Yogi Bhajan, Faith and Fear: Two sides of the same coin
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“I’ll do my best,” I said to the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, as we were driving down to San Diego on another beautiful sunny autumn day in Southern California. We passed exits for Hawthorne, Huntington Beach, Rolling Hills, and on down the coast. Sometimes the Pacific Ocean was in view on the right side, but the 5 Freeway is mostly an interior highway.
Our beloved teacher slept through the first half of our two hour trip. He loved to nap while driving. Usually, they were short in length, but on this day he slept for over an hour. By the time he awoke, we were downhill in our journey, only 45 minutes from our destination in San Diego.
When he awoke, we began to discuss a duty he wanted me to do. I was always happy when he asked me to do things for him. That was my best trait and something I had been trained to do, namely, deliver. Just because I was useful didn’t mean that I deserved spend so much time with him, I knew that I was there because I was useful and that was just fine with me.
My job was to give to him at least all that he asked. Giving more was a goal I learned to aim for! His requests were often of a financial nature. You can believe me when I say that his asking me for more than I had available wasn’t easy either, but, for me, it beat what he asked from others. I was trained to earn money. My advantage was that I was willing to give him all he wanted, and, as I came to learn, that was a rare gift. I learned early on that there are no easy roads into his world. A student’s faith must be verified to satisfy him.
“You’ll do your best?” he responded to me in an almost sarcastic manner, and he was rarely sarcastic. He was making sure I would hear him as sarcasm was part of my past. At that moment I began to focus intently on his following statement. “Son, I need more than your best out of you. I need you to deliver. A leader must deliver more than is possible.”
At first I didn’t totally understand what he was really saying. But, my commitment to learn made it an issue that I studied. I kept silent not wanting to expose myself, or, at least, to play the game of pretending to understand. Over time, I began to start to comprehend the depth and breadth of his teaching. But, first you have to ask the right questions.
How can anyone do more than their best? That’s impossible. It’s hard enough to do your best, isn’t that enough? As it turns out, it’s not enough to do your best. In our teachers world, doing your best is no better than reliving inertia; doing better than your best means you’re constantly changing in a positive manner. Doing better than your best means you do not settle and are constantly practicing to do better even if it’s just a little better each time. Eventually, you develop the nature of continuously getting better as a result.
The story doesn’t end there. There’s more. As the practice continues, the duty of doing better than your best becomes effortless. Through Guru’s Kirpa (blessings), His mercy, your daily living becomes carefree, not lazy; fun, not drudgery; faithful, not worrisome. Did I say faith? Well, yes, that’s the end game. Doing more than your best forces the student to rely on his/her faith. At some point, no one can do more, so then faith becomes an issue. Either you go through it or you succumb to fear.
Surrendering to faith means overcoming fear. Faith can only be reached by overcoming any and all fear. Have you ever wondered what a life without fear would be like? Well, I’ve learned and I’ll share with you. A life without fear is a life lived in the faith that you and your God are at least good buddies. This faith in God means that you can rely on Him to cover you no matter what you do, no matter how stupid you are. Imagine having constant faith that He provides and takes care of you; faith that Infinity is within you and always with you. This faith becomes verified so many times that this way of thinking becomes automatic and who I now am.
This is the power of his statement. Early on he appointed me Chief of Protocol and then proceeded to show me the etiquette of relationships, the art of living, the practice of truth, and the path to liberation! How can I not love someone who gave me so much?
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A grand demand that shouldn't stand
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
After his first heart issue, the Siri Singh Sahib moved into Dr. Allen’s house to purportedly control his stress environment. Dr. Allen’s living room was set up for our teacher’s use. The space was very cozy. Our teacher’s chair was placed in the corner accommodating a larger audience. He often held court to a packed house spilling over into the small dining area and, sometimes, even stretching into the kitchen. When he chose to, he played to a packed house.
Conversely, most of his dealings were one on one. I was blessed to often be present. Usually, at first, other students were apprehensive about my presence, but it didn’t take them long to get into their issue. After all, that’s why they were there. I heard many things. I protected the privacy of all involved; otherwise, our teacher wouldn’t have continued to allow me this intimate peek into the lives of others. This much I will tell you. Even though I was often shocked at the panorama of human foibles and limitedness, mostly I was humbled by those students who had the courage to bare their neuroses at the feet of their teacher, take the truth offered and then keep up in their quest to grow.
On a winter afternoon in the spring of 1989, we returned from our afternoon outing a little early, around 4:30. An old time student was waiting on the sidewalk for us. I pulled into the driveway and the student came rushing up to open the door for our beloved teacher. It had been an unusually cold day in L.A. even for January and I noticed the student shivering a bit meaning that he had been waiting for us for some time. He pulled himself together and properly opened the door extending his hand for our teacher to grab providing an easy exit from the car.
“Come on in, son,” The Siri Singh Sahib said as he was walking up the stairs leading to the front door.
“I read your letter. I wanted to see you about it. Come on in.”
We entered the house. The Siri Singh Sahib went directly to his chair; the resident secretary went to the kitchen; our security went home; I sat on the couch to the right of his chair; the student sat on the carpet facing our teachers chair; the session began.
The Siri Singh Sahib asked, “Why are you so angry? What do you think we’re about? What is this threat that you’ll quit if you don’t get the raise you want? Tell me why you think this is appropriate?”
The student took some time to answer while staring at the carpet nervously. “I’m not respected, I work harder than anyone, I want a raise, I need it.”
“That’s it! That’s what you want,” our teacher answered in a rather nonchalant tone.
“What do you mean?” the student countered. “Your demands, that’s all you demand?”
“Well, yes sir. I’d be happy with that.”
“O.K. you’ll get it.”
“Son, get so and so on your phone for me,” he said pointing at me.
I got so and so on the phone and handed it over to our teacher. “Hello so and so. I’m here with such and such and I’m authorizing a raise for him.”
There was a pause, Give him one dollar a year more. Oh, and present him with a letter of appreciation and gratitude for his work ethic.
” The student looked shocked.
“There, all of your demands have been met. You should be very happy.”
I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback as well. As entertaining as it was, I didn’t understand the purpose. Our teacher’s next comment put everything back into perspective, the right perspective. “Why aren’t you happy? You look confused. I gave you what you want. You should be happy but you’re not, even though you said you’d be if I gave you what you want. Why’s that?”
“Sir, I’m not interested in this game. I don’t get it. I need a real raise.” “I gave you a real raise. It’s in U.S. currency, but you’re still not satisfied. I’m shocked,” our teacher said in an unusually sarcastic reference. “You’re not happy. A raise and appreciation are holding you back from being happy. And, I’m the key to your happiness.
Well, at least you’ve got that partly right, but not in the way a spiritual teacher provides for the student.”
It was starting to come into focus for me. The definition of “happiness” was different with our teacher. For him, happiness is an internal journey never affected by external circumstances. Threats, like this student’s letter, never work with him. His job is to provide the tools for the student to go through circumstances, not avoid them through threats. He couldn’t do his job if he gave to everyone what they said they wanted. His job was to provide what they needed and the student’s job was to deliver the courage to go through it.
“Your problem is that you’re unhappy and you’ve been an unhappy person ever since you came here. We work for a mission. Your needs have been well taken care of. Expect for the General Manager, you make more money than anyone else. We don’t quit on commitments. We don’t threaten our teacher. We sacrifice, we serve, we make do, we rely on God, and we are smart enough to ask Him for everything we want because we know He’s the only real giver. We go directly to the source.”
I stopped even thinking about asking for anything.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Capture the right culture
Sat Nam, Dear Family! History is an interesting thing. It creates who we are both in the secular world and the spiritual world. Humans are set to follow their DNA. The only way this is avoided is to either follow a different culture, or change yourself. Changing oneself is very difficult, therefore, most individual change is a product of the change in their culture.
Well, you ask, how does a culture change, both secularly and spiritually? That’s easy: culture changes through different leadership. That’s easy to see in the world around us. You are constantly witnessing universal changes when the current culture is followed. It is more difficult to see the changes in ourselves, in the individual world of spirit but that is where it really counts. It varies with each person as to how long their changing process takes, but, in the large picture, people eventually change to fit in! That’s where the comfort level takes over.
So, cultures create societies. The history of the world is that, again, in the large picture, time has produced an escalation in technology and consciousness in our societies as history has advanced. Thank God for that!
Wouldn’t it logically follow that a smart person would want to be ahead of the curve and use their desire for personal growth and expansion to have input in their change rather than be subject to the slow changes of general society? So, the challenge is to find a teacher who models and offers the highest form of culture. This way we are choosing the culture we’re going to follow rather than just following the current culture out of convenience, or, as usual, because it’s ourhabit? Don’t be fooled by the opinions of others. And, especially, don’t be fooled by your own opinion. These are the killers of dreams.
The way to meet this challenge is through faith. If your prayer is pure even with all the flaws we carry, the teacher of the culture you desire will become present in your life: “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The true blessing is when we recognize this blessing... as opposed to the old adage: “if a thief meets a saint, all he sees is his pockets”. Faith starts the chain of blessings. Doubt is replaced with gratitude. Gratitude in the hope that the teacher’s culture will rub off on us and a grand experience of life will follow. Follow this man/woman. Have faith in your prayer. Everyone gets exactly what they deserve (karma), so no harm no foul. Keep up and you’ll be kept up. Don’t fret!
Here’s the good news: our karma has brought us to the path of this dharma. Our dharma offers us an experience which promises and delivers happiness, joy, knowledge, intuition, blessings, gratitude, understanding, fearlessness, courage, service, protection, love, and the ultimate experience of becoming God himself. We’ve picked the right culture, the highest culture. Keep up and this culture will deliver more and more happiness and much more. And, after all, happiness is the purpose of life. We’ve hit the jackpot. All we have to do is recognize this blessing and enjoy the ride.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, the Proper Potion is Promotion
Sat Nam, Dear Family! One of the secrets I learned from being blessed to spend so much time with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, has worked out for me. I’m going to share it with you now: promote him, not yourself.
He never directly approached anyone about their indiscretion concerning this test, but, one way or another, he let those students he had a personal relationship with know, so they could have a chance for a re-do. It either fell on deaf ears, was rationalized into being our teacher’s problem, or, in some cases, was taken to heart.
If you pass this initial test, the depth of this test, tests you more. Praise of your teacher must be real and devotional, not perfunctory or intellectual. Now, are you still practicing this, or not? Do you recognize this issue, or not? Too many times I saw the failed result of this test. I saw where self-aggrandizement leads,.It leads to a delay in spiritual advancement, a denial of the truth, a split in the relationship with our teacher. This wasn’t the place I wanted to go. I knew that this way of thinking never works out for the true spiritual aspirant. So, I kept practicing devotion and promotion consciously. I was blessed to see it in action with him. He always gave all credit to Guru Ram Das and he was our link to the Guru. That’s why I share it with you.
So, the secret to the secret is that you’ve got to do it. If you practice devotion and promotion sincerely, the benefit of the secret becomes the experience of true love. Because of your love for him, our true teacher blesses you to experience his deep love and the love and protection of our Guru as well. Because our teacher is real, we get two for one, our teacher’s love and the love of our Guru. He makes the way to our Guru much easier. This is a great secret.
I understand that many, especially in the west, have an abhorrence to surrendering to another, especially when we perceive flaws in that which we worship. That too, is another test. Only God is perfect, so everyone is flawed. The question is: whether with all faults our teacher is true and accepted in the court of our Guru. He’d be the first to tell you that he’s not perfect. That’s another thing I love about him. And, I’d be the first to tell you that this secret works in spite of what you or I believe.
So, I’ve learned to truly love my teacher. Even though I was blessed to have such close proximity to him, this is not necessary although it has helped me. His essence is experienced through following his teachings and we all have access to that. Perhaps I had to be so close so I did not have a chance to not see it, but in any event my personal observation made the choice easy. I know what a blessing is and I’m humbled to share it.
Practice loving your teacher. Don’t judge it; don’t analysis it; don’t reject it. Just keep up practicing loving your teacher more and more. Make him the reason for any grace in you. Let anyone know that you’re nothing without him; become more and more grateful to him for surrendering to the truth he is. What were the odds of that happening? Do it and see what you become. It’s more than worthwhile; it’s the source of life, the spice of life, the blessing of life. But, you have to practice. That’s the real secret. It doesn’t happen by accident even if you convince yourself that it will.
I hope that some of you will take what I say to heart. It is meant in that vein. I share this in recognition of our teacher who is the gateway to Infinity. I share a secret that I’ve experienced and in no recognition of myself. Whatever I am, whatever good in me is because of him. He taught me how to be a man, a spiritual man, a Godly man. I share it with you only because I was a witness. I had nothing to do with his grace. I can only tell you what worked for him and that was enough to convince me that the practice of no judgment was fine. He lived a grand life, full of grace, wonder, miracles, courage, bounty and bliss. This was a life to follow.
I’m just telling you that surrender to falsehood is hell even if you don’t realize it and surrender to the truth is real and beyond any dream or fantasy. Practice serving your teacher. Service is the ultimate display of devotion. Here’s the ultimate secret: the more you serve our teacher, the more our teacher services you - and still does. Make no doubt about it. We’ve been blessed many times over in having a real teacher. Therefore, we get only good things from our teacher. How great is that? We’ve hit the jackpot. Please, take advantage of this opportunity. Just keep up practicing to do better. That’s my secret. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Clarity on Prosperity
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
One of the first lessons I learned from the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, is that there is no fear of prosperity in Sikh Dharma. I liked that, and I still do. I always liked living royally. And, prosperity isn’t limited to wealth or status. It’s not a matter of whether or not I deserved to think this way, fact is, I just do. Our teacher’s teaching was right in line with my way of thinking and I was allowed to keep this way of thinking. It is kind of a reward; one less change to contend with. Wow, Sikh Dharma just got easier.
Many years ago, to even accept our beloved teachers royal projection, I had to first to accept that it could be real, that he really was a spiritual king. But then he proved to me that lives like this do exist in the real spiritual world. And, here’s the best part, he let me join right along with him He set up an organization molded from spiritual royalty. I liked that too. He appointed a Secretary of State, a Chief of Staff, Supreme Servants (Mukhia Jethadar Sahibs), you name it, even a Chief of Protocol. I now recognize how ill prepared I was for that title even though he treated me like I knew what I was doing. It was his projection, not mine, but I was sure glad to come along for the ride. Oh, when I’d get out of control, he’d reel me in, but I always had a lot of slack in my line. Mercy doesn't describe the latitude I’ve been allowed.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Even though it’s widely misunderstood, a teacher never allows the student latitude. Any latitude is actually under the control of the student. However fast or slow the student wants to go, it is their decision. The teacher sets the standard, but the rules are ultimately followed by each student. So, I’ve learned to beware: beware of complacency; beware of comfort; beware of attachment; beware of disinterest. Pray to Guru Ram Das to be aware of these hindrances. Pray to perpetually stretch yourself. Pray for the courage to see beyond the pain. Pray to be more and more grateful for Guru’s help. Pray to serve more. Pray to be more. Pray to understand more.
These prayers shorten the time it takes to visit the world of spirituality. Please note that I said visit, not live. It is a perpetual journey. At least this is the progression I've experienced. These prayers provide the means to keep minimizing our limits and also requiring less and less latitude. Soon the task becomes effortless, then enjoyable, until we live in our royal spirituality. This is how a student in Sikh Dharma becomes a King. The game is played totally within each individual student and needs no one's validation. As our Guru says, “It is self-illuminating.”
People on this earth are made to be fooled by others. That’s the way it’s always been. It doesn’t matter whether it is recognized or not. We’re all fools to God, so no one’s exempt. Our karma brought us to this dharma. The Guru Says, “Myriad are the ways.” We’ve stumbled upon a way to never be fooled again. It’s a rare opportunity which takes many lifetimes to earn. Finally, we’re at the gate of the truth where everything, all knowledge and awareness, is within sight. A student of this dharma can understand where everyone is coming from. We’ve beat unbelievable odds to be here. Are we taking advantage of it? Are we serving? Are we sacrificing? Are we striving to restrict the latitude we have given ourselves?
The depth of our practice is the price for the true experience of royal prosperity. This is the price for the humility which must accompany this gift. This is the reward where true prosperity is bestowed across the board: prosperity in finances; prosperity in relationships; prosperity in self-esteem; prosperity in Godly worship. I learned that prosperity has no limit, only we do. I’ve learned to expand myself, not judge myself. I’ll leave the judgment up to God. That’s His job and He's going to do it whether you or I like it or not. So, relax and enjoy the ride. The reward for not judging yourself is relaxation. True relaxation is a grand experience. This progression is a double hit: prosperity and relaxation. Wahe Guru. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Jesus is all right with me
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
On a cold December afternoon, we were seated in the ranch with several staff members and students seated around the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan. One of the students asked, “Sir, what do you think about Christmas. I mean how much should we celebrate. Where does Jesus fit into the big scope of things?”
I was taken aback by this student’s question. After all, we’re Sikhs. We respect all religions and can participate in all which worship’s of Infinity. It’s one of those questions which a long time student should already know the answer to. That was not necessarily so. There’s much more to this question than what’s obvious. So, this question tweaked my attention. This student provided a question which has been the touchstone of my life: Is what I think right?
This question has an answer which defines consciousness. If answered properly, it provides the truth. So, fire away, sir, I’m ready to judge myself against your standard and see if I’m still going in the right direction. I actually loved this question. It gave me another opportunity to keep the right focus. It makes any other focus irrelevant and irreverent.
The Siri Singh Sahib began to answer, “Over a billion people worship Jesus. That doesn’t happen by accident. Jesus must offer something they all want. He does. He represents hope, redemption, and salvation. He can satisfy this direction. That makes Christ worthy of worship. So, enjoy Christmas for the right reason and how you choose to worship is up to you.”
He was saying that Jesus was leading people in the right direction. His technique doesn’t really matter to our beloved teacher, although in Jesus’s case, it was Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. He saw a man beyond his time, leading people into the future with better tools to use. He saw a man worshiped for the right reasons. He saw a man of love. He saw the real man. He saw a man worth worshipping. Our teacher saw the essence of this loved holy man.
So, the issue once more for me was: “Am I going in the right direction? Do I think like the Siri Singh Sahib does? Am I at least making that a goal? “If you answer these three questions properly then you are still on the right path. Answer one or more incorrectly and an adjustment in your direction must be accommodated no matter what the cost, if advancement in this dharma is what’s expected. There’s no choice anymore. Even though the world hates the word obedience, obedience is the only medicine; obedience to his view. Sacrifice to his view. Surrender to his view. It’s the right view.
As usual, the Siri Singh Sahib’s view was a little different. We live in the dawn of the Aquarian Age. The Piscean Age is phasing out. Someone or something must lead the way out just as Jesus did in his time. It takes correct and great wisdom, compassion, courage, focus, direction, you can name it, to suffer the abuse of those who misunderstand, while continuing to lead the way. It takes a real leader. Jesus was a great example of this.
I offer up for your review our teacher as the new leader of this planet; a leader to follow into the Aquarian Age. The reward I saw him live for suffering the abuse of others is the wisdom to understand all and that includes Jesus. As a student, as a Yogi, as a teacher, as a Sikh, and as the Siri Singh Sahib, he had the duty to see the truth in all and acknowledge it when it was on display. There was a quintuple of duties commanding the same allegiance to the truth. This, he could not deny. So, he could celebrate Christmas because he wasn't intimidated by it in any way. He understood it in a way few truly do - and that includes Christians as well. He loved Jesus as a man; he loved Jesus as a teacher; he loved Jesus as a transformed instrument of God; He loved the God within Jesus.
I follow our teacher because I liked what he saw. His sight was of a different dimension, He saw into the future while remembering the past. Naturally, this sight allowed him to make decisions confidently. I could see that he saw what others didn’t. You know that expression and mantra, ‘I’m always at the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time.’ Well, that defines the life of the Siri Singh Sahib.
Although, I might add, there was so much entertaining drama and wasted time also involved in the process that it was easy to lose focus. To their loss, many have. It was easy to not want the drama and wastes involved, and just want the nice things. Like my wife says, ‘so many people, sadly, only want all the privileges of leadership and none of the responsibilities.’ But, that’s not how it works. Leadership must embrace ALL issues with reverence. This is how our beloved teacher lived, taught, and led. He was truly a man to follow. As true understanding enters your life, one is blessed then with the reality that there’s really nothing else to do.
Staying focused in the right direction is the journey through consciousness. It’s always good to be reminded and that’s why I’m grateful for this question. I remember it often. Now, I celebrate Christmas the same way the Siri Singh Sahib did: as a celebration of hope, redemption, and salvation. This is a grand thing to celebrate. Merry Christmas!
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A Sane Train
On the Dharmic train, a lot is expected; On this train, you pay your own way; On this train, judgment is suspended; On this train, obedience is required; On this train, fear is an imagination; On this train, all are truly wished well. The Guru guides and protects us on this life journey; our beloved teacher holds our hands as he provides the teachings to reach our destination. We, the students need to commit to the journey, buy the ticket and get on board!
What else do we need to undertake to be able to continue as a first class passenger on this train? We might start in economy section determined by the caliber of dedication we bring. We all come with impurities, none of us better than others, just different. If the goal of life is liberation in this life, then it must be recognized that all worldly caliber is limited. Nothing is perfect except God. It doesn’t matter whether we begin our quest with a lot of impurity or a little, we need to start.
The train is actually a private train which has a maximum speed limited by the collective impurities of the passenger. The conductor, the Guru, is leading the train to its goal of liberation. So, it’s up to all of us students to do our part to make the train go faster. This means that it’s the job of each of us to continue to purify ourselves. If not, as our teacher used to say, the student is just dead weight. It will not make the train go faster.
The teacher’s job is to keep reminding us that we can purify ourselves. It is a hard sell. Most of us don’t really believe that we are capable of a purifying process. We settle for less. Here’s the best part: through our karma, we’ve been blessed to serve a teacher who has the open secret as to how any student, and I emphasize the word ANY, can purify himself. If we sincerely practice the teachings - and the teachings start with Sadhana - any student can be purified. If no Sadhana, well, purification gets really hard from then on.
Serve your teacher. Our teacher is guided only by the Guru. Our teacher is pure. This should eliminate any doubt in your mind. We’ve been blessed and it is best that we recognize this and act on it. We’ve been blessed with a dharma which will overcome anything. The secret is Sadhana. Our teacher never stopped reminding us to practice Sadhana. For over 35 years he told us that through a consistent, devoted and strong Sadhana, the impossible becomes possible. We can happily live in our possibilities and not our insecurities of the past. Do Sadhana sincerely and the rest is done for you.
As we continue to purify ourselves, we grow and change faster. Joining daily with the Sadh Sangat we are favorably impacted by their purification processes and our elevation is speeded up, the train goes faster. All the while students either pass their tests or not. There is no dirth of students. Some students are replaced while others leave and still others hang on to the outside of the train. More and more students are added until this train moves faster.
Here’s the other secret: The further blessing is that you don’t even have to do as much work as you suspect, but you still must try, you must continue to practice and Keep Up. The group consciousness works for us and that work is aided by geometry. An exponential effect propels us towards Infinite Consciousness as more and more students are doing Sadhana and living the teachings. Each bead in the mala does part of your job. They work for you until you don’t have to work at all.
During this journey of purification, the student’s soul is suspended, suspended in what the Catholics used to call purgatory. It’s a place where the soul’s destiny or fate has yet to be determined. And, that is if you’re lucky. Otherwise, there’s no doubt; rebirth is the result. Continuous purification results in a suspended soul. When enough collective and group purification occurs, our spiritual journey is accelerated and our suspended soul merges with the group energy and we are carried on the train to liberation. The two variables are the individual purification and the collective purification processes. They’re equally important.
So, it’s for a very selfish reason that I require this sangat to be filled with sincere students intent on practicing the teachings diligently - and that starts with Sadhana. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an old student or brand new, serving your teacher is all that matters, and that’s available to all right now. I humbly request that you take pity on me and see my only desire is to follow my teacher, and, as such, I need you to help me in the only way I can be helped - by you, the Sangat, to begin, to begin again, to just serve your teacher, by doing Sadhana. Please.
Our teacher often said that this Dharma purges itself. Sadhana is a guaranteed seat on His, Guru’s, train. Please, keep up or take advantage and/or begin now. It’s what gamblers call, ‘a sure bet.’ Please, for your own sake, don’t let anything get in your own way and deprive you of the humility and grand gift to change. Our teacher would say, ‘If you miss the train I’m on, then you’ll know that I am gone. You either lead, follow, or leave. Don’t leave, do Sadhana.’
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Sublime Real Time
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
The blessings of faith, prosperity and love don’t work on your time. These virtues have their own time schedule. If there was one constant theme asked more than any other in all my years viewing the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, in counseling sessions, it was: “Why hasn’t my spiritual discipline worked for me?” “When does it end?” “When does God answer my prayer?” How can I continue to believe that results are really possible when I see no results?” “Is it all of no use?” “Have I been tricked again? “
Our beloved teacher answered everyone differently. At first this caught me off guard. Why is he doing this? It took me a little while but I came to realize that he wasn’t speaking differently to anyone. The same truth can be said in a million different ways. He knew that each student has a different karma and with that comes a different way of understanding the world. So, he spoke to each in a manner which could best be heard. He was very creative in this process. I heard all kinds of reasons. He even made excuses for some students if that’s what it took to give that student the best chance to continue to grow.
The underlying theme he gave in all his answers was that the student was to not to judge the process. He went on to explain in many different ways that understanding dealing with judgement was a big part of the test in garnering God’s virtues. To experience victory one had to suspend judgment. The test of karma, and one’s elevation through dharma, is played out through time and space. But all of God’s kirpa, His blessings and virtues, are independent of our time and space.
True faithfulness surrenders to time and space. True faithfulness views time as a test to be overcome, not succumbed too. True faithfulness is at God’s will and He can’t be wrong. Relax and learn to enjoy the journey, the process, He always reminded us. That’s another huge part of the test as well. Relax and rejoice was a constant teaching. Relax into the process and see what happens.
Discomfort dissipates as relaxation overcomes all itchiness, all irritation tingling, all mental pain. The time schedule no longer matters as you realize that’s because you’ve been bestowed all the virtues needed to experience life as a flow, as a gift, as a blessing of prosperity. The circle is complete and gets filled in more and more each day.
Our teacher used whatever it took to keep a student focused on his/her destiny which was experienced as prosperity through grace. He was willing to go to great lengths and into the depths of the mud to pull a person in need out of that pit. He called himself the “American garbage collector,” he was willing to go into the garbage pit. He was a humble man, teacher. He offered hope, he offered redemption, he offered prosperity, he offered security, he offered Godliness. He offered the whole package of good will. He offered it all. How could I refuse? I offered him my garbage and to my grace, he accepted.
"The mortal has fallen into the deep, dark pit, and is entangled in the
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Sweet Tooth Truth
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was a man unlike any other, and that’s a grand understatement. He was a man of God-consciousness who lived to uplift the world. Throughout his marvelous life his gifts were exemplified in how he treated others, how he thought, how he talked and how he acted. Please, let me give you an example.
First, let me say that he treated students differently than he did others. This fact did cause some consternation for some students as they got their position confused. With students, he could be rough, he could be gruff, he could be sweet, he could be gentle, he could be humorous, he could be anything. He was almost always direct. With others, he was rarely direct. His teaching role was unto itself.
As a teacher his duty was infinite...he had to do what was necessary. However he had different duties for different people and environments. Outside of of the realm of student-teacher, he was rarely direct unless someone asked for the truth. When they did, he was still always sweet, always supportive, but he also uncomfortable. He was obligated to speak the truth but he knew they wouldn’t like it. He would try to sugar-coat it but the bottom line was he had to go for it. And more often than not, when those people who were not his students did ask for his directness, I came to understand that they were often more receptive. He often said that ‘Intimacy breeds contempt,’ an old expression which he verified many times as true. That always put me on notice to never take him for granted.
Even though I was blessed to be so close to him, I reminded myself often to not rest on my laurels as I knew he would always demand more. It was my duty to continually step it up and practice more of his demands with more and more sincerity. I often experienced the same message as he was counseling others. It was always a reminder of the basics - the reason I’m here. I’m here to serve, serve as he chose and continually obey his way. It constantly reminded me to get out of my own way and just serve his will. It reminded me to enjoy the journey, but know that I had nothing to do with it, in fact, I inhibited my progress and blessings more times than I want to remember. But, that too, is part of the journey. Just serve our beloved teacher’s will. That’s all and that’s plenty!
The weather had suddenly turned cold on this January day. It was the political season in New Mexico. Our teacher had hosted another Legislative luncheon where many important politicians gathered after the opening of the new Legislative Session. From the Governor and state Senators on down, the Siri Singh Sahib attracted them all. That, in and of itself, was a miracle. But, further, was the respect they showed him - he had come to this country just a few years prior as a Sikh yoga teacher from India. Not someone usually embraced by establishment politicos. He pulled it off.
As was often the case, one of our guests asked for a private meeting with the Siri Singh Sahib. This politico was invited out to the ranch for lunch the following week. When he arrived and after eating, the Siri Singh Sahib, our guest and I retired to the living room. “How can I serve you,” the Siri Singh Sahib asked?
“Well, I don’t know where to begin,” began our guest? “I don’t love my wife anymore. I haven’t for a long time. She’s made my life a living hell. I know it’s wrong. It’s against Catholicism to divorce. It’s against my children that I think this way. It’s against my political position that I take this step, but I can’t help myself. I don’t care what happens, I need to leave. My sanity depends on following my heart. I’ve met another woman and she treats me with respect, with sensitivity, and caring love. I know the consequences and I feel horrible about it, but aren’t I entitled to happiness too? What do you suggest? Do you understand that I can’t continue to live with this woman? I won’t survive. I know that.”
“I feel your pain,” our teacher began. “You have been abused. I understand that. This is not just something which happens to women. It’s more than uncomfortable, it can be physically painful as it has been for you. You’re a good man. You’ve endured a lot including the pain in protecting your children. You’ve kept up all these years. You do deserve the right to happiness.”
Now, his agreement relaxed the guest. He was kind. He would never tell a student that he felt their pain. In fact, he didn’t care about feelings he only cared about consciousness and duty. So he did this only to make our guest comfortable. He’d never tell a student that he was a good man. He’d want the student to figure that out for himself. He was being kind to our guest.
Then the directness began, “Pardon me for saying it, but you’ll never be happy if you do something witch, by your own admission, you know is wrong. You want my permission to do what you want. Since I am not a Catholic priest, I can give you that permission, and I do so. You can do as you please with my permission and blessing.
Our guest looked relieved. In fact, I even heard a sigh. But, that’s not the end of the story. Then the other shoe fell, “I’m not God. I can’t give you His approval. That’s up to you and Him, so you’ll have to set up another lunch with Him and discuss this issue. I’ve gone as far as I can go.”
Our guest’s face changed, he got it. There was no escape in leaving his wife. He was trapped or committed, however you take it, and he didn’t like it. Bigger problems would follow and, even though he didn’t like it, he knew this to be true.
There’s no escape from true commitment. Any attempt only brings on contempt, guilt, pain, etc. and that is multiplied by everyone involved or associated with the quitter. This lesson reminded me to keep to my commitment and step it up. This was a constant message in my matriculation. It was a constant reminder which I needed desperately. We all do. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Design is Mine not Thine
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I’ll tell you the oddest thing students thought about the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan. Many, many students thought that he had a designed plan for their life. And, I’ll admit, there was a time in which I did as well. It wasn’t that they were necessarily wrong, it was that they thought our teacher had a conscious procedure dealing with this issue. It wasn’t like that at all.
The experience of security that our teacher lived under meant that he didn’t have to worry about designing anything. For him, it was all set. All he needed to do was do his duty. He lived in the faith that Guru Ram Das would do the rest. So long as he kept his projection true, he was in good hands.
Why do I say, ‘so long as he kept his projection true?’ It’s because he always reminded us that he could “freak out” at any time as well as any of us. In this world, no one is set without continuing their Guru’s will. That’s the duty which keeps projection true. You may think of him as set, but, thank God, he didn’t.
This is where a lot of spiritual teachers fail, they think they’re done. There’s no difference between confidence and humility, both are necessary: the confidence to know that you’re blessed to be able to keep up; the humility to know that God gave you the ability; and the deep understanding that you’re never done - you're always His servant, period. It never ends. And, because it doesn't end, magic continues to enter your life.
Our teacher lived this magical life. I saw it. He didn’t sweat the small stuff; in fact, he didn’t sweat the big stuff either. If anything, by his own admission because of his compassion, he entered into situations where he forced things when he probably shouldn’t have. But because it was done out of compassion, Guru was merciful to him. He left us a diagram of how to begin to be ten times greater than he.
He knew that if we were just greater than he, he would have done his duty successfully. He knew that his Guru would be pleased. Again, the confidence to be humble enough to will others to be greater than he was and is true service to his Guru. He demonstrated this time and time again. What is there to doubt? He cared about his Guru’s will first, last, and always. That’s what made him worthy to live under the protection of his Guru, Guru Ram Das ji.
This level of service, commitment, faith, devotion, surrender and more, can’t be faked. It will destroy you if you fake it. This is the level of true spirituality. This is where hope is truly experienced. This is where doubt is never considered. This is where love reaches a different realm. This is where life is truly enjoyed. This is where our teacher lived. I know this because I hung on to his Coattails and got to experience a piece of it as well.
My experience was both good and bad. Living a piece of his experience was fun. It was full of prosperity, status, confidence, good luck, and you can fill in the rest here as well. But, when he left his body, so did the partial experience which I had been living. That sucked. At this point, either you go further, or you go back to where you were. As the World War 1 song goes, “How ya gonna keep um down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris” (pronounced ‘Paree!’). I had seen and experienced too much to give it up now. The alternative sucked even more.
I saw where his method of garnering this experience came from surrender to his Guru. I had no choice, but that’s not as easy as it sounds. There is the method of surrender. How do you know that I’m not getting in my own way? After all, this happens all the time without anyone but God knowing. The answer was and is simple; just follow his teachings, his example, and his devotion. So, I did and I continue to do.
I recommend it to everyone. It not only works, but it’s where your dreams truly lie. Your life will become satisfied, and that’s just the first step. Everything you’ve ever wanted is provided. Our teacher’s living standards shows us the distinction between what we need to strive for now and in doing so, what we must leave behind. The reward of surrender is bestowed at this point. Each virtue has its own unique and beautiful experience. So, there are lots more in store. It all starts here with practicing living the teachings; surrendering to your Guru; and love Him more than yourself. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Predominance of Bottomless Confidence
Sat Nam, Dear Family! I was watching a golf match on TV recently. It reminded me of a question I had asked the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, many years ago. I’m a golfer. I learned to play from my father. Too bad that he wasn’t a great player, otherwise, I’d play better. I’ll blame it on him, he can take it.
There’s an oddity in golf which is very prevalent. Through the years, professional golfers who have won a specific tournament have a way of winning repeatedly at that same tournament at an unusually high rate. Many of these golfers have often accomplished nothing remarkable the whole year, but when it comes around to the tournament they had previously won, they are back in contention. Why do they match up for this specific tournament? Why is this? I wondered about this. The answer would tell me more about the way winners win. This awareness could help the student focus their energy towards winning and success. After all, for a golfer like me, winning is fun. So, I’m hooked.
“Confidence,” The Siri Singh Sahib began to answer. “confidence is what allows winners to win. After winning the first tournament, the next is played with all the necessary confidence to win again and again. The player expects to keep winning.”
“Well, where does the confidence to win come from and how do you get it if you don’t already have it?” I responded. “Do I just keep telling myself that I am what I want to be? Do I just keep up with my sadhana? Is that all that’s necessary?” “That’s all necessary,” our teacher answered, “but, ultimately, confidence comes from security, the security that you can win anywhere, in any venue.”
Well, that was an answer which took some investigation. I came to understand that, for him, winning had a different frame of reference. He knew that everything is His Will and so all we humans can do is our duty. So long as he did his duty with the attitude, the faith, that he should win, he couldn’t lose. He was always a winner in God’s court and, to him, that’s all that mattered.
In the Siri Singh Sahib’s way of thinking, he couldn’t lose. He has the security of total victory. He has the confidence that he should win while leaving the results up to God. What God Will’s is none of his business. In fact, that’s the excitement of life - seeing how things turn out perfectly. How can God be wrong? How much of that can we accept?
So, if you want to be confident in any situation, you must do His duty with the faith that He will serve your needs as well. And, winning happens to be one of your needs. Serve Him and He serves you. That’s the formula; that’s the technique; that’s the discipline. And, here’s the further secret: the more you SINCERELY serve Him, the more He sincerely serves you. But, it takes awareness and patience. Everything’s on His schedule. So, relax and enjoy the process.
Whether you play a golf match, or practice spirituality, it’s all the same and winning is a must. And, sometimes winning takes more time to manifest than “right now.” So, all you must do is to participate fully, expect to win, and enjoy the journey. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Marriage Disparage
Sat Nam, Dear Family! A couple arrived at the ranch house. They were beautifully outfitted in full Sikh regalia. They had just been married in our New Mexico Gurdwara, (Temple) and had arranged an appointment with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, so he could bless their marriage. It was a cold winter day and you could see it on the faces of these newlyweds as they entered the living room. They were almost shivering. I thought, are the shivering because of the weather, or because they’re meeting with the Siri Singh Sahib, or is it a combination of both? It was not unusual to see apprehension in students’ faces when they came to meet with him.
After touching our teacher’s feet, the couple sat down on the rug in front of his chair. “Well, it’s done,” the Siri Singh Sahib stared opening communication. Usually, in situations like this, he was a bit challenging to the student. It set the tone and it reaffirmed their relationship. As it turned out, he once again was a teacher who always wanted more growth for the student. “I heard the ceremony through the phone. I’m going to bless your marriage, but it may be difficult to understand how I’m doing it right now.”
“You asked for me to marry you. Unfortunately, my doctors wouldn’t allow it, so I married you through a surrogate today. The minister who married you was acting on my behalf, so I have the duty to tell you something. I want this marriage to succeed and I want what’s best for both of you.”
Now, things were heating up. I knew that he was going to give them a piece of wisdom which would be hard to take and harder to take to heart. I couldn’t wait to hear what he was going to say. Times like these were always fascinating, educating, and uplifting. I was blessed to see a true teacher in action.
The Siri Singh Sahib continued, “What sign are you,” he asked the groom? “I’m a Taurus” was the replied. “Just as I thought,” interceded our teacher. “And you my dear, what sign are you? “I’m a Gemini, sir” was her reply.
“You, my dear daughter, are a Gemini. You must communicate. It’s the only thing that will satisfy you. It is compounded by also being a woman. Everything must be talked out. In your mind, this is necessary for your happiness. Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. I’m not judging that. But what I am saying is that communication is necessary for you and that’s all the fault of the stars. It has nothing to do with you. You have no choice.”
She listened intently and seemed to deeply absorb out teacher words. Since communication was necessary for her, she heard him. She actually softened and looked relieved. Time would tell whether this awareness would have any effect in the long run on this bride’s mind. However on the other hand, her husband wasn’t the kind of man who could satisfy this need in his bride.
“You, my dear sir, are a Taurus. “There is something I want to share with you which I only share in the hopes that it may help your life. It may be difficult to hear, but hearing it is a must. You don’t move. You refuse to move unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s not your fault. Again, it’s the fault of the heavens. But, worst of all, you don’t communicate. As a matter of fact, you find communication irritating, boring, and unnecessary. It’s not your fault, but you have to deal with it. Before you, or anyone for that matter, can become a spiritual man, you must first become a man. That means that you must do whatever’s necessary to keep commitments. A man delivers his word. No excuses. Today, you committed to this marriage”
“The only way this marriage is going to succeed is if you force yourself to communicate with your wife. And, I mean for as long as she likes, period. You’re not the timekeeper, she is. And, the better your attitude, the quicker the communication takes effect.”
“You must be the adult, the teacher, the example in this relationship. You’re the one who must do this. You must do what’s against your nature. This is what’s necessary. You must give to your wife what she needs and that means communication. You must do so with understanding and compassion. You must do so in the love that it takes to do this for someone else. You must do this in the training of selflessness. You must do this in complete gratitude.”
He looked shocked, almost bewildered. Our teacher had nailed his inner being and forced him to humble himself to hear this truth and accept what he was being told. Humility is necessary in cases like this. Through humility, understanding is gained and communication is heard.
Well, this wasn’t what I was expecting to hear. It was much more. I often saw him teach others personally, but rarely saw him so deeply penetrating. Poke, provoke, confront, elevate, that was his teaching, and that was how he taught. The only variable was the depth of provoking it took. In this case, he went very deep!
He challenged the groom to do what he resolutely didn’t want to do. The reward would be that he’d learn to communicate and would be bestowed the blessing, the virtue, the experience of gratitude, of compassion, and of love. That’s a pretty good trifecta, reward, as far as I’m concerned.
I soon came to realize, that the teaching our teacher blessed the groom with, was for me as much as it was for him. Oh, and by the way, this couple is still happily married. This gentleman has learned to communicate to the satisfaction of his wife. Good for him. I’m not saying that it’s been easy, I know it hasn’t as this couple spent more counseling sessions with the Siri Singh Sahib dealing with issues surrounding their communication. That’s something the groom never wanted to do. But, he did it and it’s worked. Stay tuned.
See Sikh Definitions.
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