Did We Steal Kundalini Yoga?

Q: I confess that I stopped doing Kundalini classes b/c I have never fully embraced Sikhism, altho’ I routinely do the chants and kriyas. Am I stealing
the yoga without giving the Gurus their due? Don’t know, but in any case, I would love to “meet” others who may be in the same boat. Spiritual yes. Sikh…not so much. I hope that is not offensive to you. Your ongoing work and dedication are shining examples of how to be in the world and
throughout the world! Thank you.

A: You bring up a very important question. On one hand, we are re-contextualizing ancient teachings and technology. Not only that, we’re monetizing it and making what was meant to be sacred, trendy. On the other hand, you can’t put the paint back in the bucket once it adorns the wall, and
there’s no reason to. Kundalini Yoga is a tantric system. Tantra declares that desperate times call for desperate measures. The Universe knew exactly what it was doing when it made this practice available to us. It’s the medicine most needed now. We’re confident that Kundalini Yoga is meant to be an open source teaching. That doesn’t mean anything goes. We do need to cultivate reverence and recognition for the Core Teachings that gave rise to this practice. One of the hallmarks of the Aquarian Age is that we’re called upon to embrace a dual representation of things. In other words, two things can be true.

So, are we, “Stealing the yoga without giving the Gurus their due?” I think the “Gurus” would be happy to hear that we’re utilizing the “Beautiful Names” to elevate ourselves and others. Sikhism is not a cloistered tradition. Its sacred site (the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India) has four doors which symbolize that people from all faiths and places are welcome.Of course, we totally commiserate with you. Our friend Rolf-Thilo Schlabach from Germany coined the phrase “cultural imposition,” to describe YB’s antics. The optics around Kundalini Yoga have been highly problematic, but just because some people created a cult doesn’t mean that Sikhism is to blame. Sikhism is completely ecumenical and Sikhs decidedly don’t proselytize. Our advice is to view Sikhism not through a religious lens, but through a yogic one. From that perspective, there’s no need to differentiate between “religion” and yoga. What Sikhism actually is, is a revolution in yoga. Guru Nanak, as many saints and prophets do, effected a sweeping course correct.

Yoga in Guru Nanak’s time (approx. 1500) was sort of going off the rails. The yoga “superstars” at that time were called the Nath Yogis. They were often more invested in impressing people with their attainment of siddhis (yogic powers) than in the original intention of yoga (Self-Realization / God consciousness). Guru Nanak taught that it’s possible to be a yogi (an experiencer of yoga/union) and reap all the fruits of our inner labors in the
context of life as we know it. In fact, life in the world is a peerless crucible for authentic spiritual growth. Also, it may be that your conception of the term “Sikhism,” could be a bit more nuanced. Yes, it’s important to have Kundalini Yoga presented with a firm separation of church and state, but the primacy of Guru Nanak’s vision and ethos colors everything Kundalini Yoga. It’s inescapable. How we reconcile all of this is what we all need to work out collectively. We’ve already seen an example of what not to do. By the grace of the Infinite, and for the sake of all the generations of yogis to follow, let’s ensure that we get it right this time.

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