Scanning my junk folder last week, I noticed an email from a Kundalini Yoga organization that I’d followed a few years ago. It looked serious; something had happened that shook the community.
I learned that Yogi Bhajan, the man who brought a form of Kundalini Yoga to the west, had allegedly had a sexual relationship with one, maybe more, of his long-time students. (Though he had been accused of many things in the past, this – according to the community – was the first credible claim.)
Is this really a surprise? We hear about this all the time, and often in the spiritual/yoga community; (mostly) men taking advantage of their ‘power’.
The timing was interesting; in the couple days before, I’d thought about my strong connection with Kundalini Yoga and how I’d maybe like to resume my practice. I could’ve gone down the rabbit hole in reading other yogis’ reactions to the allegations (and I did, a little bit). But ultimately, I’m just so done with the same old, same old story.
In many Kundalini Yoga classes, Yogi Bhajan is absolutely central. He’s quoted all the time, there are photos of him everywhere…he dominates. On some level, I have a hard time separating him from the teachings.
Kundalini Yoga is, largely, about eradicating the ego. It’s about humanity moving out of an age of darkness. It’s about unveiling the shadow and purifying consciousness. So, perhaps it’s quite fitting that this has happened.
I read Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth last year, in which she writes about her process of moving away from spiritual teachings and focusing on her inner truth and knowing. I related to this book in a big way. One message: You are your own guru, words often echoed in the spiritual/new age community.
I have mixed feelings about this sentiment. Yes, we often give too much power to authority – bosses, religious and spiritual teachers, parents. To the point where we lose ourselves, don’t feel in control, and become resentful.
I am learning to listen to and honour my own inner wisdom, which has come from life experience. But I also want and need the help of something higher, and you are your own guru means, for me, that I have a lifetime to cultivate my relationship with that something higher, learning in my own way. There’s a lot of muck that needs to be wiped away, and I need help with that. Humility, to some extent, grounds me.
For many years, I learned from others – mostly men – who I felt had more spiritual knowledge and wisdom than me. And this isn’t to say their particular intentions were bad or they were misusing power; it’s just the way things have been done for so long. We’ve all been playing certain roles, and they aren’t working for most of us.
And now I’m thinking about the divine feminine, something I used to write and think about a lot, but which has slipped away these past couple years. I was writing about it, but couldn’t truly feel her presence in my life.
I loved that Kundalini Yoga was about empowering women. I still believe that. And part of this empowerment, this awakening of the Divine Feminine, is dismantling the power structures that (paradoxically) don’t allow for it.
These structures are incorporated into so many aspects of humanity, it shouldn’t be a surprise where they surface. I trust that spiritual teachings can remain intact, and even more powerful, when we can discern the transmitters – the human beings with egos – from the essence of the teachings. We are stripping away all that’s not truth.