by Kamalla Rose Kaur
First published in 1994
Magic is like cooking soup. The ingredients of the broth are symbols; images, music, costume, fragrance, scripture, poetry, art and prose. The first step to cooking up a bit of magic is to carefully select, prepare and mix together symbol ingredients and then, step two, cook them over the fire of emotion. Serenity, passion, fear, grief, happiness, anger, solemnity, or combinations thereof, all work well as heat sources, dependent, of course, on the chefs desired outcome. This combining and stewing of symbols with emotion is the culinary art of ritual. Once the soup is prepared, you serve it to the public. This third step is a type of theater or live performance. Magicians (politicians, ad men, rock stars and cult leaders among them) know that life is, indeed, a stage and that there is power in taking on roles and in acting them.
That is what I learned during the 20 years that I lived in a cult [i.e. the “Happy, Holy, Healthy Organization”–3HO].
I also learned that an expert cult leader does not cook his brew with inferior ingredients. Easily, 99% of the symbols that my [former] spiritual teacher pulled from his bag of tricks were time tested, pure and sacred ingredients which really did help his students to experience different states of consciousness, to live more peacefully and gracefully and to heal our wounds. After all it would have been counter to Yogi [Bhajan’s] purposes had he scared us off or killed us with our first sip of soup. Rather, the poison was administered very gradually and subtly over the years and it was only at the end that I, among others, developed enough discernment to start noticing and naming specific diseased and spoiled vegetables at the bottom of the bowl.
Continue reading In the Magical Soup
Yogi Bhajan often said he said he didn’t come to America to teach yoga, but to create teachers. He promised that if we trusted him and practiced diligently we would become Healthy, Happy and Holy. But his endless yoga kriyas (routines), meditations, dietary and other teachings turned us into physical and spiritual hypochondriacs. People on the outside were engaged in living. We were stuck in our holy Bhajan bubble trying to achieve physical and spiritual perfection as a precondition for living. In the race of life, we were forever at the starting line “getting ready” while everyone else was running down the track.
Continue reading Perfectionism & Hypochondria in 3HO
Posted by stillasikh:
I have no personal animosity towards most of you, and still have great affection for many of you.
I have no objection to you performing Hindu pujas, placing garlands on statues of idols, or any of that Hindu stuff. I have no objection to you performing ritual food offerings for the granting of wishes, or performing prosperity meditations, or any of that stuff. I have no objection to Yogi Bhajan having his ashes disposed of in a classical Hindu (not Sikh) ceremony, or to his Shinto shrine for paying homage to the dead (although IMO it’s in extremely bad taste). If all these rituals and superstitions make you happy, more power to you! But you need to be honest and call yourselves something other than Sikhs, because
Continue reading An Open Letter to Bhajanists
Posted by Cliff
1. Why does a flower bloom through any old crack in the asphalt?
2. Why does a caterpillar decide to become a butterfly?
3. Why does a prisoner become free, even though still in a physical prison?
4. Why does a baby breathe after birth-canal squeeze?
5. Why does a hard night always end with a be-you-to-full sunrise?
6. Why do people stop living small at the behest of a small person on a self-made pedestal?
7. Why do some desperate people stop following and start to lead?
8. Why does disease heal?
9. Why do people grow beyond their beliefs and see?
and my personal favorite:
10. Why does it take so many mistakes to learn how to learn?