WHAT I KNOW
I have experienced fundamentally that we are love energy in human form. Inside each of us is the pure essence of the light of the Universe. Yoga, meditation, sound, breath, counseling, conversation, mother nature and silence are some of the tools that I have spent decades working with, for opening up breakthrough discoveries within our inner dimension, allowing the love and grace of who we are to be genuine and real.
I believe that all relationships to one's self and with others are sacred. We are love energy with arms and legs, eyes and ears.
ABOUT YOGI BHAJAN
I owe you an explanation of where I am with regards to Yogi Bhajan. I was devoted student of Yogi Bhajan for most of my life. He was like a second father to me, I served him directly and spent formative years working for him. I took great pride in that relationship and trusted him completely. My mission was to represent him. I also recognize now that a great deal of my own identity has been based on my relationship with him.
In 2020, 14 years after he passed away, reports of sexual abuse and other abuses of power perpetrated by Yogi Bhajan emerged like a volcano. This volcano flowed its lava into my spiritual community and into my own consciousness. And it is still flowing.
Many of the first hand reports are from very close friends of mine. I stand behind their credibility. What has been described ranges from sexual harassment to uninvited sexual advances, to consensual sex, to manipulated sex, to forced sex. I also have spoken with individuals who have chosen not to come forward, and I respect their need for privacy and healing in an environment out of community scrutiny and judgment.
I have realized that I should have been more attuned to the signs going back into my youth. I was told of an abortion. I was told of sexual activity, sexual advances, and watching of pornography. I am amazed how mesmerized I was by the student - teacher dynamic. I simply didn't believe these reports without any reason other than they conflicted with my narrative about Yogi Bhajan, and the cultural awe of his every word in the community.
When a spiritual leader accepts total trust from his followers, and then is revealed to have used the position of trust to coerce others into sex, working, giving up of careers, relashiptips, and familiby bonds, it comes down to a complete betrayal of very trust that was so precious and so freely given to him. In my case this realization came slowly.
When I went to work for Yogi Bhajan I shifted my entire life. I gave up my dreams of a career path at his direction. I put it all on a platter for him. It was no small thing. Now years later, coming to the conclusion that the trust I gave him was not deserved leaves me incredibly bewildered, with the need for unpacking and dealing with the swirl of emotions.
I remain incredibly grateful for what I learned and the discipline I gained from my time working for Yogi Bhajan. The ability to give of oneself is important. I am grateful to him for teaching it, and being able to teach it myself. This has truly the journey of a lifetime.
Gratitude should be directed specifically towards what actually deserves it. Devotion should be given to what is worthy of it. Neither should require overlooking or accepting trauma, manipulation, untruths and the deeply disturbing aspects that are just as real. Those aspects also must be acknowledged and dealt with with eyes open. When I acknowledge those aspects and the sense of being manipulated by power abuse, the feeling is not of gratitude. It is one of deep sadness and questioning. Gratitude and devotion are sacred.
And thus, on this profound spiritual journey of mine, the whole scenario of my past forty years of study has been thrown up into the air, and as of this writing has not landed. The liberation of that is profound. I find myself letting the process unfold within me in its own terms and own timeline. I find myself in deep empathy for those who were sexually manipulated.
I welcome the evolution that all of this sparks. A deeper surrender is required than I have ever experienced. I believe this welcoming of the shift is more profound after coming full circle, and having gone through what I have. It then becomes an upward spiraling journey. Having come full circle I see that many of the things I felt were so important are obviously not. I can see that I gave up my choice. And I can see I gained something in the abandon. I have learned that many of the things we were told were dangerous were absolutely not. Live fully, but do not live in fear, dear friends. I do recognize that in my diving into life with Yogi Bhajan I was living fully. It was bold in its own way. So is stepping clear of it.
I devoted the arc of my life and career, handing it to someone I admired and trusted, and who expected complete trustworthiness from me. Now that I know what was going on behind closed doors, and the untruths that were perpetuated, and other manipulations and business practices, it shifts the entire perspective. A massive shift in perspective. One that requires wings. And thus metamorphosis.
I can no longer represent or vouch for Yogi Bhajan. That is a very hard statement to put forth after the relationship we have had. It is hard to put words to the disorientation that is generated. The experience of having a guru, a teacher, has been the way yoga has been taught for thousands of years. I believe that era is over. I am grateful for having that experience and I am grateful for the liberation from that experience. Seeing both sides of the coin, it becomes transparent.
I am giving up all "isms". And I say that after deeply immersing in Sikhism, which is such a beautiful path. But for me at this time and group path, with its do's and don'ts dictated from the outside, are not of service. I carry it deeply in my heart actually, but simply have to give up the requirements of form, which are not the essence anyway.
My yoga these days is one of carefully extracting pearls from the bullshit. This is painstaking work, some of it smelly. There are so many pearls, and unfortunately they were delivered packed in an exquisitely beautiful box that also contained a great deal of bullshit. Sometimes its is hard to discern the pearls from the BS. A lot of that bullshit was hidden in the intricacies of the box, which is why I am stepping free of the box.
In this process have found that a practice is a practice, and once washed of the personality or lineage, it either stands on its own effectiveness or it doesn't. This requires clear vision free of the trappings. The devotion that was demanded historically served to generate care and respect for the practices, but it also became a vehicle for ego gratification of many teachers. Sometimes pearls have to be washed clear of their treasure box in order to have a new life. That's ok. This is one of those times. It is beautiful. Nonetheless, please take care with these practices for they are life changing, and the fear is that without the box they become vulnerable. That may be true.
I feel sorry to say publicly that the way kundalini yoga "as taught by Yogi Bhajan" has been taught, sold and branded is fundamentally flawed. That can not be entirely blamed on Yogi Bhajan, but by those, who may have had good intentions, were also blinded by the untruths, but also enjoyed the benefits of a hierarchical system that is fundamentally flawed by the profit motive. I have endeavored to teach kundalini yoga in a different, deeper way that makes the essence understandable, and the energies behind the techniques tangible, so everyone can learn the machinery, learn the elements and discern their effects and teach from that understanding rather than teaching rote sequences. I will continue that moving forward. There are too many pearls not to.
Thank you for listening. I will continue to update this section as I feel ready to.
I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark as Søren Andrew Segal in 1959. I grew up in the USA in Cambridge and Lexington, Massachusetts. My father was a leading MIT professor of mathematics, and my mother was a visionary artist and yoga instructor. My mother introduced me to hatha yoga and pranayama at eight years old, and I have fond memories of doing camel pose and sponge on the living room floor with her.
After high school I went to college at the University of Rochester. That area in New York State, where the Mohawk indians lived, carries deep spirituality in its cold air.
It was there when I was 19 that a profound thing happened, and I can not say how or why. I had an instantaneous Kundalini rising experience, as though an electric snake arose from deep within and connected through my spine, exited my third eye and reached the deepest reaches of the universe in a split second. At the time I had no idea what it was. I had to leave school and for about a year I just tried to get back in my body. I managed to settle down, although nothing was the same. It ended up meaning was that I couldn't help but be profoundly led by spirit.
When I returned to school I was invited to a yoga class with Mahatma Singh, one of the early teachers of Kundalini Yoga, and I was hooked. I began practicing in earnest. I moved into the Yoga Society of Rochester Ashram, where I taught hatha yoga. At the ashram I had the good fortune to meet and study with a number of profound spiritual teachers there, notably Swami Janakanda of Denmark, who impacted me and my practice greatly, Shri Brahmanada Sarasvati Ramamurti Mishra, and Baba Ram Dass.
In 1982, I graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in film, packed up my room at the Yoga Society, and began a journey across the United States visiting a number of ashrams and yoga centers along the way. I was aiming for California, a graduate degree and film work. But divine providence provided a ride all the way to San Francisco, and there I instantly found into a room at "Hargobind Sadan" the Kundalini Ashram in Berkeley. This turned out to be life changing.
Yogi Bhajan came to visit, and immediately instructed me to come to to Los Angeles to serve as his sevadar. I took that as a great honor and stayed in that capacity for almost a decade. I gave up everything to be there, and these were years of deep yogic study, discipline and intense transformation. It was Los Angeles in the 1980's but it might as well have been the Himalayas.
While working there I met my future wife Gurukiren Ramos, who was also serving Yogi Bhajan, as his secretary. Yogi Bhajan was our mission, we trusted him, and we both had turned over our lives to his direction. In a rather sudden turn of events after about six years of service, and with 5 days notice we were married by Yogi Bhajan with 5 days notice. It was an especially sudden change of course for both of us, as I was already engaged to someone else, and she was planning to be Yogiji's secretary forever. Yet the marriage was an incredibly joyous thing for us and we took it to heart. We were in love, and felt blessed. We did not question it. We soon had a daughter, Hari Rai Kaur.
A few years later Yogi Bhajan moved us to Española, New Mexico where we bought a house at his instruction. He set me up with a position at Akal Security where I learned how to fire a pistol, among other things. Our second daughter, Sahib Simran Kaur, was born. Our combined service continued and transformed. One of my joys at the time was playing piano for Yogi Bhajan and his guests during evenings at his Estate. The final time I saw him was in his dome at his birthday party where he lay in bed. It was 40 days before he passed away. The next time I saw him was in the exact same spot in the dome, but this time his body lay still and his spirit had passed on to the other side.
Now, after learning what has come to light about the misogyny and manipulation that Yogi Bhajan also carried forth, all these lovely and profound memories have become so much more complicated. It leads to a profound pathways of self questioning, which ultimately is healthy. Yet I wonder if it is ever going to be possible to separate the difficulties from the blessings. Perhaps it will never be, and we move forward with the both the light and dark coexisting.
I am in the process of shedding some of the degrees and cloaks that I do not feel I can longer represent. I have a degree in psychology from the University of Rochester, that I will hold on to because I worked my hide off for it. I am a certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor, Sound and Mantra Specialist and a Minister of Sikh Dharma, and questioning how to move forward with those. Teaching yoga is my joy, but I have seen there is a better way to teach and learn it than what is being presented officially. I served on the boards of trustees of Siri Singh Sahib Corporation and on 3HO Foundation. These organizations are trying hard to get through all this, for they are as shocked as anyone. I also used to serve on the board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Waldorf School, which is a wonderful school and run by wonderful people. I have lived in the spiritual ashram community of Espanola, NM for 30 plus years. The community is going through a lot of changes as well.
My wife and I own a bakery in Santa Fe, NM, which has become an ongoing life project. I am working on music. I am writing slowly. We have 2 cats, 2 chickens and a dog, and live a quiet peaceful life.
Please remember the path to the holy grail lead inwards. There is a shining chalice of love in each of our hearts.
Love to you, Dharm