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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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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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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