In the 1970s Yogi Bhajan emphasized the importance for all 3HO ashrams to have a preparedness plan in case of a disaster. At the time, the most likely one was still a nuclear war. I remember having drills where one person would wake up everyone in the ashram in the middle of the night and we would have to be out of the house and on our way to a meeting place ten minutes from when we were woken up. We also had a caravan of 50 to 100 cars traveling together from Los Angeles to New Mexico on the way to Summer Solstice, practicing for the possibility of all of us evacuating to the solstice site in case of some international crisis or disaster.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s this became less likely and over time this emphasis disappeared. But today we are faced with the possibility of a worldwide meltdown of the international economy that could have disastrous effects on energy, water, and food distribution. Many of us in Southern California experienced a very small example of this a few months ago when after a windstorm some people were without electricity for a week.
An interesting view of this possibility can be found in the essay "Closing the Collapse Gap" by Dimitry Orlov. Mr. Orlov spent a great deal of time in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and observed how things fell apart and then came back together.
Because the Soviet Union was run by a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, this ended up being an advantage when things fell apart because people were used to inconsistent delivery of services and commodities. Even so, depression and suicide was very common. In the West it could be much worse because things run much more smoothly, so we have a bigger gap to get used to if and when things fall apart. It took the Russians ten years to recover, mostly due to the help of surrounding countries that had good economies. Dimitry Orlov predicts that if we have a worldwide economic catastrophe, recovery could go on much longer.
And based on the interconnectedness of the international economy, and the lack of real regulation and the recklessness of our large financial institutions, the possibility of an economic and social crash is quite real. In fact, many experts feel that it is not IF but WHEN.
In human history, most change has come about with great pain and suffering. While we all pray for a gradual and peaceful transition into this new age, the possibility of a violent and catastrophic shift is certainly something to be prepared for.
We are all familiar with people who walk around waiting for the end of the world. It permeates their lives with fear and paranoia. So the question is, "Can we prepare ourselves for some hard times ahead, spiritually, mentally, and physically without getting obsessive and without losing the universal consciousness that we get from our Kundalini Yoga practice?" The answer to this is YES.
That is why we have the example that Yogi Bhajan gave us in the 1970s. Being prepared for bad things is a conscious decision that does not need to fill a person's life with fear and distrust. That is one of the paradox's of conscious living: we can be prepared for the very worst, and yet stay centered and balanced and full of love and compassion for the world around us. But it takes a strong dedication to our higher consciousness and a regular sadhana.
There are three areas in which we all need to prepare ourselves:
- Spiritual focus
- Mental flexibility
- Physical necessities
Looking back, I think that what Yogi Bhajan was really teaching us in the 1970s with our survival drills was that preparedness was a state of consciousness; that if we trust that "All things come from God, and all things go to God," then we can get through any challenge with the help of our connection to spirit. But we will be tested. When things go off the rails in our life now, it is a challenge not to accept the invitation from our negative mind to go into fear, anger, and depression. Imagine how powerful this pull could be if the entire world is in chaos. This is when all of the hours of yoga and meditation that have given us a habit of consciousness and awareness will bear fruit. This is when we will really shine as leaders and healers of this new age. But to achieve this level of focus and discipline in our lives, sadhana has to become a habit. In the next sections, I will make recommendations of other ways to prepare, but by far the most important is to have a strong and consistent sadhana so that seeing God in all is not an intellectual exercise, but a calling that flows effortlessly from our hearts.
As Orlov stated, the Russian people were somewhat mentally prepared for the breakdown because they were used to waiting in long lines for food or fuel. They were used to the utilities being inconsistent. They were used to things not running smoothly. I think that we all could grow if we take some time to think about how much we take for granted: Electricity and light and heat will be there at the flick of a switch. Gas will be there at the pump. Water is there with the turn of a faucet. Food is always waiting for us at the grocery store. The police are a phone call away when we are in danger. Once we start realizing how much we take for granted, we can start to plan for what we will do to get by if these things that we rely on are just not there.
What if you no longer have a job? What if you can't pay your rent or mortgage? How will these things affect you mentally? Many people who define themselves by their job, their car, their social status or their home will be completely lost. They will literally feel like there is nothing to live for. If you are doing a strong daily spiritual discipline, it will give you the strength to roll with the punches. You will be faced by crises and always find a way to get through. And this is where people who don't have a strong habit of sadhana and spiritual connection will need someone to offer them stability and flexibility. Teaching people to breathe, to meditate, to chant, and to move will give them the perspective to find a path forward. Each person will have this challenge to see God in all, and we will have the technology to help people get through the roughest times.
Considering the possibility of a major collapse of the economy, making some concrete decisions to prepare for an interruption in services seems wise. Here are some questions to consider and research more thoroughly:
- How will I get water to drink?
- How will I get food to eat?
- How will I cook my food?
- How will I get gas for my car?
- How will I provide light at night?
- How will I stay warm?
- How will I protect myself and my family?
- How will I communicate with my loved ones who are not close by?
It is very conscious and healthy to think about these questions, and to research answers that work for your specific circumstances. This is not projecting for a negative future. It is preparing for a potential period in our future when we could all be tested to our very maximum.
With God's grace we will go through this Aquarian shift in a gradual and peaceful way, with people slowly shifting their consciousness and social institutions, calmly transitioning from a Piscean to an Aquarian model. But as conscious beings, it would be wise for us to be prepared for other possibilities. Once we have prepared ourselves, we can let the fear go and continue to live with balance and joy.
Santokh Singh Khalsa, D.C., chiropractor, healer, yogi, master yoga teacher, has been teaching beginners how to start and maintain a regular daily yoga practice for over 30 years. He founded the Awareness Center in Pasadena, CA in 1975 and is a master teacher for Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Level I and II. He is also the developer of the healing technique "The Ten Body Tune Up" and the CDs "Mantras of the Master" and "A Simple Yoga Practice."