More 3HO Stories
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “Compassion is a matter of devotion or understanding,” the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said one afternoon on the beach in Hawaii in February of 1988. The surrounding mood was angry as the crowd of students and staff around him was commiserating with one another over the grossness of another who had betrayed them. Normally, the staff kept this kind on negative conversation away from his ears but not this time. This betrayal was just too much to avoid. Sympathy and commiseration with one another was an antidote.
Yes, there are periods of devotion. It’s not a straight line upward. There are many moods. That’s the delayer. Moods are emotions in action. They need to be satisfied, and that’s all there is too it. Thank God we practice Tantra. Tantra allows moods to be satisfied, satisfied until you see the silliness in these moods, which only delays greater things. Catering to your moods is stupid, plain and simple. But, this stupidness must be satisfied by most. They say ignorance is bliss. Well, that’s the case here. When you become aware that catering to moods creates dissatisfaction in the mind, you must either rationalize this dissatisfaction away, or deal with it and move on. Moods, which are dealt with appropriately become less and less of a burden. The proper way to deal with them is through devotion. My experience of devotion is that is allows the Guru to give to you in ways of which you have no awareness. In other words, you’re helped by the Guru in ways you could never have helped yourself. Awareness of the silliness in moods allows the student to move on if he’s smart.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, From Recognition to Fruition
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Did you ever wonder whether teaching should bring acceptable recognition to the teacher? I did. I was sitting in class on a warm September evening in 1977. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, asked a rhetorical question, “Does a teacher need recognition?” Remember, he was training teachers. Without a pause he answered, “Yes, he/she does. But it’s not for the reason you think. Oh yea, it feels great to be appreciated, but for what reason? For this feeling alone? Isn’t that selfish? Should we not look for results? Shouldn’t life just be a perpetual sacrifice? Isn’t that what spirituality is about?” Thank God he continued.
“The good feeling you get from recognition is love. This love is either mundane or etheric. On the mundane level, we seek recognition from others as a validation that we are doing the right thing and the love others give us for it. Wonderful! But, is it right and will it last? The answer is no but probably necessary as a training ground. On the other hand, recognition, which stems from the appreciation and gratitude of service to and for God and to humanity is real and eternal. This type of recognition, of love is a reflection of God, a representation of how God acts – what could be better!
So, yes, for a true teacher, it’s not only O.K. to receive recognition, it’s essential as a spiritual teacher because this gratitude reflects God’s spirit. As such, God’s gifts are showered upon the teacher and this becomes a verification of the teacher’s good service. So it essential, for the circle to be complete, that the teacher expect recognition as a show his/her honor, nobility, growth and love. Gods greatest Gifts are reserved for those who serve Him selflessly. These gifts are manifested in the nature of the teacher’s discipline – some royal, some poor, and some in-between. It’s all in your belief system. We Sikhs believe in a royal path in service to God.”
"As long as your ego exists, you are not a Teacher.
“Won’t expecting God’s gifts show me to be greedy and selfish? First of all, a Sikh teacher expects results, but leaves the time limit up to God. Therefore, the results become an offspring of service and devotion, not an ends unto itself. God’s greatest blessings are not the result of selfishness and/or greed. They are God’s gift for service to Him, so enjoy them.”
I was really glad to hear this. I no longer had to believe that I might be neurotically selfish for wanting to get ahead and be recognized. They were normal desires and, when projected properly, were a blessing not a curse. Then he continued with the biggest lesson of all:
“And, when God recognizes you, the recognition of others becomes quite limited. Actually, it’s only a training ground for the great experience of God’s appreciation. God’s gifts are much greater and satisfying than the gifts of others. It’s a method to reach greater heights, so, don’t get stuck at the mundane level like so many. Be like God and serve others so that He has no choice but to serve you. Be like the Sun and shine on all. Recognition will come for the right reasons and from the right place.”
Then I remembered a quote I read from a source I greatly respected. It said, BHAKTI YOGA TEACHES THAT THE WHOLE IMPORT AND SUBSTANCE OF LIFE IS THAT GOD WHO DOES NOT NEED ANYTHING, NEVERTHELESS, DESIRES THE ADORATION AND WORSHIP OF HIS CREATED CHILDREN. This quote heightened the teachings of the Siri Singh Sahib Ji about The Creator, the creation and His creatures. It all made sense: God wants to shower gifts upon his servants in direct proportion to their service. God likes to do this just like we mortals like to do and give to our loved ones. God does this in the highest honor for righteous service, goodness. Of course, there is always a chance for miracles to intervene and grant us more that our service would dictate and some of us even count on them. That’s the blessing of having a true teacher and Guru. Pure faith will over-ride your karma. It was all coming together. Now, all I had to do was to keep up practicing what now made sense. The practice continues and shall forever.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Prayer Shawl to Racquetball, a Close Call
“Yes sir,” I answered. “I have a racquetball game at 11:00, should I cancel it?”
“No, that’s where we’re going. I want to see you play.”
Our usual routine began when I’d pick him up at 1:00 and journey off to lunch. So, this was an unusual day. The Master was a great soccer player in India. As a matter of fact, he attended Punjab University on a soccer scholarship. So, he never objected to my participation in sports whether it was racquetball, golf, whatever. Nevertheless, this was the first time he wanted to join me. I was stoked!
Off to the Santa Monica Athletic Club we went. This club was where some of the best players in the state played. Competition was great. On this morning my opponent was John R. John was a great athlete. He played major league baseball as a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals until he blew his arm out and had to retire. Remember, this was before the “Tommy John” surgery was perfected, which saved many subsequent careers. John was a lefty who batted right, so his prowess in racquetball wasn’t compromised.
The Master sat down on a long couch in front of the floor to ceiling Plexiglas window, which was the rear wall of the main court where the match was held. On this day, John kicked my butt. I don’t know if it was my nerves playing in front of the Master or what, but I just didn’t have it. Usually, our matches were highly contested – not on this day. Sheepishly, I retreated to the locker room to shower and change.
This was the first racquetball match the Master had ever viewed. Of course, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t have an opinion. As he said to me several times, “there’s much I don’t know, there’s nothing I don’t understand.” On the drive to our usual lunch, he said, “why don’t you just hit the ball off the front wall straight at your opponent?” I’d never thought of that. The three main shots that good players utilize in racquetball are the passing shot, the lob shot, and the kill shot. A straight shot would neutralize the opponent forcing him to just hit the ball without a plan leaving an easy return for me. But, it must be done using the correct angle and height.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The End is Near
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “It’s done sir.” I was fortunate. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, loved these words when I spoke them. I’ll tell you how it all began. When I first joined our Dharma, there was a mixed bag of fellow students. I learned quickly that they came from many different backgrounds, usually much different than mine: some were more responsible than others. We don’t initiate anyone, so we got what God brought us, no instructions necessary. Back in the early days, there were many students who were reentering the real world, leaving the drug riddled world of the hippy generation. Usually, attention to detail wasn’t part of this past.
See Sikh Definitions.
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Last week as I was flipping through the channels on the TV, I was stopped when I saw Madonna singing the song “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”. In 1996 the Siri Singh Sahib, several staff members and I went to see the movie Evita. This film is a musical based on the life of Eva Peron, the wife of the controversial Argentinian president Juan Peron, who was first elected in 1946. Her purported checkered past left her quite controversial as well. Nevertheless, she was a strong supporter of labor rights, women’s suffrage, and other liberal causes. She was a First Lady of the people.
Towards the end of the movie Eva sings a song to the people of Argentina, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” It’s an honest, heart filled depiction of who she truly is. The Master loved this song. He rarely loved American music. The only other one I can remember came from another musical, Fiddler on the Roof.
I know that several Sangat members wrote additional words to the melody for “Don’t Cry for me Argentina”, and they are beautiful renditions, which are relevant to our Dharma, our lifestyle. Nevertheless, it was the original version, which touched his heart and made him request this song almost every evening for the next few years when he got to relax in the evenings listening to the musician’s at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. He loved this song. It’s a true insight into his psyche. I also loved this song as it showed to me his humility, history, grace, and service.
If the word Argentina is substituted with Sangat, in particular, the Indian Sikh community, the song is understood from the Master’s perspective. Please let me describe how I see his connection to this song.
Parenthetically, it also gave me confidence that I could also become great. As a great spiritual teacher, he now recognizes that he needs the love of his students so that they can trust his teachings. When students come, they see his love. This love comes from tolerance - not acceptance, but true tolerance! This love of a teacher allows the student, aspirant, or follower to see the greatness not the limitations in the teacher.
You won't believe me
I had to let it happen, I had to change
So I chose freedom
He became the Siri Singh Sahib. But, in-between, he chose the freedom to explore. He needed more than he had and was given. So he left the convenient and comfortable confines of conventional Sikh Dharma. He tried many things in his rebellious days of exploration; all of which he knew wouldn’t match up. At the same time, he wasn’t getting satisfaction with his culture’s interpretation of Sikh Dharma, so experimentation was the outcome. He became a Yogi. When he came to America, he had to understand his students’ culture so he became a Christian, a Jew, and an American. He learned that in their essence, none were contradictory with Sikh Dharma. In fact, they taught him how to be a better teacher, a better leader, a better Sikh. He was grateful for all, but, nevertheless, always a Sikh.
Don't cry for me Argentina
No one should feel sorry for him and his pain. Through it all, he’s found what he wanted. It may or may not be the way most sees how Sikh Dharma should be practiced, but, for him and us, it works magnificently. He found Sikh Dharma. He found it in - of all places - America. It was here that he became the Siri Singh Sahib and found peace, harmony and elevation. He kept his promise to himself; he is and was always a Sikh. When he found “it,” he found “it” through Guru Ram Das. Through all the turmoil, he was and is available to all Sikhs no matter what they may have done to him. He is the leader of all Sikhs, period. He now welcomes all Sikhs, especially Indian Sikhs, to not keep their distance, to look at him anew. It’s Guru Ram Das he represents, not Harbhajan Singh or Yogiji. So, in humility, this verse requests the Indian community to see the Guru in his teachings and not himself.
And as for fortune, and as for fame
They are illusions
Have I said too much?
This is a song in recognition of his true humility, a reflection of his innermost nature usually not easily seen. This song reflects his true nature as just a servant of Guru Ram Das, nothing more and nothing less. This is why he loved this song and so do I.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Splendor of Surrender
Sat Nam, Dear Family! The early nineties was an interesting time. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was creating chaos. He was consolidating various businesses into one basic Dharmic business. Some businesses we already owned, some we didn’t, and some were undecided. This is where the s…t hit the fan. He knew it would challenge students at another level. Will they put their faith in him, or not? Was he their leader, or not? Will he come through for them, or not? Was he real, or not? Some did trust him, some didn’t.
Remember, the Master has a mission to this Dharma, this way of life. That means sometimes forcing Dharmic students to do what they don’t want to do. This is the basic job of a true spiritual teacher – to create situations where the student is forced to grow. As for those who left, there were many excuses, many justifications. I can think of many reasons why one would not want to surrender their comfort, their security, all they had helped to build, in the name of faith alone. Nevertheless, there’s still one, and only one, good reason to give everything to this Dharma. That’s for the blessings of having true faith enter your life.
So, for those of us who gave everything, we’ve been truly blessed to still be here. That’s all you ask? Well, that’s everything. Just too still be in the game is more than enough. The game of faith and to live infinitely is the ultimate game of life. It’s not up to us to judge our progress, we must just be grateful for the opportunity to give more and live in faith more deeply. When you have faith, you have no fear. And, life without fear is a fabulous carefree, stress free existence. It’s available to all those who gave when he asked. It’s available to you now. The game is never over.
Either you really gave your life to your teacher (the teachings now), or you don’t. You can’t fake it. Either he is in charge, or you are. Either you surrender in faith, or you live in duality. This was and is the test our Master doled out. This was the way it used to be. This is the way it can again be in every student’s life. Just surrender to the teachings and faith is the blessed reward. Do it, you’ll like it. That is, after the fear wears off. All that is left is gratitude.
Gratitude is the understanding that you are never alone, that God is always by your side. There is no gain without pain. Practice enjoying the process of living in faith and then experience the reality that nothing is outside your grasp. Every world is yours to conquer.
Oh, by the way, it’s been my experience that all those who surrendered any property, business, position etc. to the Dharma have been well taken care of by their teacher, their Guru, and their God. Yes, faith in our Teacher really works.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Sunday Best for all Guests
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Jerry, our jeweler friend from Beverly Hills, liked to gamble. Sports events were a necessary outlet. Listen, a lot of successful business people are big gamblers. Yes, they know the odds are against them, but the reason they’re successful is because they’ve taken great risks in their lives and gambling is a way of revisiting this adrenalin rush. So, naturally, the necessary disadvantage of the odds being against them is outweighed by the advantage of revisiting “risk taking.” Some of the smartest businessmen you’ll ever meet are big gamblers for just this reason. Jerry was another in this line, I know, I was one myself.
It was on a warm October afternoon and we were relaxing in the “Estates” on the Ranch in New Mexico. The “Estates” was a converted trailer but not the kind of Estates you would imagine. The Master improved it dramatically by building around it, adding gardens, peacocks and ducks, a pond and statues everywhere. It was truly a New Mexico Estate. He lived by the adage: ‘If you don’t have the best, make the best of what you have.’ He hosted princes and governors, priests and preachers, diplomats and professors, you name it, at his “Estates.” All guests knew that they were in a very special and elevated environment. I actually felt this trailer to Estate transition that the Master created right in front of our eyes, was a metaphor for what he did with all of us, his first students. He took all of us who came and, like Michelangelo with his chisel, sculpted us into something worthwhile.
Jerry’s jewelry shop provided many items for the “Estates,” including the magnificent chandeliers hanging in the grand addition, the great hall. They are made of Czechoslovakian crystal, the best the world can produce and recognized as such by aristocracy for centuries (I told you, he made this place into a true estate).
Jerry was visiting the Siri Singh Sahib this particular October weekend. He had wagered on some college basketball games and part of the fun of gambling is watching the games – hoping to influence the outcome. The Master turned the channel to a basketball game that Jerry was interested in. I was shocked! And, here’s the best part, it was a game in which Oklahoma University was playing. I went to O.U. and was, and still am, a great fan. I was in ecstasy. All of us who were around the Master for any extended period of time, bowed to his will and watched whatever he wanted on TV. Luckily for me, except for the Indian movies, which didn’t have subtitles at that time, I pretty much liked whatever he watched. As a side bar, he loved John Wayne movies and again, luckily so did I. We watched them over and over again. We must have watched North to Alaska two dozen times!!
I wondered, why did he provide for Jerry’s pleasure when this was a no-no for me? It didn’t take me long to remember that Jerry was a guest. Yes, our relationship with Jerry is beyond just being a guest, but, nevertheless, he was our guest. And another thing our Master taught us is that Sikhs treat guests like God. If Jerry wanted to watch the basketball game, then that’s what the Master wanted as well. He lived by these rules. I saw it.
I was happy that I wasn’t a guest. Who’d have thought that not watching O.U. sports with him was a verification of our relationship. I was a host, not a guest. I was happy.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Poem of Love
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Since this is the week of the Siri Singh Sahib's, aka Yogi Bhajan's, birthday, this week's letter will be a short poem that my oldest daughter, Hari-Amrit, wrote to the Master on his 72nd birthday. She was just finishing college at the time and just about to begin law school.
It’s hard to sit here and try to think of
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Benign Line
Sat Nam, Dear Family! The drive from the Siri Singh Sahib's, aka Yogi Bhajan's, residence to our daily lunch date in Beverly Hills was just five minutes. I don’t know why, but this short drive was when we would discuss sensitive issues. The Master always asked everyone’s opinions on many issues; it was part of his discipline and part of his charm. So, naturally, I got to express mine and this was our time.
Our Master countered, “If I draw the line, who is left to not do so?” Of course, it’s a rhetorical question. He lived by the belief that if he defaulted to compassion, Guru would guide and protect him. He could afford to be compassionate because he knew he was covered. But, what about the rest of us who don’t always have that kind of faith? The answer is simple: just accept the direction of a true Master and you can live off his coattails, his grace. Rather than fight the direction, embrace it. The only caveat is that in payment for trusting a teacher, the teacher must be an elevated soul living in Truth and for the student. In other words the true teacher must be worthy, be righteous, and be an example of living the teachings.
Throughout the years, I was blessed to see our Master act compassionately in all occasions. That didn’t mean that he wasn’t smart enough to cover himself at the same time; he was a master at it. He was such a wonderful man that he just couldn’t be mean to anyone. When he should have been dismissive, when he should have been firm, when he should have been acting only in the Dharma’s perceived best interest, he was always flexible. Therefore, he was always compassionate and never drew the line. He had the duty to do so, and he had the protection to make it easy. He let everyone off the hook, but there was usually an unseen hook attached as well. Whether it was perceived or not, there was most often a price to pay. The student wasn’t let of “Scott free,” he/she had to earn their way back into his good graces.
The student is the only one who lets himself down. Our Master never let a student down. Either the student overcomes the punishment or doesn’t. Either the student hires himself or fires himself. The Master never gave up on anyone. That’s one reason he was so lovable. Yes, there are many reasons and excuses a student uses when he/she does not or cannot overcome this test. Naturally, most of them dealt with this by blaming the teacher. In fact our teacher was a self-proclaimed easy target. . But, in spite of the excuses, rationales, or justifications, when a student resorted to this line of faulty thing, the end result was and is always the same – commitment was lost. And, that’s not the way to recapture yourself. The way to recapture yourself is to accept the punishment and overcome it with the right attitude – period.
This Dharma must maintain the expansiveness of the Master by defaulting to compassion. Forgive all, but all must prove their worth for receiving this grace. No one is beyond redemption, but there is a cost and it must be paid. He was truly alone in never drawing the line. This is one of the great virtues he had, which separated him from everyone else. And we, as his faithful students, must lead this Dharma with his direction and example. It is a marvelous strategy; no karma is created, protection is provided and the result attracts blessings for this Dharma. And, here’s the best part, every student has the opportunity to resurrect themselves. In this Dharma, our Guru is the only one who “draws the line.”
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Sit Out Doubt, Be Devout
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I used to wonder what it would be like to see and experience things as the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, did, at least for a day. In other words, what would it be like to be him and experience the world through his perception, his reality, and his wisdom. I was striving for a place where, like the Master’s reality, there is no doubt; where surrender is experienced; where trust is established between myself and my Guru; where life is a flow and all the inequities that life presents are understood and no longer judged. I learned that this experience is bestowed only through God’s grace. It’s not a day trip. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Nevertheless, to view things like the Master has been a great motivation in my life.
The pursuit of this goal for me was like being a child once more: there was and is a need to follow the rules. And, like as a child, there is a doubt if this surrender is worth it. DO the rules really take me where I want to go? Additionally, when I learned that to be doubtful was O.K. too, doubt was no longer misunderstood. Doubt is just another test, albeit, one that I’ve already overcome many times (at least from my perspective, limited as it may have been), but it kept haunting me as if to test my commitment to see if it was perpetual. In the meantime, it’s just damn irritating.
I wondered, how often do I have to prove myself? Well, the answer was and still is that I’ll never prove myself fully. If I allow myself to ever think that I’m done, I’m doomed. Of that I am sure. So, I understood that doubt was easy to deal with when it rears its ugly head by reminding myself that doubt is just another test. Remembering this is was the key. When I did, I was no longer subject to doubt’s doubt. I didn’t have to beat myself up about being doubtful so long as I recognize it when I’m in doubt. The test is: there must be no doubt in surrender to have a glimpse into the Master’s world. Just keep up practicing. The more doubt I put aside, the more of the Master’s world I experience.
So, I got to the place where I knew that there must be no doubt in what I do, or, at least, less and less. Of course, knowing this and believing it are not necessarily the same Doubt is a worthy opponent and takes a lot of focus to conquer. And, here’s the best part, it’s better to just avoid it if at all possible. Doubt is a real downer. Move on to something more fun like surrendering without doubt. Or, at least practice thinking like this. It’s worth it.
The Master had a problem. In 1980 , three or four students had shown up in Los Angeles simultaneously at his request. It was his job to provide jobs to carry and cover the expenses of these new students. I got a call one morning: “Hari Jiwan…can you please hire these four people to work in your office?”
“Well sir,” I said, “you know that we are going through a difficult period and it has been problematic to just keep everything afloat just as things are.”
“Yeah, yeah yeah I know son, ” he said..” Don’t worry. Everything will be taken care of.”
Through all my internal doubt and protestation, I did as I was told and followed the rules. I lived on his faith. And guess what? Everything turned out perfectly. Through some grace in the universe, the business quickly turned around and everything was covered. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh if I could only do this myself.” Well, that is what life is about…living in faith. This is what’s necessary to experience life as the Master did.
I practiced remembering what I needed to remember. This remembrance allowed me to accept that I wasn’t perfect in my practice, that I had doubt about my ability. And, that was O.K. too. What I needed to remember was that not being perfect was not a hindrance to my journey. I will never be perfect. Only God is perfect. That doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to practice being perfect. At least I’m imperfect in a perfect world, God’s world. That’s not such a bad thing. That’s what I needed to remember and that’s what I remembered. That way of thinking saved my butt. That way of thinking elevated me. That way of thinking blessed me; that way of thinking allowed me to begin to glimpse at what the Master sees. I was right all along; he’s led me in the right direction. Of that I know.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Love, Above the Likes of the Ordinary
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “When I spent time washing the floors at the Golden Temple, I learned to love. I don’t mean the kind of love you American’s practice with an exchange of bacteria and bodily fluids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not against physical love, but I mean the kind of love, which is so personal that I actually became a slave. A slave is one who commands him or herself to be at the mandate of another. In my case, the Guru’s slave”
Wow, I thought. Why would anyone want to be a slave to another? Haven’t we been taught and don’t we believe that slavery is a bad thing? Weren’t the Jews held as slaves in Egypt and then Babylon; weren’t the African-Americans slaves in America; Didn’t the Romans enslave Slavs (from which comes the word “slave”); weren’t the slaves everywhere throughout history a bad thing. Of course there were grave injustices, so why does our Master want to be a slave?
Spring in Norway in 1987 had recently touched the air and walks were confidently sleeveless, even though in Norway cold weather can hit at any time of year. The forecast was for continued mild weather, so a walk around the city center, didn’t require unusual preparations. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was in good health back then and a walk around downtown could be extended. I put on a sleeveless kurta (robe) and drove to pick up the Master at the house of another student. This student lived in a small humble apartment with his wife, children, and now with the Master and his attendant secretary. I stayed in a hotel in the city center with several other secretaries who had accompanied us on this journey.
The secretaries and I made use of this time off and spent a relaxed time together in the mornings. We ate breakfast and toured the city together. The three of us had a very nice time each morning. When noon arrived, we all drove off to the ashram to meet up with the Master. This day was no different.
I drove the Master back to the city center as he had not yet seen the city. He loved to shop and our morning journeys through town had allowed us to scout out shops in which he might be interested. That usually meant either jewelry shops or tourist shops, truly, from the sublime to the ridiculous. But, in retrospect, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
An Italian restaurant provided lunch. It was located right on our shopping path. When the Master saw it, we disappeared into it in a hurry. We were all hungry. I scooted in first to inquire about vegetarian options for vegetarians from the Maitre d’. Usually, there was no trouble with Italian restaurants, but this was a foreign country and I just wanted to make sure before we were all settled down. Everything was fine and I made sure the check would come to me.
Lunch was delicious. Italian food always hit the spot with all of us. There were seven of us, the three secretaries, the ashram director his wife, the Master and myself, all of us relaxing around a large round table topped with a green gingham tablecloth.
The Master’s communication was retrospective on this day. That was somewhat unusual. He didn’t often speak of his past; he was usually focused on the future of those he was with. I always enjoyed times like this. They connected the dots for me as to his previous life.
I had known of his time washing the floors at the Golden Temple, but I didn’t know what it specifically had done for him. He now told me and all the others at the table that his time there had made a slave out of him.
Thankfully, he continued and explained why, “Everyone is a slave. They may not realize it, or they may, but everyone is a slave to something. It may be to another person, it may be to a teaching, it may be to a philosophy, or it may be to them self. Being a slave just means being habitual to someone or something, through force or not. But, a slave we all are.”
“Once we realize that, the only free will left is to choose what we want to be enslaved to. Most don’t have this choice as habit (inertia) carries them forward in the same vein time and time again, but the blessing I received from my service to my Guru at the Golden Temple was to see that I have a choice. The further blessing was to have the luck to have the chance to make the right choice. So, I’m very grateful for becoming a slave to the right choice – Guru Ram Das, the Guru of miracles. I was elevated in stature and consciousness to represent him. The more I see that which he gives to me in return, the more in love I become. He helped me in ways when I had no idea that help was even necessary. I see this all the time and I can’t help loving him more and more. That’s the kind of love I’m talking about. And, the greatest gift is a carefree, worry-free life. Guru provides everything including my prosperity.”
"I have survived with a very simple technique. Love something, which is for real. So, I saw a man, Guru Ram Das. I made him my God, my Guru, my guidance, and my guardian. I live in His name, I serve in His name, I do things in His name, I do everything. Because you know why? I don't want to let him down. Why? Because he has never let me down." I got it. Being a slave could be a very good thing. Being a slave to a divine person or teaching has its own reciprocity. If it’s done with the right love, devotion and service, that which you are a slave to becomes a slave to you. That’s the law and it can’t be changed.
Believe it or not is not the issue. I understood that the love we experience on the mundane level is an experience and training for loving something divine. Yes, love is love, but what is loved makes a tremendous difference. Christians call it the adoration of Christ; Jews call it devotion to the law; I call it the love of the Guru’s name… Take your pick, it doesn’t matter. My advice: practice loving something divine.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Spreading Wedding Charm
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I had a great experience listening to the Siri Singh Sahib's, aka Yogi Bhajan's, lecture in Gurdwara last Sunday. It’s such a joy to hear his directness again, it reminds me of the “good ole days” when the Master and I would spend the afternoons together.
His lecture was from a wedding he performed around 1990. This was unusual because he had stopped presiding over weddings back around 1978. He felt that Americans didn’t revere marriage as a sacred institution, and, so he didn’t want to participate in weddings where divorce was an option. He did confide in me that, as the wedding minister, there is some karma attached. He performed a few weddings subsequently as manners obligated, but not many.
This lecture dealt with commitment, and specifically, marriage commitment and how it relates to Godliness. He began with a heavy and very direct statement, “Don’t call them great those who sit together and enjoy life; call them great who are two bodies in one soul. If you cannot join this soul between you two, you cannot join your soul with Almighty God, which is also a wedding.”
Don’t we want the blessed fulfillment, which comes from serving something great like our own sense of commitment to marriage? Of course we do. Keeping up through thick and thin, through the great trials of marriage, helps us prove our worthiness to God. In spite of what many believe, the blessings of life are bestowed on those who succeed over the challenges of life. He reminded us that he couldn’t change this truism and that’s just the way it is.
Now, the Master didn’t usually speak so directly. He usually spoke in a manner, which wouldn’t challenge anyone beyond their capacity. When he spoke like this, he knew that some persons listening to him would be incapable of matching up. He knew he would very likely be subject to their necessity to rationalize and, thus, he would bear the brunt of their inability to accept personal responsibility. Nevertheless, he owed it to those who would listen and then could act accordingly, to tell it like it was. He was willing to suffer the slings and arrows of those who couldn’t keep up, in order to remind those who could, to not give up.
Weddings like this one offered precious teachings where he could deliver such a direct message.
His message is so clear that, for some, this makes it hard to hear: Commitment to marriage is a precursor to marriage to God. Don’t take it lightly and don’t think there’s a way out if it’s joy and discomfort – marriage is a microcosm of life. So, does this mean that someone who’s divorced is incapable of merging with God? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. So long as there is a breath of life, opportunity for elevation exists. But, what it does mean is that a great opportunity has gone to waste. It requires painful self-reflection and a reset button, which takes longer to reboot.
Here’s the best part, the harder marriage is, the more beneficial the process becomes. God requires great sacrifices and marriage offers a great testing ground. A “come what may” attitude is what God enjoys in marriage, in life, and in His court.
For over 35 years I have been married and I have to acknowledge with the deepest gratitude, how God has blessed me. Naturally, over that period of time, there have been ups and downs, but I have been blessed to have a wife who understands what the word commitment means beyond her own needs. She knows how to sacrifice. She's able to do what's necessary, not what's convienent. That means she’s able to see me in a different light. She sees my teacher in my Guru and my Guru in my God. It’s a rare woman who can see any of these qualities in her husband even if they’re there. I’ve been blessed with a wife who has been able to sacrifice opinion and see some things in me that remind her of her teacher and her Guru where many others can’t. How can I not love a woman like this? This woman becomes me. And, I don’t mean “becomes me” like “moonlight becomes you,” I mean that we merge into one another. We become one. After all, that is one of the results of serving the teachings.
Going back to the lecture on Sunday, the Master could only speak the un-sugarcoated truth to this wedding couple, as well as to all others who could hear. He wanted to let all know, in no uncertain terms, what to expect if they left their commitment. He reminded them of the consequences of rationalization. He told them of the experience of never giving in. He let them know that it was their choice as to what commitment meant, but he left no doubt as to what he expected from commitment. He expected this couple to never give in to any feelings, which could pull them away from their commitment so that they could continue to focus on their goal. He had declared precisely what commitment means to God.
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