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By Guru Fatha Singh
Whatever we do as individuals, affects everything and everyone around us. The very fact of our breathing changes the composition of the air everyone everywhere else is breathing. When we stop breathing, the chemical decomposition of our body changes the atmosphere as well.
Have you heard of the “butterfly effect”? It is the idea that very tiny actions can and do initiate reactions, sometimes very large reactions elsewhere in the cosmos. The original image was that of a butterfly fluttering its wings somewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula and precipitating a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Small variations do result in large changes over time. That much is certain. What those changes are and when they will occur are not always predictable however.
Being the change you wish to see in the world is not such a random exercise however. It requires our engaging the power of intention with a deliberate focus. With good fortune, we may retain our intention and focus over time. The dissipation of focus is the downfall of most good intentions. Social support, good friends and associations can serve to keep us on track.
Om is a sacred mantra of ancient times. Guru Nanak Dev changed it to Ik-Ong-Kar. While Om resonates at the level of the Infinite, unchangeable, and Absolute, Guru Nanak's Ik-Ong-Kar represents the ongoing, changing nature of reality, the Creator at play or at work in the Creation. On a personal level, we are all that Creator engaged in rearranging the details of this world, hopefully for the best.
In Karta Purkh again Guru Nanak tweaked the wisdom of the ancients to transform our present and future reality. In Gurmukhi, a Purkh is a being, while Karta means doing. The meaning is that every being these days is appreciated less for their social or religious status, and far more for what they do. In our reality, networked as it is, we are beings increasingly known by our doings. It is our actions that draw us near or far. Karmee aapo aapnee kay nayray kay duur.
Based on these basic precepts, Guru Nanak set out at the early dawn of this age to teach, inspire and change the world. In the course of his life and travels, he challenged the cruelty of the invader Babur, the disrespect shown womankind, the delusions of religious fanatics, the escapism of yogis in their mountain enclaves, the heartlessness of bigots, and the mindlessness of ritualists. At the same time, he championed the goodness of the good, the courage of the courageous, and the self-discipline of the self-disciplined. Guru Nanak laid the groundwork for the eventual creation of the Khalsa, dedicated mind and soul, breath and bone, to the good of all, sarbat da bhalla.
Yogi Bhajan did much the same. Moreover, he confronted the weakness, the excessive sensuality, the blindness embedded right in our culture. He took on the deficiencies of our medical, political and social infrastructures, giving us instead new models, new technologies, and new hope. Yogi Bhajan introduced Kundalini Yoga to the West when most people did not know what it was, and those who did, thought it was dangerous. He championed the cozy home just when divorce was becoming fashionable. Yogi Bhajan spoke with a voice of reason when much of the world was drunk with grief or rage or lust or greed or sheer egotism.
I came to Kundalini Yoga in Toronto in 1972. Margaret Polemis was my first teacher. I had wanted to change the world, but had not any idea how. Now, forty-some years later, I see humanity riding a wave of change unprecedented in all of human history; not only technological change, but transformations in how we see and engage with each other and the world. Tens of millions of people are engaged fighting the diseases and afflictions of our times. Large and small initiatives are taking on climate change, war, all kinds of injustice, social isolation, illiteracy, the ebola virus, and much more.
Our 3HO family is one of those hundreds of thousands of initiatives, started humbly by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. We distinguish ourselves by using the technology of Kundalini Yoga to heal and transform not just individuals, but our culture as well. At our best, we are deeply engaged and extensively networked with friends and potential allies in the realms of politics, business, academia, the arts, the sciences, technology, religion, the military, and social service.
We are not easily discouraged because we recognize the urgency of our times and the degree of our interdependence on this deeply symbiotic planet at this time of environmental crisis. We need each other and we know it. We are dreamers with our feet firmly planted on the ground.
Guru Fatha Singh is a yogi, teacher, writer, researcher and activist. In 2002, he started Peace Week at the University of Toronto. In 2011, he conducted the first global survey of the outcomes of Yogi Bhajan's teachings in people's lives. Since 2012, Guru Fatha Singh has been assisting Dr. Farah Jindani in her pioneering work using Kundalini Yoga to help sufferers of PTSD. He is also gathering stories for a biography of Yogi Bhajan. www.gurufathasingh.com