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Where do we go from here?

By Prabhu Singh

*Note: I am expressing only my opinion here, this does not represent anyone in any official capacity. 

Beloved Sadh Sangat,

As a son, a brother, and a father in and of this community, I wish to share some thoughts today. I have made it my life's mission to support this sangat and to support our growth and nurturance as a mother ashram founded in the name of Guru Ram Das. I truly love this community with all my heart and the people here and what we've built in the Guru's name.

After the publication of an independent third-party report that concluded that "it is more likely than not that Yogi Bhajan engaged in several forms of sexual and/or ethical misconduct," it is clear that things will be different moving forward. I don't wish to ponder or put forth any ideas of how the legacy organizations ought to move forward. That will be a long and challenging road. I wish to write about how we as a local sangat move forward.

I see many, probably most, people having difficulty processing the contents of the report. Some seem ready to deny everything meticulously documented in the report, some ready to accept it and move on, some in the middle, and many other reactions. Thus far, it seems that some of the differences of opinions are creating polarization. Instead, I propose that as a mother ashram we move forward in unity.

This is the Hacienda (estate) of Guru Ram Das, and we've long been united in our love of and service to Guru Ram Das. That doesn't have to change to accommodate differences of opinion. What does have to change is our idea that what we personally believe is right and true must prevail over the entire sangat. That path of ego and stubbornness will lead to ruin. Let me repeat that in the Guru's own words: "One who acts in stubborn-mindedness is ruined in the end." (Guru Nanak Ang 356).

In light of that, I suggest that we make the Gurdwara a safe space for all people of all opinions. Guru Ram Das laid the foundation of the Golden Temple which has four doors open to all people. The Gurdwara does not belong to us, it does not belong to Yogi Bhajan, it belongs to the Guru. Right now, so long as we continue to play lectures of Yogi Bhajan every Sunday, we are saying, the opinions of those who wish only to come for the Guru simply don't matter. As long as we hang pictures/paintings of Yogi Bhajan in the Gurdwara (except for the mural that shows our history) we are telling people who come just for the Guru, that they must also come for him. I propose,  as a first step towards reconciliation and unity, that the Gurdwara become a place focused only on the Guru. The Gurdwara is meant to be a gateway to the Guru, not to any other teacher. So proposing our Gurdwara be a neutral space is not a radical idea. It's an idea of progress.

Yogi Bhajan passed away when I was 24, this year I turned 40. I've spent the majority of my adult life listening to the same Gurdwara lectures over and over again. As a dedicated student, listening in the meditative space of the Gurdwara, I have practically memorized a few of the lectures. One such lecture that comes to mind is one where he implores us to not be stagnant in our lives or our practice. He warns of what stagnation does and how we cannot grow with stagnation. Will my own children turn 40 before the Gurdwara becomes a Gurdwara focused on the Guru alone?

I'm not saying anybody has to change their opinion of Yogi Bhajan. I love everybody in this sangat and wherever they are in their process and whatever they want to believe. However, I'm certain that stagnation in the Gurdwara and an inability or unwillingness to make it a neutral space focused only on the Guru, will lead to unnecessary challenges.

Let us move forward in Chardi Kala with our shared love of the Guru. Let us embrace that our shared love and devotion means we can enjoy ourselves collectively while holding different opinions. Let us meditate on the four doors of the Harimandir Sahib and the Naam within everything.

WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa, WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh!