Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Hand in the Trap

The title of my last post: "When what we had hoped for came to nothing, we revived." is a quote by Rebecca West (or so I read somewhere years ago; I've never been able to track down its origin in her writings.) I loved it when I first read it in my twenties, even though I knew I was too young to truly understand the paradox it so neatly contains. But I've carried those words around with me all this time, in memory, waiting for the situation that they describe to arise. And now it's here.

It's true that I had hoped the 2008 message would be an honest accounting of where SY is now (if not an admission of how we got here). That is was not, that it was nothing more than a recitation of the story of "the lineage", and an exhortation to do more sadhana mixed with contemplations obviously designed to make the listener believe he or she hadn't done enough, given enough, worshipped enough—was not a surprise, but a true disappointment.

It was a talk that could only have satisfied true believers, those who came looking to hear their beliefs reiterated, and so reinforced. I don't feel any special pride at no longer being one of these; I was unquestionably and unquestioningly one for many, many years.

So, where is the revival? For me, it lies outside of the practice of Siddha Yoga. Perhaps, probably, this talk will divide the sangham in two once again, at a moment when those who had left and those who had stayed were finally beginning to talk among themselves honestly and openly. Maybe it was designed to do just that. After all, talking amongst ourselves without a "moderator" was never permitted before, at least not in an official capacity.

My hope is that those who still identify as "belonging to" or practicing Siddha Yoga will stick around and talk about their experience of the message, its import on their sadhana and its effect. I hope I haven't scared you all away with my sarcastic remarks; I've thought about going back and editing them out but have not. They encapsulate my "experience" of the talk as cogently as I know how to. Please balance them out with your own, positive experiences if you'd like.

The title of this post is also from a quote, by Saint Augustine: "She who places her hand in a trap, carries the trap with her."

With this 2008 Message talk I think I see the trap that Gurumayi has placed her hand in. She will not, dare not try to go back to "the way things were". It would open too many questions, some of the official sort, that must remain unasked and unanswered. I don't believe that she wants to do this anyway--otherwise, what was the point in running away? But, "Gurumayi" can't just disappear indefinitely. Too many others have their lives and livelihoods wrapped up in a continued SYDA foundation and the appearance, at least, of an active organization. There may even be the truest of the true believers out there who would become unbalanced and dangerous if it all came apart.

So Gurumayi is condemned to continue to exist, at least periodically in public, and to continue exercising the last siddhi that has not abandoned her—that of mass thought control. Judging by this talk, that power is failing her too. Perhaps one day when it leaves her at last and the hope of controlling others finally blinks out, Malti will revive as well.


Anonymous said...

Dear Seekher,

Thank you very much for this blog.
I'm a former siddha yogi/long-term ashramite who has been reading your blog and the comments since the beginning. I really appreciate your sensitivity and openness, and also appreciate about the message was and your take on it.

Here is a link that I thought readers of this blog might find very interesting. It's a speech given by Krishnamurti removing himself as the "spiritual head" of a religious organization.

The speech is called "Truth is a Pathless Land". I first came across it several years ago while I was leaving SY, and it was very helpful to me.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from it:

"I do not want to belong to any organisation of a spiritual kind; please understand this....

If an organisation be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth."

And here is the link to the whole speech:

Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Seekher.

As with Marta, it appears that writing, analyzing, and deeply pondering your experiences has allowed clarity to crystallize for you.

Words will simply not sufffice to describe the moment.

One question naturally arises: Do you think you will be continuing to write this blog for a time?

It has been so beneficial to so many.

Thank you again for inspiring writing and the space for spirited discussion.

SeekHer said...

Anon wrote:
"One question naturally arises: Do you think you will be continuing to write this blog for a time? It has been so beneficial to so many."

A few weeks ago I thought I'd never come to the end of things that I wanted to examine about my time in Siddha Yoga. Now, I feel the need for a break. I'm not sure I've attained indifference, but I am at that stage where I feel the need to step back for a bit. That doesn't mean I'm closing up shop, though, only posting less. Thank you for asking!

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure I've attained indifference, but I am at that stage where I feel the need to step back for a bit. That doesn't mean I'm closing up shop, though, only posting less. Thank you for asking!"

I also want to thank you, SeekHer, your journey (and of commenters) in the disenchantment world has sure made mine very much nicer ;-), and thanks also for not closing the shop, it is a fresh air window...


Anonymous said...

SeekHer said:

A few weeks ago I thought I'd never come to the end of things that I wanted to examine about my time in Siddha Yoga. Now, I feel the need for a break. I'm not sure I've attained indifference, but I am at that stage where I feel the need to step back for a bit.
January 14, 2008 8:04 AM

K responds:

Just so you know, I've seen a number of people go through the same thing. It can take awhile to completely process the whole of the SY story, as well as the story of our involvement in the movement.

Think of where you started, as a devotee wondering why you'd been abandoned by your Beloved Guru. Since that day you've become as one of Marta's writers calls herself "unfocked". And you did it all in the open, on the internet, sharing your process with anyone who wanted to read what you or your blogmates had to say.

Becoming "unflocked" isn't the same as coming totally undone but it is a kind of disassembling in the service of a more cohesive personality assembling down the road.

I know what you mean about believing you could just write forever about this thing, then suddenly feeling like you need time to think about everything you've experienced. I still go through times like that myself and I've been shearing off the fleece for some time now.

Here's something I thought to send you a couple of days ago. I hope it helps a little:

In her book On Death and Dying the inimitable Elizabeth Kubler Ross suggested that coming to peace with a significant loss (the "death" of your "guru ideal" can be seen as a kind of death) takes a person through five familiar phases. Some know them as:

* Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
* Anger (why is this happening to me?)
* Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
* Depression (I don't care anymore)
* Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

I like to call the first of these "shock" rather than denial because I think the internal experience feels more like the first than the second. When a person is in *real* denial, there's no engagement with a difficult truth AT ALL. In shock, there is, but the engagement feels sporadic. A rush of truth will come to consciousness, then recede as the person musters the strength to move into another engagement with the truth.

I did this with my SY experience for YEARS, SeekHer. But then I had less to go on than the internet readers and writers of today.

Some of the folks who came here to criticise the writers who seemed too 'angry" or too "negative" about SY may not understand that for them, something is DYING, and some of what may seem like inappropriate or unpleasant thinking is really the process of grief at work.

In time you may or may not -- I don't see these stages set in stone -- find a great anger welling inside of you, or some form of bargaining (the posts about "if only she would come clean" come to mind) or despair (in working with my issues about the death of my immediate family members I felt more despair - a more active cognitive experience - than actual depression) will emerge within you.

Or you may just feel a strange kind of numbness.

In fact another paradigm for healing grief suggests three not five stages, one of which is this "numbness". It's from the work of Roberta Temes:

* Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation)
* Disorganization (intensely painful feelings of loss)
* Reorganization (re-entry into a more 'normal' social life.)

In doing grief work that numbness often serves as a gathering point for energy that must be harnessed in order to move on to the next stage of growth, whatever it may be.

It takes strength to feel and hold and process the anger that almost always comes after the shroud of denial and shock at a death have worn thin. And then it takes more strength to see one's mind and heart bargain with the truth, and fail to succeed, over and over again. To keep walking through whatever despair may come hoping (that's where you need the real strength... to keep the flame of hope burning) that it will come to an end.

All to get to the point of acceptance, which is not so much an "aha" moment as a series of moments graced with insights that tie the journey of grieving together. The soul's "reassembling" that I told you about.

I hope I'm not boring you and your readers with what may seem like a lot of sappy psychobabble. I don't mean to do that to any of you.

I just want to convey to you that in taking the step to start this blog you set out on a journey. The destination is a ways off. No one can know you've arrived at that place until you get there, whoever you may be.

And all of life is here for you, to guide and accompany you on the way.

SeekHer, If you don't want to write about SY then don't. Write about the life you see unfolding in front of your eyes and hands, outside of SY. Of course you can also choose to not write. To just be.

But if you do choose to write my world will be better for my chance to read what you have to say. And, if you're anything like me, I think you'll be better off if you keep typing. I have a hunch you may be a your happiest when you're at your keyboard, watching Life emerge, grow, sustain itself, dissolve and grace you with Beauty under your fingertips.

That kind of Beauty can lift any weight, and She's no cartoon.

Her writing is as real as it gets.

love you dearly

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I thought I'd never come to the end of things that I wanted to examine about my time in Siddha Yoga. Now, I feel the need for a break. "<<

Thank you so much for providing this forum for discussion. It has really been a great pleasure learning from everyone here and further clarifying my own thoughts. I appreciate the time you've taken and the committment and courage you've shown.

love to you and best wishes for continued clarity,


Anonymous said...

Greetings Seekher,

This hand in the trap entry was very helpful. My sister called me as a post holidy hello. Mentioned the talk, which she hadn't logged into yet. $100 to a Manahattanite is a lot of discretionary money these days. Her friends had told her the talk was great. She held it that must be so. I did not tell her anything about leaving SY. I told her I wasn't going to listen to the talk. $100 I needed for family things. I said I had heard it all before anyway. This was just accepted as a valid reason. My sis would like to hear it for a shakti hit of love I know. The unconditional kind. I told her to step into a church. She used to go to St. Patrick's all the time.

No reason to rock any boats if folks are getting what we thought we were getting for a long time. Life is so precarious. What can take its place?

Simple things, including champagne and comaradrie. Thanks Seekher. I second K's emotion. Love you.

Anonymous said...

One more chiming in, SeekHer--Thanks so much for your thoughtful, honest, eloquent posts and for the forum to discuss them and all the rest that comes along with thinking about SY and leaving SY. It's been a real gift, hope the discussion continues for a long time.

older but wiser

Anonymous said...

Hi SeekHer and all,
I want to thank Anonynous 12:03 for the comment about Krishnamurti... I find it most interesting. And of course I want to thank you too, SeekHer, for your most captivating writings and questioning...

It is the first time I post here, even though I've been reading most of the comments. I don't participate so much, because I feel I've almost ‘come to terms’ with my own involvement with SYDA... I was involved from '87 to '97, and had the "privilege" to be on Tour staff in '88 and '89, where I experienced significant 'cognitive dissonance' experiences between the 'Gurumayi' I saw and the one I had "imagined"... Even though it took me up until '97 to "wake up" and realize "I've been had"!...

It's been more than 10 years since I left and read for the first time all the comments about the "true Gurumayi", on AOL at the time… My own conclusion now, after reading and participating with the ever-growing Internet community of ex-SYDA's since ‘97, is quite clear: I believe that Muk was a left-handed tantric adept who needed to « vampirize » energy to be able to re-distribute some of it (wildly and with no control or consideration for the poor ‘recipients’ that we were…), and who consciously and skillfully created a false « fairy tale » about a supposed « transfer of power » to him from (then deceased) Nityananda… and Muk’s « organization » grew up on that foundation – a LIE. Then, of course, to maintain the false ‘fairy tale’, it became necessary to continue to lie, to corrupt, to intimidate, etc. etc. And it continued on with Gurumayi, who actually « grabbed » power over the organization in a sequence of manipulations and ‘coups’ involving the infamous George Afif…

I am amazed at our naiveté, both during the time and after our dissociation with the ‘path’…. To even think that any of Gurumayi’s « new year messages » could contain anything but deception and manipulation, is to be extremely naive in my opinion. To believe there’s anything « spiritual » with her… wow. IMHO, she’s just another totally lost human being, with her own ‘big’ issues yet to confront eventually…

Which doesn’t mean of course that we couldn’t learn powerful lessons about ourselves from our involvement with such a deceptive and manipulative Cult. But to those who suffered greatly from their involvement - from all kind of abuses, financial, psychological, sexual, and of course the ‘spiritual betrayal’ - I hope all will eventually become stronger and at peace.

Much Love to you all! F.

Anonymous said...

Hi SeekHer,

I want to add my thanks for your skillful and devoted handling of this blog and your heartfelt comments as you continue your journey in a new direction,

Haven't been posting lately but have been following along as various posters explore different forms of Buddhism, etc.

I want to second the comment of the poster who suggested to her sister that she "step inside a church."

Peace and Love


Anonymous said...

There was an interesting exhange on EXSY I'd like to post an excerpt to here, since it adds to the disenchantment fodder for thought. Someone asked a question, and another answered. The following is an excerpt:

Q: “Someone posted on Guruphiliac that Gurumayi has been fighting a
court battle with Nityananda all last year. According to this post
Nityananda was awarded half of the property of SYDA. Now this I
find interesting. I have been unable to confirm it myself. Is
there anyone out there who could confirm this?”

A: “…About the court battle: We were all told about this last year in a post a woman from Germany that visited Ganeshpuri and heard the whole thing…She has not only been kind enough to confirm this to me, but she connected me to a man living in Ganeshpuri (an old family that has lived in Ganeshpuri a long time, sick of the GSP rule that is going on there) that confirmed the court
battle(I have spoken to him by e-mail) and that Nit Jr. won the land across the street from the Ashram. This property contained all the new condos and the
water treatment (plant). The word is that Nit. Jr will claim his half of GSP this summer on tour to

Fascinating. It makes me wonder if the implications of the Indian Court case results could ripple to the US and other countries. I don't know if a judge's decision in India could even be taken into account as basis for a case by a judge in the US, but if it could, it might at least partially explain the closure of SMA, and stories I've heard of poor upkeep and maintenance of the properties there since the closure to all but "long term retreat participants".

Loss cutting and "scorched earth" policies in the face of family vendettas? Not out of the limits of the possible, IMO. If the whole thing is worth less, if a US court splits SYDA and its assets between GM and Nit Jr, GM hides her own wealth, and little brother gets something worth a lot less.

Except the other variable is spectre of the Native American Indian Casinos who want to expand into the Catskill area. Which, someday, if the casinos are allowed to expand, make the land on which SYDA sits a lot more valuable someday.

All I can say is: "Someday, it's gonna get interesting."

Stuart said...

SeekHer said...
I am at that stage where I feel the need to step back for a bit. That doesn't mean I'm closing up shop, though, only posting less.

Even if you just make a little post once a month or so, to share where your mind is at over time... that'd be cool.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for so many thoughts shared here by everyone.

Here's something came for thought
on things like optimism, morality..felt like an antidote to SY.....

Scroll, several articles may interest.

Anonymous said...

When I was six or seven, my best friend and I spent the summer playing a game that we loved. We would sneak into the garden of a neighborhood home, pick a few flowers, and wrap them into a bouquet with some tinfoil around the stems and a bit of ribbon. Then we'd ring the doorbell of the place and sell the makeshift bouquets back to the owner.

Most people who answered the door, laughed and gave us the quarter or fifty cents we were asking for. We never knew whether they recognized their own flowers or not, but we thought we had the best scam going.

Sounds alot like a certain spiritual group... Maybe all those years of seemingly useless seva and dakshina was to pay off a karmic debt for flower-stealing?

Anonymous said...

Sounds alot like a certain spiritual group... Maybe all those years of seemingly useless seva and dakshina was to pay off a karmic debt for flower-stealing?

January 23, 2008 8:43 AM

Love it! I should rack up what my sy seva paid off and consider it all a wash..all sins forgiven ...nice trick for moving on....:-0

Anonymous said...

Seekher: thank you for your honest and indepth blogging about your "unflocking" and disenchantment with SY.

there is much on the blog and in the comments I would like to respond to but just stick to the ending phase of SY as we've known it.

SY was my compass, my family, my refuge and a source of great love and profound spiritual experiences for close to 20 years and I still feel the loss, though I have been healing and coming to terms with it, and with my disillusionment.

I enjoyed your take on the latest Siddha yoga message. It seems to me that any "messages" coming from official Siddha yoga channels have been less and less coherent as the years go by. And it's all a rehash of the past, nothing fresh or new in years.

Reading your comments about the New Year's message: what comes through, and is why I haven't been interested in forking over money to hear these talks for the last few years, is that there is no substance there anymore. I believe that there once was, but for reasons I suspect may be largely karmic, the true substance, the basis for any shakti that we experienced, that is: Love, Truth and respecting each other as God, has been seeping away from within "official" Siddha yoga.

What I find most unbelievable is how a path/organization that was so focused around the Guru could simply excise her (except as the occasional talk show guest) and pretend SY is still the same...with Gurumayi entirely withdrawn from the public and the ashram essentially unavailable to anyone but the inner inner circle.

All done with no explanation at all and then covered up with a denial that it's even happened. But folks, bring on the dakshina anyway.

Where's the love, truth, compassion or respect in that?
What welcome, what great respect?

Part of the seepage, maybe most of it, is also the result of the betrayal of the devotees, their love, goodwill and devotion, sevites who who gave their prime working years or every spare minute of their summers and vacations, giving bodies, hearts and souls (and money) to SY..we've been been devalued and disrespected by such things as dismissing people wholesale from the ashram, clanging the ashram gates closed, and then speaking in Siddha yoga babble, denials, cover ups and disguising via Newspeak the disappearance of the Guru and the future of SY.

Maybe a lot of the shakti we experienced was our own!

There's just not a lot there anymore. Looking back I can see that the withdrawal started in the year 2000 (or that's when I noticed it, and so did my partner at the time, to our great shock as we were both very devoted). The chanting turned listless and dull, the courses and talks began to sound packaged and know, a 2 minute teaching and then "turn to your neighbor and share", everything seemed so stale, canned and trite..

I had a dream around that time, which disturbed me and later seemed prophetic. In my dream, I was doing arati to a blank wall. There was no Guru there to wave the lights to. How much plainer could my inner wisdom have made it?

Last summer in Manhattan I ran into someone from SY I hadn't seen in years. She just had to ask me, "So, are you still in SY?" My first thought was "What Siddha yoga is there to be in anymore?" I didn't leave the path, the path dissolved itself in front of me.

What I did say to her was "I don't know, but I do know that Siddha yoga is in me". Just as I learned to do with my legacy from each of my parents, now dead, I have been sifting through my SY experience and deciding what I want to keep and what I want to let go of.

I believe many of the teachings and the practices are quite beautiful and worthwhile..even if, regrettably, the Gurus and the Others-in-charge have not followed them.

As we heal and recover, each of us gets to separate out the (true) message from the messengers and decide what we want to keep.

Along the way, I'm grateful for forums like this where we can witness and share our feelings, truth and experiences and be heard. Thank you, Seekher, Marta Szabo and the others who have created such places for us.

My love and compassion to all who are healing and processing through their SY journey.

Many blessings along the way.