Community, Infinity & a New Way Forward
An article from Gurucharan S. Khalsa, chairperson of KRI Board of Directors
It has been KRI’s mission from the beginning, to hold, to preserve, and to share the teachings of Kundalini Yoga & Meditation as Taught by Yogi Bhajan. That remains our mission today. Some of us took classes from Yogi Bhajan and wrote down what we were taught and that has found its way from manuals and books to the minds and hearts of kundalini yoga teachers around the world. It’s also true that for almost every kundalini yogi, we have been taught kundalini yoga mostly by teachers who are not Yogi Bhajan. We have been grateful for those teachers, respected those teachers, perhaps loved those teachers. Each one was a human being. A human being with a connection to the golden chain.
Each teacher, when we chant ong namo gurudev namo, connects to the golden chain, our spiritual lineage. It’s also true that when we sit on that teacher’s bench we show up with a personal lineage. As spiritual beings, living a human experience, as embodied teachers, we show up with both a spiritual lineage and a personal lineage. Our spiritual lineage is clear, pure and accessible to everyone. In our personal history, there is light and shadow, known and unknown, good news and bad news, gifts and challenges. This is a part of the human experience. As our personal healing and spiritual transformation takes place over time, we become more fully able to embrace all of who we are; spiritual beings and human beings. We learn to have authentic relationships, we learn to have conscious and compassionate communication.
To protect our students and ourselves in the kundalini yoga class we have a clear opening in which we bow to the entire creation and to our own highest self.; We have a clear closing when we sing the longtime sunshine song and we send that blessing out to the world. By bowing in humility and service, we open to receive the blessing of the divine. In our closing prayer, we send that blessing in group consciousness to each other, our communities and the world. This is a beautiful structure and it helps to create a safe space during the class. We don’t have that same focus of protection through spiritual connection outside of the class setting.
The role of KRI in relation to the teacher and student relationship in kundalini yoga is to create a structure that we can all agree to, that we can all embody, that helps to hold a level of consciousness, that helps keep everyone safe from the acting out of our very complex and personal history. If you are not feeling safe, it’s very difficult to fully show up. If we don’t show up, we can’t fully embrace all of who we are. As we become whole, we embody the message to our students that they can become all of who they are, in their own humanity, in their own relationships and in relation to the Divine.
The policies and regulations adopted by organizations like KRI create the structure around which they function. This is similar to how the bones in your body create a physical structure for your life. And like the skeleton, they both set boundaries and limitations for us and give us the ability to walk and talk and function in the world.
So many hold our community in their hearts, love the teachings and do their best to live this lifestyle….. This includes the KRI Board, executive management, the staff, the members of the Aquarian Trainer Academy (ATA) and Kundalini Yoga Teachers around the world. As a community we have created the policies, held in the The Code of Ethics & Teacher Policies, to support those who practice these teachings and to protect everyone – Teachers and Students. This Code was created by our community, to support and to promote safety in relationships for all practitioners. Those of us who care about the teachings, who love the lifestyle, it is up to us to hold these teachings in structures that are strong enough to endure and flexible enough to respond to the needs of an emerging and conscious humanity. Just like our human bodies need to be both strong and flexible, the structures with which we hold each other in community needs to be strong and flexible.
“The medium is the message.” This is a quote from Marshall McLuhan (Canadian Philosopher 1911-1980). What he meant was it’s not what you say, it’s who you are that matters. How you hold the message in your body, in your relationships in your life, that has a greater impact on those you teach, than what you say. This is seen in the parent to child relationship, where a parent models the kind of behavior they want to see for their child. The greatest gift a parent can give a child is to be kind, be supportive, and to respect that child’s unique attributes, so that the child has positive role models and can fulfill their unique potential. A similar dynamic is held by the healthy teacher-student relationship, where the teacher holds the trust of the student and supports the students’ learning. There are thousands of yoga teachers around the globe who bring forward these teachings; bravely continuing to teach knowing the value and quality of life that they bring. Every teacher can lean on the Code of Ethics & Teacher Policies, created by and for teachers to continue the healthy student teacher relationship. Many yoga teachers may not realize that in the last two years the Code of Ethics has been reshaped to reflect professional standards in the yoga industry. Every certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher through KRI’s certification pathway is held to the standards set forth in this policy.
There has been much debate in the last two years about how to speak about Yogi Bhajan. This message from KRI is to again clarify that it is up to each individual teacher to decide within themselves what their relationship is to Yogi Bhajan and how they choose to speak (or not) about him. It is our role as an organization to offer these teachings unchanged, honoring their lineage, and support them reaching every corner of the globe.
Historically the model for learning yoga was that of guru-chela. There was one who had the knowledge and one who longed for that knowledge. There was one master and those who sat at the feet of the master. There was one teacher and there was a student. There are many ways in which that model was brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan. At the same time, he was very clear in saying he was not here to gather students. He was here to build teachers. He taught us about Guru Nanak, whose guru was the sound current, the naad, a spiritual vibration, not a man. He taught us about Guru Gobind Singh who bowed to his students, the sangat and gave them the role of leaders in the community, as Panj Piare. Guru Gobind Singh said the time for bowing to a man has passed. Bow to the sound current. Bow to the word that vibrates the Divine. Guru Gobind Singh gave up the guruship, not just for himself but for all who would follow. No longer in his tradition, in this Dharma, would there be a human, embodied guru. Yogi Bhajan continued this tradition when he said (frequently), “don’t love me, love my teachings.”
And now we look to the global community that your voices set a clear direction for the future and a safe and brave space for ALL who choose to practice. That’s Powerful stuff. Look around. We are the sangat, the spiritual community. How we go forward is up to us, all of us.