Life with Yogi Bhajan
ABOUT MY JOURNEY WITH YOGI BHAJAN
I owe you an explanation of where I am with regards to Yogi Bhajan.
I was a devoted student of Yogi Bhajan for most of my life. He was like a second father to me, I served him directly as his assistant for over a decade, and spent my formative younger years working and studying under him. I attended thousands of hours of his classes. I wanted to be his best student, and I trusted his guidance completely.
In late 2019 a tsunami of independent reports of sexual abuse and other abuses of power perpetrated by Yogi Bhajan started to come forward. Many of those who came forward about being sexually manipulated, coerced, and abused are some of my dearest friends and colleagues. I stand absolutely one hundred percent behind the credibility, honesty and integrity of all those with whom I have spoken. I am pro truth. No one should have to hold secrets to cover for someone else.
The trauma is real. The abuses range from harassment, to uninvited sexual advances, consensual sex, coerced and manipulated sex, and reports of forced sex. There was manipulation, abuse and exploitation of individuals who were not sexually exploited. In all cases the trauma is real and ongoing.
These new revelations have rocked me to my core. I never would have served him had I known these things were happening, and now that I understand the situation I can say honestly that I served under false pretenses. The sexual abuse was extremely well hidden, and the other abuse normalized within the culture of devotion. Yet I recognize now that I was not seeing clearly. Devotion becomes a particular lens to see life through. Had I been more neutral I would have known, but in my devotion I simply refused to within my own consciousness .
I can say now that I feel awful - a deep mix of shame and self inquiry - for having vouched for Yogi Bhajan's integrity, as I did on many occasions. These emotions are like the rug being pulled out from beneath a devotee. I held him on such an elevated mindset. as we were taught the position of a student to a spiritual teacher was supposed to be.
The reality is there were reports and signs of the abuse all along. The amazing thing is how powerful the devotional mindset is, and how it created a massive blind spot in me and many others. I discarded those reports and signs as untrue simply because I didn't want to believe my spiritual teacher could do those things. Yet he could.
Since 2019 over thirty women have come forward with credible reports of sexual abuse. I know of others who are choosing not to come forward at least for the time being, and are processing within their own boundaries and healing in their silence. I respect their need for privacy and healing at this time, especially in an environment of community scrutiny and judgment. Healing and processing this will take a lifetime.
The trust that a devotee offers to a spiritual leader, or guru is a unique, precious and vulnerable thing. It is absolute trust to the extent that one one puts their life into another’s hands. Major choices are based on that trust. The devotee gives up their own direction in exchange for the guidance based on what they believe to be the greater wisdom of the teacher. I surrendered completely to Yogi Bhajan's guidance. This is the ancient system of India, and the relationship we were taught to be right in this lineage. Unfortunately it is easy for an untrustworthy authority figure to abuse it.
When a teacher accepts the position of spiritual authority it is a type of soul level spiritual contract between a teacher and devotee. For that spiritual contract to stand, the devotion must be matched by trustworthiness of the teacher. If, however, the teacher uses their position of authority to manipulate others and if there are deceptions, lies, and coercions, then that is one of the worst kinds of spiritual extortions imaginable. What I have learned is that I trusted Yogi Bhajan, based on false pretenses. What it turns out is that many truths were being hidden. Truths which if revealed, very few would have trusted him, and many, including myself, would not have willingly agreed to serve him.
Taking advantage of the tender innocence of a spiritual seeker is one of the most spiritually abhorrent acts that a person can do, because it preys on innocence. If a spiritual teacher can't honestly and entirely handle all the responsibilities of holding the trust that a student or devotee gives them, they should not accept it. Once they do accept the position of spiritual authority and at the same time start perpetuating a fiction, it dishonors the deepest sincerities of another being at their most spiritually vulnerable.
The women who were exploited sexually trusted Yogi Bhajan as their spiritual authority. Each woman I spoke with spoke of agreeing to his sexual directives out of a sense of duty, and of being coerced, certainly not out of sexual attraction. Once one surrenders free will to the teacher, guru or spiritual authority, then down the road when demands for sexual favors come, it is incredibly confusing. And means a lifetime of reckoning with it. Others were coerced into giving up their decision making. In the student - teacher relationship free will is first gone. Then the manipulation happens. But once it becomes apparent that the choice was manipulated by acts of deceit and obfuscation it causes great harm.
I hope to be of support to the healing process of all individuals affected. I am in favor of financial reparations for those who were manipulated into sexual relationships out of a sense of loyalty or were coerced in any other way. That includes in ways they only later understood to be nonconsensual. I also support reparations to those who were manipulated in other life altering non-sexual ways. The successes of businesses and nonprofits which are now under the responsibility of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation was built on a foundation of hard work by individuals who worked for low pay or volunteered under what we now know to be false pretenses. What we thought we were serving was not the truth. Had we known what was going on behind closed doors. I for one, and many others, would not have served and given in the way we did. As such this was a massive deception and manipulation at a soul level. No one can give those years back, or take away the trauma that many have experienced, but financial reparations are the right thing to do.
Yogi Bhajan has passed away and is not here to answer. But an acknowledgment of the harm done, combined with financial reparation by the organization that carries the responsibility of Yogi Bhajan's legacy, would be the right course of action. That organization is known as the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, which carries the title, and the assets which once belonged to the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation Sole, the organization that Yogi Bhajan actually operated under as a religious figure.
Someone who had been a regular guest at Yogi Bhajan's living room and travels argued with me today by saying that the women that engaged in sexual activities with Yogi Bhajan had a choice not to. This fails to comprehend. the surrender that those who served him offered. It was a lifetime of surrender. This failed argument came after the standard failed arguments defending Yogi Bhajan including the ultimate sidestep of "truth is subjective". Also that I didn't really "know" because I didn't witness it personally, only heard from those who were there). I was flabbergasted at the whitewashing and had to get up and leave the table in order to save my own blood pressure from exploding my brain. I realized afterward that this gentleman had simply had never experienced what it took to commit to serving Yogi Bhajan by offering up one's heart and soul. That was a small group of people. He had been a regular guest, which was a very different and generally lovely experience. But how does that experience leave one with such little empathy for those who had different circumstances? That is a contemplation for another day.
My response, had I had the composure to remain seated, would be that, no, actually truth is truth. We endeavor to discern the elusive path of light through an environment of all the half truths and hidden agendas that life throws at us, that is the path of truth, Sat Dharm. And when a newly discovered truth shatters our previously held paradigm we need to let the paradigm crumble. Truth is not subjective. Saying that is an absolutely terrible excuse for abuse.
Secondly I would respond that choice needs to be offered freely and without repercussion if it is not to be coercion. Coercion does not have to be so obvious as in being forced at the point of a gun. Force does not have to be physical. There is emotional coercion. When it comes to a spiritual leader, the strangest thing is spiritual coercion. When a spiritual authority states or demands that doing something like touching his penis is for ones spiritual good, that is one of the weirdest and most powerful coercions that exists.
Those that served Yogi Ji endeavored to take care of his every request. That was the relationship. There was a kind off joy of surrendering all free will, and of complying with his requests. It was entered into as a spiritual undertaking, this was also spiritual pressure. Saying no to Yogi Bhajan was felt as failure. In serving him we endeavored to say yes to the most challenging requests. The idea was that. we were clearing our spirits in that service so that we could be pure vessels for the mission that flowed through him. And that is why it was such intense trust and why the devotee is so vulnerable.
Yogi Bhajan was absolutely the most domineering person that I have ever met but especially so with those that had agreed to serve him. It was not all lilies and incense. Parallel with the striving to serve was constant fear of failing. Fear of repercussions of failure. If anyone disobeyed him. I realize it sounds idiotic, almost childlike. But that was how it was to serve him. It was a very different relationship than his guests who generally were treated with charm and elegance.
When I went to work for Yogi Bhajan at age twenty two, I shifted my entire life. I gave up my dreams and career at his direction. It was no small thing. I put it all in his hands. Now, years later, seeing that the complete trust and surrender that I offered was founded on a number of falsehoods and deceptions, it leaves me in a process of deep inner investigation. I gave my life to him.
What is confusing about all this is that Yogi Bhajan legitimately offered deep and profound insights into life and consciousness, profound practices, and exceptional yogic techniques. In my experience even his presence itself was life changing. I was absolutely in love with him. He was amazing. I clung to his every word as though they were the words of God. And I was in a community culture in which everyone felt the same way.
I first met him it at a large three day course in Cambridge MA. I had been living in the Yoga Center of Rochester, immersed in practice, and heard about something called White Tantric Yoga. An ashram mate said it was "the highest yoga". That sure sounded intriguing, although I didn't really know what that meant nor what to expect at the course. When I arrived at the course I found a spot in along the edge in front of a kind partner, and the whole room sat chanting for several hours to set the space and our own consciousness before Yogi Bhajan arrived.
As arriving participants filled the hall I noticed a peculiar thing. The head of the ashram had wanted the center seat right in front of where Yogi Bhajan would be sitting for himself and his wife, and there was some disturbance because someone else had sat there. I found it odd that the head of the ashram would feel it so important to sit right front and center, and with all the shuffling of sheepskins, mats and displacing of neighbors to make room it looked rather selfish and ridiculous. He was obviously a big cheese who carried a distinct difference amongst the participants. They moved and shuffled around apologetically as though it was normal to do so. I remember feeling that I would have expected the head of an ashram to sit at the back or in a place where he could be of service to the arriving students. What I learned since then, of course, was that being in a position to get the attention of Yogi Bhajan, was the most important thing of all, even to an ashram head. And that was ultimately the disease within our culture.
And just then Yogi Bhajan walked in and he was magnificent. Several hundred people clothed in white stood up with an audible whoosh. That sound took my breath away. I looked over my shoulder towards the door to the left. He looked huger than life as he came in through the doorway with his hand on someone's shoulder, and a few others following, none of them smiling but all looking as though they were feeling fulfilled in doing something so important. But all my attention was on him. He was charming and smiling and had a look in his eyes like he was on a mission from God. He stopped to say hello to someone as he walked by me. Even at that first moment I felt a sense of privilege in being so close. He walked up on the stage, sat down on what looked like an altar, smiled, began opening gifts, charming, talking, and I was smitten. He began his lecture and I was incredibly moved to hear someone talking about God in such a natural way.
As he walked past me on his way out he caught my eye. It was a look of such knowing wisdom that I was transfixed. Then he put is heavy hand on my shoulder and the weight felt like it came right from God. It was a touch I had never experienced. Then he walked on, and I felt a rush of pride with the room looking, wondering who in the world I was. Probably that head teacher was wondering.
I think a devotee's love for their teacher can only be understood by someone who themselves has felt that same love. Otherwise it seems ridiculous. I don't think there is a way to explain it. It makes absolutely no sense. Falling in love like that is a bad idea in so many ways. But in one singular way it makes so much more sense at that moment than anything else. A sense that has to be followed or one couldn't live with oneself. I was deeply deeply in love. Not sexual love at all. Awe driven love. There was a sense of spiritual fulfillment in serving him. So I hope you can try to understand the depth of it. Maybe you have felt this same way.
This love, and this past 40 years of devotion is why now stating that I can no longer vouch for Yogi Bhajan’s background or unsubstantiated claims is so profoundly alien. It is so strange. I worry of lightning bolts. Seriously, that is how conditioned I am. But it is the right action. Otherwise what good is all this self work worth if we cant simply state the truth? We students were blind with devotion. But now with that same devotion, which is what it really was all along, and what he would have wanted if he was the teacher I thought he was, I simply have to be truthful even though it seems like I am "anti Bhajan" as the term I heard lately. It's ironic right? I am not anti Bhajan. It's a ridiculous term. I am pro truth. Sat Dharm; the dharma of truth. The path of truth that we endeavor to discern like explorers bushwhacking through the jungle with machetes. When the universe reveals that a position of sacred trust and spiritual authority was used to coerce innocent spiritual seekers into sexual acts, giving up of careers, relationships, and family bonds, it requires simple honest truth. Even if it becomes profoundly damaging to the legacy. It undoes all the good done.
Serving Yogi Bhajan I gave up any semblance of a normal life. The entire experience of it, including the absolute surrender that was required, was life changing. I dove into yogic techniques that shifted my psyche, and learned deep life lessons. The complete surrender of self, which is how yoga has been taught in India for thousands of years, provides a way to detach from old conditioning and ancestral impressions that are otherwise perpetuated. It is also, however, a vulnerable and innocent position ripe for abuse.
One of the most beautiful things that arose from these years been the individuals I have connected with and the kundalini and Sikh Dharma communities themselves. I certainly am not vouching for everyone - there were and are some seriously untrustworthy and toxic individuals. But I can say my experience is by and large one of being amongst kind hearted people who enjoy the practices and who are well intentioned.
Seeing now, how those techniques and community were mixed up with aberrant acts, deceptions and untrue statement, as well as the realization that I myself inadvertently helped support them, and with my words and actions vouched for Yogi Bhajan's integrity is mind blowing. It becomes impossible to sort out what is true and what isn't. The idea that my work for Yogi Bhajan may have encouraged others who then suffered, or supported a culture that normalized abuse, is deeply troubling. It is something that I will be investigating perhaps for the rest of my life.
It has become clear that statements, insights and information based solely on Yogi Bhajan's word are no longer credible simply on their own merit. There were just too many untruths offered. That is such a sad thing for me to say after the relationship we have had. It is hard to put words to the disorientation that brings after a life of devotion. As I said he was like a second father. I was absolutely in love with him. I do not expect many people to understand that love.
The sexual abuse was incredibly well hidden. Other than those directly involved, no one I knew of actually knew for sure what was going on in the bedroom. Here was the scene: Each night he would retire to his bedroom accompanied by a secretary, the door was locked from the inside and no one was allowed into the room. If anyone else was asked to come to the room, they would eventually leave, leaving just Yogi Bhajan and the secretary. Each night one secretary would be scheduled for what was called "night duty", which was to take care of his needs, if any during the night.
Those of us not in the room trusted the situation. We trusted his integrity. Now what we have learned is that night duty quite often meant coercion into sexual duty. Only out of a blinding mix of fear, loyalty, and culture of devotion those on duty did what they felt was their duty, and we who were not in the room did not let ourselves believe there was sexual activity. The narrative was that he was a celibate Holy Man. And perhaps for those same reasons those women did not speak about it. The culture around Yogi Bhajan was one of utter devotion. No one dared speak ill of him. Even questioning his actions was a no no. Looking back, I can now see that I disregarded fairly obvious warning signs, as well as my own intuition for no other reason than they conflicted with my narrative about Yogi Bhajan. Now after forty years it turns out that fundamental aspects of that narrative were utterly false. It is like a tidal wave through one's consciousness. And the funny thing is that I use the very backbone that I developed while serving him not to withstand the deep betrayal of it.
To understand how this seeming paradox of opening one's heart and parallel blindness to what others might think would be obvious, one has to understand the relationship of the student, or devotee to the spiritual teacher. it is a special kind of love. Devotion to a teacher or guru is an ages old tradition from India. I heard from a well known Swami how his parents essentially gave him to a holy man at age of eight to be taught and brought up. The holy man would take care of the child and teach using all sorts of practices that might be considered extreme in the West, such as requiring a year of silence for the young student. I know of a top classical musicians who studied under a master in India who had had a similar kind of devotion to their teacher as well. These were methods a teacher would employ to teach a student how to bring their mind under conscious self control, humility, and to let go of the ego and its weakness. It's the way yoga was taught in India for thousands of years. And it was an honor for a student to be accepted by a teacher to undergo such discipline and training. That is how I felt about training with Yogi Bhajan.
Los Angeles in the 1980's was a long distance from India, but the culture of devotion was incredibly intense, albeit with a very USA mix brought in. We would start meditating up at 3:40 in the morning, and essential do nothing but yoga, meditation and service to Yogi Bhajan all day. The more difficult the challenge he would ask of me, the more it became my practice to complete. He would say to "do the impossible", and Los Angeles was simply the setting. I can remember racing across town to pick up blank video tapes in time to record his class, and miraculously making all the green lights on La Cienega Boulevard, and getting it done in a third the normal time. It was both exciting and fulfilling in the way that a weightlifter might feel after successfully lifting a great deal of weights. Even heroic.
Yet there were signs, looking back, that I see now that I was blind to. I was told in confidence about an abortion, and as a devotee, simply could not believe it, and instead managed to put it out of my consciousness. The memory of that conversation, as plain and real as it was, only resurfaced in 2020. How one's mind can do that is requires deep inner investigation. I was told in confidence of pornography and sexual advances, yet chose to disbelieve or. paint them in my mind as teaching methods. Manipulations in other forms were also all around, including, one could say objectively, in my own life. Yet it was not until 2019 and early 2020 that in the era of me too, that people really started coming forward with a critical mass. So I can honestly say that as close as I was, with keys to doors and access to all residences, the sexual abuse was entirely hidden.
Looking back I can see several factors that allowed abuse to take place. One was that verbal abuse had become normalized in the circles around Yogi Bhajan. Another was that the cultural propagation of the mindset of utter respect and obedience to the spiritual teacher leaves the student in an extremely vulnerable position. When perpetrated by a spiritual authority is all the worse. I am sure that sexual abuse at the hands of spiritual teachers has likely been going on for eons. But now we have the internet and instant information. And we have me too, and that's enough.
The third factor is the human archetype of the messiah, the saint, the One who is pure. The spiritual hero. The Holy Man. Yet this is a fairy tale but a powerful enduring archetype in the human psyche. But why are we are looking for that extraordinary person in the first place? The unhuman human. The holy person with magical powers and without flow is an image celebrated in many cultures and religions. The fascinating thing is to look at why we humans are looking for that. I believe it's for the hope it provides. And an old pattern woven through our history.
As students we had brought into the underlying belief that Yogi Bhajan knew what was beneficial for a person's soul and personal evolution. He cultivated that belief that he could perceive things like past lives, future lives, energetic complexities of the soul and the universe and auras that gave away the thoughts of everyone - capabilities that his students hadn't achieved the capacity for. We believed that methods that outsiders might see as verbal abuse were actually healing tools; a needed adjustment of the psyche. There were many reports from students of how "getting blasted" by Yogi Bhajan had straightened their life out. He had a shrill intensity to his voice that had the effect of penetrating into the core of one's awareness. It was frightening, yet somehow in the act of allowing it there was some benefit it was felt. And it was justified in the belief that only he could understand the underlying subtle energies at play the way, and that we, his students could not. He got an astonishing amount of deference out of that.
Getting "blasted" it was felt, could catalyze into self realization and spur a student on to to profound life changes. In my time with Yogi Bhajan was never personally spoken to in that intense way, which I took, perhaps egotistically, as being due to being a very successful, disciplined, good student. But I certainly did witness it many many times. When he unleashed his signature verbal barrage on someone publicly everyone in the room would squirm internally in silence. At least everyone with a heart. But we accepted it as part of being his student. Investigating the psychological set up that allow that to take place is now discussion at many a dinner gathering of his students.
In explaining this, Yogi Bhajan would say that that the role of a spiritual teacher was to chisel the student. It sounded kind of poetic. Many times Yogi Bhajan would repeat the concept that those teachers who catered to a students weaknesses, to their false needs, were actually doing more harm than good, and were actually just trying to be popular with students. The idea was to create "grit" in the psyche, so the student could face the challenges of life, sail through without suffering, and thereby help others do the same and in this way serve humanity.
This sense of mission of being strong enough to help others was very compelling. One of the negative ramifications was that many teachers of kundalini yoga and ashram leaders took up this attitude and the verbal abuse became an operating procedure and teaching technique. In my opinion I have never accepted that harsh abuse ever a good way to teach. It is certainly ineffective. And at the end of the day, looking back, and looking around at all of us that considered ourselves students of Yogi Bhajan's, I honestly don't see any more "grit" or wisdom or resilience or kindness or compassion in Yogi Bhajan's students than anyone else who is sincerely working on their consciousness.
Again and again I find myself surrendering to truth. I am not anti Bhajan, but I am quite anti bulshit. I am pro truth. That means to honestly reflect, to shift, after learning what we have learned from the overwhelming number of reports of abuse. I apologize for all the bullshit that I allowed into this practice and into my teaching of yoga. You do not need special clothes. You do not need special mantras. You do not need loyalty. (Please give up loyalty - another old medieval survival tactic that has become an awful archetype in the modern age.) You do not need anything in fact except to trust God the way God comes to you. And as for yoga - if you want to try some yogic practices that I have found to be profound for centering the self, I will be honored to share what I have discovered with you.
I am, these days, in the position of attempting to extract what is good and wondrous and discarding everything else. It is fresh and clearing and challenging at the same time. Discarding the fictional tales that became a smokescreen to provide credibility. Discarding the useless baggage and structure that we hold on for a false sense of security. It is a salvage mission, like diving to a sunken ship to take the treasure to the surface, but leaving the old hull to slowly decay at the bottom of the ocean. Because there are treasures that are worth sharing. The hull, however, was just a vessel. Once it hits an iceberg it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and becomes a playground for fish. I will continue to teach what has resonated with my personal experience and sense of what is good and worthy and whole.
There are a great number of Kundalini yogic techniques that I personally find invaluable and which I believe can be helpful and effective tools for the clearing of consciousness, and the turning towards the potential of each individual. For example, there is the pranayama called breath of fire, which is such a fundamental practice of Kundalini yoga that we take it for granted. Breath of Fire is a wonderfully effective technique for clearing the nadis, and one that I have not seen taught in other lineages. I learned it from Yogi Bhajan. He attributed it to his teacher, and while it is similar to some other practices if have not seen it in exactly the same way in other traditions such as kriya yoga. Maybe he made it up. What I am saying is it doesn't really matter. I will teach the things that have been effective for me. Some techniques are rooted in one lineage or another. Others are right from Yogi Bhajan. Others are practices I have developed through my work over the years. No matter what I will endeavor to teach it in a way to show how it works and explain the energies at work. My feeling is to not to allow the failings of Yogi Bhajan to ruin what would otherwise be excellent yogic practices, techniques, mantras as well as a community of wonderful practitioners.
I recognize that it may not be possible. Once a rotten avocado goes into the Vitamix, you can't get it out of the smoothie. But after all these decades, I feel that I owe it the best shot I can give. I do believe that practices are Let's see how it unfolds and how it feels as we move forward.
My own personal impression while learning directly from Yogi Bhajan was that he taught a mix of newly conceived techniques, mantras, and practices derived from various sources and spiritual and yogic lineages, including his own intuition at the moment. It's perfectly fine to develop new yoga exercises and synthesize from various lineages. In fact that is how yoga has evolved over the eons, and how, I believe, it should be taught. The lines between yogic lineages are best when blurry. All the yogic lineages are not pure lines, but are more so focuses. Over the course of history yogic lineages are blends from various teachers and schools. But in that case why not just sell it as it is? The weird thing was that this newly conceived synthesis was promoted to students and teacher trainers as an especially secret ancient technique in order to give it an air of credibility.
Yoga has been taught in India for thousands of years as an oral tradition. Authors like Patanjali (500BC) and Svatmarama (15th century) finally wrote stuff down, compiling the practices of many former teachers and lineages into a written record. Nevertheless practices were often taught by a teacher to a student in a very private manner, and often a student was forbidden to disclose the practices to others. But the secretive nature has an other side. It also protected the brand. It made a teacher (aka guru) exclusive, and if one wanted the information, then it had to come directly from that teacher. This was the case with the mantras that were given out in TM. They were from a lineage who's traditional called for them to be be taught in secret, whispered into the ear of the student. This was standard practice for yogic techniques. But after a while after TM had been taught in the west, it became disclosed that the mantras were all the same, and based on the age and sex of a student. It's fine in tthe sense that the mantras and the practice of TM is still a beautiful thing. But the reason for keeping these practices secret over the years is 90 percent about branding and 10 percent to honor the sacred nature of the mantra.
Falsely claiming the practices were from an old lineage doesn't give anything an air of credibility. Quite to the contrary, once it is revealed as self promotional fiction it gives the entire practice an air of bullshit. This is incredibly unfair to those who spent time and money on learning something they believed was something different. It was deceptive and damaging, and that has to be acknowledged. The loss of time, one's reputation and personal integrity - that can never be repaired. It is my personal opinion that anyone who went through the KRI teacher training certifications who would like to get their money refunded, should be offered a pathway to do that, directly from KRI.
At this time the way Kundalini Yoga is taught, if it is to be taught, can not be business as usual. I find it ridiculous to see teachers just going along as if nothing is different. They must have some weakness in their own practice to need to be so insecure that they can't let go of scaffolding. I would ask that all teachers of this practice we call Kundalini Yoga to step up, take the high road, be willing to accept the truth, as hard as it is, tell the truth about Yogi Bhajan's, and incorporate that change into their own practice and their own teaching. That is what the times are calling for.
The worst are teachers that accept homage from their students. Teachers need to not accept the the pedestal that students often want to give them. Just don't get up on it. That pedestal is an incredibly seductive place to be for a teacher. But it is a false place. It's not the student's fault for wanting to put you there. It is the teacher's fault for accepting it as ok, or promoting it as a healthy student teacher relationship. Respect is one thing. Homage is another. In my view teachers that enjoy their student's homage are like rotting old fruit in the refrigerator. The time for that practice is over. Look out for that desire by a teacher. It is the big flashing warning sign of the times.
You do not need a credential from KRI to teach Kundalini Yoga. Perpetuating that hierarchical system is corrupt to begin with. You have a right to share what you have learned, and experienced. Learn. Study. Practice. Experience. Open your consciousness to the subtle that are the power beneath everything. Share what you have discovered. Do your practice. Be disciplined. Make life your vision quest. Over and over. But then share your genius, such as it is. But don't do it to get rich or acknowledged. Do it because that sharing is its own motivation. So is learning. Sharing and learning.
Over the years I have endeavored to teach kundalini yoga with the goal of making the energy of it tangible, the inner shift undeniable, as I have experienced, while at the same time giving up all that is just packaging and unfounded. That goal has become all the more important in light of the abuse by my teacher. I believe that yoga teachers can learn to teach neutrally from their developed inner experience and highest consciousness rather than repeating rote sequences.
WHITE TANTRIC YOGA
This was a wonderful practice that was first promoted by, and then subsequently ruined by Yogi Bhajan's own lack of credibility. If Yogi Bhajan really had the profound clarity of intuition to "know" he was the "Mahan Tantric", then by that same intuitive clarity he would "know" that the sexual exploitation of his students would come out and ruin his credibility. Therefore the Mahan Tantric concept doesn't holds water, and, sadly, reeks of being another self serving fictions. I hope I am wrong, but who knows anymore, is the point.
I did feel that white tantric yoga was incredibly powerful and a privilege to partake in, although vastly more so for the sessions Yogi Bhajan was leading personally. I never got that same sense from the video courses. Those days with Yogi Bhajan present was a practice that was done in the moment. Long meditations, short meditations, different breathing techniques or mantras that were called for that time and space. Yogi Bhajan led it, as a human not a video, and his classes were always exciting. The narrative that he was "mahan tantric", didn't mean much to me. The nice thing was that the room was not lined with big video screens with his image, nor was there the perpetuation of the same recordings over and over. In my personal experience the video courses, which began in the "80s, never provided the same depth of experience. Plus they generated a kind of exaggerated larger than life idolatry.
By the way I was part of the original videotaping of Yogi Bhajan for the first series of the video white tantric yoga courses in the 1980's, as well as being the on-screen demonstrator of the first twenty or so courses that were produced. So if you take a video white tantric yoga course you may see me there on screen. I willingly participated in those tapings because I believed so strongly in the practice of white tantric yoga and my faith in Yogi Bhajan. I was never paid. If I had known then that this would lead to Yogi Bhajan "releasing the tantric energy" by sexually exploiting young women I would never have supported it. But I did not know.
White Tantric Yoga was a profound experience for me. The problem in this point of human evolution is that if, and this is a big IF, if white tantric yoga actually requires a specially incarnated "mahan tantric", then the potential for harm outweighs any benefit. I am not taking part in promoting any practice or initiation that requires the presence of an self described "enlightened" being. I am not going to perpetuate that old paradigm of life on earth. Because that concept is inherently belittling, rather than empowering. It causes more harm than good. Our human evolution has moved past that. One has to self initiate. The times have shifted and the choice each of us is now presented with is to either be flowing and loving, or to be stuck like stone in old paradigms. Genuine resilience comes from flexibility. Brittleness comes from rigidity. Any eagle that holds its wings rigidly is doomed to fall. For an eagle to soar it must shift its wings to adjust to the wind. We can learn to fly the same way. By sensing and adapting to the subtle flow of energy that permeates all we do. And that is something I am grateful for.
Thank you for listening. I will continue to update this section as I feel ready to.