Self-deception and Redemption, a True Story

Posted on November 6, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I moved to Houston in 1980 and was living in the Sikh Ashram there. I needed money for rent and talked one of the other single men that lived in the ashram to let me hang the sheet rock for a remodel project that he was in charge of. I had never hung sheet rock before. I recruited a non-English speaking Hispanic man to help me at the lowest hourly wage that I could get him to work for. If I remember correctly the job paid $700. I thought it would take 3-4 days, 2 if we worked extra hard. The truth was that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I think it actually took two weeks to get all the sheet rock hung. By the time the job was finished the Hispanic man that I hired was owed $500 of the $700. I told the guy that I had underbid the job, I was sorry but I couldn’t pay him what we had agreed on. I told him that we had worked together equally and I would split the money equally with him, $350 each (the rent I owed just happened to be $350 also). He would have none of it. He said he had agreed to work at an agreed upon wage and that he was owed $500 and it wasn’t his fault that the job took longer than I expected. I am ashamed to say that I told him that all I would pay him was the $350, take it or leave it. I knew he was an illegal immigrant and knew that he could not complain to any authority. He was just an illegal immigrant. I justified my actions by telling myself that I had worked just as hard as he had and I was entitled to just as much of the money as he was, that I was a spiritual person that did my spiritual practice every day and deserved that money. Inside myself though, I felt that what I was doing was wrong. I knew that I was ripping the guy off. I had calculated previously how much the guy’s wages were adding up to. I added them up daily in fact as I stressed about getting in over my head. I could have told him at any point that I could not afford to pay him for any more of his time, but I didn’t. I intentionally misused him and had decided on this plan to complete the job and still make my rent. Despite any rationalization I could come up with I knew in my gut that it was wrong. I knew that it was my own stupidity that had taken on a job to hang sheet rock when I knew nothing about it. Talk about delusions.

The money discussion with the guy turned into an argument, and I eventually gave him only $350 and told him to get lost. I remember the look he gave me when he left. It was a look of disbelief that I could treat him so unfairly after he had worked so hard every day to help me finish that job. It had truly been hell humping those sheets of sheet rock up scaffolding, holding them in place on the two story ceiling while one or the other of us got a nail in the stuff. It had been truly awful but he had given his all every step of the process and I had misused him for it. Although he couldn’t speak English that parting look said, “I can’t believe you can treat me like this. I actually thought you were a good person. You intentionally cheated me. I don’t see how you can live with yourself.”

Time passed. I never saw the guy again. I never told anybody about it, I was too ashamed. I pretended like it had never happened. I forgot about the whole nasty affair. Fast forward seven years to 1987.  I’m married with two kids and Houston is in the midst of a recession. I’m unemployed and decide to start my own painting/sheet rock business so our family can survive. I had three or four jobs going at the same time, one of them being a very large job on a wealthy person’s country home on their ranch outside Sealy, TX, more than an hour east of Houston. Things were not going well on my jobs. I was stretched too thin to attend to all of them properly. Consequently the money was not coming in fast enough to cover expenses. Luckily I had a large chunk of money that I was supposed to receive on the Sealy job the next day as long as the required amount of work was complete. I needed to purchase materials for the jobs I had going in Houston and I did so with a check that I did not have funds in my account to cover. I figured I could have the draw on the Sealy job deposited the next day and that would cover everything before the materials check hit my bank. I had a real bad feeling when I wrote out that materials check but I kept telling myself that the Sealy draw would cover it.

I was supposed to pick up that draw at 11 the next morning. The work that was supposed to be complete in order to pick up that draw was not finished but we were close. I told myself that I could get our crew out there really early and maybe get everything done before 11 and schmooze it with the owner lady if it was not. The next morning I was loading the truck at 5:30. The phone started ringing. Problems with one of the Houston jobs. As I was dealing with that, problems with the workers on my crew had to be dealt with. At 7:00 I was racing off to deal with an unhappy customer at one of the Houston jobs. I still had to deliver materials to the other sites. The customer kept me waiting at the first site, then when he finally showed up he had a whole line of contractors there that he had to deal with. I had to wait in line for my turn. All morning I was racing from one job site in Houston to the next. I had told my Sealy crew to be at my house at 7:00 so I could drive us out to that job. At 10:30 I was still racing to another one of the Houston jobs and I hadn’t even picked up the crew for Sealy yet. On top of that EVERY traffic light I came to was red. I was about to explode. I started cussing out loud at God when there was another red light. I seriously considered running it and every other red light until I was on the road to Sealy. It was such a perfect storm that I had no doubt that it was being divinely generated.  I asked God why EVERY traffic light had to be red. I felt like I was about to have an emotional outburst of rage and frustration. Then it dawned on me that it was just a test of whether God could reduce me to a screaming lunatic. I decided there was no way that I would give God the satisfaction.

As I had these thoughts I noticed that I had I was feeling intense anxiety that felt like it would overwhelm me. I associated this overwhelming anxiety with God pushing my buttons and decided, “Bring it on. Give it your best shot. I am not afraid of this anxiety and to prove it I am going to allow it to overwhelm me.” I then consciously allowed the most intense feelings I was having to happen to me. My fear mounted similar to the way it does when you slowly climb that first hill on a roller coaster, crest that hill and begin hurtling to certain death. Surprisingly, at the point where the intensity seemed like it was going to overwhelm me it began to subside. I asked myself what was the worst that could happen. The materials check would hit my bank and cause an avalanche of checks to bounce causing my account to be closed, forcing me out of business? I hated this business. I had never enjoyed it. It was just what I did when I had to survive. Let the check bounce. Then an insight occurred. What I was afraid of hadn’t happened yet and just like the morning I was having had been completely unpredicted by me, something beyond what I could imagine was possible. It was even possible that the Sealy owner lady might be a little late herself and I could distract her from noticing that there wasn’t enough work completed for our draw.

At that instant I realized that the intense anxiety I was feeling was all about my impatience at being where I was and wanting to be someplace else. The anxiety conveyed the thought that where I was, doing what I was doing was not good enough, that I was just a worthless piece of shit that was never good enough and never going to be. I realized that I was actually doing everything I possibly could in that moment to live up to my obligations to my customers and my family. I realized that I actually was at exactly the right place at that exact time doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing to the best of my ability. I was still sitting at that red light. It hadn’t even changed yet. I looked around and noticed that it was a very beautiful fall day in Houston. There was a magnificent large oak tree to my right that canopied my vehicle with shade. It was superb and I had been so self involved that I hadn’t even noticed.

The light changed to green and I completed what business I needed to attend to and was soon on the road to Sealy with the crew. When I came to a red light I noticed the anxiety begin to build and I would allow it to wash through me as I had learned that morning. Each time I did, there was further resolution that I was at the right place at the right time. When we got to the Sealy job it was well past noon and there was only one other vehicle there. It belonged to one of the carpenters. I got the crew lined out doing what we needed for the draw. Then I hunted down the carpenter and asked him if the owner lady had been by. He said he hadn’t seen her, but that he had just gotten there himself and there wasn’t anyone there when he pulled in, no work crews at all. This was not good news, but I figured we needed to finish our work to get the draw anyway, we were all the way out in Sealy now, we just needed to do our work. Less than a half hour later I saw the owner lady’s car pulling onto the ranch. I thought, “Here it comes. She’s pissed because she was here earlier and saw that we hadn’t completed the work for our draw, and she’s doubly pissed because there wasn’t anybody working there that morning, and I am going to catch her anger for all of it.” I decided to walk out to her car and take it like a man, expecting to get fired.

When she saw me she said that she was very sorry to have not made it out there that morning as she had promised, that she knew I was relying on that draw and so even though unimaginable hassles had kept her from making our appointment on time she had come out there regardless of the lateness to make sure I got my money. She went on to tell me that she knew that she had promised to walk through our work with me so that I could have her decide on the incidentals that had come up but that there were things that she absolutely needed to attend to back in Houston. She apologized but we would just have to reschedule the walk through for another day. I graciously accepted her apology and her check. Five minutes after I saw her car leave the ranch I told my guys to pack it in because I needed to make a deposit before the end of new business at 2:30. I made that deposit at 2:25. I am completely convinced that had I not learned to relax there would have been a very different outcome with the owner lady at her ranch. I think that her circumstances would have changed so that she would not have missed that appointment. The depth of me knows that she and I were affecting what was happening in each other’s lives that day.

Some of the anxiety that I felt at the stop light was a shame that I carried around with me from my first sheet rock experience. As long as we carry around unresolved shame, or anything that causes us to feel that we are basically flawed, we never feel that we are at the right place at the right time, and we cannot truly appreciate life. When I allowed those intense anxieties to wash over me and do their damnedest I was relaxing my control complex, and as soon as I did this I was able to notice and appreciate the panorama of life that surrounded me, most notably the wonderful canopy of the tree that was shading me (which has its own symbolism as well). Despite my best efforts to present myself to the world as if I were a good person I had issues of shame that I. I tried to pretend like I  did not have those issues, but they were always there. I claimed that I wanted equality and justice and a new spiritual understanding to develop in the world and all the time I carried the burden of my own hypocrisy around until a situation developed where I could no longer maintain that facade.

On that day at the stop light I  began to crack away at my facade because I started to deal with my self-deceit. I did not remember the incident from 1980 on that day at the stop light. I still had no idea the depth of the guilt that I carried. That came later as I continued to delve deeper into what I learned under that tree’s canopy. Shortly after this was when I met Sant Guru Dev Singh and he healed my broken rib (The Healing of Sat Nam Rasayan). Later it was learning Sat Nam Rasayan, the second side of the teachings, where I learned to systematically delve deeply into these issues and understand the connections. I found that in order to get beyond my shame I needed to learn to forgive myself.

In order to alleviate the feelings of shame and guilt that we carry around we first have to become completely honest with ourselves in order to admit what we are feeling guilty and ashamed about. We have to investigate within ourselves how we learned to react in the way that causes us this suffering. Inevitably this leads to a discovery that when we learned this self-destructive behavior it was at an earlier time in our lives when it seemed the only course to follow. Many times we find that this developed because we were embroiled in intense situations of fear and degradation. Developing the habit pattern that had become the source of our suffering was the best we could come up with at the time. It was just the way we had learned to survive. Delving deep into ourselves in this way develops the understanding that is necessary for us to forgive ourselves for learning to behave in the ways that cause us shame. In such a state of self-honesty we also realize the suffering that we have caused others and it becomes clear that in order to be truly responsible for what we have done me must not only renounce that behavior from that moment forward, we must commit ourselves to addressing the issues involved to make amends for our contribution to the moral decay. If we do not address the issues we now know so thoroughly, who will?

That was the pledge that I made to myself as I learned to face my own personal corruption, the issues that I was a slave to when I decided it was OK to not pay the guy I hired to help me hang sheet rock. It was because of this pledge that I am outspoken against the certification that IKYTA does. I know that this seems like a petty issue, but I know differently. I know that what I went through in learning to redeem myself, everyone must go through. I know that Yogi Bhajan had the structure of Sat Nam Rasayan developed so that it could be learned openly and safely. I know it works because I experienced the miracle of it. I know because learning it I learned to redeem myself, and I know that this is the true path that leads to becoming a Spiritual Teacher as Yogi Bhajan intended all along.

I also know that the IKYTA certification is only a way to pose as someone that knows something spiritual. There are no requirements beyond the ability to pose well in front of a class of yoga students. Having gone through the hell of confronting my own inner corruption I know that as long as there is an easy out we will not face that corruption. If there is any excuse available we will avoid dealing with our shame. This ties in with IKYTA because not only does the IKYTA certification process not teach what is necessary to produce Spiritual Teachers, it facilitates the corruption of all that participate in that process. It condones posing as spiritual as more important than being spiritual. For me not to speak out against this institutionalized corruption of the teachings violates my commitment to my own redemption.

The structure to redeem ourselves exists. Sant Guru Dev Singh teaches it, masterfully. If it works for someone like me, it will work for anyone.

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

Blogs about Kundalini Yoga instruction: Catalyst Yogi, Kundalini Yoga-FAQ, Eyes Wide Open, Breakthrough healing, Savitree

Blogs about Sat Nam Rasayan: Darsana Wellness, Healing with Lea, The Yoga Cafe,

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One Response to “Self-deception and Redemption, a True Story”

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[…] Ultimately it is important for us to develop our self-honesty in order to understand what it was that sparked us to develop our patterns of self-deception in the first place. This is necessary in order to completely redeem ourselves and establish a new behavior pattern. I will relate a personal experience of this in the next post (Self-deception and Redemption, a True Story). […]


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