My Second Divorce

February 20, 2003

By Terry Michelle Kurtz, MA

What do you do when you realize that almost everything you accepted as true for many years was a lie?

When you recognize the deceitful intention behind the story you have bought and portrayed hook line and sinker?

When you acknowledge and accept that you were hoodwinked by the chicanery of a manipulative person? And when you ultimately accept the undeniable evidence before you that you trusted a false authority?

Finally common sense pervades your consciousness and you view your life from a new perspective. The truth is less dazzling yet more real than the lie. And you look around and wonder how you could fall into such an obvious trap.

Such a realization is quite embarrassing. And it is certainly a difficult pill to swallow.

As my eyes open to the reality of my situation, I am faced with several practical decisions. Do I abandon all of the practices and associations that I have made "my own" since being "brainwashed"? I believe hypnosis and mind control impaired my ability to think clearly, critically, and authentically.

For years I was in a trance of sorts, disassociated from my mind as I once experienced it. I represented someone else's vision and was rewarded for being a positive, projective, faithful sales rep.

I was appreciated mostly because of what I represented rather than who I actually am as an individual. I changed my name, grew long hair long, wore a turban and surrendered in many ways to an authority figure. And obviated my critical thinking to select a new way of life.

I was once willing to die for Yogi Bhajan and for the Khalsa. This meant "voluntarily" enduring excruciating pain during yoga sets and tantric yoga exercises. I agreed to an arranged marriage, which was orchestrated and encouraged by Yogi Bhajan. And I was influenced to turn my back on my biological family and spend Christmas and summer vacations away from home.

I surrendered and exchanged my vision for the vision of others. But that vision seems to be predicated on lies, half-truths and false assumptions.

Yogi Bhajan capitalized on his Sikh heritage and military training. It also seems that he uses brainwashing, hypnotic and mind altering techniques. He portrays himself as the "messiah" for Westerner. Bhajan was able to capture the minds and money of thousands of Americans. And it is difficult for me to now accept that 3HO and "Sikh Dharma" can easily be seen as a sophisticated "cult."

Sikhism as an Indian religion and cultural tradition is not synonymous with 3HO or Yogi Bhajan's teachings. Instead, Yogi Bhajan has employed Gurmukhi words from the Sikh tradition as state inducing, mind altering meditations for his own personal gain.

3HO is not all bad. There has been some mutual exchange and benefits for students. However, if people are not "in their right mind," nor able to volitionally choose, then whatever monetary or labor exchange exists is not subject to meaningful analysis and critical review. That is, if individuals are hypnotized to submit to authority and told to sacrifice everything for some group, exploitation is a likely result.

So has Yogi Bhajan made his living by exploiting his students? And is this why so many have left 3HO and Sikh Dharma?

Some methods used by exploitive and powerful leaders:Some methods used by exploitive and powerful leaders:


Someone convinces you that they have more knowledge than you do. Sells you on a self-empowering vision, builds up your self-esteem and self worth--then isolates you from the rest of society. You are deprived of sleep and endorphins are released within your body through strenuous physical exercises.

The leader then claims to see your future, your soul's destiny and essence. He presents self-sacrifice as the means for you to attain a glorious destiny.

Confusion seems to be replaced with answers. And you are offered community in exchange for conformity and the ability to express yourself independently.

You eventually give up on yourself to gain your ultimate destiny as "pre-ordained by God." You supplant reason and ego with emotion and feeling as the legitimate tools of cognition. And ephemeral, discursive intuition becomes superior to rational intellectual thought.

Getting high and being in your heart becomes the ultimate criterion for health, happiness, holiness (3HO) and fulfillment.

Then comes non-judgment, repressed feelings, accompanying affirmations, endurance as an end in itself, evasive explanations regarding any confrontational issues and the dismissal of non-Dharmic doctrine.

What we believed:


You always granting the benefit of the doubt to the proper authority. And there is encouragement and reward for obedience. But punishment for what is deemed "selfish and critical behavior."

Now you live within an "in / out" dichotomy that includes passive acceptance of immoral behavior for the cause. Fear and uncertainty are also instilled along with dependence.

Selling the group and/or its products (e.g. kundalini yoga as the only true yoga) becomes a goal. And your group is supreme (i.e. Khalsa will rule the world).

My teacher was Yogi Bhajan and I was taught that we had waited lifetimes to finally meet. And you only get one chance to meet your true teacher. If you renounce such a spiritual teacher you are sentenced to hell for lifetimes.

We believed that in order for humanity to survive humanity must learn from us. We were the savior for mankind and should "fake it until you make it."

After all isn't life is only what you are willing to die for?

We came to go and endurance was kept up through our mantras.

Sat nam meant true identity so it could not be questioned.

Those who came before died so that we could practice this lifestyle.

We are the pure ones, wear white and project our purity to the world. And must maintain our image at all costs.

The end justifies the means. We have a mission on this planet. Honor the Rehit, read your bani's, do your sadhana, be a good and you will get the blessings of the master.

Ayn Rand wrote:


"Faith in the supernatural begins as faith in the superiority of others."

"Mysticism requires the notion of the unknowable, which is revealed to some and withheld from others; this divides men into those who feel guilt and those who cash in on it&When being judged, a mystic cries: I couldn't help it! When judging others he declares: You can't know, but I can."

"The mystic declares that he possesses an extra sense that you lack: this special sixth sense consists of contradicting the whole of the knowledge of your five."

"The good, says the mystic, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive - a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence&The purpose of man's life is (then) to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not (and can not) know, for reasons he is not to question&Sacrifice is the essence of morality, the highest virtue within man's reach."


Important Questions:


Even though questioning authority is blasphemous in the minds of most of Yogi Bhajan's students. Here are a few for his crrent followers to consider:

  1. Is there such a tradition as the "Mahan Tantric"? If so where did it originate and who bestowed the title and / or ability to Yogi Bhajan?
  2. Who appointed Yogi Bhajan with the honorable title of Siri Singh Sahib, Minister of Sikh Dharma in the Western Hemisphere? Was this title created or did it exist prior to 1969?
  3. Has Yogi Bhajan ever publicly admitted to having extra-marital relationships with his yoga students, fellow Sikhs or employees? If so, was he contrite, neutral or patronizing?
  4. Does Yogi Bhajan give 10% of his earnings to Sikh Dharma in India?
  5. Has Yogi Bhajan ever knowingly accepted money from students that was illegally obtained? For example drug money, illicit telephone sales money or laundered money. If so why?
  6. How much money will Khalsa Council control when Yogi Bhajan's will is read?
  7. Who owns Sikh Dharma, 3HO, Yogi Tea, Golden Temple, Akal Security and all of the other assorted businesses started by Yogi Bhajan and his students? Who will own these businesses once Yogi Bhajan has passed away?
  8. Who owns the archives - all of the gifts that students have given Yogi Bhajan over the last 30 plus years? Is there going to be a museum built to showcase these assorted items?
  9. Does Yogi Bhajan support democratic decision making when it comes to resource allocation or leadership personnel? Has there ever been a vote for 3HO leaders or for Gurdwara policy decisions?
  10. Can you separate the Teacher from the Teachings? Where did Yogi Bhajan receive his PhD and is that institution credible in academia or elsewhere?


Does this sound like someone you know?


"A mystic is driven by the urge to impress, to cheat, to flatter, to deceive, to force that omnipotent consciousness on others. They are his only key to reality, he feels that he cannot exist save by harnessing their unaccountable consent& To control the consciousness of others becomes his only passion; power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind& Every mystic is a potential dictator. A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement. He wants them to surrender their consciousness to his assertions, his edicts, his wishes, his whims& he finds no satisfaction in their consent if he must earn it by means of facts and reason& His lust is to command, not to convince: conviction requires an act of independence and rests on the absolute of an objective reality. What he seeks is power over reality and over men's means of perceiving it, their mind, the power to interpose his will between existence and consciousness, as if, by agreeing to fake the reality he orders them to fake, men would, in fact, create it" Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand Lexicon 122 & 123

How do these three types of thinking apply to 3HO?


  1. Unquestioning Faith in Authority
  2. Anything Goes - no one is right & no one is wrong
  3. Critical Thinking - reason and rational judgment, moral pronouncements based on principles, values, logic, love, justice, and objective truth

The leaders and followers within 3HO and Sikh Dharma led by Yogi Bhajan, encourage strict adherence to number 1, with default adherence to number 2, but methodically eschew number 3.


Many 3HO seem to think:


Why read when you can practice a meditation from Yogi Bhajan?

Why think when you can quote Siri Singh Sahib?

Why window-shop when you can self-initiate yourself as a student of Yogi Bhajan?

Why trust your own mind when Yogi Bhajan says it is the cause of all of your emotions and commotions?

Why love or be creative when you can have your marriage and your life arranged by Yogi Bhajan?

Why be an individual when you can give your head to a greater cause?

Why live with uncertainty or puzzling questions when Yogi Bhajan has all of the important questions and answers?

Why be true to your self when you have been given the mantra of the Aquarian age- Sat Nam?

Why question authority when obedience will set you free?

But my question is; why would anyone continue to live such an Orwellian Lie?


Sometimes divorce and/or secession are justified in order to preserve what is real and reclaim that which is legitimate.

Further Readings:

The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, Alstad & Kramer

Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change, Conway & Siegelman

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."


Copyright © 2003 Rick Ross.

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