars, seeing his beloved teacher and understanding that we are all eternal points of awareness. Sada Simran left his physical body in the ambrosial hours of the full moon of October 1st. While on this earth he created a legacy of love, luminosity and wisdom that will thrive far into future. He was the Kundalini heartbeat of Seattle -- a touchstone to the direct lineage of these teachings as they were first brought to America.
He is deeply missed by his wife, his family, friends, students, the community of Seattle, and his global sanghat. We all have wonderfully warm memories of him: his stories, his amazing sense of humor, his compassion and his wisdom. It is impossible to describe the magnitude of his effect on so many lives in words. Let us share the gift he so freely gave to us and hold each other and honor him as we bid farewell and carry his legacy forward. The image we will forever hold of our dear Sada Simran is with arms spread, and heart open wide as he embraces the love and light of the universe, he is in bliss.
Akaal Akaal Akaal, dear Sada Simran.
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