Yogi Bhajan, Moxie Orthodoxy
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
If you look closely at some lectures that the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, gave, especially late in his life, a different view of his reality is sometimes revealed. Sometimes like Guru Nanak, and often like the 3rd Guru, Guru Amar Das, all the sugar coating is removed and straight spirituality is expressed.
I’ve noticed that most people just mask over these teachings rather than take them all to heart. Well, that’s the way we all grow, albeit too slowly. Our beloved teacher is sometimes pure “spirituality unplugged,” It’s been my experience that he sometimes talked like this so that if the student looked closely enough, there was no doubt about what was ultimately expected.
In these direct lectures, the Siri Singh Sahib taught that many claim many things, and many others would listen to these claims. Many will believe their own grandeur, so there’s no discussing anything with them. That’s not who we are. So long as we remember that we are nothing but blessed with the humility to know that we’re just really lucky to have found a lifestyle which has granted us an understanding beyond the ordinary, beyond the beyond. For Sikh’s, the way to this understanding is ultimately through an orthodox form of our lifestyle. I know that the word “orthodox” is charged, but let’s not through the baby out with the bathwater.
What do you think the Guru means when he says, (paraphrased) ‘The more you do my will, the more is forgiven, until all is forgotten?’ Do you understand what this means? It means that if we don’t turn from the truth, the Guru’s words, serving His will is the only way to go. Everything else is worthless. I understand that this is hard to take. It’s not about what we want, that’s the trap. It’s always about what the Guru wants, period!
But, if our life truly depends upon hearing this, then, in spite of the pain it creates, shouldn’t we just be willing to hear it and give ourselves an alternative way in life? Isn’t this what’s best for us? I know that a lot of you don’t think you’re capable of becoming a real servant of the Guru -- it’s just too much to ask, the commitment is too great. Either family, work, other needs get in the way. And, really, at some level, who does think they are worthy. Very few, that’s who. It’s a natural occurrence.
This is where trust is tested. Do you believe that you’ll be given everything necessary to overcome any tests on your way to your goal because your goal is to serve the Guru better and better? And, there right there is the answer. You don’t have to be the best servant in the world to be a servant, all you have to do is to sincerely practice to be a little better servant each day. That’s it! It doesn't matter where you live, where you’re at spiritually, where priorities lay, just begin and continue to serve as you can, and do it better each day.
That’s the secret. Keep up sincerely practicing. Never give up. Just do this one thing. This one thing straightens out every other thing. It is a magic thing. Practice living the teachings and the legacy a little better each day through service to Guru ji’s will, trust that your practice brings the Guru’s magic and joy into your life, and experience the reality of true orthodoxy.
Conclusion: Orthodoxy ( is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion...a belief or a way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct ) in it’s true, compassionate, and tolerant form is divine; orthodoxy in it’s false, inflexible, intolerant, and controlling form is a living hell. So, blessedly, our lifestyle teaches compassion, and tolerance in is orthodoxy - we’re practicing the correct form of orthodoxy.
The raw view of our teacher’s reality is actually his great teaching gift to his students. When he speaks directly, Guru Nanak says, “O Nanak, speaking bland words, the body and mind become bland… The character-less person is discarded in the Court of the Lord. Those who are false within, and honorable on the outside, are very common in this world… Even though they may bathe at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, still, their filth does not depart.”
Guru ji makes it quite clear that a common life is rarely seen as such by those who live it. An uncommon life is rare commodity, period. Guru says to not fool yourself into thinking you’re something you’re not. Wise up! You’re nothing except lucky. Lucky to be blessed to have everything needed to live an uncommon, a royal life, filled with continued grace, gratitude, devotion and love.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Coronation of Self-Evaluation
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Self-examination is the key,” the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said to a group of students who had arrived for Summer Solstice. During this annual event, students from around the world would gather in the glorious mountains of New Mexico for ten days or so. It was a time to experience our teachings and better understand our protocol.
Our beloved teacher would lecture every afternoon, then retreat to his cabin where various students were invited up. He’d sit in his chair on the large deck, often relaxing with his evening meal, and teach personally to these students.
We were spoiled in L.A. He was very available, especially after class several times a week where he’d mingle with students outside the ashram fielding questions and dealing advice. He was a “hands-on” teacher. Mostly, others from outside L.A. didn’t really have that constant contact and intimacy. So, others were invited up to his cabin. It was nice to see. They were very grateful.
His answers helped them to further understand our protocol and culture. How do we treat one another? How do we treat ourselves? How do we extend ourselves? How do we comport ourselves? How are questions are answered? How understanding are we? Our culture is based on a true protocol, so our culture is blessed.
The questions proposed above are all answered in our culture and our protocol. For instance, our protocol calls for treating one another with respect. His teachings say, ‘treat the others person as if they were you.’ Now, unless we’re self destructive, that teaching demands respect for others. For instance, you can debate for fun or education, but you can’t argue. If there’s any anger, any frustration, any jealousy, any insecurity in your debate, you are no longer debating, you are arguing. Our protocol is to “not argue with a fool”, and, since our protocol has its basis in the Guru’s teachings, what is there left to argue - discuss, yes; argue, no!
Believe it or not, we Americans had to learn this. Our whole system of government is based on debate and, thus, especially nowadays, argument. We argue a case at law. We argue in legislatures. We argue among those in the executive branch.
And, we definitely argue about religion. It’s taught in some religions like the one I came from. In Judaism, the highest courts of learning are called Yeshivas. Here’s how they work.
Two students study a passage from the Torah, the first five chapters of the bible. There either is, or is not, a deeper meaning with every sentence. The Rebbe (Rabbi) is the keeper of truth. The two students will argue over this passage until they come together in believing that they know a deeper meaning. The rebbe is called over to listen to their interpretation.
He might agree that the students get it and they can move on to the next passage. Or the students did not get the answer and must go back and figure it out differently again. This process may continue many times and may take hours or months, or even never come to a completion or victory. This is one reason that Jews are good lawyers, they’re good arguers. It’s called arguing, but it’s really debating. There arguing is not out of anger, but out of getting to the truth. But, naturally, like everything, debate can get perverted into argument.
Arguing (debating) gracefully is out of the awareness of most Americans. Arguing means being angry and it’s not known how to separate the two. Our teacher brought a changed culture to our protocol. From ashrams to Solstice Sadhanas, this protocol was practiced. Not perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but practiced. There was a symbiosis from one ashram to another. There were also differences, but there was usually more similarities then diversions. Anyway, the diversions made it fun so long as the similarities held court.
Our teacher continued, “Analyze yourself. And, do it all the time. I don’t mean for you to judge yourself, I mean for you to find a neutral place to see whether or not you’re doing what you’re suppose to. I don’t just mean for you to evaluate just what your doing now, I mean for you to reflect on what you’ve done. Not all decisions you’ve made in the past are in your best interest right now. So, if some bad decisions can be changed, do it. This takes reflective self-examination. You don’t have to be right, you have to get it right. The quickest and best way to do this is to use the teachings as the standard, the protocol. Are your decisions based on the teachings, or not? Is what I’m going to do going to elevate me or not? If so, proceed. And if they elevate another person, that is even better!
These are the question to ask yourself as you self-evaluate.”
Well that was a lot to take in. I saw some squirming in the surrounding group of students. That’s normal. It was very difficult to accept everything that was thrown at us by the Siri Singh Sahib. It was so unfamiliar, so out of our comfort zone, so painful. If we kept up, we grew to accept. This is part of the process. He didn’t pull punches and these students got it. Their squirming proved it. They may not have liked it, but they understood what they were in for if they kept up. They were learning our protocol. No, it wasn’t easy, still isn’t. Nothing rewarding is.
His challenge for self-examination is frightening for many to explore. We don’t want to see how messed up we were, that just makes us feel bad. So, we stayed away from that. However, he gave us tools, a protocol, teachings, which allow for self-examination to be a pleasant journey rather than a dreaded trip down a painful lane. He gave it all to them in sixty seconds. Unbelievable, what a blessing, and what a challenge.
Did they appreciate this and take advantage of it? Some did I am a sure. And I had the sense that a few of them were acutely aware of the blessing and opportunity in front of them. “Life goes on, and this old world keeps on a turnin,” as the song goes. Keep-up with your self-examination so you can turn with the world.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, al la Carte Heart Tickling
Sat Nam, Dear Family! You know, I don’t get my heart warmed and tickled often, but today was one of those delightful and blessed exceptions experienced directly from God. Please, let me explain.
Today, quite unexpectedly, we hosted a lunch for 17 people. We’re prepared. We host often. My lovely wife and Loretta (our gift of a loving cook) do a marvelous job. It’s one of our joys. Sharing good food with others is one of the great privileges in life. There is a list of great services which greatly accelerate spiritual growth, which God and Guru look upon as a display in sharing, humility and duty. Feeding others, especially those whose path you share, is one of the great services Guru ji commands.
There’s no need to judge why, that will just lead to judgement. Just feed others. And, let me share with you the beauty of Sikh Dharma. Sikh Dharma provides a methodology which allows for anyone to share in this blessed service. Serving langar (community meal) is available to everyone. At no cost, the Guru provides everything for you to take advantage of this great opportunity.
Our beloved teacher often said as we drove to our daily lunch in Los Angeles, “How many hungry Sikhs will we feed today?” I was grateful to be included in his elevated seva. I learned quickly that feeding others is a great service. It’s the reward for previous good service. It’s benefits are delayed, but, if you keep up and are patient, your life will automatically become meaningful. You will matter a great deal, especially to you and your God.
As I said before, we’ve hosted many lunches over the years. My wife is into it also. In fact, she enjoys it tremendously. I’m glad she’s happy. I really enjoy them too. Today, there was a half dozen or so guests from the generation after ours. I think they’re called ‘Generation X.” Anyway, we often host our younger generations. It’s really a delight. One way or another, they all understand some things which sometimes we older folks don’t. They provide an interesting perspective.
It’s also a way that I can talk straight to people who sometimes get me. They don’t come with a lot of bias or prejudice. They don’t have an axe to grind. They are still looking for answers. They are still teachable. They do listen. They are our hope; let’s let them breathe. Let them show their strength. After all, isn’t it their turn?
Well, what does all this have to do with the warming and tickling of hearts? As everyone was leaving, one to the respected leaders of Generation X leaned over and whispered to my wife, “You know, you are the parents of the community, the Ashram.” What more could you want to hear than to be recognized as dutiful. He used to say, “Dutiful is Beautiful,” and he meant it.
Expressions like this one are, to me, verification of Guru’s acceptance of our service as, at least, satisfactory. Service is no longer of the unnoticed variety. You become recognized for the person you’ve become, even if you don’t believe it at first. You’ve fought this type of need for many years as everyone has an esteem issue. it’s a bit of a shock to be able to enjoy it again immediately.
God’s recognition has always been my primary goal. First, I had to find a path which would lead toward God’s recognition. I found it. Then there must be a teaching which will lead to God’s recognition. I found this too in the same Sikh lifestyle. Then, understanding that there way must lead to serving God’s correct will. It’s the ‘correct’ word which louses everything up for many.
Who knows what’s correct and what’s not? There are so many supposed paths, how do I know that I’m picking the right path for me? The answer is: you don’t. The remedy is a sincere prayer for trust in He, the Creator. The path chosen must lead to trust in the Creator. If not, please gracefully excuse yourself and get out of there as quickly as possible. Otherwise, your life will not turn out as wished.
The teachings of the Guru are timeless. They may be inaccurately judged, they may be misinterpreted, they may be misquoted, they may be anything, but their true value is written between the lines and, therefore, can never be erased. It’s these subtle instructions that I crave. They’re full of bite, like a delightful pepper. Once it’s learned how to deal with them, they no longer are feared, delayed, draining. non-productive, and avoided.
Now, these subtle instructions are like found gem quality gemstones. They produce tremendous results almost instantly. The pain we fear that comes with change can be dropped when you just become a chameleon and surrender to God’s Will. Then, you’ve got it. When change is just a process, and no longer a pain, change becomes a part of the exhilarating process of doing Guru ji’s will.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Habitual Ritual
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
This I know, everyone is doing the best they can. Can they do better? Maybe. But, right now, everyone is doing the best they can. It may or may not be to your standard, but a standard exists in each individual whether or not your agree with it. It’s their standard and they have every right to have a different one. Or do they?
The answer is yes, they have every right to their standard so long as their standard isn’t harmful to other standards. But, for the sincere spiritual student, his or her standard is out of their hands. While the world can set its own standard, the sincere spiritual student must follow the standard of his teacher, his Guru, and God Himself.
So, for the sincere student, the “best they can” mantra won’t hold up. Doing better means that the student is always practicing living to the standards set by God, the individual standard must be put aside. In the case of us, Sikhs, it’s the standard set by Guru ji in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This is what separates a Sikh from the rest of the world. We never quit practicing getting better at living Guru ji’s will. We not only know we’re different, we experience it through living His Will. And here’s the Sikh secret, the more a Sikh practices following Guru ji’s will, the more of Guru’s consciousness will be experienced.
How do we practice doing Guru ji’s will more and more? Aren’t we already doing it? Well, let’s begin here. Are you doing Sadhana regularly? Do you go to Gurdwara? Are you serviceful? Do you practice loving God? These are just the tip of the iceberg when directing yourself in the obedience to Guru ji’s will.
I can hear the critics now, ‘I don’t need rituals to be spiritual. They just get in the way.’ You know what, I somewhat agree with the critics. But, I have a caveat. The critics are right, most rituals are empty and become pageantry at best. I’m not opposed to pageantry, but a true ritual must be more than a show, more than just entertainment.
When the ritual requires sacrifice (and I don’t mean the sadistic kind), it becomes real. Just going to Gurdwara is a sacrifice of time, energy, effort, commitment, you name it, and qualifies as a true ritual. Sadhana is the source of rituals. It requires the greatest sacrifices and delivers the biggest punch. The practice of loving God is a surrender, then a sacrifice of any way of thinking which is different then Guru ji’s will. It’s the most painful, and the most rewarding of rituals. The ritual of serving Guru ji’s will is the highest sacrifice. It’s serving the gratitude, devotion, and love you have for God. Sikh Dharma is loaded with true rituals. We’ve lucked out again!
Oh sure, there are more benefits in attending Gurdwara other than rituals. The teachings, the music, the interaction, dust of the saints’ Feet, years and years of prayers embedded in the very walls of that sanctuary, the Guru’s presence , these are just a few of the etheric benefits. But, here, we’re just dealing with rituals.
When we bow our head in front of the Guru, we surrender to Him. Oh yes, we may have a need or two to ask Guru ji’s help with, but the purpose of bowing is to acknowledge the grandeur, elevation, and truth in Guru’s words and to sacrifice your way of thinking and follow Guru ji’s true advice. The first lesson a Sikh learns as he enters and bows at Gurdwara is the reverence, obedience, and love which must accompany any true relationship with Guru ji.
You cant’ fake it. Guru ji know your heart of hearts. You can’t fool him, so don’t bother to even try. Sincerity is the true value. The sincerity to practice doing what Guru ji wants rather than what I or others want. This is Guru ji’s standard for doing his will. If you are sincerely practicing doing his will better and better each day, then you are indeed doing His Will. When “the best we can” is no longer relevant, you’ve climbed over the first major step on the pyramid of hope.
Sincerity is the answer. Do you really mean it, or are you just window shopping again? Window shoppers don’t make it. Their focus becomes disturbed. And, believe me, you need all the focus you can muster to traverse along a spiritual path.
So, be smart and sincerely practice becoming better and better each day. If you are a Sikh or Kundalini Yogi, that means sincerely practicing the teachings more and more each day. In all cases, under all circumstances, without exception, sincerity is the key.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, I am, I am not
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Whatever I am, I’m not; whatever I think, doesn’t matter; whatever I appear to be, I’m acting and I’m not, and I am. The life of spirit is neutral.” [OneIsTheAnswer.com]
We were seated in the living room of the Estates at the bottom end of the ranch in New Mexico. There were many relatively new students seated around as It was the summer of 1982 during Solstice time. A few old time teachers were invited to bring their new students to enjoy time with the our beloved teacher. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan's, statement lifted my head.
I’m sorry to say, I was blessed to hear him everyday, so, sometimes, attention wanes as the same teaching is reheard. Something like this statement awakened me in a hurry. He typically wasn’t so direct about his consciousness. But, with new students, he was often more mystical, more new age, and more transparent. This was his current audience.
It’s taken me years to truly hear what he was saying. Please, let me explain what I’ve come to understand. “Whatever I am, I’m not” is found in the reconciliation, the balancing, of these opposites. It is the great value of a true teacher. In the west we hear the same thing in Judeo-Christian terms as “I am, I am.” I’m both finite and infinite, worldly and Godly, hear and hereafter.
He trusted that whatever he was, his caliber drew his Guru’s favor. What he was, was a really good representation of his Guru. He followed the Guru’s teaching enough to garner Guru’s grace.
Enough so, that his Guru granted him the blessing of not only being a good representative on this planet, but being so with Guru’s help makes the job, the earthly ‘I am,” a joy. And, that’s a really good gift from Guru. One that’s kept me focused.
And, that’s not all. Guru ji also bestowed upon him the second “I am.” The “I am” which delivers “Whatever I am, I’m not” Whatever he appear to be is only half of who he is. So, he’s not anything as well. He is nothing because he requires everything from God; he’s everything with God’s help. He’s not anything without his Guru’s help. The “I am” experience comes with the awareness that everything is God’s Will. So, life is lived in relaxation. When he realized that he can do nothing except his duty and his prayer, it’s easy to relax. This is what blessings comes with being nothing and everything at the same time. This is where the balance is found; this is where neutrality lies; this is where Guru’s court is found.
His next line, “whatever I think, doesn’t matter,” has it’s reference straight from the first line of Jap Ji, the initial and most sacred prayer of a Sikh taken from the words of Guru Nanak as he emerged from the sacred river. “Sochai soch na hova-ee jay sochee lakh vaar, chupai chup na hova-ee jay laa-ay rahaa liv taar,” means: think, think a million thoughts, there of no value. True value lies in following God’s Will, and by being silent, going inside, is where God’s true Will is inscribed.
In Japji, Guru Nanak declares himself not to be himself. So, our beloved teacher is not his thoughts. His discipline dictates this to be true. He is a servant of his Guru’s Words, Guru’s Teachings, Guru’s Will. What you see may or may not be what you get. Yes, he can enjoy his thoughts, but there is always the awareness that his thoughts are wrapped in Nanak’s Japji. His thoughts are sifted through Guru’s Will; accordingly, his actions reflect this glorious state of being. [AllisOne.guru]
Why make this statement to a group of new students? It’s our teacher’s royal nature. He demonstrated his royal teaching nature in this regal teaching manner which allowed the students to contemplate who he was and what he said. I was far from a new student, but it sure caught my attention as well. It’s provided a great learning experience for me.
It’s allowed me to understand and deeply love our teacher more. I was blessed to see him live to this standard. I now understand his base. I am no longer limited in thinking that he’s what you see. I saw and see him as so much more that any description wouldn’t do him justice. But, I’m sure you get the message.
He laid down the ground rules for these students, and I benefited. I can’t speak for the others one way or the other. All I know is what his statement of protocol has meant to me. It’s the main one reason why I’m the Chief of Protocol. I’m indebted to these students, they gave me an opportunity to see deeper into the grace of our teacher. He taught me to understand the Guru through his example.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, “I Have Something To Say.”
In his capacity as a true teacher, it was his duty to deal with many things, including issues of which he was diametrically opposed. That’s the job of a real teacher - poke, provoke, confront and elevate.
A student of the Siri Singh Sahib Ji, came before our teacher. This student had gained quite a well-known reputations as a yoga teacher. A conversation proceeded with our teacher poking and provoking a response, a defense, which would reveal the true nature of this visitor. Finally this student blurted out, “I’m a teacher sir, I’ve built the whole ashram literally with my hands. I have many students who follow me. I need to be heard. What’s wrong with that. You know, I have something to say.”
Now, that woke me up. A teacher with this inflated ego must have more interesting things to say. He was right. Usually, I was half conscious during these meetings, even during counseling secessions. It turned out that he did have something to say, only it wasn’t what he thought it to be.
We were seated on the veranda at the cabin during Solstice Sadhana time in 1984. There were many students seated around from all over he world. Usually sessions of this kind were private, but some students took this public time to take advantage of our teachers availability and guidance. This was such a time.
This man continued, “Let me say it to everyone, sometimes a divorce is necessary to keep mental health and growth available.”
“So now you are my teacher, the Siri Singh Sahib rhetorically queried?”
“No sir, but sometimes a divorce is necessary so I can grow. She’s holding me down.”
Now, our teacher began to confront, “Great, she’s holding you down. Now what? Are you going to lift yourself up, or are you going to let the situation win by getting rid of her? Which is it? Or, do you think you’re going to find another girl with less issues? Or, do you think that you’ll find a girl who won’t care about your issues, your neurosis?”
“I don’t understand, this teacher responded?”
“Of course you don’t. All you see is the pain she’s causing you and the best thing is to just get rid of her. But, there are consequences. Have you thought about them? Can you see them through the pain?”
“I’ll deal with them as they come. First I need to get rid of this woman.”
“Have you heard a word I’ve said? Should I say it again? It’s best for you if you see the undesirable consequences of this act and deal with the issue rather than create greater and greater problems. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, I understand, but the issue still stands, how do I get along with her? It can’t work.”
And, now, the elevation began, “Well, with that attitude you’re right, it won’t work. And that right there is how you will learn to get along. The first step is to see her differently. No matter how many times her actions or speech and old thinking patterns capture your consciousness, keep up practicing to see her in a positive light. Don’t judge it, just do it. Prove to yourself that you’re greater than yourself. With God’s help, all things are possible.”
“What good would that do?”
“Now, you’re asking the right question. Your young children will be spared; your reputation will not be besmirched and your teaching won’t be compromised; your money and your house will remain in tact; need I go on. Most importantly, your consciousness and your confidence will be elevated.”
“How’s that, sir?”
“A real marriage requires the development of real trust between you and your God. Ultimately, it’s not about your wife, it’s between you and God. This relationship is where understanding, continued commitment, elevation, and happiness lies. And, the harder it is, the more trust is required. If this challenge is accepted and worked, great benefits await you, benefits, which are only dreamed of, life is lived in contentment. You'll know when you’ve developed enough trust when this contentment is experienced. It’s a challenge worth taking. It delivers like no other sadhana and marriage is the ultimate sadhana. It truly calls on divine intervention.”
“Yes, but that’s for saints, not just teachers?”
“Isn’t it. This is the transparent life of a real teacher. This is how the teacher garners the true trust and love of students. Commitment for the teacher is eternal. ‘Let your head go, but don’t let go of the hand of God.’ When your word is your bond and when your word is true, God helps make it happen. With God’s help, all things are possible.”
Did this teacher get it? Truth be told, he didn’t. Yes, he heard the Siri Singh Sahib, and left uplifted. But, unfortunately, it did’t last. He was trapped in the pain. For him, the only solution was to eliminate what he thought was the source of the pain. He couldn’t accept the challenge, which would have made his teaching totally real. He would have become a master. Sadly, there were many like him. Nevertheless, that’s the way the Guru says it’s to be.
My advice, take advantage of every challenge thrown your way. That is to your advantage. I’m grateful to this person who sadly didn’t pass his test. He taught me to never let pain get in the way of doing what’s right. In the end, the pain is small recompense for the Infinite experience of contentment.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Across the Terrible World Ocean
Sat Nam, Dear Family! The greatest lesson, at least so far, that I learned from the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, is when he’d let me know in no uncertain terms what is required, both on this earth and in the heavens. Time and time again I hear his pleas. Time and time I put them off until I no longer could. His constant reminding of what was necessary, eventually, and thankfully, has had it’s way with me. That’s the love of a teacher flowing through me.
Here’s the thing, I still hear him. All the time. He knows me inside and out. He doesn’t care. All he wants is for me to live in transparency. At first that seems easy enough. Think again. Transparency requires self-analysis to the core if it’s to be real. And, that kind of transparency is painful.
If your lucky enough to have a true spiritual teacher, the pain of transparency can be mitigated, managed, and maneuvered. Here’s how my teacher did it for me.
First, the student has to get to the point where he/she can see what’s necessary, what changes in consciousness will lead to becoming transparent. With his constant pounding, this was easy.
Next, the pain of self-awareness must come into view and it can be too much! Kundalini Yoga to the rescue. Self-awareness and Kundalini Yoga go hand and hand. Each one makes the other bearable, and together they produce wisdom.
Finally, Sikh Dharma kicks in. The way to Guru’s Court is at His discretion. None the less, there are certain protocols which we know from Guru’s teachings that he likes. So as to make ourself more attractive, we perform those protocols consciously. We do so in the prayer that Guru takes pity on us and knows the pureness of our heart in spite of any outside flaws. We promise to continue to work on them, we just can’t wait to serve Him more.
So, gratitude becomes the outcome of awareness, awareness of who gave you everything. And, recognizing how the vastness of whom you have been personally blessed, you are grateful once again to be such a person.
For a student of our beloved teacher, this relationship is priceless. And, it doesn’t end there. At this point, the teacher has forced the student’s surrender. There is no other way out. Otherwise, he’s stuck for who knows how many lifetimes. Our teacher won’t allow that. He keeps adding more and more awareness, and pressure until you either break or surrender. Either way is fine with him, he just wants movement from the inertia which immobilizes the student. So he provides another new opportunity to beat the odds, to bypass immovable objects, and to be forewarned. A true spiritual teacher is a gift from God Himself.
We’re not done yet, there’s more. Surrendering is a funny thing. I used to pray for God to give me what I needed to surrender. My teacher taught me differently. He said that the way to surrender is to relax and bathe in the experience of contentment. You need relaxation for this next step.
He taught that spirituality becomes real when you do it’s protocol correctly. When “you do it.” That’s the key. You can’t call on anyone else, your God, your Guru, your Teacher. At this point they’re of no help. It’s all on your own shoulders. The student must count on, rely on, depend on, only himself.
Here’s the thing, at this point, all your teacher, your Guru, your God can do for you is extend time. The action is totally up to the student no matter how much he may call out for help. Eventually, it’s “you” which makes yourself transparent. There’s no getting around that, so suck it up, keep your mind under control, conquer yourself, and prove to your God that He should take notice. Prove that you’re ready for Guru Prasad, God’s blessing of acceptance, and pray for that blessing. It’s really the only self-prayer acceptable!
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, I Carry Guru With Me
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“I don’t need to go to Gurdwara, sir. I carry Guru with me everywhere.” Now, who could argue with this statement? Who doesn’t want to carry their Guru with them? I’ll tell you who has another opinion, Yogi Bhajan, the Siri Singh Sahib, that’s who. He has an interesting and creative response. I always enjoyed it when he had these kinds of student interactions.
We were seated in a semi-circle underneath the shelter in the backyard of the ranch. It was a bright, sunny, afternoon. I remember the weather because the image of our beloved teacher sitting in a bathrobe and wearing sunglasses was just too beautiful to forget. He was a handsome man to begin with, but when you added his consciousness, his charm, his humor, his, his, his into the equation, he became irresistible. And, he was. I couldn’t resist him.
Our teacher began to address this student’s statement, “Yes, you carry Guru around with you always. That’s wonderful. But, why is it about your convenience? Why does Guru have to follow you? Do you call this devotion? Do you think that Guru is there for you use, or your service? Where are you coming from dear?”
“What,” she cried out automatically. “I don’t understand sir. ”
“Of course you don’t, otherwise, you’d know why your statement is perfect but needs an amendment. After all, all great documents need additions occasionally, it’s the definition of ‘occasionally’ which throws everything out of whack occasionally. See, occasionally is occasionally a funny word.”
A blank expression like being under hypnosis pervaded her face. I could see him take pity on her and come down to her level to explain again, for the umpteenth time, that her salvation lay in the Guru’s hands to which she readily agreed, “Yes, sir, I know that.”
The Siri Singh Sahib continued, “When you truly love Guru ji, that love is demonstrated through the service to Guru ji’s convenience, no longer your own. You’re at His convenience. A demonstration of the sacrifice, of the surrender, of the service, of the devotion, of the love you exhibit in doing everything you can to satisfy Guru ji’s convenience is the test. When this is mastered, and only when this is mastered, can Guru ji bestow the blessing of his continued presence. It’s your love, demonstrated through your commitment to doing His will, which activate this blessing. In other words, darling, just relax and go to Gurdwaras.”
“I get is sir, you want me to just go to Gurdwara, period… No more thinking about it. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes, darling, don’t skip Gurdwara. It will do more good for you than you can see.”
“O.K. sir, I get it. Thank you for reminding me again. I don’t know why I keep doing the same thing over and over. I must be stupid.”
“No, not at all. You’re one of the smart, lucky ones. First, just between you and me, you’re lucky to have me as your teacher. I have no axe to grind. I only want the best for you and sometimes that may be uncomfortable. Second, your lucky to have the grit to go through uncomfortable times. Most have a limit. Your limit is very high. And, third, You found the House of the Guru. I don’t know how that happened, but, you know what, in the scope of things, being here is rare. Taking advantage of this opportunity is even rarer. And, keeping up throughout life is rarer still! You’re one of the smartest people on earth. You’ve kept up all these years. The stupid designation is for those who don’t even know the difference. You do.”
“Thank you for seeing me, and thank you again for keeping me focused. What am I going to do when you’re gone?”
“You’ll be grown up and wiser still! And the best part is your relationship with the Guru will carry you through everything as you live your Destiny.” he said.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Don’t Call Saul for Protocol
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Over the years, I’ve analyzed why I was so lucky as to spend so much time with Yogi Bhajan, the Siri Singh Sahib. First, let me say that it’s not because I was so great, or that I looked like I belonged. Far from it. But, that’s the way it is with spirituality. No one can really know who is chosen, that’s God’s job.
By chosen, I don’t mean it in the Jewish way. For me everyone is chosen, chosen for something. But, those who are chosen to serve God are truly blessed and given specific jobs. They can be any kind of job as all are necessary in God’s service. The trick is to do that job to God’s satisfaction with devotion. When you’re chosen in spirituality, you no longer have a choice. When one is called, chosen, the cost is surrender, surrender to His satisfaction, to the job you were given.
And, sometimes God really shakes things up with His choices. God uses His choices to teach non-judgement. It also teaches the chosen how to overcome the slings and arrows of those who are many in numbers and have an issue with who and how you were chosen.
In this Dharma, the chosen are defined as those who closely follow the will of our beloved teacher in doing better than the best job they can do. The more you follow correctly, the closer you are to our teacher. That’s the rule. I can’t change it even if I wanted to. It’s God’s rule, it’s Guru’s rule, it’s the Siri Singh Sahib’s rule, it’s Yogi Bhajan’s rule, it’s the rule of every true teacher and method.
Obedience counts. We may like it or not, that’s of no difference. It’s the way it is and has always been. The way to God, the Infinite, Guru ji, Christ, Allah, you name it, is to follow in Their will. In this Dharma, this is the standard. As Chief of Protocol I proclaim this to be our standard, our protocol. It should offend no one and it shall offend some in spite of the fact that it shouldn’t. It’s my duty to verify our protocol is in accordance with the standard established by our teacher. Our first standard is obedience to the teachings, the teacher, the Guru, and God.
Obedience in this line guarantees a clear path for those who practice in the future. That’s also my job. I’ve been blessed with this sacred job. I have been chosen to do it. I have been further blessed to understand the magnitude and the responsibility which comes with it. With Guru’s grace, I look forward to the challenges. It’s the spice of my life.
This shall go down in our destiny. The first standard of this Dharma is obedience, surrender, to the love and service to the teacher, the teacher, the Guru, and to God Himself. Thank God, they are in perfect harmony. Therefore, they are real. Obedience to this linage is where it’s at. We’ve hit the jackpot and our form of purity must be maintained. I say ‘must’ instead of ‘will’ because our standard will always come under attack, both internally and externally. That’s the way it’s always been. And, as they saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. The word ‘must’ is meant as a perpetual reminder that nothing is free. We must always be prepared to defend our protocol, our standards for practicing the teachings.
And, that’s the second standard. We prepare. We do our duty to this world. We pay our commitment to God through serving this world in devotion and service to He, who is it all. This brings prosperity to this Dharma and to ourselves. This is our next standard. As Chief of Protocol, I so proclaim it to be true.
Do we need a third one today, O.K., let’s go for it. I proclaim as our next protocol that if there’s any greatness in us, it’s not because of us. We always recognize that our will falls in the hands of Guru. And, in the gratitude for the great help, we perpetually recognize,through our humility and service that our greatness is through His love. So be it.
In closing, let me say that it doesn’t really matter whether anyone recognizes these proclamations. They may not be for now. But, I’m doing my duty. It’s part of the Akashic record. My judge is not of this world, so I follow His world. I’m very confident and content in doing so. Please refrain from unnecessary attacks as they will only affect you, and not in a good way. I say this in love. The love that I may be of some help in steering you the right way. I no longer have an axe to grind. I sincerely want the best for everyone, no exceptions. I believe everyone is redeemable. All they have to do is pay what their specific karmic cost is. So, come on board, you’ve got to begin sometime. Why not now?
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Fearlessness of Courageousness
Sat Nam, Dear Family! The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, used to quote the first sentence of a book he had read a long time before. That, in and of itself, was very unusual. Usually, his only frame of reference was the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and the help from Guru Ram Das. So, when he often quoted this line, I took notice.
“It’s not the life that matters, it’s the courage you bring to it.” This line is from the book 'Fortitude' by Hugh Walpole. What does he mean by courage? Where is courage needed? How do I become courageous? You can’t buy all the courage needed, can you? If so I’ll pay.
Let’s take our lifestyle as an example. Courage is needed all over the place, from wearing bana, to living in the faith of service to God, and all stops in between. All take courage to explore the unknown. It takes courage to get up at 3:30 am to begin your Sadhana. It takes courage to expand your self-esteem. It takes courage to explore expanded horizons. It takes courage to control your mind. It takes courage to be courageous - is that an oxymoron? From where does this courage come?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg - the being of courageousness, or the practice of being courageous? The answer is that when they become synonymous, the experience of courage befalls you like when wearing bana becomes a natural habit of your commitment rather than something you’re experimenting with. Being courageous is no longer a hope, it’s an experience. Nevertheless, the practice of being more and more courageous must still continue. Practicing things which need courage like wearing bana with pride leads to a confidence in the practice, especially when courage becomes an experience through the Grace of God.
Courage is misjudged. Real courage is not just how strong you are and how much physical pain you can handle. Yes, that’s a form of courage, but only a tiny part. On a spiritual path, courage is required for more mental things - the courage to explore the unknown at the expense of the status quo. The form of courage this takes is Infinite. It never ends and it’s more dangerous at every turn. But, there is help available.
The successful courageous experiences lead to more confidence to tackle issues which require God’s help. God’s help only comes from his discretion, but no one comes to his pleasure without being trustworthy. Your love must be real. You can’t fool mother nature, you can’t fool God. He knows your heart of hearts, your sincerity, your true love factor.
How does God judge ones love? What’s He looking for? And, why does this take great courage? Now, these are good questions. They lead right to the sentence quoted by our beloved teacher. If the high goal of spirituality is sought, that being God’s love for you, then your life must be put on the chopping block, “It’s not the life that matters,…” This takes great courage.
The way God wants his students to show their love for Him is by continually chanting his Name in true devotion to He who is the dispenser of blessings, and to serve His wants in this world through service to His will. This balance of remembering God’s Name and Service to Him, is our God’s way, our dharma’s way. This way can only be granted through God’s blessing of courage - the courage to not let fear get hold of your consciousness and block the flow of intuition. And, intuition is where the answers, confidence, energy, and resources are found to overcome all obstacles.
When the student intuits the love granted by God, deeper and deeper courage is part of the deal. The practice of being courageous, and courage itself, blend together quickly until they become one.
Nevertheless, the beginning is scary. Everything you stand for is up for grabs - security is no longer available. That takes great courage. Wearing bana is one thing which requires courage. But giving up your security blanket is something else. This level of courage requires a deep commitment because you cannot waffle and ask to recapture it again. If your quest for courage is pure, your security blanket is gone forever. Surrendering and letting it go can only be eased through trust, the trust that what you’ve put your trust in is real and is better than what you’re giving up.
Your experience in the practice of being courageous, and the confidence it breeds, allow for taking this risk becoming easier and easier. God hasn’t let you down yet, and he won't now either. You trust in this. This trust automatically grants great courage. So, after the initial shock of the magnitude of this risk, trust kicks in and love for this help follows. The trust in God is no longer an issue. His love has transcended trust. His gifts reflect it.
All that follows is more and more love for the grace He has bestowed upon you. How can it ever be repaid? The gifts you’re bestowed are beyond the beyond. All you can do is serve Him more and more to His liking. All the rest is just window dressing.You’ve fallen into a well of service and devotion, and that’s all you can do. Your rewards are extraterrestrial, interstellar, and indescribable. All you can do is display more and more love for Him, the Bestower of All. God is the real and verifiable reason for deeper and deeper happiness. What’s not to love!
“It’s not the life that matters, tis the courage that you brings to it.” This sentence reflects the real test and the real necessity in positioning oneself for God’s love. Courage leads to a level of prayer where life becomes a living prayer manifested through God’s grace. This is a life worth living, and this is what deep courage when focused toward the Infinite can attract.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Further Merger by a Comforter
Sat Nam. It was a dark, dreary winter afternoon. The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was sitting at his chair in the living room at the ranch. I was seated on the couch to his right. His resident secretary came in the room and placed a small light beige down comforter over his legs. I noticed because this was a gift my wife had brought back from a weekend getaway we enjoyed at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel.
This was one of the perks in serving our beloved teacher. He enjoyed me enjoying the fruits of this world. It was only proper that I shared it with him and brought him back something worthy. My lovely wife always made sure this happened. I really enjoyed it when I’d see this comforter in use. It meant that I had served him to his satisfaction.
The gift shop in the hotel contained a lovely array of unique and upscale items. Shopping there guaranteed that we’d get him something unusual and worthwhile. Well, actually, my wife did it for me. I have a really good wife. Another gift from him. He selected her for me. It’s worked out very well. She understands me and stands under me. What can I say, it works.
Whether you like the concept of standing under another or not is not the question. The question is are you continuing to be obedient (another charged word) to the teachings, or do you want to change them?
Following the teachings is against the current trend. Religion has gotten a bad name in the 21st century. Too many abuses, too many misuses, too many opinions, too many ‘too manys,’ have soured the current taste for obedience. So, a spiritual structure is easily rejected and replaced with self-experience. In other words, you become your own teacher.
Now, that’s a big red flag. I’ve been taught and I’ve seen it happen too many times that if you’re your own teacher, your journey is filled with miscalculation, misinterpretation, and mis-judgement. It comes with the turf. In order to be your own teacher, perfect intuition is required, and that’s a rare thing. I’ve seen many noted spiritual teachers succumb to this temptation.
So, humble yourself and realize that your not going to get trapped into believing that you know better. Believe that help is needed. In fact, you want help and your eternally grateful for all the help which befalls you. Help in the form of a true teacher and true teachings is a real Godsend.
This is a much easier, safer, and more efficient road to liberation. You don’t have to live to the teachings, that’s O.K., and as it’s destined to be that many students won’t, but you don’t have to change the standards to justify your transgressions. Please, keep to your transition, I have no objection. Just, please, leave our standards alone. It’s really best for everyone concerned, and, mostly, you. It’s about the karma thing, you know.
There are spiritual communities, offsprings of our making, which have sprung up in many places. We were never prepared for this. It wasn't anticipated. Maybe we just didn’t want to see it, but it’s real. These communities have all sorts of standards that may or may not be in harmony with the teachings. And, that’s O.K. That’s as it should be.
The lesson is that we must educate these communities as to what our standards are and why they are. It’s our issue because we haven’t extended ourselves and shared with them our teachings. There’s still time. The balance of humility and kingship is where the highest goal is found.
These days rules may not be fashionable; they may not be desirable; they may not be convenient; they may not be attractive. That very well may be true. However, above all else, our standards are tolerant, they are compassionate. And, a structure with has this at it’s base is something to preserve. That’s my job as Chief of Protocol. Granted, it’s not an easy duty. But, that’s O.K. as well.
I can’t bow to convenience; I can’t bow to attractiveness; I can’t bow to convention. My job is to maintain our beloved teachings in their pure form. Whether I like them or not is not the issue, whether others like them is not the issue as well. The issue is to preserve what our teacher left us so that future generations of students will have the same opportunities as we had in practicing the nucleus of the pure teachings. Just because we’re tolerant of all doesn’t mean that anything and everything is acceptable to be used as our standards.
I need help. I need the support of those of you who have the same thinking. It’s a fight. It’s the eternal fight. It’s the fight between obedience and convenience, and, these days, convenience is the usual winner. That is, unless diligence to obedience is maintained. Talk to people, engage them. Let them know that they should not fear the protocol, they should embrace it. And, it they can’t do that, they should at least leave it alone. Don’t mess with it. It wasn’t meant for your judgement; it was meant for your elevation. Let it be.
I have come a long way around to let you know what a small gesture like giving the comforter can do for you. Especially if your gift is in service to a true teaching, a true teacher, a true Guru. That’s why these teachings must be preserved as they were defined by the Siri Singh Sahib. It’s important to me and I hope it is to you as well. I believe it to be of the highest service to our teacher, and, thus, to Guru ji and God Himself. And, therefore it is of the highest service to yourself. That’s why I believe this way. Nevertheless, battle goes on, it never ends.
The gesture of respect, the display of love, the show of good sense, the practice of obedience, the compassion required for this journey, all become true when you’ve been blessed to serve a true way. We’ve been blessed to do so, and we’re humbled by the experience. Our true way must endure.
It turns out that we’ve won the lottery, the spiritual lottery, and that’s the best lottery to win. Our teacher is true; our Guru is true; and God is true. We know this because they all teach the same thing. We know this because of our experience. This must be preserved. Not as a spiritual police force, but as a standard of compassion to all. There’s nothing wrong with being obedient to compassion. It’s the highest standard. It’s God’s standard. It must remain our protocol.
See Sikh Definitions.
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