Yogi Bhajan, Humble Getaway

 Sat Nam Dear Family,

 Around 1980, The Siri Singh Sahib called my room and said, “Let’s go for a walk.” We were in Hawaii, and had just returned to our hotel after a late afternoon lunch. As I approached his room he was already in the hall waiting and said, “Let’s get out of here.” I had heard this expression many times when he wanted to get away from everything for a short while. If I were driving, I would have to ditch the security car (which was always fun). We would slip away from security, secretaries, students, etc. and it gave him a chance to be private. This day it was just a walk.

I always enjoyed moments like this walk, in which the Siri Singh Sahib stepped out of his shoes for a while. While he was, is, and always will be my teacher (this relationship never changed), we always had fun together.  We both liked to enjoy ourselves, and believe me, we did. He shared with me the experience of allowing spirituality to enhance the joy of living rather than making our path boring and restrictive. Naturally, I loved this nature about him.

As we left our rooms, we walked past the hotel pool straight to the beach and began walking down the waterline without speaking and with no destination in mind. It must have been after fifteen minutes or so that we ran into a group of people sitting on logs in a circle with a large bonfire in the center. Sunset was just beginning and in Hawaii they are spectacular. The fire, the sunset, the luscious environment gave a dream-like feeling. There were two dozen or so 18-to-25-year-old locals gathered. We joined and sat on a vacant log. No one acknowledged him. No one recognized him. He sat as a humble man returning to his base. He always recognized, loved, and included his roots as well as his exalted self.

We watched as one after another would stand up in the circle and say a prayer, sing, chant a mantra, or make a salutation to the sun. They were kids searching for more. For the Siri Singh Sahib, this was an unusual experience as he was without his entourage and could blend in. I was somewhat irritated that he chose this event to blend in with. Thinking we were better than this (here I was judging again), I thought  just walking the beach was better than  this rudimentary display of spirituality. We must have stayed for twenty or thirty minutes before we got up as unnoticed as we had entered and retraced our steps back to the hotel without speaking a word.

It’s taken me years to understand his actions. He just wanted to take an hour off from being the great and admired yogi, Yogi Bhajan, Bhai Sahib, and Siri Singh Sahib. This was his rebellion; this was his privilege; this was his latitude; this was his grace; and, this was my blessing to see the honor and humility in a spiritual man.  When he wanted to get away from his status and position, it was only as far as his roots, never dropping his consciousness. This was all he needed, an hour or so every so often within the confines of dignity and divinity. This great expression of simple humanness gave me an identity with him beyond his status and allowed me to be hopeful that there were better things ahead.

Stay tuned, 

M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa

Chief of Protocol

Sikh Dharma


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