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The Diagonal Solution Clears the Path

By Sewa Singh

At an early men’s course, Yogi Bhajan described what he called “The Diagonal Solution.” He used geometry and the astrological interpretation of the square and triangle to demonstrate the concept. In an astrological context the square represents a very stable but stressful situation. The triangle on the other hand is understood as an expression of creativity, harmony and ease.

In geometry, drawing a diagonal line from an upper corner of a square to an opposing lower corner of the same square represents the concept of the “Diagonal Solution.” This elegantly creates two triangles while cutting the energy of the square. So, instead of one immobile stressful situation, we have two creative situations that co-exist in harmony.

An example of this geometric truth expressed in the context of human conflict might unfold as follows: Mr. Smith, a fine woodworker, would like a wooden fence separating his property from his neighbor’s. However, his neighbor, Ms. Green, an accomplished gardener, would prefer shrubbery as a barrier between the properties. If each party holds tight to their imagined preferences and simply tries to convince the other person of its merits, we have a classic square situation.

The more powerfully the neighbors hold onto their preconceptions (their side of the square argument), the more energetically stressful the situation becomes. Often in life, these square situations can lead to long-standing grudges between people or cultures, and the worst outcome may include violence. This is because of the immense capacity of the square to contain energy in a static form. If not channeled in a harmonic and creative way, an unplanned and abrupt release may occur. 

The “Diagonal Solution” suggests that the neighbors should temporarily set aside their strong preconceptions and put energy into seeing the similarities, rather than the differences in their plans. In this case both neighbors have highly developed senses of beauty, creativity and an appreciation of nature. One simply has a preference for using the natural material in its living form (plants) and the other in its preserved form (wood).

The deeper truth that cuts diagonally through all the superficial details is that they have many more profound things in common, than otherwise. Just imagine how beautiful an environment they can create together. Ms. Green has the skill to choose living plants that will best showcase Mr. Smith’s choice of fine wood and excellent craftsmanship. Mr. Smith has the ability to design and create a beautiful structure to support and best present the knowledge and lovely taste expressed in Ms. Green’s choice of foliage. By choosing the diagonal approach they have created something that is much more than the effort and vision of one person. Yogiji always said, “One and one is eleven!” The “Diagonal Solution” is the perfect way to realize this truth.

So, every surface of a block is made up of squares—just drop your expectations and open up to the possibilities inherent in your ability to use the “Diagonal Solution.” 

If you feel you have a “block” when it comes to sadhana, use the technology to divide that block into the more creative triangles. There really are no “blocks” to sadhana. Sadhana is just difficult, that’s it. We can choose to accept the difficulties or to avoid them it, but there is no mysterious “block” in our way; it is just a square argument like any other.

How many people get up that early in the morning for fun? Does anyone take a cold shower at that time of the morning because it is so easy to do? Does anyone sit still for extended periods of time as a treat to themselves? How many folks concentrate their attention internally as their favorite form of entertainment?

There are no blocks to doing sadhana; there are only choices to avoid the pain, boredom, irritation, inconvenience, hassle, annoyance, internal pressure, external pressure or other challenges. Apply the “Diagonal Solution” to your choices, to your squares—it is possible that you will discover previously obscured skills, talents and qualities that will allow you to create a dynamic new situation that benefits all parts of your being.

Sewa Singh Khalsa is one of Yogi Bhajan’s early students. He has acted as a counselor for many couples and individuals, basing his approach purely on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He is also an accomplished artist and his work can be seen on He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Sewa Kaur and son, Hargobind Singh.