My week with Yogi Bhajan 

Yogi Bhajan

Coincidentally, just as I was at my peek of doing SCK for 2.5 hours daily, Yogi Bhajan (YB) came over to London and because someone stepped back from putting up some of his 3HO-organisation, I did fill that gap and let two members stay at my apartment.

My young energy was still uncontrolled and very chaotic at the time, so (even with the help of two friends) I had to clean my place for the entire day nonstop  until very late at night and I was still very tired when I had to pick up their bodyguards from the airport the next morning.

Because he had a VIP ticket to get through customs earlier, he came out of the gateways ahead of anyone else,  and was surrounded by a bunch of white dressed people in turbans. Since in my eyes all souls are of equal value, I was a bit puzzled that a spiritual leader would ensure and allow for having privileges which state that he was more worth than a common man.

Being very tired, I drove back with three of his bodyguards into the center – like in trance, One 3HO member did tell me that life is a stage, so it would be about playing a role, so I took that advice and pretended to have relaxed control about everything, even though I hardly could focus on the traffic.
About half an hour into the ride, one of them did point out to me that we were driving into the wrong direction – instead of back into London, we were already half way towards Brighton!

The next morning, I made a huge German breakfast for my 2 guests (which, to their shock did include not only many kinds of cheese, but I purposely did include also a few kinds of sausages to make a point that not everyone who does yoga is a perfect vegetarian). Just as we were finished, the organisers called and told us that YB had cooked, so even though we just had eaten big-time, they wanted to rush out in order to experience his cooking. From then on I refrained from the “bed and breakfast” service.

At this meal, coincidentally I sat next to YB and when I was about to rush away again to make place for one of their team he did call me back with paternal love, which to me was very flattering at the time. With hindsight I would say that the strong authority he did emanate was probably the secret to his charismatic success in building up a strong follower-ship. To him, coming from the Indian tradition of unconditional surrender to spiritual teachers, he of course took it for granted to receive the same kind of devotion he did give to his merciless teacher.

He had a ring onto which a diamond was elevated by a metal spiral, and when I remarked that this was a great idea, he replied that he had ‘many great ideas’, which as a European seemed like bragging to me – yet to Americans such statements of self-confidence are probably seen as an effective self-promotion.

The good thing is that in the consultation later he told me that at one point his teacher had him do SCK, so I knew that this Kriya is not invented by him and therefore, whenever I felt grumpy towards him, I could separate the teachings from the teacher himself by considering him to be a postman for valuable information. Remember this in case you ever disagree with teachers (or this blog as a matter): Don’t drop your practice or believe in the path only because the delivery-man was not to your liking.

I will tell you now everything he told me, so that you also may benefit from his advice:

Yogi Bhajan’s consultation

When entering YB’s room for a consultation later, he (who was 8 years older than my parents) had such a non-penetrable aura that I did not dare to confront him on his guru-like status and ask him why he did allow (or even further) that his entire bunch did constantly worship him.

Still being embarrassed about my driving disaster, I asked him what to do against the chaos in my life he recommended me to massage my ears under the shower.
{Over the years I found out that, when washing my hands, also washing my ears with cold water is as calming and refreshing as doing it under the shower and it can be done multiple times throughout the day.}

Someone made me tell him, that I currently do 2 1/2 hours of SCK at the time and in a reflex he instantly burst out something, which in my impression was that this was not targeted towards me personally, but to motivate anyone who does SCK:

If you do SCK for 2,5 hours daily, there is nothing I [meaning any Guru] can teach you anymore.

Probably because at the time I was studying Chinese Medicine, he also said: “He is a simple student and will become a great healer and a saint.”, which struck me as a a bit of a sales-pitch on his behalf to keep me going.  All I can say so far is that I did not become a great healer and am far away from being a saint, but after having read Yogananda’s autobiography of a yogi it dawned upon me that Indians have a very different understanding of saints than Westerners do – more as a person who manifests divine powers, rather  than Christians who associate a saint with someone who is ethically perfect and doing benevolent deeds.

It seems to me that flowery exaggeration is a part of the cultural vocabulary of the Indian language, and me, coming from the plain German culture took quite a few things too literal, like when he said to someone else about me: ‘He is a sage. He was born wise!’, or when he described the superhuman powers of Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.
However, such promises do have quite a longterm effect, because since 3 decades I am now hoping to get enlightened by the means of SCK.
Slowly it dawns upon me that enlightenment probably doesn’t come with a big bang but gradually and less spectacular than I did anticipate – similar to the wisdom of old age, only much faster and without the need of physical sufferings.

He must have noticed that I was not the type of getting up early, because without him asking, he also did recommend to me to meditate before sunrise something I at the time despised.
However, I have to admit, that it’s ten-times easier to meditate in the mornings before the yang of the day rises, because this early are not many internal and external thoughts around, which could an empty mindedness.
But since the morning is the worst time for busy workers to do it, I want to reassure you that this also works at any other time in the day, especially since there is “no time and space attached” to SCK.

~~~

He also did say that I would need protection and did recommend Rahke Rakhanar.
At the time and for decades later I did not want any protection, because it insinuates a discrimination against “lesser” or “evil” people, which is the opposite of what I would call unconditional love.

The 3HO dress-code

Y.B. did also recommend me to wear a turban, so I tried it for the week whilst he was there. When doing SCK without wearing a turban my energy did rise to my third eye point between my eyebrows, but when wearing one, it rose to the crown chakra on the top of my head.

I know that YB (in one of the rare occasions when he was lenient and compromising) supposedly did allow for people to wear anything white on the head, but I would add – if you want the full benefits, go for a real tightly wrapped turban, and if this is too much for you just leave it.
I did experiment a lot with wearing other white stuff but never felt anything from it – neither btw from wearing white clothes. Sikhs originally only are required to wear white underwear but not white everywhere, and all-white for me personally does not work and neither suit me. Some people thrive on the role of displaying Sikhism with a turban, but others nearly get beat up for it on the streets.
My rule of thumb is: If you really are a sincere Sikh a turban will strengthen you, but if you can’t relate to religion, then better don’t play this role, because you will end up being attacked for being a hypocrite.

The impressions 3HO left behind their environment.

At times I felt really embarrassed when we (who all where white Westerners, dressed in white and were wearing white turbans) were ordered to go to a gurdwara (the Sikh-church), to take part in their worship – but only to the point in which YB did preach – and afterwards got up instantly in the middle of the ceremony to leave or eat in a special room only for VIP people whilst the crowd was eating in the hall downstairs.
I then usually went to to eat with the community and did ask them about their perception of YB. They deemed him as just another pujari (priest) but not like something equivalent to an archbishop, which his visits with many religious leaders did insinuate.

~~~

On a subtle level I did notice YB on one hand occasionally very subtly smiling about me,  when I did follow his recommendation to wear a turban or when I was funny, but interestingly he always instantly stopped to smile, whenever he realised that I did catch him being pleased. I think it was probably a good intention to nip any potentially arising egotism of mine in the bud.

However, just before the end of his stay, because I hit my finger and could hardly wrap a turban, and also because I didn’t want to be someone who just puts on a show for him him, I stopped wearing a turban and all white clothes.
I found it too tedious to wrap it all up only for the meditation session anyway, because I would not have worn it outside.

The tipping point for my faith in 3HO

When I am in admiration of a cause or person I do give everything I can, and so it was with YB and 3HO. I did everything for them, took out all the time for them, and also donated to YB for his consultation, despite the fact that I drove them around for a week and did put them up for free.

Ironically it was actually YB himself, and his huge demands for the 3HO organisation, which made me loose my daily routine of doing 2.5 hours of SCK, because for the time of their stay I was constantly in demand of driving them around.

At one point, in the middle of me still eating, he  demanded that we all get up right now and when I continued to enjoy my food he reprehended me by mocking my epicurean humming and told me of harshly, which then was a breaking point for me.
As I did follow him just a few minutes later, he made sure that he had started the public lecture already before I drove down in the car had the chance to arrive.
You may say that this was oversensitive of me, but looking in the look he gave me when I arrived in that hall I perceived it as one of those subtle power-games and him rubbing in the consequences of my non- compliance in order to drive through a point.

Now I am going to tell you something few of you do consciously experience:

The rare occasion to witness a spiritual war first hand

After he was gone, I found out that part of the reason for him coming was that there was at that time a power-struggle between his top British disciple, who was the deputy head of our college, and the director, who was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, who supposedly did embezzle some money to be sent to Vietnamese people in need.

Unfortunately neither side was prepared to open-heartedly talk to each other:
When questioning the monk, he only replied that it would be “his way not to talk about it”, and made certain that he was gone to a retreat when Yogi Bhajan came.
But on the other hand I did not sense a compassionate approach on behalf of 3HO either.

3HO surely was a total dedicated bunch who like a busy swarm of bees did shoot through the London Academy of Chinese Medicine, so the many students who did not primarily follow 3HO teachings (or did not even know about YB) felt overpowered by them claiming the place for themselves with their “Kundalini-stare” (as Gurusant Singh calls it). Someone described it like this:
With their Kundalini-Yoga they build up a tremendous amount of will-power, 
but then they don’t know what to do with it.
And indeed, it seemed to be all about strengthening their own group just for the sake of it.

Because both sides did like me, and at the time, I could literally feel being dragged into a spiritual war of both sides, like (the 3HO member and) deputy head of our college “scanning” me at one point for loyalty and then ordering me to clear out the Buddhist monk’s desk, so that the monk perceived it as if I took sides against him and said that I now would be with “the Kundalini-people”.
Not wanting to take sides, this led to me literally “putting my head down” and stay below their spiritual level by going to the pub to drink with fellow students and co-workers, to “ground” me and keep in synch with the common people.

This is something you on your spiritual path have to watch out for – sometimes it is not you having no spiritual discipline, but adverse circumstances may sabotage your internal evolution:
In order to satisfy your karmic need for harmony you at times may sacrifice your evolution, because by preserving your dignity and keeping to walk upright, you might ending up becoming crucified as Jesus did when he did not hide his light under a bushel.

It is very easy at those occasions to hide behind ignorance, because hardly anyone will see that you did.
However – even though it will be initially gratifying to play it safe –
you should not for long pretend to be dumber than you are, because in the long run your ‘playing it safe’ will weaken your character and turn you to a cowardly fence-sitter who will end up merely walking in other people’s footsteps.

~ ~ ~

A month later YB came once more and waved me into his room where he was lying on his bed, because he still was very strong, yet did need to lie a lot in his bed often already.

But I did not enter his room and didn’t even want to talk to him anymore, because the only way I would have opened my heart to him again would have been if we could have talked about my issues with him.
Yet I knew that any criticism would have been dismissed harshly by him. Maybe that’s why he gave me the name “Amar“, because that means something like “free spirit” – probably with a connotation of “untameable”.