The other person is you

The Five Sutras

onenessYogi Bhajan, a master of kundalini yoga and spiritual teacher for decades to thousands worldwide, taught a set of principles that he coined the Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age.

They are:

  1. Recognize that the other person is you.
  2. There is a way through every block.
  3. When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
  4. Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.
  5. Vibrate the cosmos, and the cosmos shall clear the path.

A sutra is in effect a thread or spiritual knot woven together to serve as a fundamental truth. While seemingly simple, these five sutras resonate deeply. Each stands on its own. And combined, they serve as a comprehensive set of guidelines by which to live our lives.

This edition of Soul Notes begins a 5-part series, with each devoted to one of the five sutras. I invite you to explore them with me now and during the coming weeks!


“Recognize the Other Person Is You”

[Sutra 1, Yogi Bhajan]

Soul in One, Soul in All

“Aquarian consciousness takes you inside your soul, so that you can relate to the soul in all.”
-Yogi Bhajan from Aquarian Times, Spring 2003.

As spiritual beings, our deepest suffering may stem from our sense of separation from one another and from spirit or Source. When we get quiet, however, and realize that we are one with creation, we recognize that we are one with each other. There is no separation. Modern society often tempts us to see the separation, when it need not be so.

It’s in our nature to be connected, not separate and apart. It’s up to each of us, however, to recognize ourselves in each other.

When we see ourselves in the other person, and the other person in ourselves, we embody yet another of Yogi Bhajan’s most solemn teachings: “See God in all, or see God not at all.”

Take emergencies, or natural disasters, for example. Often, they “bring out the best in us.” We act on the impulse to reach out and help someone. Oftentimes it’s a stranger. We act out of compassion. We see our commonalities, and not our perceived differences. We are one. We are connected. We are an intricate part of the whole.

The blockbuster movie “Crash” (2004) attempted to illustrate this, from different angles, as it explored the lives of several main characters reacting to separate yet equally potentially life-threatening situations and conflicts. The movie’s title refers to a car crash, as well as symbolizes the many ways in which modern day lives often “collide.”

While the movie portrayed several conflicts and human (mis)perceptions we often have about others with whom we come in contact, it made the point that these arise in large part from our human tendency to see the separateness rather than the unity and connection we have with each other.

Despite the often fear-based walls we erect to protect ourselves, it’s those very walls which more often than not reinforce the separateness. It’s in those moments of heightened crisis, however, that we come to realize (or are forced to realize) that we do indeed have more in common as human beings than we have not in common. We share at our core, the same blood, sweat and tears. Yes. Truly.

Recently, while in the back yard with my dog, I saw my dog running toward the fence as she heard the postal carrier approaching our house. Usually, on such an occasion, my dog would stop at the gate and sniff under the fence and let out a bark or two as the postal carrier deposited the mail in our mailbox and proceeded to walk on to the next house. Suddenly, however, I saw my dog pounce on the gate, and (unbeknownst to me, as someone had left the gate unlatched) the gate swung open and within moments my dog was headed at a good clip right towards the front of the house, and the mail carrier. I heard the mail carrier scream as my dog was now on the front porch within feet of her, as she stood paralyzed in front of the mailbox.

I ran to the porch, secured my dog, and reassured the mail carrier that she was safe and that my dog would do her no harm. She was short of breath and managed to squeak out, “I’ve been bitten by a dog before.”   I felt her genuine fear in that moment, and told her “I know you’re scared, but please know that my dog won’t hurt you.” “I’ll control her until you have a chance to walk away from the house.”   The mail carrier took a deep breath and calmed down. In a moment of relief (hers and mine, quite frankly, as I was concerned that my dog could have been sprayed with mace), she looked me in the eye and with sincerity said, simply, “Thank you.” She walked off the front porch, and on to the next house. Crisis averted, and a common bond shared.

The challenge, of course, is maintaining that sense of oneness when the emergency, the crisis, the heightened moment-in-time, has subsided — when our lives later return to ‘normal’ — when we, I would say, have the “luxury” of allowing the thoughts of separateness to set up camp in our heads. The mind-centered “separateness” camp, if we allow it, creeps in and crowds out our heart-centered, compassionate camp.

This is where having a spiritual practice or set of principles (such as the five sutras) serves as a framework to help each of us stay centered and grounded in these universal truths. That is not to say that it’s easy, but to suggest that it’s possible. It requires attentiveness, consistency, and ongoing commitment. And, it’s worth it.

Looking Within…to Ourselves

“If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change.”

(Man in the Mirror)

Why wait for an emergency, crisis or disaster, to recognize and feel that oneness? Why not feel it now, in your heart, in your soul?

I invite you to carry that feeling of oneness with you throughout your day, your week, your month. May we each commit to acting accordingly – in support of our oneness, remembering always and in all ways: that the other person-is-you (and me, and she and he, and we).

Okay, your turn:

Reflect on a moment when you felt truly connected to another human being, maybe even a stranger? Perhaps you extended a hand, a helping gesture? Or, do you recall a time when you were the recipient of an act of kindness or true compassion? What would it mean to feel that, on a regular basis? In what ways have you recognized, or will you commit to recognizing, that the other person is you?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

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