Spiritual Teachers

The Shift From Religious to Spiritual is Happening Too Slowly

Posted on November 10, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the weekend I was involved in several diverse and lengthy discussions about the needed shift from religious to spiritual (Shifting trom Religious to Spiritual). During these discussions there were two themes that had general agreement. The first was that this shift is imperative because the lack of this shift is producing severe threats that are imminent to humanity and even the environment of life on our planet. The second was that making the necessary shift is very difficult to do and is happening much too slowly to address the dire problems that we face. Everybody in these discussions agreed on these main issues. I am happy to establish why these points are true and to deal with disagreement to them in the comments section. This post will address the question of how to effect this change more quickly.

Change comes from within. When change is attempted only externally it does not work. This is why dealing with global climate change is so difficult to deal with. It requires us to each change how we relate to ourselves and the way we each live our lives. It requires us each to change to become more ethical in our own lives when it is easier not to do the right thing. This requires internal change. When this problem is approached with from an external solution point of view it is not even clear what to do to solve the problem. There are some general ideas, maybe even some general agreement on a good day, but no clear path out of the mess. This paradigm can be applied to any of the imminent problems facing humanity. This is because the solutions that are proposed for these problems attempt to impose change from outside on the problem, rather than approaching the issue as needing deeper spiritual responsibility and development from within. These exterior solutions have the effect of medicating the symptoms of the problems but never getting to or dealing with the root of the problem.

Blogs about global climate change: Top 10 worst effects of global warming, Vancouver Unitarians for Climate Change, Eating and Climate Change, Pachauri claims Indian scientific position arrogant, A World War II-Scale Effort

The war in Afghanistan is a prime example of how solutions that are imposed from outside do not fix the problems within. There are huge problems with the way that the folks within Afghanistan have in dealing with each other involving everything from violence to corruption. Until those issues are dealt with by them, no solution that is applied from an exterior source will work. Where they are not taking responsibility for their own problems no outside aid or force will work. David Rohde is very articulate on this topic also (Spiritual Conflict Resolution).

Blogs about David Rohde: A war reporter’s story, One Journalist’s Capture and Escape from the Taliban, An Element of Danger, A Taliban haven inside Pakistan?, Are we there yet?

How to develop the spiritual growth needed in these cases is the realm of expertise of Spiritual Teachers. Spiritual Teachers are those rare individuals among us that have learned to address their own internal corruption and manipulative behaviors and understand that serving this spiritual growth in others is the path of their lives. In this day and age Spiritual Teachers tend to be objects of suspicion and mistrust. This is because  no distinction is made between them and religious leaders and they are therefore considered to be as corrupt as their religious counterparts. The big distinction betwen the two is that the job of a Spiritual Teacher is to take the student to the point of spiritual independence while the religious leader is continually tries to increase their own authority and that of their religion. While Spiritual Teachers can be affiliated with a religion, they recognize that religion is just a vehicle to present spirituality. The Spiritual Teacher’s responsibility is to the development of spiritual understanding and not to the religious participation of the students.

Another misconception is that Spiritual Teachers are considered to have lived long ago and are not thought to be around today. Religions revere Spiritual Teachers like Moses, Buddha, Yeshua (Jesus), the Prophet Mohammad, and the Sikh Gurus religiously and mostly ignore the presence of Spiritual Teachers in our own time. To confuse things even worse, posers promote themselves as Spiritual Teachers which makes it seems as if true Spiritual Teachers are the same as these posers. They are not.

What makes Spiritual Teachers so vital for us at this time is that they alone have the understanding of the spiritual changes that we each need to go through individually, and teaching others who are then capable of teaching others is the only feasible way to multiply the numbers needed to have sufficient impact on our most serious problems.

In order to help validate that real Spiritual Teachers are with us today there is a page on this blog entitled “How I Met My Teacher” that contains real life experiences of people meeting Spiritual Teachers. This page is for everyone to post in the comment box their own story of how they recognized their Teacher as a Spiritual Master. It is also OK to challenge the validity of these experiences and the Spiritual Teachers associated with them in the spirit of investigating and actually defining what a Spiritual Teacher really is and is not.

Spiritual Teachers that I have personally identified in this lifetime are:

Yogi Bhajan

blogs: Kundalini Connection, Kundalininow’s Blog, Who is Yogi Bhajan?, Recipe by Yogi Bhajan, Be the Lighthouse

Sant Guru Dev Singh

blogs: Sat Nam Rasayan Canada, Guru Dev is in Town!, Healing and Shuniya,

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

blogs: Tibetreport’s Blog, The most important thing we can do, Chinese angry on India, Pay it Forward, The Buddhist Tradition, Khamerlogue

Thich Nhat Hanh

blogs: On Technology as the Solution, Meditations on Anger, my time?, Crossing A Channel, A Gift of Dharma for 11.9.09

Preah Maha Ghosananda

blogs: The Gods Drink Whiskey, Making Peace, The rising of the light, Democratic Peace

Eckhart Tolle

blogs: JasonGarcia’s Blog, I smoke, Christianity vs. Islam, I Totally Blame Eckhart Tolle

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Shifting from Religious to Spiritual, the Need for Spiritual Teachers

Posted on October 27, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Humanity needs to shift its perception of itself and how it relates to the world it lives in on all levels. This tremendous shift requires a change in core beliefs. This shift can best be described as a change from religious to spiritual in the general way that humanity relates, shifting from believing and relating to the world religiously to relating to it spiritually. Religions produce folks that think that the religion that they practice is the best and  the only true one. These bi-products of religious belief produce attitudes of the practitioners that they are somehow more special than those not of their religion. Borrowing an idea from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a religious person in the US (for example) could be described as believing that all Americans are equal but that those that practice the same religion as they do are more equal than others. It is a way of spouting equality while acting otherwise. The religious bias of inequality is a main part of the thinking that justifies exploitation, oppression and violence against others. A similar correlation can be explored about the way that attitudes of entitlement and elitism relating to natural resources have to be shifted in order to make human existence on this planet sustainable. (The effects of prejudicial religious attitudes seem so obvious that I am not going into the specifics necessary to make a formal argument. If this is too general please post a question or argument and we can discuss it further.) Thinking that is fundamentally biased in this way makes the future of humanity unsustainable and must be shifted.

One major obstacle to making this shift is the lack of understanding of what spirituality is. Spirituality is not a belief system. Spirituality is based on experience of connectedness that produces consistent specific results. It is not enough to simply believe that all things are interconnected, there must be consistent experiences of this interconnectedness that can be examined and explored. This element of validation is a required element in all aspects of spirituality. Going back to the Karen Armstrong discussion of the need for a shift in the perception of God, simply replacing the religious belief based image of God with a spiritual one is not enough. For the spiritual concept of God to have validity there must be some direct experience that one can use as the basis for that understanding (Blogs visited: 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).

There are those that understand this because they have not only had these experiences themselves, but they have an understanding of the what is required to to establish that experience. These people are Spiritual Teachers. Spiritual Teachers are the key ingredient that humanity needs to make the shift from religious to spiritual because they know the reality of spirituality through spiritual experience. One great example of this is the  common concept of compassion compared to that concept presented by a Spiritual Teacher. People frequently refer to compassion, but when asked what compassion is specifically the definition becomes very vague. Compare this with what the Buddhist Spiritual Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (blogs: Danny Fisher, 108ZenBooks, RBO, Enlightened Horsemanship, the loveART blog, Feeling Up In Down Times) teaches: that compassion only comes from understanding. This indicates that both understanding and compassion are specific direct experiences, and it implies that compassion is always a predictable result of increased understanding.

Along this same line, the Spiritual Teacher Eckhart Tolle (blogs: Tao of Now, Sweet in the Middle, Eckhart Tolle: Uncut Interview, Evolutionary_Mystic’s Blog, Award Winning Books, Online Inspirations ) has a book, The Power of Now, that gives specific definitions for words that are used vaguely before they are understood through direct spiritual experience. The book even includes his vivid firsthand account of the most basic of spiritual experiences.

Another example is in the way that the Spiritual Teacher the 14th Dalai Lama (blogs: Paderborner ‘SJ’ Web Blog, Dare to Bare, Sojourn to the Past, inklake, BreakLines, Pakistanpal’s Blog, In Good Faith) answered the question of what is the best religion. He said that he meets many people and if they have a warm heart it doesn’t matter what religion they are, and if they don’t have a warm heart it doesn’t matter what religion they are.

I once met the Spiritual Teacher, the Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism from Cambodia, Maha Ghosananda (blogs: CHANROEUN, Making Peace, Ruby Ramblings, Democratic Peace Blog, Skip Schiel, Church of Skippy) and asked him what Dharma is. He began telling me the textbook definition of the eightfold path. I rudely interrupted him to explain that I understood the general theory but I wanted to know how one knows what is the right thing to do in life when one is actively practicing Dharma. How do we know when to do more and when we are to back off, etc. He genuinely smiled and held up three fingers. He said, “Here, Now, This. When you are here, be only here. When it is now, be only now, and when you do this, do only this.” I said “So if I practice this I will always know what to do?” and he exclaimed, “Precisely! and when I do not I only make mistakes.”

These are all examples of Spiritual Teachers teaching from direct experience, and validating direct experience over religious belief. When the Enlightenment of these individuals and the Sikh Spiritual Teachers that I have mentioned in previous posts, Yogi Bhajan and Sant Guru Dev Singh, is investigated and examined it is found that they all were students of Spiritual Teachers themselves first. There are notions that spirituality can be learned without a Spiritual Teacher, or that it can be learned from a book. The notion that Enlightenment can be achieved without a Spiritual Teacher is simply a way to avoid the reality of what is truly necessary. The intimacy with which we delude ourselves makes Enlightenment without a Spiritual Teacher an impossibility today more than ever. The reason it is more impossible now than in the past to achieve Enlightenment without a Spiritual Teacher is that technology is so available now to divert attention from dealing with harsh truths and cater to our self serving tendencies. This is the role of a Spiritual Teacher, to show the path, to know the requirements, and to confront the cheating along the way. No one learns without this level of involvement with a Spiritual Teacher.

My Spiritual Teacher, Yogi Bhajan (blogs: Kundalini Yoga I Am, Kundalininow’s Blog, Har-Prakash Khalsa, Catalyst Yogi, Spirit Voyage, Sosieji’s Weblog), considered what is referred to as the New Age as the time when the shift from religious to spiritual will occur and that this can only occur through a newfound discovery of the validity of Spiritual Teachers. Yogi Bhajan was very clear that the defining purpose of his life was to create Spiritual Teachers to facilitate that shift. He was also a pragmatist. He established the structure for the second side of the teachings, Sat Nam Rasayan (blogs: Darsana Wellness, Healing with Lea, Be the Lighthouse ). He made sure that this was established in an open way so that students from any Spiritual Teacher can learn to understand the inner teachings of their own lineages. At the same time Yogi Bhajan was also aware that the vast majority of his own students had made their reverence of him paramount and had come to rely on that relationship in such a way that made learning the second side of the teachings virtually impossible. He allowed this to happen deliberately.

It presented itself to do this because while it is necessary to develop the strength of commitment required to  have a Spiritual Teacher in order for a student to fully face and resolve their self-centered delusions, the student must also get beyond their Spiritual Teacher and learn to exclusively rely on the Spiritual Teacher that lies within. Yogi Bhajan chose his own students to be examples of how this is not achieved when he allowed them to instigate the IKYTA certification. Allowing this stands as a clear example of how the teachings of a Spiritual Teacher become subverted into a religion by over-relying on the Spiritual Teacher and making the godliness of the Spiritual Teacher and the relationship to that Teacher more significant than the teachings that produce the experience of spirituality. In order for there to be a monumental shift from religious to spiritual there needed to be a very clear example of the pitfall of deifying a Spiritual Teacher which is the basis for all religions. Yogi Bhajan allowed his own students to be that example so that humanity could make a permanent shift from religious to spiritual.

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

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The Healing of Sat Nam Rasayan combined with Kundalini Yoga

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If it is true that Sat Nam Rasayan is the ‘second side’ of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, the obvious question is what happens when these teachings are combined, and Kundalini Yoga is practiced using Sat Nam Rasayan. After I started learning Sat Nam Rasayan from Sant Guru Dev Singh I began doing my daily yoga practice by applying Sat Nam Rasayan to the yoga I was practicing. The next time I saw Santji I sheepishly admitted to him that I was doing this. I expected that he would tell me that this was improper. Instead what he said was that this was the way to master Kundalini Yoga.

In order to understand how this works it is important to comprehend that whenever yoga is practiced there is a healing that is being precipitated through the practice. The ultimate healing being the unification of the mind, body and spirit producing the recognition of the experience of the soul, which is what the word yoga means and refers to. On the other hand those that practice Sat Nam Rasayan need to understand that all we ever do in Sat Nam Rasayan is heal ourselves in relation to others. In Sat Nam Rasayan we do not decide what healing will occur. What we do is become aware of what is not balanced, and heal ourselves in relation to it. In doing this, because we are interconnected through the Oneness of All, our healing of ourselves in relation to another produces a healing in the other. This of course is absolutely miraculous and is even referred to as the miracle of Guru Ram Das.

The first time I met Sant Guru Dev Singh was in Houston in Sept.-Oct. 1987. He had been invited there by a Krishna Kaur and Tej Kaur to do healing work. At this time I had a broken rib that was causing me major discomfort because I could not lie down. When I would lie down the broken rib would produce so much pain that I could not take a breath. I was sleeping each night sitting up in a chair because of this. This isn’t so bad for 45 minutes, but it gets uncomfortable when one tries to sleep all night sitting up, especially when there is searing pain every time one has to move to adjust position. So I was not sleeping so much as dozing every night, and I was also in a foul mood. During this time I was walking down the sidewalk in front of the Houston Ashram one afternoon and looked up to see Sant Guru Dev Singh standing obviously waiting for some one to pick him up. Even though I had never met him I had seen him before, and so I knew who he was. As I approached him I thought to myself, “A healer! I’d like to see him heal something real like a broken rib.” When I spoke to him what I said was that I had a very painful broken rib, that I was very good at yoga, and I wondered if he knew of anything I could do to adjust the break. Something like that. He told me to inhale deep. When I did it caused the searing pain and my hand went to where the break was. It could be palpated quite distinctly. He then told me to turn my back to him. He then felt along my spine to a spot adjacent to the break that was very tender. He then pressed his index finger into this tender spot along my spine. The pain was immediate, but he was relentless. I did my best to relax into it and as I did he continually increased the pressure. When he stopped he told me to take another deep breath. This time there was absolutely no pain. My hand once again went to palpate the injury. I could no longer feel any break in the rib. My broken rib was completely healed. I was astounded. I asked him how he did that and his response was, “It wasn’t big.”

This was definitely a miracle, and it is an example of the miraculous power of Sat Nam Rasayan. It would naturally be assumed that after experiencing such a miracle that I would dedicate myself to learning Sat Nam Rasayan.  That assumption would be incorrect. I considered myself one of the best yoga students of Yogi Bhajan. Sant Guru Dev Singh was overweight. In addition he was from Mexico, and I had been raised by parents that saw people from Mexico as inferiors who did migrant agricultural work. I had some of my parents prejudices, and they kept me from humbling myself enough to learn Sat Nam Rasayan from Sant Guru Dev Singh.

Until

Summer Solstice 1993 which was the first time that I attended one of Sant Guru Dev Singhs classes. I still thought that I knew as much about yoga as he did and that I was at least as good a student of Yogi Bhajan’s as he was. My thought was that Santji must know some trick that enabled him to heal my rib. I reasoned that I would attend his class and be able to figure out what that trick was. When the class started he gave us the instruction to pair up with a partner. I looked around to find one of his best students so that perhaps I could pick their brains to learn what I wanted. Instead I ended up with a woman that clearly looked as if she had done too many drugs in her youth and did not have any understanding of Sat Nam Rasayan. During the class Santji had us alternate roles with our partners between healer and patient. The first time I was the patient I fell into the most peaceful sleep, deep and sound. When I woke I considered that something powerful had taken place but discarded that idea. I told myself that it was Summer Solstice and that I was simply tired from all the activities and had fallen asleep. The next time I was the patient Santji instructed the patients to choose something that we wanted healed. I chose the ringing in my ears. As he began to give instructions to the half of the class that were the healers he told the patients to choose something other than our ears to heal because the ears are very difficult to work on. Once again I should have been impressed with his awareness, that he knew what it was that I had silently selected to have healed. Instead I stubbornly thought that if he was any good he would heal my ears. I also resolved myself not to fall asleep this time around, and sure enough a moment later he responded to this saying that the patients should just relax. Instead of following this instruction I intensified myself internally with all my will power so that I would remain awake. This is the last thing I remember until I came to, wondering where I was. I had been in a deeper sleep than the first time. This time I was certain that it was something that Sant Guru Dev Singh had produced. I looked up at the woman that was my partner thinking that I had also completely misjudged her. She was still asleep, sitting up, and it was clear that whatever had happened to me had happened to her as well . What ever had just occurred it wasn’t something that she had produced. I then looked around at the other couples. They were all in a similar state of returning back to consciousness. I then looked up at where Sant Guru Dev Singh was sitting and I could tell from his posture and meditative grace that he had produced whatever had hit me and the entire group. I realized that I had completely misjudged who and what I was dealing with, and that Sant Guru Dev Singh truly knew something that was powerful beyond my concept. I felt ashamed of myself for being so arrogant, and completely humbled.

With the passing of time I have developed a deeper understanding of this event. I have learned in Sat Nam Rasayan that in order to have this effect, Sant Guru Dev Singh healed himself by modifying his awareness in relation to the entire class, and the entire class was affected. Not only were we all affected, but the specific effect that was produced was a deep and profound peace. I have also learned that this is always the case with Sat Nam Rasayan that the healing that is produced is a state of peace. This is the reason that the class is split up into pairs of healer and patient. It allows each student to receive the instruction and also  not only experience the profound peace, but learn that this peace is produced each and every time Sat Nam Rasayan is practiced. I have learned that this experience of peace is produced whenever the awareness approaches that of the experience of the soul. Since this effect is produced each and every time that the awareness approaches the experience of the soul. This ability to produce peace in another is therefore a measurable proof of the existence of the soul. Something that can be measured and proven scientifically.

After having my rib healed miraculously, and still maintaining a competitive attitude toward Sant Guru Dev Singh, I felt like a complete ass.  After the class was over I knew that I had to speak to him. I waited expecting that he would probably be surrounded by a throng of students. He left the class alone. I followed him to the Solstice bazaar where he purchased himself dinner and sat down to eat it, alone. I cautiously approached him as he sat eating. I told him that I now understood that he knew something very special, and that I wanted to study with him, but that I lived in Kansas City in a very small ashram that was too far from any of the places that he traveled to to teach. His response was that he had never been to Kansas. I explained that where the ashram was in Kansas City was in Missouri. He responded as if I hadn’t spoken and repeated that he had never been to Kansas and that I should contact his person in LA to schedule him to visit me.

I gave these two personal experiences as examples of the miracle of Sat Nam Rasayan. Sant Guru Dev Singh teaches that the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das was the perfect archetype of Sat Nam Rasayan. This means that the miracle of Guru Ram Das is the miracle of Sat Nam Rasayan. Clearly the healing of my rib was the most dramatic, but the miracle of me learning to humble myself has clearly had the larger affect on my life. The rib healing was more physically dramatic, but acknowledging my arrogance has completely changed my life. It allowed me to study Sat Nam Rasayan with Sant Guru Dev Singh. There is really no question in my mind which was the greater miracle.

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

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Sat Nam Rasayan is the ‘second side’ of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

At the beginning of the Master’s Touch course in Assisi on April 21, 1997 (less than two months before Yogi Bhajan declared Sat Nam Rasayan teacher Guru Dev Singh a Sant) Yogi Bhajan refers to a ‘second side’ of the teachings: “This course reflects my second side of the teachings, which I hid for twenty-eight years. I didn’t come here to collect students or to start a religion. That was not my idea(The Master’s Touch, p 225). Sat Nam Rasayan is that ‘second side’ of the teachings. Yogi Bhajan had taught these teachings to the teacher of Sat Nam Rasayan, Guru Dev Singh over a period of years. Guru Dev Sing says that this was taught in ‘the silence’ and that Yogi Bhajan never had an open conversation with Guru Dev Singh about the content of these teachings. Once Guru Dev Singh had demonstrated that he ‘got’ what it was that Yogi Bhajan was trying to teach, Yogi Bhajan then told Guru Dev Singh to organize these teachings so that everyone could learn them openly. As Guru Dev Singh began doing this Yogi Bhajan named this ‘second side’ of the teachings Sat Nam Rasayan which literally means True Identity Healing.

Sant Guru Dev Singh (Santji) relates that for hundreds of years the most powerful aspects of yogic teaching were kept hidden. Keeping these aspects of the teachings hidden was done through the use of initiation. Before a Teacher would begin to teach a student, that student would have to swear allegiance to the Teacher and the secrecy of the teachings. Then the Teacher would evaluate each student that came forward to determine if that student could learn the second side of the teachings. In the course of a lifetime of a Teacher these hidden teachings would be passed along to only one or two of the students. When these teachings had been passed on to the student, the teacher would leave their body and proclaim the student as the new Teacher. Since there were only one or two of a Teacher’s students that ever actually became aware of the second side of the teachings, and since a student that learned those teachings was eternally indebted to having learned them, those students were absolutely loyal to maintaning the sworn secrecy within the initiation.Yogi Bhajan’s goal was to not only pass on the teachings, but to do so in such a way that they could be taught openly. This corelates with Yogi Bhajan’s frequent statement that ‘I came to teach Teachers, not to collect students.’

Santji (Sant Guru Dev Singh) relates that Yogi Bhajan told him that there was something he wanted to teach Santji, and Santji needed to come to Los Angeles to learn. At the time Santji lived in Mexico City, so this required a major move. When Santji got to Los Angeles Yogi Bhajan told him to come to Yogi Bhajan’s house to be taught the next day. When Santji arrived the following morning, Yogi Bhajan seemed to ignore Santji all day as Yogi Bhajan conducted his normal business until late in the day when Yogi Bhajan apologized to Santji that it hadn’t worked out for that day and requested Santji to return the following day. Santji says that this happened everyday for 2 years before Santji realized that he was actually learning anything. Santji says it was 6 years before he actually ‘got’ what Yogi Bhajan was teaching, when Yogi Bhajan told him to organize those teaching so that they could be taught openly rather than in ‘the silence’.

I can also add that I am aware of when Yogi Bhajan tested me as a new student of his to determine whether I could learn the ‘second side’ of the teachings. It was at a Tantric course in St. Louis in the fall of 1978. I had started attending Kundalini Yoga classes in January in Madison, WI and had met Yogi Bhajan at my first Tantric course in April in KC, followed by my first Summer Solstice where I got my spiritual name. At the St. Louis Tantric course I spoke to Yogi Bhajan for the first time. I explained to him that I competed in martial arts tournaments which had only two weight classes, lightweight and heavyweight. I explained to him that because I was tall yet very slim I had to fight in the heavyweight classification and that I would like to put on some weight to remedy this. Secretly I wanted Yogi Bhajan to know that I was a martial arts fighter, and my slight frame had been a source of insecurity for me my whole life. So in asking Yogi Bhajan this seemingly unimportant question I had actually exposed how I wanted to appear special as a martial arts fighter and was basically insecure about myself. Yogi Bhajan spoke to the core of these issues in his response. He asked me why I wanted to be an elephant. He went on to tell me that what I considered to be my slight build he thought was a perfect physique, and that he had the exact same physique in his youth.

This however did not satisfy me and I pressed him for something that I could do to put on more weight. He then told me to do cat stretch, and I found myself stammering in front of him wondering if he meant for me to do this cat stretch right there in front of him at that moment. Although I did not articulate this directly he indicated that he wanted me to do cat stretch right then and there. I was relatively new to Kundalini Yoga and had only heard of cat stretch once or twice and was initially not clear on what in fact he was referring to. As I stood there though, it became clear that he meant that I was to lie on my back and stretch one knee across past the opposite leg keeping my shoulders on the ground. I understood that this is what he wanted me to do even though I had never learned it was called cat stretch. As I became aware of this I also realized that I was wearing my new white kurta that I had payed a lady in Madison to make for me. I was very proud of this kurta, and I didn’t want to get it dirty rolling around on the floor there. I therefore acted like I was unclear about what he actually wanted me to do. This dance went on for a few moments until he stopped it indicating frustration,  communicating that he wanted to teach me something and that I was not allowing him to. Chance missed, he then entirely stopped talking to me about this cat stretch thing. Since hearing from Santji of his trials learning from Yogi Bhajan in the silence, I now understand that Yogi Bhajan was testing me to see if I was ready to learn in the silence. That Yogi Bhajan was teaching me in the silence when I became aware of what cat stretch meant, and he knew that I understood what he wanted me to but that I was feigning that I did not. it only took a few moments to fail the test by acting that I did not understand when in fact I understood.

I, like the majority of Yogi Bhajan’s students, had communicated that I was unable to learn the second part of the teachings in the silence. However, also like the rest of Yogi Bhajan’s students, I had recognized that Yogi Bhajan was an Enlightened Master, and my Teacher. As I mentioned previously in my post The Problem with IKYTA simply recognizing a spiritual Teacher is a major milestone in the spiritual development of each and every person. It is said by the Buddhists that there is a specific experience when one recognizes their spiritual Teacher. They describe this as experiencing the words of your own heart in what the Teacher is saying. Speaking for myself I can definitely attest to this being my experience when I first met Yogi Bhajan at that first Tantric course in KC. I was utterly amazed that he knew the issues that I had but could not relate with others about so intimately, and it was as if he was speaking directly to me the entire weekend. Every one of Yogi Bhajan’s students has had some form of this experience. In addition each student has had to humble themselves and admit that they have submitted to a spiritual Teacher in order to be a student of Yogi Bhajan (Note that this is also true of students of any other Teacher or lineage.). Notice that it was a lack of submitting when Yogi Bhajan told me to do cat stretch. The conclusion to draw from this is that the way to learn the hidden ‘second part’ of the teachings is in learning to submit ourselves to the Teacher in more subtle ways. This ultimately becomes the Teacher within until we become Teachers ourselves.

Sant Guru Dev Singh mastered this submission of the self through learning in the silence and was recognized for this by Yogi Bhajan. Accordingly, Sat Nam Rasayan is the structure that Sant Guru Dev Singh was instructed to establish so that slobs like me and the rest of Yogi Bhajan’s students could systematically learn to humble ourselves to God’s Will, to what is presenting itself, to the Guru’s Hukam, to the Teacher within.

Furthermore, this is a conscious journey. When a student recognizes a Teacher, both the Teacher and the student are aware of the fact. It only happens when the student becomes humble to they realize. If I had done the cat stretch instead of pretending I did not understand what was meant, I am sure I would have had an experience that would have confirmed to me that I had a connection with Yogi Bhajan that was present in the subtle instructions he was giving me. This experience and confirmation of a deeper connection would then have been the base for learning more of the second side of the teachings, but that would only have been possible if I made the necessary realization. In this way, the advancement of the student is always determined by the student’s own awareness.

I make this point because many think that the Teacher can simply bestow a blessing upon a student and enlightenment blossoms instantaneously because of the devotion of the student. This does not happen. The second side of the teachings must be consciously learned in order for the student to modify themselves to understand the next step. It is a painstakingly slow and gradual process of self awareness where the student is cognizant of what is being learned every step of the way.

Ong Namo; Guru Dev Namo

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

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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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