3HO people "often don't realize how much they may have forfeited"

February 2002
By a former member

People still somehow in the 3HO mindset, often don't realize how much they may have forfeited their free will and independent thinking. Certainly at first, it might be a struggle for most members to conform. Perhaps this was not so obvious at the start, but there is an eventual unconditional acceptance and conformity regarding the teachings of the group. And those teachings tell devotees how to think. Through the revelations of the organization adherents come to believe that they will somehow be able to know secrets that others don't. Yogi Bhajan teaches his followers that through the right devotion, they can "see the unseen" and "know the unknowable."

When I was a member of 3HO from the time I woke up until I went to sleep at night, my life was filled with proscribed routines. And my attitude concerning the world was molded by those routines, rituals and various teachings.

The first premise I accepted as a devotee of Bhajan was that "Khalsa will rule the world." The implication of this teaching is that the "Pure ones" (3HO members) are a superior race, to whom all will eventually go to for help. The governing principles regarding this doctrine were that most people need help and correspondingly, we "The Khalsa" can give it. Most 3HO devotees were constantly busy and preoccupied with personal purification, which included rigidly conforming to a proscribed norm. We grew our hair long, only wore white and went on special diets to cleanse ourselves. Every morning we got up at 3:00 AM to take cold showers, chant and do our yoga. Once sufficiently purified, we were on our way. Prayers filled the days and there were always special recipes to learn. Meditation sessions were also quite frequent. And there were tapes to listen to for more insights and secrets. Once on the path everyone needed to understand the difference between us and them (i.e. the "pure" and "impure").

This was a "science," which was open to all if your good karma would allow it. And we believed we were strengthening our nervous systems by practicing that "science." Our practice along with the new dress we accepted expanded our auras. Yes, not only were we the "pure ones," but our auras were bigger too.

We believed as our nervous systems grew stronger, our subconscious minds would be purified. But even after straightening out my diet and expanding my aura, I still needed one more thing--Divine protection. God now favors us so much that "He" will come to you, even without experiencing a vision. Of course this would only occur if and when you truly succeed and then you might then have visions beyond time and space. But until that achievement at least I knew that God has chosen me and would therefore protect our group more than anyone else, which was comforting.

We accepted all these things and every day learned more about how bad off everyone else was and how truly great we were. And then it was revealed that some coming catastrophe like Armageddon was not far off. This prophetic forecast seemed to make everything come together. It somehow made sense that we must be ready, be purified, glowing human beings, whom God had chosen to protect through his "True Guru," just waiting to pick up the pieces after the holocaust. In the meantime though, we would go forth and spread our teachings within the impure world filled that needed help.

Years passed by and I was very busy. There were my "monkey glands" to empty when I brushed my teeth, prayers to be read, turbans to be tied and every month some new diet to follow. We also had obligations at the ashram to teach classes, chop vegetables, serve people, clean and fix things. And there was the news to carefully follow in each state, the nation and the world. When things went bad, and we were just waiting for things to go bad, our destiny would then be fulfilled. And if things got better, it was because of our prayers. But of course this was only just the "calm before the storm.." I remember when the Berlin wall came down, Yogi Bhajan posed for pictures in front of it. How important he seemed, always in all the right places.

Many 3HO members had families with children to raise, spouses to care for. But there were rules for that too. This included how best to communicate and understand each other. And there were even rules about sex. How and when to have sex and what to do after sex was finished too. These rules went on and on. Whenever there was a problem, our all knowing guru would be there. At times when he was not, we could always write him a letter, though important or wealthy devotees could call him.

Yogi Bhajan would tell us what God wanted. He made our life decisions, such as where to live, what job to take, where to educate children and even how to best understand almost any personal situation. He made things easy for us.

3HO has a school in India for children. The children there wouldn't have horrible problems with impure Americans. In India it is somehow easier to be pure. But this often required hard work for many families to earn the money necessary for tuition and travel expenses. Sending children to school in India was expensive.

Making money was important. If not for school tuition, money was needed to attend 3HO festivals and to continue the process of purification. Without these expenses you might not grow and progress. There were festivals like the Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice and a special women's camp. There were the Tantric courses, full day meditation courses, and even a "Teacher Training Course." Teachers in 3HO must now be certified. All of these things cost money.

Perhaps impure people might be able to take empty pauses in life, when they became bored. But of course this only proves how empty they are inside. Unlike the outside world though, 3HO devotees are not empty. We were filled with thoughts about our Guru (our exalted teacher), our wonderful life-style and we were helping the world. And there was always something to do, work for the group, for God, our Guru and of course humanity. And if I had bad or impure thoughts, they needed to be quelled through meditation or chanting--something to fix them.

It was a marathon of devotion and I did my best to keep up with my fellow Seekers. We also always needed to make sure that everyone in 3HO was truly following and spreading Yogi Bhajan's teachings correctly. If they were not, well that required more help to correct them too.

Some might say, "But you had your own free will, and could have done otherwise." I can only respond, that we were so busy and exhausted from our constant practice, rituals, diets and spiritual strivings, that most of us didn't have the time or energy to really think about that.

Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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