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Yogi Bhajan: Cleanse the Lens

I look around and I see people with history. It’s my history of them. Automatically, I view them through an ancient lens. Some I like, others not so much. The question is: Do I see them as I was, or as I am? If I see people differently, then, isn’t this a verification that my world has changed? The answer to these questions is the beginning of increased self-awareness. If acted on, it’s also the beginning of an elevated consciousness.

All sorts of obstacles come in the way of seeing and dealing with people differently. History is a powerful motivator; comfort is comfortable; higher expectations are a challenge to all parties; and, habits are habits. Habits are hard to change even when we know better. The greatest obstacle may be how others consistently persist in seeing us even through we’ve spent considerable time seeing and dealing with them differently.

You mean that others’ view of us has that kind of an effect on us? That’s exactly what I mean. If you understand that we are the sum total of what we truly believe, then how we view ourselves is to some extent or another, and usually a great extent, seen through the lens of others.

It’s a proven fact that if five people walk into an office and and say to someone, “gee, you look different today, you look sick,” you know that even if he felt great before any communication, he will feel differently. Often, he will go home sick. This is not theory, this is fact. So, why shouldn’t the projection of others affect us much more than we think? Of course, it does. The question is: what can we do about this, especially if we’ve changed and their view is no longer warranted?

One way to deal with this issue is, ‘don’t let anyone rain on your parade.’ This takes a meditative mind, a sense of security, and a habit of risk-taking confidence. You must hold your concentration on your own perception. Its difficulty to do and is exacerbated through not wanting to appear insensitive. You don’t want to retreat into a ‘world of your own.’ Nevertheless, your world is the one you live in. This juggling act takes grace.

It appears that one question just sets off another. Where do I find this grace necessary to be sensitive to others, yet, still, firm in my own projection? Where is this balancing act found? How can I enjoy the process? Now, we’re getting to the bottom of it. These are the most relevant questions one can ask of him/herself. The true answer to these questions provide the answer to: what should I do? When you know the true answer, life becomes contented.

Christians have their ways; Jews have there’s; Sikhs are indoctrinated beautifully into their’s as well. Sikhs dwell in their Guru. I know that this typically takes considerable time before total merger occurs, but the steps along the way provide amble protection against the ill projection of others. Whether you’re beginning to love Guru, you truly love Guru, you’ve become a member of Guru’s Court, or you are Guru Himself, the practice of repeating God’s name does the trick.

The practice of chanting God’s name, hearing God’s name, or thinking of God’s name when dealing with others provides what I call my Bucky Beaver protective shield. That’s my image. You can take it or have your own. Mine came from the 1950’s. Back in the day there was a cartoon t.v. commercial for Ipana toothpaste in which Bucky Beaver had a protective shield, a transparent plexiglass, which kept tooth decay away.

Chanting, repeating, or remembering God’s name is your protective shield. For a Sikh, it works no matter how good a Sikh you are. It gives you the opportunity to move on without the interference which destroys all hopes. God’s name is a ‘pass Go, and collect $200.’ card (another old reference from the past, from a Monopoly Game). You can see that I’m no ‘spring chicken.’ What’s with these references? They work for me. Find that image which suits as your protective shield. After all, some people are verbal, others pictorial. Others, smell their way through life. If they all lead to God’s protection, may as well have them all available. You never know. You have more ‘bullets in the gun.’ There I go again!

The point is a Sikh is unaffected by his environment. “Pain and pleasure are the different sides of the same coin. Balance is seen in extremes everywhere. - In-between lies the truth. The process is enjoyable rather than emotional. The truth is found in the education that all creation is in perfect balance.

There’s no good or bad, thinking makes it so. Good and bad are the creation of God also, therefore, judgement his His, not ours. There must be an up for a down; there is a right for left; and another is the necessity of bad for good. Good and bad are our own creation. God knows both are necessary for His will. Everything and everyone is a part of God. This understanding erases history. This is what’s called ‘carefree.’ Not the way we think of carefree, but carefree in the sense that life is lived carefree of worry, of doubt, of everything.

Seeing others with my protective shield in place, yet remaining compassionate, allows me to help others without having to feel the pain of the world. That really makes serving compassionately worthwhile. It turns out that you don’t have to live in suffering to be compassionate. All that’’s required is compassion. Not only is not being affected by others the blessing, but seeing who others are by their projection allows for compassion to be targeted. It’s a great place to exercise compassion. It makes compassion not only worthwhile, but desirable as well.

At this point, even your Bucky Beaver shield has to come down. Everything is in Guru’s hands. In order to do this you must have the guts, the courage to trust that His protection is real. Guru ji’s protection is no longer a hope, a dream, a protection, a projection - it’s real. After all, that’s the promise, isn’t it? Then, life is really lived carefree.

There are endless levels and wonderful experiences in becoming carefree. Life just gets better and better. I love the Sikh way. I’m blessed to be accepted into such a wonderful lifestyle. In return, I serve that protocol. Not with just devotion, not with just love, not with total surrender, not with just acceptance, but with the essential reality of the teachings, “In God I dwell.”

Don’t tell anybody, but I don’t mind it so much when I’m misunderstood. I get to practice humility. Yes, it takes practice, at least it has for me. Not reacting to misunderstanding is the beginning of a neutral viewing of reality. A Sikh is relaxed in this balance and compassion is the result. This kind of compassion is real, is personal, and is rare. That’s the Sikh way. That’s why I’m blessed to serve Guru’s way. Stay tuned,

In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
MSS Hari Jiwan Sing Khalsa
Chief of Protocol
Sangat Representative