International Kundalini Yogi Teachers Association--Ethics

February 1999
By Siri Scandal Singh, S.S.S.--a former member of 3HO

The continuing education of the "International Kundalini Yogi Teachers Association" (IKYTA) is imperative to new students (newbies), who are considering the Kundalini Yoga lifestyle/system. In a previous article posted within this subsection, readers were informed of the lengthy application required by IKYTA before being considered for Kundalini Yogi (KY) teacher training. IKYTA screens newbies, making sure that each new applicant will be amenable to further conditioning, future assimilation and most importantly--a willingness to spend money within the organization. Frankly, IKYTA appears to be an enterprise devoted to culling the casual yoga student of KundaliniYoga into a new member of the 3HO community.

An important part of the IKYTA application asks if participants pay "Gurudakshia". And, if not, 3HO will likely want to know why someone has not--and in a written response. What is Gurudakshina? It is the money that each and every KY teacher must pay back to Yogi Bhajan, because he is the so-called "Master of Kundalini Yoga". If a KY teacher goes into the world to teach Yogi Bhajan's "Kundalini Yoga" that teacher must pay Yogi Bhajan a required 11%-- off the top of their gross earnings from every class taught. In the 3HO publication, "Keeping Up", (Vol.1, #2) it states the following:

"Gurudakshina is 11% of your gross income from Kundalini Yoga Classes, Workshops, and, Teacher Training. It is a traditional spiritual offering to give back to the source of your teaching, an active demonstration of your gratitude for what you have received. Gratitude stimulates the cosmic flow of blessings..."

Actually, Gurudakshina appears to constitute a yoga franchise--without any contracts. Yet, all the students must pay back up the food chain--to Yogi Bhajan personally. A franchise without a contract is legal, but is it in the best interest of BOTH parties?

Applicants are asked second time, to donate Gurdakshina as a "contribution to support the 'Library of Teachings' project". However, the organization and private individuals have recorded Yogi Bhajan for archives for the past thirty years. Almost every public appearance since the 70's have been recorded in some form--and all by volunteers! No one is paid to press the start button on the cassette recorder, the video camera, or the PC for transcribing his classes into book form.

The fact is, a privately owned 3HO family business has produced Yogi Bhajan video/cassette recordings since the start of 3HO. Since that time, 3HO ashrams have been directed by the Sikh Dharma organization to build Yogi Bhajan libraries within all ashrams. The information includes, subscribing to "Beads of Truth" magazine, (official Sikh Dharma publication) purchasing every lecture/class on cassette, book, or video, since 3HOs inception. There are literally tons of this well-marketed information for the asking, ($$) at any 3HO facility.

So, why has a "Library of Teachings" project been created to preserve the teachings when it is already a done deal? Why does IKYTA continue to collect money from its followers for a project that is a business, owned and operated by a private individual? Why are there 3HO volunteers busy doing all the labor involving this so-called Yogi Bhajan teachers projects? Gurdakshina appears to be a somewhat deceptive practice for collecting funds from the uninformed. Is IKYTA a "for-profit" business, or are the funds going to a not-for-profit account for a "project" that in reality has no meaningful purpose?

There is also much concern expressed by the 3HO Foundation regarding its yoga teachers reciting a daily, five-step loyalty oath--called "The Teachers Oath". This can be seen as a psychological method of reinforcing desired, predictable behaviors from their yoga teachers. That oath, predictably, keeps teachers focused upon loyalty to the group and makes them feel "special".

IKYTA calls this "...guidelines for a journey of consciousness". However, noted psychologist and leading cult expert Margaret Singer has called a process like this--"proof through reframing". That is--a repetition formula seemingly designed for "newbies" to tell them how they are supposed to "feel" and "be". The "newbie" can thus be convinced they are not only loyal, but also transformed by using this technique. If something "good" happens to them--it must be because of their oath.

The authentic 3HO "Teacher's Oath" states--"I am not a man. I am not a woman. I am not a person. I am not myself. I am a teacher".

This can be seen as a deceptive technique used to manipulate KY teachers and their loyalty. Remember that 3HO recruitment appears to really begin at the KY class and is then intensified by inviting students to become teachers and then take "The Teacher's Oath".

New teachers are also given strict rules that 3HO KY teachers must follow. According to ITKYA Rule Number One--there are "16 Facets of Perfection of a Kundalini Yoga Teacher" that must be obeyed, which includes the following:

"A teacher will never alter the teachings (of Yogi Bhajan) because of personal opinion. You will teach by example".

And the "Code of Professional Standards of KY Teachers", under class structure states:

"A Teacher does not create or invent postures or incorporate other teachings into Kundalini Yoga class".

This is a procedure that may make use of scare tactics that keep KY teachers in line--backed-up by 3HO "elder teachers". A good example of these scare tactics is within an article written by Yogi Bhajan's oldest student, Sharti. Bhajan used to refer to her as; "Sharkti Parwar Kaur"; the apple pie with shit in the middle". In the 3HO publication, "Keeping Up", Vol. 1, # 2, she goes on-and-on claiming that if you are doing KY and you go one degree off the mark, disastrous things can happen--that cause mankind to be out of synch with the universe. This sounds like something out of a "Star Wars" myth--like you will enter the "Dark Side" of the universe. It seems there is actually the possibility of becoming a sort of "Darth Vadar Yogi" or satanic figure, if you experiment with the Master's teachings!

Robert Jay Lifton in his seminal book "Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism" outlined within Chapter 22 eight criteria for a thought reform program. In this presentation regarding undue influence he one criteria is known as "Doctrine of the Person". Lifton states this is--"the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine. This primacy of doctrine over person is evident in the continual shift between experience itself and the highly abstract interpretation of such experience--between genuine feelings and spurious cataloguing of feelings. It has much to do with the peculiar aura of half-reality which totalist environment seems, at least to the outsider, to possess". It seems that "Doctrine Over Person" is something that the KY student learns and ultimately becomes an integral element pivotal to his or her way of life.

Another criterion cited by Lifton is the "Demand for Purity". This is--"all situations of ideological Totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions, which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All 'taints' and 'poisons' which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated".

Certain behaviors and attitudinal changes within 3HO suggest a "Demand for Purity". Some examples can be seen through rules such as numbers 12 and 13 of the "16 Facets" given by Bhajan, which state:

12. "A Teacher wears white cotton clothing while teaching. You should look like a sage and a prince or princess. A teacher is a Ph.D.--Prince or Princess of High Divinity".

13. "Just as a seed has to whither to become a tree and bear fruit, Teachers who do not become perfect students do not become perfect Masters".

Rules like this seem to follow Lifton's model and appear to be a clear sign of an ongoing thought reform process. Lifton laments that "by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition".

Such painful and driven striving for continuous reform seems to be expressed by the KY teacher's code's goals for perfection.

Another troubling part of the IKYTA "ethics" is their "Code of Professional Standards of KY Teachers". IYKTA claims the code helps teachers "&conduct [their] lives in a spirit of integrity". However, IKYTA did not write the majority of this code. In fact, it appears that IKYTA borrowed most of the code's words from the California Yoga Teachers Association (CYTA). IKYTAs code is virtually identical to CYTA "Code of Professional Standards", published in the November/December "Yoga Journal Magazine", 1995.

Ms. Judith Lasater and her peers within the CYTA wrote the rules and should be given credit for the work. According to Miss Lasater, she and her peers worked for years attempting to hammer out what codes and standards should be used within the yoga teaching profession. In fact, Ms. Lasater and her associates wrote the rules because of the unethical practices among certain unnamed yoga teachers or "gurus" who used, in her words, personal powers " an excuse to override both the letter and spirit of yamas/niyamas". 3HO may claim that they have rules, but they did not publish their code until at least two years after the "Yoga Journal" published Ms. Lasater's for the CYTA. Is this why the 3HO code appears to be exactly like the CYTA, or is this just coincidence?

But, what is more disturbing is that the "3HO code" totally disregarded, and/or conveniently left out several sections/rules of the CTYA. The 3HO left out of their "Teacher's code" the "CTYA Professional Practices". This section of the CTYA rules deals with straightforward and open disclosure of finances--specifically that "no franchises", or, commission for referral students be offered. This is clearly missing within the "3HO code".

Why? Perhaps IKYTA thought no one would care, or no one would notice and/or call attention to the fact that a well-known, professional yoga teacher's code had been borrowed without attribution or permission. They also seemingly forgot to tell anyone about certain omissions that were excluded from their revised ethical code. It seems important to note that no other yoga organizations require "Oaths". So why does 3HO IKYTA?

Copyright © 1999 Rick Ross

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