Yogi Bhajan, Relent, Repent, Reinvent
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “Flexibility is the key to success in anything. If you want to get better at something, at anything, you must change,” the Siri Singh Sahib said to me one chilly evening in October of 1992. We were sitting under the recently built outdoor shelter at the ranch. Of course, his statement made total sense. I had heard him say this several times before, but this time it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s how it is with a spiritual teacher. He may say something a hundred times, but the hundredth is totally different than any other.
What prompted this response was that I had asked him, “What is the main necessary tool for advancing in spirituality?” There was more to his answer. He continued, “I’ve been blessed with the capacity to perpetually reinvent myself.” We were seated alone and I usually reserved these intimate moments for asking questions of him that were pressing for me. This was such an occasion.
All of a sudden it dawned upon me: our beloved teacher is always changing, just like we want to! But he does it constantly and he does it right on the spot. His changes are so subtle that they’re not usually recognizable (that’s why he’s the teacher), but they’re there never the less. I vowed to view myself from a position of flexibility. I began to practice watching every decision of consequence that I made. Was I sticking to my guns because of inertia, from habit, and/or was I able to change in accordance with what was best for me? Did I know what was best for me? Did I have the courage to challenge myself and go through the necessary pain which comes with change? His answer gave me the necessary tool to meet these challenges.
I needed to conquer any fear of the pain that comes with change. It didn’t matter whether I liked what I had to do; whether I agreed with what I had to do; or whatever anyone thought of what I was doing. In fact, the tougher it was for me to accept the necessary change, the better it was. The game of spirituality was on. Ultimately, it was, and is, a game of me within and against myself.
My thinking was this: just change when it’s necessary and everything will be great. I began practicing reinventing myself in accord with my teacher’s teachings and with our Guru’s instructions. They’re all the same at their essence. I loved and still love this challenge I had what I needed to succeed: I had the tool, I had the teacher, I had the Guru, and I had God Himself on my side. Why shouldn’t I go for the gold, take the risk, just keep up, have faith, and, eventually, succeed? I did, and I do. The greater I needed to change, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. Eventually less and less pain was involved because the joy in doing what was necessary in conquering the challenge was very satisfying. Finally, the pain turned to joy and I began it look forward to the next change.
It was my choice. I could block out all thoughts of the pain of change and rationalize or justify any need for flexibility. Or, I could look forward to changing in whatever manner was needed for my betterment. Yes, at this point, it’s all about me. Spirituality is a process, a progression, and at this point, it’s about getting better in order to serve my teacher, my Guru, and my God better and better. Through them, I serve humanity, but it all starts with gratitude and devotion to the teacher, the teacher who took me to the Guru, and the Guru who bestows the grace of God, the experience of an effortless existence. This is a life is blissfully enjoyed.
I write these stories for future students. Future generations of students will do much better than we have. This positive progression will continue for at least seven generations. It will take that long for a true, real, conscious community to preponderantly live a life of the discipline of our teachings, a life of a yogi, a life of Sikh Dharma, a life of joy. The Siri Singh Sahib Ji referred to this as tapasia. This concept refers to living a spiritual disciplined life where one lives a reality of God and Guru in an unlimited ever flowing way with never ending love and positivity. This is the prediction of our beloved teacher. We are the pioneers of this progression. Please, take part and keep up.
I write these stories about our teacher. I was blessed to have a bird’s eye view of his grace, and I want to share it with future students so that they might have a firsthand opportunity to truly follow our teacher’s teachings; teachings which I was blessed to see lived by our teacher.
I want to leave a legacy for these future students. I want to let them know how one sentence from our teacher can change a life dramatically. I remind you of this priceless gift: take advantage of the teachings, study the teachings, practice the teachings, and experience the teachings that our beloved teacher taught, lived and shared.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Leaders Are Breeders of The Self
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Leadership is an acquired taste both for the leader and his/her followers. I’ve made a study of it. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, travelled the world and met leaders from everywhere; from Prime Ministers to Presidents; from religious leaders to Popes. I was blessed to accompany him on many trips and thus also privileged to see a wide range of leaders with our Teacher.
And, of course, I had an up close look at our beloved teacher as well. He taught and lived many of the most difficult universal qualities of true leadership. I will talk about some of them below but know that he also embodied qualities that are never talked about! Many of his leadership qualities weren’t universal because so few possessed them: compassion to the point of self-risk, service 24-7, intuition beyond ordinary understanding, devotion that was real. Yes, I had a great frame of reference for my study.
I watch the news carefully and study what’s going on in the world. I hear and read about many leaders whom I haven’t met personally. I am so happy to recognize true leadership when it appears in the world. It’s easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, the true leaders from the wanna-bes.
Certain good traits are noticed in all leaders. The hype that comes with their celebrity is washed away in the light of a larger frame of reference. What’s left is pure truth. This truth is where true leadership springs. Through study I was able to see the truth clearly and see what universal values a true leader must possess. There’s more. Here’s what I’ve deduced.
A true leader must be mission driven, exclusive of all else. His dedication must be balanced by his vision, and the larger his vision, the grander the journey. A true leader understands that his mission must first be in service to his people. This is his/her vision; this is the mission; this is the only thing that matters.
Wait, there’s more to being a leader. A leader is only a leader over people who understand him. The communication must be so well heard that the followers are willing to sacrifice for this vision. Some, like Sikhs, are even gladly willing to surrender their life for this cause. Therefore, it’s important to speak to and be heard by as many people as possible. The goal is to serve humanity. So, a true leader inspires others to sacrifice for the cause he’s presenting. (See ToServeIsToSucceed.com.)
The next factor in being a true leader is one which probably doesn’t belong in the “necessary column”, but since I don’t know any true leaders without this quality, it belongs in. This quality is charisma. My definition of charisma is: Do whatever you do, but do it with confidence. This allows natural creativity to flow and is very attractive to others.
So, leadership boils down to this: A person with lots of confidence, lots of guts, who is able to communicate an inspiring message, motivates others to be greater than they are, and who has a vision of where this will lead. This leader must be an example of the fruition of his/her mission through the demonstration of these qualities. I’ll go for that. This is what is expected. We won’t settle for less.
We require our true leaders to be real. We know the difference. We’ve been well trained. So, someone please go for it, I hope you make it. This Dharma needs you. I can’t wait to see who emerges. It doesn’t matter from where he/she comes; all that matters is that we have a true leader again who has the mission of compassion, the vocabulary to match and life that verifies it. Then, and only then, can we feel and know that this Dharma is going in the right direction. We, our teacher’s students, will have reproduced and created another true leader. Now, that’s something to be grateful for.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Cohernece of Parents
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Let me give you an example of how the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, covered my butt again. At the time, I wasn’t even aware that he was doing this which makes his actions all the more beautiful. In fact, at the time, I would have preferred this whole scenario didn’t have to come up. But, thank God, He didn’t do what I preferred!
I had heard rumors from one of his secretaries that the Siri Singh Sahib Ji was talking about sending my children to school in India, as so many parents and already done. So I inhaled deeply and went for it, “Sir, do you want our girls to go to School in India?” I had been avoiding this issue for years. I was really attached to my girls and one of the true joys in my life was in spending time with my family. We appreciated and understood one another. And, here’s the best part: we all truly love each other. And let me add that I’m a loving father but it is my wife who is the most loyal person on the planet. I always considered myself a loyal person, but she puts me to shame. I’m sure it’s in her DNA because I’ve never seen this level of commitment before. One of the reasons I’m in love with her is because she gave me the family I always wanted. Thank you dear.
On this June day in 1994 the subject mentioned above was front and center. He had catered to me for long enough. Now, it was time to do what we must. There were many known reasons for our children going to our school in India: be exposed to another world; get a distance from family neuroses; develop relationships which last a lifetime; grow up being in the majority (Amritsar is the home of Sikhs); be taught and trained the true values of Khalsa; I could go on.
But, for me, there’s another great reason. “Yes, son, it’s time to send them to India,” the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, said to me. That was it. There was no objection to it; nevertheless, the pain was great. Naturally, I didn’t like it, but I was trained to follow his direction. So I did.
Years have gone by. I’ve seen how the world works. I’ve seen the result when one has not prepared their children for the vicissitudes this world will throw at them. I’ve seen an American culture go from the ability to sacrifice to the science of avoidance. I’ve seen our American children be rewarded by the removal of life’s obstacles. And, yes that’s comfortable but, how do you handle it when calamity hits? What then? I’ll tell you “what then?” Drugs become a way out, a respite from reality. And, yes, there are other ways out as well, none any good in dealing with the reality of calamity.
Why am I telling you all of this? What is important about this? I’ll tell you why. All of this led to a letter (see above) our beloved teacher wrote to my daughter several months later when she had been at the school just shy of 40 days. The letter arrived on her 9th birthday. It detailed a litany of reasons why India would cause her to suffer. It was such a great letter that I suffered when I read it as well.
My daughters learned to deal with great changes in life. They learned this great lesson in a controlled environment. In reality, I was, and am, no different than the others who don’t want their children to suffer. What our teacher taught me and my children was that you can learn to suffer without suffering. It’s not that suffering is bad; it’s the attachment to it which causes pain. With the understanding of Guru’s teachings, all suffering departs.
So, over my less than subtle suggestions, our teacher did what was necessary and made sure that my children went to school in India. I am forever grateful that my kids have been trained to deal with calamity if and when it strikes. He did my job. He covered me again. He raised my kids better than I ever could. How can you not be in love with someone like that?
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Shift of Gifts
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Occasionally, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would answer a question I had asked in the most beautiful way. When that appropriate question presented itself, he would say, “Well, you and me are the same guy, aren’t we?”
Of course, his question didn’t need a response. And for me, his comment back to me was vastly wonderful! I knew that what he said was true from a philosophical point of view: everything is a part of God, so, naturally, he and I were a part of the same universe. And, more intimately, especially because of our student/teacher relationship. But, to really think of him and me as one, well that was something very different. How could I ever think of myself as the same caliber as him? Nevertheless, after hearing this answer from him a few different times, I was wonder struck. I started to believe it; after all, I'm trained to believe what he said. What it did for me was almost beyond explanation, although I’ll try to give you some semblance of my experience of how and why our beloved teacher’s statement blessed my life.
This outward reminder from my teacher helped me feel more worthy. This personal interaction gave me the gift of deep self-esteem. And, self-esteem is really important for spiritual growth.
I have studied many religions and read many books on the subject. I have practiced living a spiritual life; and I have witnessed a great man living that life. All of this has given me a wide resource of knowledge and experience. There are many truths but some truths transcend all the rhetoric. Let me give you an example of a great truth which transcends all thinking, all religion, all philosophy, and all lifestyles.
Gurprasad is the Guru’s blessing, and kirpa is God’s kindness. These gifts change a person’s life and destiny forever! Having a spiritual teacher is Gurprasad. His teachings are kirpa. Together, they provide the spiritual aspirant with more and more self-esteem. Of course, yoga, meditation, pranayam, prayer, self-evaluation, seva, sadhana, and so many other virtuous spiritual disciplines work for our elevation and confidence as well, but the Master’s reassurance that he and I were one trumped everything! To hear him confirm that I was as worthy as he to receive God’s blessings meant it was so! I didn’t have to question this because he knew the truth and he told me that I was worthy. He blessed me with the ability to think I deserved more, in fact, at least as much as he because he and I were the same guy.
After some time, I began to believe his assessment more and more. More things were beginning to be bestowed upon me: things of this world and things of the worlds beyond. I was amazed! The more I truly believed I was worthy, the more gifts came my way. I could go into detail and that would be interesting, but now is not the time.
The best part of this is that every one of you reading this story can have the same hopeful, elevating, expansive, unlimited, Infinite view of your own life too! The Siri Singh Sahib is still working on us all. When you take him on as your teacher, believe what he says, he will work for you, too. When you completely surrender to God’s Will and follow the Guru’s teachings then your faith is rewarded. The secret is faith and devotion; the cost is service to the Infinite. This is the machine which starts the gifts falling unto your life. Just do it! Then, stand back and watch what blessings befall you.
Begin by practicing thinking that you and your teacher are one. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. Just keep saying it to yourself. Say it in every situation. The Christians have a good saying, “What would Jesus do?” Well, we should say, “What would the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan do? Am I doing that?” I guarantee you that your actions will be different and your life will change greatly in a positive direction.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Road Bestowed a Payload
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Life on the road with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was always different. He was treated differently and I that meant I was treated differently. On the road, I also was the mini beneficiary of his world.
Instead of serving, I was served. Yes, I was also served in L.A., but on the road it was not at the request of our teacher. As a member of his traveling party, I was always treated differently. I was treated with respect, with service, and with love. I know this was out of respect for the Siri Singh Sahib. The experience was wonderful no matter how I got it.
This is how the Siri Singh Sahib taught. He gave me a glimpse of an experience of his life and knew that that’s what I’d want as well. How right he was! His life was really special. Students on the road couldn’t wait to serve his every whim. And, he had some doozy whims. I enjoyed them all as they were motivating, real and always a lesson. His whims were a great trifecta. How could I not want that? In the meantime, it was a great blessing to just live from glimpse to glimpse.
The trap is that over time, these glimpses become second nature. There is always the danger of gratitude being more scarce and arrogance rearing its ugly head. By arrogance I mean that “I” rather than “thou” overtakes the consciousness. This is called “Shakti Pad,” I’ve seen many fail because of this challenge. And, believe me, all who have experienced gratitude for being around the Siri Singh Sahib will, at some time, believe that they are the reason for their good fortune. It happens all the time and that’s how arrogance is born.
Without our teacher, I would have been doomed. He was a daily constant reminder for me remember my grace, not my ego. He was so compassionate that he gave me much too much room to live in both worlds; my grace and my arrogance. Then again, he couldn’t do it for me, so my latitude was my challenge to overcome, not his to deal with. He couldn’t do it for me, so he did the next best thing: he constantly reminded me to relate to my duty, not my nonsense. He did this through his example, not his preaching. At the time, I never truly understood this.
I came to understand that Guru is the giver, so I must discipline myself to continue to keep my grace. As I continued to practice his example, my understanding increased. I understood that God through Guru does it all. My life is in His hands. The more I discipline myself in my grace, the more God takes over until my discipline became automatic and effortless. My work becomes His and merger is the result.
I’m a gambler. I’ve always loved to gamble. Never enough to really get hurt, but the risk/reward factor is a gambler’s dream. I’m a good gambler, so I study the gambling issue at hand to add education to the luck factor. That’s how I influence the odds in my favor.
When I began to contemplate spirituality as the path to true happiness, I studied many paths. They are all beautiful. But, when I came across the Siri Singh Sahib and his Sikh teachings, I knew right then that he was the teacher for me. His teachings went straight to my heart followed by my head and rung true in both aspects. It was perfect. It was the path of a warrior, the path of straight talk, the path of both devotion and service, the path of prosperity, the path of my dreams. That was it. I stopped studying. From that point on I studied only our teacher’s teachings. They’ve never let me down.
I know there are many paths, but Sikh Dharma was meant for me, especially the way the Siri Singh Sahib lived and taught it. There was no doubt about it! So, I took the gamble on the Siri Singh Sahib and it’s paid off infinitely. I bet that he was the real deal and that he could deliver that real deal to others. I thought I had a good bet and it turns out that I did. Life on the road allowed for an experience before my time, an experience of what it feels like to live in the grace of our teacher.
And, here’s the anomaly: the worldly benefits, which were so attractive in the life of grace lived by the Siri Singh Sahib are real, but they’re only truly realized when they become secondary to satisfying the will of the Guru. He is the bestower of these worldly gifts and He does so as a need for representing Him accurately, not because the aspirant wants it.
My gamble was that I could take a short cut to spirituality. I bet on the Siri Singh Sahib having the ability to deliver the jet plane path; the opportunity to advance exponentially. It turns out that I bet on a winner. The Siri Singh Sahib delivered the opportunity to overcome death; the fear of death. That’s really the reason for the pursuit of spirituality. Having Guru on your team is the verification that death has been overcome and we’ve taken advantage of the opportunity we were blessed with. When death is no longer an issue, life can really be lived.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Vacation Foundation
Sat Nam, Dear Family! One lifelong quest I’ve dealt with over the years is the concept of seva, really it’s everyone’s challenge. I grew up in an environment of sacrifice and reward. Spirituality is just the opposite. Seva is selfless service with no thought of reward. This is where I got lucky in having a spiritual teacher who constantly remind me of how I must act in spite of my habit. He did this mostly through his life, not his teaching. Oh yea, seva was an integrated part of his teaching, but it was his example which taught me the most. He lived a life of service. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.
I was blessed to travel with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, often. Sometimes we even went to places which could be considered more vacation than duty. He needed to do this every so often to relax and have his staff enjoy the journey as well. It was my good fortune to accompany him on such an occasion in the 1980’s. His constant mission was to serve Guru Ram Das so he couldn’t really go anywhere and truly enjoy himself without serving in some way. By this time, our ashram in Honolulu was gone. The only people on the Island who were in any way associated with us were students who had left this path.
That fact didn’t bother him. He organized a reunion which included many of the old students – Hawaii had become an outlet for ex-students from all over America. The reunion so well that when we traveled to an outlaying island, Maui, more ex-students were lined up to greet him! That was quite amazing in and of itself.
Ex-students are generally angry about our beloved teacher. It comes with the turf: there must be a reason (excuse) for leaving. That’s what happens when a teacher has the guts to turn a student’s life upside down. As we all know, not everybody can take the truth. As rationale creeps in, judgment becomes one’s own worst enemy. Our Teacher was and is an easy target of such judgment.
Amazingly, during this small window of time, he managed to become these ex-students teacher once again. Keep in mind, these were people who had been openly negative about their experiences. During this trip, he taught them again just as he had in the past. It was surreal, like a slice of history brought forward to revisit.
And, here’s the most interesting part: when the journey was over, most of these ex-students resumed their lives. But, through the grace of Guru Ram Das one student’s heart was so touched that he began the humble path back. In addition, Guru Ram Das provided the time and space for our teacher to both teach and enjoy this grand experience.
Once again, this is all about his living example; that he never gave up on anyone; everyday was in service to God; and he was able to always enjoy this service. He liked to enjoy himself and so do I. And, here’s the best part, our lifestyle, our religion, our Guru, want’s this for us as well. What a blessing.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Stupid is as Stupid Does!
Sat Nam, Dear Family! One afternoon in 1991, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said, “The unbelievable blessing in my life is that I’ve been blessed by Guru Ram Das to recognize the consequence of sequences before I act. This is where I have no choice! When a student has the guts to see the effects of his decisions, his choices (really no choices) become self-evident. The student must follow a course which makes the consequences of his actions better and better. When a sincere student sees this, he is blessedly left with no choices, no alternatives. Then when one is guided by this truth, one is living in God’s Will. The other side of this would be, by not following this revealed truth the student is stupid.”
Well, that was quite a speech for the front seat of my car. Our teacher spent much of his time in that seat, so I was blessed to hear many beautiful, insightful, intriguing, truthful utterings like this one. He knew my desire to know what it would be like to be him, even if it was just for a visit. He also knew that once I’d experienced a taste of who he was, I’d want more. So, like this time, occasionally, he would let me inside to get a small view and experience of who he truly was. These were precious times in my life. Our beloved teacher trusted me enough, occasionally, to allow me inside. Times like this graced and blessed me to see, and experience the depth of his caliber, his greatness and his sacredness.
He knew that I didn’t want to be stupid, so his “stupid” comment was meant specifically for me and I knew it. He challenged me to practice seeing beyond myself, my thinking, so that I could act in accordance with my higher self through his example, through the teachings, through Guru and God Himself. Take your pick they all work. I just find it easier to follow the progression I’ve stated above. That’s why a teacher is a must. Otherwise, it’s up to us alone. We all know we need help to get better and so a true teacher is the greatest of gifts. Otherwise, like my wise birth father would say, “It’s like trying to pull yourself by your own bootstraps,” the physics doesn’t work.
When I was blessed to hear a statement of this magnitude from my teacher, it was always in the context with something he was currently dealing with. It could be a student issue; a business decision, or personal matter, it could be anything. As soon as he sat down and the car was in motion he would begin. It was as if he was getting something off his chest, but, truthfully, at times like this, there was always another meaning. He used these times for the additional purpose of teaching me what I must do to experience who he was. He knew that this was my goal and he challenged me to not be stupid. What a wonderful teacher; he knew how to talk to me.
And, here’s the best part; he knew - he knows - how to talk to everybody. His teachings take you to him as if he were here physically today. And when you get to him he provides a marvelous, joyful, secure experience of himself. I can testify to how he is more alive now than he was when he was physically present! He’s more available. Today, a student doesn’t have to look in his eyes to have him tell them that they don’t understand. His wisdom and direction, and most importantly his experience come through his teachings. We can all “get real” or “more real”, that’s what his message was and that’s what it still is. His message is timeless. It was about not tricking ourselves into believing we know better. That’s not what gets you better. Let him show you what must be done. Please, don’t leave it up to yourself.
I was given a royal road map into the vastness of his consciousness. He laid out for me how not to be stupid and miss this, the greatest of opportunity. Just this challenge was an experience beyond my experience. It was grand. I was granted some of our teacher’s “giaan”, spiritual wisdom.
Understanding this “giaan” bestowed the blessing of security of the highest order. To be honestly committed to striving for this insight and also actively conquering any and all distractions in the way, is an unbelievable test and victory and it reaps great benefits all along the journey. Security is the opposite of insecurity, thus, it’s an experience beyond oneself. To know that everything is O.K. and you’re O.K. is an experience of pure acceptance and joy. But, here’s the kicker, you can’t fool Mother Nature. Your commitment must be truly sincere. This means that you must always do better than you think you can. This calling will be aided by and through your teacher's grace in an exponential manner so that the unattainable becomes attainable.
I remember this time because it was so important to my life. He gave me an experience which left no doubt in any part of me that our beloved teacher’s way is the right way. My doubt was gone; my mind was free; my experience of consciousness was expanded. I love this man who gave me this experience. I have no choice and that’s just the way I like it. I’m not stupid. Thank God! The real experience of faith (no doubt), of security, and therefore of happiness, is worth any cost.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Mission of Competition To Fruition
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “Sir,” I said. “We need help. I mean that we’re not aggressive enough in our businesses to compete.” Yes, I was that bold with my opinions to the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, on this warm afternoon in June of 1990. He remained silent. That signaled to me that I was on the wrong track. He didn’t argue with me like everyone else did, he just remained silent. It’s funny how loudly silence can speak. His silence left it up to me as to whether I would continue to believe what I believed, or would I change to adapt to what he wanted. If you are smart, there is no choice. You must put your mind, your opinions, aside if you want your teacher’s approval. And, his approval is what I wanted.
Our businesses didn’t need help even though they weren't doing well at the time. In fact, he disliked consultants. He felt that if we needed consultants, we would admit to ourselves that we didn’t know enough. Why didn’t we find out what we needed? We had everything in the correct order. His teaching taught us more than enough. We just needed to keep up, keep pushing forward– that’s how we progress.
Our beloved teacher knew that everything was set. He still needed to push. That’s the way it is with a teacher who’s covered by Guru Ram Das. Pushing got him there; now, he must still push. But, rather than push himself, his duty was to push his students. This world is made up of very competitive inhabitants. It’s best to know how to compete with them in a victorious manner. This can only be accomplished through His grace and dutiful pushing to get better and better.
So, he pushed and pushed. He poked, provoked, confronted and elevated. He was intent on doing his duty in training us how to compete at every level. I know competition is a dirty word to many, and that’s O.K. But, it’s best to learn how to compete in the right way with that which may want to hold power over you in order to avoid that issue. He trained us how to compete in a conscious, collective, sovereign manner. We are subject to no one but God. His pushing made this understanding possible. It feels great to not be subject to any misunderstanding, to be whole in and of ourselves.
Again, I write these letters for future generations; generations who are not limited by their prejudice; generations who will judge this dharma and how it operates accurately from a true perspective; generations of advanced souls; generations of Guru Sikhs; generations who will see more; generations who will lead humanity; generations who live to serve; generations I am already grateful to and truly love.
If you look at this letter from an altitude of 35,000 feet, you’ll notice that my intent is to deliver our teacher’s protocol, the teachings he left to us as a royal roadmap of that elevated view. A view from this distance puts everything in its proper perspective. This is the reward that is bestowed for keeping up. We are protected and provided for. This view allows for a blessed life as a spectator, not an emotional participant. And, don’t be mistaken, a life with your emotions as your servant, not your master, is the only life truly worth living.
I know some will view my manner as self-serving, and they’d be right. I am absolutely about me. I’m just lucky that my self-serving nature has been put to great use. Through some good fortune I’ve directed my energy in the right direction – toward service to the Guru. This is what my teacher taught me and this is my focus.
If you knew where I came from, you’d bet the house that someone like me would never meet our Guru. In fact, when our teacher first met me he said, “Where did you come from?” “From Guru Ram Das, sir,” I asserted. “Yea, yea, yea, I know, but where did YOU come from?” I had no answer to his repeated question. It was rhetorical anyway. He just couldn’t believe that this someone who was sitting opposite him in a suit and tie was sincerely declaring himself a student. I did, I was, and by the grace of God I still am.
As he predicted, our businesses needed no help. They were already under the protection of Guru Ram Das. All we had to do was keep up and keep pushing. He made sure that we did. Anyone who claims that they are the reason for our success has misunderstood who we are and who we must continue to be. Any success we have is due to our teacher’s pushing and the grace of the Guru, period. This dharma is way beyond any individual or individuals. Believe me, we weren’t capable of competing in the business arena against those who spent their whole life doing so, but Guru Ram Das was and is.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A Retrospective, Elevative, Perspective
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Over the weekend, I had just written another story about another conversation I had with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan. Thinking to expand on it and send it out on Thursday, I then remembered the daily Hukam that came from Guru Ram Das in our Sadhana Gurdwara at the Ashram last week. Below are the opening lines:
Meeting with the Holy people, my mind blossoms forth. I am a sacrifice, a sacrifice, a sacrifice, a sacrifice to those Holy beings; joining the Sangat, the Congregation, I am carried across to the other side. || 1 || Pause || O Lord, Har, Har, please bless me with Your Mercy, God, that I may fall at the feet of the Holy. Blessed, blessed are the Holy, who know the Lord God. Meeting with the Holy, even sinners are saved. || 1 || 4 || 1 || ...from Hukam on Page 1294 of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
The words of the Guru had such a powerful impact on me, highlighting so exquisitely the gift I had been given: the gift of having a spiritual teacher, Siri Singh Sahib. By Guru’s Grace I have been blessed to learn at the feet our teacher. The feeling of gratitude welled up so profoundly that all I wanted to do, again, was to let everyone know how they too could experience this life changing blessing. How their life could be elevated in the direction of good, better, best by recognizing the great gift of having a spiritual teacher. Our beloved teacher is alive today. He can be experienced through his teachings. Living these teachings and striving to understand them in more and more depth gives one the altitude, breadth, caliber, expansion, neutrality, consciousness and faith. Taking one lecture and knowing its essence can change your life forever. First comes the devotion and then comes the expanded consciousness. You too can say “we don’t believe in miracles, we depend on them!”
Our experience of life is our only determining (or limiting) factor. All else is philosophy, ideas, gossip, dreams, hopes, beliefs. Our experience is our only direct knowledge. Our limited experience limits our perspective. So, in order to expand our perspective it follows that we must expand our experience of life.
Most look for this expanded life experience in the myriad of way this world offers; wealth, glory, fame, power, liquor, you name it. A few look for this expanded awareness through faith, faith in something greater.
The Siri Singh Sahib Ji brought us Kundalini yoga. It is our ace in the whole. It’s the yoga of awareness. This yoga elevates the consciousness to see from above the earth. When combined with Sikh Dharma, awareness becomes an elevated perspective. Faith is experienced. The subtlety of life is known. Life becomes more and more secure.
Faith in the Infinite provides the altitude to experience life from another perspective. Your perspective is a byproduct of how high your faith will allow you to go up. Most are stuck on at ground level, but just a view from anywhere above this earth provides another deeper experience of life. And, here’s the best news, it only gets better from there.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Leaders Are Breeders of The Self
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “For most, love is a matter of distance. That’s it! Who do you let in to your heart? How much? And, how correctly do you judge this relationship? For me as a spiritual teacher, my heart is open to whoever wants it. I can’t judge anyone’s worthiness. My heart is open to the depth of another; it’s not up to me.” Sometimes the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would say things, seemingly out of the blue like this.
As beautiful as this situation appeared, and it was beautiful, there was another agenda attached. So, I concentrated on how and why our beloved teacher dealt with this situation in the manner he did.
My office was located right beside the Gurdwara. We actually shared the same wall. Our teacher would spend a lot of time in my office after many Sunday Gurdwaras. He would sit on the couch at the end of the office as students would gather around filling up the chairs and carpet while langar (meal) was being served. On this day, right after bowing, he went next door to the office early.
Even though it usually took a long time to figure out his statements, this day his actions gave me a big clue. Straight away, he was still the teacher no matter how much these ex-students had maligned him. He was still open to all of them, but they’d have to come to him. This is the protocol that comes with being a true teacher. And, to their credit, a couple of these people did come over and pay their respects with humility and sincerity. Then again, a couple of them didn’t.
Having spent almost every day with our teacher, I would notice when he acted differently. I noticed that on this day he acted royally, but was “on guard,” and also unusually loving, all at the same time.
When these ex-students came over to greet him, he made sure that there was no misunderstanding about his love for them. He was as open as the ex-student allowed him to be. And let me add here, this is exactly how he was with all of us. He was “true” and could not be influenced by any circumstances. This great gift to witness and understand proved his neutrality of consciousness. As much as many of us sitting there had strong emotions which wanted to punish these ex’s for slandering our teacher, he demonstrated his compassion and elevation, proving that that’s not who we are. We are open to all; especially those who stretch us the most.
His statement that I shared above was the reason behind his actions. He had no choice; he was open to their love and it was up to them to set the limit. I saw it. It was very interesting. Yes, I felt sorry for the ex-students as they truly had no clue as to what we were all about, but that’s their karma. He was always available to them, but their karma was their karma and therefore help for them may not have been currently in the stars.
The answers to his rhetorical questions stated above were on display. “Who do you let into your heart?” The answer is anyone and everyone. That doesn’t mean that others can abuse you as you come with a protocol (grace) which protects you. For our teacher, his relationship with Guru Ram Das assured this protection.
“How much heart must I give?” There is no limit. The other person sets the limit in love. And, here’s the interesting thing: you are always the other person! The fewer the limits, the greater lover you are. It doesn’t matter whether it’s earthly love or divine love; the issues are the same. The depth of trust the student experiences is dependent upon the student’s love. The teacher’s love must be unlimited but the depth of the relationship is determined by the lowest common denominator.
“How correctly do you judge your relationship?” People think they’re in love when they have no idea what love is. Most say, “I love you” one day and “I divorce you” next year.” “I love God, but I’m still suffering, so I can’t trust Him.” “I love my teacher, but he doesn’t know everything.” This isn’t love. This is negotiation. And, negotiation doesn’t work in the spiritual realm. So, the student’s limits must be overcome. This is accomplished only through surrender.
Our teacher taught me this because he lived up to his own challenge. Thank God.
See Sikh Definitions.
Life with Yogi Bhajan
Sat Nam, Dear Family! For the last ten years of his life, when he was able, Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would visit a restaurant at the famous Santuario Church in Chimayo, which is about seven miles from the ranch. The wonderful lady, Leona, who owned the restaurant, became a dear friend. She was always accommodating, entertaining, and reverent. In fact, until she became ill at a young age, she was in a nunnery. She then became a stewardess for Pan Am and then a restaurateur. See More.
She passed away over the weekend. We attended the funeral in her honor yesterday, December 4, 2014. Her husband Paul and her family were very touched as well as the rest of the Chimayo community. Yogi Bhajan touched many hearts outside of our community, as well.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Deception of Self Perception
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Afternoons at the ranch house in New Mexico, right after lunch, were often times for the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan's, counseling sessions, especially between 1992 and 1995. A sunny day in early November of 1994 was no different.
On this day, a long time student was the object of for our beloved teacher’s attention. This gentleman was in his early 40’s. “Sir, I’ve tried. I can’t do this anymore. I want to leave the dharma. I’m a fraud. I live a lie!” “Who doesn’t,” our teacher responded. “Yes, but I can’t justify it.” “What do you mean?” “Well, sir, I know when I’m thinking and acting in disharmony with my best interest. It’s totally frustrating that I can’t stop acting this way and I continue to live this lie. I’d rather go and not be frustrated by my actions. At least I’d be honest. I could feel good about that.”
“What do I care about your feelings? Give me an example of what you’re talking about?” our teacher asked. “Well, we’ve talked about this before. You know that I still cannot give up eating meat occasionally. I’ve tried to stop. God knows how l’ve tried. How can I do this and believe that I’m still your true and lovable son?”
“Will you judge God,” our teacher asked? “Will you judge me? You’ve always been a very obedient student, so I know your intent is not to judge me.” Yes, sir, that’s true,” the student interrupted. The Siri Singh Sahib continued, “If I tell you not to judge yourself either, then don’t you have to obey.” Yes, sir, but I’ve tried.” “Good,” the Siri Singh interjected. “Now we can at least agree that you shouldn’t judge yourself. Isn’t that true?” “Yes,” was his answer.
“O.K. then, let me tell you this. We’re all not worthy to live this dharma, to live in God’s grace. None of us are, period. That’s the beauty of this dharma. We don’t have to be perfect to experience the hand of God helping us, protecting us, joining us. The process is to understand that we’ve not supposed to be worthy of his grace. That’s how God is able to give and enjoy. And, what a gift it is. The method to His grace is to allow God the pleasure of giving to us by not judging our worthiness and continue to keep up, keep trying to overcome our shortcomings and never give in to quitting the process. Very few people can do this. But, for those who do this, God does come through. Just don’t judge the time as well, that’s up to Him.”
“You are not living a lie because you know what you’re doing and what you’re not doing,” the Master continued. “You are totally aware of your shortcomings. And, you can’t deny them either. That’s extremely rare in a human being. You belong here more than I do. You are positioned for God’s grace if you just don’t give up. Keep up and you’ll see what great things happen. Keep doing your duty and see how God comes through in your life. I know it will happen.”
“Thank you, sir,” was his response. “You know I’ll do as you say, so thank you for directing me towards my infinite self. I apologize for forgetting this and taking your time.” No, no, Yogi Bhajan said. “I have to do it. I’m grateful to you. Thank you for trusting me so I can deliver what Guru wants me to.”
What is there to say or add to this interplay? It speaks for itself in so many ways. I know that there will be the interest of some readers in playing out this event to its conclusion. What happened to this gentleman? Well, I could go there, but I won’t. This much I will say; it turned our great.
His teaching was so direct, so understandable, so deep, so profound, so captivating, so, so, so. I could go on and on. Don’t get me started. Once again, I was blessed to be freed by another’s counseling session. I began to practice “no judgment” of myself as a technology to receive God’s grace.
Our teacher taught me a great lesson that day. Faith and duty are, and always have been, the secret to allowing God to come through for you. This much I know: it has worked for me and He can do the same for you if you let Him.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Decree of a Nominee to be Free
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “To be free, you must be restricted. The more one adheres to the teachings, the more freedom one experiences. But, it’s not the same kind of freedom we normally experience. It’s 'freedom on steroids', it’s a freedom which gets deeper and deeper. It’s not the freedom to do what you like; it’s the freedom which comes from obedience, obedience to the truth,” the Siri Singh Sahib answered me one afternoon in June.
We he had just entered the ranch where I was waiting for him to join in lunch. It was our usual routine. On this day he entered the ranch a few minutes early, so we were basically alone. Yes, there was a secretary flitting in and out, but she was absolutely focused on getting her job right. That’s just the way it should be, and that’s what our teacher required. Things were in order. It was at moments like this that I was able to ask our teacher personal questions.
I began, “Sir, what’s it like to be free? Free from all the chaos we all carry with us. Does it make life fun, pleasant, and satisfying? How can we experience this more quickly?”
His answer wasn’t satisfying enough. I answered, “Yes, sir, but what’s it like?” Yes, I am as direct as he was. So, as the saying goes, no harm, no foul. I was allowed this form of communication. After all, our teacher was a Ph.D. in communications. That meant he could be heard by many kinds of people, he could tolerate abusive talk without any reaction.
The Siri Singh Sahib continued, “Freedom is the experience of enjoying this world to the maximum while still perpetually chanting God’s name. In english, it’s called equipoise, being relaxed and totally concentrated on the job at hand, both at the same time. It’s like living in a yoga posture when you’re totally stretched out while being constantly relaxed at the same time. It’s the experience of life as an adventure; there is no more doubt, no more worry, no more pain. It’s the marriage between faith and duty; it’s the circle of a life understood and lived; it’s the sun and the moon in perfect harmony; it is the security of experience; it’s living under the protection, grace, and prosperity of God.”
He not only answered my question, his beautiful words provided another brief taste of why I continue to listen to him with complete gratitude. I believed what he said because it wasn’t just words, but a brief, beautiful, and enlightened experience. His words impacted me greatly. His words usually did. This is why I’m here. I wanted to live in the experience he previewed for me. Again I was shown how expansive this experience of freedom truly is. There was no doubt left in my mind. Now, to get on with it.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Chill on the Thrill of Guru’s
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I’ve noticed a lot of changes since the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, left this earth. Time will judge, not me. Nevertheless, our teacher said many times, “This dharma is set, it’s under the grace of Guru Ram Das.” I also believe this. But, that doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want just because we’re under the protection of Guru.
What does this statement mean, ‘do Guru’s will?’ Guru’s will is well commanded in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the living embodiment of Guru in the form of scriptures. For instance, Guru says, in the Amrit Vaylaa, the ambrosial hours before dawn, chant the True Name, and contemplate His Glorious Greatness. So, following His will means doing this. This is just the beginning. Sure, anything and everything can be misinterpreted, justified, excused, or rationalized away. True seekers look to do what Guru truly wants. So, get up. Start there.
Additionally, Guru says, “Chant the Name of God. Keep it continually on your tongue.” This discipline is learned through meditation. Guru is saying to his Sangat, “Rise before the sun and chant God’s sacred name.” This, too, is Guru’s will. No one ever said that this was going to be easy, it’s not. But, God does recognize those who sacrifice to serve Him. Start here and you’ll at least have God’s attention.
I can hear the questions now, ‘I can meditate on God at any time, why do I have to do it at such an ungodly early hour?'
Well, just the opposite. It happens to be the most Godly hour. Guru has commanded his Sangat to meditate this way. This is what He wants. Sincerity, devotion to his will, and deliverance of this command is not a matter of debate for the true student. Yes, our compassionate Guru doesn’t hold our sleeping-in against us, but we don’t earn any extra-credit either. And, it’s the extra credit which separate the sincere student form the opt-in one. This is where we prove to be sincere in practicing to follow Guru’s will, or not.
So, these perceived little things do mean a lot. The Siri Singh Sahib used to say, “if you won’t do your sadhana, your yoga and meditation early in the morning, then do it anytime. Do it later in the day, do it in front of the T.V., do it for twenty minutes, do it for ten minutes, do it for a minute, but do it.”
He knew that everyone is different and not everyone is ready for prime time. Some students chew more teachings than others. That’s the way it always is, and that’s fine. He just encouraged all to chew off more than their comfortable bite, than their habit. Our teacher made sure that all sized biters were promoted, taught and served. This dharma is as much about the small biter as it is for the big mouth, but, at least, the big mouth has a chance to advance quickly.
So, naturally, he also promoted taking larger and larger bites. He rarely challenged my intensity. He left that to me. Otherwise, he’d be the only teacher I’d ever have. And, when he’d leave his body, I’d be out of luck. He wanted me to be my own teacher through following Guru’s will more and more. That way he’d have taught me what he wanted. Bigger and bigger bites is the test.
The way to help Guru rather than delay things is to sincerely practice following His will. That applies to everyone in this dharma, not just our elected leadership. Yes, it’d be nice if leadership set the correct example, but our dharma and the help we can give it is dependent upon all of us. Each of us is a leader of this dharma. The more bite we take out of the teachings, the more we show our sincerity. Any person has the opportunity of giving Guru a helping hand by living the teachings more and more. We’re never too old; we’re never too dumb; we’re never too busy; we’re never too young. We’re willing to help this dharma, our Guru, and ourselves by sincerely practicing to live the teachings more and more.
See Sikh Definitions.
Undisturbed, Beautiful, Peaceful, and Calm
More 3HO History