"Vision[aries] are inevitable because the limits of our own direct knowledge is inescapable. The question is whether vision[aries] provide a basis for theories to be tested or for dogma to be proclaimed and imposed." --Thomas Sowell
We are all a bit "helpless" as individuals in this world when it comes to the reality of affecting or preserving planetary peace. We cannot be personally responsible for every nation or political self-interest group that desires war for its own needs. It will never be an easy task to level the plane of morality for peace. But some individuals seem to feel they can do this for us. That is, people who claim to be "anointed" as "visionaries," or "merchants of peace"--such as Yogi Bhajan
Yogi Bhajan’s "Peace Pray Day" is supposedly an effort to bring peace to the world. But if you take a closer look it actually appears to be little more than an event to attract and recruit "New Age" enthusiasts. At this event Yogi Bhajan and his disciples provide daily spiritual sustenance for participants. However, such spiritual inspiration seems to be provided conditionally and based upon loyalty to his special and personal "vision of peace." Please understand that this is not just any vision of peace, but a well-marketed vision used to influence the minds of attendees.
In marketing the visions of an "anointed one" there are some things that don't have to be proven. That is, Yogi Bhajan does not have to prove or provide evidence that what he says it actually true, or that it will be true. Please understand that often offers predictions that are forecasts for fifty to five hundred years into the future. But his vision is somehow a current event anyway.
It seems the formula here is to pick a popular subject like "peace," which attracts an audience, positive response and interest. And any meaningful intellectual considerations are not necessary--only the feeling that everyone is somehow included in this "vision of a world of peace." Immersing people in a seeming momentous event--all in the name of some kind of universality. In such an atmosphere Yogi Bhajan's vision of peace is not need critically or systematically analyzed. All he does is share his vision, which cannot be "judged."
Along this pathway to peace there seems to be a bit of commercialism. There are booths filled with Yogi Bhajan tapes, books and yoga manuals--3HO believers hawking their products. It seems like capitalism must play an important part in peace--perhaps this merchandising inspires attendees to a "higher plane." There are even dancing girls to entertain everyone and celebrities attending such as the singer Seal and Patch Adams, M.D. attending Peace Pray Day this year.
No one there questions or disagrees with the self-appointed and self-anointed "visionary for world peace." And since there is no meaningful dialogue about peace and/or exchange of ideas one might ask, "So what is the purpose of all this 'sharing of a vision of peace'?" If you take a closer look at the history of 3HO/"Sikh Dharma" you will find it is an idiosyncratic composite of various beliefs, which seem to suggest an ultimate quest for a "New Age" alternate lifestyle. But somehow this belief system, clearly a unique concoction of Yogi Bhajan's--is supposedly passed off as the old and respected religion known as Sikhism.
But further study by a serious spiritual seeker or student will reveal that authentic Sikhism is not a dogmatic personality driven religion. Instead, each person who chooses to be a Sikh is a sovereign individual and has a personal relationship with God. Every authentic Sikh belongs to a community and a consensus is reached about issues through voting--at all levels of leadership. Sikhism’s roots are actually based upon democratic principles.
Like all totalitarian dictators, Yogi Bhajan has dismissed the democratic process. If Yogi Bhajan would have allowed his new "Western Sikhs" to elect their leaders--this might have ultimately meant that others could potentially replace him, alter his personal vision and agenda for 3HO. He obviously didn't seem to appreciate that prospect and systematically avoided it.
A question amongst authentic Indian Sikhs today is, "If 'Peace Pray Day' is truly an international day devoted to a 'vision of peace' by devoted Sikhs--then why are the Sikhs of Punjab, not discussed?" And why are Sikhs from the Punjab not even invited to speak at Peace Pray Day? What about discussion regarding religious persecution and serious problems confronting Sikhs in India today? Yogi Bhajan ignoring these important issues would be like American rabbis ignoring Israel and refusing to discuss the Middle East peace process. It appears the supposed leader of Western Sikhs is silent on the serious issues that confront the International Sikh community in its quest for peace and justice.
However, according to 3HO Yogi Bhajan is never-the-less the morally "anointed one." And his followers are deeply emotionally and at times financially invested in the group and his vision. Ultimately, it seems that his vision is really only about himself and his role as the "anointed one." And the so-called "Peace Pray Day" is simply another big self-serving celebratory party--where of course Yogi Bhajan is the guest of honor.
This is not a vision of peace, but instead really an insular personality driven event.
An illustration of this point can be seen through the following comments recently circulated amongst 3HO members extolling Yogi Bhajan pivotal influence and importance--
"How would your life be different if you had never met Yogi Bhajan? Take a moment and think about it. Extend the depth of that thought to your students. Many of your students have never yet had the blessing of being in the presence of their Master, of having their lives personally touched by Him…our Teacher is so precious. It is important that we not wait, or put off the blessing of coming to study with Yogi Bhajan--be it your 1st time or 100th time…Put daily duties aside and come to New Mexico. Together let us hold God in our grip."
Note: Terry MIchelle Kurtz (1952-2021), received her undergraduate degree from Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri and her Masters in Psychology from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. She worked with child protective services in Phoenix and was an advocate for those victimized by cults. Ms. Kurtz was also a yoga teacher and a former member of 3HO known as "Kartar Khalsa."