12th Pauri Obedience. Early on in my practice of Kundalini Yoga, I came to the realization that if I didn’t surrender to something, and soon, I would continue wandering the rest of my life. I had a habit of trying something on for a few years—Buddhism, Sufism, even contemporary expressions of Christianity—you name it, I tried it; but I quickly discarded it for the next new shiny thing. It was my desire for an untarnished faith that kept me searching. I had yet to recognize my own inner duality; in fact, it would be years before I would finally come to accept that my goodness and my ‘badness’ were all from God. And until I accepted it in myself, I only saw hypocrisy in others around me.
Cut to my first exposure to Japji Sahib. I was considering taking teacher training and in the meantime had purchased some 3HO music. Japji by Matamandir Singh quickly became my favorite and I listened to it compulsively for probably a year. It is said that by reading Japji, you can find your Pran Sutra, the thread that will carry you throughout your life—and death. My pran sutra quickly became the Mannai Pauris. I was so moved by the line, “Such is the Naam, it makes you pure; if you agree to agree, your mind becomes sure.” As someone who had been a cynic for the better part of her adult life, the notion that I could live without doubt, that I could “agree to agree” and become sure of anything, was compelling, intoxicating even.
The traditional translation of the first line of the Mannai Pauris is “obedience,” which triggered my Christian roots. I was very used to obeying—and yet I had spent the past 15 years of my life in complete and utter rebellion; so the notion of obeying was both bitter and sweet at the same time. I wanted to return to something simple—and obedience, when combined with surrender, can be very simple. And yet, the momentum of my past kept me in a constant state of resistance. Once I began teacher training, I learned the teacher’s maxim: “obey, serve, love, excel.” We can’t really become the master of anything until we have learned to obey—purely, fully, and humbly. So the Mannai Pauris became my path to a way of life that worked for me. I simply practiced obedience. I surrendered. And as Guru Nanak so aptly states, there’s no way to describe the state of mind that’s created from this simple act of obedience. The act of aligning your own will with God’s. “No pen can write it, and those who have tried, regret it.” This state of consciousness is elusive. If you try to pin it down, it flies away from you. Simply be and enjoy the act of agreeing to agree; for it is in agreeing to agree that we cut loose the shell of duality and take on the robes of dignity and grace and ease, sahej.
13th Pauri Surrender. What is it about surrender that makes us wise? How can we come to know all the universes and worlds simply by surrendering? And what is it about surrender which grants us immortality—untouched by death? These are questions posed by the next pauri.
When we surrender, we give our heads. When we give our heads, we surrender our egos. We still have an ego; but we no longer identify with it. We no longer cling to the limited and finite demands of what we think we want, and instead the ego is there to serve and align with the infinite. For so long, my life was run by “I want what I want when I want it.” Yogi Bhajan says, “You want what you want. Well, what you want you want, what he wants he wants, what they want they want, what the government wants the government wants, what the neighborhood wants they want, what the street wants, county wants—you know how many wants there are? You live in want, want, want, want, want; and then you become want, want, want, want. And that ruins the show.” (© The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, July 1, 1997) Our egos are tied to time and space—the past, the present and the future. Our egos are tied to desire, which in the end only contracts us, making us smaller. While surrender is tethered only to infinity, which is limitless and free.
Surrender allows us to truly become infinite, boundless. When we surrender the contraction, the smallness of the ego, the entire universe and all the infinite worlds come to dwell within us! We experience the expansiveness of the entire creation. Because we’ve dropped our resistance, all knowledge comes in, and we become wise, expansive, loving. And further, because we’ve dropped our narrow definition of Self, and merge with all that is, death cannot touch us because we don’t relate to death any longer. We relate only to infinity. In this way, we restore our dignity and live in the grace of our identity—the Naam. We become pure. We become sure. We become real.
14th Pauri Finding the Path. In this next pauri, we’re told that surrender leads to the dharma—the path of righteous living. Your way becomes clear, and you are no longer of this world. We let go of our inner duality, we stop questioning, and we simply act from a place of truth. In my own life it has manifested in simple moments of recognizing I don’t ask the same questions anymore. I don’t wonder if I’m happy, I don’t linger on regrets or unfinished business, I don’t ask myself those questions that have no answers in this world of maya. Instead, attachment to what I want gives way to devotion and the cares of this world grow fewer and farther between the countless moments of ecstasy found in the present moment, through the simple things: the breath, a summer breeze, the particular shape and scent of a flower, the movement of a bird’s wings across the sky, anything.
My footing becomes more and more sure as I place my reliance in the Naam, as I surrender to the path, as I align my will with the will of “the God.” Doubt drops away and my faith, in my self and my reality, grows with each day.
15th Pauri Kundalini Awakening. This final pauri promises the fruits of surrender: the 10th gate opens. We awaken, and in awakening we carry our family, our friends and their karmas with us as we cross the world ocean. One would never imagine that through the simple act of surrender we can manifest such victory, but that is the path of the Guru, the path of obedience, for in the seeds of surrender we generate the fruit of excellence and grace.
This is the story of the Mannai Pauris to me. They brought me to the feet of the Guru and I will always be grateful for the journey they’ve taken me on. Agreeing to agree with what is remains my daily practice. Breathe, bow, and live in the surety of my purity—the gift of the Guru.