This is the final article written for "Visions" on Healing the Dysfunctional 3HO Family. These articles have been explorations into the four unspoken rules that promote dysfunctionality within families and also organizations.
1. Don't talk about Mom and Dad's problem. 2. Don't be angry. 3. Don't question the beliefs, rules or image of the family. 4. Don't deviate from your role.
In this last chapter of this series, I take on taboo #1: Don't talk about Mom and Dad's problem. The observant may have noticed that I have been making it through these taboos backwards.
Frankly, I have been in 3HO too long to not understand ( and I must admit use to my purposes) our community's love of sensationalism. From the first article I have felt, and taken no action to curb, my reader's anticipation for this last, most titillating article. And now it is here and it is time to be straight, time to talk openly about the big question that has been in the air for two years now: Is Kamlapati Kaur Khalsa finally going to go too far? Is she going to declare Yogi Bhajan a stuff, sex and power addict?
Step closer and let me whisper in your ear:
I can't ultimately judge. But I do know that if Yogi Bhajan or your Mother, or your child or the President of the USA or anyone else is an addict, this is not scandalous, titillating, or particularly shocking news. It is not that big a deal, trust me. Happens all the time and it is merely the opportunity for a loving and supportive intervention, by a courageous, forgiving and revengeless community.
So this article is not about Yogi Bhajan or his inner circle, rather it is about creating a Happy, Healthy Holy, world.
One evening when I was about twelve or thirteen, I announced at the dinner table that I had figured out how we should solve the family problems that were tearing us apart.
"Mom should stop drinking, Dad should stop smoking and we all should enter therapy!" I exclaimed with all the enthusiasm of a kid who has pondered long and hard over a brainteaser and who has had the ANSWER come in the middle of the night on the back of a bolt of lightening.
Needless, to say, my great revelation bombed with my family, or maybe I should say that it bombed my family- starting a full scale war rather than providing a healing solution. I had, of course, broken the most threatening and highly defended against taboo in a dysfunctional family- don't talk about Mom and Dad's problem. Or worded a bit differently- Keep It Secret!
Breaking this taboo is in theory very easy. All you need to do is tell the truth, or like we Sikhs like to say SAT NAM! When we decide not to tell the truth however (a decision that we all make daily for many different reasons, some righteous, some not) we enter the twilight zone of secrets.
Probably because of my background, I am very bad with secrets. Having been indiscreet more times than I can possibly count, I have forced myself to explore the world of secrets in order to develop the discernment and compassion I often seem to lack.
There are certain facts that, although we are aware of them at one level of our brains, we refuse to let them into our conscious minds. This mental Defense mechanism is called denial. It is an extremely creepy feeling when you come out of denial about something you haven't been able to face before. You just can't believe that you could have been so blind or that you could have so easily forgotten, or not noticed, things so obvious and important.
There are several levels of denial. The deepest is when we forget an experience because it is too frightening to contemplate. Being sexually molested as a child, for instance, is a trauma that is commonly repressed and forgotten about until such a time as when the person is ready and strong enough to finally remember and heal.
Another level of denial is when we give our power away to someone, completely trusting that they will handle our money, our health, our psyches, our children, or any number of other important parts of our lives.
And the commonest form of denial is how we all ignore the scary facts, because if we were to become fully awake and fully conscious to the issues, we would have to take a stand, and we just don't have the courage. Most people in the United States wallow in the quicksand of apathy, knowing full well that most of our world's leaders are money, sex and power addicts. We also know that these addicts will do anything, absolutely anything, to maintain their high. Unfortunately, in true co-dependent style many Americans would rather live in a dream of American superiority, motherhood, and the purity of baseball, than embrace the reality of impending worldwide environmental and social collapse.
When a friend reaches a point in their healing process where they are willing to tell you something about themselves that feels shameful, this is what I call a personal secret. The friend is usually not yet healed enough to let their shame become common, and thus uninteresting, knowledge, so they swear you to secrecy.
Unfortunately for me, when I am at the listening end of one of these confessions I have the hardest time remembering that my friend is feeling ashamed because bluntly, there are few temptations or vices in the world that I haven't either participated in myself, or vicariously experienced through my friends and family. This makes me a very forgiving and unshockable listener but a rather spacey secret keeper. I can forget that a friend feels guilt about an action or reaction that seems like a perfectly human and ordinary mistake or delusion to me.
This spaciness is at times almost forgivable in the face of some of the crazy secrets I have been asked to keep while in 3HO.
Despite my bad example, it is important that we know that our confidences are safe with our friends and that we keep the secrets our friends entrust us with.
3HO has always buzzed with gossip. Gossipy secrets are those juicy little tidbits of scandal that third, fourth, fifth parties give you , swearing you to secrecy because, of course, they don't want to be the ones caught in the act of telling. Frankly these secrets simply cry out to be passed along, yet as we all know, they can be dangerous to handle.
The underlying dynamic behind much gossip is that when situations , behaviors, and/or issues begin to come out of denial , the first thing that happens is that secretive gossip begins to perk. I think this is one way we protect us from having to own up to or admit things too suddenly. There is always a very real possibility that what is getting passed down the vine is false information; a fact that gives us some sense of security while we begin to grapple with the fact that the information may well be true.
In every 3HO community that I have ever lived in there has been the child-like soul who, having heard about the "secret" love affair or "hidden" money scandal for months, will rightly assume that everybody knows about the "secret" anyway, so why don't we put it on the agenda for the next house meeting? I can smile at and deeply appreciate this display of purest innocence, because, well- Mom really should stop drinking and Dad really might stop smoking and therapy really would do us all a world of good! However, I know that child-like disclosures lead right to being a victim of all sorts of unpleasant reprisals.
So if we are into SAT NAM- if truth is our very core and identity- how should we react to gossipy secrets?
Frankly I am much more an expert on how NOT to interact with gossip than on how to handle it gracefully- but here's what I think anyway. I think that we need to choose our issues carefully, take responsibility for disclosing the "secrets"; take a stand and inspire others to take a stand with us; and then just sit there, and take the heat.
Clearly denial-busting and secret telling takes courage and we rarely come out looking too pretty or smelling too sweet, but heck, it is a job and someone has to do it. Just as clearly, it is stupid and unkind to get into major denial-busting over petty or personal issues. Whether so-and-so did it with whose-it, isn't worth remembering much less taking action over.
There are issues, however, that are worth taking a stand about. As Sikhs we would even say that there are issues worth dying for.
Unfortunately most of the time denial busting is more like hot-plate sitting than like a quick death by kirpan through the heart or bullet through the third eye.
Still there really is no denying that there are secrets that need to be told. There are secrets that are worthy of our Sikh training, that are worth suffering the heat for. I call these types of secrets, Political Secrets.
Political secrets are secrets kept by people in authority positions to keep addictive behavior intact and unquestioned. Within the Addict/Co-dependent inner circles these secrets are usually rationalized as necessary to protect the children, the employees, or the average citizens from harm, or upset, or from "getting the wrong impression".
Every time I hear someone say "O they wouldn't understand." or "What they don't know won't hurt them" my inner alarms start clanging. The truth is that we are not stupid, we do understand all too well, and what we don't know is not only hurting us, it is killing us.
Sadly there is lots of corruption in our country, also much brutality, much exploitation of minorities, women, children, poor people, animals, trees, mountains, water and skies. There is also lots of propaganda aimed at keeping us from doing anything about these problems. Each of us must choose our issue(s) as we are led. Once you have chosen (or the issue has chosen you) try to avoid doing what I call a "Daniel Ellsberg". Daniel Ellsberg was a real hero when he published the Pentagon Papers but it is a miracle he didn't get himself killed!
This is because in extremely dysfunctional systems, for instance the Mafia or within corrupt governments and companies, people are allowed into the inner circles only after they prove that they can keep secrets. They are then rewarded for their silence with the "drug" of their choice be it status, power, money, women, or combinations thereof. If someone threatens to break the chain of secrecy, that individual is instantly in extreme danger.
Therefore join together with others when you are ready to break denial and bring inappropriate secrets to light, even if the addict involved is your parent, spouse or child. Addicts will do anything, even really mean nasty violent things, to maintain their high. They defend their dysfunctionality so strongly because they can not bear to face the sea of grief and self hate that churns away in the belly of their psyches. To be able to confront and experience that tidal wave of despair, thus heal themselves, addicts need all the help and support that only truly committed, revengeless, loving and supportive community can give.
One might think that after chanting SAT NAM for 20 years that 3HO and all the Sikhs who are a part of it, would be free of denial and dysfunctionality already! This is not the case, however. We still have our personal, gossipy and political secrets.
My main complaint about 3HO through the years has been its tendency to take the personal secrets of our brothers and sisters and turn them into gossipy scandals instead of either staying quiet or orchestrating loving interventions.
Every time we feel that little self-righteous thrill while watching someone squirm in public humiliation we are acting like vengeful addicts and scheming co-dependents. If you need a quick method for discerning whether a family, organization, police department, media or government is dysfunctional, look to see if people at any level of authority use public shaming as a method of disciplining or exerting control. Unfortunately we in 3HO have tended to shame deviants into orthodox behavior. At that level- we have been acting like cult members, not true Sikhs.
As for 3HO International, I can see, even from my great distance from the center, that we are keeping some secrets we should not be. The one I wish to address here is money. I am in favor of 3HO instituting 3 criteria that I, and everyone else I know, look for in a non-profit (or for that matter profit-making) organizations. They are:
1. Outside, independent auditing of all finances. 2. Full disclosure of all finances. 3. And I like organizations that keep overhead down and good deeds up.
These simple and universally accepted measures give people confidence in an organization and inspire trust. Since we are honest and have nothing to hide (or at least we pray we are) 3HO could only ultimately prosper by refusing to be secretive about money or anything else.
My purpose in writing this series for "Visions" has been to bring out of denial some of the dysfunctionality that haunts 3HO. Truth is, from where I now sit, we look like every other messed up organization ever, except for one small hope. That hope is in SAT NAM- in the power of truth. Someday soon, I pray with all my heart, PREM KI JIT, LOVE will be the victory.
SAT NAM makes me grateful for all the joy, pain, exultation and humiliation that 3HO has thrown my way for the last 20 years. If you aren't feeling that gratitude right now, then I suggest that you put yourself immediately on a beet fast and chant Long SAT NAMS for the next 20 years until you lighten up a bit!
SAT NAM, my beloved brothers and sisters, SAT NAM. "We will meet again when we are like golden clouds upon the wind."
Copyright © Rick Ross.