Written for 3HO Germany newsletter — translated into German (see later post for German translation)
Prosperity and the Value of Giving–Yogi Bhajan’s Teachings In Action
At the very beginning of my time as a student of Yogi Bhajan’s, I remember being stretched and challenged–as well as intrigued–by his concept of prosperity. I had always thought of it in terms of financial prosperity and wealth – that if I were to strive to become ‘more prosperous’, my primary intention would be to accumulate more money so I could gather more possessions or have a high net worth. But in looking around me, I knew that financial wealth alone could not provide lasting happiness and true satisfaction. Under this definition, ‘prosperity’ was not a high priority for me.
Yogi Bhajan, however, spoke of prosperity in terms that were far more grand and expansive than any of my prior associations with the concept. He spoke of prosperity as the complete realization of a person’s happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in life. He taught that the key to prosperity was the nurturance of such essential qualities as personal character, integrity, and nobility. Rather than ‘go out and get’ and chase after success and happiness, a primary tenant was to be still and vibrate – and that everything that you need will come to you.
“A prosperous person has certain characteristics. For that person richness itself is not the basic aim. It happens anyway. A prosperous person does not gather wealth but the wealth of wealths. No matter what the circumstance, a prosperous person creates, delivers, and fulfills. They act with a constant equilibrium through all pressures and shortcomings. That person will not barter the values of their character or identity for any temporary benefit. They will always remember the presence and possibilities of the Infinite within each person. They cultivate endurance, dedication, and awareness. To such a person, prosperity is as natural as the breath, as unlimited as the mind and as immediate as this moment.” Yogi Bhajan
The remembrance that we are timeless, deathless beings has everything to do with prosperity and the fulfillment of our destinies. Yet each of us lives life constantly confronted with the temptations and inputs of the material world as well as the pull of the mind and ego to draw us toward a false sense of limitation. To command ourselves to that still point of own internal infinity – our ‘Sat Nam’ — requires practice, training, patience, and consistent effort.
In countless personal interactions, in a multitude of yoga sets and meditations, and in lecture after lecture, Yogi Bhajan challenged us to stretch beyond our limited imaginations and stilted perceptions of our capabilities so that we may more consistently relate to our unlimited self. We experience these lessons every day when we are blessed to stretch beyond the cozy comfort of our beds to arise in the early morning to meditate, or when we practice a 40-day meditation – and think of all the ways we would like to stop but still keep on going, or when we successfully sit through a difficult 62-minute meditation in White Tantric Yoga.
While Yogi Bhajan was living, we also witnessed this approach to prosperity in his one-on-one relationships with students. If, for example, he wanted a book written on a certain topic, he might assign the task to a person with a talent—that they may not even know they possessed—and give them a very short deadline to complete it. It seemed that the book was simply a by-product of the effort – the real intention was for the person writing it to expand and grow. If another person had musical talent, he might tell him to write a song every day for a week – and to perform each song for him each evening. Or he might tell another to record a song and send it to him in Europe within three days. In achieving these assignments, each of these individuals very likely struggled, yet they went far beyond what they thought they could accomplish and, as a result, expanded into a far more ‘prosperous’ state.
In all of the practices and teachings in Kundalini Yoga involving prosperity, a key component is the importance of giving. A truly prosperous life is when we share what we have with others, when we give of our time and effort to help someone, and when we teach what we learned so that others may be uplifted as well.
The recognized benefits of giving are numerous. We often say that whatever you give, you receive back 10 times. I asked David Koravos, a prior Executive Director of United Way, why people give. He shared that people give for many reasons: because it feels good, because they believe it’s the right thing to do, because they are fortunate to have the resources to give, or simply because they receive a tax benefit from giving.
No matter why we think we give, it is in the act of giving that we experience our own infinity. When we give, we exercise our relationship with our own vastness. We create a void–a vacuum–and that void is then filled by the universe. When we give and, even more importantly, when give beyond what we think we can give, we train ourselves in our own infinity rather than our limitation.
Yogi Bhajan created various tools, opportunities, and methods to create prosperity through giving. All of these are opportunities were created so we would not remain within our own small selves but, rather, we could be led to our true, expansive selves. Three of these specific tools & methods include: the teachings of dasvande, fundraising efforts at Summer Solstice Sadhana at Ram Das Puri in New Mexico, and the building and continued development of the ‘Mother Ashram’, Hacienda de Guru Ram Das in Espanola, New Mexico.
Sadhana and Dasvande
A good friend of mine was present in the early days when Yogi Bhajan introduced the concept of dasvande. When he introduced this practice, he asked that everyone read a small book called ‘Seed Money in Action’ which espoused the law of tenfold return. With this concept, whatever you give—whether it’s financial resources, time, or effort—you will receive back ten times. In the language of Gurumukhi, ‘das’ means ten and ‘vande’ translates ‘to share’ or ‘to divide’. Thus, dasvande means ‘to share one tenth’.
In one of the women’s camp lectures from 1978, Yogi Bhajan described it this way: “As you give one-tenth of your wealth to God so that you can live in peace and multiply, you give one-tenth of your time [during your daily Sadhana practice] to God so you can progress spiritually. This is called dasvande. Offering one-tenth of time and one-tenth of money. It is to cover the heavens and the earth. This behavior should be done consciously with the awareness of Attalataa. Attalataa gives you Infinite faith. Attalataa is the state of Infinity in which time and space cannot shake any boundary of an individual.” 
Yogi Bhajan often taught that giving without attachment to any particular outcome was the highest form of giving. He often stressed this as a fundamental tenant of the practice of dasvande. Gurprakash Kaur, the Director of Sikh Dharma Dasvandh, the organization of Sikh Dharma International through which ‘tithing’ is processed, calls this ‘Courageous Giving’. In the process of courageous giving, you give to your Infinite self. By giving with grace, trust, and detachment, you are opening up the floodgates for prosperity and abundance to come to you. Why? Because when you give courageously, the ego is not involved. There is no expectation and no guarantee. You simply give.
Thus, the true manifestation of dasvande is lack of attachment to outcome. In the practice of giving—whether it’s giving money or giving your time during Sadhana—your detachment will be tested. Dealing with the uncomfortable aspects of the test is part of the practice of training to infinity.
Giving at Solstice
Another beautiful example of Yogi Bhajan providing the opportunity to create prosperity through the act of giving was during Summer Solstice in New Mexico. When Yogi Bhajan was alive and well, he would lead Tantric exercises himself or, later when the video courses were introduced, come to teach at the end of each day. At the end of the tantric course, he would sometimes give us the opportunity to expand on the spot. At this point, he might introduce a charitable effort—usually to send children to Miri Piri Academy in India—and ask every person to open their wallets and purses and give on the spot. Some people would get up and gather the money and then deposit it on the stage. Others would jump up on the stage and count the money. There was always a sense of immediacy and urgency – we gave quickly and we had to count the money fast. A significant amount of money was raised and, in this process, each person present had the opportunity to adopt responsibility for something beyond themselves.
I interviewed a few people who were present during this time. Some of my friends were on the staff of Miri Piri Academy at the time and were very grateful that some children who wanted to attend were able to so as a direct result of these contributions. They witnessed the direct benefit of this giving exercise. Another friend shared that when this opportunity arose, it inspired him to go past his own set of limitations. Often, this event would occur at the end of solstice where he had only so much money left. He felt that, by giving at this moment and in under these circumstances, it tuned him into his own Infinity. He took the opportunity to give when perhaps it was a financial squeeze to do so—and he learned that by going on his fear and sense of limitation, he was always covered.
Yogi Bhajan was a very generous man. He tirelessly gave his time, energy, and resources. At these moments at Summer Solstice, this spirit of giving was contagious. We would ride and multiply that energy. It created a vastness in each of us and a very direct benefit to those in need.
Building and Growing the Mother Ashram — Hacienda de Guru Ram Das
During the final prayer at the end of Gurdwara, one of the sangat members often includes a statement of gratitude for “all the things that were built in innocence only to exalt Your Name”. Every time I hear that statement, I am reminded that Hacienda de Guru Ram Das was built and continues to be developed by the love and efforts of the sangat, not by any single person.
In building Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, Yogi Bhajan was very clear that it should be built by the hands of the people who lived there and by the financial donations of the community. It was very clear that the ownership should be ours, not that of any single individual or entity. When the financial resources and effort come from a single person or persons, then the agenda of the few becomes the agenda of the community – rather than the community itself.
It takes a coordinated effort and a celebrated sense of ownership for all of us to maintain the ashram. To do so is everyone’s responsibility and blessing. By all of us giving our time, money and effort to support the mother ashram, the community maintains its sovereignty and exists to serve it’s true purpose — to serve humanity through the teachings of Yogi Bhajan.
Prosperity in action in our own lives
There are countless ways that we can experience our own expansiveness and breadth while here on earth. One key way that we stretch beyond our limited selves in the practice of giving—of our time and effort and in the sharing of our financial resources. A fundamental message that we received from Yogi Bhajan was that true prosperity and contentment comes from being bigger and more vast than we think possible. We access this vastness in a myriad of ways: by contributing financial resources to worthy causes, by sacrificing sleep to exalt ourselves during Sadhana in the ambrosial hours, by teaching others what we have learned, and by developing and expressing our individual talents to uplift others.
What is that place in you that’s waiting to touch someone? Perhaps your own expansion and prosperity is waiting to be realized in a book about healing, or a study of beautiful architecture, or financial resources that you can share with others. Mine your own talent, share it with others, teach. And in the process of your life, give of yourself to remember your infinite self that exists beyond time and space and beyond any perceived limitation.
From Yogi Bhajan’s CD ‘Patience Pays’:
“Patience pays. Wait. Let the hand of God work for you. One who has created you, let Him create all the environments, circumstances, and facilities & faculties.
Oh individual, why you are in a very doubtful state? One who has made you will take care of you. One who has created this universe, all the planets, planetary faculties and facilities on Earth, He is the One who has created you. Wait, have patience, lean on him, and all best things will come to you.
Dwell in God. Dwell in God. Dwell in God. Befriend your soul. Dwell in God and befriend your soul. Dwell in God and befriend your soul. All the faculties and facilities of the Creation, which are in your best interest, shall be at your feet. You need million things; million things will reach you, if you are stable, established, firm, patient. Remember, Creator watches over you and Creation is ready to serve you, if you just…be you.
So please take away the ghost of your life and stop chasing around. Consolidate. Concentrate. Be you. And may all the peace & peaceful environments, prosperity approach you forever. Sat Nam.”
The Aquarian Teacher. KRI International Teacher Training Manual Level 1. Page 241.
 Women in Training III – The Beaming Faculty of Woman. 1978. Page 162.