An Open Letter to our Kundalini Community

By March 6, 2020March 16th, 2020blog

Yoga doesn’t make you a good person.

It never has and it never will.
Your actions and choices are the only thing that can deliver that into becoming your reality.
So why continue to practice yoga? Kundalini yoga?? Another spiritual organization founded by a now known “pervert”, “rapist”, “narcissist”, “sadomasochist”. Personally, I never met Yogi Bhajan. It was an inconvenient truth for me to experience Kundalini Yoga because I wasn’t looking for a religion, nor a new persona, nor a guru to worship, and that’s really all I saw surrounding the practice. (turbans, white clothing, Yogi Bhajan quotes) I was conflicted because the yoga worked. I felt clearer, stronger, more intuitive, more capable of making difficult decisions with confidence, and challenged what I thought I knew about myself and the world. So I started to feel like I should in fact try to grow my hair out, wear all white, call myself by another name, in order to feel authentic in upholding the teachings and practices. But the truth is, I felt less myself. My experience of attempting to shroud myself in all of that, quite honestly never made my practice nor my teachings more dynamic, amplified, or authentic. (That’s just my unique truth and self experience based upon my own trials and errors) But words of truth spoken by him, and practices taught by him literally changed my life.
It is always difficult when someone disappoints you. In reflection, I realize that every single person I have ever met (or not met) has disappointed me in some way, including my own self. Yogi Bhajan was the last “guru” standing unscathed by scandal. Why is it so painful to have to realize he was no different than the others who have been unmasked? The pain, the trauma, the manipulation that anyone experienced by him is truly devastating to learn about, and these brave people must be supported in speaking their truth and create the space for personal and community healing. We also must sift through the dharma and dogma and see what to keep and reclaim. Is it possible that Yogi Bhajan did terrible things, and also that Kundalini Yoga works? Do you trust your practice only because you trusted him?
Throughout our cultural adoption of yoga, there have been many understandings and misunderstandings of the question: What is yoga? Are these specific practices the real yoga? The better yoga? “it was just made up”. “It’s ancient so it’s real”. It was all made up!! Self experience made it up from the very beginning. It can all be discovered and rediscovered again and again because it’s human nature, it’s built into our DNA.

We are all alive on the planet right now and have had teachings passed down to us from previous generations that we now get to own and evolve. If we rely upon what someone else’s experience was to dictate what we should or shouldn’t pursuit or experience now, we’re merely living inside their truth and not our unique potential.  If we’re scared to step out from underneath the wings of our teachers we will never own this incarnation we’ve taken, nor the god-given right to explore our intuition and experience our own evolution. We have to learn from those that came before us, and then forge our own path forward.

I re-ask: Why yoga? Are you practicing yoga because you think doing yoga makes you a good person? Because you want to rely on what someone else did or experienced? There is no human who is excused from having a shadow, nor is any human excused from their actions. More importantly, the shadow doesn’t disappear because you did a headstand or 2.5 hours of long ek ong kars. These practices merely give you awareness, rhythm, and momentum. The point of yoga isn’t yoga. It’s being you.
What does it really mean to move from darkness to light? When people come “down from the mountaintop” from a deeply meaningful “spiritual revelation” they usually say something like “I have to love myself more”, or “I have to forgive___”. These concepts are self evident. But what makes it happen? What makes it real? Just like the thing that never works is telling a hysterical person to calm down, or someone to love themselves. It’s meaningless. Your life is unfolding, our time is unfolding. It is moving from concept reality. The soul will do this on it’s own. A flower grows because that’s what flowers do. It’s what you do. Yoga is the water and the sunlight.
Can Kundalini Yoga survive without Yogi Bhajan? One thing that has an entirely new resonance is something he often said, “ I came here to create teachers that are 10 times greater than me”. In the past, I think it felt almost blasphemous to presume one could in fact become this. But perhaps now, shadows and all, we might be able to conceive of how our own shadows are not in the way of greatness or growth. It is not only tangible and necessary, but the conviction of our birthright to persevere, evolve, and claim the path forward.