This was written by S.S. Hari Kaur Bird Khalsa on June 4, 1979, about her experience of “the Early Years” of 3HO.
How We Ended up in Florida
Hari Singh (Bird) was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in February 1939. He was in the Marine Corps for six years and in Opticianry for 12 years. We were married in February 1964.
In 1968, being President of the Illinois Optician Association, he went to Orlando, Florida for a convention. He brought our family along for a vacation. We liked Florida so much, we moved there a few months later.
Early Years of 3HO: Introduction to “The Yogi”
In 1969, we met John Twombly. He indicated that his spiritual teacher was coming to Orlando to teach a yoga class and would be visiting for two weeks afterwards. John did not know where to accommodate his teacher, since his parents did not approve of what he was doing. He asked if it would be possible for his teacher to stay with us for two weeks. We agreed.
The Siri Singh Sahib did come – with 27 other people. Because we had only one bathroom, our swimming pool was used by many for bathing.
Early Years of 3HO: What is Sadhana?
It was on this visit that Hari Singh asked himself: “Just who is this man who does this chanting stuff? Just what is this Ahhhgggg stuff (cleaning monkey glands) at 3:00 a.m.? When he heard the Siri Singh Sahib say: “Without sadhana I would be nothing”, he felt that if a man that great felt that way about Sadhana, there was nothing left to do but TO DO SADHANA. Also, he felt that it was such a commitment, that if he ever started, he could never miss it and never give up doing Sadhana. It was at that time, also that he began to let his hair and beard grow.
Early Years of 3HO: Transitioning to a Life of Service
His boss came to him one day and told him that he would be laid off (because of his long hair and beard). Hari Singh’s only comment was: “I have a feeling this might be the best thing that has ever happened to me”. This comment proved to be true. For the next 11 months, he was unemployed and took that time to get deeper into Sadhana and to his commitment.
At this time, Hari Singh would do counselling at our home during the day, and even at night. There would usually be 10-15 people each day. The Siri Singh Sahib called our home THE BIRD NEST and it was listed this way in the early BEADS OF TRUTH. Hari Singh realized his real mission in life was to serve people through yoga, meditation, and counselling.
Early Years of 3HO: Sharing the Teachings
After being unemployed for 11 months, he was hired to teach yoga and meditation to heroin addicts at the Orange County Health Department drug abuse program. The director of the program strongly hinted several times that it would be better if Hari Singh took off his turban. Hari Singh just looked at the director and did not even reply.
Finally, Hari Singh was accepted as he was. He worked at the Orange County Health Department for two years. At that point, he was teaching 6-10 yoga classes per week to several jails and prisons. He was a full-time counsellor at the clinic and taught yoga to their clients.
Early Years of 3HO: Moving to Denver
At Winter Solstice, 1972, the Siri Singh Sahib asked Hari Singh to go to Denver. He said to check it out and to see if he would like to move his family there.
Hari Singh did just that and realized there was no other choice. To serve people was the only answer for him. Denver was the best way he could see to serve the most people. So, he came back from Denver to Orlando and prepared to move the family to Denver.
Sadhana – a Life Commitment
He committed fully to doing Sadhana. He has never missed or been late, since. Vary rarely has he ever deviated from the starting time of 3:30 a.m. Many times, he will even do Sadhana at 3:30 a.m., after driving all night, or even after being awake all night. He did sadhana alone for years before moving to Denver, so he really appreciates group sadhana.
Sharing the Experience of Group Sadhana
After living in the Denver ashram for four years, and because more people had moved in and another house was needed, it was decided that Hari Singh and his family would move to another house.
Even though he knew he could do a private sadhana himself consistently, he valued group sadhana. He felt that he must still do the group sadhana to keep the group together. So, for years, he travelled 12 miles – 1/2 hour each day – to the group sadhana. Because of his example, the Denver ashram had perfect Sadhana attendance for many years.
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