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The following article began as a brief history of my relationship with Yogi Bhajan during  the years 1970-71. I started writing it last Summer at the request of friend and teacher, Christopher Hareesh Wallis. Hareesh posted the article on his Facebook group, Tantra Illuminated: Tantrik Yoga Now. The response from some members of that group encouraged me to write a bit more. Therefore, I’ve added relevant events that I hope will give the story greater context. 


As I began writing I started wondering about what stories I want to tell. Should I include some I considered especially significant or wait and tell them in future writings? After wrestling with it for a while I just said ‘f… it’, I’ll put in as much as I can in order to give a more complete picture of what was going on in my life before and during my time with Yogi Bhajan. What I ended up with is a condensed version of the early years of my spiritual journey. 


This includes two major events in my life: the experience of Awakening and meeting my Guru. 


I say the experience of Awakening, even though I don’t consider Awakening to be an experience per se. Experiences come and go, but an Awakening remains with you. 


People take mushrooms in order to have experiences. When the experiences are reduced to memories, they have to once again take mushrooms in order to have more experiences. This is not the case with an authentic Awakening. 


In yoga and tantra terminology, Awakening is known as śaktipāta or Kundalini Awakening. You could just as easily call it the Awakening of Innate Intelligence.


This is the same Innate Intelligence at the core of everything. From this core of unlimited potential, It becomes manifest. It is the architect of the Universe, and at the same time, It has become the Universe. You and I have sprung from that same Source. 


You weren’t created by a Power outside yourself. That Power has actually become you. Once you figure that out, then you’re on your way toward recognizing It. Recognition comes in the form of Intuitive Insight, and Intuitive Insight is a vital step toward Realization. 


When this Power becomes a human being it conceals itself behind a veil of false identifications. Effective spiritual practice peels away our attachment to these identities. The key term here is effective spiritual practice! I’ll refrain from unpacking that here. I’ll let your teachers explain that.


At the root of our identities we exist in that Original State, only we’re unaware of it due to our various engagements in the world. Perhaps entanglements would be a more appropriate term. And yet, we’re completely at ease beneath it all - as the Witness. 


And here’s the deal: In this state of potential It can’t know Itself. That’s how come you and I are here. 


The uniqueness of the human body lies in its nervous system. If you want to look at life from a little different point of view, you could say that evolution is all about the development of the nervous system. And of course, the body to house it.


Our nervous system, in concert with the endocrine system, is what enables us, as human beings, to achieve Self-awareness. Awakening is the beginning of this process. Other life forms on our planet do not have this capacity. Only a human birth is capable of Self-Awareness. There are many ways you can look at the phenomena of our existence. This is just the way I see it.


When you reach a point where you are ripe for awakening to take place, then That which has become you, awakens.  You can liken awakening to a seed that has begun to sprout. Using this analogy, the awareness or knowledge of our True Self exists in a state of potential - just as a plant or tree exists as potential within a seed. Once conditions are right, life begins to unfold out of a mysterious and apparent Nothingness inherent in an otherwise inert object. It now begins the journey of becoming what it was designed to become. Our awakening is something like that.


Getting back to the story, my original intention was to simply write the history of my time with Yogi Bhajan without adding a commentary. However, as the story began to unfold in its larger context, I decided to chime in with my opinion of him as a spiritual teacher. 


As far as my own case is concerned, Yogi Bhajan appeared in my life at exactly the right time for what I needed. He served as a valuable link in the chain of events that's gotten me happily to where I am today. The following is a somewhat complete narrative of how my relationship with him began, developed, and eventually disintegrated. 


For a more comprehensive picture of Yogi Bhajan's story, Philip Deslippe has written an in-depth academic paper that is well-researched, detailed and an excellent portrayal of his life and teachings. It’s entitled: From Maharaj to Mahan Tantric: The Construction of Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini Yoga. I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to more thoroughly examine the life of Yogi Bhajan and the tradition he branded as Kundalini Yoga.


I also recommend Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan, by Pamela Saharah Dyson. This book was written by one of Yogi Bhajan’s closest students going back to the beginning of his teaching career. It will give you an up-close look at Yogi Bhajan, viewed from inside his inner circle. Trigger warning: sensitive content.

To start at the beginning of my article, please scroll down to the number 1 entry at the bottom of the postings. And, thanks for being here!

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