Sat Nam Dear Family,
“If you think you live in righteousness, you don’t.” We were seated at a table in Westwood on a cool summer evening in 1987. Yes, it can get very cool in L.A. in the summer when the sun goes down. The Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan, made this statement in context of the movie we just watched. I don't remember the movie, but I’ve remembered what he said daily. Please let me explain.
At the time, I thought his statement meant that righteous living is following the rules of your religion, isn’t that how you live righteously? It does, but that’s not the whole story. Following the rules is the necessary first step in proving to God and yourself that you’re truly trustworthy to serve Him. He can trust you. That sounds easy because you already believe you serve Him - right. But, what typically isn’t realized is that true service can’t be performed until obedience to the rules has been met and accepted by Guru ji. He’s the judge, the only judge, and the bestower of acceptance. He’s God, He’s Guru, He’s you.
I know, everything I said was fine until the last two words, “He’s you.” That’s hard to accept. Who are we to think that we’re worthy to even think we’re anywhere near good enough to even be near God, no less He? Well, I’ve learned, it turns out that we’re not near good enough. When we recognize this and call on Guru to fill in any gaps necessary in order to serve him better, He comes through for those kinds of prayers.
Anyway, let’s get back to the statement. Don’t most on a spiritual journey believe that they’re living a righteous life? Of course they do. But, our teacher’s statement is saying that they’re not. Why? Because if we do, we make ourself the judge and that’s not the way it works. God is the judge, Guru is the judge, and you, yourself are the judge. But, your judgement must be in accord with the teachings.
So, here’s the conundrum, the true student is both righteous and unrighteous at the same time. How can that be? Through the recognition that the student is nothing without Guru’s help, and he/she everything with it. All you think you are, all you think you’ve done is irrelevant. All that matters is your continued effort to do better. A good opinion of yourself should be not about your righteousness, but your continued march in that order. That’s the answer.
Your self-esteem shouldn’t take a hit just because you realize that your not as great as you thought. In fact, your continued pursuit for greater righteousness in your life should make you feel better and better about yourself. So, recognition of this statement actually should make you see yourself in a better light, not worse.
I’ve been thinking about this statement for almost forty years, I now see what he meant. The recognition that the only way to attract God’s attention is through Guru’s Grace. Guru recognizes those who are eligible for Grace through their devotion. With the recognition of your grand limitations along with the trust that with Guru’s help, Guru will take notice and limitations will no longer matter.
Once again, a statement from our beloved teacher delivered a tool which helps attract Guru. A true spiritual teacher can deliver diamonds among pebbles. Practice the humility it takes to see your grand limitations, work hard to overcome them, and see how they are covered through devotion to Guru ji. At some point your practice will become reality, if you sincerely keep up. Stay tuned,
In the Humility of Service and Gratitude,
MSS Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol