Yogi Bhajan, The Fallacy of Fantasy
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Europe was always fun. Every time I went I felt like I was in a giant Disneyworld. Nothing bad could happen there. That is, until I had my wallet stolen in France. That was no fun, let me tell you. Based on the aforesaid, the conclusion to be drawn could be: Disneyworld must be bad because it creates a fantasy world where there is no stress and this is a false reality. I am getting ahead of myself here. Life always has its challenges, even in Disneyland, even on holiday in Europe! As a side bar, we all need ways to reduce our stress or take a break from it so that we can be more relaxed to deal with our challenges. And what separates people is how they deal with life’s challenges. But the point of this story is about our tendency to create and try to live our perpetual fantasies.
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was the ultimate “fantasy buster”. He used to say that he was a garbage collector, collecting all his students’ garbage. And, he did. He dealt with all our neuroses, personally and collectively. Not everyone dealt with him on decision making issues, but for those who did, the cost of his participation was the Master’s right to “fantasy bust” any neurosis we dreamt of as our salvation. He broke up fairy tale after fairy tale romance and kept us focused on reality as he saw it through the eyes of Guru Ram Das.
It was 1990 in Germany and the Master was relaxing after his class on this cool spring evening. As was the custom, student after student began gathering around his chair. Everyone wanted what the Master had and being around him might just lead to some of “it” rubbing off; actually, not a bad strategy. He would talk and those gathered around would listen intently. There were even translators for those who didn’t speak English.
When things began to wind down, a girl from Italy asked to speak to him privately. He said, “Please, darling, walk up to me and whisper what was so important.” I was sitting right next to him so I could hear every word she said. In her Italian accent she said, “Sir, I need a husband to take care of me. I promise to love and serve him, but I need someone to take care of me and my child.”
“Sweetheart,” the Master interrupted. “Are you asking me what I think you should do, or are you telling me what must happen?”
Well, that caught her by surprise. So now she had to first answer his question, a question which would alert the Master as to how to respond. “This is what I would like.” She answered.
“So, what you’re telling me is that your whole security is based on some man providing for you. Is that correct?”
Smartly, she didn’t offer a response. The Master continued, “If that’s what you’re looking for, even if you find this man, the odds of becoming secure are slim, to say the least. You’re looking in the wrong direction. You’re security lies within yourself and you should never give it away to anyone else to try and satisfy. There’s only one who cares more for you and whom you can count on more than you do yourself and that’s Guru Ram Das, the creator of miracles. If you lean on him then He will provide more than any man could ever think of.”
“Yes sir,” she stated, “but, for right now, I need a good man.”
Did you hear what I said to you,” the Master queried rhetorically. “A man is not the answer.”
“Yes, but how do I just rely on God. It hasn’t worked before,” she countered.
“Before you had a choice, now you don’t. It will work. You must believe in Him and not allow yourself to waiver in this consciousness. If you do this you will reap much bigger rewards! An earthy relationship is ephemeral. What you get from God and Guru is so much more. Why settle for less! When you live in service to that way of thinking, everything shall be provided for you and provided beyond your estimation.”
He continued, “I promise you that if you drop this thinking that some man is going to save you and look within yourself to find service to God as your goal, not only will you have security, but you will become fearless as well.” Not bad, two for the price of one. “A man may be in the equation, but on the right terms, not by being needy. I want you to build this kind of security inside you.”
Her body language told it all. As he finished speaking, she recoiled like the Incredible Shrinking Man. She appeared to be both shattered and rejuvenated at the same time. ‘What do you mean I don’t need a man? That what I deserve and that’s what I dream of,’ I could hear her saying to herself. Then like Tevye in the play Fiddler on the Roof she thought, ‘But, on the other hand!’ She now realized that there was a way out from her limited thinking and this would allow her much more which is what she really wanted. She was now relaxed and happy. I could tell.
There are many “fantasy busters” in the world. They come in all different sizes, shapes, and forms. Some, though, not only bust fantasies, but dreams and reality as well. They do it to shatter someone else in order to verify and promote their own fantasy. Our beloved teacher did it only to help others by offering sound teachings of elevation. Through his method, you were blessed to get more than you bargained for, more than your fantasy would allow. The Master offered the correct advice, revealing the limitedness of your fantasy, especially in comparison to the vastness of what you could give yourself by Guru’s grace.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Forewarned is Forearmed
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “The test of life, my son, is always upon us. The problem is we often don’t recognize it so we don’t deal with it. When we are lucky enough to see it, we want to be blessed to have the will to rise to the occasion to meet the challenge” The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said on a summer afternoon in 1992. “There’s always a test, so look for it. Then prepare yourself through your intuition to do whatever’s necessary to overcome it.”
I was shocked again! Of course he was correct, but who could see it in themselves. Not many, for sure, and certainly at that time, I was blind. He was letting me know that I had a huge challenge ahead of me and preparing me for how to deal with it. He treated me like his son and gave me the right direction to follow in order to overcome this current test. You know what they say, ‘forewarned is forearmed,’ being prepared for the next challenge is infinitely better than not being prepared.
I might add here that so many of us were raised in the land of Disney and Aesop Fantasy. We came often with the hope that our teacher would take away our challenges. He told us no one is exempt from problems. He told us, and modeled for us, how to deal with them and be victorious. He also did not sugar coat his advice. Once again being an example of not shying away from discomfort or hiding our head in the sand.
We were sitting outside at the Ranch. The Master’s on-duty secretary was orchestrating things for his lunch coming from the ranch house. There were two or three other people present. He didn’t usually speak so bluntly to me in the presence of others. I knew that what he said was vitally important and I’d better take it seriously.
At the Master’s direction, I had turned my business over to an employee a year or so previously. I had had grave concerns about his ability to maintain profitability and, recently, the payments he had been making to me were becoming more infrequent. I saw there was a problem but I had also been directed by the Siri Singh Sahib not to discuss any business issues with anyone. It was definitely a double edged sword. This was very stressful. How could I help this situation?
Because of his direction, I began to reflect upon my life as a play and not just as an emotional participant. This allowed me to see things honestly and, thus, be able to deal with this test more clearly. It became much easier to move through life with a higher perspective. The Master used to say, “See things as if you’re looking g down from 30,000 feet above.” In other words, see the “big” picture, not just what’s in front of you.
Overcoming obstacles becomes effortless when this blessed teaching is lived. Life begins to flow. The Master used my competitive nature to overcome myself. Granted, this method is not necessarily for everyone, but it sure worked for me. It hit me like a ton of bricks: faith and prayer were the only answer. I competed with myself to keep my mind focused on God’s help and not worry. It worked, albeit with much trial and error. But, I kept up. Eventually, my business turned around. How that happened is another story.
Now, do you see why I’m so in love with our Master? He knew how to teach me. He knew how to teach all. I experienced his teaching, so I know this for a fact. It’s not just hope, not just a dream, it’s his reality. It’s worth any cost.
Throughout the years, I heard him give advice to many, many people, Sikhs or not. He was always fair. He could be your best friend or he could give you the silent treatment but he never descended beyond that. (And, I might add, the silent treatment was excruciating. I know, having experienced it once.) But once he gave his advice, it was then up to the student to truly know what the teacher wanted and do it.
Here’s something else I loved about him: The Master had his rules to follow as well but he always played his rules up to the limit. Occasionally he would even take small risks but only with the intention to help benefit his students as much as he possibly could. And, maybe even a time or two, he went against his own rules, but then again, only in the name of compassion. He was willing to take this risk to help others.
This lesson for me was one of those occasions where he took the risk. He gave me what I couldn’t give myself. He gave me a grand push. In reality, he’s given all of us as that same push. It’s in his teachings.
Do you know why it’s so blessed to have a true teacher, I’ll tell you. Because the teachings are universal, a true teacher is personal in giving the student exactly what he or she needs personally.
And, here’s the best part: he’s still personally available to all. He’s found through intuition activated by devotion; devotion to the Master and devotion to his Patron Saint, Guru Ram Das. Look for them, pray to them, and don’t feel unworthy for any reason. Just keep up!
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, “It’s done sir.”
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “It’s done sir.” I was fortunate. The Siri Singh Sahib 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.
Back in the day, the Master would typically ask three people to do the same job. Let’s say that he wanted to see a student who was not currently available. He would ask three different people to notify this student to present him/herself. He felt that if he asked three people to perform a duty, the chances are that the job would get done.
When I first arrived on the scene, sometimes I was one of the three he asked. On a December afternoon in 1976, he asked me to go up to Adi Shakti Ashram and fetch a particular student. When I arrived, there was someone already there to get this student. I was taken aback. What, he didn’t trust me? Why was my time being wasted? Didn’t he know that I can be trusted? How can this be?
When I returned to the Ashram, I stupidly made it a point to let him know that I couldn’t perform his request because someone else had usurped me. Of course he already knew that, but, you know, it was way back when and before I had figured out how things worked.
So, I developed a new strategy. Whenever he asked me to do something, I’d respond, “Sir, it’s already done.” I knew that it would satisfy him on two levels: one, the yogic projection would be fulfilling; two, the issue was already settled and there was no need to ask anyone else to also do it. It worked. He began to trust me more and more. And thanks to God and Guru, I came through. Our relationship grew until I was able to spend every day with him as a trusted student. Thank God for this expression; and thank for God’s help in allowing me to come through.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Astrology and Gemology to Methodology
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Astrology and gemology are powerful forces whether you believe in it or not. because they work on the subtle level. Nevertheless, the stars and related gemstones will have their effect. I tell this story with no expression of self-aggrandizement, rather, out of a duty to share with you how I have experienced the benefits of gemology through the magnificent help of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan.
I was blessed to have purchased jewels and gems in great numbers, colors, sizes, qualities, and dimensions. Each stone a person wears has a relationship with the stars. Together, the effects of gems and the natal chart can be exponential. Each stone has a unique effect on an individual’s chart in either a positive or negative way, or somewhere in-between. Negative influences are seen as bad as they make life worse, while positive influences are good. But, that’s not how the Master saw it.
I’m getting ahead of myself. The Master and I purchased all sorts of gems, jewelry, and watches. Watches were my passion and the Master allowed me to explore deeply into watch collecting. For him, it was always about jewelry. He loved jewelry. I, along with many others, bought jewelry for him. He kept some and he gave many pieces away. He was a non-discriminating jewelry person. He never saw a piece he didn’t like. And, that was just fine with me.
My mother was a jewelry aficionado. I learned to appreciate jewelry at a young age. The Master just expanded my horizons in allowing me much than I would have allowed myself. I loved our Master and this type of thinking was something I appreciated rather than had to overcome about him. Also, I knew it was all about what he wanted, not me. So, the more our thinking was similar, luckily, the less there was to overcome. The thing is, he’s such a great lover. He loved to give me what I enjoyed as well. So, he learned to appreciate watches like never before, and I dove into jewelry. It was a delightful excursion for both of us.
Eventually, I began to study the mystical properties of gems. It’s a fascinating science and art. I began to wonder why the Master mixed and matched gems in a manner in which I had learned could work against him. Astrology defined this. Yes, there are certain basic effects of each stone, but depending upon your signs and where planets are currently located within your chart, a good astrologer can go deeper and be able to advise how certain gems will influence you personally and subtly.
Almost every astrologer will tend to lead you in the direction of where certain gems promote a good result. It’s profitable, convenient, and hopeful. Hope is the sexiest thing on the planet. And, I might add, that’s what almost everyone wants. This can be a very good thing for beginning or intermediate practitioners, but not the Master. He wasn’t looking for the easy way out. He enjoyed wearing gems which may have had a malevolent effect upon him. He wouldn’t allow himself to be subject to the stars or gems. He lived in this model. This is the model of a yogi and/or a Sikh. He was both, so look out. He enjoyed overcoming more and more challenges that certain gems afforded.
I’m not saying that he didn’t wear certain stones for certain occasions, he did. But, he was never limited by this way of thinking. If he happened to wear gems which had a benevolent effect, he felt it a respite to be enjoyed as God’s gift along the way. But, his way meant that there was nothing he couldn’t overcome on the way to victory in the name of Guru Ram Das. So, why worry. Bring it on. He was always ready, prepared, fearless, and victorious. That’s why he’s a true Master, our Master.
In fact, the Master didn’t even pick his jewelry for the day. That job fell to the secretary who was currently on duty. Yes, sometimes he requested certain pieces for certain occassions, but, typically, his jewelry was random and at God’s discretion. And, that’s just the way he liked it. He was subject to nothing except Guru Ram Das, period.
I used to wear gemstones in sets or stones with complimentary relationships. Now, I don’t care what I wear. I leave that up to my intuition and my Guru. I have been freed from the mundane value of being subject to the stars. Now, the stars are just entertainment and a “heads up” on what may be in store. Whatever I get when picking my jewelry, I’ll deal with and I thank God for the opportunity of accelerating the karmic test in order to free myself from, yet, another trap.
The reward is a more and more enjoyable carefree life. One in which life is a constant prayer in devotion to He who makes sure that every challenge undertaken is conquered effortlessly. Who wouldn’t be in awe of such a person who bestowed this gift upon me? He then brought me to my Guru, “the man” who gives me more than I could have ever given myself.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, God's Lens is like a Mercedes Benz
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Way back in the 50’s (yes, I’m that old), there used to be a TV show called People are Funny. It was very popular as it showed the lighter side of life but mostly how funny contestants look when they react to unexpected consequences. The show lasted for decades because of its adherence to this one concept. Evidently, people never tire of being able to laugh at life, and even, or maybe more so if it’s at another’s expense. Anyway, the show did very well.
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would point out that this show was not just entertaining for people but became another way for them to escape from the pain of reality. Yes, he always had many different ways of viewing every situation. My test was to understand as many ways as possible of viewing these subtleties of life. We can smugly think ‘Oh, look at that guy, he’s really short-sighted and naive! He’s reacting the wrong way to his being misunderstood or tricked.’ And, we’d be right in thinking that way. However, this is one of those cases where it’s possible to be absolutely right and totally wrong at the same time.
The Master went on to explain “Yes, from one perspective, these people on the show were stupid because their reactions came back to bite them. That's one way of seeing it. They may or may not be stupid, but only so in our eyes. Just because we can see something they did which we view as wrong, remember it is so easy to judge others. Everyone wants to hear what’s right about them, but it’s the rare person who asks the question, what do you think I am doing wrong? In fact in the eyes of God we are all stupid, so all judgments of others should be suspended. This way one has the chance of saving oneself from the karma of being seen as stupid by others and by God. You may view some as stupid but whoever declares another to be stupid really opens the floodgate of judgment upon themselves.”
The Master continued on this warm spring afternoon in 1992, “When you start to see things through God’s lens, true compassion enters your life. All that’s necessary is to see things from 40,000 feet above and not just from ground level.”
When you look from above and realize that no one is a challenge to you anymore; when you look at people only to serve their higher consciousness; when you know that you’ll meet and defeat every challenge through devotion; then, and only then, can your service to humanity be real. By real, I mean that you’ve been blessed by God to no longer be haunted by insecurities. It doesn’t matter whether others see this true service; some will and some won’t. The only thing that matters is that you “keep up” looking to serve others. When the time is right, God will see it and bless you.”
We were driving to lunch and the Master was talking to a guest seated in the back seat who was a long time student from the east coast, but his statement tweaked a question from me, “Sir, do you mean that by continuing to serve God that He will eventually do the work of relieving me of my insecurities of fear, hate, jealousy, anger, and frustration?”
“No, son, He does not do your work for you. You will be freed of these insecurities through serving Him, ‘service to Him IS the work.’ Service is the cost for this blessing. It is not free. Service is sacrifice and it’s not an easy task. But, it just may be easier than working on your own insecurities, especially when you can’t see many of them. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a price to pay, even with God’s help. At least He will provide you with the right tests to overcome; tests which you probably didn’t know about. He puts you on the right path; the rest is up to you. So, why not let God do the job you can’t do and you do the job you can, and let everything balance out. Just keep serving!”
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A Different Interpretation of Communication
I had heard him ask this same question many times. It was part of his excellence in communication. He often talked in ways which belied logic. This was one of those times.
He was a Doctor of Communication. In addition, he was the master of communication. How he communicated may not have been understood or appreciated by everyone, but that’s because his communication was so subtle that it was out of the reach of many. But, make no mistake about it; he got his point across when no one else could. Let me give you an example.
We were seated in Jerry’s shop on a crisp spring afternoon in 1994. The Master occasionally would meet with a student who needed his urgent attention right in the shop. The student in question was under extreme pressure to change the way she acted. Here’s the kicker: she truly believed from head to toe that she was absolutely right in her thinking, even to the point of being self-righteous about it.
The situation had escalated to the point of this student threatening to leave her position in the business, and others wanting her to go. That certainly was the easy way to deal with her. But the Master never did “easy”. By the way, situations like this one were a regular occurrence on the Master’s schedule.
The Master had a vast experience of how this student operated as she had been around him for several decades. Why, now, she was wondering, did things blow up? After all, for twenty years, she had seen us all put up with and cover each other. In fact, the teachings verify that covering one another is a most high concept. Here’s what isn’t immediately known: what is the intent in covering one another? (See follow up note.) Was she looking to be covered as a way to not grow herself of the business? Yes, it’s great to cover, but in order to receive God’s blessing (not just man’s), your true intent in your “heart of hearts” must be selfless. But back to covering one another: Just covering with any intent is at least the start in living the true teachings. But, more is eventually required. Otherwise, everyone’s growth is stunted.
This student had every reason to believe that others were wrong and that she must be covered. She had a fifteen year history of working for one of the Master’s companies and she knew more about the business than anyone. In fact, she was the glue of the business. She must have been way off for others to want her gone.
The Master’s insight into this student had him ask his question, “Why do you think that?”
This was his creative way to provide the best way to be heard. He knew that this student had a long history of never listening to another and always finger pointing. Nothing was ever her fault. Not even the Master could tell her what to do. Automatically, she would assert that it wasn’t her issue.
So, the Master asked her why she thought her way of acting was worthwhile. Now, the statement, “Why do you think that” can have many interpretations. But, the Master’s demeanor left no doubt about what he meant. At this time, he wanted to let her know that he was interested in why someone would act the way she did and, in the event it was worthwhile, he would learn something from it. Conversely, if it wasn’t worthwhile, he expected her to be smart and leave her self-defeating actions.
Does this way of teaching work? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. At least there’s a chance of success. Otherwise, telling her how to act would only have fallen on deft ears and had no chance to succeed. This is how the Master did his duty; the rest is left up to the student. He gave each student the opportunity for the best chance to succeed.
In this case, this student had to verbalize, justify, and make an honest attempt to not rationalize her actions. He forced her to look at the reasons for her actions or realize that they continue to haunt her until she dealt with it. It worked! She did change! Of course, not fast enough for others, but that was their problem. The Master had to compassionately deal with her in a neutral manner. He didn’t challenge her answers, or, as I may say, excuse her actions. He wanted her to do this over a period of time. He was patient. It did cause some consternation in other students. But, he wasn’t here to satisfy any student’s whim, he was here to teach all and each at their level. It isn’t up to the sincere student to question what the true teacher does.
Over the years of witnessing meetings like this one, I’ve seen the Master make countless statements like the one above. There were many slight variances like, “Is that what you think” and “Here’s what I think.” Each had its own unique method of communicating a message so it would be best heard. And, here’s the best part, he did all this effortlessly. He did this without even thinking about it. All his teachings just flowed through him as he always acted in the common good for the elevation of all. This is a true “carefree” existence, not careless, but effortless and carefree. His prayer was to serve all as a humble servant of Guru Ram Das.
See Sikh Definitions.
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Occasionally, I receive a question from which everyone may want to hear the answer. This is another one.
"Sat Nam. Thank you for sharing these stories. I am not so sure about the meaning of "covering one another". If you have time, I would be happy to receive some insights about that. And also I wanted to know, since Yogi Bhajan is not there anymore, who is taking the responsibility to confront people when they dysfunction? Blessings."
“Covering” one another has a complex set of rules. It starts with the elevated spiritual concept of helping everyone, not purposely harming anyone and not exposing other’s weaknesses and errors. It also implies building another, in spite of their inadequacies and not exposing their faults. Self-sacrifice and humility would be called on as well, as covering others often happened behind the scenes. It was part of our new goal of living for another, not at another; of going from individual consciousness, to group consciousness to ultimate universal consciousness. In the early days on this spiritual path, as yogis-in-training, we were all going for the gold and we were actively dropping our past habits of insecurity and competition. Learning this concept of “covering” meant It was safer to cover everyone and tolerate almost everything and not take any chances of not doing right by looking for exceptions to the "covering" teaching.
But as a growing spiritual Sangat we sometimes felt we were tested to look more deeply into the “covering” concept. This was the case in the story below. The student in question had been covered for years. Her behavior had been tolerated as well. This is where the those around her had been pushed against the wall to see if covering her now was really delaying her spiritual growth and causing problems for the business she led. Shouldn't this be addressed? Life was beginning to confront her creating tension with her associates. And for them, their test was to ask themselves first “Is what I am sensing real or a rationale? Am I acting with compassion or passion?” And verification was sought through consciousness, intuition, the teachings and history. What the student didn’t realize was that we, as a spiritually growing Sangat, had progressed to the point of experimenting with exceptions to the “covering” rule. We needed more out of ourselves and we needed more out of others, so just covering each other’s faults could sometimes be unproductive for all. That’s not a bad thing, but, devoid of compassion it becomes a self-serving initiative.
The Master wouldn’t let this happen; individual students always came first. In this case, as in all cases with the Master, any delay caused by his compassion and persistance in never giving up on a student, was more than compensated by Guru Ram Das. True compassion is recognized and rewarded by the Guru. Through his faith in Guru Ram Das, the compassionate giver to all, he once again was a living expression of Truth. Our business and our Dharma benefited tremendously under the Master's compassion.
This concept of “covering” extends into creating the Aquarian model of business established by the Siri Singh Sahib. He had two goals, not just one: first, businesses must be profitable; and, next, businesses must create “good will”: good will in the world and, also, good will within our own structure and Dharma. By never giving in, by keeping up and continuing to work with all, good and not so good, he, us, and our establishments were blessed beyond our capacity. We rode the right horse with him. He was the real deal, one blessed by God. We were and are all very lucky.
As for who takes the responsibility to confront people when they dysfunction, even though it is not a pleasant job, I am one of those who does talk to people when I see they are shooting themselves in the foot. Others may do this as well, all I speak for is myself in this instance.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Let It Be
Sat Nam, Dear Family! “Let it be,” the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said to me. It was a cold and rainy autumn day in 1993 at the ranch in New Mexico. This weather was unusual for this time of the year. That should have foretold something to me. But, that kind of sensitivity hadn’t yet entered my life. To me, one day was just like another. Not so on this auspicious day, I finally “got it”!
It always took me way too long to “get something.” In retrospect, I always felt like I was stupid for not “getting it” sooner. After all, after you “get something,” it always seems so simple and you should have “gotten it” sooner. But, I did realize that it’s the same with everyone who finally “gets it,” so I didn’t let it affect me.
The Master had said these words, “Let it be” to me on many occasions. At first, it didn’t even register with me. I probably didn’t usually even remember him saying it, but I know he did – many times. Then, for a considerable amount of time, I remember thinking to myself, ‘what does he mean by “let it be”. Doesn’t he realize that the situation must be dealt with? How can I just “let it be”? I knew in my heart of hearts that he was right, but I just didn’t understand it.
On this day I brought something up with the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan. In the past, a person close to us had stolen from us both. It had not just been a theft, but a betrayal as well, a grand betrayal. Now, several years later, it appeared that this person’s life was going extremely well both financially and socially. So on this day I mentioned to the Master how frustrated I was that God was rewarding ill acts. How could this happen, especially, since his chicaneries ways were continuing? As usual, “let it be” was the Master’s answer.
Up until now I had been making an effort to learn this lesson. First, I had just practiced not listening to myself and not judging the Master. Second, I practiced “letting it be,” even though I didn’t know what he meant or what I should do, I began to focus on what it meant to “let it be.” Eventually, I was driven to other ways of thinking which were different than my own habitual thinking until, finally, the “Ah Ha” moment arrived. This was that day.
He was teaching me a practical way to understand and experience the difference between duty and faith. “Let it be” didn’t mean to not do your duty. It meant to let the anger, the frustration, the hate, the jealousy, the fear go. Everyone’s karma is their own karma, so why fret over another’s. It’s useless and self-destructive. Just do what you must and leave others to their own situations. Worrying, or being caught up in other people’s trips has no long term positive outcome. Be smart and focus elsewhere.
In fact, it really all comes back to our basic teaching: God is the doer and the only argument one should have is with Him, the Creator. Have Faith in the Ultimate and stop wasting time thinking about useless things. This is why I love the Beatles song “Let it be.” It has become a reminder to me how faith trumps manufactured duty without compromising true duty.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Gambling Scandal Dismantled
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I used to love gambling. I don’t mean to say that I was addicted, but, when available, I did avail myself. Every gambler has a point when there’s enough money at stake to quick kick their adrenals into high gear. It’s an organic high and I know why it can become addicting. Thank God that never was my issue. I just visited once and a while.
Las Vegas was always fun: plenty of entertainment, lots of shows, good food, gambling, activity everywhere. It’s a unique place, a place to explode your excitement level and it was just up my alley. Springtime in Vegas was a great time of the year. The weather was near perfect day after day adding golf to the list above. I had until 12:30 to do as I pleased after which I would dress in bana (formal Sikh attire) to join the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan on his day's journey.
On this day in 1991 I had forgone morning golf to try my luck at the craps table. Now, I was a good craps player. I know all the odds and I know table money management. I know how to play so that all I have to do to win is be lucky. Most players have to be extra lucky to even have a chance to win. I was having a nice run. While standing at a table next to the runway leading to the elevators so that if the Master entered I’d notice, the Master caught me off-guard and slapped me on the back.
“Had enough son?” Before I could answer he then said “Stay here.”
I responded, “No, I’m joining you now.” I picked up my chips and off we went. Both of his statements had subtle meanings. It took me quite a while to realize what he truly meant. Let me explain.
“Had enough son,” meant for today, or forever. Which did he mean? Of course, in my heart of hearts I knew he meant forever. But, I justified not giving up gambling immediately into being satisfied with its obvious meaning just for now. It took me a while longer to give up adrenalin gambling for good.
The Master rarely told me what to do. He knew my personality too well for that. I had to learn by his example or his riddles. I learned by “ah ha” moments not by direction. What a great teacher he was, and is, by teaching me in the only way I could grow. My limit was myself, but, thankfully, he never gave up on me even if I delayed the inevitable as I did in this case.
“Stay here,” had several meanings for me. First it gave me permission to continue gambling without prejudice, without guilt. Through his kindness, he didn’t want to lay a guilt trip on me, so he gave me permission to screw up again. Thank you again, sir!
Next, “Stay here,” meant to make a choice: Will I jeopardize my commitment to serve him by staying at the table, or go with him and live that commitment? I never made this mistake. Thank God, my saving grace was that I always went with him. And, so did I on this occasion. The Master came first. By His Grace, I was given the priceless insight to know that putting your teacher first brings the biggest rewards! I now reflect on my good fortune. How is it that I lasted when many others didn’t? I have witnessed so many students come and go. They too were looking for expansion and fulfilled hope but sadly they couldn't get past putting their needs first.
I learned that an adrenalin rush is just a physical one. It has its place, but it’s limited and only satisfies the physical. Without being balanced with the mental and spiritual, adrenalin gambling is a lesser experience so I don’t bother anymore. Here's the best part, when you keep keeping up, God rewards your faith, your sacrifices and your service beyond your wildest dreams!
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A Mouthful from Khalsa Council
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Quite a few people have asked me my perspective on the Khalsa Council meetings which concluded last week. Since many readers of these emails are outliers (not associated with any ashram) I think it’s appropriate to reiterate what I’ve told others. In fact, many members have also asked my opinion, so here goes.
First of all let me say that it was heartwarming to see who was at the meetings. They’re the winners. Yes, there are others, but this Council body was a great representative of who’s made it this far so far. This is how it’s supposed to be. Many have left this Council. The Siri Singh Sahib said many many times that this dharma purges itself. He said, “There are people you know in our dharma ... all the Mukhias and others may leave. I’m not upset about it because it’s very difficult to be in my presence or to be in my grace and then live it. So then go, fine, what difference.”
Those who are still left deserve to stand and deliver into the future. Some will and some won’t. And, that’s the way it’s supposed to be until we become a lean, mean, dharmic machine.
Now, that being said, there was one overriding consistent issue was expressed my many individuals at the meetings. Starting with “check in” and continuing through ongoing conversations, members are going through life affecting changes. Facing and meeting these challenges is the blessed opportunity for those still standing tall. Health issues, aging issues, financial issues, marriage issues, I could go on and on, and, these weren’t just your normal run of the mill issues; these were dramatic life changing challenges forcing each member to rely on the teachings to deal with each test.
Some will require and seek out help with this process. The KC should provide this help. That’s the feeling I got. I love this idea. People have gotten it wrong for centuries: we don’t just support one another in hard times, we do so under the banner of prosperity as well. Prosperity means that we “check in” with one another to support them in “keeping up.” And, “keeping up” doesn’t mean just physically, it means mentally and spiritually, by continuing to practice getting better, as well. This is what makes us different. We’re Khalsa, we never give up practicing following the teachings.
The Khalsa Council grows individually and collectively through each individual continuing to work on him/herself. The Council will momentarily shrink as some let their discipline go. But “when one falls, ten will come in their place.” This is the process. It’s a fabulous opportunity for us all to continue “keeping up.” It’s the chance we all have earned. My prayer is that all match up, but I know that’s it’s up to each member’s discipline coupled with the blessing of Guru Ram Das. Whatever will be, will be, but one thing’s for sure, this dharma will be the winner. The Khalsa Council will emerge as a true leadership body. A relevant body, exercising true leadership qualities, will prevail. The emerging Council with its vision and mission will inspire many devotees to sacrifice towards the goals established. Now, that’s leadership!
So, we’re moving in the right direction. The meetings displayed the true good intent on the part of the Siri Singh Sahib Corp. which is the final decision making body in our organization. Of course, as the Master used to say, “Intent is just the beginning." The formula is sadhana, aradhana, and prabhupati,” the coming (intent), the doing (discipline), and the experience (the success of it). Therefore, this body displayed a sovereignty which verified that the process is moving in the right direction. I’m content, I didn’t say satisfied. I just like the direction we’re going and I’m patient.
What is the ingredient which makes this direction real? Flexibility is the answer. The more flexible one is, the more likely that person or that body is able to change. After all, we all recognize that we came here to change our beliefs, not cling to them like our life depends upon it. This critical flexibility is needed to change our way of thinking into thinking like the Guru has instructed. So, saying it again, flexibility in the Guru’s direction is what’s required. Let’s see who takes this challenge seriously. That’s what I learned at the Khalsa Council, and that’s what’s required of the Khalsa Council. I had a good time.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Game of Love isn’t just About the Morning Dove
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Here’s how you get even with someone with no karma attached. You forgive them and support them in doing better than they are currently even if they are harming you. You do it to the point that they’re so grateful for your compassion that they can’t thank you enough. Of course, you don’t allow this display of adoration to continue publicly. But, you win again. That was the attitude of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan.
He never gave up on anyone. They always gave up on themselves; it was never the other way around. The Master had a group of secretaries who had surrendered their lives to him. The reasons don’t matter. They served him and he committed to then. When other students left this dharma, they did so at their own risk. When a secretary left, they did so with his continued commitment and he did everything he could to maintain a positive relationship. He had made a personal commitment to all of them and he never broke that bond. Don’t you expect that of a teacher, I did, and, he never disappointed.
When a secretary left, or sort of left, he was still always available, once again, for any of them to experience his grace. He was committed and it showed. Others around him may have shuttered at his continued intimacy, but that never deterred him. His commitment to them was up to them and he tried to influence their decision through his graceful manner. For some, including me sometimes, these continuing relationships were an ongoing irritant although they did provide another form of learning and were interesting to view.
Don’t you want your teacher to live to the highest standards he teaches? Shouldn’t he demonstrate that a commitment is forever, come what may? If he said he loved you, he meant it. Maybe not in the manner you wanted or expected, but in his manner he truly loved you. He loved the God in you. His job was to remove the junk in you that gets in the way of revealing your Godly nature. Naturally, that dirty job is most usually rejected, demeaned, ridiculed and repulsed. Most do not naturally gravitate towards the pain that comes with change through the elimination of flaws and they love to blame the messenger.
But, that’s the true game of love and he couldn’t change it. I saw him live it daily. Why do I say all this, I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve won the lottery, you’ve chosen the right teacher. You've beaten tremendous odds. I can tell you this categorically because I saw and experienced his grace. I never want to lose his grace, so that should tell you something about what I think about him. He can deliver; He did deliver; He can show you places that you’ve never even dreamed of; He can provide what you can’t provide yourself. He’s the real deal. Please, don't miss this blessed opportunity!
So, for me, there’s no greater blessing than for the Master to get even with me. I am so grateful that there’s such a man on the planet who only gives to me and doesn’t react to me. He’s right once again. If he will continue to allow it, I will spend the rest of my life in devotion to him for his help with every aspect of my life which continues to blossom, in spite of myself. This is how he got even with me. This is the kind of teacher to have. Thank you again, sir, for never giving up on me. I only want to make you happy and content with me.
See Sikh Definitions.
"It is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know. It is
Yogi Bhajan, A Carriage for the Disparage of Marriage
Sat Nam, Dear Family! On a cold and drizzly Saturday afternoon in October of 1993, as I was walking from my trailer to the ranch house, I spotted the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, walking from his “Dome”, his geodesic bedroom, through this dismal weather, with just a shawl wrapped around him and a cute house turban haphazardly placed around his head. It once again reminded me that with all his outward royalty, he was also and always a humble yogi as well. I quickly jogged up to join him. Earlier, I had received a call from the secretary on duty to “meet the Master at the ranch house.”
We were scheduled to go to the flea market, but that wasn’t until much later. Why was he out early? Parenthetically, I might say that the Santa Fe flea market back then was a great attraction for visitors to New Mexico and locals as well. It was like a fair from the Middle Ages with an vast array of goodies. The Master used to have a lot of fun shopping there. It was like being in India; he could, and did, negotiate with every interesting possible purchase.
At this particular moment, we hadn’t even had lunch. I didn’t think he wanted to go early because he wasn’t dressed in his usual bana (spiritual regalia), but, then again, I’d never put anything past him. After all, I’d seen him go out on several occasions dressed like he was on this day.
“Come with me, son,” he said as we both hurried the few steps to the ranch door. “This is going to be interesting.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I knew a lesson was about to come my way. We opened the two doors leading into the ranch house, passed through the kitchen, then the dining room and on into the living room where a married couple was sitting. I recognized them as long time students.
The man began to speak before we were even seated, “Sir, we’re getting a divorce and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you don’t agree, then I’ll leave this dharma and get a divorce anyway. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that’s how I feel and nothing can change my mind.” Well, that was an opening statement which was certainly unusual, although I had known that this couple was having trouble for a long time. The Master began to laugh. He often would laugh when a session with a student would become too emotional. It would usually break the ice and allow the student to become more relaxed. This time it didn’t work. In fact this man became visibly angrier. His face was bright read. Thankfully, he held finally his tongue and we were spared what we all would have been sorry to hear.
“I don’t agree to your divorce and I never will. I will tolerate whatever you decide to do.”
“Why don’t you agree,” the student shot back?
“Because there’s more than you involved and I don’t want to see those beautiful innocent children of yours hurt and damaged. For me, it’s not about you. I know you’ll do what you want to do. You always do. But now, it’s not just about you.”
“So, you want me to stay married for the sake of my two kids,” the student asked rhetorically? “Won’t that be more harmful to them? Living in a home devoid of love is terrible.”
The Master answered gracefully, patiently, and honestly, “Living to a lifelong commitment is never wrong. Keeping up through the pain of life will show your kids what tolerance it takes to be trustworthy. I want you to care for more than yourself; I want you to be greater than you are; I want you to sacrifice whatever is necessary for the success of leaving children better than you; I want you to close your eyes each night with the sense of having lived a life of satisfaction. I want you to focus further out. I will tolerate whatever you do because that’s what I must, but I cannot and will not accept that these innocent children should be hurt for your wants and emotions.”
His wife began to speak, “I hate this man. How do you expect me to live with someone I hate? He thinks he knows everything and when we follow his way, we always wind up in trouble. I don’t need this anymore. I can do much better by myself.”
The master smiled and responded, “Darling, hate’s a strong word. So, this is all about your comfort level? You’d sacrifice the well-being of your children for this nonsense? Have you ever once looked at this man in a positive light? I don’t think so. You were trained to see only the worst in others. That’s your habit and you don’t see it. So I tell you this in the hope that this man becomes a lesson lived and learned and not just another tragedy. If you really want a divorce, I’ll tolerate it. But, I’m bound to give you an alternative. You may not like it, that’s not my problem. There is another way out and I’m bound to remind you of it, like it or not. This man is actually a blessing for you. If you can start to see the best in him, you’ll see what a difference it will make in your life. If you do, you’ll claim it as the best thing you’ve ever done in your life even though you don’t want to even hear about it today.”
Everyone in the room, including me, sat stunned in silence for a short moment, but it seemed like forever. The Master had laid it out what it was all about loud and clear and all heard it well. The couple looked at one another and smirkishly smiled; another effort at keeping this marriage together was in store.
I’ve had over twenty years to watch this story unfold. It’s a story with a Hollywood ending. Not all stories ended like this one has, but when they do, it’s an honor to write about them. This couple is still together and their children are doing wonderfully. I serve langar (community meals) every chance I get and it allows me to view the language and body language of Sangat members several times a week. I’ve been fortunate to watch this couple grow together. I can tell that it’s been tough, but today I can see the results. It’s beautiful to see; I know how much pain and sacrifice it has taken.
Sangat members serving langar
Last week was the “piece de resistance.” Out of the blue, this woman confided in me, “Hari Jiwan, you were there for many discussions I’ve had with the Master. Well, I have been practicing seeing my husband in a positive light for many years and, lo and behold, although it’s taken a long time, I’ve seen him become the man I always wanted. Or, maybe, he always was these things and I couldn’t see them. In any event, it’s great now. And here’s the best part, it’s not only positive things I now see in him, but the whole universe is now a great experience. Thank God the Master kept after us in spite of ourselves. He was right: this experience has been the greatest thing in my life.” Yes, thank God.
See Sikh Definitions.
Soon to be Governor of New Mexico, Gary King
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Gary is the current Attorney General of New Mexico and the leading Democratic canidate for Governor. His father, Bruce King, was Governor of N.M. for an unmatched four terms. Bruce and Yogi Bhajan were good friends.
See Sikh Definitions.
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