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Yogi Bhajan: I am, I am not

Sat Nam Dear Family,

“Whatever I am, I’m not; whatever I think, doesn’t matter; whatever I appear to be, I’m acting and I’m not and I am. The life of sprit is neutral.” We were seated in the living room of the Estates at the bottom end of the ranch in New Mexico. There were many relatively new students seated around as It was the summer of 1982 during Solstice time. A few old time teachers were invited to bring their new students to enjoy time with the our beloved teacher. The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan’s, statement lifted my head.

I’m sorry to say, I was blessed to hear him everyday, so, sometimes, attention wanes as the same teaching is reheard. Something like this statement awakened me in a hurry. He typically wasn’t so direct about his consciousness. But, with new students, he was often more mystical, more new age, and more transparent. This was his current audience.

It’s taken me years to truly hear what he was saying. Please, let me explain what I’ve come to understand. “Whatever I am, I’m not” is found in the reconciliation, the balancing, of these opposites. It is the great value of a true teacher. In the west we hear the same thing in Judeo-Christian terms as “I am, I am.” I’m both finite and infinite, worldly and Godly, hear and hereafter.

He trusted that whatever he was, his caliber drew his Guru’s favor. What he was, was a really good representation of his Guru. He followed the Guru’s teaching enough to garner Guru’s grace. Enough so, that his Guru granted him the blessing of not only being a good representative on this planet, but being so with Guru’s help makes the job, the earthly ‘I am,” a joy. And, that’s a really good gift from Guru. One that’s kept me focused.

And, that’s not all. Guru ji also bestowed upon him the second “I am.” The “I am” which delivers “Whatever I am, I’m not” Whatever he appear to be is only half of who he is. So, he’s not anything as well. He is nothing because he requires everything from God; he’s everything with God’s help. He’s not anything without his Guru’s help. The “I am” experience comes with the awareness that everything is God’s Will. So, life is lived in relaxation. When he realized that he can do nothing except his duty and his prayer, it’s easy to relax. This is what blessings comes with being nothing and everything at the same time. This is where the balance is found; this is where neutrality lies; this is where Guru’s court is found.

His next line, “whatever I think, doesn’t matter,” has it’s reference straight from the first line of Jap Ji, the initial and most sacred prayer of a Sikh taken from the words of Guru Nanak as he emerged from the sacred river. “sochai soch na hova-ee jay sochee lakh vaar, chupai chup na hova-ee jay laa-ay rahaa liv taar,” means: think, think a million thoughts, there of no value. True value lies in following God’s Will, and by being silent, going inside, is where God’s true Will is inscribed.

In Japji, Guru Nanak declares himself not to be himself. So, our beloved teacher is not his thoughts. His discipline dictates this to be true. He is a servant of his Guru’s Words, Guru’s Teachings, Guru’s Will. What you see may or may not be what you get. Yes, he can enjoy his thoughts, but there is always the awareness that his thoughts are wrapped in Nanak’s Japji. His thoughts are sifted through Guru’s Will; accordingly, his actions reflect this glorious state of being.

Why make this statement to a group of new students? It’s our teacher’s royal nature. He demonstrated his royal teaching nature in this regal teaching manner which allowed the students to contemplate who he was and what he said. I was far from a new student, but it sure caught my attention as well. It’s provided a great learning experience for me.

It’s allowed me to understand and deeply love our teacher more. I was blessed to see him live to this standard. I now understand his base. I am no longer limited in thinking that he’s what you see. I saw and see him as so much more that any description wouldn’t do him justice. But, I’m sure you get the message.

He laid down the ground rules for these students, and I benefited. I can’t speak for the others one way or the other. All I know is what his statement of protocol has meant to me. It’s the main one reason why I’m the Chief of Protocol. I’m indebted to these students, they gave me an opportunity to see deeper into the grace of our teacher. He taught me to understand the Guru through his example. Stay tuned,

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