How Spirituality Works

What God Isn’t

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: How Spirituality Works |

We live in a perpetual experience of infinity. Each moment is a new event. There has never been another moment exactly like this one. We have never had the experience that we are having right now, in this moment, before. The experience of this moment, that we are having right now, will never be repeated, because every moment of our future will be different than everything that has preceded it. Every moment provides us with newness of depth, texture, complexity of subtlety. So therefore life provides us with constant discovery because the newness of each moment means that our experience of life is that it is beyond our expectation, continually, forever, without end.

Not only  is this moment a new experience for all of us, but it is new in a different way to each of us. Even though we each experience this now in a way that we never have before, we also experience it with an awareness that is different than any other. We each experience what is, now, uniquely. Not only is each moment unique, each experience of the moment is unique to each that shares the experience.

Not only do we each experience life as an eternal stream of subtle (and not so subtle) newness and discovery, everyone around us is continually having their own version of this in their own unique way. So that right now in this precise moment each individual is having their own personal experience of now in a way that is different from that experienced by anyone else.

AND not only is this moment being spontaneously experienced by each of us in a new way that is different than the way that anyone else is affected now, we are also experiencing our awareness in a way that has never been before because there has never been anyone exactly like any one of us before. So not only is this moment always an experience new to ourselves and everyone around us, it is new beyond what has ever been experienced in life before.

This continual flow of newness is not limited to ourselves as humans, it includes all life. All creatures, trees, grass, even bacteria all share in and are part of this perpetual uniqueness of experience. And because of this there is always unpredictability in every experience. We can only predict what we know. We can never predict what is unknown to us. This means that because each moment contains unique newness simultaneously for all life,  life always, continuously, presents an unexpected factor to all life.

Others have sat in a chair and gazed at a tree growing outside their windows. But no one, not even ourselves, have sat in sat in this exact chair at this precise moment of the chair’s existence and looked at this particular tree in this moment of its stage of growth and life cycle. Even the trillions of cells that make up the physical body that encapsulates us and the tree are different in this moment than they have ever been before or will ever be again.

Even the photons of light that we experience as we look at the tree are a new configuration of energy than has ever been before. Most of those photons were produced in the Sun as a product of its nuclear fusion inside its core. What we perceive as light was produced as atoms, each unique unto themselves, combine and give off and absorb energy so that the ever changing atoms are always different, and the photons of light are ever changing and being recreated. This is happening so intensely that it takes more than 100,000 years for the photon energy that is produced at the Sun’s core to reach its surface. The tree we are seeing is an experience of light that has been forming for longer than our concept of humanity.

There is no end to the expansion of our awareness of this. It is beyond our ability to conceive it. It is also forever beyond our ability to predict, manipulate or control just as each of us is beyond anyone’s ability to predict, manipulate or control. This truth is the source of eternal conflict within ourselves because we forever desire to predict, manipulate and control everything, including God. Of course this produces conflict.

Instead of accepting that the infinite creativity that we experience as this, the eternal flow of now that is the ever-present manifestation and experience of the infinite, which is God, we invent our own images of something that is not part of the reality. We form these images according to our limited thoughts and concepts and call that God. We do not even have words to adequately describe the experience of looking out our window at a tree, yet we presume the ability to convey an image of that which is infinitely infinite beyond the concept of any consciousness. Imposing these images onto reality as religions do by purporting to accurately convey God is an insult to all creation.

As we understand this internal conflict the question arises as to whether we will choose to maintain our religions with their disdain for the spontaneous experience of reality, in favor of the fantasy of controlling that which is beyond any limitation and call that God, or to humble ourselves and choose spirituality and become still enough to develop an appreciation and understanding of the flow of consciousness and experience of God.

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How Kundalini Yoga Produces Meditation On The Naam

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

According to Sikh teaching the pinnacle of all spirituality is meditation on the Naam. However, exactly what meditation on the Naam is is unclear because it is never clearly defined in any of the traditional Sikh writings. This has led to many arguments and deep divisions among various Sikh associatons. American Sikhs, students of Yogi Bhajan, have often assumed that meditation on the Naam means repetition of the mantra Waheguru, which is the most sacred Sikh name of God. There is a basic flaw to this thinking. Repetition of a mantra, any mantra even the most sacred ever conceived, is not meditation, and therefore Meditation on the Naam does not refer to repetition of any name of God. The repetition of a mantra, any mantra, is a spiritual practice.

In order to understand this it is necessary to define and explain a few basic terms.

What is spirituality? Kundalini Yoga teaches that we and all creation exist in Oneness with God. If spirituality means connection to God then all living things are equally spiritual because all things are equally part of the Oneness of God. This would mean that spirituality has no real distinction.  What makes spirituality distinct is the ability to recognize the connection of Oneness. Humanity has this ability which other species appear to lack. The basis for this ability of humanity to recognize our connection with Oneness lies in our  ability to recognize what is true. As humans we can recognize when we are being honest with ourselves and when we are not and make choices accordingly. We also have the ability to hear what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe. We have these opposing abilities in equal amounts. This is the basis of our free will. We have the ability to choose to develop more honesty within ourselves or to choose ignorance and maintain our delusions. Anything that we do that causes us to become more honest with ourselves is spiritual. Anything that encourages us to hear only what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe inhibits our spirituality.

A spiritual practice then is anything that we do that develops our ability to be honest with ourselves. Kundalini Yoga is the science that includes all forms of spiritual practice. Kundalini Yoga makes no differentiation for religion or belief system. If the intent of the practice is to cause the practitioner to become more honest with themselves it is a valid spiritual practice and part of Kundalini Yoga. Kundalini Yoga is not just the exercises and kriyas that are associated with yogic masters like Yogi Bhajan. Kundalin Yoga includes all types of prayer, all chanting and singing of hymns, all bowing or genuflction before what is deemed sacred, all contemplation of any divine form, all performance of devotional service, and all recitation of divine mantras. If it is a practice that causes folks to become more honest with themselves it is part of Kundalini Yoga.

Meditation is the ability to process ourselves to discover what is true. It has two parts, expanding awareness and applying consciousness. We all learn through expanding our awareness and applying our consciousness. It is the only way we ever learn. When we learned to walk or talk we had to expand our awareness to incorporate parts of ourselves that we had never used before and we had to make decisions about what worked and didn’t work by applying our consciousness. The expansion of awareness and application of consciousness is so essential to learning that it is even key to the evolution of all lifeforms. In other words, evolution itself is based upon the development of the skills necessary to meditate. What makes humanity unique is that we can directly access the expansion of our awareness and the application of our consciousness while other species have not adequately developed them to do so.

When we have learned meditation to the point that we can expand our awareness and apply our consciousness at any moment on command this is still not meditation on the Naam. Meditation on the Naam means that we we have expanded our awareness and applied our consciousness to the point that we have come to the experience of our essence, the Oneness. It is called the experience of the Soul. When one can meditate and produce the experience of the Soul this is meditation on the Naam.

It is the purpose of all spiritual practices to cause us to become more honest with ourselves so that we can directly access the ultimate honesty within ourselves which is the experience of our own Soul which exists in Oneness with all creation and God.

3HO and Sikh blogs: Random Caligraphy, How to Meditate | MrSikhNet, Sikhnet Discussion: Do we believe in God or Naam?, The Concept of Naam, Naam Jaap-Contemplation, Meditating the Sikh Way, Gurta Gaadi of Guru Gobind Singh, Lord’s Name is Peace Giving 20L, Sikh Book Club, Sahaj and Sikhism, Ik Onkaar at golden temple, God’s Note, Sat Nam Wahe Guru, Valor Counterbalancing Bravado, The Cosmology and Methodology of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib,

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Sacrd Space Courses

Posted on June 1, 2010. Filed under: How Spirituality Works |

All Sacred Space courses are taught by Jagatguru Singh Khalsa. The  time it takes a person to learn any of these concepts varies, and like anything else, students get out what they put in. Our courses are structured as lifetime memberships. Therefore, you pay for a course once, and then can attend it as many times as you want without being charged again. Also, once you pay for a course you are free to attend the beginner seminars at no extra charge.

Stilling the Mind

Stilling the mind is the first step in the journey of learning to meditate. Unlike what most people believe, the process of stilling the mind is one of heightened consciousness rather than of unconscious deep sleep. The senses awaken as the mind becomes still. The first glimpse of deep peace is possible in this state, and the experience of the sensitive space is one that students never forget.

Knowing

After learning to still the mind, students are ready to learn knowing. Knowing is the intermediate level of learning meditation. At this level, students begin to gain awareness of how accessing the stillness and humbling oneself to the reality of the moment leads to the experience of the soul and peace in life.

Integration

This advanced course is for those who have reached proficiency in both Stilling the Mind and Knowing. Integration teaches students to access the meditative process in every facet of life. Interconnectedness is already apparent to the advanced student, and can be used to live peacefully in the now at all times.

Each course is $400 with a $50 discount for paying in full up front. We strongly encourage students to pay up front. This serves as an incentive to finish the course. It is difficult to stick with self-reflective practices. Putting forth an initial investment makes the pull to finish much stronger. However, we do also offer payment plans.

Contact Bibi Estlund for more information.

bibi.estlund@gmail.com

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Meditation: What it is and what it is not

Posted on November 16, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , |

Meditation is mostly misunderstood. I was taken to a Shirley MacLaine event several years ago. At the event she conducted what those who had come to see her termed a meditation. It used guided imagery in an attempt to shift the way that the audience related to life. While some may find this beneficial, it is not meditation. Similarly Yogi Bhajan taught thousands of kriyas that were called meditations. Practicing those kriyas/meditations is not meditating. He used to say that the reason that he specified that a “meditation” be practiced for 31 minutes (which was one of the most common time specifications given) was so that when we had completed the 31 minutes we would have actually meditated for one minute. Practicing a kriya is not meditating.

The reason that meditation is so misunderstood is that the real “how to” of how to meditate must be learned in the second side of the teachings. If a person has not learned or understood the second side of the teachings, they do not know how to meditate. In an elaborate demonstration of how the vast majority of his students had not learned the second side of the teachings, and did not know how to meditate, Yogi Bhajan allowed IKYTA certification to be marketed to his students. Yogi Bhajan did this because there was/is so much posturing and competition between his students. Yogi Bhajan allowed the IKYTA certification to be marketed because students that buy into this certification program demonstrate that they do not understand the second side of the teachings or how to meditate. They demonstrate that having a competitive edge by posturing is more important. Yogi Bhajan did this so elaborately because he came to realize that competitive posturing is a major obstacle to shifting from religious to spiritual that there needed to be a dramatic demonstration of how corrupting it is.

Becoming certified by IKYTA is supposed to validate the credibility of a student to lead Kundalini Yoga classes, but instead it demonstrates a corruption of personal integrity. This corruption happens gradually. A person practices Kundalini Yoga and experiences something profound. Each time they continue to practice they “tune in” at the beginning of their session. They begin their practice with the chant Ong Namo; Guru Dev Namo, which means I humble myself to the Infinite Creativity; I humble myself to the Angelic Light that dispels all darkness. We who have practiced Kundalini Yoga have been taught that this chant is essential to begin every session. We have also been taught that performing this chant establishes our link to the lineage of Spiritual Teachers that have produced what we are practicing. When leading a Kundalini Yoga session for other students we have been taught that practicing this chant at the beginning is the way to humble ourselves and tune in and become a pure channel for the teachings. If we are experiencing this tuning in, if we are experiencing a humility that produces the insight of what to teach, then this is an extremely profound and valuable thing that needs to be validated above all else. It is the only thing that validates us to teach not from our own egos. If we do not have this experience then it must be questioned why we are sharing something that we do not know to be valid.

IKYTA certification allows the student to avoid the soul searching that is necessary to validate “tuning in”. A person that truly experiences humility when they tune in perceives a shift in themselves that produces a purer channel for the teachings. The second side of the teachings teaches us that a shift of this kind is always a product of humility. A  person that experiences this then understands that what is essential for sharing the teachings as a pure channel is this humility. The second side of the teachings also establishes that those that experience this transformation through humility must live to examplify it as a reality, to be living examples of that purity. Rather than validating that purity, the IKYTA certification discredits it by indicating that there is something more valid, the accreditation that they sell. IKYTA certification is a clear statement by those that participate that what really matters is not the broadening of humility and the purity that “tuning in” produces but being connected by becoming certified.

The process of producing purity through humility is exactly what meditation entails. Meditation requires the development humility so that we can become aware of a deeper purity. We deepen this purity evolves until at a certain point humility produces the experience of the Soul. The Soul is then understood to be the ultimate reality to be used to bring clarification to all things through humility. Utilizing the Soul in this way for clarification is meditation. As a true Spiritual Teacher, Yogi Bhajan understood how competitive posturing disallows us from work together to produce sustainability. He had recognized this as a major corrupter of all religions, the Sikh religion in particular. (His attitudes on this and confrontations of it are the reason the Punjabi Sikhs disliked Yogi Bhajan so much.) Yogi Bhajan decided that the process of producing purity through humility had to be demonstrated as a vital reality in order to validate the Soul and meditation. We either buy into social certification or remain true to something that is more true for us, our own experience of spiritual reality. This is the requirement to become a Spiritual Teacher. This is what the world needs more of, and what fulfills the mission of Yogi Bhajan to produce Spiritual Teachers.

Getting back to guided visualizations, the experience of the Soul is beyond words or images or imaginings. The Soul is the ultimate reality where we understand that all our imaginings are distractions from that purity. Visualizations distract from the experience of reality. Visualizations are not meditation. More distractions are not needed. What is needed is more humility. Humility is the path to meditation.

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

Blogs about Shirley MacLaine and spirituality: New Age Spiritualities, Are We Just Good At Imagining God?, Worldview & Basic Beliefs Review

Blogs about meditation: Simple Breathing and Relaxation Techniques, Devotional Commentary of the 23rd Psalm, “Saving” Christmas, Grace, Mercy and Favor, Improve your Personal Life in Awareness

Blogs about humility: Life’s A Blog & A Symphony, Hwp8j’s Weblog, Possessing the Treasure, Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, Amitabhm’s Blog

Blogs about Kundalini Yoga/IKYTA: Eat Pray Love, Kundalininow’s Blog, What is Kundalini Yoga?, the grateful phoenix, Kundalini Yoga Room, Take a Breather with Kundalini Yoga

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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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The Spirituality of Knowing What We Feel

Posted on November 3, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This is a very intense subject and requires a word of caution. We all have feelings that we have blocked ourselves from being aware of. In order to become more complete these blocked feelings need to become unblocked and the fear, guilt and shame that we associate with those feelings must be redeemed through forgiveness. This is not a light subject, and those that feel terrified at the thought of unleashing pent up emotions please consider waiting until you are ready to proceed. In addition, anyone taking medication for depression MUST continue to take their medication until that requirement is changed by their doctor.

In the intro of his book The Power of Now (pp. 1-2) Eckhart Tolle describes the intensity that he went through as he learned to unlock what he had blocked. It is highly recommended that this be read in order to understand the level of intensity that we are dealing with and also to be familiar with what someone else did that was healing when they found they could no longer block their most intense feelings.

Recent Eckhart Tolle blogs: On Being Yourself, PAIN BODY OR POSSESSION, Witness Self, Words, Climbing ladders vs. building bridges

I read a post yesterday of a piece of prose entitled Cafe News, Volume 2. In its seven brief paragraphs it describes the Hell that we create and maintain for our lives. The piece’s honesty describes internal thoughts and emotions that we all have and have learned to avoid. In fact we have become expert at avoiding them because the survival of our psyche has depended on it. This survival has become our persona, and this piece of prose accurately conveys how we do this to ourselves.

Cafe News, Volume 2: Actually, I don’t even know anymore, what’s true and what’s not.  I don’t even know if I care.  Mostly, I just sit around, wishing for some life other than the one I have.  Wishing something external would change me into what I want to be.

We are sensory beings. We see, we hear, we touch, we feel. We have a sense of everything that is so complex that we cannot fully understand anything. There is always a deeper understanding. We are connected to and part of infinity. We experience infinity as always more complexity because each experience is a part of our experience of the infinite interconnectedness of the Universe. Every experience also contains uniqueness that gives every moment in every life unpredictability. While it is predictable that the Sun will rise in the morning, the exact experience of tomorrow morning is always beyond anyone’s ability to predict. These qualities that every  experience is infinite and beyond our ability to ever fully comprehend it and at the same time unique can be referred to as infinite-creativity/God. We are always in this experience of infinite-creativity/God to the point that we cannot even conceive of ever having the same two exact experiences or meeting the same two people.

This continuous experience of infinite-creativity maintains constant uncertainty, and uncertainty causes us to question ourselves and our connection to everything (Actually, I don’t even know anymore, what’s true and what’s not.). Whatever else life may be it is always an experience of constant uncertainty, and as former two year-olds we have all developed behavior patterns to in some way to control the uncomfortable feelings of our constant uncertainty. When we try to hold onto our control instead of humbling ourselves to expand our concepts it causes us the pain of the Cafe News quote above. We are clinging to a delusional sense of control. At the same time we are aware that this is not working and is in fact causing us unhappiness, yet we resist that awareness because we do not know how to act other than our control pattern so that clinging to our fantasy of control only causes the intensity of the uncertainty to increase. In this way we maintain our ignorance. We ignore that our delusions of control do not work and are the source of our suffering.

If all life is, is a continuum of the unique experience of uncertainty in each moment, there would be no redemption and no such thing as spirituality. This is not the case because within our suffering there is always a delusion that we are holding onto. When we surrender our control of this delusion we are able to consider possibilities beyond those of our delusion, and when we relax our attitude in this way something beyond the outcomes that our delusion of control predicts manifests. (There is always this cause and effect relationship. This is one of the proofs that spirituality exists.) The tension of our uncertainty is therefore constantly teaching us how to recognize our control issues, and experience a reality beyond our delusions. This is the path of our redemption. It doesn’t matter what religion we belong to we must all redeem our delusions.

Notice that in Cafe News, Volume 2 the dissatisfaction that is felt indicates what is causing the suffering. Mostly, I just sit around, wishing for some life other than the one I have.  Wishing something external would change me into what I want to be. . . . I always told myself I was a cut above the rest.  Unfortunately, this is true.  I am clearly capable of achieving absolutely exceptional examples of self-deception. We know when we are deceiving ourselves we even know how we are doing it. We always feel it. We try to avoid our feelings of self-deception but this only causes our suffering to intensify because it is only more self-deception, and we know it. Even our attempts at self-honesty are deceptive: Basically, I’ve come to realize I’m full of shit. Rather than using this honesty to redeem ourselves we find a way to diminish it and sustain what we are ignoring: Not that it matters, because everyone is.

We feel all of this because we have awareness of all of this. We have feelings of how we are maintaining our state of self-deception in every moment. This awareness of our self-deception is something that we are always aware of even in our dreams at night as Cafe News describes so eloquently. Correspondingly, we always know when we are being honest with ourselves. Always. Just as our self-deception happens incrementally, builds on itself, and becomes habitual, self-honesty can grow from the seemingly insignificant honesty of identifying what we feel (How we deepen what we know is true). In this state of honesty we can then also identify what our reaction to what we are feeling is, what our preconception is about that feeling, and then evaluate the validity of our reactions and preconceptions. This is all included in what Eckhart Tolle relates [The Power of Now (pp. 1-2)].

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).

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

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Spiritual Conflict Resolution

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the weekend I heard part of a Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross of David Rohde (broadcast, transcript) on NPR  that was rebroadcast from last Tuesday. David Rohde is a NYT reporter that was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held for 7 months before he escaped (blogs about: Politics, Religion, and Family, Suz says: Read This, Therearenosunglasses, Open Doors, Loosen Chains, Stranger’s Words, What Motivates the Taliban, Sylvia’s Journal, David Rohde’s series on being held by the Taliban, Held by the Taliban). Things I found remarkable about his story were how well he was treated by his captors, and the discussions that he had with them.

At the end of the Fresh Air interview Terry Gross asked Rohde about how to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan:

‘GROSS: My impression is that you don’t like to give opinions about policy. You want to report of not being an opinion person. But I am wondering how this experience changed your sense of what’s going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what the U.S. might do – I mean, and what the U.S. can do and what maybe it can’t do.

Mr. ROHDE: I think the vital thing remains to empower moderate Afghans and Pakistanis to confront this threat. I mean, Americans can’t solve these problems. We also can’t just sort of walk away from the region. One of the main things that shouldn’t happen, I think – I mean, is to -you know, the United States and moderate Muslims cannot sort of cede Islam to the Taliban. I mean, the Islam they practiced that I saw, you know, is a just completely distorted version of the religion. And they shouldn’t be allowed to sort of portray themselves as the true defenders of that faith.

I mean, constant statements and reactions I had from Afghan and Pakistani friends was we’re so sorry you were kidnapped. You know, kidnapping civilians, you know, and sending suicide bombers into mosques, you know, that is not jihad. That is not Islam. And so it’s vital to sort of, you know, for the United States to remain committed in the region, but to let, you know, Afghans and Pakistanis to take the lead in confronting this problem politically and militarily and in other ways. And another big take away was the sense that corruption is just a cancer on particularly the Afghan government, but also the Pakistani government.

The Taliban sort of promise rule of law and a lack of corruption among local police and officials, and that’s, in a sense, why they’re popular in some areas. I think average Afghans just want for stability and an effective government, and whoever produces that, in the sense, will win their loyalties. And again, I – there is a base. A vast majority of Afghans and Pakistanis are moderates. It’s not too late to stabilize both countries, but it is going to take time. And I – you know, I think a tremendous amount of training and support to the Afghans, who – and Pakistanis who so desperately oppose the Taliban, as well.’

This is a very valid and important concept that demonstrates the spiritual approach to conflict resolution.

I was once conducting interviews and collecting footage for a documentary (that I never finished) to compare religious and spiritual concepts and perceptions. Actually that is not really honest. What I was really trying to do with the documentary was to expose how beliefs are too rigid and inflexible to be wide enough and open enough to include the spirituality of the interconnected Universe. At this time I attended a press conference that the Dalai Lama gave. (blogs about the Dalai Lama: Nonduality blog, Burma Review, Culture Broker’s Musings, A critique of Vipassana Meditation as taught by Mr S N Goenka, Violence and Fearlessness, Losing my religion, China censors beyond its borders) Rather than speaking about any political agenda that he might have, the Dalai Lama took it as an opportunity to speak to the press about the way that news is presented and broadcast in our time. He tried to teach the assembled press how to cover the news more spiritually. He said it was understandable that when some shocking event takes place that the press needs to report it but they also need to report the motivation for the shocking behavior so that there can be understanding. He said that it was this understanding is what is needed to develop the correct response to the shocking behavior. Since it is the motivation that causes the shocking behavior, that behavior cannot be controlled until what motivated it has been addressed. He pointed out that there is a lack of media coverage of the motivation behind shocking behavior, and this deprived the general public from developing needed understanding. He also made it quite clear that profit driven news cycles that only go from one shocking event to the next without ever reporting on motivation created a public appetite for this kind of stimulation that actually prevents the understanding necessary to actually resolve conflict from ever developing. The Dalai Lama gave that press conference in the early 90’s, before suicide bombers and 9/11.

When what motivates a conflict is not understood the conflict cannot be resolved. Conflicts that are not resolved worsen until the issues behind the conflict are dealt with.

When the motivations of the support of the Taliban that David Rohde articulates are examined, it is clear that some of these motivations are based on misconceptions and a lack of understanding. The obvious question is how can the misunderstanding be addressed. Mr. Rohde gives at least part of that answer in his response to Terri Gross. He points out that much of the misunderstanding that exists within the forces that support the Taliban is based on religious misinterpretations of the spiritual teaching of Islam. Although he does not make the point in this interview Mr. Rohde alludes to the fact that because folks that hold extreme religious points of view interpret everything in terms of their own religious framework it is not possible for those outside those religious beliefs to address them. A religious extremist that is Christian interprets information in the context of their Christian beliefs. A Muslim religious extremist does the same thing. When we interpret information only in our religious terms it becomes easier to marginalize those that do not share our religious views.

This is the reason that religious extremists do not listen to those who are outside their religions. Religious extremism puts everything into religious context and anyone that does not understand that context and is unable to speak in that understanding is marginalized as not important enough for their opinion to matter. A Christian that believes that abortion is murder and therefore condones the murder of doctors that perform abortions has a religious framework of thought that is used to justify the murder of these doctors. In order to alter this justification it is necessary to communicate in the terms of the framework of the Christian belief. Only people that practice the same religion can speak to spiritual misinterpretations within a religion. Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu can speak to a lack of Christian spirituality in Christian religious extremism and have a validity that those who are not Christian or religious cannot.

(blogs about Jimmy Carter: Hey The South, Come Join The Rest Of Us In 2009, Voting and Christian Citizenship, Listen to your Elders, O Solo Mama, Patrick Buchanan is an Idiot-Part 2, )

(recent blogs about Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Either/Or, Freemuse, All Saints, MCC Church, Aung San Suu Kyi, What is wrong with the church?, The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship Program)

In dealing with religious extremism and violence the value of validating what more spiritually oriented members of religions have to say has been overlooked. David Rohde says there is a need for these religious moderates to take the lead in confronting religious extremism in their own religions. I point out that among those that are called moderates are people that have a more developed spiritual concept of religion. I feel it is a spiritual duty to confront the spiritual corruption of the religions that we participate in for if those who have spiritual insight do not confront religious extremism in our own religions, no one else can and continued escalation of violence is inevitable.

Just as  vocal Americans are demonstrating that the views of extremists like Rush Limbaugh (Sarah Palin says, “Twick or Tweat”, The Problem, As I See It, Limbaugh Plays Politics With War Dead) and Dick Cheney (Telling Dick Cheney to Shut the Hell Up, Cheney Displays All the Integrity of a Gutter Rat, Build your bunker) are not the true voice of America. It is possible to combat the violence that is justified within religious extremism by increasing the scope of those who speak from those religions with a deeper spiritual understanding.

The interconnectedness of all things is real. Conflict resolution begins from within. It cannot be forced from an exterior source because there is no outside force that is greater than that which connects us. To deny this connection with each other is therefore a self-destructive act because when we deny our connection with each other we are ultimately denying a part of ourselves. Expanding the awareness of our interconnectedness is the key to dealing with our self-destructive tendencies. Using more moderate spiritual voices to address those of  religious extremism within the same religion is an example of how to promote change from within.

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

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Spirituality, Equality Among Elitists

Posted on October 29, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I was reading articles and blogs today about the 350 organization and the International Day of Climate Action (Blackinkproject, Husky Soul, je vais ou?, Green Drinks Singapore, 350now’s blog, ecosociety, Art Action Union, Live What You Believe). I was encouraged by the displays of creativity and organizational skill needed to pull off last Saturday’s events. These are truly strengths that need to be built upon in order to deal with global climate change. The combined activities of the day were clearly an attempt to produce media coverage in order to generate political pressure for the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen. I question whether this approach will have the desired effect because focusing on creating political pressure for the summit is not an approach that causes the billions of people living on the planet to take personal responsibility.

In spirituality being interconnected with All means that we are part of any problem that comes up, and in order for us to resolve that problem we must first take personal responsibility for our own contribution to that problem, and change our own behavior. While some, including myself, might argue that there is a spiritual component to every problem, we can all probably agree that if a problem has a spiritual cause it cannot be resolved except with a spiritual solution. Global climate change is a perfect example of this in practical terms because human exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources is the cause, which is ultimately has a spiritual cause. This spiritual problem can only be resolved by the billions of humans becoming more spiritually responsible personally in relation to the environment.

Exploitation of anything, whether it be another human being, a social weakness, a workforce,  or the environment, has some mindset that justifies that exploitation. This is because when we have a mindset that justifies exploitation it comes from our elitist thought process. We all have elitist thought processes. Have you ever met a two year old that was not self-centered? During the formative years of our thinking process we were all self-centered. We had to be to survive. It was necessary for us to learn to clamor for the attention that we needed and this laid the framework for us all to have self-centered thought processes. We all developed our communication skills in this way. All of our personal preferences come from this. All cultural bias is based on this and it has elitism at its core because when we express our wants a part of ourselves does not care about the cost of what we want to others. This is elitism when we put our desires above the cost of those desires to others because it means that what we want is more valuable than what others want and that we are more valuable than those others. As long as the elitist mindset that justifies the exploitation is not dealt with directly it persists, the problem remains unresolved, and most usually intensifies.

Equality on the other hand is contrary to elitism. Equality is a spiritual understanding that comes from spiritual experiences that convey that everything is interconnected, that there is oneness in all things. The spiritual concept of equality is that in order for there to be peace,  justice, and happiness it is a requirement to first put equality above elitist tendencies. Equality is based on the understanding that we can never be truly happy without recognizing the spiritual presence within all others as equal to our own.

What is lacking in environmental efforts like those demonstrated Saturday by the 350 Organization is that they try to produce change by pressuring governments and politicians to make it happen. There is a lack of emphasis on taking personal responsibility. The thought is that if we can get a treaty signed, if we can get political leaders to agree to certain goals it will get the ball rolling. This is not the way that spirituality works. At some point we all need to develop more sustainable ways of living. Politician cannot connive a way to make this happen by signing treaties and passing laws when it is how we make our choices that is the problem. We all contribute to making that problem worse. There is no solution possible until majorities of our populations change how we make these choices in self-centered ways. When the people do this politicians will follow.

Consider the unsustainability of consuming meat at the rate that humanity is drastically increasing. “The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation (Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler, NYT).”   Getting political leaders to sign an agreement in Copenhagen is not going to get people to change how they choose to eat. Are people willing to change their eating habits for the betterment of the environment? Not if they can delude themselves into thinking that governments are going to work everything out. Spiritually we do not change as long as we can cling to our delusions. The political show that accompanies any agreement that the conference produces will only shift attention away from people taking personal responsibility. As long as it is perceived that the governments of the world are taking care of the problem there will be less likelihood of mass populations significantly changing their personal behavior. We have a spiritual problem. We are avoiding taking personal responsibility for the impact our personal choices are having on the environment. Anything that makes us feel comfortable in that avoidance is enabling our avoidance so that we do not have to become responsible. At the root of these environmental issues is our spiritually lacking elitism. There is no way to resolve this spiritual problem without facing our own contribution to the problem and focusing on conferences like the one in Copenhagen become a distraction from developing the responsibility that is needed.

This is an alternative: Continue to stage events like those on the International Day of Climate Action, but request that the participants make a personal commitment to not eat meat grown on a factory farm, or buy any products that contributes to the destruction of rain forest, or commit in some other way to change their personal behavior in a meaningful way for the environment. Having participants of these events commit to changing how they live would convey the message that “I am willing to sacrifice my personal desires in order to resolve this problem.” It would also communicate what is really necessary to anyone that attends or hears about the event. People who live up to a commitment of personal change will have a much deeper impact on others including political leaders. It is what is necessary to produce a sense of solidarity in the environmental movement. Advertisement of these commitments opens up much more potent ways of initiating change than waiting for politicians to come to an agreement.

This is a good example of how spirituality and the interconnectedness of all things is something tangible, how the interconnectedness of all things is real because ignoring that interconnectedness produces a spiritual problem that can only be resolved by honoring the interconnectedness. It demonstrates that ignoring our interconnectedness is unsustainable because when we put our own personal desires ahead of spiritual equality nothing resolves the resulting problems before we start taking responsibility for our own actions. The reality is that ignoring interconnectedness is always unsustainable and always requires a realignment of our priorities in order to become sustainable.

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

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The student vs. the entourage

Posted on October 28, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works |

Every student of a Spiritual Teacher wants to be part of the entourage of that Teacher. This is the crux of the problem of longing to belong. In every student’s longing to be cherished by their Teacher and become part of the entourage of the Teacher are the seeds of the spiritual corruption of the student because the student wants to be cherished above all others. Each student wants to be more important to the Teacher than all other students. In the mind of each student, they are more important than all other students. The entourage of the Teacher reflects this because the students that make up the entourage of the Teacher are the ones that learn to be adept at self-serving self-promotion.

Yogi Bhajan recognized this as one of the core problems that have corrupted spiritual lineages for centuries. It is all throughout the history of the Sikh masters how those that were closest to them were corrupt and unsteady. Whole religions are based on personal attachment to the founder of the religion rather than on personal spiritual development so that whole religions with millions and millions of members become huge manifestations of this entourage mentality.

Yogi Bhajan concluded that in order for humanity to really understand the internal process of spiritual awakening there needed to be a clear example of the spiritual corruption of our entourage mentality. Yogi Bhajan established three very clear examples the first of which was the ordaining of Sikh Ministers. Traditionally in the Sikh religion there are no ministers. There is Khalsa, and each Khalsa is a son or daughter of Guru Gobind Singh. Nothing further is required spiritually. When Yogi Bhajan began teaching in the US however, certain institutions required proof and authority to allow, for example, a person to perform marriages, or funerals. In the Sikh tradition these ceremonies occur as a function of the congregation. Yogi Bhajan used the cultural difference that existed in the US as a way to demonstrate that ordaining ministers does not produce more spiritual students. The ordained ministers of Sikh Dharma are not more spiritually advanced than any other Khalsa. In order to make this point understandable Yogi Bhajan made only two requirements to become ordained as a Sikh minister. It was required to have been baptized as Khalsa, and it was necessary to be recommended to be ordained as a Sikh minister by someone that was already ordained. This is where the entourage mentality took over, as Yogi Bhajan knew it would.

You see any person that became ordained as a Sikh minister (even though it was always apparent that being ordained in this way meant virtually nothing) wanted to stand out and appear to be important by way of their ordination. They therefore did not want every person that became baptized as Khalsa to become recognized as a minister of the Sikh religion, although that is what it means when one becomes Khalsa. This meant that once a person was ordained as a Sikh minister they did not recommend others . . . unless. Unless those others pandered to some ordained Sikh minister for that recommendation. The Sikh ministers are therefore folks that pandered others for their own self promotion to make themselves seem more important than the other students. This is a perfect example of the spiritual corruption produced by the entourage mentality.

The second thing that Yogi Bhajan did was to make members of the Sikh ministers more distinguished than the other ministers with the Mukhia designation, creating even more bogus hierarchy. Where there is Khalsa there is equality and no other status or distinction and this is apparent in the fact that no person that was given the Mukhia designation is any more spiritual than any other Khalsa.

The third thing that Yogi Bhajan did to demonstrate the false self-importance within the entourage mentality was the establishment of the Khalsa Council. The first requirement to be a member is that a person must be an ordained Sikh minister. The Khalsa Council got to meet in special sessions with Yogi Bhajan personally each year and it was a continual source of self-promotion for those that wanted to be included. The Khalsa Council was a farce that Yogi Bhajan perpetrated in order to expose the entourage complex within students. The Khalsa Council never had any power to make decisions. It could only make recommendations to the staff of the Siri Singh Sahib. In true Sikh tradition any five Khalsa can make decisions that have the full authority of everything sacred. There is nothing beyond it.

I think Yogi Bhajan must have gotten a good chuckle over these students that had elbowed and connived their way onto the Khalsa Council only to be unable to have any authority to make a decision when that authority was already theirs whenever they were willing to humble themselves and work with other Khalsas.

Finally Yogi Bhajan allowed the Kundalini Yoga Teachers Certification to happen as a way to demonstrate to all students how we buy into a bogus structure in order to feel included and turn spirituality into a religion in the process.

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

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How We Deepen What We Know Is True, the Second Side of the Teachings

Posted on October 24, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I read about Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion yesterday, along with her becoming outspoken against the traditional definitions for God. I then visited blogs that were discussing these things and decided to make this post as part of that discussion. This contribution to that discussion is from a the perspective of someone that has followed a specific Spiritual Teacher and so the response reflects that association. This does not mean that I presume that my Spiritual Teacher has the market cornered on enlightenment. I do not. In fact I feel that I have identified several Enlightened Masters alive at this time from different lineages, and refer to them as Spiritual Teachers. It is my impression that there is very little respect today for Spiritual Teachers which is a tremendous loss if those teachings have validity. This response is therefore an attempt to expand on the thoughts that Karen Armstrong puts forth from the perspective of the lineages that produce Enlightenment. Any validity in this response comes from the validity of the teachings of those lineages.

The blogs that I visited were: In Good Faith, Learn English with Turgay Evern, This Tumbleweed Life, by Hibernopithecus, Insight, Rethorykal Questions, Find and Ye Shall Seek, Prometheus Unbound, Slow Muse, March Fourth Blog, Run Motherfucker Run, Marmalade, Randall Butisingh’s Weblog, Empowered Thoughts

We deal with questions that do not have specific answers all the time. Questions like:

Is there God, and if so what is God?

What is compassion?

What is love?

This list could go on and on. Just because there is no specific answer to questions like these does not mean that no answer exists. The difference here is that while there is no answer for these question from any source outside of ourselves, we do have the ability to produce an answer from our own understanding through direct experience. Questions like these cannot be satisfactorily answered by sources outside of ourselves because the answers that we seek are experiential. No book or explanation can convey an experience such as what it is like to become a parent, or ride a bicycle. The experience is the only way to these understandings, and even then each individual’s experience will be unique. Karen Armstrong’s argument that a finite mind cannot ever conceive infinity and therefore God is correct, but this does not mean that we have no experience of infinity or God. It means that our understanding of that experience will always be less than the full understanding.

This is the reason that Spiritual Teachers have always relied on spiritual practices to teach students. The words of the Teacher are not enough to convey the understanding that is necessary for the students to achieve enlightenment, there must also be the personal experience that is acquired through the spiritual practice.  This is still not the full answer however, if it were all students that performing spiritual practices would become enlightened. Simply performing spiritual practices is also not enough. There is more. In order to understand what is needed from the spiritual practice honesty is required. Deepening spiritual understanding requires a deepening of our honesty. This is reflected when we meet a Spiritual Teacher. What we understand when we meet the Spiritual Teacher is that they have developed much deeper honesty with themselves. If we recognize that honesty we recognize the person as a Spiritual Teacher.

How to develop this internal honesty through spiritual practice has been called the second side of the teachings, and has traditionally only been taught in the silence. The rigidity of this tradition has had the effect that the vast majority of students of any Spiritual Teacher do not learn the second side of the teachings. The result is that these students that do not learn for themselves and become dependent upon relying on spiritual practices and their relationship to the Spiritual Teacher. When this occurs we notice that something essential is missing in religious practices and rituals, and that reliance on the divinity of the founder of the religion is stressed more than the pursuit of an ever deepening spiritual understanding, and way of relating to others. This has become an ever worsening problem as belief systems that run contrary to the original teachings have been constructed based on limited understanding of the original teachings and used to justify subjugating others, genocide, and even justify the extermination of humankind.

In order to teach this second side of the teachings openly so that a greater number of students can develop a structure had to be developed. One Spiritual Teacher to dedicate his life to doing so was Yogi Bhajan. His structure for learning the second side of the teachings was given the name Sat Nam Rasayan. which means healing through the true identity. The appropriateness of this name is apparent in the healing that is experienced whenever the internal honesty is further developed in some meaningful way.

The second side of the teachings, the structure of Sat Nam Rasayan, is built on very simple experiences that we all have of being honest with ourselves. The significance is that this means that all spiritual development is built on this. The first of these experiential awarenesses is that all we know is what we feel.

When I first started learning Sat Nam Rasayan this seemed to me to be too simplistic to have much significance, but it proved important on at least two levels. First because I was critically assessing what was being taught, I was intent on finding something to argue with, and the assertion that all I knew was simply a result of what I felt passed my critical assessment. Secondly in order to learn to re-evaluate my perceptions there needed to be a way to establish a shift in normal perception in order to make learning possible.

The assertion that all we know is what we feel may seem overly simplistic but it conveys that we can always identify what we feel if we are honest enough, and that everything that we think of as our understanding is ultimately experiential.  On the other hand, consider that we have feelings (many of which that we may not understand but do have none the less) about everything. There is no thought or idea or concept that can be presented to us that we do not have a feeling response to. This does not imply that the way that we interpret our feelings is correct. On the contrary, we normally delude ourselves into believing that what we feel we want is most important. The process of how we untangle our self-delusion about what we feel requires us to develop deeper personal honesty and is the structure of the second side of the teachings, Sat Nam Rasayan.

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

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