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The title of this blog comes from the words of Indian Prime Minister Nehru after the passing of Mahatma Gandhi. "The light that shone in this land was no ordinary light," Nehru said of the peaceful modern saint. The name of this blog, which chronicles my journey deeper into Spirit, is to remind us that there is no such thing as an ordinary light. The spiritual scriptures of many traditions such as the Bible, the Vedas, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Koran and others all tell us that God is Light and so are we. It is the essence of who we are as a universe. Turn on your inner glow and shine it like a search light across the darkness of the world. We are the stuff of suns and stars.
We are no ordinary lights.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tuning In

Ong namo
Guru dev namo

Chanting “Ong Namo” opens every Kundalini yoga practice. We call it “tuning in” and it is a mantra that both protects us and connects us to the highest source of wisdom. There are many ways to translate it, but one is “I bow to the all that is. I bow to the divine wisdom within myself.” As I sit in this city of spiritual seekers and the saints and frauds that attract them here, I have never been more struck by the urgency of this mantra and its meaning. Not all that glitters here is gold.

Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini yoga to the west, said that in the Age of Aquarius there would be so many spiritual seekers there would not be enough gurus to instruct them in paths to enlightenment. It is easy to see that happening here, where spiritual tourism is the local economy and the real deal is harder and harder to find. We must hone our ability to hear the Guru Dev, the guru within our hearts. Our Guru Dev, or higher self, can be the source of all instruction and inspiration. We must learn to listen to the voice within ourselves. Meditation is vital because it allows us to learn to calm down the mind, which only chatters on drowning out the voice of our soul, which speaks in our heart. You cannot learn to meditate effectively without controlling your breath. My teacher Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa talks about how yogis have no allegiance to anything other than breath. No country, no religion, no sexual orientation, no race…nothing defines a yogi other than breath. This makes us powerful, because our only allegiance is to our true self, our Higher Self, which animates us on the breath. In the Kundalini tradition, this is called our Sat Nam, or our true identity. We greet each other with the words “Sat Nam” because we try to see only the Higher Self of the person we are meeting.

A real mastery of the meaning of Sat Nam is not attained until you recognize one basic but often difficult lesson. If you can bow comfortably to the Guru Dev but not to a Guru or teacher outside of you, even if it is simply nature or the Universe, then you are stuck identifying with your body. You see there is no difference between the Guru within and the Guru without. All is one. You must be able to bow to something both in you and out of you, because YOU are the illusion. Before I found the yogic path, I was very uncomfortable with the word Guru and the idea of bowing before anyone. I thought that meant I was giving away my power. I am not advocating going out and listening to whatever the latest yahoo says to do. It can be very difficult to figure out what is fact and what is fiction as you tread the spiritual path and bowing to a person is not the same thing as bowing to divine wisdom. But I have come to understand that a Guru is simply an energy that brings you out of darkness (unconsciousness) into light (consciousness). It is a divine and cosmic teacher, which may act through a person.

The Guru Dev in me is essentially the Guru Dev in you, regardless of whether either one of us is acting from its guidance. The separation between Me and You because of our bodies is the illusion of this material world. Listening to a Guru is only necessary if you are unwilling or unable to listen to the Guru, or divine teacher, within your own heart. In these fast and crazy times, where human consciousness is evolving at an unprecedented rate, we can no longer afford to ignore our inner guidance system. The plenty of spiritual seekers has grown an industry of fakers who unfortunately try to capitalize on the times. We must, through mediation and pranayama, learn to control our minds enough to silence them in favor of our hearts, where there can be no faking and no mistaking. Don’t take my word for it…ask your Guru Dev.

There are many versions of "Ong Namo" sung by talented artists. In particular, I love the version by Snatam Kaur on her album "Grace" and the version by Gurunam Singh on his album "The Journey Home." Both of these version are available for purchase on www.spiritvoyage.com.

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