Yogi Bhajan, The Elation or Flirtation with Liberation
Sat Nam, Dear Family! In 1978 I was very new to this Dharma. I had been doing Kundalini yoga for five years or so and had only been totally committed to this path and living in an ashram for less than two years. Fortunately, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, had been having me be his driver for the last year and our relationship had grown to an intimate stage. I was now able to talk to him in a relaxed mode.
As is not unusual, at this time, I was still attached to many earthly desires. Not that that’s a bad thing, but, eventually, it will get in the way of merging into the Infinite. In this Dharma, we go through the earth to get to the ether. The test is to enjoy yourself but know where it all comes from and what it’s all about and, eventually, letting Guru take care of the earth as well as the ether. That’s a long way from where I was at the time.
“Sir, how much devotion is enough, I mean, what’s the minimum required for liberation?” I don’t know why I asked our beloved teacher this question. I wasn’t usually so up front with my limitations but, I just needed to know what I would be required to do in order to reach my goal - liberation. I still wanted to rely on myself for what this world has to offer and didn’t have enough faith at the time to just rely on God.
I wanted to make sure that I would do enough to be accepted into Guru’s court. I came here for that reason and wouldn’t settle for less. That’s was bottom line! So, I asked our teacher what I must do. I felt it to be a fair question. After all, it meant doing what he wanted me to do up to a point. Now I wanted to know, where does he expect that point to be?
I felt that if I asked him this question, perhaps I would be graced to not have to go through the time-consuming, problematical, and cumbersome trial and error process. With his answer I’d know exactly what’s necessary for me to do in order to attain liberation.
“Thank God, our Guru is merciful,” the Siri Singh Sahib began to answer me. “He never gives up on anyone. Many give up on him. That’s His Will. The wonderful thing is that Guru’s help will happen whether we acknowledge it or not, so long as we keep on practicing to be better.”
“How do I know when I’ve practiced enough to gain liberation?”
“You’ll only know it when it happens. It’s different for everyone as each have their own karma to overcome. When it happens, it’s an experience of confidence and consciousness beyond imagination. It’s a recognition of faith as being absolutely real and totally necessary. It’s the true reliance upon Guru to take care of everything. It’s the prayer for more and more mercy from that Infinity which you serve. Serve in the way Guru calls you. There are infinite ways to serve. The more you serve, the closer you are to liberation. That’s the answer. So, how much you should do to gain liberation, that is totally up to you. Prayer helps a lot.”
“Thank you, sir,” I responded. “Thank you for answering in such a beautiful manner. Thank you for reminding me of why I’m here. Thank you for caring about my life. Thank you for your constant help. Thank you for being real. Thank you for the ride. And, mostly, Thank you for your example.”
I actually knew that there was no definite answer to my question. I was just looking for verification. Thank God our teacher through his compassion not only answered me graciously, but placated my insecurity as well. This was an example of his greatness, compassion, and grand teaching ability.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Presentment of Contentment
Sat Nam, Dear Family! The drive from the Ashram in Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley was always tiresome. Traffic on Coldwater Canyon Road was mostly bumper to bumper all the time. Traffic had really ratcheted up since I first arrived in Los Angeles and on this November day in 1987, it seemed like we were making this journey way too often. But, for the past few months this was where the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan's, duties were and so, once again, off we went.
Our beloved teacher liked to nap in the car. He could fall asleep on a dime. It was quite remarkable especially with the fear my driving had on most. He never seemed to mind. In fact, sometimes he would even ask me to drive recklessly in order to lose our security car. Sometimes, he just wanted to be left alone. These times were always entertaining and to top it off the car phone would ring constantly. The security car, the Secretariat and various other offices were always alerted to his disappearance and so everyone was trying to reach him. He would never answer the phone.
On this particular day, our teacher wasn’t sleeping. Sometimes at times like this, we’d say nothing, while other times, we’d talk constantly. This was a talkative day. I took full advantage and, as we were driving, I asked our teacher, “May I ask you a question sir. “Sure, go ahead son,” he answered. I began, “I’m a little confused! What is the difference between being ‘satisfied’ fulfilled and being ‘contented’? Isn’t a Sikh supposed to be contented? Don’t formal Sikhs greet one another with the term ‘santokh’ and doesn’t that mean contentment? Isn’t the purpose of life to be contented? What does the Guru mean by contentment?”
“Contentment can mean many things,” the Siri Singh Sahib began to respond. “The road to contentment has different paths. Many are adept at maneuvering around drama and, in effect, side-stepping it. This tactic has its virtue but a leader must find contentment through the heart of chaos. Those who want to be leaders must welcome challenge and even experience contentment in it. This is what separates a true leader from a fake. A true leader can, and must, deal with everything that comes his (her) way. Drama and challenge must be the spice of life, not the drudgery or avoidance of life. Contentment is not conditional; it’s real and eternal. Through thick and thin, contentment must be a constant companion. It is gratitude to the Creator for every breath at every moment.”
“But, sir, with all due respect, then what is the difference between contentment and satisfaction?” Our teacher responded, “Satisfaction is never reachable; contentment is where you live. Only God is perfect, so satisfaction is never a question. We keep striving for the goal of satisfaction even though we know that we will never attain it. We must never stop trying for that victory because the pursuit elevates us. Inside that constant lack of satisfaction grows the gift of contentment. This sweet contentment removes all fear from life and then life begins to be truly enjoyed. No circumstance can take it away. Living in contentment becomes the path to satisfaction. So they are very different but ultimately connected.”
I got it. It was an 'Aha!' moment. There was the attainable and the unattainable. The pursuit of the unattainable makes the attainable better and better. Being comfortable with paradox, in faith, produces grace experienced through greater and greater contentment. Santokh is the result.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Get the Gate
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“You may have all the friends, you may be loved by all, you may have a great spiritual teacher, you may have anything, but when you go before Dharam Raj (Sikh judgment day), the pearly gates, to see St. Peter, whatever you want to call it, you go alone when you leave this world. I can teach you, I can pray for you, but I can’t go with you.” The Siri Singh Sahib said as he was sitting in his chair at the ranch in New Mexico.
On this spring day in 1994, a group of students who had arrived to attend the Khalsa Council meetings were taking the opportunity to meet with their teacher. A group of ten or so were lucky enough to be in attendance. After langar on Sundays, students and staff usually gathered to be with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan. He often took these opportunities to teach in a more intimate environment.
The Siri Singh Sahib continued, “There’s one exception to this rule. Your Guru can go with you. When have you served enough for Guru to take you on, then Guru becomes your advocate. The more gracefully you have lived your life, the more ammunition Guru has to argue your case before God. With Guru as your advocate, the chances of passing through the Pearly Gates and unto Infinity are almost always assured.” The conversation had matriculated from some innocuous question on of the students had asked to one which had the ultimate relevance in life. Our beloved teacher traversed all stops in just one sentence.
The Siri Singh Sahib often took almost any question asked in the direction he wanted to go. This was such an occasion. This deep spiritual truth had been a focus of his teaching to students in New Mexico in the previous weeks. Now, he had a chance to teach others who hadn’t heard it before and he wasn't going to let some inane question get in his way.
Times like this are what always kept things interesting. His creativity was always at work. It was hard to once again hear that we are really all alone in this universe. But, mercifully, he gave us a way out. Serve Guru so He will become your advocate, then He becomes we. The difference between being alone, and not, is in correctly serving Guru. Not in the manner we want, but in the manner He wants. That’s the difference and that difference is found in the teachings, the unadulterated teachings, the pure teachings, the non-rationalized teachings.
And, here’s the issue. Without Guru’s help, there is no passing through the Pearly Gates. It’s only when you’ve served enough to have earned Guru’s help that enough service has been rendered to qualify you for entry. Oh, there may be exceptions, but don’t count on being one of them. Believing that you are the exception is just another rationalization (shakti pad). Avoid this way of thinking at all costs. May your prayer always be to be blessed to keep serving, no matter what.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Givers are Delivered the River of Prosperity
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I’m a giver. I don’t say that with any sense of pride or honor attached; I say it, prayfully, in the humility of knowing what a gift has been bestowed upon me. The gift I’m referring to is not primarily the ability to give, as giving is just the vehicle and many have this virtue, but, rather, being able to direct this giving nature in the absolute correct direction. This is all by Guru’s Grace.
Giving has many different avenues; time, money, service, are forms of giving. Our beloved teacher pushed each student to give in their specific way or ways. He stretched all of us. He demanded more of each: more time, more service, more devotion, more compassion, more money - he wanted expansion in all avenues. He demanded one or more of these avenues from each student. He didn’t always demand these things outwardly, many times they were intuitively understood, at least that is how it worked with me. This understanding was the cost for playing the game of giving in the right direction.
Yes, I am a giver, but I have a very common problem. I give generously when I want to. I don’t give so much if I don’t want to. Thankfully, I wanted to give to the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan's, so my giving nature worked for him and for me, but, maybe, not so much for others. And, at the time, that was fine with me, not so much our teacher. But, he tolerated this flaw as he never gave up in teaching me through his example.
Guru awaits those who give to those who deserve it the least. I actually saw our beloved teacher’s delight in doing this. He knew that he was pleasing his Guru. Naturally, some were shocked, including some of his students a time or two, but, that too, is part of the process. If your teacher did everything you wanted him to, what would there left to be learned?
Part of this great challenge is not judging the teacher so his will can be immediately followed. It really speeds thing up. And, here’s the trick: the bigger the challenge, the harder it is to give, the faster one achieves mastering this challenge and the quicker benefits are earned. Your teacher and God and Guru will take careful notice. As one exercises this mastered virtue, things will start to come your way effortlessly as your teacher, your Guru, and your God become your partner and your provider.
I’ll tell you how the Siri Singh Sahib provided for my life. I gave to him what he wanted. It didn’t matter whether or not I could afford it or cover it, I believed that if I gave to him, he would give to me. It’s a good swap because he has a lot more to give than I did. But I’m what he had, so the deal was struck. He had more than enough to cover me, in fact, he allow me to flourish. And, so, our relationship continued in this vein though the decades. Sure, there were and still are periods of adjustment, but, since he never gave up on me, through God’s Grace, I’ve been able to overcome these periods of adjustment.
The cost for this relationship is giving. Give even if you don’t like it yet, just do it! Practice giving. Worry about liking it later. Give in the name of God, give through a man of God, and don’t forget to always give in this manner. Practice giving in a devotional way. Practice a more intimate relationship with the teachings, with your teacher, with your Guru, and with your God. Practice making them all notice you in a good way. This is the cost, but the benefit is way beyond the cost. They’re not even in the same universe.
Here’s the conundrum: Even if you know and believe in the greatness in mastering this giving duty, few have the discipline and the destiny to take advantage. This is where life becomes depressing, disquieting, unsatisfied and rationalized. Don’t let this happen to you. Continue to practice giving; giving when you don’t want to, giving when you can’t afford it, giving to those who deserve it the least. Giving is the medicine for overcoming fear. Soon, the belief that you expect your teacher, your Guru, and your God to be your provider, protector and partner becomes habit and then it becomes real. Practice believing that since you give in His name, God should take care of you. At least, in the meanwhile, your teacher should fill in the temporary gaps through his relationship with his Guru. This is what we must believe. Here’s the trick: don’t judge the time it takes. It may take more patience than expected. The result is a belief in a prosperous spiritual life. And, after all, that’s what I signed up for and, as it turns out, that’s what this lifestyle delivers.
So, the issue is settled. Serve and give in innocence to your teacher and believe that your life is guided, protected, and provided for in only the right way by your teacher and your God and Guru. Your teacher brings Guru and God with him, so it all starts with him. It will turn out to be true. The truth of the experience makes everything which has been promised run, first, last, and through your teacher. Our teacher believed and believes that he and his Guru are one. If the student truly believes this and the teacher is true like ours, the virtue of true devotion comes to live in you. Actually, if you truly believe this, it doesn’t even matter if your teacher is what you think, you are blessed simply because of the devotion you’ve gained. So, it’s really a sure bet. Take advantage by serving and giving to and through your teacher. This will keep your direction in line with the Infinite.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, One Thing to Cling
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Sir, what’s the one thing that I can do which will benefit me the most. I would like to focus on one thing.” This was not a student of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, asking this question, it was a guest. Many guests asked questions of our teacher.
“Relax my friend.” answered the Siri Singh Sahib.
The friend responded, “I am relaxed. Please, what is the one thing I should do?”
“I mean to relax all the time. Relaxation is the answer to the question of what you should do.”
“Really? But sometimes, actually many times, I can’t relax. I can’t relax and be focused at the same time?”
“Because that’s how things get done?”
“Because that’s the way it is.”
“Well, that’s the way it is for you, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no written rule which says you can’t be relaxed and productive at the same time.
“How do I do that?”
“It’s easy; just remember that God is always with you. He is your very best Friend. God provides for me, he shall provide for you too. You already have the habit of responsibility, so there’s no need to drag anything else into any issue. Relax into your duty. That’s the way to enjoy it. Relax, relax, relax. Remember to relax when you need to. That’s the one thing you should do.”
I was sitting next to the Siri Singh Sahib on the couch at the Eldorado Hotel lounge in Santa Fe. Around us were a few of his secretaries, a few students and a few guests including the mentioned above. The Eldorado was our usual hangout three or so afternoons a week back in the mid 1990’s. There was almost always a guest or ten who joined us. Food flowed; conversation continued; and a live band played music.
The Siri Singh Sahib liked this environment as he said that it reminded him of a hotel in the town in India next to the cantonment (the British military station) where his father was the doctor. He spent many afternoons there listening to the piano player and having a bite to eat. I guess habits are well established, even for a yogi. And luckily for all us, this was a good habit which we all got to experience as well in these enjoyable afternoon outings.
This conversation our teacher had with this guest hit me hard. I don’t know how our guest felt, but I knew this message was meant for me as well. In fact, many things he said to others applied to me. The only way I had related to the concept of relaxing was if someone else was taking care of my needs as well as the needs of all those whom I was responsible for. He was reminding me that I had such a person. Guru promises to do this job; all I have to do is relax and let him take over. In fact, that’s why he moved me out of my business and onto the ranch in New Mexico, a thousand miles from Los Angeles. He fined any of my employees if the talked about my business to me. He wanted me to relax and practice faithfulness. Well, that’s easier said than done. First I had to believe that I was worthy to receive such a blessing.
Our teacher taught that everyone is worthy. All they have to do is truly believe that they are. The practice of increased self-esteem must be accomplished in order to believe this lie. I say lie because if you don’t believe something which you should, it’s a lie until you do believe it. So, I began practicing to believe in my worthiness even if I didn’t believe it at the time. His conversation was another reminder in a long list of reminders that he gave me. Change can be difficult. He never gave up teaching me, reminding me, prodding me, loving me, poking me, criticizing me, complimenting me. He did whatever it took to keep me directed. And, by Guru’s Grace! neither did I give up on keeping up. Together, the reminders and keeping up make a grand pair. They lead to success.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Unemotional, Devotional, Protocol
Sat Nam, Dear Family! In the spring at the ranch in Espanola, Saturday mornings were usually laid back. On this particular day in 1991 the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, came out of his dome bedroom early. The ‘on duty’ secretary notified me so I could join him. I rushed off the golf course to do so. We had breakfast together although he was almost finished by the time I arrived. He didn’t seem to mind, after all, it was ‘laid back’ time.
Seeing an opening I asked, “Sir, what is my job as Chief of Protocol?” “What do you think it is,” our beloved teacher shot back rhetorically in direct response. I started to gaze in thought. I asked him for an answer and his answer wasn’t satisfying. Mercifully, he continued, “It’s what you make of it. You set the rules and the limits. So, beware.”
I had tried many approaches to develop as Chief of Protocol but was still confused. Back in 1976 when he had given me this title, one of my time consuming jobs was to chauffeur people arriving at LAX airport. Then gradually I took more personal liberties even including instructing students how to act in our teacher’s presence. He often shot them down, not verbally, but intuitively I knew when he was pleased with me, or not. And, up until now, my impression was that he hadn’t been totally pleased with any avenues I’d taken in this role. It’s not that what I was doing was wrong, it’ just that I could tell that it was not what he wanted. His answer left me no better off than when I asked the question. Again, he left that up to me.
My game with him was for me to figure out what he wanted without being told directly. But, this test had me stumped, so I was now openly requesting his help. Then, as usual, his compassion kicked in, and he allowed me a further look into my question. “Chief of Protocol,” he explained, “has the legacy of creating and maintaining, in this dharma, a system of leadership which knows and follows the protocol, the rules. Only God is exempt from protocol and He plays by the rules anyway. The rules for this dharma are set by Guru Ram Das. This dharma must be led by leadership which follows the rules that I have set through the Grace of Guru Ram Das.”
I got it! Our beloved teacher is the direct representative of Guru Ram Das. Leadership must have faith that they know what he truly wants, have the confidence to follow that and then continually Keep Up so our teacher’s will is constantly manifested. Leadership must always display this deep trust and faith that the Siri Singh Sahib’s Mission is blessed as Guru’s Mission.
After this occasion, I began to consciously watch much more closely how our teacher thought and acted. He made it my job to see and understand his way and I was a willing participant. By the Grace of Guru Ram Das, I came more and more to know his way and what a great way it is and was! I now realize that his way was, bottom line, completely and whole-heartedly in beautiful service to Guru Ram Das. Being a slave to Guru Ram Das has its own ultimate reward. So, in serving our teacher we get a ‘tofer', two for one. By serving our teacher’s way, first, we fulfill the first duty of a student which is to follow and serve a spiritual teacher. That’s the rule. And, next, through this service, we are led to the House of the Guru. How lucky are we?
My job was now set. There are as many opinions of how this dharma is to be led as there are people in it. And, for that matter, many outside this dharma have staunch opinions as well. My job was to watch what our teacher wanted and work to make his will happen. Opinions are nice, but they’re of no consequence in this game. All that matters is what he wanted, period!
I am very grateful for the job of Chief of Protocol. I recognize it as the blessed duty of still serving the Siri Singh Sahib and his will. It’s a duty to be grateful for. There’s never enough gratitude to express gratitude. Suffice it to say, rather than feeling guilty about not being grateful enough, we are further blessed to have such a compassionate Guru who constantly puts up with all of our nonsense, in this case, not enough gratitude. That just makes me more grateful.
The test is to deal with life the way it is but just add something to it. By adding gratitude to life, life takes on another dimension. First, gratitude becomes a recognizable part of thinking. Eventually, as we keep up, gratitude becomes a constant thought without interrupting the day’s events. One’s perspective changes as gratitude enters every aspect of life. Life becomes happier and happier. And, my job becomes much easier.
My job is perpetual. My prayer is that I am blessed to keep working on myself so that I get closer and closer to Guru Ram Das and thus our beloved teacher’s will. May all the devotees who share this love and experience have the reach and resource to share this ecstasy with others so that the protocol set by the Siri Singh Sahib Ji manifests perfectly. There will always be those who want to change the system and the people running it. That’s just the way it’s is and it will always be. It’s not upsetting. Otherwise, I’d have no job to do.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Devout, No Doubt
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I watched the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, intensely. It was my job; he had made it so when he appointed me as Chief of Protocol in 1976. I was blessed to be given this sacred job and further blessed to have a front row seat to learn how to perform it. It’s my belief that you really don’t know someone until you live with them. I was further blessed to live with and be with our beloved teacher daily for thirty years.
I got to see him in a myriad of situations. When a unique situation occurred, I watched more closely. I wanted to know how he’d handle touchy situations. Sometimes, these situations were handled in a unique, out-of-the-box, manner; sometimes, in the expected way; sometimes, they were delegated to others; sometimes, they were thrown open for discussion. They were always handled appropriately although, I must admit, I didn’t necessarily agree with all decisions at the time. Sure, he made mistakes. He’d be the first one to acknowledge this fact. But, here’s the best thing, even his mistakes were covered by Guru Ram Das, that’s the way it always is with a true servant of the Guru. So, ‘all’s well that ends well’.
I was committed to him, but I also had my radar up to detect any deception. In my insecurity, I needed to make sure that I was on the right path. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than I expected, and I expected a lot. I expected a path which would give me the opportunity to become and deliver my dreams.
I had committed to this path because our teacher taught the height of my dreams – the experience of God consciousness, samadhi, nirvana, enlightenment, whatever name you want to give it. lt turns out that my self-imposed lofty goal was shortsighted! Our teacher delivered even more, so much more! You might ask how can there be more than enlightenment, God consciousness…? Let me explain.
So, going back to my doubts. In spite of them all, our beloved teacher, in his compassion, overlooked this total insubordination (judgment) and kept giving to me. My judgment didn’t get in the way of his compassion. This is how he came through and delivered even more than my goal. He gave me an example, a teaching, and an experience of merger that was never-ending, not just a onetime experience of the God consciousness. Instead, miraculously, he provided a way of life where union with that identity (God consciousness) was on-going, a daily experience in the trillion cells of my being - much more than I could ever have imagined. Me and my Guru, me and God are one! It’s an ‘all the time’ thing not just a visit.
How stupid was I to act in such a disrespectful way, but that’s the way it always is. That’s the student/teacher relationship. He was, and is, so great that he understood my indiscretions and kept giving to me anyway, whether I deserved it or not wasn’t a consideration. Eventually, I started to realize his greatness, his compassion, his humility and his sacrifice. The more I experienced his vastness, the closer I was to total surrender. No longer did I have doubts. I began to realize that my doubts only held me back.
I was lucky, I had committed to the right thing. So did you. So, take advantage of it and practice surrendering to his way more and more each day. I’ve already checked it out for everyone and it’s the real thing. So, feel safe! I know his reality, I’ve experienced our teacher’s truth and I’m hoping to save you some steps.
I learned that it’s a lot better to just be devotional without the need to judge. That does leave you subject to the culture and/or teachings which may not be true. But, there’s enough truth in most cultures, traditions, religions that, if practiced in a genuine and disciplined manner, will deliver a positive and elevated experience. We’re really lucky. We pactice a discipline - Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma - which offers us an opportunity of the highest order. We’ve earned it through our karma, so it’s best to take advantage of this opportunity no matter what the cost. Devotion will teleport you to satisfaction beyond your wildest dreams.
My message to all of you is “all you need is devotion” (I feel a song coming on!). In our dharma, devotion is demonstrated through service, service to the Infinite. You’ve found this truthful path; one that is not only quick, but delivers merger with Infinity as well. Love God, love Guru, love your teacher, and love yourself. You’re worth it and you deserve it whether you believe it yet or not. So, practice loving these four. Practice until it becomes a habit. Practice it until it becomes you. Life with devotion, gratitude, compassion, and love is a life worth living.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Be An Aristocrat Not a Scaredy Cat
Sat Nam, Dear Family! There’s a big difference between being a risk taker, a calculated risk taker, and/or a “scaredy cat.” This is where Kundalini Yoga can be a great boon: “Scaredy cats” become risk takers; risk takers become calculated risk takers; calculated risk takers become mega-successful effortlessly.
Then, why aren’t we doing the yoga more? Is it because we don't know about Kundalini Yoga? Is it because we’re lazy? Is it because we don’t believe in it? Is it because we’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked as we expected? Most people fit into one category or another or a combination thereof.
Analyze yourself. Don’t judge as emotions are not necessary, in fact, they are a deterrent. Or, are you a “scaredy cat” and can’t even take the risk of scaring yourself with the truth by analysis? This is where Kundalini Yoga works best. It gives you what you can’t even dream that you’ll become or deserve. After practicing for a while you will need to just “keep up” even though your thinking keeps telling you it won’t work. At this point, suspend your imagination and just do it. Then, after you begin again, you may began to give up again because, as you've always suspected, you’re just not getting the value you’re looking for. Again, at this point, suspend your judgment. All judgment does is offer the unnecessary opportunity of seeking your normal level of success, which is what “scaredy cat’s” do.
Don’t be defeated because of your “scaredy cat” nature. Here’s the best part, when you get to this point, you’ve already been given enough additional energy and projection from the time you’ve put in doing Kundalini Yoga. So, now you can challenge your “scaredy cat” nature successfully, even if it still doesn't seem possible. Eventually, your reality will match up to your new found courage, and this challenge becomes automatic and effortless.
Well, you ask, what about just being plain lazy? What can I do about that? Once again, the gift of Kundlini Yoga can transcend this tendency. So, there’s no excuse. Kundalini Yoga will cure laziness. This is the one place in the Universe we can’t afford laziness. If you do nothing else in your life, do Kundalini Yoga. That’s my experience and I want to share it with you.
I was always a risk taker, but not a calculated one. Naturally, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs in my life. It comes with the turf. Nevertheless, I’ve been lucky. Just because you’re a risk taker doesn’t mean that you’ll ever be successful at any risk taken. I had no idea of why I was sometimes so lucky, I was just glad that I was. Not only have I taken good risks without knowing it, I’ve done so totally ignorant of how my life was being guided. This is why I was so lucky. Guru Ram Das had my back!
All of us who do Kundalini Yoga, all of us who will do Kundalini Yoga, and all of us who have done Kundalini Yoga, fall into this category of being guided by Guru’s grace. Truly, our lives are being guided whether we realize it or not. We can fight it and succeed at that and lose the great chance we have to fulfill our destiny. Or, the quicker and the deeper we realize this gift in our life, the more and more gratitude enters our consciousness as we start to experience the results of Kundalini Yoga.
How great it is to recognize that your decisions are more than you. You’re constantly going in an upward direction. Your life is totally relevant and you know this because of your experience, not through any knowledge. This is what the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, taught me and I share its reality with you in the humility that someone will benefit. I pray that this happens.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Vibration of the True Congregation
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Someone asked me this question last week: If you had to say one thing, what would you say was the best lesson the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, taught you? That caught me a little off guard. I paused for a second or two, then gave myself more time by talking automatically so I could still think, “Well, that’s a tough one. There were so many. To just name one would be an injustice to all he taught.” By now, I received the answer. I immediately stopped my patter and began to talk in earnest, “There’s really only one answer to this question. It’s the simplest answer. It’s the obvious answer, it’s the answer hidden in plain sight. The Siri Singh Sahib taught me that no matter what I believed, no matter what I knew, no matter what I wanted, no matter anything, the Sadh Sangat, the community of the disciplined ones, their needs must be considered first. He taught me that the first question I must ask myself when presented with an issue affecting our community was ‘what answer is in the best interest of the Sadh Sangat.’”
The questioner then responded, “I don’t really understand. Do I need to consider the Sadh Sangat when I’m even balancing my checkbook?” I answered, “Well maybe, if it effects the Sadh Sangat.” That answer forced his face to contort. I realized that he needed more of an explanation.
“Our beloved teacher taught leadership, leadership in the right way. As he often said, “I came to America to create teachers, not devotees. Great teachers often make great leaders as teaching is an intrical part of leadership.” Leadership into the Aquarian Age must be steeped in the depth of reality. Leadership in this dharma must run through the Sadh Sangat. And, leadership must be based on the teachings in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, our living Guru. The Siri Singh Sahib truly believed in what the Guru commands. He lived it well; he taught it better; he experienced it best.”
So, the greatest lesson he taught me was to respect the Sadh Sangat first, last, and always. This is the way to true leadership of this dharma. If this is followed, any decision made can never be wrong. That’s a good place to be. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sadh Sangat will always agree or like what decisions or opinions I have. Remember, the standard is to do what’s best for the Sadh Sangat based on the teachings. That means that sometimes the Sadh Sangat and I might be at odds. But, know that I must do what’s best no matter what. I’m willing and trained, as we all must be, to take this risk.
This one lesson has many blessings. It means that you’ve put something above yourself - the Sadh Sangat. It means that you believe in something greater than the obvious - you live in faith. It means that you’ve linked up to your teacher’s chain, legacy - you can now lead a relaxed, faithful, fun, creative, joyful, entertaining, serviceful life. It means that the Sadh Sangat has led you to the Guru’s Court. Guru Ram Das says, “Meeting with the humble Saints, Nanak finds the Lord in the Sadh Sangat, the True Congregation.” || 3 || 8 || 15 || Page 448-449
I don’t know how anyone would deny my choice of this, the best lesson, but I’m sure there are many who will. That’s fine. That’s the way it always is. I am the self-appointed ‘Sangat Representative,’ and I take this job personally and seriously. I’ve been instructed by my teacher to do this job well. He gave me the title of Chief of Protocol. So, what I feel, what I know, what I believe has no bearing on how I represent the Sadh Sangat. I believe that the Sadh Sangat Rep is a most sacred job. It’s another great opportunity to show gratitude for what’s already been given. It’s a blessing I thank you all for giving me; it’s another chance to serve our teacher’s legacy. To, once more, be able to serve our teacher is my dream job. You, the Sadh Sangat, have given me this opportunity. It would be bad manners to not pay you back - in spades. Thank you again and again.
Eventually, the questioner seemed to grasp my explanation. At least he said he did. Now, you know why this is my favorite lesson.
Once, our teacher said to me, “You can have it all if you surrender to the Guru. You must surrender your thinking for the lessons of the Guru. It takes great courage, but it’s worth every ounce of worry.” This lesson allowed me to surrender. Thank you beloved Sadh Sangat. I know I owe everything to you first.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A Commanding Understanding
Sat Nam, Dear Family! We were sitting on some pillows scattered around a semi circled bench located in a small portico extending slightly out, into the backyard at the Estate in L.A. It was the spring of 1982 and we were gathered around the portico with a group of several Indian Sikh leaders whose job it was to let the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, know that they knew more than he did and that he should listen to them. Guests like these were always appreciative of what our teacher built, but also critical of how he presented Sikhism to Americans. They were convinced that they knew more, and, believe me, there was no changing their minds. This particular group didn’t play nicely.
Most Indians who visited back then were genuinely respectful of what the Siri Singh Sahib was able to build in such a short time. Some were just plain inquisitive, and, occasionally, a person or persons would visit with another agenda like the group on this day. Sometimes it was a personal journey; sometimes it was an organized journey set up to destroy our beloved teacher. It never worked, but it was always very interesting, educational, and very entertaining.
The communication was mostly in Punjabi. The Punjabi language, along with the culture, are very animated, so, that, along with the few words I understood, gave me a vague understanding of what was being said. In addition, I was sitting next to another student, a young Indian gentleman whose translation filled in what was left. The stage was set. I knew that I was in for another performance. Our beloved teacher was pure creativity and he was called on to perform. I was lucky enough to see this performance not once, but many times throughout the years.
Usually, conversations and confrontations like this day were centered on an interpretive issue related to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of Sikhism. This day was no different. I use the word ‘scripture’ only as a recognizable term; in reality, Sikhs revere the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, their ‘scripture,’ as the living embodiment of the Guru and, treat this sacred scripture with the care and respect they would as if Guru Nanak were sitting there in the flesh.
As usual, the issues revolved around interpretations in the scriptures as it related to yoga. Interpretation is, I might add, the reason for disputes in all religions. That’s why there are so many divisions in all religions. Here’s where true intuition works better than interpretation. That’s what separated our teacher from the rest - he got it!
One of the Punjabi gentleman stated rather authoritatively, “The Guru Says that yoga is to be avoided, yet you teach the most sacred form openly. How do you justify that?” “I don’t have to justify it. Around the time the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was compiled, yogic siddhis (powers) were often abused” our beloved teacher answered. “What do you mean by that,” was the response shot back.
Now, this was and is the objection most frequently used against us. At the time of the Guru’s, yoga was used for ill purposes and was feared by the public. Now, denying the benefits of yoga is a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It’s not yoga which was wrong, but the people using it. Most things worthwhile can be used for good or not so good purposes. Yoga is no different. This fact was lost on this Punjabi group. And, I might add, their minds were inflexible on this point. So, no answer would satisfy them.
Nevertheless, in his grace, in his humility, and in his patience, our teacher began to answer. “The Guru also talks reverently about yoga as well. What do you choose to believe? And, how do you justify your position? In analyzing this challenge, the only answer which satisfies both positions is that the frame of reference, the timing, is wrong. What was happening then was different than today. If you understand the times in which the Guru’s lived, the supposed inconsistency is reconciled. There is no contradiction. This is why we find no problem with yoga. In fact, we believe it’s a grand blessing and it is perfectly aligned with Sikhism. And, unless apparent contradictions in any scripture are reconciled correctly, truth cannot be found.”
Another Punjabi responded in a predictable way offering his objection to this answer. It soon became apparent that the Siri Singh Sahib couldn’t be heard. I then noticed a different demeanor in our teacher. He shut down, at least internally. He listened patiently without reacting to the bevy of criticism leveled his way for the next five minutes.
The unwritten and unspoken objective of this group was to asked our teacher only a question to which the only acceptable the answer was the one they wanted to hear. Otherwise, sarcasm, slander, and contempt was their response. He never fell for these shoddy attempts to discredit or condemn him or his mission. He never let that happen. In fact, he had his own way of satisfaction. Let me explain further.
Then, the next question appeared: “Where did you study and who did you study under,” asked another in this group? Now, this is the Indian way of using the subtle and underground caste system to demand obedience (Yes, Sikhs use this subtle form of condescension as well even though they shouldn’t’.) But, our teacher was a true Sikh and there is no caste system in pure Sikhism.
Our beloved teacher was the true representative of the Guru. His Guru pulled no punches. He bowed to his Guru, and not to any man because of caste or whatever. In fact, if you really want to play this status card, please remember, he’s the representative of Guru Ram Das, Guru Ram Das in all his humility and royalty together, is the true king, the “Sachay Patishah, the King Of Kings. That combination of humility and bestowed royalty is the trait of a true king or queen. There is nothing higher than when God bestows his royalty, not man. Life is better and better to experience. Gratitude is exaggerated. Devotion is real. Protection is guaranteed. Contentment is assured.
The Siri Singh Sahib began to answer once more. I noticed that the manner of his response changed. He now spoke in a teaching manner, no longer expecting any interaction. “My teacher is Guru Ram Das. I just chant Wahe Guru in his name. Here’s what He demands of me: Are you prepared to forget everything you know? Do you truly want to do that? Without that commitment there is no success. God is not a joke. Focus is a must. Dharana (concentration) is the only friend available. Use it for the right purpose and you’ll ride the wave of consciousness which will take you right through the Guru.” That’s all he needed to say and that’s all he said. Blank looks permeated his audience. Shock would be more accurate.
The slight pause in any response told me all I needed to know. Of course, after gathering themselves again, condemnation of our teacher’s answer began in unison, totally supportive of one another’s reasoning. Their inflexibility in even being unable to see anything besides their view told me who they were. It made me even more grateful to God for giving me a teacher who I can always believe in.
Our teacher’s answer was beautiful, was insightful, was conscious, was humble, was real, was sacrificing, was surrendering, was merging, and was universally so. It was a spiritual kick in the pants! By denying his answer, this group exposed themselves in a way they couldn’t see, but our teacher did. It satisfied him to know that he was not the pursuing path of these limited people. Thank God, the blessed Punjabi Sangat can see more than these intellectuals. Yes, it was a very interesting, educating, entertaining, satisfying afternoon for me as well..but mostly another reminder of all the miracle we had been given in our teacher!
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Wilt the Guilt
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Sir, why can’t I keep up doing what I’m supposed to? Why do I feel good about myself sometimes, then I don’t?” We were sitting in Dr. Alan’s living room in L.A. before our usual journey to lunch. I was glad that I arrived early on this crisp spring day in 1989. As usual, I was sitting on the couch as the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was counseling his guest, a student, who was sitting cross legged on the carpet in front of him. Even though they barely noticed me as I walked into the room as the counseling session continued, I experienced being right in the middle of their meeting. We were now in the heart of this session.
“Self judgment,” was our blessed teacher’s response. “First, you’re happy with how your life is going, then next, you judge yourself as unworthy of your happiness.” “Yes, sir, that’s right; how did you know?” The student said with an affectionate appreciation.
“You were Catholic weren’t you?”
“Yes, I was Catholic.”
“The fear of Christ’s judgment and the guilt of never doing enough catches up with a lot of Catholics. Don’t feel alone, most religions promote this affliction. Even in Sikhism, one can become subject to judgment and guilt when it is not properly practiced. When a portion of the religion promotes guilt instead of acceptance, elevation becomes very difficult for that group. You’re no exception.”
“But, I’m not a Catholic anymore. I’m a Sikh.”
“Exactly, now you’ve got it. A Sikh ‘good or bad’ is Guru’s servant. If your commitment is pure, the ‘bad’ part of you is Guru’s problem, it’s no longer yours. There’s no judgment or guilt attached. All a Sikh has to do is to continually practice being more and more serviceful to Guru’s Will. That’s it, can you do that?”
“Yes, I can do that. Thank you for reminding me that self-judgment is a trap and that commitment is a blessing.”
“Let’s go to lunch.”
The student joined us as we journeyed to our favorite lunch hangout. All sorts of thoughts were wandering through my head as I drove up to Beverly Hills. Am I full of guilt and don’t see it? Can I really believe that everything I’ve ever done wrong is forgiven? Can I live a judgment free and guilt free life? How do I get to live this kind of life?
I decided to ask him. “Sir, what do you mean by serving the Guru? Don’t we already do that? Haven't we devoted our life to doing that?”
“Good,” he said. “Then there’s no problem.”
Then, I began to question whether or not there was a problem, was I doing what was necessary, “Well, what if I think I’m doing enough and I’m not?”
“You can never ‘do enough.’ The blessing of a judgment and guilt free life is Gurprasad, God’s gift, so, ultimately, it’s all up to Him. All you can do is to keep up serving and pray for his mercy.”
His answer hit me right in the heart. This is where ‘commitment’ is found. The blessing in mastering commitment in the service to God is a judgment free and guilt free life. When you, your Guru, and your God, believe, know, and experience this commitment, life is a flow of gratitude and, thus, love. Service becomes automatic and faults are changed, covered, and totally out of mind.
The life of a judgment and guilt-free person is a fearless, carefree, flow. No one can harm you, no one can hurt you, no one can affect your flow. You’re constantly in the “zone.”
The Siri Singh Sahib’s counseling was straight out of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred teachings of Sikhism: “Whether good or bad, I am Yours.,” says Guru Arjan Dev, Page 631, Line 4. Our teacher’s teachings were always straight from the Guru. That’s why he was a true teacher. That’s why we’re so very lucky.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Bull Session of Depression
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Sir, how do I get out of this depression?” We were sitting at the dining room table sipping Yogi Tea after lunch. An old time student, had joined us and asked this question of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, This was a bit unusual and caught my attention because most students’ intimate and personal questions were kept as secret as possible. There were a half dozen more of us at the table.
“Just stop it, stop being depressed,” our teacher answered almost off handedly to her. I had heard him answer this question numerous times. It appeared that depression was a common theme with many students at this time, especially women. Our beloved teacher had dealt with these issues on numerous occasions referring to it as a cold depression, a white depression, a matter of diet, a matter of habit. This was the first time I heard him deal with this issue through discipline. “Just stop it” takes great grit, great commitment, great deliverance. Conquering this discipline doesn’t just remove depression, but blesses one with confidence, sacrifice, and devotion to the student’s life. These blessings are bestowed to those who conquer depression through their discipline and their effort proves their caliber.
Then, his compassion kicked in and he began to explain how to access the discipline to conquer depression. “Depression is just the absence of gratitude. If you’re grateful for everything, there’s no room for depression to enter. It can’t. Gratitude is experienced through the recognition and submission to the reality that your life is protected and guided in proportion to your service to God. That recognition makes you want to serve more in order to be bestowed with more of God’s favor. This translates into more of God’s goodies. It’s no longer about what you want, it’s about what God gives you, and he has a far better view of prosperity than any of us.”
Here’s the best part: The rules of gratitude state that no gift from God can be refused or rejected, and must be cherished properly. Religiously, the Siri Singh Sahib would put any and all gifts he received on his altar for at least 72 hours. I used to think that this was a respectful and nice ritual. However, this day I learned the true reason. He was so grateful to God and Guru that he delighted in taking every opportunity to gracefully show his love. This taught me that the more gratitude taken into one’s life, the more life is depression free and gratitude full. It’s a great tradeoff. This was the life he lived. I loved to see it on display as in this case. It was spirituality in full bloom.
His statement further illustrates that everything comes from God, and I mean everything. Many will argue that that some things are just plain bad and no “hippy, dippy” thinking is going to change that. And, that’s what many think, including, unfortunately, some students. Their reality is that life is made up of “bad and good” and they are two separate and succinct things. This way of thinking is commonplace, the accepted view. He was teaching that “good and bad” can be viewed differently.
Good and bad are both gifts. With good you can relax. With bad the recognition that God does all must be remembered and repeated until the angst subsides and is replaced with a sense of calm. Eventually, this will lead to the habit of remembering and repeating this law of the Universe. Then, this will lead to an automatic life of relaxation through the experience of neutrality. Gratitude will automatically become your friend, your constant companion. Depression will be a thing of the past... permanently.
This is an example of why the Siri Singh Sahib was the real deal. He taught each student in an individual manner. His intuition was the vehicle he rode as to how to teach each one. So, even his teaching was effortless and perfect as you can see from the above story. It’s been a blessing to see him in action and it’s been an additional blessed miracle to understand why he acted in ways I previously didn’t understand. I share my view with you in the prayer that you may be inspired to want a life like he lived; effortless, graceful, prosperous, devotional, grateful, fun and compassionate. It’s worth the commitment.
By the way, this student was known to be a disciplined woman; so much so that her attendance at morning Sadhana was a regular occurrence. She benefited greatly from this counseling session as time showed her to be a grateful and then even more grateful woman.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Pragmatism in Criticism
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I don’t care where opportunity comes from. In fact, I’ve learned that one of the best forms of opportunity comes in listening to all criticism and not listening to praise. Actually, I’m made for it. I come from a family that was very critical of behavior, and mine was front and center. I survived, in fact, I’ve flourished. I might add that my family was also fast to praise me. So, luckily, I find that I am made to handle both criticism and praise and I do.
Even though it is uncomfortable, criticism presents an opportunity to hear something that you wouldn’t have thought about yourself. Usually criticism is met with excuses, apologies, or defenses. That’s seems to be the way of the world. But, we’re yogis and Sikhs, we’re trained to not follow the ways of the world. Our training teaches us that the way of the world is an extremely limited view. So, we view criticism with the neutrality necessary to benefit from it rather than becoming subject to it.
When you are open and secure enough to accept criticism, the next step is to analyze it. Analyze it from the perception that maybe there’s something in this criticism which can be a benefit to life. That would be a blessing rather than a curse. But, you have to be smarter, stronger, and more faithful than your insecurities to benefit. Practice works. So, if there’s any bias or prejudice associated with this analysis, it must be weighted on the side of the positive, that is, that criticism has a great benefit.
Now, if the analysis shows that there’s nothing but anger fueling the criticism, calmly accept the criticism and let the person get out all their stuff. There are many responses I can give to let them know I heard them and am sorry for any pain that I may have caused. That way I’m out of the scope of their anger. Later I can process their remarks and find any areas where I can learn and do better with myself and others. Conversely, If the analysis shows that there’s truth in this criticism, I act on it immediately so as to benefit as soon as possible. If I benefit, then why should I care where the opportunity came from. I don’t. So, it all comes down to the analysis process.
How do I know that my analysis process is pure? How do I know that I’m not involved or influencing the outcome? How do I keep it real? These are the questions I ask myself. They are not really questions, they are more reminders of the answer. I am reminded that the answer is that the analyze process must be referenced in light of the teachings, the Guru. I’m not the judge of anything. I’m a bystander in the process watching everyone else fight it out. I’ve surrendered to the Guru’s word being final. What He wants is the only analysis necessary. This leaves no doubt that that the process I’ve selected, the Guru, is pure and guarantees success. After a while, this process becomes automatic.
Criticism, when taken from the perspective of the Guru, is a neutral process which affords Him, the Guru, the opportunity to bestow humility upon His student. This comes with a cost. The student must surrender his/her judgment in making decisions. When all decisions are taken in light of the Guru, the experience of humility is bestowed. Gratitude follows and devotion becomes automatic. Life becomes a flow. More gratitude comes into your life.
It appears to be a magnificent ongoing process leading to life as an effortless experience of gratitude. This is where humility leads. Seeing criticism neutrally takes humility, the humility to understand that God can speak to you through any means. It’s not up to me to judge what to hear and what not. Whatever’s presented should be analyzed against the teachings, knowing the teachings is a good head start.
This process will affect students in different ways. Each student has his/her own karma. The only way I know of to defeat your own karma is through humility, surrender to the teachings. Then, God steps in and takes his lover beyond him/herself. Obstacles you didn’t even know about become viewed in the past tense, in the rear view mirror. Wave as you pass them by. That’s all the effort that’s necessary. Again, this process becomes automatic.
This breeds great confidence that the Guru is with me. The longer I strive to be better and better as His servant, the more I experience the Guru in me becoming more and more real. Eventually, the Guru overtakes my being and I experience His love. The progression is: surrender, humility, devotion, gratitude, pure love, more gratitude. His tolerance is so compassionate that I know that even though I don’t deserve it, His love is always with me. It’s not my choice; it’s His call.
This instills more faith. No matter how good or bad I think I am, no matter how I really am, no matter how I may be, my Guru is truly with me. If my Guru loves me, I’ve become smart, I’ve got the good sense to not deny Him. There is the most beautiful Shabad in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib written by Guru Ram Das with such longing. One line is: Even if the Guru rebukes me, He still seems very sweet to me. And if He actually forgives me, that is the Guru’s greatness. || 25 || (|| 32 || 1 || Page 757)
Wow, all of this because I don’t react to criticism. I enjoy searching, analyzing, to see whether or not there’s a prize in the Cracker Jack box, whether there’s a blessing inside. At this point, I’d say it’s about 50-50, fifty blessings and fifty nothing. I do realize that the fifty unaccounted for may be because of my limitation, that’s O.K., more to look forward to.
See Sikh Definitions.
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