Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
As teachers of Kundalini Yoga, each of us is deeply indebted to those who have gone before us, to the Shabd Guru, and to our sisters and brothers who continue to provoke and inspire us. It is an unending circuit of light and grace.
In his life among us, Yogi Bhajan Ji was not hesitant to give credit where credit was due. He would regularly acknowledge his gratitude to Guru Ram Das for protecting and guiding him on his path. He also gave credit to his tough-love mother and his father and paternal grandfather and grandmother and governess. The five of them gave him his spiritual foundation. Yogiji also recounted the many ways Sant Hazara Singh Ji, the teacher of his youth, guided him to excellence. He as well acknowledged his wife, Bibiji Inderjit Kaur, for allowing him to do his difficult work, and his staff, especially the "Mother of 3HO" Shakti Parwha Kaur. In his final years, he credited his medical staff too, the dear doctors who looked after his physical health, and our prayers for keeping him alive. Of course, underlying all of these, Yogi Bhajan credited Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Shabd Guru for its undying inspiration. Thankfulness is an essential attribute of a healthy, happy, and gracious personality - and Yogiji was a shining embodiment of it.
In the course of our teaching, it is fitting that we also acknowledge the sources of our strength and inspiration. Of course, each of us is differently blessed, but here are some suggestions of where you might offer gratitude the next time you teach.
Guru Nanak Without Guru Nanak Dev Ji, none of what we are doing would be even imaginable. In his time, yoga was the exclusive practice of men, guys who dismissively abandoned society and considered themselves superior to householders, a far cry from today's yoga classes where women are usually in the majority. The Guru gave the reclusive yogis a more universal outlook. He also gave us our seed mantra, Sat Naam (be true to You). If you are not religious, giving tribute to Guru Nanak does not make you religious. It is just good manners to acknowledge the beautiful soul who originally shared the vision you share today.
Yogi Bhajan Okay, so maybe you have a few classes going and lots of people think you are great. Don't let it go to your head! Yogiji did more than anybody in history to make Kundalini Yoga available around the world - and he did it with humility and grace. While not overdoing it (Yogiji never wanted us to start a cult of personality), it is gracious and nice to mention, or tell an inspiring story about, your teacher (or your teacher's teacher) now and again in your class.
Science When Yogiji started teaching in the West, there was very little science to support what he taught. Research on yoga and meditation was not yet even in its infancy. Today however, there is a growing body of evidence proving the effectiveness of Kundalini Yoga and other body-mind disciplines. Check out the work of David Shannahoff-Khalsa, M.A., Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., and Farah Jindani, Ph.D. and cite it in your classes.
K.R.I. (Kundalini Research Institute) It doesn't hurt to put in a good word now and again for the good people who continue to compile and publish Yogi Bhajan's vast body of teachings, and who do their best to keep the teachings pure.
Rishi Patanjali Remember him? The author of the first yoga text, the Yoga Sutras. It is good to revisit his timeless sutras now and again, and share with your students how valuable they are.
People Who Inspire You Name anybody who inspires you and tell your students how they have contributed to your life. Big and small, God made them all!
Your Students Where would we be without our students? Now and again, it serves everybody to show gratitude to your faithful students who recognize and listen to the truth you have to share. Yogiji did it. Even the great Guru Gobind Singh celebrated his devoted followers.
Yourself Don't forget to cite yourself and your own experience when you teach. Yogiji certainly didn't! Without being unduly confessional - we don't do confessions in classes - talk about your daily experience of learning, gratitude, and service. If you give credit to everybody else but yourself, something is missing. Most of your students will love to know about experiences. Don't skip on Number One!
What will this do?
It will help your students better understand where you are coming from. And if you think, as Yogi Bhajan thought, that your real job is to create students better than yourself, your crediting the ones who help you be everything you are allows them to see you as a "whole package." They will see you as a thoughtful, humble and reflective member of a teaching lineage and not as an isolated case. This will help your dedicated students better undertake their own path as Kundalini Yogis - and possibly one day as teachers in their own right.
May God and Guru give you light, excellence, and inspiration each day. May you succeed in life and in teaching the sacred science of Kundalini Yoga with humility, effectiveness, and grace. Sat Nam.
In the Name of the Cosmos which prevails through everyBody and the Holy Nam that holds the world.
Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa