Awaken Interviews Guruprem Khalsa Pt 2 – Awakened People Love To Serve
Donna Quesada: Well, let’s go there. How do we get there? In your case, it was Kundalini Yoga. Could you speak about that? And you spoke about the breath. Is it possible just to wake upbecause some people are meant to awaken in this life, so to speak? What is Yoga and how does it bring us to that place?
Guruprem Khalsa: I have met people who have never been to yoga class at all, who have…from where ever it came…this deep devotion to serve. Let me describe to you. Let me take the Yoga out. These are the four basic qualities of an awakened person. It could also be said, a happy person. Now, this awakened person is not fully awakened. Let’s just say they are awakened enough to know to keep up.
In no particular order: Awakened people, at all levels, love to serve. In whatever capacity. I’ve been involved with this organization called Share, a food service in Los Angeles. I have met young people there that have never been to yoga class, who have awakened to the call of their soul to just serve. They go down there and prepare the food, go out…somewhat courageously. Because they go out on the street and meet people with very, very desperate lives. And with the humblest state of being…serve. With a smile. So, whatever it is…that desire to serve. But what makes service truly genuine…you are not doing it to serve your ego. In the beginning you might. You may feel guilty for having too much. But that is a genuine call of the soul, too.
DONNA: So, guilt poisons the stew, would you say?
GURUPREM: Not really. If you are making a big pretense about it. I am the server! Eventually, you are not going to want to do it. The other side of this, part two, is: you serve in God’s name. So that would be called Simran. Simran means, remembering God. So, that’s one and two. And there are so many ways to do that. And there are so many traditions to do that in. But awakened people serve without doing it to feed their ego. They do it as a way of serving their amigo as opposed to ego.
DONNA: So, it’s almost like it goes both ways…They serve because they are selfless.
GURUPREM: Enough that they can listen. The need to serve…you don’t go out night after night, week after week, month after month because your ego is needing to be fed. That’s good for maybe three or four times. But not if you have been doing this for over a year.
DONNA: Interesting. Something else has to pull you forward.
GURUPREM: This is just one type. Although I am very fond of food service. There is something about the heart energy, in this case, of rolling burritos. There is this whole hand dance. It’s very simple. But you get into meditation. And the idea, when it comes from your hands…you feel like it comes from your heart.
DONNA: I love that. Very pretty.
GURUPREM: And so, you don’t learn this in a Yoga class. But, yoga class has other things…the other two. They kind of go together, also.
DONNA: Okay. Service was one.
GURUPREM: Service is, doing it in God’s name. It’s not being done in your name. It’s being done in God’s name. The idea is that you are doing it from your heart; not from your head. Although it’s important to use your head to know where to serve. You need to have some head intelligence in regard to that because you just can’t just…you might cause some injury. You have to do it in an intelligent way. So, your head is not left out. It’s important. Because eventually you do want to serve with your head but you want to live with your heart. Okay, so that’s those two parts.
Every person who is awakened…they will find a way to do that in some capacity. As I said, there are countless ways to serve. But somehow, people will find a way. Awakened people are engaged in a self-improvement process. In other words, beyond just the self -assuredness, they are working on their manners…their speech…they will hold the door…they will be extra polite…they improve their posture…That’s where the Yoga comes in. Because we are talking about how you affect your presence. When you walk into a room, it is important that your projection conveys that you can be trusted and you are available. You’ve learned how to serve. There is this element of trust in your projection. So that has to do with everything…how you speak…how you stand…how you breathe…I mean, I cheat like crazy. Look how I dress! I dress like this because I am going to amplify the qualities I want to project. It’s also going to filter out my challenges, too…things that I don’t want to amplify.
DONNA: So, self-improvement would be the second sort of feature, or sign, or “give away,”that someone is awakening?
GURUPREM: It really is the third and it really doesn’t go in that order, necessarily. Serve. Remember God, when you are doing it. So that’s one and two.
DONNA: …then self-improvement?
GURUPREM: Yeah. It has to do with your presence…your representation.
DONNA: This is interesting. I want to jump in here and take a side step for a second. I was thinking about this just the other day…this kind of play between self-improvement and self-acceptance on the spiritual path. Is this something that fits in here, at all?
GURUPREM: Yes. Absolutely. Because you can self-improve as a self-indulgence. A way of bearing your insecurities so people will like you more because you are a particular form that is in shape. And it’s used to feed your insecurities, rather than…I mean, the whole reason for getting in shape, from a yoga perspective, is to have enough vitality, so you can sit. If you are studying Patanjali’s sutras—the eight limbs—the first two are code of conduct. Don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t lie. Loss, greed, pride, attachment.
DONNA: And the Niyamas?
GURUPREM: The Yamas and then the Niyamas are right…let’s develop your virtues. And those…you can all give a heart mate to. Well, they say that love creates a true heart, which gives you the kind heart, the warm heart, the big heart, the brave heart act…all these hearts. This is what the Niyamas are all about.
Okay, so that qualifies you to go find yourself a teacher. Who is going to teach you how to sit? Do you know how in shape you need to be to be able to sit and meditate? Here I was, this high-level gymnast in my very first yoga class and I could not sit. I’m not even going to say, “sit still.”I just couldn’t sit without my upper back burning. I had no idea how deeply rooted that tightness was!
DONNA: You know, I’m glad you are emphasizing this because people here…I mean, all of the movements and the postures are for sitting, really. I think that it’s something we hear, but we don’t really process. We don’t look at that and say, “Oh, really…yeah, it’s really hard to sit.”“Easy pose”is not easy!
GURUPREM: No. Well, first of all, Patanjali states further…this in not too much of a detour…but Patanjali states that Asana…“comfortable seat”….so, if you are standing in Tadasana…“mountain”…“comfortable seat of the Mountain,”you are sitting. Sukasana, which means, “comfortable seat of ease.”If you are in “Tree,”“comfortable seat of the tree.”
You know, they are all comfortable seats, but they are all in the same place. Actually, the deep seat that you can recognize your soul in, is the depth of your heart. The comfortable seat in the deep altar of your heart that you can only get to with courage. Cour-age means “depth of heart.”So, we are learning how to hold our hearts 84 ways. And seat…What’s the purpose of a seat?
DONNA: This is just really beautiful. The relationship to being in your heart and being able to sit.
GURUPREM: Yes. (Laughs)
DONNA: I think they are dots that aren’t often connected. Could you just speak a little bit more about that?
GURUPREM: You mentioned The Quakers’quiet voice. Listen, if you are not able to hold your heart in some reverence, then it’s hard to listen to the quiet voice. To take it further, this is where you can use some personal creative discretion. Where would you like to sit, in that comfortable seat? Your savior? Your guardian angel? Your guru? Your guide? The form of the formless that you can imagine…meditate…and love? That’s your choice. You want to upgrade? Anytime is a good time.
DONNA: So, what is the fourth?
GURUPREM: Ah, thank you for that. The fourth is, I believe you have a very hungry, hypoglycemic soul. Meaning, it needs to be fed little bits, a lot…all the time. But what is your soul food? Now, you could say that all these other things are soul food and they are, but they are not a highly, highly concentrated soul food. And by that, I mean the Sutras. The Sutras that you take little bits of because they are so concentrated…sutras of the Buddha…sutras of the Christ…sutras of…pick your favorite saint. Sutras of the Gurus…sutras of Patanjali…Endless, right? These are the ones that you choose, that you say “amen”to. Amen means, so be it. When you say “Amen,”you take it to heart, you bypass the intellect…Although, you might want to take it out of your heart and say, “let me see if I can understand this a little better.”Now, I’m not saying that you don’t have to make a discerning decision. I’m not sure if I want to take this to heart. But certain things, once you have a knowing…For me, I can open up the Sikh scriptures…I don’t have to have it pass through the gate keepers of my intellect, where I take it to heart. I will take it to heart first and then from there, allow it to present itself…what I need to learn.
DONNA: So, just to be clear. These are the aspects of an awakened person? What exactly is the aspect? We are talking about feeding your soul.
GURUPREM: We need a relationship with the word. The divine word in some way.
DONNA: So, it’s almost like a craving. You have to have that sense of the holy in your life somehow?
GURUPREM: For some people, the divine word is literally written down in stone, in scripture. And some people…the word is coming from nature. It’s straight from other sources. For some people, that word is coming from original source. Let’s just say when Buddha utters one of his sutras, he didn’t labor over it. It just…
GURUPREM: Right. Although, even with the Buddha, when he was back in his training period, was exposed to many other sutras. There is no original wisdom.
DONNA: That’s an interesting point. There is no original wisdom.
GURUPREM: No. You can’t say that is my wisdom.
DONNA: So, he just divined it?
GURUPREM: Or, he synthesized it from what was available to him. 2,300 years ago…was not the birth of all wisdom. There was plenty of the Vedic wisdom, already. All the Hindu Upanishads, and things even before. They were already there. But the time needed a refinement.
DONNA: A re-synthesizing of this. Hmm.
GURUPREM: So, another path was provided for that time. 2,300 years later, here we are! We are pulling from everything. We are creating something new, again. It’s a different period. We are now in the age of information.
DONNA: And is Yoga the best way? Yoga was your path. How does yoga bring us to this place? And in particular, Kundalini Yoga?
GURUPREM: Let’s be clear about Yoga. If you were to ask me “Hey, Guruprem, I hear this Yoga is really good. Can you tell me what the purpose of Yoga is?”
DONNA: Could you?
GURUPREM: I will! The purpose of Yoga, Donna, is to embody virtue. That’s it. I thought it was about posture! No…that is just to make it possible. Because I want kind-heartedness in my elbows. And I want courage in my toes. And I want compassion in my neck. And I want forbearance in my…I don’t know…feet. I want it everywhere! I want every cell and fiber dancing in the light of virtue. That’s the point of it.
DONNA: What do you mean by virtue because so often we say that Yoga is to connect to the divine.
GURUPREM: The divine is connecting to you though your virtue. That’s the divine nature. That’s the language of love. It’s extremely…
DONNA: You are becoming it.
GURUPREM: Yes. That is what Yoga is doing. You are in a lovefest.
DONNA: I love that.
GURUPREM. You are a soul bride with your soul. Your soul is your groom, in that regard. You are doing the dynamic dance. Your partner is still and you are doing the dance.
Continued in Part III…
View part three here
View part one here