I Stand For You, For All Of You. I Always Have.
I Stand For You, For All Of You. I Always Have.
Dear Family and Friends,
For 81 years of life I have seen countless challenges in our communities, in our nation and across national borders. Growing up in World War II, remembering the Korean Conflict, it still seemed simple to discern good and bad. Any Hollywood Western would show you – the good guys rode white horses and wore the white hats.
No one had to ask “Where do you stand?” You stood for God and country, and probably apple pie.
Sadly, such is not the case these days.
Perhaps the simple discernment of black and white from those early days began to melt during the Vietnam era when it seemed we were not quite the good guys we once thought we were.
Now we are in an era where everyone seems to look at someone as potentially a bad guy or bad woman. The question “Where do you stand” means you’re either on “my side” or you’re bad. And each side claims this.
What happened to our heroines and heroes? Must we dig up the worst in everyone and throw out the rest?
Remember this. The light is always in the dark and the dark is always in the light. To deny either one is to deny reality. So the question is where do we put our energy? Do we build one over the other, invest more time and energy on one side or the other? Or do we find a way to accept both and grow a greater whole with higher aspirations?
Here’s an important case in point.
In our Kundalini Yoga community we are faced with the dark side of humanity in deeply-disturbing allegations of serious sexual abuse by a long-acknowledged great teacher, Yogi Bhajan, who passed in 2004 after leading us for nearly 40 years in Kundalini Yoga. Allegations have since been supported by an investigation done by an independent organization that was hired by the management non-profit that oversees all of the enterprises founded by Yogi Bhajan.
The ensuing report has sent shock waves across our Kundalini Yoga and Sikh communities around the world.
People are now asking “Where does Sangeet stand?” “What does she believe?” “Why doesn’t she come out and speak her mind?”
Let me be absolutely straight with you. I stand where I have always stood. I stand with you and for you – for all of you. Without judgment. When you have been depressed or ill or stuck in your own darkness you came to me and I shared a brighter picture and you turned your faces upward. I never saw “bad people,” just people who sometimes did bad things. I cannot label anyone.
I have worked to lift people up with no judgment, some of whom you might think bad and not worthy of help. I let God be their judge, not me. As long as there is breath there is hope for something better.
I stand on all sides because I see all in one light – I see pain and confusion in all just as I see hope in all. So I serve all, with my heart, my gifts and training, and most certainly with my prayers.
Would you expect me to turn my back on anyone? That would not be me. I came knowing as a child I would serve to create peace and harmony and so I have endeavored to do so all my life. That means for me there are no sides, even though I recognize that is not true for most people.
You may not all want such a Sangeet at this time. I understand. Some of you still prefer to battle, to vent your upset, anger and strife. I feel your pain and the pain of those who have been harmed by the heinous deeds of this teacher and by many others throughout history. Yet I feel also the pain of those who lived close to these perpetrators and they did not know. I feel even the pain of the perpetrators themselves like Yogi Bhajan whose internal agony spilled over to bring such harm. And I pray for them as well.
God feels with us all, cries for us all and prays for us all.
Over the past few months I have been part of many meetings about this crisis in our yoga and spiritual communities, beginning in April with our international council of ministers, listening to those who were harmed. And I cried for every one of them.
I joined in a 3-day global summit with over 400 Kundalini Yoga trainers in 47 countries around the world. and I have taken part in many computer-assisted “listening tours” with students, teachers and community members across this country and beyond.
As you can imagine there is a broad variety of reactions. Many people saw only the good in our teacher, many are incredulous on hearing of his dark side. Many intend to continue teaching and practicing this precious yoga while some are standing back, pulling away. I understand and accept and feel for them all.
As for me, I have taught and trained in this system for over 40 years and during that time have seen only good come to pass. I am grateful to this teacher who gave me life-saving practices and showed me ways in which I could help people transform and prosper in their lives.
Based on my personal experience and on the reported experiences of many hundreds of students as well as years of my counseling clients, this yoga, these meditations, breath-work and numerology all work well, exceedingly well.
I continue to teach Kundalini Yoga and will continue for as long as I live. I will continue to use it's vast body of resources in breath, movement, numerology, and sacred sound current in my own practice as well as in my professional work.
But, you could well ask, wasn't Yogi Bhajan my teacher? From my earliest years my spiritual teacher was always God, not a man. God spoke to me as a very young child and I knew His Voice well. When I came to the Sikh pathway I heard God speak to me again when the poetic scripture of the Sikhs was read. I took to reading and chanting the hymns and mantras, written by sages of Sikh, Hindu, Sufi and Muslim paths, all contained in that inspiring scripture, all singing the praises of One God. We call that scripture “The Guru,” meaning God. Not God in human form but beyond form.
I had found my home – months before I had ever heard of Yogi Bhajan. He became a guide and conduit of sacred and practical teachings. I respected that he often quoted passages from “The Guru,” seeming in alignment with its virtues and values. But my spiritual teacher was always God.
So have these recent dark revelations about Yogi Bhajan affected me? Of course. The weight of darkness is very real, even shocking. But to me, preferring always to face the light and help others to do the same, darkness is often a surprise.
It does not imbalance me or deter me from my life mission. It does not take me off the path of Kundalini Yoga.
I know who I am and where I stand. I stand where I have always stood. With all of you and with the light. With the desire to retain the best of these teachings so others can use their strength. With the hope that we can admit to the harm done to others that came with this yogi's darkness and yet keep all in balance and hold our heads high as we move forward.
Because despite our wrangling, anger and disharmony in our yoga community and in our nation, I will always believe in goodness. I will always believe that everyone of us is a heroine or hero in our hearts and that, yes, prayers do get heard and answered and there are brighter times ahead for all of us.
Not just “somewhere over the rainbow,” but right here and now.
And I will always bless you, the good in you, the all in you!
August 26, 2020
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