The problem with IKYTA (International Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Association) is that it cannot produce Teachers

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is a problem with IKYTA (International Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Association). IKYTA is supposed to be the way for a person to learn to be a Teacher in the tradition of Yogi Bhajan. It is what 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization), the organization of Yogi Bhajan’s students, has endorsed as The Way to fulfill the mission of Yogi Bhajan. That mission is to create real Spiritual Teachers just as Yogi Bhajan himself was a real Spiritual Teacher. What IKYTA has instituted instead is the sale of certificates and courses. These certificates are then to be used as validation that the student has the backing of IKYTA to convene yoga classes.

It can be readily agreed that the acquisition of one of these certificates is a very long way from fulfilling the real mission of Yogi Bhajan. All students of Yogi Bhajan agree that the ability to convene a yoga class does not mean that one is a Spiritual Teacher. Even the members of IKYTA admit this. Where we disagree is that I contend that the IKYTA certification actually impedes a student’s moral and therefore spiritual development to the point that a person that buys into that certification cannot develop what they need within themselves to become a Spiritual Teacher without first renouncing their IKYTA certification. The reason that this is true lies in understanding the developmental process required to become a Spiritual Teacher.

When a person recognizes and accepts a Spiritual Teacher it is considered by many to be the most significant event in the spiritual development of the individual. This is because a) no one becomes Enlightened without a Teacher, and b) it requires the student to make a break with conformity to recognize a Spiritual Teacher, which is a very difficult step for anyone to make. The reason this is a necessary spiritual step for everyone (except perhaps the extremely rare incarnations of already fully Enlightened souls like Guru Gobind Singh) is that the Spiritual Teacher is the living example of the latent Teacher consciousness within the student. in order for the student to ultimately recognize this authenticity within themselves, they must first validate its existence in the awareness of a Spiritual Teacher. The point of becoming a student of a Spiritual Teacher is not to develop a devotional relationship with the Teacher. The purpose of humbling ones ego before a Spiritual Teacher is that this is the way to learn to recognize the Teacher within by experiencing the reality of that authenticity from the Spiritual Teacher. Recognizing the internal Teacher is the goal, it is the way we develop our authentic selves. Yogi Bhajan always proclaimed “I didn’t come here to collect students. I came here to create Teachers.” The problem with IKYTA certification is that it is a sell out of that mission.

IKYTA sells out the mission of Yogi Bhajan because they do not come to terms with what is required to become a Spiritual Teacher. They readily acknowledge that their certification program has nothing to do with producing Spiritual Teachers. They say that the certification program is simply a way for yoga instructors to network. The problem here is that the directive of Yogi Bhajan’s that caused IKYTA to develop the certification scheme was:The days when we said, ‘Go out to so-and-so place and teach’ are over. We must now have a standardized course for the common man. We must produce an undying Truth for the future. We are the pioneers. We must produce teachers who can teach. It must stand in a court of law. There must be a written exam, files kept on each student, and graduations. In a court of law this documentation is necessary. We will be tested in the court of law. Me, I am a Yogi, and can stand, but nobody will let you be free.” Yogi Bhajan, April, 1996(IKYTA website Oct 3, 2009) The first thing to notice about this excerpt is that in it they do not capitalize the word Teacher. This was a verbal directive given by Yogi Bhajan personally and was copied from the IKYTA website. How it is punctuated indicates how they interpret the directive. It is clear from the use of a lower case “teacher” that IKYTA chooses to interpret this directive as if Yogi Bhajan was talking about yoga class instructors instead of Spiritual Teachers. That is the bit they got wrong. The second mistake is that within this directive are the instructions for “files to be kept on each student, with graduations”. IKYTA has ignored the fact that this directive was to include all students of Yogi Bhajan. Instead they have chosen to focus on those students that are willing to buy into their certification program and disregard all others. When Yogi Bhajan gave that directive he was talking about Teachers, Spiritual Teachers that can really Teach. This was what he was, and it was what his stated mission was. He was also stating that all of his students were to be officially included in this process. As he gave this directive he never made any mention of yoga classes. During his Master’s Touch seminars he didn’t talk about yoga classes. Instead he spoke at length and exclusively about being a Spiritual Teacher. This misinterpretation by IKYTA is demonstrated quite clearly in the paragraph that they have published that follows the directive from Yogi Bhajan on their website. The next paragraph refers to students that have been conducting yoga classes ‘teachers’: “To honor our old time teachers who had never been ‘officially’ KRI Certified, we developed a Grandfathering process, and certified almost 300 teachers,” When the directive of Yogi Bhajan is posted using the small case for “teachers” is immediately followed by them referring to some of Yogi Bhajan’s students as “old time teachers” it gives the impression that what Yogi Bhajan means when he talks about Teachers is what IKYTA has interpreted it to mean, yoga class instructors.

How IKYTA came to choose this particular certification process is also very illuminating. This was shared with me by SS Guru Dev Singh from Mexico/Houston (not the famous Sat Nam Rasayan healer, rather it is the one married to Sat Kaur who is/was a member of the International Committee of the Khalsa Council). SS Guru Dev Singh says that after the directive was issued by Yogi Bhajan that the model for IKYTA certification was then developed to fulfill that directive by copying a scheme that students of his (SS Guru Dev’s) in Mexico had come up with to make money teaching yoga classes. These students of Guru Dev’s shared their ideas for certification as a way to make a profit with other folks in 3HO and he says that this is the way that IKYTA certification was adopted. While Yogi Bhajan allowed this to happen it is important to note that he would never allow his signature to be put on those certificates even though he allowed his signature to appear on Peace cereal boxes.

The IKYTA response when it is suggested that their certification program is not what Yogi Bhajan meant is always that this is the way that Yogi Bhajan wanted it done, and he would not have let them do it if it was not what he wanted. I disagree. Yogi Bhajan was a Spiritual Teacher. He would do whatever it took to make the impression that was necessary to fulfill the destiny of his students including allowing students to expose their limited consciousness in order that they would learn by making mistakes. To further illustrate this consider what happened when I attended the Master’s Touch course in Assisi, Italy and brought up these concerns to the IKYTA conveners of the course. The very first night of the course the IKYTA conveners required that all those attending the course come to this meeting. There we were told that in order to meet the IKYTA certification requirements by the end of the course, that we also had to attend classes that were being taught the convenors in the off times when Yogi Bhajan was not teaching. I stood up and objected to this. I argued that Yogi Bhajan made no requirement to learn from those that were not themselves Teachers, and that this requirement just seemed like a way to promote the classes of those that IKYTA had already certified. This was not taken well by the conveners, and an argument ensued. During the heated exchange that followed, one of the convenors exclaimed that those that convened these courses were personally certified as Teachers by Yogi Bhajan. Although I had dealt with all their other arguments thus far, I had no comeback for this assertion of personal certification by Yogi Bhajan of themselves as Teachers. I then indicated that if in fact that were true I would raise no further objections, and sat down. Immediately after this meeting Nam Kaur, the founding director of IKYTA came up to me and told me that she knew for a fact that Yogi Bhajan had never certified anyone as a Teacher as had been claimed by the conveners in the meeting. She said that thus far Yogi Bhajan had only allowed certification of yoga instructors by IKYTA. She also told me that Yogi Bhajan had defined the student becoming a Teacher process as having three stages. The first stage being Instructor; the second stage being Practitioner; and the third stage being a Teacher. (I intend to write a post that explains these three stages in the future and will link to that post here when that is done.) When I heard what Nam Kaur had to say I knew that those that had been assembled for this course had been lied to by the conveners in the meeting that had just taken place. I also knew that those conveners were very angry with me and that my disruption of that meeting was going to be immediately reported to Yogi Bhajan. I therefore awaited what I expected to be an unavoidable confrontation from the Master. I thought this was the most likely possibility because his representatives felt that I had been extremely disruptive, and I was prepared to take whatever heat that was necessary to reach clarity on the issue. To the extreme dismay of those conveners Yogi Bhajan did not call me out for being disrespectful to them, and simply smiled pleasantly at me when he saw me.  When Yogi Bhajan sat down and began teaching the course he did not mention the incident at all. Instead, what he did was to assert that the course reflected the “second side of the teachings, which I hid for 28 years (indicating that there had been aspects of what he had been teaching that had been hidden). I didn’t come here to collect students or to start a religion” (Master’s Touch, p. 225). It was clearly a disappointment to the IKYTA conveners that Yogi Bhajan did not yell at me for the argument the previous evening. Worse yet for them was the fact that as the class continued to unfold everything that he said was a validation of what I had expressed the previous evening. This culminated with Yogi Bhajan inviting me to come forward and kiss his feet at the end of the course in front of the rest of the students as they were having their group photo taken without him (This is another incident that I will go into more detail in a future post with a link here).

Recognizing our authentic selves is the path of the Teacher. Not only does the IKYTA certification not include this, but what is perhaps worse is that the certification sets up a structure that has nothing to do with that path. This structure of those in the certification club provides a sense of belonging and the pretense of connection with Yogi Bhajan which becomes an easier alternative to the gut wrenching, soul searching requirements of the path of the Teacher. Those certified then become a source of validation for students that demonstrate that those that are Yogi Bhajan’s “best” students do not need to do more than become certified in order to really learn to become Teachers in the Yogi Bhajan sense of the word. Being certified is therefore an easy out which requires no self mastery. The more students that buy into this the better it is for IKYTA. The intention of IKYTA certification is to make money. It is sold to students as a way that students can validate their relationship to Yogi Bhajan and the teachings with the hope and promise that the students can then make money for themselves in the future. It is all a quagmire of insecurity and greed so that the only way for a student that was insecure enough about their relationship with their Teacher to buy into the certification, they must first correct this mistake and renounce their certification and false motivations as a mistake made out of insecurity, before they can develop the authenticity necessary for further spiritual development.

The argument presented by IKYTA with this is “Yogi Bhajan would never mislead us like this.” The answer to this is that Yogi Bhajan did not mislead, he allowed students that were not listening and instead were posturing themselves for recognition to expose themselves. The certification model of IKYTA was not his idea. The purpose of the Spiritual Teacher is to take the student to the experience of the authentic self. If after more than 20 years of explaining this, defining this, demonstrating this, and being a living example of this those that are closest could not see that their certification program was a barrier to that development, he decided that the best way to teach them was to allow them to expose their petty competitiveness, and shallowness. (In the words of Dr. Phil “A problem must be identified before it can be dealt with.) There is even a new website where longtime students now claim that they are master kundalini yoga teachers. This is an obvious attempt to use the word master in their description of themselves to give the impression that they are masters of kundalini yoga when they are not, and do not even know how one becomes a master of kundalini yoga(Another post is planned to explain how one masters Kundalini Yoga with a corresponding link).

Instead of the IKYTA certification, what 3HO needs to organize is a way to validate that a particular person is a student of Yogi Bhajan and the teachings and a commitment to include all students. Any person that has recognized Yogi Bhajan as their Teacher and is committed to living by the instructions of those teachings is qualified to share those instructions with others, even formally in a class setting as long as they tune in first. Those are the teachings. The student’s written test would be something of this sort: I Jagatguru Singh Khalsa assert here, now and forever that Yogi Bhajan is my Spiritual Teacher, and that I will serve the teachings that he has shared to the best of my ability with the same purity that they have been given to me, and I will abide by the code of ethics of a Kundalini Yoga instructor as put forth by Yogi Bhajan.

In contrast to the certification system of IKYTA requiring an assertion of this type from the student validates the sovereignty of the Spiritual Teacher, affirms the true path of the Teacher and the requirement to recognize one, and establishes the commitment needed to be share the teachings. Anything that does less is misguided.

It’s not the life that matters, but the courage we bring to it.

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One Response to “The problem with IKYTA (International Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Association) is that it cannot produce Teachers”

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I’m so glad that you are writing about this. Leaving a public record. There is no one who could do this subject justice like you can. Keep up.
Love,
Bibi


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