Love the Teachings, Not the Teacher Part 1: The Teachers

February 1, 2020

Heroes are Still Human

Heroes are Still Human

For centuries, humans have gotten caught up in our own stories. We have continually latched onto other people, holding onto their personalities in addition to their teachings as we search for something bigger than ourselves. When these mentors provide answers about God or the universe, offer solutions to difficult problems, or guide us towards our purpose in life, we often begin to worship them. They are viewed as exemplary. We seek perfection through them.

By placing too much dependence on any one person, we start to lose our own power: of deep introspection, of rational thought, and of self-imposed change. We can lose our Self — our identity — and the connection to our intuition.

It is important not to hold our teachers, our mentors, our leaders on pedestals. Many leaders throughout history have misbehaved at some point, whether they acted out sexually or used dishonesty as a career tactic. Good teachers and leaders can make bad decisions in their professional and personal lives; that does not automatically negate their entire message. People can still intend well while making mistakes in their lives. As Alexander Pope famously wrote in An Essay on Criticism, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

Yogi Bhajan was a yogi and a teacher, but he was also human. Like so many great men in history — John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, among others — they made controversial choices in their personal life. Many people who have inspired us, opened our hearts, opened our minds, started a movement, and helped to push the times forward have had to deal with personal issues.

That does not make their powerful words and actions any less valuable. That does not erase their overall message. However, this dichotomy can often create an inner confusion. The mind defaults to contrasts: up and down, left and right, good and bad. If my hero does something bad in private, then how can I accept him/her doing something good in public?

We each have our own perspective on what is right and what is wrong. For example, some people might absolve a partner who cheated while others might leave them immediately. Some people might stay connected to their church despite a clergyman behaving in an unscrupulous way, while others might view it as a test of faith. Moral codes differ per person. That is why passing judgment is a complex matter.

Ultimately, we must accept that no person (or institution) can exist as an ideal. Even if they speak to your heart, they can err. Just the same, we have the option to forgive. This does not mean justifying bad behavior; sometimes, for our own peace of mind, it can mean forgiving ourselves for putting all our trust solely in someone or something else.

Why I Teach Kundalini Yoga as Held by the Kundalini Research Institute

As a young person, I questioned life a lot. I challenged it a lot. Life is about looking at that which is uncomfortable and trying to make sense of it. That helps us to grow. My life’s path has been made through this act of ongoing questioning. This has often led me to question (and reaffirm to myself) why I teach Kundalini Yoga as held by the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI), despite some of the drama surrounding Yogi Bhajan’s personal life.

I teach it because it works.

Throughout my journey with Kundalini Yoga and meditation, I can state with confidence that it has given me the experience, knowledge, and therefore wisdom that helps me make sense of life. It gives me faith and trust to keep going, even when life is very hard or unfair. This insight has worked for me in both my personal and professional life; it gives me the ability to help others on their own path of self-discovery.

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am here to help others find their roles, their path, in the universal consciousness of which we all belong. I am not here to hold their hand during the journey of self-discovery but to give them self-righting tools while they sail on the waves of life. In times of adversity, in the ups and downs of those waves, we grow the most. I wish that we could learn the greatest lessons only from beautiful moments, by coasting casually on the sea, but that is not the case. Sorry!

We grow the most through adversity and pain because it forces us to seek solutions in order to come out through the other side. We must look within ourselves, to ask ourselves tough questions. As our positive mind and negative mind dance together, we create our own path through the neutral mind in order to step out of the pain. That is the message I hope to convey when I am teaching Kundalini Yoga. I teach it because I have lived it.