The Next Step | 3HO International

The Next Step

By Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa

When Yogi Bhajan first started teaching in the United States in 1969 it was the dawning of Aquarian Age consciousness. It was a time of new consciousness awakened and experienced, if not understood, by millions of young people whom he recognized as harbingers of the new Age. He spoke frequently about the changes that were to come in the years ahead, as our planet, and all of us on it, had to move out of the Piscean Age and leave behind old concepts and old behaviors.

He explained the upheaval that this major shift in consciousness would cause, yet I doubt if many of us really expected to see the chaos that has been dramatically escalating since November 1991. (This is the date when we entered a 21-year cusp period that ushered in the actual Age of Aquarius in 2012.)

Out of his compassion and kindness, despite traditional taboos on teaching Kundalini Yoga publicly, Yogi Bhajan has given us an amazing array of practices to prepare us for today and the days ahead. He has trained his students to become teachers, not only to accelerate their own growth in consciousness but also to enable them to share with others the self-empowering sacred science of Kundalini Yoga.

In the spring of 2001, when Yogi Bhajan revealed a new step in the evolutionary process of human consciousness, I could hardly imagine the possibility and reality of what he calls the “Self-Sensory System.” As I tried to grasp the enormity of the vast shift of consciousness that he described, I remembered that over 40 years ago I had read a book that dealt specifically with the evolution of consciousness. I decided to read Cosmic Consciousness [1] again. It confirmed for me in concrete examples, particularly of sensory perception, the fact that we human beings are, indeed, constantly evolving. This article contains some information, and some of my own experiences, that have helped me to visualize the transformation of consciousness that will bring into being the Sensory Human, the next step in human evolution.

Meanwhile, I keep a little reminder on my desk; it says, “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

Most scholars agree that in biblical times people were color-blind. Ancient literature reveals that red and black were the first colors that could be distinguished. The multicolored palette that most of us see today was unknown to prehistoric humans. Even Aristotle spoke of a tricolored rainbow; and Democritus knew of no more than four colors: black, white, red, and yellow.[2]

Many thousands of years ago, our ancestors took sticks and made marks in the sand or the dirt. Our great-great-great-great-forefathers drew hieroglyphs on cave walls with sharp stones. Later they carved signs and traced patterns in stone with a hammer and a chisel. Ostrich feather quill pens graced the desks of royalty, and Shakespeare wrote his marvels after sharpening his quill.

Before kindergarten, my brother taught me to print the alphabet in pencil. From little letters I progressed to capital letters, practiced faithfully in first and second grades. Along about second or third grade, we practiced penmanship and cursive writing by dipping the metal nib of a pen into the inkpot supplied with each of our desks. Book reports and essays were written in long hand.

I learned to type at Hollywood High. In 1946, my assignments at UCLA were typewritten. These were manual typewriters, which clattered noisily as each key responded to a firm stroke causing the individual metal letter to pop up, placing an impression on a black inked ribbon traveling between two spools. What a mess when you had to change the ribbon; you got your hands all smudged with ink.

From the sturdy manual typewriter, evolved the electric typewriter. It was a major improvement. It no longer required you to shove a carriage back to its starting position at the end of each line. I must confess, at first I missed the reassuring tinkle of the little bell that signaled the end of each line. The electric typewriter with its quiet speed and efficiency was state-of-the-art until word processors and computers came on the scene.

The leap from typewriter to computer was almost as traumatic as any leap of faith! Each new mechanical or electronic advance required a mental adjustment for my brain to keep up with the increased pace of my fingers. In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler presented an accurate picture of the challenge faced by many of us who grew up at a slower pace in a slower world.

From Pony Express to the U.S. airmail, from the telephone and telegraph to fax machines and email, inventors have been bombarding us with faster and faster ways of communicating and sharing information and ideas. Obviously, language itself has gone through an evolutionary process, from grunts to words to phrases and sentences and treatises, in how many millennia? The point is that along with the evolution of technology, man’s (and woman’s) consciousness has also been evolving.

From simple self-consciousness to cosmic consciousness is the main theme of psychiatrist Dr. Richard Bucke’s classic study on the evolution of the human mind. First published in 1901, his research led him to the conclusion that the development of the intellect is not the highest state attainable. He postulates what he calls “Cosmic Consciousness,” and cites various examples of outstanding men who attained this awareness, including Walt Whitman, Dante, Gautama Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Socrates, Plotinus, Mohammed, Spinoza, Socrates, and many others.

Among the common characteristics shared by those who attained, or obtained, or were given the cosmic sense, he includes “moral elevation, intellectual illumination, sense of immortality, loss of the fear of death, loss of the sense of sin, and added charm to the personality so that men and women are strongly attracted to the person.” He observes that the instances of cosmic consciousness became more and more frequent with the passage of time.

What is interesting to me is that Cosmic Consciousness is over 100 years old and still in print. Think of the progress in science and technology since then! And consider the earlier and earlier mental, emotional, and spiritual maturing of each succeeding generation since then (not to mention the seemingly taller, physically stronger youth of today compared with those 100 years ago).

As with the sense of color, or fragrance, or any other developmental awareness, evolved consciousness usually manifests first in one or a few beings, and then becomes more and more common in the human race. Ken Keyes Jr.’s Hundredth Monkey makes the point admirably.

Animals have instincts; did the cave dweller have intuition or just instinct? I believe that for most of you reading this, the exercise of the faculty of intuition is a given. It’s expected. We use it and fine-tune it through meditation. Many of us practice Kundalini Yoga, which is specifically called the Yoga of Awareness, so that we can accelerate this process of evolving consciousness and experience for ourselves the illumination of cosmic consciousness.

The highest consciousness of all is the state of yoga, the state of yoking our individual consciousness with the universal consciousness of God. That union gives us the experience of our True Identity as Sat Nam and proves that we are all divine beings, although temporarily functioning in human form.

While in this human form, a necessary new step has come onto the evolutionary horizon. It is a new sense, a new faculty or level of consciousness to be used. Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., Master of Kundalini Yoga, calls it the “Self-Sensory System.”

He says:

“We are entering the Age of Aquarius in 2012, November 11th. It will be a new time. The entire psyche is changing. You must purify the mind, body, and soul to be real, innocent, and sattvic.[3] Elevate yourself to be angelic. This Age you will serve is an age of awareness, an age of experience.”[4]

At various speeds, individually and collectively, we are all sharing in the evolutionary progress of the human race. To be capable, conscious, and content in the Aquarian Age, Yogi Bhajan advises us to develop this new sensory system.

“When you have that state of mind you are clean and clear. You stop searching, you start practicing…Your flow becomes as vast as the universe—and sometimes beyond the universe…And the sensory system, which will develop automatically out of us, will be our archangel protecting us and glorifying us…We will be overflowing with energy, touching the hearts of people, and feeling their feeling, and filling their emptiness. We will create a new humanity, which will have the new sensory system, and thus we will establish the Age of Aquarius. This is the fundamental character you have to learn by heart.”[5] 

[Published in Aquarian Times, Spring 2003]

Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa was Yogi Bhajan’s first student in the United States. He gave her the title of Divine Mother of 3HO.She has been teaching Kundalini Yoga since 1969. She is the author of Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power; Kundalini Postures and Poetry; and Marriage on the Spiritual Path: Mastering the Highest Yoga. She is a frequent movie-goer in the City of Angels.


[1]Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mindby Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D., Published by Applewood Books, P.O. Box 365, Bedford, MA 01730, ISBN 1-55709-499-3    (paperback) (originally published in 1901, Hardcover)

[2]Cosmic Consciousness: Richard Bucke p.40.

[3] Simply defined, “balanced.” Neither lethargic nor overly emotional,  Sattva is one of the three “gunas” or qualities inherent in creation. The other two are Rajas and Tamas, as described in How to Know God—the aphorisms of Patanjali translated by Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda.

[4]The Mind-Its Projections and Multiple Facets. Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., with Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.

[5] Yogi Bhajan, August 1, 2000. “The Self-Sensory System and the Transition from this Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age,” Aquarian Times, vol. 1, number 1, p. 43.