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The New Golden Rules - An Essential Guide To Spiritual Bliss


Introduction We Are One

I'm a lot like you. Oh yes, I know that I have an exotic-sounding name, wear a turban, and sport a long beard. But even considering that, you and I are quite similar: We're both human beings, and more important, we're spiritual beings living on Earth at the same time- here to shine, and discover our Divine inner nature. Before you begin your exploration of the New Golden Rules, however, I'd like to share a bit of my own journey with you. 

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1946. When I was very young, perhaps four or five, I developed a serious illness, and my doctor thought it would be best for my recovery and long-term health if my family moved to the sunshine state of Florida. My parents had just divorced, so on my sixth birthday, my mother took me to live in Miami Beach, where her younger brother (a doctor) and his family also lived. Growing up there was nice - I went to the beach, played sports every afternoon in the park, and of course, attended school. After high school, I entered the pre-med program at the University of Florida, returning home during the summers, during which time I enjoyed working at a couple of different hospitals. 

Upon completing college, I was fortunate enough to have been accepted at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. It was cold there for a Florida boy, but the inclement weather gave me plenty of time to study. In fact, that's about all I did. 

Following medical school, I decided to become an anesthesiologist and was accepted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which was considered by many to be the top anesthesia program in the world. (That is, unless you were at Harvard. They considered themselves number one and UCSF second place, but we knew the truth.) 

During my internship (the first year after medical school), I took a course in Transcendental Meditation (TM). My professional program was difficult, especially since I was continually going to the parties held by my peers and colleagues. As this way of life took its toll on me, I figured that I needed to try a different approach to living - one that gave me extra energy along with a relaxed state of mind - and I found that meditation did just what I wanted. I also thought that if it was good enough for the Beatles (who, as you may recall, studied TM), it was good enough for me, so off I went to learn my secret mantra. 

Meditating helped me by giving me more stamina to get through those long, stressful nights on call, and encouraged me to become more creative. It turned out that I needed to develop that creative energy because after my first year of residency (my second year post-medical school), I was elected chief resident in anesthesiology at UCSF. That was quite an honor. My new position meant doing research, so I became immersed in two projects. One involved developing the best anesthetic approach to a special kind of open-heart surgery, and we found that the winning technique was the one that lowered the patient's stress the most. You may think that's a no-brainer, but in the mid-'70s, it was actually quite an innovative concept. The results from this work turned into my first scientific paper.

My second research project involved the field of obstetrics. I was part of the team that discovered that an epidural is the safest and most effective childbirth anesthetic technique for both mother and child, especially during a caesarean section. In those days, you could find me running to the operating room in the middle of the night, placing epidurals and then drawing the mother's blood to measure her endorphin levels. Endorphins, as you probably know, are the body's own version of morphine. Their presence determines the amount of stress in the body, and we found that our procedure reduced stress dramatically. 

Based on this research, the epidural became a very important tool in helping women have safe and pleasant childbirth experiences. Even now, when I share this story during a presentation I'm giving, a woman or two in the audience will raise their hand and say, "Oh, thank you!" Being involved in this obstetrical anesthesia research was one of the most rewarding parts of my professional medical experience. After my training at UCSF was complete, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'd visited a friend there a few years before and had fallen in love with the place. It wasn't a totally logical move, however, because I was a highly trained super-specialist who was on track to become a professor of obstetrical anesthesiology at one of the world's foremost medical centers - and now I was moving to a small Southwestern town. But I felt a tremendous power pulling me to New Mexico, and I couldn't resist that force, so I went along with it and landed a job at a sleepy little medical center in the high desert. 

It wasn't long after I arrived that I made an important decision: I decided that I wanted to take a yoga class. During medical school, I'd read a book called 28 Days to Yoga (now available as Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan) and had followed the stretching exercises in it. During my days in San Francisco, I practiced a little yoga from another book, and as I mentioned, took the TM training program. Those experiences had a lasting positive effect on me, so I wanted to take a real class. One day I asked Leslie, the wife of my friend John, if she knew where I could attend a session. She opened up a little alternative newspaper called the Albuquerque Alibi, pointed to an advertisement, and said, "I heard that's a good one." So off I went, never anticipating how my life was about to be completely transformed.

The class took place in a little house called an "ashram" in the university district. I went in and sat down on the comfortable green carpet as a tall young man with a long red beard and a white turban came into the room. He sat down, raised both his arms above his head, and started breathing very fast through his nose. He then asked the other five members of the class to join in, and we did. I was immediately transported to a place I'd only dreamed about . . . a timeless, inspiring, and healing spot. I felt absolutely fantastic as I thought, This is for me. 

For the next two years, I was a regular student of this powerful practice, which is called kundalini yoga and includes special meditation techniques. I learned that it had recently been brought to the United States by an Indian yoga master named Yogi Bhajan. Finally, after taking classes and studying kundalini yoga and meditation for two years, I had the opportunity to meet this influential leader. For Thanksgiving weekend in 1981, I traveled up to Espanola, a small hamlet about an hour and a half north of Albuquerque, to attend an advanced yoga workshop called White Tantric Yoga. What I want you to know now is that I had an incredibly powerful spiritual experience that weekend. 

During a break between exercises, I went up to the front of the auditorium to meet Yogi Bhajan. It was the first time I'd done this type of yoga or donned a white turban. As I approached the stage where the master was sitting, for some reason I started thinking about my uncle in Florida - the one I mentioned earlier who'd been a doctor. He'd died at 63, a young age to pass away, and I'd always wondered if he was spiritually at peace. 

Yogi Bhajan looked at me with his luminescent dark eyes, and I felt as if he were reading my soul. But he wasn't - instead, he was reading my mind. "Do you think you can go before the public like that?" he asked, referring to my wearing a turban. 

"It might take some time," I replied. 
"Time? What's time?" he answered. "Do you think 63 years is a long time?" 

When he used that specific number, I realized that he somehow knew I was thinking about my uncle. At that point, I decided that I wanted to get a spiritual name, which would be nothing more than an indicator of my potential. It would signify my highest promise as a human being - but it would also be my choice to try to follow the path that would let me live up to its meaning. To initiate the process, I wrote down my birth date and handed it to the Yogi. He then performed a numerological calculation to determine my spiritual name, in addition to his own highly developed intuition and ability to read human auras. 

As he handed me the paper and I saw my spiritual name in his own handwriting, my life unfolded before my eyes. I didn't have a past-life or near-death experience. The only way I can describe it to you is as a future-life experience; in other words, I had a vision of my destiny. As I read my new name, Dharma Singh Khalsa (which means a pure lion on a victorious path), I realized that I no longer had to use powerful anesthetic drugs to put people to sleep. Right then and there, I knew that I was destined to teach others how to wake up spiritually and heal in their bodies, minds, and souls. In that one moment of understanding, my life changed and I became Dr. Dharma.

After that weekend, I had to go back to work at the hospital. I told the chairman of my department that, beginning in two days, I'd be wearing a turban, and I repeated my intention the next day, telling him that the change would occur the following morning. Sure enough, when Wednesday arrived, I went to work wearing a turban, and I've worn one ever since. 

This practice signifies that I'm an advanced student of Yogi Bhajan's, and a Sikh. Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. Even though it originated in India, it's a separate, independent doctrine not affiliated with either Hinduism or Islam. This monotheistic faith is rooted in the belief in one true immortal essence of reality that is the doer of everything and part of every person; its other basic tenet is that life is to be lived to the fullest as a spiritual being, and followers are expected to help others. Of course, it's possible to still be a spiritual seeker and a student of yoga without wearing a turban, but I felt so strongly about my new path in life that I wanted to go all the way. 

Over the next ten years, I experienced a lot of personal and professional change as I went from being a practicing clinical anesthesiologist, to a holistic pain physician, to an integrative-medicine specialist working to help patients prevent and reverse memory loss. Since then, I've become an author, with six books under my belt (including this one), as well as the creator of a number of meditation CDs and a fun pop-music album entitled Love Is in You with my group, Bliss.

Quite often I'm asked how I've made these changes, and I answer, "Evolution." Over time, I've evolved to a higher level of existence by following the same steps that I'll share with you in the book. In essence, I've become myself -only better - and you can do this, too. But don't worry - your transformation doesn't have to be as dramatic as mine. Everyone's path is unique. 

Change, I've learned, happens slowly, even if it sometimes appears to be frighteningly fast. I didn't start wearing a turban on Wednesday and become enlightened on Thursday, despite the flash of insight I'd had the preceding weekend. Very few people can become one with their Higher Power overnight. It just doesn't happen that way. Instead, as with most things in life worth pursuing, a plan is required in order to be successful. I've done a lot of work to realize my spiritual nature, and I've put that experience into this book, giving you an essential and practical guide to achieving spiritual bliss. 

We all have our own healing journey and spiritual path, and I've been walking mine since that wonderful day in 1981. This book, as I've mentioned, is a culmination of what I've learned along the way. It's not just philosophy, though - it's based on practical experience. Remember that I'm an anesthesiologist by training, and we're people of action who don't just sit around talking about what needs to happen. We figure out the best way to get the job done. 

I'm going to outline four basic steps to help you move to the next level of living a spiritual lifestyle and realizing bliss. I'll talk more about all that soon, but for now I want to point out that I've written from a universal, non-religious perspective. Of course, from time to time I'll quote a spiritual leader or scripture (for example Buddha; the Bible; or my own teacher, Yogi Bhajan). I've included these ideas from enlightened beings and writings to help deepen your experience and give you a variety of perspectives on finding bliss. I hope that you'll assimilate all these ideas and distill from them what's most useful for your own journey. 

I also share accounts of people who have walked down this road in what I call "Stories on the Path," which I believe you'll enjoy very much and find helpful, interesting, and inspiring. There are also little vignettes with the heading "The Master Speaks" that illustrate points that provide a high-level perspective on spiritual living. Finally, I'll give you a few simple, yet very effective, mind/body meditation exercises as practical tools to help you make the transformation I discuss in that particular chapter (such as releasing fear). You'll soon discover how different meditations have specific purposes. In general, once you decide that an exercise resonates with you, it's best to practice it for 40 days in a row, making sure to fulfill the prescribed time each day (for example, 11 minutes). You may wonder, What's the reason for this? According to advanced spiritual thought, it takes 40 days to ingrain a change in your being. (That's why 40 is such a profound spiritual number.) 

We've been given the great gift of a body, mind, and soul; and in our Western way of thinking, we value perfection, as well as competition and being "number one." What I'd like you to discover through the exercises and ideas in this book is that you don't have to be perfect.

Rather, the purpose of life is to live in peaceful balance, bringing harmony to all of your being and making you feel cozy. When you experience that, your values will change as your priorities shift from being perfect to appreciating serenity and joy. That is bliss. 

We're all on a quest to realize our highest potential in this lifetime, and it's an exciting adventure. I salute you and congratulate you for taking this step - I know you'll never regret it. 

In the first chapter, we'll begin with a prayer, using an easy breathing exercise to help you tune in to your Divine inner being and set your vibration to be in concert with the energy in this book. You're going to love it. Peace to all. Life to all. Love to all.

Do Unto Others

As children, we all learned the Golden Rule at home, school, church, synagogue, or the like. I'm certain that you remember it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The basic idea is to do no harm; ideally, the original Golden Rule also encourages respectful and trusting relationships. 

Every faith and tradition has their own expression of this principle:

  • The poet Kabir wrote: "As you deem yourself, so deem others. Then you will become a partner to Heaven."

  • In the Talmud, it is written: "What is hurtful to yourself do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary."

  • The Buddha also had a version of the rule: "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."

  • A great sage of India, Guru Arjan, wrote in the holy book of the Sikhs called the Siri Guru Granth Sahib: "Don't create hatred with anyone, as God is within everyone."

  • And the Bible instructs: "Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the Law of the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

There's no room for rudeness, selfishness, hate, or violence if we're treating our neighbors the way we want to be treated . . . or is there? 

Do you think that there might be a connection between the fact that so few people experience bliss in their daily lives coupled with the concept that we find so few - even those who profess to be religious - who act as though they really love their neighbors? 

Perhaps people don't treat others very nicely on a consistent basis because they don't treat themselves very well either. Many individuals, in my experience, act as if they don't love themselves very much at all. They don't take care of themselves or make the time to take pleasure in life or enjoy recreation. Perhaps they ignore their family members and spend way too much time hiding from themselves in work, or in other diversions such as sex, food, or drugs.

It could be that this is because they weren't cared for very well, especially when they were young. I've seen many patients, for example, who have the belief that they weren't nurtured as children; because of that feeling (correct or otherwise), they live with pain, anger, and resentment. According to the ancient laws of Eastern healing philosophy (which we'll explore later), this perception of not being taken care of as a child can create tremendous emotional imbalance. Medical research now shows that this can often lead to physical and mental illness. When people live in so much pain and carry with them such a tremendous amount of unbalanced stress, it's often difficult to relate to others with love, grace, and consideration. 

I've meditated very deeply for a number of years about this difficult situation. This problem of lack of self love and clarity isn't something I can dismiss easily, because it's continually being brought to my attention in my clinical work. Over and over again - regardless of the physical or medical reasons people come to me for a consultation - I continue to discover an underlying longing for spiritual evolution and the recognition, often on a subconscious level, that spiritual growth and greater self-love are the only ways out of misery. 

During meditation I've asked my Higher Power: How can people find happiness and bliss? How can I help them discover the Heaven on Earth that I found by living life with a spiritual foundation? After all, having come from a divorced family and having gone through a difficult first marriage, I've also had pain and difficulty in some aspects of my life. 

The answer God gave me was: "Meditate on Me and help others do the same." 

So it's clear that we must all go through the process of spiritual development. During this journey, we encounter and transform the pain of the past, until finally we emerge from the tunnel of darkness to discover the bright light of God's love for us, and acknowledge all the blessings that we have deep within our souls. 

During my close to three decades of medical and ministerial practice, I've witnessed countless people repeating the same negative behavior patterns over and over again. As I discovered that so many of us are searching for more spirituality in our lives, I was led to create this new set of Golden Rules. These are for those individuals who can perhaps use some direction in taking the next step in their own personal and spiritual evolution as human beings on this little planet we call Earth.

The New Golden Rules

Here is some basic information about the New Golden Rules.

New Golden Rules #1: Discover Your Miracle

Explore the path of right action in order to find your true identity - your Divine self. Realizing the miracle of your divinity requires three steps that will help you move from individual to group to universal consciousness. This process helps you unify your body, mind, and spirit with the infinite source of all creation. You'll realize your connection to the universe and the part you're meant to play in the unfolding of the spiritual evolution that is occurring in our lifetime. It's during this journey that you'll discover your miracle and plant the first seeds of living a more wonderful and blissful life. 

The actions are:

  1. Develop or deepen a regular spiritual practice.

  2. Make selfless service an important part of your life.

  3. Create a community of spiritually like-minded people.

When you take these three steps, you'll kindle the Divine spark that resides within your being and begin a unique process that will bring you great joy.

New Golden Rules #2: Listen and Agree

Once you've refined your life by initiating the actions above, you'll grow spiritually. After some time, you'll be able to recognize the pulse of the still, small voice within your soul and reap the magnificent rewards of allowing the mystical you to become the guiding force in your life. This voice within is the will of God for you, and it's there for you to know. 

As you learn to listen deeply, the pulse of God's will for you will arise automatically and effortlessly. You'll be guided to your highest destiny by this manifestation from your awakened soul. 

But it isn't enough to just hear the voice or feel the pulse of God's will for you. To fully reap the benefits of the second New Golden Rule, it's very important to agree to follow this voice's lead when you hear or feel it-that's the key to this principle.

New Golden Rules #3: Dissolve Your Blocks

After working with the first two rules, you're ready to evolve into your next level of spiritual development. This is an exhilarating process that I consider with humility, awe, and reverence. Every person on the path to Heaven on Earth is beset by emotional obstacles, which are often unconscious, and keep you from advancing on your road to bliss. We all have these difficulties (anger, grief, and fear, for example), and they may also be the source of a great deal of pain and frustration in your life -for instance, you may feel as if you're stuck in a rut. 

It isn't enough to simply recognize and try to transcend, or rise above, these blocks; it's better to dissolve them so that you can experience bliss on a daily basis. Among the keys to doing this are forgiveness, patience, and acceptance. After you receive the gift of these attributes, you'll find that the next step on the path awards you the even higher ideals of love, compassion, and royal courage. The development of these characteristics is the mark of enlightenment.

New Golden Rules #4: See the Other Person As Yourself

This is the epitome of the New Golden Rules, for when you begin to see other people as yourself, you're able to see through the misperception of separation that we usually carry around with us. We often see others as apart from ourselves, but that's wrong: We're all one. 

We also have the habit of feeling as though we're separate from God, but that's also a misunderstanding that began at birth. On a very subtle level, when we went through our mother's birth canal and entered the harsh reality of life here on this planet, we felt torn away from the One who sent us to fulfill our destiny. Although we may have lost the recognition of that reality, we all carry a spark of the Divine within us. Following the New Golden Rules helps you rekindle that tiny ember and turn it into the bright and beautiful flame of infinite love. 

When you live this fourth rule, you once again transcend the feelings of pain, fear, and separateness brought about by simply being born. Once you see others as yourself - as a soul, just like you -your relationships will become more intimate, united, and harmonious. Beginning to see the other individual as a soul lets you then see the Divine in all. And when you're able to recognize the Heavenly in yourself and in others, you also begin to notice a higher force in all things - from a beautiful tree to personal events that appear to be beyond your control. It may take a day or it may take ten years, but one moment, with the grace of God, you'll have the realization that you're there. You'll remember who you are at the deepest level of your existence, experience the Divine love that resides within your being, and become yourself again.


This article was originally published in Sacred Pathways Magazine

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