Affirmation – A poem by Haripurkh Kaur Khalsa

Affirmation

If I need your approval to be great,

If your slander can tear me down,

If my dreams are subject to your opinion,

Then god bless me,

For I am lost.

If fear causes my surrender,

If doubt clouds my mind,

If my clarity is tarnished by my anger,

Then god bless me,

For I am lost.

If my aim in life lacks altitude,

If I am afraid to be great,

If the thought of failure holds me standing still,

Then god bless me,

For I am lost.

Everything I will ever need,

I have within my soul.

Everything I need to learn,

The universe will deliver.

Every truth that exists,

The infinity holds within.

Tap into that wisdom,

And let the rejoicing begin.

I will never be average.

I will fail 1,000 times at greatness,

Before I settle for good.

I will go out on the limb,

While the branch is breaking,

If I’m not falling down,

Then I’m not aiming high enough.

Fear is not a factor,

I can always get back up.

If something triggers my fear,

I will fight it until I have it conquered,

Or until I die…

Which ever comes first.

— Haripurkh Kaur Khalsa

(Guru Singh’s daughter)

This poem is published in a book of poems and illustrations by Miri Piri Academy students, available from Guru Singh’s wife, and I believe, through his website.

3HO – Cult or Spiritual Environment?

Despite the remarkable help I’ve experienced from my Kundalini Yoga practice, I often wonder if I’m stuck in a cult. I was out with some friends having dinner, and one guy remarked that his ex had been a dedicated Kundalini Yoga practitioner. He made an off-hand comment about it being a cult. Is it?

Just where do you draw the line? Even if it IS a cult, can it still be beneficial? There are a number of embittered “ex-3HO” discussion groups, and Rick Ross maintains a group of articles about 3HO claiming the horrible abuses it inflicts. But the stories he relates are indicting for the individuals involved more than the community as a whole.

A woman I know says she did spiritual counseling for women (plural in her story) whom Yogi Bhajan instructed to be celibate within the 3HO community, but he “made them have sex with him.” Apparently they were scarred for life. The questions that immediately came to mind were; was it an ego trip for them? For him? Was their self-esteem so damaged they needed that interaction? Does his wife know? Is there any possible way it could have been beneficial to the women? Or did Yogi Bhajan just blatantly abuse his powers without regard for their good? Is there some spiritual level at which it’s all inconsequential? Do our moral laws and judgements so thoroughly color our perception of the encounter that it obscures the power and esteem issues involved? Such questions immediately draw into mind the “defense of the cult by those blinded by their involvement in it” issue as well. I don’t have any clear answers. Of course any women will be insulted by open-minded examination of the issue, and most 3HO people will probably be defensive.

I heard so many horrible stories of the Hare Krishnas abducting people during the 70′s and not letting them leave after they had their free meal and were worked to the bone. Moonie stories abound as well. Both organizations have done wonderful things for various communities; Culver City’s Hare Krishna community seems wonderful, and boasts one of the best vegetarian restaraunts around. A friend of mine travelled to spiritual temples all around the world with a program sponsored by the moonies, and another worked for the computer animation lab they ran. Is a cult a black and white issue? Recent articles have condemned the Kabballah Center in Los Angeles for cult-like practices. Many people I know have met their “soul-mates” there or at least praise their spiritual growth and how much it’s helped them. A friend left the Scientology community and had people pursuing him through visits to his home and family. Others claim it’s helped them immensely, although some have lost family inheritances through shyster investment advisors that preyed on the community. Who am I to say? That one hasn’t held any attraction to me.

Steven Hassan has a website called the Freedom of Mind Center. In it, he’s examined some of the issues involved. Forthwith:

Questions to Help the Assessment Process

from Spiritual Responsibility: Avoiding Abuses and Pitfalls Along the Path

1. Who is the leader?

What are his/her background and qualifications?

Have you relied solely on trust that all of the information you were given is true or have you done independent investigation?

Do you feel pressure to accept and not question at all?

Is it possible that there are misrepresentations or falsehoods?

Is there external corroboration for extraordinary claims of accomplishment or are they simply his/her say-so?

If “miracles” have been performed, can they be replicated under open observation or even under scientific conditions?

Are there other explanations for the “miracles,” such as magic tricks, hypnosis, etc.?

If there is a former leader or member, have you sought him or her out to hear for yourself critical information? If not, are you afraid to trust your ability to discern the truthfulness of what you learn?

If you find yourself saying that you don’t care if there are major deceptions, ask yourself if you knew this information before you became involved, would you have even bothered to make a commitment of time and money?

2. Are there exclusive claims made to wisdom, knowledge, love, and truth? If so, the burden of proof is on the leader to demonstrate his or her superiority, not on members to disprove it. A truly “developed” spiritual being exudes love, compassion, and humility. Any person who claims to be “superior” but does not practice what they preach is of questionable character. There is never incongruency between words and deeds. A person who uses fear and phobia indoctrination to control followers demonstrates insecurity and lack of spiritual maturity.

3. Is total submission and obedience required? Any relationship that demands giving up one’s personal integrity and conscience is dangerous and leads to totalitarianism. Be wary of those who advocate “the ends justify the means,” especially when it clearly serves their own self-interest. Also, make sure that your desire “to believe” doesn’t simply activate the common psychological defense mechanisms: denial, rationalization, justification, and wishful thinking. If a doctrine is true or a person is truly spiritually advanced, they will stand up to the scrutiny of objective evaluation. If they do not prove themselves, they are probably not worthy of your commitment and devotion.

4.    Does he/ she have a criminal record, a legacy of allegations against him/her or a history of misconduct? If there are allegations of misconduct against the leader, the responsible follower must seek out the negative information and the sources of that information to evaluate the truth. If a leader claims to be celibate and allegations are made that the leader engaged in inappropriate sex, this is an extreme violation of integrity. It must be investigated vigorously. It is never appropriate for teachers, therapists, or spiritual masters to take advantage of a power differential over followers. This is especially true in the area of sexuality. It is grossly unethical to engage in sexual relations with someone who has placed their trust in as a teacher/advisor/master. Many followers are incredibly vulnerable to this and unable to resist sexual intimacy. Anyone should be able to say “no.”

Is he or she a “trust bandit,” stealing hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and pocketbooks for his or her own ends?

5. Does the leader demonstrate psychological problems and awareness of their existence?

Does the leader have addictions to power, drugs, alcohol, sex, even television or shopping?

Does the leader have emotional outbursts?

Does the leader physically abuse followers?

Does the leader drive expensive cars and wear expensive clothes while extolling the virtues of renunciation?

Does the leader financially exploit followers by expecting them to live in poverty while he or she indulges in luxury?

Is the group or leader’s driveway habitually filled with luxury cars while ordinary people find him or her inaccessible and unreachable?

Does the leader ever encourage deception or use deception as a “technique” to trick followers into so-called correct thinking and understanding?

Codependent behavior by a spiritual teacher should be a warning sign of danger. Codependency includes: obsessively trying to control others; allowing people to hurt and use them; lack of clear boundaries; being reactive, not proactive; tunnel visioned; obsessive worrying and denial; expectations of perfection and suppression of human needs. (Beattie, Beyond Codependency, Harper/Hazelden, 1989)

6. Are questions and doubts permitted within the organization?

A healthy spiritual environment must engage individual followers at their level of experience and should encourage them to feel and think and therefore question their beliefs and exercise good decision-making. In this way, the follower can investigate, discriminate, and test the dogma and the environment they are being asked to accept, between what his or her personal issues are and what might be an unhealthy environment. If intense pressure is used to dissuade people who wish to talk with former members or critics, it is a clear sign of information control. Controlling information is one of the most essential components of mind control.

7. Is the organization open or closed?

Are there organizational secrets?

Are there “in” groups and “out” groups?

Are there restricted teachings for initiates only?

Are there secret texts and publications “for your eyes only”?

Is there real financial accountability?

If a group says that you can look at its accounting records, does it actually provide access?

The only way to know is to ask to see the records. If you are afraid to ask, what does this say about the atmosphere of the group?

8. What structural checks and balances exist within the organization to prevent abuse of power?

Are there divisive sectarian biases, even in the name of interdenominational ecumenicism and universality?

Is there an independent “ethics”committee to challenge and change policies of the group?

If there are abuses or injustices, what structure exists to correct them?

Can anyone legitimately question the actions of the leader without threat of emotional withdraw or fear of expulsion to “hell”?

Do the rich and powerful get preferential treatment?

Are “indulgences” (spiritual pardons) sold?

Is there a “code of silence” against unethical behavior of leaders?

DailyOM: Harmonizing with the Universe; The Benefits of Singing

March 28, 2008

Harmonizing with the Universe

The Benefits of Singing

Singing is an act of vibration. It takes music from the realm of the unformed– whether that is in your mind or from that magical space of inspiration–and moves it from within to without. From the first breath singing moves the energy in a circular way inside your body. As the breath fills your lungs, it brushes against the second and third chakras—the centers of creation and honoring self and others. Instead of merely exhaling, pushing the air past the fourth and fifth chakras where heart charka and the center of will and intention reside, singing engages both the heart and mind. Sound vibrations from vocal chords resonate in the sinus cavities, filling the head with motion and sound while the brain lights up with the processing of the mathematics of music. This marriage of activities brings the third eye into play and opens the door for inspiration from the crown chakra before sending the sound out into the world.

Once the vibration begins, it is sustained with each note, moving throughout your body and the space around you. This can help you to harmonize your frequency with the world and with the divine. The use of the voice can bring about catharsis, a cleansing from the expression of emotion, which is why we feel better after singing certain types of songs. All of this occurs even if we are not conscious of what we are singing, but when we really connect with an intention, the power of the voice and music together are powerful tools in creation.

Even if you are not a singer by nature or talent, you are not left out. If you have a voice, it is your birthright to celebrate life with song. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel you have a nice voice. Chanting or humming, singing solo or with others, your voice is yours to enjoy. Whether you sing along to the radio or use vocalization as part of your meditation time, singing and harmonizing are healing activities that bring your body’s vibrations into alignment with the universe.

Contemplating Navels. Is that really Pilates? Shiva Rea Gets the Core

So I just finished Shiva Rea’s Creative Core Abs DVD workout.

Shiva Rea Core DVD

Core work is usually hard for most people, and of any of the yogic sets in Kundalini yoga, I find myself resisting or procrastinating doing navel sets the most. They say if your navel center is strong, you’ll never be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gurushabd went as far as to say that the people in the World Trade Center obviously didn’t have strong navel centers or they wouldn’t have been there on 9/11. A wave of irritation flowed through the class after that pronouncement. Despite yogic arrogance, there’s truth to the benefits of a strong navel center. It keeps you on track, gives you the ability to follow-through on your ideas and commitments, and supports your confidence. Navel fire is the spark of commitment, the spiritual corollary to the “fire-in-the-belly” they talk about in the film “Wall Street.” Over-developed, a person can become domineering, over-bearing, and unreasonable.

A strong navel center needs to be supported by a balanced first chakra, sense of self, groundedness. It needs an open heart center to allow the truth to be expressed and heard, and to allow the self to connect the animalistic survival functions with the spiritual dimensions.

The Shiva Rea DVD isn’t a Pilates method, and never claims to be, but I recognized a lot of the exercises as familiar from Pilates. Of course, the Pilates method integrates a variety of yogic exercises along with other techniques, so Shiva Rea very well may have gone directly to the source, and I just found the exercises familiar because I know them from the later Pilates techniques.

Pilates is all about building a strong core or navel center. At least that’s what the trainers always spend their time discussing. In reality the system stretches and opens up all the limbs while building long lean exceptionally strong muscles. But after several years of Pilates, after doing the teacher training for it, I still hated the Pilates mat workout, whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced. The only one I thought was interesting was the mat reformer series, which presents the exercises you do on the reformer on the mat; many exercises are the same, but the sequence is different. The reformer is a modified bed with springs, developed for rehabilitation of hospital patients who couldn’t get out of bed. If you ever see a Pilates “apparatus” you’ll probably see a reformer first, although there are modified chairs and the “cadillac” – another immobile bed with pipes and springs above it. I love the Pilates equipment and the sets on them, but the mat work is dreary, hard, and boring.

Unfortunately a lot of people seem to think Pilates is just for women. Any athlete whose performance relies upon strength and flexibility will see huge benefits from the practice, including football players. Joe Pilates himself was a boxer. Dancers and gymnasts love Pilates because it gives them flexibility and strength, focus and control. The surge in interest in it has been tied more to wealth and vanity than a real understanding of what it offers. Unfortunately, it has been so absurdly modified from studio to studio that you hardly know what you’ll get anymore. That is just what the NYC school was trying to trademark and prevent, and many teachers were angry about that – probably because what they were teaching bears little resemblance to Pilates.

Menezes Pilates Book

For instance, the Menezes book on the technique bears little if any relation to the system taught by Roman Kryzanoska, Joe Pilates’ protégé.

Romana Pilates Book

(A better Pilates Method Book by Romana and Sean)

Romana Kryzanowska and Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher and Romana Kryzanowska

I met someone last weekend that had a herniated disc, a spinal injury that I’ve seen Pilates used to heal frequently, and the person said her Pilates work hadn’t helped it at all. I think there’s also a big difference between rehabilitative Pilates, and general exercise Pilates, and the thoroughly trained teachers can do both. Many people get certification for it without enough supportive work to learn the rehabilitative aspects of it.

I saw a magazine article that said Pilates doesn’t give you an aerobic workout and won’t help you lose weight. That was about as informed as the NY Times obituary that said that Yogi Bhajan’s White Tantric Yoga was a sexual practice. Unfortunately, the way some people teach Pilates, it IS slow and meditative, and doesn’t elevate your heart rate. That wasn’t the way it was intended. I saw a woman who lost 35 pounds in less than 10 sessions (typically 2-3 per week). Core work gets you slim. That fat may be the psychological “protection” we think we need, or ballast that keeps us sinking underwater. I think there’s probably a lot of psychic baggage trapped in it, so it’s hard to shed it.

But back to the DVD: Shiva Rea’s dance background seems to shine through in it, because it incorporates a lot of Pilates mat movements and a whole assortment of other abs routines in a constantly moving, never boring workout. I still associate the word “workout” with ending up tight and sore, but this set centers you and opens you up. I don’t think it was very long either; maybe half an hour. I think I’m going to come back to this DVD, hopefully frequently, because it made doing that core work fun, not dreary or boring. It’s not often I can say that.

Shakti Pad: The Stage of the Practitioner

From The Five Stages On The Path of Wisdom

in the older, now defunct, Teacher Training Notebook

The third stage of the practitioner is the most crucial, transitional, and challenging of all the stages. The choices made in this stage and the transformation of the student’s capacities that occurs determines whether the practitioner will progress toward mastery, stay at apprentice levels or quit the study altogether. It is a stage at which either a transformation or a discontinuity occurs. In the spiritual disciplines, shakti pad is known as the test of ego or the test of power.

At this stage the student has accumulated a lot of experience. He has tested the rules, stored up conscious and unconscious abilities and habits, and is overwhelmed by possibilities. What is required of the practitioner is the ability to choose a goal, fix on a motivation, and consciously commit to a set of values. The practitioner must also develop the ability to establish a hierarchy of choices. The practitioner must have a faculty to prioritize complex sets of tasks and decisions and to notice what is significant to the goal and what is not.

Imagine the driver who has learned the basic skill of guiding the car as a novice. He learned the art of driving and explored many different routes and types of vehicles as an apprentice. Now as a practitioner a new level of skill is demanded.

How do you choose between the many possibilities you are tactically qulified to execute? As a practitioner, you must choose a strategy. You must assume responsibility to choose between all the trails that take you along your journey. The driver may have 50 ways to drive into Boston. Putting all those choices in mind without a method to restrict and direct a decision would be confusing, overwhelming, and time consuming. The practitioner instead chooses the way into Boston based on a particular goal or value for the trip.

Each route satisfies a different value. Route 1 is the “quickest” and “saves time.” Route 2 is the “most beautiful.” Route 3 is the most “social” since it goes by friends’ houses. Route 4 is the most “historical” as it goes by monuments. Route 5 is the most “challenging” due to the varied landscapes and driving conditions.

The choice of value and of route must occur before leaving for the trip. If you start on the route of beauty, you can not change and still accomplish the least time.

As an apprentice each journey was assigned by the mentor. As a practitioner, the choice is now yours. You learned as an apprentice that there are many rules for different situations. As a practitioner you must now formulate rules about which set of rules to apply. The rules for beauty, speed, challenge, and newness are different.

This stage is similar to the developmental stage of adolescence. The novice is like the newborn. The apprentice is like the young child. The practitioner is like the adolescent who is ready to challenge the rules, to risk new combinations, and to act in patterns that are unlike the past. It is a creative and dangerous stage. Just as an adolescent wants the power of choice without the dangers of responsibility, the practitioner wants to make a choice without commitment. The practitioner that learns to command commitment, to overcome doubt and to discern the proper values, conquers this stage of learning.

The adolescent driver may decide that “speed” is the most important value. The driver then tailgates, risks high speed turns and darts between other car in traffic. If the practitioner becomes attached to that value, he will be insensitive to situations that do not fit it. He may spend time in court, kill himself or endanger other drivers.

If the practioner enjoyed sped and was willing to be a novice about that value, he might enroll in a speed driving course for cars in race tracks and begin professional training.

This is the test of power in shakti pad. The practitioner looks at the whole situation, at the panorama of facts and choices. He must then consciously act from the whole or from a part of the whole. This is a critical ability. The cognitive ability needed at this time is the capacity to perceieve the implications of the whole collection of choices and information. To act unconsciously or incorrectly from a small piece of the whole is a fatal error. A practitioner fails if he chooses the value or goal which he enjoys or which he finds most interesting or stimulating rather than the value that continues to serve the larger project, task or study that he entered training to attain.

The experience of this type of decision making is often unpleasant and frightful. It is beset with uncertainty and often fills the practitioner with doubt. It is a perilous and existential moment. It is as agonizing as the decision of a Hamlet – a question of identity and commitment. It is as grave as the decision of an Oedipus. The decision is made through deliberate effort to reach the correct perspective of the whole and to discern the true significance of the decision.

The ego or attachment of the student becomes the biggest block at this stage. Imagine the driver who so loves the feeling of the car as it moves that he refuses to study maps or make plans. The sensations of driving are so enthralling that the next capacity can not develop. This happens in games. I recall a video game player who couldn’t get above a certain score. I told him I knew how to do it, but he had to let the shooting of certain video demons become automatic. He said he knew that, but he enjoyed the feeling of confrontation too much to simply let it become automatic. His attachment to that sensation blocked him from moving to the highest level of performance. The love of confrontation was stronger than the commitment to increase speed. So the original goal, to win the greatest number of points, was not achieved. Neither was the experience of mastery which required him to surrender his own attachment to the requirements of the game.

At that point my friend redefined the game and found what he had done before to be false. This is equivalent to denying th guidance of the mentor who tells you to keep going and not to stop if you want to reach the end. A practitioner who does not pass the test of shakti pad denies the teacher or mentor. He is filled with doubt about the value of what he did before and he doubts the wisdom of the teacher.

The real test at this stage is the test to overcome doubt. To create an action where all the parts of your mind are behind the original path you chose. This sage requires commitment. It requires involvement in the sense that you are focally responsible for the choice. The results of the choice, for better or worse, are your responsibility. Success and failure become portentous and filled with consequence. It is similar to adolescence, when the smallest rejection or acceptance by others is met with enormous reactions of grief or ecstasy. Each action, since it is truly yours, is encased in amplified impacts and effects.

This choice of values cannot be done non-personally. It is always a personal choice that we make. It is not possible at this stage to take a cosmic perspective of detachment. The choice cannot be avoided without halting learning and growth. This is because the choice must be made first, before moving ahead.

In spiritual disciplines, this is the leap of faith. This is the moment where you choose to follow your own desires and limited perspective or you choose the higher values established by the path or teaching that you began to study. Up to this point the student is detached from the choice. As a novice you just follow the rules. As an apprentice you are busy learning new perceptions. As a practitioner you are competent to do most tasks related to the skills you are learning. You must choose where to use those skills and to what end.

On the path of yoga, many students leave the path at this point because they feel some part of themselves has been neglected or rejected by their own earlier efforts. Others gain spiritual ego and fancy themselves complete even though the teacher and teachings warn them against such a position. Others fade away slowly because they decide they are the exception to the rules and they need not follow the original disciplines any more.

Those students who can act with faith and wholeness do well at this stage. Students who can search for differences from the main goal and correct their direction pass through this stage the most easily. It is easy to forget yourself at this stage and become hypnotized by the satisfaction and power of the skills you have gained so far. If you surrender to the path and goal you began your study to fulfill, you will emerge with strength and empowered with an unshakable direction.

Resistance

So once in class Guru Singh was saying that he’s seen a lot of people come and start doing Kundalini Yoga, and the growth and change happens too fast, and they can’t handle it, and then they stop.

I’ve been wondering about that claim. I talked with one friend who became a student, and she said she switched to hatha for just that reason.

But I had a feeling after a while that change wasn’t happening.  I was going to sadhana daily, and was really stuck. The actions from yoga weren’t going to solve the problems I was facing in life, and I was expecting them to. Everyone else was shipping off to summer solstice, and I was stuck in LA. I looked at the damn pictures of Muniji and Yogi Bhajan, and I was pissed. I’d been had. Scammed.

So that intensified until I said, “to hell with this.” Quit – as much as I could. Although the yoga sort of has become integral to me being able to function. So I’d do a set here and there if I was uncomfortable.

I frequently run into people who say, “Oh yeah. I used to do Kundalini. But now I do… [insert various hatha forms here]” I never get a clear answer why they stopped or switched. Maybe there isn’t one – a conscious one, at least. So far no one’s told me the growth happened too fast. Several have told me they couldn’t stand the politics at the studio where they were practicing.

Dammit Singh claims the people who can’t stand yoga studio politics are amusing, because they’re so much more inconsequential than what you encounter anywhere else. But if it’s your world, (and it’s said that first you practice yoga to help your life, and then you practice life to help your yoga) then the politics DO matter, unfortunately.

Kirtan Singh told me that people who practice sadhana without Gurdwara tend to become very ego driven or self-centered, and the Gurdwara helps to counter and balance that. I thought that was interesting, and wonder why Golden Bridge and Karuna haven’t made an effort to offer that aspect to students.

Georg Feurstein: The Deeper Dimension of Yoga

Obstacles on the Path According to Patanjali

Illness

Apathy

Doubt

Heedlessness

Sloth

Dissipation

False Vision

Nonattainment of the Stages

Instability

Pain

Depression

Tremor of the Limbs

Faulty Inhalation and Exhalation

I’ll have to read that thoroughly and get back to you on it…

Yoga in the Park

So today I woke up with an ache in my foot, and felt all out-of-sorts, and nearly pulled a muscle in my back stretching around in my chair at the computer, finally relented and went to the park to do some yoga.

I’m still working on that “Sahib Parnaam” set with all the triangle pose pushups.

sahibparnaam.jpg

I did that and Subagh Kriya.

subughkriya.jpg

I was gonna try some others that helped with the navel center, but decided rather than try something new, I’d do sets I memorized already. Plus my allergies have been slightly acting up lately (the intoxicating night-blooming jasmine may not be helping), and sometimes that set helps a lot.

Doing yoga in the park seems a bit exhibitionistic, but you know, sometimes you just gotta do the things that help, and I get tired of practicing at home. Plus it was nice out today.

A week ago I did the pushup set in the same park, and it was amazing, and really turned my day around. It was the first time I’d been able to really keep up throughout most of it. So of course, the next day I decided to do it again, which didn’t work quite as well. (The arms get sore, etc.)

Today it was sort of tough, but not too bad. Triangle pose helped my sore foot immediately. I had this realization that if I just concentrated on using my navel center to lift me up after every pushup, it totally changed the experience of it. Of course as soon as I decided I’d found the key to doing it easily, it quit working. Then there’s the 12 minutes of tree pose. That was really the tough part this time, but when I lifted up up up it wasn’t so bad. I still bailed two minutes before the end. Oh well.

Then Subagh Kriya. So the second part involves criss-crossing your arms in front of you once per second. So I’d just started that section, and this little asian girl walks over in front of me, leaning forward a bit as if to believe what she’s really seeing, smiling. She walked right up in front of me, fascinated, looking right at me as I continued the exercise. Then her mom called her away. She ran away, and then came back and did the same thing again, until her mom called her away. I have this feeling some day she’ll be a Kundalini Yogini.

In the next section you roll your arms in circles, up in the air, chanting, “GOD” from the navel. I was doing all the sections for 11 minutes each today, looking at the clock quite frequently, it seemed. Around 6 minutes, I suddenly had this experience like I was shooting the word “GOD” from my navel, firing it out like a cannon ball, firing it out through my third eye. It was rather intense, but when I got fascinated with it, it faded. Then I got impatient for that section to end again.

In the next section, this poodle did exactly the same thing the girl had. He saw me, ran right in front of me, looking at me, fascinated, dropped his ball, cocked his head to the side, watching me continue. Then he barked, ran from side to side like dogs do. His momma owner came over and apologized, and said, “doing a little kundalini today huh?”

So a couple of tough sets today, left me feeling rather tired, not energized, for the subsequent encounters with those in my path. There’s a tendency to look for immediate results with Subagh Kriya, since it’s a prosperity set that makes some rather outlandish claims. I just was wishing I’d brought a meal with me, because by the time I got home I was famished and rather irritable.

Subagh Kriya:

So is God just gonna deliver whatever we want, even if we don’t deserve it? I think I can get caught up in just selfish expectations with it. One friend who did the set regularly for 40 days lost his job while he was doing it. So maybe the set doesn’t work? No, I really got the sense he was having to let go of something so he could take hold of something else. I’ve seen lots and lots of results with this set, which I’ve done more than any other. But not always prosperity in the form I expect or think I want. Sometimes better. Sometimes “not yet.” I think what’s good to bring to the set is a desire to let God’s prosperity flow through you, and that expands the prosperity for all.

Mantra Play and Haircuts

Sat Nam, Gee!

Sat Nam Gee.

Whaaaah! Hey! Geode. (Rock lobster!)

Eck on Car. (you want car wash?)

Walla walla bing bong!

Ssssssat Nam? (who your mama?)

S’ri (S’righ S’ro Sum, I smell the blood of an English mum.)

Whaaaaaah! Hey! Geode! (Rock lobster!)

Odd g’ray n’may

You gotta g’ray n’may

(it isn’t gray it’s blonde)

Robinsons May,

Macys may,

Sat g’ray n’may

Siri Guru d’vay n’may

Odd such,

You gotta such, (why thank you!)

A-bay such, (E-bay. Not A-Bay.)

Non-ekka ho, say “bay such”

I can’t hear you…

BAY SUCH!

That’s better. By the way, we take payents only through PayPal. Now once again…

I hope I haven’t offended the gurus. People have said you can channel your frustrations on God because he can take it. If your God is a she, however, perhaps you better look out. That’s the real reason for gender bias in religion, I think. Of course I’m just rambling here, and I don’t have any pre-suppositions in these areas. They’re all fine with me. Whatever you like. Some people can’t eat curry. Others love it. I fall into the latter category.

So don’t mind me. I got a haircut, and now all my kundalini is leaking out my ajna chakra. First haircut in like a year. No, not really. First scalping, though. She showed he this pic of a hip trendy looking club kid and said, “You want like this?” and then 15 minutes later I looked like a Russian cab driver and she was trying to sell me some gunk for $40 that would save me from my thinning hair and smelled like a taxi air-freshener. But I had this bizarre experience of having too much energy pounding all around my head afterwards, and eventually I realized it was because it’s unseasonably hot in LA and the air conditioning in my car doesn’t work anymore.

But hopefully now I’ll be able to put that claim about Kundalini Yoga being for the householder (unlike Hatha which requires 20 years of dedicated practice in a cave to bring about spiritual evolution.)

See there’s this irony about that claim, coupled with the “suggestion” to grow your hair and beard long and unkempt, I mean uncut, then to bind it all up with a turban covering your ears so the bad energy is kept away. I suppose somebody will hire you, but it does narrow your options a little. Doing sadhana at 4AM also makes it hard to have an edge at the office at 3PM when everyone else is finally waking up and recovering from their lunchtime martinis.

So I was listening to this sermon on tape from the Vedanta Center about Karma Yoga. One of the themes was that of “doing your duty.” I kept thinking it was something like what a dog does on the carpet when you don’t take him out soon enough. But actually, your “duty” varies depending upon your station in life (an old Indian concept – the reading the lecture was based on, surprisingly, is now 108 years old; fortunately we don’t really have castes in LA, unless you break a bone or something, or consider which studio/director/producer you work with) — and your calling. Well, your duty is that which exalts and elevates you while you’re involved in doing it. Which begs the question; what is your duty? If you have a clear answer to that, you see, you know what pursuit in life will help burn your karma. The karma yogi pursues their duty, dedicating the work to God, knowing that their boss is an agent for God, and God is their employer. If you have an unnatural inclination to follow self-introductions with a descriptive phrase before your catch yourself, such as “and I’m a _____________,” you might find a refreshing familiarity in this employment directive. Yeah, the third step. So two frogs are sitting on a log and both make the decision to jump off. How many are left?

Let me change the subject. I stumbled upon something in the Self-Realization literature that said one of the restraints of the Kriya yogi is not to engage in humor and joking. Because these are idle diversions of the mind which distract it from the contemplation of God. So does that rule out the laughing kriya, which is supposed to open your heart center? To practice it; just laugh as hard as you can for 1-3 minutes. You will feel changed, believe me. Yogi B used to say you should sweat and laugh every day to maintain good health. Or that’s what Gurmukh tells us frequently. It sounds like a great recipe, actually, doesn’t it? I’m going to have to confess, from my limited perspective, I think I can only begin to contemplate God if I can have a good laugh. They say God has a sense of humor. God laughs when we make plans. If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all. So contemplate God at a comedy club tonight. Or read an Ayckbourne play.

I guess I better get to work. God is watching.

God’s in a thought

I was wondering; what is the part of me that wants to change for the better, to improve myself, to do the best I can, to not settle for less than I know I’m capable of (without sinking into perfectionism – another discussion), to love and take care of myself – not because I’m tired of the pain of the things that aren’t working, but because I care? As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, what is it that makes me say, “you make me want to be a better man?”

Maybe that is God. Maybe that seed of thought is God in action. If so, then that is definitely God that I want to become better acquainted with.

Although the last example is questionable. He wanted to change because Helen Hunt’s character showed him he was worthy of love. It brings up an issue mentioned in one of the OneTaste podcasts; the issue of relationship as validation, consequently the question of what happens if the relationship doesn’t work out. Because that sort of conditional change obligates a person to return to self-destruction if the love is withdrawn. Unless in the time of experiencing it, the person has learned that they deserve better. The transition into that state isn’t necessarily easy, if you’ve spent your life thinking you’re not worth it. I guess that’s sort of the definition of a shame-based life perspective.

But back to Kriya Yoga. Is getting to know God the most important thing in my life to me? Well, I’d like to say the God I mentioned in the first paragraph is. Or should be. But habit often tells me otherwise.

One of those daily readers for today says,

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;

Sow an act, and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, and you reap a character;

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

– Samuel Smiles

Yesterday I couldn’t sleep when I wanted to (again) so I did bound lotus in a chair at the computer for a while. Must’ve been about an hour, I guess. I can’t do the full bound lotus, but I do half lotus, with my arms linked behind my back, not holding my feet or bowed forward. But what a transformation. I’m not sure I’ve done it for that long before. Maybe it wasn’t that long. It helped me focus a lot.

I stumbled upon some YouTube links of the Summer Solstices that I couldn’t get to, and of Guru Singh playing in the Yogi Tea Cafe there.

Guru Singh’s “LifeBite”:

Walk as if, and fill in the blank. Dream your dreams. Learn to expect the best, get your expectations way up there. When we know what we want, we learn to receive it.

Don’t believe the old saying, “Don’t get your hopes up, you won’t get disappointed.” If you don’t want to be disappointed, don’t be.

Maybe I’m falling in love with yoga again. Was I in Shakti Pod? (Or is it Shakti Pad? why don’ they tell us these things?) While I was bound lotusing, reading, listening to videos, and sometimes meditating, I heard this inner voice from Guru Singh saying he needed me to come back and play bass. Sometimes I hear people say anything you hear during meditation is God, your spirit, or intuition talking to you. I tend to believe it’s just my imagination coming to life. Not that I’m adverse to playing with Guru Singh in any way. Those were some of the most elevated musical experiences I’ve had, even if they were simple. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Guru Singh, it’s that a yoga set or chant doesn’t have to be hard or complicated to be powerful and effective, contrary to what Gurmukh and Gurushabd advocate.

I just can’t afford the classes over at Yoga West right now and Jot didn’t even want to honor the gift passes I’d gotten as a birthday present. It’s just far enough away that I can’t visit regularly. Golden Bridge is close by and I just don’t like going to their new space. So I’ve gone from inspiration to whining in three paragraphs. Gurmukh and Gurushabd’s clay feet. I AM in Shakti Pod. Wheeee…