Yogi Bhajan, The Quiescence of Obedience
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“Son,” the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, said, “The guidelines of spirituality may vary depending upon many things, but one of the most important factors is obedience. It’s also one of the hardest concepts to surrender to.”
We were driving from the ranch to the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe on a summer evening in 1994. We spent many evenings eating and listening to live music at this venue. As usual, our teacher invited many people to join us. (Allow me to give credit today to some unsung heroes: for years, Dharma Singh and Siri Mukta Singh foot the bill for these outings, with no thought of reward.) The Siri Singh Sahib Ji found these times relaxing, entertaining, and a teaching stage. The El Dorado meet all his requirements, so it became our usual hangout for many years. In fact, it was so well known that occasionally some people would come looking for us there. It was his nightly courtly gathering. Like everything good, It was never appreciated enough at the time.
Time spent in the car was one of the times where I could, once again, speak privately with our beloved teacher. What about the resident secretary on duty? Why do you say private? Because, after many years of experience, I can say that, unless called upon, the resident secretary on duty was there only to serve him,not to impose her personality. Also in his world, confidentiality was a silent, solemn oath and guarded religiously. My history reflects many intimate conversations I’ve had with our teacher within this environment. After all, if it weren’t kosher, he would have shut it down. No problem.
His above statement was in response to a question I had presented to him, “Sir, Isn’t obedience in the eye of the beholder?”
“What do you mean?”
“What I’m asking is, isn’t obedience subjective? How do you know that your being obedient to the right standard? How do you really know how well you’re doing?”
“Hari Jiwan, do you have a Guru?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Then, use Him. He wants you to. Listen, I know His standards are subject to abuse, but so what! What isn’t? So long as the teachings remain pure, the purity of the Guru will continue to be available to all. I can’t help what others do. That’s their karma. I teach, I pray, I hope, I do whatever is necessary to help, but the rest is up to each individual. Use the Guru, His teachings, His mantra, to set your obedience in the right direction and everything will come out great.”
Back then, I understood intellectually, but his words hadn’t really sunk deeply into me. Don’t get me wrong, I truly admired his words, it’s just that, at the time, it was too much to deal with. It was another “catch you later” moment. So, I stopped asking any more questions and changed the subject. I started talking about building this dharma, he always liked talking about that.
Even though I’d changed the subject, the Siri Singh Sahib hadn’t. “The only way I’m sure of, and I know there are others, is obedience to the true teachings. Obedience to the true Guru is the real path to Infinity. All others are a gamble. I can’t take the risk. Obedience to the will of Guru Ram Das is my only desire, truly the only one that is left. And, that’s the only desire which remains appropriate.”
I didn’t say a word in response. His words were finally penetrating my shell. I understood what he was saying. Very few are even aware of what obedience is in it’s true sense and are therefore afraid of it. It’s actually the most beautiful of disciplines if prejudice is put aside and karma allows for obedience to a true path.
“A healthy fear of not doing enough, and a healthy love in doing more than enough come together to create a Guru Sikh, a Gurumukh, a beloved in Guru’s court, a true man of God.” He said this easily because this is who he was. He understood obedience.
As a sidebar, I’ll tell you what he also understood, mischief, that’s what. He understood it so well that it make him truly compassionate to others who were being mischievous. That doesn't mean that he didn’t deal with it appropriately, he did. What it means is that his default function was compassion. How lucky are we? All is forgiven. We can start anew, always.
I learned that, as they say in the law, justice delayed is justice denied. In other words, I learned that if I face the unfaceable now, help comes. I’ve learned that if I delay, I cloud myself. I learned that the student must take the first step and then Guru ji can take a thousand towards the student. But, the student must move first and that can be a scary thing. I’ve learned that the practice of obedience to the teachings, the teacher, the Guru, and God Himself, makes this step possible. I’ve learned that obedience to the truth makes the impossible possible.
Obedience makes miracles. Obedience creates gratitude. Gratitude foretells devotion. Devotion blends into love. And, love melts into merger. Merger with the Guru, the Infinite, the God of Everything, the self-illuminated self.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Chalk Talk about a Candle Walk
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
As I was sitting in Gurdwara last Sunday morning, the Siri Singh Sahib’s lecture captivated me again. This lecture was an all time great. There were so many parts which struck a cord with me, nevertheless, one statement he made has stuck out in my mind.
He said, (paraphrased) “Life is a continuation, a continuation of amalgamation in your own higher consciousness. Life is a candle walk, and the candle is your soul. You carry your soul with the genuineness of the dharmic protection of your own ability, capacity and you carry that candle walk through the time and space. That is what life is. It’s like a candle walk. If you want the continuation of the walk to proceed, you must perpetually chose to always be striving to do, and be, better in following God’s will. Better and better means acting on your character, not your temptation. It’s like a life or a death march. When you die, you either continue along the path to God or the continuation stops. Stopping is the worst thing that can happen to a soul.”
This lecture was a “no nonsense” direct depiction of how and why life should proceed. He laid out how life should be structured, what the purpose of life should be, and how a life should lead to an elevated perspective of understanding.
I now will always see life as a candle walk, not a cake walk! The courage to have the ability to perpetually endure any and all that life can muster, with a smile and a wave, is the reward for just continuing the candle walk. I recommend it highly to all spiritual aspirants.
His magnificent image of life as a candle walk couldn’t be explained better. He didn’t say that at death, each life is liberated through the continuation. It may or may not be. He said that the continuation shall continue. Continuation becomes an elementary step in the progression towards liberation. Whether liberation occurs or the progressive positive walk continues is usually subject to other issues as well like obedience, service, compassion and deliverance.
As a sidebar, after Gurdwara while I was serving langer , someone mentioned his most interesting observation. He said that over the time that he’s been on candle walks, the focus is continually on the flame because of it’s delicate nature which, when exposed to the elements can extinguish easily. The subtlety of the recognition of maya representing the the environment, and the flame as the delicate soul. The soul must be protected just as the flame must. Ahh, the joy of living in the Sadh Sangat, our spiritual community!
His lecture reminded me of just how lucky we are to be here. While the whole world is looking for answers, we’ve stumbled upon the whole ball of wax, the true answer. Each student’s unique karma has brought him or her to his dharma. Some will stay, others will go. Some will continue to practice, others won’t. Some will elevate quickly, others not so fast. No matter what, the trick is to keep up, keep the continuation candle march towards Infinity progressing. Keep the candle lit. Keep the steps forward. Keep the example going. Keep the compassion flowing. Keep the deliverance of the bliss promised churning. Keep it all going.
All those in the Kundalini Yoga/Sikh Dharma Golden Chain have the grand opportunity to continue along the candle walk. Please, don’t let this unbelievable opportunity go to waste. I know many of you don’t even see the opportunity, but it exists whether or not you’re able to see it. The teachings are the answer. Just continue to follow the teachings more and more and the continuation of the candle walk is assured. We’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to continue the walk. We’ve been blessed with a true path, now, please use it.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Rancor of Anger
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
The Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, taught me that anger is just misplaced passion, and passion is just misplaced compassion. This understanding proceeds through the process of pratyahar and is his gift to us. He said it all in just one medium sized sentence. Who, with any sense, can deny his wisdom? Not me!
In fact, this teaching guides my life. It didn’t always do so, but now it does. How well I do it is not up to me. All I do is a little better than my best each day. I’ve learned that this is all that’s required.
Anger is one of the great insecurities. I mean that it’s one of the five biggies. Along with fear, hate, jealousy, and frustration, anger can be the base of your existence. It’s better to understand it rather than to be subject to it. Our beloved teacher spelled it out in this teaching: if you turn anger into compassion through the awareness of it’s existence and through turning anger internal, rather than an external experience, your are way ahead of the curve. You’ve passed the first test in using anger as a positive tool. Please, let me explain how.
Pranayam is expansion, expanding yourself to become it all. Pratyahar is contraction, contracting yourself to become it all. Both are tools of spirituality and should be experienced so that they can be available for good use at the appropriate time.
Usually, pranayam is mastered first. Pratyahar takes more focus, something we all avoid. We love for our minds to wander into fantasy. Spirituality is about focusing the mind on Infinity, not fantasy. It takes discipline to become more and more focused. Discipline is a nasty word to most. That’s why some succeed and others don’t - at anything, including spirituality! Typically, true discipline is the dirty little secret that’s hidden from most congregations so as to not freak them out.
That leads straight to compassion. I understand the pain of those whose anger is unbridled. I’ve lived it. Though the practice of pranayam leading to compassion I now have been sheltered from this pain. When the act of true compassionate comes through, only Guru ji is the judge, anger dissipates and love comes in it’s place. This is what focusing on using your anger through passion (passion must be recognized or it creates a haunting image) then on to compassion. This is what our teacher did, and this is what he taught.
I’ll share with you how I did it. When I was aware of becoming angry, I’d focus my mind on turning my anger inward. I’d focus on getting angry with myself for failing to focus on the recognition that everything is God’s Will. Getting more personal, I an able see that everything is my karma, and everything that happens to me is of my creation. I take full responsibility for everything that happens to me.
I know how difficult this is to first believe when circumstances seem so random, and, second, how difficult it is to understand this concept automatically. But, that became my personal calling card. There were so many failures that I can’t begin to count. Nevertheless, perseverance prevailed. The “keep up” mantra works. His teaching and discipline of perpetual endurance works and can’t be avoided.
My focus on perpetually enduring, without anger, whatever discomfort came my way, was coupled with practice of also focusing on compassion when anger entered my mind. I was training myself for this to be my ‘go to’ reaction so I could also bless myself never again be angry with myself. It works, and it works better and better the more it’s practiced and the more it is augmented by leading a righteous life. It becomes an experience like no other. It removes the insecurity of anger. Your life becomes carefree. I don’t mean carefree in the way we normally think of it, I mean carefree in the sense that our life is relaxed, relaxed in every manner. That’s a really good life.
As anger dissipates, life becomes less and less worrisome. Other insecurities seem to lessen as well. There’s less frustration, less fear, less hate and less jealousy. This process has worked for me, so I know it will work for you. I’m not saying that it’s a must, not at all. There are no “musts” in our vocabulary, there is tolerance, discipline, and trust. Trust that your tolerance will lead to the removal of anger from your base and life will become carefree. A life protected, regally provided for, and loved by Guru Himself will be born. It’s real; it exists; and it’s doable.
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Preciousness of Righteousness
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
“If you think you live in righteousness, you don’t.”
We were seated at a table in Westwood on a cool summer evening in 1987. Yes, it can get very cool in L.A. in the summer when the sun goes down.
At the time, I thought his statement meant that righteous living is following the rules of your religion, isn’t that how you live righteously? It does, but that’s not the whole story. Following the rules is the necessary first step in proving to God and yourself that you’re truly trustworthy to serve Him. He can trust you. That sounds easy because you already believe you serve Him - right. But, what typically isn’t realized is that true service can’t be performed until obedience to the rules has been met and accepted by Guru ji. He’s the judge, the only judge, and the bestower of acceptance. He’s God, He’s Guru, He’s you.
I know, everything I said was fine until the last two words, “He’s you.” That’s hard to accept. Who are we to think that we’re worthy to even think we’re anywhere near good enough to even be near God, no less He? Well, I’ve learned, it turns out that we’re not near good enough. When we recognize this and call on Guru to fill in any gaps necessary in order to serve him better, He comes through for those kinds of prayers.
Anyway, let’s get back to the statement. Don’t most on a spiritual journey believe that they’re living a righteous life? Of course they do. But, our teacher’s statement is saying that they’re not. Why? Because if we do, we make ourself the judge and that’s not the way it works. God is the judge, Guru is the judge, and you, yourself are the judge. But, your judgement must be in accord with the teachings.
So, here’s the conundrum, the true student is both righteous and unrighteous at the same time. How can that be? Through the recognition that the student is nothing without Guru’s help, and he/she everything with it. All you think you are, all you think you’ve done is irrelevant. All that matters is your continued effort to do better. A good opinion of yourself should be not about your righteousness, but your continued march in that order. That’s the answer.
Your self-esteem shouldn’t take a hit just because you realize that your not as great as you thought. In fact, your continued pursuit for greater righteousness in your life should make you feel better and better about yourself. So, recognition of this statement actually should make you see yourself in a better light, not worse.
I’ve been thinking about this statement for almost forty years, I now see what he meant. The recognition that the only way to attract God’s attention is through Guru’s Grace. Guru recognizes those who are eligible for Grace through their devotion. With the recognition of your grand limitations along with the trust that with Guru’s help, Guru will take notice and limitations will no longer matter.
Once again, a statement from our beloved teacher delivered a tool which helps attract Guru. A true spiritual teacher can deliver diamonds among pebbles. Practice the humility it takes to see your grand limitations, work hard to overcome them, and see how they are covered through devotion to Guru ji. At some point your practice will become reality, if you sincerely keep up.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Unhampered, Answered, Standard
Sat Nam, Dear Family! If you ever get into the trap of thinking that you’re something, I challenge you to read today’s Hukam at the Bhog today during Sadhana Gurdwara.
Shalok, First Mehl:
Guru Ji defines what a true Muslim looks like. At the time of Guru Ji’s life, hypocrisy was the standard. I guess he got tired of it and he laid out a fool proof self-evaluation of just how good a Muslim one was. Please don’t misunderstand, he wasn’t pointing out only Muslims; they were just front and center. He would have set His standard no matter what religion and/or lifestyle he confronted. And, yes, Guru Ji was fearless in his evaluation.
Naturally, Guru Ji’s standard challenged the status quo, the Muslim rulership of the Punjab. Their practice of Islam was greatly wanting. and Guru Ji’s standard let them know that. They didn’t like it very much. In fact, they had killed hoards and hoards of the captured for much less. Guru Ji stood up against this and he became the first “human rights” advocate. Life was a lot different back then.
Guru Ji took the risk to stand up to intolerance because he wasn’t alone. He was the embodiment of living trust. He trusted so much that he was the living arm of God Himself. Standing up to intolerance is Godlike. With true trust, God becomes the Doer. His protection is provided; His prosperity is graced; His deliverance is guaranteed. Guru Ji is the ultimate example.
Guru Ji is such an extraordinary example that only rare mortals can even imagine living up to the Guru Ji’s example. The recognition of this statement is where life changes, one way or the other. It takes faith, courage, guts, and fortitude to meet the challenge of total surrender. But, there’s a secret behind the door.
Once the first step is taken, if it’s truly in Guru’s direction, Guru ji performs his miracles. He begins pulling you up. He’s got your hand and is pulling you up with zero gravity. Once courage is shown, mercy is bestowed. So, my best advice is to not to think about it too much. Do this one thing to turn your life around. Have the courage to surrender to the pursuit of his example.
And, please, do one thing more. Never let our standard go. No matter how unworthy we may be, please, do what’s right for everyone and, be as you may, but never surrender the standard. Guru Ji stood up to this challenge and it worked our great for him, so, why not us? Our attitude and our altitude must be that the standards are on the top of everything. They are the one constant in the ever fluctuating world around us. The standard is our base and rock. No one’s doubt should hold any influence over our standard.
One of the great lessons learned along this path is that the standard of the Guru is the real deal. Just the pursuit of this standard gives life meaning. Meaning in life is a great thing. But, there’s more.
The Guru defined in worldly terms the must-be state of a true Muslim. Of course, it could apply to any righteous path. He starts out like this, (paraphrased) “Give away all your possessions. Leave nothing, let them be scraped away.”
This is the humility, courage, and faith of a true Muslim.”Then He went on to list many other virtues which must be inherent in a true Muslim. He left no doubt about the true nature of Islam, not it’s perversion. Naturally, those in power didn't didn’t like it very much.
Here’s the irony. Today, the battle isn’t with Islam, it’s with Sikhism. This Hukam must be lived for a true Sikh to stand up and be accountable. doing anything less and your are only practicing Sikhism. Leadership leads. And, leadership in Sikhism must be practicing the mandates in this Hukam in order to continue the relevance of Sikhism.
It’s as much the sangat’s issue as it is leadership’s duty. The sangat must demand this Hukam as our standard so that that message is delivered clearly to leadership. The first question for leadership to ask of themselves is: How much does this Hukam involve my life? Answer it truly and you’ll see what true leadership in this dharma is all about.
I’m not saying that this Hukam should become law. Not at all. At least not publicly. Privately, if you make it your law, you are blessed. Anyway, if we are anything, we’re tolerant. We tolerate it all. That doesn’t mean that we’re inactive, we just add a sense of neutrality to our action. The neutrality to recognize that tolerance shouldn’t be confused with acceptance. We will defend ourselves.
No matter what we think; no matter what we do; no matter who we are, please, don’t do one thing. Don’t listen to yourself. Keep this Hukam as your standard. Listen to this Hukam and dream. Dream of your potential. Project in Guru Ji’s direction with sincerity. If you really want to change your life, it usually takes courage. The courage to put what you want aside and take that first true step in understanding this Hukam.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, The Ladder of Truth
Sat Nam, Dear Family! Spirituality is not for wusses. Let me explain why.
From my observation spirituality typically attracts those that the world hasn’t treated fairly. If you’re happy with what this world has granted you, why look elsewhere?
Now, by no means am I saying that these are the only people spirituality attracts. Not at all. In fact, many satisfied persons seek more through the love of Christ, through the law of the Jews, or through the truth in all great lifestyles or religions. However, it seems these days there are a lot more people who are dissatisfied with life than are satisfied.
The ‘promises’ held out by all time honored religions and/or lifestyles are enough to elevate the disgruntled to a less disgruntled state. These ‘promises’ can be defined as follows: If the spiritual aspirant accepts the teacher, the teachings, and/or God as the provider, protector, and grantor of salvation in his or her life, life will gain happiness, relevance, and liberation. The more the spiritual aspirant can be in ‘devotion to’ and ‘trust in’ this concept, the more content life becomes.
I’m making grand assumptions here to show tendencies, not prejudice. Tendencies lead to understanding; prejudice leads to destruction. So when Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the masses,” he wasn’t all wrong. If by ‘opium’ he meant relief, he was right. He was mistaken if he meant religion to be a refuge. Relief combined with a sincere duty can significantly serve an individual. In these regards, relief is not the backing out of life as so many believe. It is the true experience that work and worship go hand in hand which makes religion real.
The spiritual aspirant is on the right track when he or she surrenders to another reality, a reality outside of their own worldly experience. That’s why those who deny God’s truth never understand the ether, the subtle experience of spirituality.
At this level spirituality can be looked at as a progression. In the Old Testament, Jacob gives us the illustration of a ladder. Each step brings one closer to God. The first step of accepting the ‘promise’ is relatively easy. Results are experienced immediately. It’s an experience of not being alone anymore and practicing the faith to expect more. This is a marvelous initial state.
Each step becomes progressively more difficult until the step requiring discipline (duty) is reached. The pressure becomes increasingly more unbearable as these more difficult steps are dealt with. Once traversed, the difficulty previously experienced seems light in comparison to the next step, and so on.
Hope, faith, belief, and trust become the same mental discipline as true trust in God becomes mandated in order to ascend higher up the ladder. Hope is a beginning dream; faith is great yet becomes ephemeral; belief is wonderful so long as it doesn’t slip to a debatable stage; but, trust is eternal. True trust in God happens when life is sincerely put in God’s hands. Any fear, doubt, hate, insecurity are suspended, then disconnected from reality. Now, that’s a lot easier to say than do.
At this point, life becomes unendurable once again. More so than ever before. Only true trust in God and His ability to overcome any unbearable situations will suffice. Many believe that they’re capable of dealing with trust at this level only to become discouraged as time doesn’t reward them as quickly as anticipated. Trust must be real otherwise true security will not be gained. Yes, fake it until you make it, but real trust isn’t experienced until you’re faking it becomes real.
This difficult step is the first rung on the ladder to true spirituality. Everything done previously is in preparation to overcome this step and experience true trust. Think of this, just sit in one place and see what God brings to you. First discrimination is necessary or too much time will be spent on non-productive processes. Then grit, true grit, the kind of grit it takes to keep up trusting in God is required when more and more pain, disillusionment, and doubt attempt to enter your consciousness. This caliber of grit is needed to overcome these tests and challenges which accompany failure after failure. The ‘never turning back’ kind of grit exemplified by Arjan Dev as he withstood being put on a hot plate for five days. What a story our history and our daily Ardas, our daily Prayer, models for us.
Everything from music to spirituality is a progression. Most don’t know the notes are written and played by God. This is hard to accept intellectually. It’s hard to find a balance between what we see and what we do, especially if we’re just learning this song. Recognition of the fact that you’re really not in control of your life makes climbing this step easier.
Our beloved teacher, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, took it to the last rung and he often said, “In God I dwell.” The “dwell” stage is merger with the Infinite. At this stage, it’s no longer about trust. It’s about pure love. When the aspirant loves Guru Nanak, Christ, (you can plug in the the name of any true ticket to Infinity), and loves in the manner acceptable to the Giver, God bestows the blessing of merger between the aspirant and Himself unto Infinity. In plain terms, the aspirant becomes God. Wahe Guru.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Hearty Party
Sat Nam, Dear Family!
Well, the Siri Singh Sahib’s birthday (August 26) is upon us again. It’s always a beautiful reminder of the reverence we experience through obedience to his direction. I love everything about it. I love his birthday party for many reasons. Let me give you an example or so.
One of the classes run by KRI, the yearly Immersion Course ends just after the party. I enjoy walking around the party talking to students I’ve seen and interacted with over the past month. Without fail, each student has a look of amazement on their face, almost in disbelief, that expresses their experience. It’s hope, faith, relaxation, and elevation all in one expression.
When I ask each one what their experience is like, universally, they can't answer. The experience is so unique that they have no immediate words to express it. Finally, the get around to somehow, in some way, expressing their gratitude.
That’s it right there. And for me,I so enjoy hearing each unique individual expression of this gratitude. It’s one of my favorite things to do these days. Your really don't get to find people being grateful very often. At his party there’s a whole flock of ‘gratitudites’ in one spot. It is a truly wonderful experience and I thank KRI for bringing this course and these students to our house, the Guru’s House.
The birthday reminds me of the royal way our beloved teacher would act. He threw this party for the whole state. Many came from far away. Many came to pay respects. Many came to gain respect. Many came to pay homage. Many came to gain support. Many came for many different reasons, but there was one common denominator. The Siri Singh Sahib treated all with respect. And, I mean all. He was a perfect Sikh. He treated all with an attitude of helping out only. He would never be the problem, only the solution.
It worked. He was loved and respected by New Mexicans from both red and blue parts of the state. He was a solid Democrat, but he got along with all. We went to many Republican parties as well. He became good friends with all governors, both Democrat and Republican.
Once I asked him, “Sir, what makes you get along with these Republicans so well? They are alway so happy to meet with you: actually they go out of their way to have relationship with you and are boastful of it! ”
“You’re right. First, I recognize that somewhere we have a common goal and that’s advancing the interest of this state. We share that projection. We may have a different opinion of how to get there, but we want to get to the same place. I go to Republican functions as a way of showing how we must work together if we want to get to our goal. Otherwise, we inhibit the process. Rather than calling each other names, why not sit down with one another and discuss which is the best method for achieving our shared goals. Both sides will benefit from this sacrifice. Greater still, the country will benefit greatly in making democracy work.” He was on the job for everyone, not just his students.
His birthday party conjures memories like the answer he gave above. He wasn’t just our teacher, he was a teacher to all he came in contact with. He became the “Padre” of the state. He never challenge their religion or lifestyle, he just helped them in a neutral way. Many in this state grew to love him like we did. Who knows, maybe more, after all, Christians know how to love.
Now, all that aside, these parties remind me of how much I do miss him physically. That thought takes my memory to a place of devotion, love for the time we had. I sound like a melancholy lover. Well, maybe I am. Anyway, these memories are priceless.
So, just like the students I mentioned in the beginning, this party allows me to also share in the gratitude for this lifestyle and the teacher who brought it to us. Naturally, I love the party. How many parties do you go to with a bevy of grateful students who bring out my own deep thanks for all the blessed memories I have? Only here, that’s where! I can tell you this, a party full of grateful people is an experience like no other. So it isn’t too late. GO grab a flight to Albuquerque tomorrow, Friday, or even as late as Saturday and joins us at the Siri Singh Sahib Ji’s exquisite Ranch for his Annual Birthday Party at 6PM! If not this year, put it on your calendar for next year. We will be honored to be your hosts.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Don’t Make Chips an Apocalypse
Sat Nam, Dear Family! It’s always been my habit to do as I will and let the chips fall where they may. That way of thinking was satisfying for me, but insensitive to others who may become affected and don’t get any chips. It’s caused me more trouble than necessary. Our teacher, the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, made this clear to me on too many occasions. Please let me explain.
Our beloved teacher used my self-serving nature against itself to create a universal one. How well it worked, or is working, is only up to God, but his technique was and is flawless. Like an internally flawless graded diamond, his technique is always clear and never the problem, it’s real. The problem is that students don’t come internally flawless and transparent.
Here’s the genius of our teacher. Many times he used me to do what he couldn’t do for himself. I was always a willing participant especially when I was well prepared for the job like sharing my opinions. I was glad to be of service to him in any manner he deemed, and asking me to express my opinion was a no brainer, it was as easy as pie. I have a habit of speaking my mind. This is how I was raised.
It’s taken decades to understand that not everyone is like my family, and therefore either isn’t interested or is irritated by opinions, including mine . When it comes to criticism, even constructive criticism, most people are are hyper-sensitives to other people’s opinions about them. An invasion into that arena without an invitation challenges their security, so good manners dictates leaving them alone. They’re not interested, I get that. Nevertheless, in service to our teacher, my opinions worked for him - if not for me initially.
At the Siri Singh Sahib’s command, and, unfortunately, too many other times when I commanded myself as well, I unleashed my opinion about something that was going on, or while our teacher was counseling. My opinion must have been generally to his liking or he wouldn’t have allowed me to continue for decades. As a student, I didn’t have the restrictions a true teacher has and I was able to express what he couldn’t.
One of the misjudgments I made was in thinking that my opinion served his will in letting others know what and how our teacher should be treated when he couldn’t do that for himself. But in fact, most times he’d even correct me regarding that and get me out of the way when I tried to shield him. My duty wasn’t to protect him, he already had that covered.
His technique was to have me serve a man of God, him, in a way in which that man of God chose. The gemlike lesson is that any service done in that love and trust to a true teacher is recognized by God as that blessed service and gains His, God’s, attention. In whatever form and without judgement, this service becomes a karma eater.
My duty was to express what he couldn’t. I was pretty good at it, otherwise I still wouldn’t be here. Expressing my opinions for his good was my service and I was blessed for it. Through this service, I have now been graced to understand that my job now is to no longer express my opinions. The Siri Singh Sahib used my nature against itself to give me the opportunity to see the great limits in my self-serving nature, and, to eradicate it at the same time. What a miracle!
When God starts paying attention to who you are and what you do, you’ve received His great blessing. My actions came to His attention not through my competency or lack thereof, but because at this level it’s only a matter of love. When God loves a teacher, He also loves those who truly love the teacher. The blessing bestowed is in direct correlation to the service rendered in service to a beloved of God. This sacred service leads to universality, universality which leads to understanding, understanding which leads to gratitude, and gratitude which leads to love. When this link is complete, blessings are bestowed and they flow flawlessly through the grace of the Infinite; first, with God; then with the Guru; next with the teacher; and, lastly, through the student himself as he becomes the teacher.
Loving one of these sacred arms of God is loving them all. That’s the beauty. There’s no ambiguity. In addition, there are ten Guru’s to add to the list of truth sayers. Pick any of them, pick all of them, they are all One!
So, the chain is linked between serving the will of any of these blessed advocates and being blessed to exceed your limits by doing so. It takes courage, faith, and a keep-up spirit to keep giving more, especially when expectations haven’t been met. That’s when you need to keep-up the most and not let judgement get in the way of commitment. Best to not think about it too much, just keep-up.
Now the chips no longer fall where they may. I have learned and keep practicing the good manners of knowing in advance where the chips will land, and can now avoid some issues which become a waste of time. This is the blessing I have gained in using my limited nature in service to our real teacher. Now, you can see just one of the reasons I love him so much. He did for me what I couldn’t do for myself, and only in the best of ways. Try it yourself, it’s available to all.
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Culture/Vulture Mix
Sat Nam. Did you ever wonder why some perceived spiritual leaders really don’t experience as much of their religion as they should, and, others, who may appear irreverent at times, surge higher? I did. I wanted to understand the truth in this anomaly.
Yogi Bhajan, aka the Siri Singh Sahib, our beloved teacher, used to marvel at some well respected priests who act as if they were the holiest of holies. One priest, leader, teacher in particular could quote the scriptures in his sleep.
I personally saw this. On a warm September afternoon in Riverside CA, a student was reading from the scriptures while this priest (by priest, I mean a priest of any religion) sat nearby with his head bowed to catch a few winks. All of a sudden, this priest came to life, his head popped up and he began to correct the students pronunciation of a specific phrase. I was shocked at this exquisite training.
Along with this elegant display, this priest was one of our organization’s harshest critics. In fact, there was even some awareness that physical harm may be on his agenda if we didn’t shape up and follow what he said was right. So, from our perspective, he was a fake priest. Oh yes, he was influential, and, yes, he was highly respected, but we saw his actions as not representing the true teachings of any major scripture. I wanted to understand why. Why everything.
“Sir, how can this man get away with maintaining his reputation? Doesn't the community see his manner is not consistent with the compassion found in any great teaching? Why is this such an issue?” Our teacher answered my question with one word. But, here’s the test, that one word isn’t easily truly understood.
Nevertheless, I was lucky to get an answer. Many times I was just left hanging with no response to a question I asked. When he didn’t answer, I knew that meant that his consciousness wouldn’t allow him to discuss this issue. It did teach me what was off limits and taught me not to go there.
His answer was simple: “Culture”. Well, that seemed easy enough. Culture makes a big difference. The real question is why, why culture allows a fake man to flourish. It’s a question as old as history. It’s been a long journey to figure this out, and there have been many fascinating enlightenments along the way but when culture and religion mix, something happens. What is it?
I finally understood. Culture, most times, is at odds with religion. Culture and religion have a life of their own. Their enemies. Sometimes they learn to live with one another for some period of time, but if there is a chance, one or the other will attack. In the case of culture, when they attack it actually means they make their way into the structure of religion. The result is that religion and the culture become one, become intermixed. The ratio is the variable.
The result is that all structures like religion, philosophy, lifestyle, you name it, are practiced in a less than a pure state. The discipline may be practiced perfectly, but the results will be clouded through cultural diversions. It’s like eating a macadamia nut (a very hard shelled nut) with the shell still on. It takes great effort to get to the nucleus and rarely can it be reached. And, here’ the kicker, the game only truly begins when the nucleus is reached.
All structures fall victim to this battle. Purity is always under challenge. The cultural alternatives are too attractive: cultural alternatives are usually easier, there more comfortable, there easily rationalized, there full of immediate rewards, and purity is not for everyone. So, leadership must lead the way through teaching and leading in securing and maintaining the purity of the teachings.
I learned much more than intended. First, I learned that when purity and culture butt heads, culture usually wins. Nevertheless, the story doesn’t end there. I learned how important it is to maintain purity, this is the true lesson.
The corruption of purity begins, and usually ends, with a with a culture infiltration. If the practice of a Giani, a priest, a theologian, a teacher, a community, etc. is corrupt, the practitioner will never truly experience the teachings. So, both the Giani (teacher) and the students fall short. It’s simple, it’s karma.
See Sikh Definitions.
A Personal Message
Sat Nam, Dear Family,
Today's letter is personal. I have something I’d like to share with any of you who may so be interested.
Let me share with you what a great teacher the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, was. His beauty is best appreciated when the subtle experience of his teachings is recognized. Please, let me give you an example.
We, his students, have been given much more than many are aware of. Thursday evening we began our 11 day chant in devotion to Guru Ram Das. The second night of this tradition happens to always be my birthday. Over a hundred guests joined in Rehiras (our evening prayer), Gurubani, (spiritual songs,) chanting, storytelling, and a delicious homemade enchiladas meal by Loretta (our local chef), burfi and ice cream cake. All this was fun, but let me tell you the best part.
The Jatha (musicians) were all our first generation children. They are no longer children, they are our future. Most of my concern has been surrounding the competency of this generation. As I listened to this generation play and sing kirtan (spiritual music), I was transformed to understanding why my concern is so useless.
This generation of Sikhs is much better Sikhs then I, and, I’m embarrassed to tell you, you too. They know the protocol. I’m Chief of Protocol, but they know the protocol better than I do. They were trained in India. They were further trained in America. They know what we’re about. Are they as great as they think? No. Are they as innocent as we elders think? No. But, whatever they are, they are our future and I can relax!
Here’s the problem. They’re smarter than we give them credit for. They see through us. They see who we really are. They were trained to a standard of excellence we sometimes forget. They were born to it. The Siri Singh Sahib commanded it so. Sometimes, they see what we don’t or have been refusing to see forever. We need to work together so that leadership in this dharma transitions gracefully.
This generation comes with a training which reflected our beloved teacher’s projection. They were trained like that since birth. This generation must be given the opportunity to meet our challenges. They’ve been trained to handle them graciously and reverently. Let’s see how they do. It’s almost their turn.
I believe that they will handle it properly. That’s their training. Let’s see who takes their training seriously. They will become the leaders of the future. They hold the knowledge. They hold the key. They hold the future.
This dharma’s continued existence is held in the hands of those who are temporarily in charge. Their burden is much greater than anyone can imagine. Believe me. If they truly could see the consequences which may ensue, they probably wouldn’t take the job. Nevertheless, it’s a great opportunity for all involved. The key to leadership is to match up to the protocol established by our teacher, by the teachings, by our Guru, and by God Himself. It’s an opportunity few, and I mean few, get. It’s an opportunity to become a true servant of Guru Ram Das.
The Jatha playing Friday night was a reminder to me of why we’re all truly here. It’s the awareness of the continued greatness of our teacher. As we become more aware of his subtlety, we recognize that he was so compassionate that he left behind the next generation, this generation, trained better then we. He gave us the gift of failure. Even if we elders don’t match up in God’s eyes, we haven’t failed because the next generation will be better than us. After all, that’s the true definition of success - create something or someone(’s) better. What a great teacher he was in creating a future better than the one we have, and what a compassionate teacher he was to guarantee our success through training this next generation from birth. It’s the blessing of a teacher who really loves his students. It’s actually a double blessing, and, really, an Infinite blessing.
I used to wonder whether our teacher did these things consciously by planning a strategy, or were they done through his intuition? For some time I thought that he must be using strategy because that’s how I’ve been trained. And, it works. I soon realized that his actions, his teaching, his whatever, was all given to him by his Guru, not by his planning. And, Guru’s chirp (blessings) works best. I don’t mean to say that he didn’t plan, that’s always required, but his success was based on his intuition. And, that’s where we students were able to share in his success, his effortless teaching, his flowing training. He’s success was guaranteed through his service to Guru Ram Das. For him, accurate planning and his accepted devotion became the engine for Guru ji’s grace - success granted.
Now, that makes me grateful. Our teacher has greased our path. Through his grace we’ve been given a pass to the next level. Keep going. I know that’s what he’d want. Bring this sense of gratitude into your life and your life will change. It will get better. All you’ve been promised will become real. Joy, happiness, and contentment will be your continued experience. Gratitude can do a lot. Gratitude is the price and the blessing at the same time.
Gratitude is a spice of life.
In His Mercy,
See Sikh Definitions.
Yogi Bhajan, Diatribe from the Sahib Scribe
Sat Nam, Dear Family,
In gratitude that I have been blessed with a unique view of the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, I take this as a command to be his scribe. Why not? Both of us were old fashioned, so why shouldn’t he have a scribe like in the old days? And, why shouldn’t that scribe be me? I was well trained and positioned for the job.
And, I can tell you this, it’s an unbelievable experience, It’s a great challenge, that I know. Without true devotion, misunderstanding can lead to unfavorable consequences. It’s also has great benefits. I love the challenge. I know the game. As his scribe it’s my duty to always bow in reverence to how he lived, to who he was, and to how his legacy is to be preserved.
I’m not a journalist. I’m not an editorialist. I’m a scribe. A scribe who witnessed personally how a great man lived. That’s my story to tell. I’m a documentarian. The beauty in my job lies in the experience of a deeper and deeper understanding so his story can be told from his perspective.
I fully know what an honor this is and that makes me grateful. That turns to devotion when gratitude runs out. And, devotion blends into love, love so deep that there’s no difference between your thinking and the will of God - that’s the beautiful blessing. That experience creates a view of reality in a scribe. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not tooting my own horn, it’s an experience which must also be accompanied by humility. The experience is a temporarily gift, and not owned by the scribe. Thank God I’ve learned that lesson.
I’ll share with you how I’ve come to understand this. Hypothetically, if you were to become a hundred times greater than the Siri Singh Sahib, true understanding dictates that there must be continued reverence to him no matter how great you think you are. Your teacher made you who you are. And, if you are happy with yourself, then you must praise your teacher and mean it, or you can praise yourself instead and show yourself as less than advertised. The choice is yours, but, if you’re a true beloved, the praise of the teacher, the praise the Guru, or the praise of God is all that’s necessary.
Not only do I follow these rules, I enjoy them because of the fruits they bare. The fruit of this devotion is a deeper and deeper understanding of the exquisite subtly in his life. This awareness of his greatness, this deeper understanding of his compassion, this look into his depth, and the deeper recognition of his love and service to all our lives, makes you grateful even if you never knew gratitude existed. It’s a non-stop trip to gratitude without passing go, without even trying. This is what the blessing and obligation of being a scribe to a great man becomes.
This greater understanding of who he was has taught me that he saw himself as seated in the court of Guru Ram Das. He had a seat there because he was selected by Guru ji Himself to be worthy. Worthy enough is defined as surrendering to the correct and acceptable service to Guru ji. These are the seated ones in Guru ji’s court. These are the blessed ones who can't do enough of whatever the Guru wills. These are the true servants. These are referred to as Gurumukhs, the devoted ones.
These are the ones who’s devotion has created contentment. These are the ones who’s projection becomes reality. These are the ones who’s love has another gear. These are the ones who God blesses in spades. This is who this scribe writes about as this is how I see the Siri Singh Sahib. I was blessed to see how God loved him. In fact, I prospered from it and continue to do so.
Whether I knew it at the time or not, I prospered from serving him. I know it now. Some realized this, others not so much. Like winning the lottery, miraculously I was allowed to live it. I lived royally. His projection became my reality and, all along, I was a willing participant. I shared with him. I gave him what he couldn't give himself. He owned me. Almost universally, I was prepared to do whatever pleased him. The reward for pleasing him is that his will is always for my benefit. So, pleasing him is pleasing me. What a great thing. It’s like spiritual capitalism: I sacrifice in service to my teacher’s happiness, and my desire for happiness becomes real.
He’s not dead. If you serve him as if he’s right with you now, because he is, then prosperity will enter your life. I know this, I continue to live this. It’s a little more difficult now that he’s not here physically, it takes a bit more faith. Nevertheless, the opportunity still exists to serve him through the teachings. This is where the heart of prosperity lies. This is where opportunities (some call them challenges or tests, I’m not caught up on the vernacular) abound. This is where growth exists.
I can only write about this because I’ve been blessed to see it. Not because of anything I’ve done. But, only because I’ve been given the sacred duty of explaining who our teacher truly was. I need to see that truth, his truth, in order to properly be his scribe. It has only to do with my positioning and my job.
I take no pride in any sacred views I may be blessed to experience, rather, I’m in awe of these views and am more and more grateful for this blessed duty. I realize that these views are awarenesses which must be lived to take one to the next level. I’m past the ‘why me’ stage, and am now into the ‘thank you’ mode. It’s a grand step up. Love the right thing and there no longer becomes any wrong thing. What a security that is!!
This is a very special time. It is the birthday season of Guru Ram Das. For 11 days before his birthday on October 9th, we chant ‘Dhan Dhan Ram Das Guru’ together as a Sangat in our Ashrams all over the world. We pay homage to the Guru, that which takes us from darkness to light. Our beloved teacher’s relationship with Guru Ram Das was so special that it was no surprise that he left this earthly planet on October 6th, during this precious time, in honor of Guru Ram Das. thirteen years ago. His timing, as always, was impeccable. At this season of Guru Ram Das Dev Ji’s birthday, and the passing of our beloved teacher into the light, tune in, meditate more and experience the bliss of this sacred connection.
See Sikh Definitions.
Sat Nam, Dear Family,
Happy Guru Ram Das Dev ji's birthday!! Yesterday, was the day! Here at Guru Ram Das Ashram in Espanola, we came together for 11 evenings to pray, chant and share food together, all in the love of Guru Ram Das. He is the Lord of Miracles and so we set out intentions and came before him to ask his blessings. The glorious photo is of our beautiful Gurdwara as it glowed this morning during our Amrit Vela chanting, decorated with such love and affection by Tera Kaur and her team, to exalt our Guru!
I want to share my gratitude now for a miracle come true for me! For years I have been thinking that the one thing missing from our teaching technique these days is the lack of an ashram experience. I know the power of that experience because it changed me forever! That experience also changed us quickly. Anyone who comes from that experience will verify what I say. It was a revolutionary experience for us Americans. It was a revolutionary idea with a revolutionary technique.
Living in ashrams was one of those revolutionary ideas. Rising at 3:30 AM, taking a cold shower, participating in group sadhana, doing karma yoga, working full time, serving the will of the teacher, surrendering to the will of the local ashram director (right or wrong), following a chain of command, need I go on.
Some time ago, Kirpal Singh and Abhai Raj Singh began a program called “Seva* Sadhana.” For me personally, it was a dream come true. It’s been through growing pains, but it is now firmly established. We’re just at the beginning of the most cutting edge spirituality ever created. Please, let me explain.
I see this Seva Sadhana program serving the planet at a unique and elevated frequency. This program will become the training ground for the leaders of this world in the future. It will serve two main purposes initially. It will provide an ashram experience, a literal smorgasbord of spiritual opportunities to serve and love. The other function will serve as a landing station for all potential leaders from all over the world. They will learn the way the Siri Singh Sahib, aka Yogi Bhajan, wanted things to run. He set the standard, and now this program will share this standard worldwide so that all will be following the standard set by our teacher.
This program introduces the Siri Singh Sahib’s way to the world. Someone worshipping in Chile, in China, in Russia, everywhere who experienced the Seva Sadhana program will share the same understanding of what the Siri Singh Sahib expected. It’s our way of doing what we can to insure that his teachings remain in their purity, as he willed worldwide. After all, we saw what he wanted in action, so it’s no surprise that it is our duty to keep his standard pure. No matter how impure we may be, that’s no excuse for compromising the standard he left. It’s actually his blessing to leave us this great roadmap. When we leave it, we leave our blessing whether we realize it or not.
This Seva Sadhana program carries the message of his standard. After all, we lived to a great extent this standard. It’s the way his standard infuses the world with hope, then technology, then the experience of happiness, happiness in all situations. What better gift can we share with a world filled with doubt, then a way to be happy no matter what. And, better still, it’s a way drenched in reality, not fantasy. It’s the real deal.
This real deal part is the part we share with with world. We offer the opportunity to those who want more out of life to explore our promise. Our promise is an opportunity, not a guarantee. I know most want to hear that it’s a blessing, and it is, but not in the way you think. It’s a blessing for the opportunity it presents, not for the results you seek. That’s the carrot. There’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. That’s the hard reality. So, be grateful for just the opportunity to serve and love greater and greater and you’ll be focused on the right thing. Don't’ seek results, seek gratitude.
The Seva Sadhana program shares the technology of gratitude with the world. It’s a great blessing to teach the art of gratitude. That’s what this program will do for this world, that’s what the teachings We have been called; now we must fulfill that calling. We, who have kept-up have this last duty, teach. Gratitude guarantees happiness. This program is a dream come true, miracles do happen, prayer worked again.
The Siri Singh Sahib often talked in terms of ownership, ownership in this dharma. He has been misinterpreted on this issue. He wasn’t referring to ownership of this dharma (which some have taken as permission for making the prosperity of this dharma as their private piggy bank), he meant that we take ownership in the stewardship of this dharma.
We are stewards first, last, and always. Guru ji owns this dharma, always has, always will. He sets the standards, we follow. We don’t change any standard unless it’s absolutely legally necessary (which is very rare). If we become the great teacher, if we are bestowed a seat in Guru ji’s court, if God Himself makes us his ward and his love, our duty is to be a greater steward through following and sharing His standards more and more. The Seva Sadhana program is this dharma’s standard bearer. This is where the total experience of this dharma is maintained and shared.
*Seva means Service.
See Sikh Definitions.
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