Yogi Bhajan, America the Beautiful
Sat Nam. The political events of the past few weeks have shaken America. I’m not judging any candidate; I’m analyzing the citizens of America. Some will only settle for one candidate; others don’t want any; still, others don’t know what they want. A few will be happy with whoever is elected. The “whoever” group used to be the standard. Now, they have slipped to a much smaller percentage.
So, pretty much everyone in this country is frustrated about politics. In yogic philosophy, frustration is one of the great five insecurities (fear, anger, hate and jealousy are the other four). We yogis and Sikhs can’t let this collective frustration get in the way of our projection and belief. We believe in the greatness of America no matter what challenges we must go through. We serve that greatness. After all, this great nation allows us - yogis and Sikhs - to prosper. That has not be the history of other nations.
America is the great experiment in democracy. Yes, democracy has its flaws. One of the great flaws is that common thinking may take over the lofty values on which this country was founded and “common” thinking may become the law. On the other hand, democracy can trump dictatorship, and, as we all have read in history, dictatorship has often led to tyranny. So, democracy’s check and balance outweighs any innate flaws and the example of this country’s working democracy must endure.
It’s not just the Republicans who are doomsayers. Frustration is the companion of almost all. This negativity is unhealthy. We must keep the flag of democracy flying high. It starts with our projection. I know many of you are also frustrated. Please, don’t be. I encourage all to challenge themselves and see the bigger picture. It’s not about this election; it’s about the future of America. Please, be positive about America. Continue to see its greatness and potential. Practice only thinking positively about our beloved country. Practice seeing America leading the world into the Aquarian Age. Practice seeing America’s leadership in a conscious manner. Practice seeing America with compassion, understanding, humility and grace. Practice makes perfect.
Yes, each of us have our favorite candidate, but we’ll work with all. We work for the consciousness of this country, we don’t work for politics. We may participate in politics, but it’s only out of necessity. We work for the love of this country and what it’s to become, and we tolerate all the problems in-between. We are the hope and we will not be defeated. This is not something we aspire too, it’s not a hope, it’s who we are.
We don’t need anyone’s approval. We’ve elected ourselves (which is actually the best form of democracy) as leaders through our selfless service and disciplined projection. This is our Guru’s instruction and we must follow. If we truly are living in Guru’s grace, than it’s mandatory that we follow His instructions to His satisfaction. And, we don’t want to take the chance that we may misjudge the point at which He’s satisfied, so we will do all we can and a little more. We won’t take the risk of falling short in any way. That’s the only way to guarantee our service as being satisfactory. And, that’s the only way to guarantee our truth.
No more frustration: only manifested expectation and deliverance. And, what is greater than delivering God’s Will. We must demonstrate and serve a frustration-less attitude about our beloved country. . We must be the light, which maintains the values of this country without frustration. It’s what we stand for. It’s what makes us real and guarantees our liberation. It’s how our teacher, Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would want us to act; it’s how our Guru wants us to act; it’s how God Himself wants us to act.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, God's a Funny Guy
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
God’s a Funny Guy. He makes things, which are perfect. Take love for example. Love spans the gamut of emotions, feelings, and realities from elevation to perversion, but true love is the highest expression of God Himself. Love in the Name of God means, above all else, love for humanity, and anything less is a show of a lack of understanding. From Jesus to Guru Gobind Singh, and all stops in-between, love is the answer for everything. Love trumps all other ways. This truth is verified through all great religions. A healthy devotion to God answers everything.
In Guru’s court, love means tolerance turned into forgiveness, and forgiveness transcended into service to all, especially the most degraded, the most forgotten, those who have given up, and those whom all others have given up on. And, here’s the real kicker, love means serving those who deserve it the least. To a Sikh, love means serving all with no judgment attached. A Sikhs expression of love serves the soul of another, not the body.
Where do we go to guarantee that our deep love through our practice, our sadhana, is the real thing? How can we assure ourselves to “shoot for the stars.” Be audacious. A Sikh isn’t influenced by the judgment of others. A Sikh just keeps going, keeps moving forward - no matter what is said or done.
Other religions have their ways. I don’t argue with any of them. I’ve been blessed to see the greatness in all. But, Sikh Dharma is a known commodity. We’ve all experienced the elevation in sadhana. It works! We know it works because we’ve all experienced it working. Yes, some may have forgotten it, or left sadhana aside, or whatever, but we know the difference. We can’t be fooled any longer. Living without discipline and commitment are no longer good enough. We focus our love on our daily spiritual practice. Without true love, everything else is limited. True love of the Guru, love of God is the highest game on the planet.
If your sadhana has given you an experience, which was real, so real that you’ve surrendered your life to its pursuit, then this is something to continue. This commitment cannot be transferred; it must be sought by oneself. No one can do it for you. This commitment is a great thing in and of itself. Please, don’t let it go to waste. The next step is discipline. Don’t let a lack of discipline destroy the opportunity “commitment” has given you. This is where love comes into play again.
The only way to guarantee that the value of “commitment” will continue is to love the discipline we’re committed to no matter how hard it appears. Well, we practice loving it. We do so in the service to He who created all. We know that He wants love. The secret is that the more love we give Him, the more our commitment becomes real and our discipline becomes true love in service to He who is the Bestower of true love, the bestower of selflessness within oneself. And, here’s another secret: we keep practicing loving our discipline especially when we don’t want to, shouldn’t, can’t, and are tired of it. The real benefits come after we’ve passed this hurdle.
Some might find fault with this way of thinking. That’s fine, they should. This is how the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, would handle such limitedness. When someone would say something so stupid that he felt compelled to offer another way of thinking, graceful he’d simply say, “You should.”
These two words had so many meanings that I can’t even to begin to explain them now. Suffice it to say, these two words were either a Godsend or a curse, depending upon how one viewed it. Both ways of thinking were available. Our beloved teacher didn’t mean it as a curse, but that’s how it was sometimes taken. And, that’s alright, that too was just the way it was supposed to be. He enjoyed the dance between these different ways of experiencing what he said in just two words. Amazing!
His devotion to Guru Ram Das was returned with pure love. It was a love fest in the Divine. It was pure satin silk, smooth and cool. His love was real because it was bestowed by Guru. His love was available to all. That’s how we know its truth. He was Mr. Compassion. He was compassionate even to his own detriment. I saw this happen many times. But to him, he felt and knew he was protected so he loved his sacrifices. They were a blessing. He lived in the grace of true love. Otherwise, all that can be seen are faults. See, God is a Funny Loving Guy.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, A True Teachers, A Rare Feature
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
I was asked an interesting question several days ago, “How do you know your teacher is real? Isn’t it true that if the teacher knows just a little more than the student, the student won’t really know the true level of the teacher? Aren’t many students subject to misreading the correct situation?”
Now, that’s a question I don’t usually hear. I loved it. It was real; it was direct; it was deep. I didn’t take it as a challenge, I took it as a teaching opportunity. It was also a wonderful experience for me. It’s very satisfying to be blessed to be able to answer a question like this truthfully, humbly, compassionately, and devotionally.
I began, “Yes, of course you are right. A student cannot know the true reality of the teacher until she is blessed by the teacher. And, that usually comes way after the relationship has begun. So, to be able to know the true value of a teacher takes patience, education, discipline, deliverance, and faith, mostly faith. There are no guarantees that a student will be so blessed as to really know this truth about the teacher. In fact, few are so blessed.”
I took a breath to gather my thoughts, “And, here’s the real kicker, very few teachers are so blessed as to have their God provide blessings for them. So, there’s two ways to never experience the teachers blessing: one, don’t do what’s expected; two, have a teacher who can’t deliver a worthy experience.
Students who haven’t yet experienced the blessings bestowed by their teacher must rely on the experience of others. And, thus, the history of consciousness proceeds. Gratefully, we have a teacher who left us a beautiful and true roadmap. His roadmap is time honored, it’s been verified over and over, and it’s the Khalsa Way. Our beloved teacher’s intuition afforded him the blessing of teaching and living the Guru’s Way. There is no difference. The Guru’s Way and the Khalsa Way are the same.”
I was interrupted, “Yes, yes, yes,” she said in a rather bored and sarcastic tone. “But, how does a student ever know that his teacher is real or not?” I interrupted, “Hold on, hold your horses, I’m getting there. What I’ve said must be heard in order to understand where I’m going.”
I continued, “The blessings bestowed by a teacher through the grace of his Guru are so apparent in the student’s life that the experience is undeniable. At first they may not be recognizable, but soon they hit the student like a ton of bricks. The student may explain this experience to others. Others may or may not understand it or believe it. But, to the real student, the experience is in merging into the teacher’s experience, and, for her, there is no longer any doubt. The teacher and the student become one.
Here’s where the experience becomes elevating. Merger with the teacher occurs when the identity, the reality of another’s experience merge. When the student’s experience becomes the same as the teacher, the student and teacher experience the same reality and become one. Even a portion of the teacher’s experience allows that portion of merger. Within this experience, there is no difference between the teacher and the student. The more the experience of the teacher is shared, the more merger occurs as their thinking, their belief, their experience, their reality become the same.
At this point, the student knows for sure who his teacher really is, that is, if the experience reflects true reality and not fantasy. Is this experience overwhelming? Does this experience demand deeper and deeper obedience and devotion? Does this experience keep getting better and bigger? These are the questions, which determine the depth and reality of the true teacher, the student, and the experience. If the experience delivers a yes answer to these questions, the teacher is not only real, but the student receives the blessings of blessings.”
She continued her questioning, “What about Yogi Bhajan? Where does he fit in? Could you please answer that?” “Gladly,” I replied. “When you’ve lived as long as I have, there’s a great advantage. Life, it is often said, is better lived backwards. But, that’s typically not an option and without this option perspective is skewed through the cost of living. As we get older, typically, life can be viewed through a more neutral perspective. Time alone can do this. But, when time is helped through the wisdom of a true teacher, a much clearer and balanced view of life is experience. The pieces of the student’s life are no longer chaotic, there’s great symmetry. In fact the mosaic of a jigsaw puzzle of life is seen and attached thereto.
This view offers the student a view of reality without fear, anger, hate, jealousy, or frustration. Believe me; this experience could have only been bestowed upon a man like me from a real teacher. I had too many flaws to do it on my own. Most of us have these limiting flaws as we can’t get out of our own way long enough to proceed consciously in an advantageous manner. I needed a true teacher to carry me across. So, there’s no doubt in my mind about the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan’s truth. I know who I was and I know who I am. I know the difference and I’m gratefully grateful to my beloved teacher for the difference.”
I’m sure there are other true teachers. Good for them. But, I know what we’ve got. We’re so lucky. I have no apprehension, I have experienced our teachers reality. Good for us, by Guru’s Grace!
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Belief is the Commander-in Chief
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Whoever you are, that’s what you see,” The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said to a couple of students during a lunch at the ranch in 1992. “What do you mean, sir?” a student responded automatically.
The Siri Singh Sahib put down his fork, leaned his elbows on each side to his plate, and bent forward, “I mean that our personal reality, our experience of life, is a result of what we believe, not what we just have faith in, but what we truly believe. Not what we want to believe, not what we think or hope to believe, not what we believe we believe, but what we truly believe about ourselves. This is sometimes clouded and hard to accept because it means that we have to take full responsibility for everything in our life, everything that happens to us, everything we are. Sometimes it’s hard to see this perspective through daily living, but it’s the truth just the same. Face it or not, we are the sum total of who we truly believe we are.”
“Sir, can’t that be a rather pessimistic view?” a student asked. “I mean isn’t life also a product of what happens to us and what others do to us?” This question did tweak my curiosity. I knew I was going to hear our beloved teacher speak from his personal side and I couldn’t wait.
“We’re lucky.” He began. “We have a way out. We have a lifestyle, which changes the way we believe about ourselves and it does so in the best way. We’ve been so blessed and many don’t even realize it. We have a way to have Guru bless us with a different view of ourselves. It is a belief steeped in a devotional way full of gratitude, compassion, love and elevation. It is a great way, a God-like way.”
I had another glimpse at his personal experience. He was describing what makes all the sacrifice, the service and the surrender on a spiritual path worthwhile. He was describing what obedience to the truth can deliver. This is what makes him a great teacher. He knew a way out of the pain of this world and he was willing to share it with whoever cared to listen. This is why this blessed opportunity we’ve been given can’t go to waste. How many have this opportunity? All who read this have been blessed beyond imagination.
Then, he began teaching again, “The way out of the pain of life is through the service and surrender to your Guru, your God. If your Guru can deliver you to God, then you’ve been blessed. If your Guru can deliver God to you, there’s no words to describe the opportunity being afforded to you. It’s beyond anything, which I could begin to assess. In spite of anything and everything, if this is what you crave, believe, life’s experience will change. This is who you’ll become; this is what you’ll come to truly believe and experience in your life.”
Again, as usual, he didn’t disappoint. He was right on. He was direct. He was a rollercoaster of reflection. He was as much as you were willing to bite off. He was contagious. He was a true spiritual teacher. He didn’t do it for money. God and Guru always provided for him. He didn’t do it for power. His power was already provided through his Sadhana. He didn’t do it for recognition. His Guru had already recognized him. He did it in service. Service and only service to his Guru. And therefore, others, which afforded him this privilege.
I saw who he was; I saw what his current prayer was. This view wasn’t usually available to me, but when others were shown this view, I was often allowed to see it. And, I really enjoyed this view. I still don’t know why he kept this from me, I suppose it has to do with him wanting to see it in me. He didn’t want to give me any help. It was up to me to figure out, and that was fine with me.
Here’s the secret: Kundalini Yoga increases one’s breath of influence, one’s power. And, I mean power over oneself, not others. Using your power against your neurosis is the highest and best use of power. In yogic terminology it’s called pratyahara.
Sikh Dharma provides the venue in which this power, this discipline (I know that’s a dirty word to some, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary), is to be used. This becomes the only venue where power may be exercised by a true yogi and/or Sikh.
So, who you believe you are has everything to do with your experience of life. Change your belief and your experience changes. It’s best to change your belief to the highest level, after all, if you’re already, changing, it may as well be for the best of reasons. That is, if you’re lucky enough (as we have been blessed to be) to find a true “best” way. Practice the discipline of Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma. This lifestyle overrides everything else. All faults, all guilt, all misjudgment, fear, anger, and more just fade away. Just do it and don’t judge it and see what happens. You’ll thank me. So, in advance, you’re welcome. (See IfYouKnowWhoYouAre.com.)
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, He, The Yogi
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Once upon a time there was a yogi. He came to America. He taught Kundalini Yoga. He attracted many students. He was very controversial. People either loved him or not, one or the other. He was “in your face,” very direct.
He was unusual. He was demanding. He was funny. He was a reflection of what was needed. He was patient, he was impatient. He was what was required. He was a joy; he was a pain. He never abandoned anyone. He had a Great Boss.
He served. He enjoyed. He shared; he delivered. He was always he. He wept out of necessity. He covered out of duty; he covered out of love. He carried others. He blessed others to deaf ears. He created, he prayed.
This yogi was real, as real as it gets. He shared a science, which works. Kundalini Yoga gives an immediate experience, an undeniable experience, an elevating experience. We are so lucky and we don’t know it.
Back in the old days, just to show commitment, a potential student of Kundalini Yoga might have to spend three days and nights in a tree (or worse)! And, what have we had to do, what price did we have to pay? Not much in comparison! (See YogiBhajansTeacher.com.)
This yogi went beyond convention. He taught when he was told not to. He took the risk to see convention as a ritual, not reality. He beat the odds. He was a fun yogi; he was a reflection of each of us. He played on the edge, and that’s where his charm lay.
So, on the edge I was carried along, with all the confidence that reality had sprung. With all my faults, and of these I have many, God takes mercy on souls that chant His Name and it doesn’t cost a penny.
An interesting state is passed along the way. And what a state it is. It’s the state where nothing in the past matters anymore, you’re covered. Honor is restored intact. It’s a freeing state. It’s a state of surrender. It’s a state of obedience. It’s a state of love. It’s a state of tolerance. It’s a state of acceptance. It’s a state of devotion. It’s a place where there are no secrets; a place where all is forgiven. A place of “now.” A place where destiny calls each soul. A place where God takes hold of the reins. A place where living in the “flow” takes on a new meaning.
Once upon a time there was a yogi. He was born 87 years ago (August 26, 1929) today! He lives on through all of us and that is just the way he wanted it.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Stinkin Thinkin
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, our beloved teacher, had an interesting way to let someone know that what they thought, how they thought was pure stinking thinking. How he did this varied as time wore on.
When I first started to hang with him, he was very direct. He didn’t pull any punches. He’d state the truth, and then watch the “last word” game move around him. He never argued. He had stated the truth and after that he went silent. This was a pure yogic approach.
In a short time, he added to his game. He’d quote Gurbani as a tool to teach. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not so much.
Next, he’d teach by talking directly about a situation with a student, which issue was shared by another student who was also present. In fact, the issue may not have been even relevant to the person he was speaking with, but it was totally relevant to the other student. This indirect technique had its effect on many.
Then, he hit the jackpot. He had the perfect response. When someone would say something, which was so wrong that a retort was deemed mandatory, he would respond accordingly, “That’s what you really think?” That’s all he would say, but it usually made an impact. This provocative question said it all. It was a rhetorical question; yet, many still didn’t “get it.” His response was a direct challenge to the security blanket of a student’s need to “be right.”
And, here’s where the true student-teacher relationship is tested time and time again. Will the student have the capacity to suspend his thinking and adopt the teacher’s input? Excuses, justifications, and reasoning challenge the student’s need to hold on to their reality. The flexibility needed to not defend, deny, or delay the teacher’s challenge is brought up front and center.
If the student asked for more understanding, our beloved teacher would continue to explain that your opinion is your opinion and, for you, it’s your reality. There’s another way, or ten, to look at a situation. So it’s good to keep an open mind so as to not need to “be right,” but, rather, “get it right.”
This is the open-minded way of yogic thinking and Sikh discipline. The student is always the servant of Guru and what Guru thinks takes precedent over everything, even what the student thinks. The student is first, last, and always the Guru’s representative and, thus, must represent the Guru’s thinking, not their own.
I was subject to this treatment a couple of times myself. At first, I’d tell myself that it wasn't meant for me. After all, his statement wasn’t directed my way. Other times I felt the need to defend my position; nevertheless, as time moved on, my need to defend decreased, thankfully. I was lucky. I learned from watching others that a defense was not what he was looking for. He was looking for flexibility, the flexibility to be open-minded and neutral. He wanted the student to be challenged to see their thinking in perspective, in a different perspective. That’s all! And, that’s plenty.
In the end, he used all these techniques, along with others not mentioned here, to make the correct impact. He universally got his point across. He did this with all the confidence I’ve ever seen in a teacher, and I’ve known a lot of confident people in my life. He was able to do this because he had surrendered his way of thinking to serve the Guru’s way of thinking.
Was he perfect? He’d be the first to tell you that he was far from it. The correct question is: Was he servant enough to become blessed by his Guru to know His Will well enough to be able to serve this truth? My experience verifies that the answer to this question is a resounding yes! This is because Guru bestowed His grace on him. He not only knew His Guru’s Will, he served it without hesitation and with a grateful heart as well.
By Guru’s Grace, I learned quickly that our beloved teacher’s opinion mattered. It reflected Guru’s opinion. Bottom line, remember that his thinking is actually the only thing, which matters. It’s protected by his Guru’s grace.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, No Skids For These Kids
Sat Nam, Dear Family! This has been a fantastic month. The 40 day KRI Immersion, Level One, Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Training Course just ended. There were about 40 students. I’ve watched these classes over the last decade or so. I interact with them. It’s been an interesting experience.
First, let me say that I’ve seen a progression through the process, a change in the caliber of the students. The caliber has matured from those who came early on because it was a nice lead up to their next stop, Burning Man, or some other comforting fantasy festival, to this year’s crop, which is sincerely searching for more out of life. This transition has taught me that growth in this dharma doesn’t have to come only from within this organization. Serving this dharma is a progression in caliber and not limited to anyone or anything. This progression is what delights me. It reminds me that this dharma is set. No opinion, no judgment, no negativity will change that. This thought really delights me.
This year’s crop of Immersion students possessed a noticeable difference. A half dozen or so of them got it. They got that all this process, all these teachings, all this leads into the Gurdwara, to the feet of the Guru. In the Guru’s Sanctuary they appreciated listening to and experiencing deeply the kirtan (Songs of God’s Glory: Guru’s words put to song). They came every morning to hear the Words (reading from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib) and be a part of the vibration of the Guru’s Will. This process begins (and ends) with showing up. Physically coming to the Guru’s House is duly recognized by Guru Himself. This is “entry level spirituality 101.” This is why humanity first built places of worship. Humanity still does. It’s a show and recognition of commitment.
A half dozen or so of the students from the course showed up regularly at morning Gurdwara. They put into practice their spiritual direction (the joy of identification with the Infinite). They got it. They saw the end game. They were a delight: radiant, shining, smiling, soaking up the vibration, enthusiastic and curious at the same time, respectful and devotional, appreciative for the opportunity of learning to participate in Ardas (morning prayer) and Seva (selfless service) with true reverence.
My years have taught me that it doesn’t matter how you start out in life; it, also, doesn’t matter how you proceed through life; all that really matters is how you finish life. This crop was doing what’s required to be ready to end life at any time. What a wonderful strategy. They are covered. Are we still showing up? Are we paying our respects and love in the House of the Guru? Do we live in the illusion, the fantasy, that we’re done, that our duty is no longer required, that our limited Seva is enough?
Put yourself at risk. Start really believing that your life, like this dharma, is set. All you have to do is to show up and keep up. That’s the secret. The secret isn’t how great you become; the secret is how you’ve sincerely kept up practicing living the teachings. This is all our Guru requires of us to guarantee that any risk is covered. Put yourself at risk, at any level, and test your true faith in the belief that Guru’s Will always covers you and will overcome any risk at hand. This is a way to keep up at any age. It will keep you young and It may be the miracle medicine against Alzheimer’s.
These kids (I call them kids because they’re all under thirty) showed up, and they kept up showing up. Yes, there were some looky loos who came by one or twice, but these half a dozen kids showed up regularly. They actually became a part of us. We were sorry to see the class end and for them to go, and they felt the same way.
Leadership of this dharma must be real. That’s why I’m the ‘Sangat Representative.’ I’ve been trained. After spending so many years with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, I know a lot about who he was and how he acted in given situations. It’s almost impossible to fool me. If you think you’re a leader, it you want to be leader, if you should be a leader, you’d better act like it. And, by that, I mean that you’d better act and think like the Siri Singh Sahib did.
Be forewarned, I know the difference. Don’t think that I don’t want to see true leadership, I live for it. My legacy depends upon seeing true leadership emerge. Then, and only then, can I close my eyes gracefully. But, leadership must be real. Leadership starts with showing up just like the Siri Singh Sahib did. These kids showed up. They acted like leaders in training. I loved this. This was a fantastic experience. Yes, I know that these kids are not leaders, yet. But, they’re on the right path. I whole-heartedly thank these kids for their company in reverence to our Guru.
I respect these kids because they have the courage to see where all the teachings lead. Believe me, it’s not easy to put your expectations aside and just go with the flow, go to the Guru. Most aren’t even aware of this journey -- either consciously or unconsciously. These kids took the risk. And, here’s the secret. When you take the risk in going to the House of the Guru, your risk is covered and the flow becomes effortless.
These kids have been blessed. It doesn’t matter whether your or I believe it. It doesn’t matter whether or not these kids see it. They’ve been blessed for showing up. Are we putting ourselves in a position to be blessed like these kids did? The blessings don’t run out. There’s a blessing with each occurrence. So, wouldn’t it be smart of us to show up again? I think so.
These kids may or may not continue doing what’s necessary to be perpetually blessed with Guru’s favor. It doesn’t matter. Either they or many others will fill in and the progression will continue until it produces real and true leadership - either from within or elsewhere. In the meantime, I continue to love these kids.
Guru Ram Das Dev ji says “One, who is blessed by the Lord's Grace, joins the Sat Sangat.”
What’s more holy than what these kids are doing.
P.S. That’s my wife in the center and she’s definitely not under thirty. But, she has a young heart and belongs there.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Windfall of Football
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Some people ask me, “ How can a spiritual man with purported wisdom and leadership, like an aggressive game like football? “ Now, here me out. For me, football is fascinating. I especially like college football. I’ll tell you why and I’ll bet the reason for my attention is totally different than what you might think.
I’ve been a student of how to succeed all my life and football offers the instant gratification of success, or otherwise, after a few hours. My birth father expected me to succeed and I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I didn’t know if it was worth it. I saw his example of success, and he was successful, but I also saw the cost he paid, so I didn’t know if it was worth it. I sought out more. You can see where it has led me; and, thankfully, and remarkably, in the right direction.
College football coaches have a tremendous impact on the performance of their teams - from recruiting, to technique, to strategy, to public relations - they set the tone for victory. Coaches come in all sizes and shapes. Almost all come with a history of success, otherwise, they wouldn’t have ascended to the college level. They also come with different morals Some coaches do things the right way, and others don’t. I would say that the shades in-between predominate.
There are those coaches who’s morals tell them that it’s O.K. to bend the rules, that’ it’s a good strategy and that it will get them an advantage. Some win with this strategy. This way of thinking is justified and verified for them by their success in winning. So, many adopt this ‘bending of the rules’ strategy as necessary. Good for them. God didn’t make the truth always easy to understand, even on the football field. Otherwise, His entertainment would wane. Yes, we’re all His entertainment, like it or not.
Then, there are those coaches who won’t do some things because of their high morals. Here’s what I find fascinating. As I watch, I see that both kinds of thinking can be successful in terms of winning games But one full of guilt, rationalizing, and remorse. The other has grace, confidence, and deliverance. Both can succeed, but at what cost? So, the season becomes a metaphor for my life and for spirituality itself. How can I not like college football?
Each year becomes a study in how some teams succeed with one strategy, and how some succeed with another? How successful are each? How has the previous standard changed? Who has upped their game? At what level does “doing things the right way” payoff?
For instance, football history has taught me that it’s a lot more difficult to be successful by “doing things the right way.” It’s, also, much more rewarding. There’s an extra kick to succeeding when it’s done the right way. There’s no guilt, conscious or otherwise, attached. But, for everyone who succeeds this way, there are many more that don’t. The cost is true faith verified through grace. That’s a hard test but fully rewarding when proven true.
“Doing thing the right way” has a heavy cost. It’s been my experience after studying what it takes to succeed that, almost always, a coach who does things the right way and still is successful believes that God, or some higher power, or some ethics is on their side. They are usually men devoted to something greater, one way or another. Their football team is an extension of their faith. Their players are either an extension of the coach’s faith, or, at least, have bought into his faithful program in a faithful manner.
Dealing with losses, cohesive teamwork, the sacrifices necessary for winning football are easier to promote in a faith based system. It’s the same in a spiritual congregation. And, God is at the head of the ship, so these coaches display great humility. There’s no fudging on the length of practices, no recruiting violations, no conscious illegal playing on a “do the right thing” team. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cheating. Faith is the answer to these indiscretions.
So, why don’t all faith based coaches succeed? That’s a great question. The answer is the same as it is in spirituality itself: First, everyone and everything has its own karma. Some karma takes longer to overcome. Some never is overcome in this life. Some karma proceeds at a slower rate. We’ve all be stunned at the failure of someone who appears to be a perfect example of what is necessary to succeed. Actually, they’re not failing; they’re paying off karma in preparation to succeed. Unfortunately, many are fired, quit, or whatever before success is seen. The fans suffer in this process, although, it’s also karma for the fans to pay off collectively as well, but that’s a whole new story.
That’s not the only reason good coaches and good people sometimes seem to fail. New karma is constantly being added; circumstances change; proficiency in coaching factors in; And, lastly and ultimately, how much grace (good karma realized through God) a coach has juxtaposed to his good coaching determines how much success comes to the “do the right thing” coach.
So, college football becomes a reminder of how to truly succeed the right way. It’s a reminder of the reward when the reward can get lost in the shuffle. It’s a reminder that success can come from acting right just as it can from other ways of thinking. It’s a reminder that that’s who we are.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Depreciation of Appreciation
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Of the ten thousand days that I spent with the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, I can count on one hand the number of times he complimented me. I always used to wonder why. After all, I must have done something right just to be with him every day. Wasn’t I worthy of his recognition? Was it cultural, or was it a teaching? I intuitively knew the answer, but I didn’t know what the teaching was about. It bugged me because I knew that I was limited by not yet overcoming this obstacle to my growth.
At first I just chalked it up to the Siri Singh Sahib’s nature. He comes from India and he’s a yogi. Maybe it’s just that his perception is different? This answer didn’t match up or last long because I’d seen him sometimes cater to his nature and the nature of others, but he was never a slave to it. He had an elevator to transport himself out of any catering. So, his nature wasn't the answer. His history and nature were always subject to review through the telescope of his consciousness.
Then, I thought, maybe I haven’t proven myself to him enough to deserve any praise. And, that turns out to be true, but that’s not the whole story. Yes, I agreed with the technique my teacher used in always expecting more out of me, however, so long as I still wanted to be appreciated, I wasn’t satisfied. Nevertheless, what he wanted was more out of me, not a need to be congratulated. Then, I got it!
The test comes into view. He wanted any and all appreciation shown by me and to me to be unimportant. Yes, recognition is good. It’s a reflection of worldly love, but, on a spiritual path, things change. Until humility is understood, all appreciation is to be directed to the teacher, the Guru, or God Himself. God is the Doer and all benefits received are His to bestow and for the recipient to humbly understand, acknowledge, and surrender to. It’s been a relative easy test for me because I’m so misunderstood that I don’t expect any appreciation from anyone other than from the ones who love me. But, even that desire is a limiting factor. Nevertheless, I wanted our teacher’s love. I got it, but it wasn’t the gushing kind. Here’s why.
The beauty of the Siri Singh Sahib lies in his subtlety. The popular belief is that a true spiritual being loves everyone equally. And, that’s true on one level. However, there’s more. If a student or whoever believes that the teacher and the Guru love them equally, they’re right. Nevertheless, grace (the manifestation of true love) is bestowed in proportion to another beings commitment, discipline, and deliverance in following Guru’s Will.
This is where the student and the teacher meet. This is where the teacher begins to see the student become ten times greater than he. This is where the teacher succeeds as a teacher. This is where the teacher truly loves the student and it shows, at least between the student and teacher, and the subtly of this love is way beyond any temporal love.
Here’s a really interesting thing. None of this is the teacher’s call. It’s all orchestrated by the Guru. The more a student overcomes obstacles, the more grace is bestowed by Guru Ram Das through the Siri Singh Sahib. This experience outweighs any recognition from the outside world. The recognition of Guru is all that’s all that necessary. In fact, that’s all that’s desirable. But, until it’s experienced, the world, maya, has a tight hold on the student and earthly love is the ultimate worldly experience.
The lesson the Siri Singh Sahib taught me is beyond words and beyond this world. It’s a lesson in divinity. A lesson in patience, a lesson in surrender, a lesson in reality. He taught me who I am. He taught me to be grateful. He taught me humility. He taught me love. And all of this in one action. And, here’s the best news, today his recognition is experienced through grace. Believe me, that’s the only recognition truly worthwhile.
This much I discovered. I was so bad a handful of times that my teacher had to take pity on me and still give me what I wanted, some recognition. And, for that I apologize publicly to him. And, here lies the true beauty in him. Whenever I did something so wrong, so egregious, so hurtful that I felt the need to apologize to him, he would always brush me off like it was nothing, “Oh, don’t worry about it son.” Of course, I knew differently, but his compassion wouldn’t let him hurt me further when I deserved his displeasure the most. It was always a big relief. You learn to love in a hurry when someone treats you with such beauty. He knew how to push my buttons and love me at the same time.
What did I do to deserve a compassionate, elevating, joyful, eventful life? Was it just because I was with a man who lived such a life fully? Was I coasting on his coattails? Both are true, but the experience was just a preview to what he wanted his students to get for themselves. He pushed and pushed and then pushed more, all the time loving enough to keep everything in potential balance. He cared and was willing to accept the consequences of his caring, both good and better. He was always better than expected. Surprise after surprise is the result of his association.
He’s still there for all of us who didn’t know him personally, and, for that matter, for many who did. It takes practice. Practice believing in the fact that he still cares for you and you must treat him and his teachings with the utmost respect as payment for his caring. Keep practicing this way of thinking. You’ll know your practice is working when surprise after surprise enter your life. Each surprise is an elevating one, coming straight from the Source! Wahe Guru!
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Kaepernick, Sick or Slick
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Someone asked me recently, “What do you think of the Kaepernick affair?” For those of you who aren’t sports fans, Colin Kaepernick is a notable quarterback for the San Francisco 49er’s football team. As a protest against how people of color have been and are currently treated in many venues of American socierty, he refused to stand for the National Anthem. Then the you know what hit the fan. Naturally, this story has expanded way beyond sports.
As you can imagine and as they say in the trade, this story had legs. Opinions run the full gamut. Each opinion comes with full proof reasoning. And, that turned out to be true. Every reasoning expressed by every newsworthy announcement made sense. Many were contradictory, so where does the truth lie?
As always, the answer lies in the our teachings. Before we begin to explore the end game, a deeper understanding of who Mr. Kaepernick is and what he is attempting to do is in order? I’m not a great student of Mr. Kaepernick’s life. I have, however, heard enough about him to make some conclusions, which lead to his motivation.
Mr. Kaepernick is of mixed Afro-American and White heritage. He was adopted by an all White family and grew up in Wisconsin and, I presume, in a White environment. Later, the family moved out West, but, my understanding, is that he was basically raised in Wisconsin. Now, can you imagine how a kid who looks Black and raised in White Wisconsin must have been treated? Naturally, he felt the brunt of racism, both subtle and overt. He was privileged to some degree or another, and, yet, was treated differently. And, although I have no history or experience as how it must really feel, if I were treated like this, It would really piss me off as well. (See A Mixed Race Experience.)
Change typically happens slowly. Real change starts from inside (attitude) and then proceeds outwardly (action). Then, usually automatically, an event triggers change, which has been brewing for some time. Timing is when this happens. People of color have been treated differently. The playing field is tilted away from their prosperity. Yet, they have prospered. Now, that’s something to take note of. Many have beaten the odds. I love when this happens. I used to enjoy gambling and did it well. When someone or something beats the odds, I enjoy the experience either vicariously or when it happens to me. It’s always a good story.
The way America of old had portrayed people of color has been shattered. The law and the customs has yet to catch up. America needs to talk about how we can see us all as fellow travelers rather than caste preservers.
Mr. Kaepernick wants the talk to start and continue. How can we change our way of thinking about one another in order to make everything better? How can we become united in a fearless projection of understanding? It’s not asking too much. It’s what must be dealt with. It”s where the future lies. The quicker we understand this, the sooner this issue and it’s resolution will lead us to, as Disneyland says, “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”
Mr. Kaepernick is right. He made mistakes, his strategy could have been better. With more foresight and intuition he could have prevented the some of unnecessary part of the fallout. But, his pure intent is winning the day. Through all the media misrepresentations, to the deep commitment he demonstrates, Mr Kaepernick is holding steady. His actions reflected a willingness to take great risks to make a point. When this point is spiritual in nature with truth at it’s core, God takes notice.
How can I not like Mr. Kaepernick. He demonstrates many of the good qualities of a spiritual warrior -- basically, putting everything he has built at risk in order to do what’s right. He’s done a great thing. Not just for people of color, but for white America as well. United we must stand, otherwise, what good did this experiment in democracy do? We are responsible for the continued legacy of democracy working. Successfully resolving this issue will allow the experiment to continue. Then, we’ve done our duty. Then, we can close our eyes with no regrets. Everything will be set.
Mr. Kaepernick’s legacy is yet to be told, but he’s put himself in great position already. Even at his young age (28), he lives by conviction. I love this about him. He didn't do this protest out of anger, he did it out of conviction. People like this make a difference in this world. I can't wait to see his story unfold. I expect great things. Let’s see.
The whole issue can be summed up in four words, “The Browning of America.” The emotion this future conjures up has incalculable limits of fear built in. This fear must be talked out. Why do you put people of color down? Why do you think this is good for you? Is the risk of changing views worth it? How do I know it will succeed? What are the guarantees? Where will it lead? Will the change resolution leads to really provide for everyone’s benefit, or should the status quo be good enough? Shall I go on? You get the idea.
All this is is adult education, and it’s time is now. It will take a while and results may be slow, but this is how change happens. It’s a really good thing even if it doesn’t seem enough. It’s plenty. Mr. Kaepernick’s his action has extended the talking, which is good for everyone and everything. Good for him and good for us.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Snag That Ragtag Bag
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Spirituality is beautiful and difficult. I know this. I’ve been in the process of challenging the difficult part of spirituality for most of my adult life. I can sum up this part in a short sentence: the difficult part of becoming spiritual is that the successful aspirant must give up their way of thinking. It may sound easy, but it’s not. (See Bigotry.)
Imagine that we could put our neuroses in a paper bag and 100 other people would do the same and then we were all instructed to place our neuroses bags in the middle of the room. If we were all asked to retrieve one neuroses bag at the sound of the bell, we’d all fight like hell to retrieve our own bag. Yes, it’s full of neuroses and the accompanying pain, but it’s our own neuroses. We’ve learned to live with it. Good or bad, we can handle it. And, be assured, we want nothing to do with someone else’s neuroses. God forbid!
If we accept another’s way of thinking, will it be for the better? How can I trust anyone’s best intentions for me? The paper bag I have is good enough, why do I need to take the risk of changing the bag out for another’s way of thinking? These are good questions and they give plenty of room for evading discipline. That old bag of tricks is what we’re attached too. We’ll do almost anything (within our own propriety) to hold on to it. Giving up any part of our bag conjures insecurities galore. Giving up the security blanket of our bag is just too much work for most. And, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
This is why spirituality is so difficult. It takes real courage to go through the bevy of insecurities accumulated over lifetimes that reside in our own personal, but comfortable, bag! Even when one has committed to growing and letting go of these neuroses, it really is a daunting task. Somewhere along the bag purifying process, most people stop. Enough ’s enough! But remember, those who quit do so without the help available. At least it’s available to us. That’s the great blessing of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, legacy.
We have a way to make this daunting task effortless. But, it takes discipline. Many are willing to suffer the pain of the status quo, so long as discipline is avoided -- avoided at any cost. That’s the way the world works. But, fortunately for us, the world has changed for us. Out options are gloriously different! We have a way to overcome our limitations when, otherwise, we wouldn’t even know they were there to be challenged. If the difficult part of spirituality was made easy, would anyone quit? I don’t think so.
Here’s the contradiction: We do have a way to make what’s difficult easy, but it’s very difficult to do the discipline, which leads to easy. So, it’s not easy after all. Well, at least at the end there is something worthwhile, something to look forward to during the process. Ain’t that worthwhile? Of course it is. It is the most worthwhile thing in the world.
The way to guarantee success in trading in your neurosis for Guru’s thinking is to keep up practicing the Guru’s teachings. These teachings are found in the scriptures of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the living Guru. These teachings are true, have always been true, and will always be true. They hit soft and they hit hard. Practice the hard part and eventually Guru will make opening up the rest of your bag effortlessly. We in the West do have a handicap though.
The teachings in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib are sometimes difficult to understand. First, they do have meanings at many levels, but they also sometimes contain political, social, time sensitive, cultural, and spiritual references from the East, which make it harder for a Westerner to fully understand. It takes intuition to cut through to the essence of the Guru’s teachings.
Enter the Siri Singh Sahib. His teachings are a distillation of the Guru’s teachings. His teachings make the Westerner more understanding of the teachings. This is his great legacy. We, here in the West, have an interpreter with intuition. His teachings get to the essence of Guru’s teachings in a way Westerners can best hear and act on. They’re beautiful. They’re a blessing. The teachings are timeless. Why, because the source is the Guru. They work. They will remove neurosis effortlessly.
But, they must be sincerely practiced. By sincerely I mean that when the teachings call for the student to adapt a totally different way of thinking and acting, the aspirant does so no matter how difficult. Sincerely means that this process continues until future challenges become welcome rather than difficult.
Here’s the secret. The time this process takes is not up to the student. It’s up to God, Guru, and His agent, the Siri Singh Sahib. Yes, the Siri Singh Sahib has the power to bestow blessings as Guru Ram Das has his back. Sincerity, commitment, focus, discipline, karma, and the ability to deliver are limiting or expanding factors in God’s timeline. Prayer has been used since the beginning of time to sway God’s schedule. It works, but, that too, is on God’s call. Our job is to just keep up the process of practicing the teachings, period - no judgment attached.
When these changes become a welcomed event, it means that the student has put the Guru’s way of thinking above his own. This state of being is very relaxing, comforting, contented, and elevating. So, the progression is: practice the teachings so that your bag of neurosis can be discarded effortlessly. This is accomplished by changing your way of thinking to serve the teachings of the Guru.
See Sikh Definitions.
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Merger with a deity is the goal of all great religions. This merger is either experienced while alive, or realized upon death. The step before merger while alive is the reconciliation of differences between you and your God now. First, wisdom is bestowed, then discipline must be exercised. The experience of merger in this life occurs when wisdom is matched with action. Here’s the trick God plays: In order to merge with your God, the aspirant must view her God as the Ultimate, and not to be challenged at all.
Yogi Bhajan, aka Siri Singh Sahib, came to the West teaching something sacred and special. But, only those students who merge with him will know what I’m talking about at its essence, at its experience. The secret: Do what he has instructed you personally to do, or do what his teachings say to do.
And now, for the great secret: Unbeknownst to us, we’ve been blessed for some reason to be exposed to the greatest of all statuses on a spiritual path. I know all ways, religions, philosophies make this claim, and they should. But, how many of them can understand and accept the teachings of all different ways and appreciate them as well? Our way can!
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib, our sacred scripture we consider our living Guru, has writings of saints from other religions, or, in fact, saints who profess no organized religion. The common denominator being that all these men speak through God consciousness and, thus, profess the same, ultimate, reconciled truth. What other religion is so un-intimidated that they would allow such a thing? I’ll tell you, only Sikhism does so.
Our way does so because our Guru, or God, is the most wise and compassionate. We know this because we know Him. We know what our God has done for us. Wisdom and compassion are our Guru’s bywords, chanting Gods sacred name is His technique and both are a must before the sincere student can experience merger. We must merge our wisdom with our compassion (love in action).
First, be compassionate to yourself and do what is best for you so you can share it with others. Being compassionate with yourself means practicing the wisdom you’ve been bestowed in the action of your daily life. They must become the same. Words and actions must become one.
The conundrum of spiritually is: How does one give to himself and still be spiritual? Isn’t that just being selfish? Well, I told you that our path is the highest, that’s how. We live a royal spiritual lifestyle; one which is time honored. First, it must be stated that spirituality is the most selfish way of life. It’s all about the aspirant. However, God has balanced it out for us. Yes, spirituality is all about the life of the student, but in order to advance, the student must give. Give, and give, and give more. Then, afterward and at some point, God gives, and gives, and gives more back to the student. This is the true spiritual relationship between a sincere student and a true teacher. So, naturally, all, the student, the teacher and others benefit. On this royal path, the student must acquire physically, mentally, and spiritually as more than possible in order to share more and more with those who accept the help.
This merger with a true spiritual teacher blends into a stress-free life. Not the kind of stress-free life that you think. Not the avoidance of as much stressful situations as possible. This is the way of the world. It’s actually a stress-full way. The avoidance of stress is a very stressful job. A spiritual stress-free life is not achieved by the avoidance of stress, not just dealing with all stress, but the actual embracing of any and all stress, which may come your way.
This is who our teacher was and is; this is who we must become; this is because of the great opportunity, which has been given to us. A spiritual stress-free live is a life of the highest order, the highest status. This is because it’s a life protected, provided for, and enjoyed with Guru Himself. What could be grander? It’s a life of true love, compassion. What can be higher? Wisdom has merged with compassion, and this has been verified through a stress-free existence.
The duty, which comes with this merger is the student’s duty to share the compassion the student has been bestowed, with all. It becomes a duty to all who seek to pursue our way of surrender, of service to this dharma. So, I make myself available. I don’t chase after anything or anyone anymore. It’s my honor to share what I know about our teacher and the teachings with those who choose to hear. I’ve been blessed to be raised on them both. I didn’t even realize it as I was a growing up, but I was blessed to see how a true teacher becomes merged with his Guru. I saw how he acted and reacted. His actions were different than that of the world.
It’s ingrained in my mind. I still miss his presence. I continue to enjoy his presence through history, which is embedded in my mind. He’s still always with me, but I miss all the fun we’d have living a true royal spiritual lifestyle. I was blessed to share his grace. I never wanted it to end, but when he left his body all service to his mission (and mine) must continue in order to get what he gave me myself.
I’ve removed myself from the process, so there’s no hesitation in what I promote. My goal is to do His Will, and get out of the way of mine. Therefore, in my mind, what our beloved teacher wants, I must produce. And, if I’m patient and continue doing my duty, at some point the process becomes stress-free -- either all at once, or piece by piece.
See Sikh Definitions.
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Did you ever wonder what to do when someone betrays you, at least from a consciousness perspective? I did. What is the right thing to do without any ego involved? Where does the neutral mind reside on this issue? Again, I was blessed to have a teacher who demonstrated the answer to this question time and time again.
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, used to say, “My body is like a peanut, completely and permanently scarred by betrayals.” When I first heard him say this in the early 1990’s, I began to take particular notice of each continuing betrayal as they perpetually presented themselves. I had noticed them before, but not with the focus needed to deeply understand the grace of our beloved teacher’s actions.
A woman arrived at the ranch in the spring of 1993. She was an old time student who worked for various Dharmic entities in one capacity or another. The reason for her presence at the ranch was due to the fact that she had purposely and harmfully presented false financial information about one of our Dharmic businesses to him. Now, her mischief had been found out. This woman had put herself above all else, including this Dharma, our teacher, and her consciousness. I realized that she had had no choice. Her self-protective nature trumped all else. This way of thinking is common, but the cost of her betrayal in this case was way beyond common.
“Why did you do it,” our teacher asked this student. “Why didn't you just give me the information I needed accurately?” She remained silent. He asked again, “Why?”
She sat up needing to defend herself. “I don’t know,” she shot back automatically? “I just did it.”
“Would you like me to tell you why,” our teacher responded?
“Yes,” she answered in a nonchalant manner. I sat up as well knowing that her response would open up the floodgate of his consciousness. This woman was in for the challenge of her life and I was lucky enough to see, first hand, another episode of how our teacher dealt with betrayal. I was completely focused.
The education began, “Your intent, your commitment is good. But, when your commitment is challenged by your unnecessary selfish and self-protective needs, your misguided protection is all that matter to you. In this case, the need to hide the financial mistakes you made were compounded and covered up by your lies. You’ve rationalized your actions under the umbrella of ignorance. This has been your pattern for lifetimes. This block limits you and affects everyone you come in contact with. It’s the reason your husband left you even though you’ve refused to see it. Your security blanket is exposed by your self-protection overtaking your intent. It’s not a fair battle.”
“Why is my self-protective nature misguided?”
“Because you rely on yourself to protect yourself through chicanery rather than your spirit, your soul, your spirituality, your Guru.”
She began to cry. He pulled a tissue out of the box next to his chair and handed it to her, “Don’t worry. darling. I know you need the income from your work. I know you’re a single mother. You will be paid, but you are being transferred to another position within our organization. You have tested my tolerance and for that I thank you. That doesn’t mean that I accept your nonsense, It has cost us a lot. We’ll keep up and break this debilitating block. Report to my Chief Financial Secretary and she’ll let you know where you’ve been reassigned.”
“I’m so sorry for the problems I’ve cost you, I’m so sorry. I want to make it up,” she exclaimed between tears.
“I know you do, he answered. “You’ve always had a strong commitment. That’s not the issue. Now prove it and don’t let your neurotic block get in the way of your intent ever again. Can you do that?”
“I will, she said.”
“Well, I’m from Missouri and that’s the ‘show me’ state, so, don't just tell me, ‘show me’ .” Of course, he wasn't from Missouri, but I was and had often used this expression. He liked it and used it occasionally himself. I always liked it when he used something I said as his own. Imitation is the grandest form of flattery.
The story doesn’t end there. How he continued to treat this woman was the crown on the grace he modeled. If you didn’t know the inside story, you would have never thought there was any issue between them as their relationship appeared as it always had been. He often said, “If you have to let someone down, do it very slowly.” That doesn’t mean that his sliding indifference to her was noticeable to others, it wasn’t. But only he and she knew it. I was privileged to see it because of my proximity to the situation.
I was also focused on the continuing relationship. He tolerated and tolerated, but as this student continued to test his tolerance, his acceptance waned. His tolerance was Infinite, his acceptance was finite. More and more spiritual distance occurred as his acceptance was continually challenged. I saw this happen with many students who couldn’t or wouldn’t break their blocks. It was a very slow process and unnoticeable to everyone except the student. It’s a painful experience and it wakes some student up. Others succumb to it.
Betrayals like this one were documented on his peanut skin. He accepted betrayal as a necessary part of life. Betrayal comes with life just as peanuts come with popcorn in a crackerjack box. Both are to be eaten together. Painful as it was for me to witness, these betrayals of our teacher, gift in all its glory was watching a holy man deal with such adversity. His protection was provided by Guru Ram Das who, because of his kindness, bestowed His grace on and through our teacher.
This kindness not only nullified the cost of the betrayal, but, also, activated the grace of prosperity bestowed by Guru. He, and we, benefited greatly through his kindness, directly and indirectly. Kindness is hard to exercise in instances of betrayal. It’s hard to give to those who abuse you - to those who deserve it the least. It takes courage, true belief, and true action, but I saw it work. I saw the grand results. Many don't believe in this way, and that’s fine. That’s the way of the world and the way it’s supposed to be. But, for those who surrender to their God and act in His kindness in the most unkind situations, it’s as real as can be. I saw it in our teacher. Aren’t we lucky. Keep following his example and you will continue to be lucky.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Sunbeam of Self-Esteem
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Today, I’d like to talk about self-esteem, or the lack thereof. We all cater to our lack of self-esteem whether we know it or not. Let me explain.
First, I can hear these questions shouted through the ethers. “How can you say ‘we all’ when you don’t even know ‘us all’? How do you know that I cater to a lack of self-esteem?”
You are right. I don't know “all,” and, really, I don't have to. I know that in the eyes of God, everyone is stupid. That’s because ‘all’ (with maybe an exception once in a great while) haven't merged with Him during their life. That very fact reflects stupidity on ‘all’. Especially since everyone has the opportunity to do so. The scriptures say that everyone, once during their life, will come in contact with their true spiritual teacher. This meeting is either recognized or not. Those few who recognize their teacher are blessed to have the opportunity to continue up the true path towards merger.
So, what are we committing to? First, let’s hope that we’ve committed to the right teacher. Many false or limited teachers present themselves. After all, the world is full of people ready, willing and able to tell you how to live. This is where most people lose out. They pick the wrong teacher. So, commit to a teacher you’ve studied sincerely. See if the teacher’s words are his alone, or are they deeply rooted in a time honored lifestyle? Committing to something which is time honored eliminates the risk of choosing the wrong teacher. It can’t be wrong. Yes, sure, the teacher may be limited, but if the teachings are pure, there’s always a correct path up the mountain.
At this point, the teachings, not the teacher, become the most important path. The truer a teacher presents the teachings, the more love and respect for the teacher is gained. All doubt is erased as the teacher has given to the student more than she could have ever imagined. Of course, many teachers can deliver more than expected, but not a lot more. Don’t choose this kind of teacher. Even when the teachings are pure, the teacher’s interpretation may be skewed and usually is. Purity of heart is required here. The cost we must pay for this great benefit is discipline: the discipline of continuing to practice living the teachings better and better,each and every day, with each and every breath.
To many, discipline is a harsh word. Yes, there are many who relish it, but most don’t. Discipline is a charged word. It comes with an internal experience, it’s a personal experience that is different for each one of us. But whatever your personal association, know that the truth is firm: the experience of commitment comes with discipline. Otherwise, commitment becomes hollow. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is.
Well, does this mean that faith means nothing? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that the two together, faith and discipline, are a fabulous combination. Therefore, faith activates discipline. Faith adds the benefits, the experience of commitment, and, thus, the cost of discipline is forgotten. More benefits come with more and more discipline, so discipline becomes a pleasure rather than a drudgery. Faith makes discipline and life fun.
Well, what does all this have to do with self-esteem? Everything, that’s what! I can say without a doubt, categorically, that self-esteem comes into play with each step I’ve mentioned above. In fact, it comes into play with each turn in the path as well, and there are many. At many places along the way, we all reach our limits. We usually don’t even know it. We’re just “not worthy” of anything more. Our “worthiness” factor limits our expansion unless we break through it. A better and better self-esteem is the antidote.
How can we get a “better and better self-esteem?” That’s the ultimate question. Kundalini yoga is a great help. I use it. I also have another great help. It comes from the Guru. Prayer works. Guru says that our prayer should be, “Good or bad Guru ji, I belong to you. We belong to each other, so please make me more and more worthy of greater things so that I can serve and represent you better (paraphrased).”
When a student truly sacrifices to the will of the Guru, the Guru loves the student more and more. It doesn't even matter if the student believes this, just the commitment to this daily prayer activates the Guru’s love. And, through Guru’s grace, magically, the student does become better and better.
Here’s how you should practice thinking to remove limited self-worth and increase self-esteem, “If my Guru wants to love me, why should I deny Him? If I deny His love, I follow my will instead of His. So, I must let Him love me as He chooses and get the hell out of the way.” Relax! Self-esteem skyrockets out of this world when this way of thinking becomes real. Self-esteem can no longer, and at no place, restrict, in any manner, the student’s growth. What a help this way of thinking is in climbing the mountain of love.
I promise you that if you practice sincerely thinking this way and saying this prayer, your life will change for the better. I offer a money back guarantee. Take your self-esteem out of your hands, and fulfill God’s will. You’ll see what God can make out of you, more than your wildest dreams. That is, of course, if you can get out of your own way. Here’s the secret. The climb up the mountain never ends. At some point, it becomes a joy in and of itself. So, that what we fear the most, discipline, almost automatically becomes a great delight and eventually ecstasy. Now, life is truly worth living.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Shrewd Mood of Gratitude
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, taught me to be grateful for everything. Yes, sometimes it’s very hard, but that’s the Guru’s way. I’ve discovered that the more you practice gratitude, the more grateful you become. And, here’s the secret. It doesn’t matter at all how and what you think of gratitude, all that matters is how much you keep practicing thinking that you are grateful for everything.
It’s better to practice this way of thinking when you’re young, it sets a good image. But, anytime is the right time to begin. Putting aside what you think, what you believe, putting aside every assumption, this practice will change your life’s experience when sincerely practiced. It’s a progression, a pleasant progression.
Gratitude leads to humility, humility leads to sacrifice, sacrifice leads to surrender; surrender leads to merger, merger with the Infinite. Gratitude is key as it begins this progression in experience. And, here’s the best part, it only gets better from here. It leads to the experience of merger. The best I can describe about the experience of merger is to say that life becomes content and happy. Yes, habits follow, but the more you relax, the more contentment and happiness enters your life, life becomes a flow.
The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan’s personal relationship with Guru Ram Das showed me, personally, how great a life can be! The fourth Sikh Guru was his patron saint. They became the best of friends. So much love existed between them that Guru took it upon himself to bestow blessing after blessing upon our beloved teacher. We forget, or maybe even never knew, that the Guru becomes just as grateful for a grateful student as a grateful student is for a true teacher.. And, Guru has Infinite blessings available to bestow. It’s a great deal.
The Guru says, “Oh God, I’m yours. If you caste the pain of a thousand hungers, the pain of a thousand hurts, the continuing pain of life in spades, that too, I’ll claim as your gift.” The Siri Singh Sahib put this couplet on his gravestone in the mid 1990s. Yes, he had a gravestone, although he wasn’t buried there, or anywhere for that matter. He believed that westerners related to tombstones, so this couplet engraved on his tombstone became the marker by which he lived. I began to understand how deeply he had mastered life. He set the bar very high.
The beauty of being a great teacher is that as you go through life, the tests of life continue, but, because of the subtlety of the tests, you, the teacher, are the only one typically who sees them. That’s why he’s the teacher. So all honor is maintained. Relationships are not challenged. The teacher is respected and victorious. The teacher is forever grateful for all these relationships, especially the relationship with Guru. And, gratefully, the teacher’s honor is maintained.
So, naturally, I have no problem understanding how practicing gratitude is a life changing experience. It costs nothing, no therapy attached, no strings to negotiate, no risk at hand. It’s a sure fire way to heaven, to liberation. Life gets better and better along the way. Gratefulness takes over your psyche. It’s a marvelous experience.
Just think of it! No more judgment; no more guilt, no more anger, no more fear, no more frustrations, no more jealousy. Life becomes complete. Satisfaction guaranteed. Our beloved teacher lived a life of sacrifice, surrender, and merger. He sacrificed his way of thinking, he surrendered to the Guru and His teachings, and he succeeded in, not just accepting, but being grateful for everything, good and otherwise, which entered his life. This is why he was the real deal.
See Sikh Definitions.
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