Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RoD is offering $1,000 for written evidence of Gurumayi's whereabouts

If you go online and read the SYDA Foundation's response to the Salon article on Gurumayi and Siddha Yoga, you'll doubtless notice that the Trustees have organized a letter writing campaign by their inner circle to flood the comments page with positive testimonials. But, regardless of how many lovely stories they share about the wondrous impact Siddha Yoga has had on their lives, one thing is missing from every one of these letters.

No one has claimed to have seen Gurumayi in years.

As always, SYDA speaks out of both sides of its mouth. Currently, its obsessively repeated talking point is that "the Siddha Yoga Foundation's main purpose is to disseminate Siddha Yoga teachings." After decades of promoting the most slavish (and ultra lucrative) worship of the physical Guru in the persons of Muktananda and Gurumayi, SYDA would now like you to believe that the Guru equals the teachings, nothing more.

Of course, what is left unsaid is that THE main teaching of Siddha Yoga is the absolute necessity of the aspirant to forge a personal relationship with the Siddha Guru in order to attain liberation--the goal of all spiritual seeking.

It's a neat sleight of hand, designed to distract the eye from the terrible paradox that Siddha Yoga has become: Siddha Yoga teaches that you need the physical Guru to attain enlightenment; the Guru is no longer physically present but always available to students in the form of her teachings; the teachings state that the student needs the physical Guru.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

What is particularly cruel about this shell game is how dismissive it is to those who are still trying to practice Siddha Yoga. The comments on this blog alone are rife with the pain of those who cling to the practices, enduring empty satsangs at their local centers, canned New Year's "teachings" that repeat verbatim year after year with depressing monotony, expensive Intensives that are dry of Shakti and conducted by exhausted swamis who run from the attendees lest they be asked yet again for any news of Gurumayi's whereabouts. And, after putting up with all this, and still remaining attached (in a now wholly-inconvenient parlance) to the Guru's feet, these seekers have to listen to SYDA insisting that "for almost three decades, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path, has guided students through her teachings."

Well, it's time to put up or shut up, SYDA. I promise to write a check in the amount of $1,000 to the Foundation if it can produce one written piece of evidence that Gurumayi is still actively teaching. One invitation to an open public program in which Gurumayi (and not her disembodied, pre-recorded voice) has actually appeared and spoken in the past year. Not a private gathering for a few rich devotees who paid exorbitant amounts for a chance to coax Gurumayi back into her saffron robes for a few hours. A program open to your rank and file Siddha Yoga students.

Just one. Your move.


Anonymous said...

SeekHer, you're on an absolute tear today, dude.

And it's awesome to see.

Anonymous said...

You go SeekHer!! what a circus charade this has all been...thanks for continuing to verify that the emperor's clothes still appear to be missing and maybe never existed in the first place..

Anonymous said...


So what do you think are the odds of SYDA coming through and your actually having to write that $1,000 check?

SeekHer said...

Anon 8/20

Zero. Or I wouldn't have made it!

Anonymous said...

I believe I still have a recording of Sally Kempton telling me GM was in South Fallsburg with 12 disciples, all under 25 years of age. The informal interview, where I rather openly recorded what Kempton said, was maybe 2 years ago. Does that count?

Do I get $1000 if I can retrieve it off my Ipod?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to post what I just wrote publicly. Where would I contact you. Contact email?

SeekHer said...

iPod Anon:

Sorry, thanks for playing, but judges say no. The offer was for written evidence, i.e. an invitation to the general public to hear Gurumayi speak in the past year, not hearsay from a former swami about years past.

The more interesting question is why you believe Kempton has any inside knowledge of what goes on in Siddha Yoga nowadays? 12 disciples under the age of 25? Sounds like something she may have half-dreamed during one of her famous 3AM slides onto the meditation cushion. Although, the crashingly obvious Christ-imagery is really beneath an intellect as subtle as Sally's--that's the stuff SYDA press releases are made of.

Anonymous said...

>>>'The more interesting question is why you believe Kempton has any inside knowledge of what goes on in Siddha Yoga nowadays? 12 disciples under the age of 25? Sounds like something she may have half-dreamed during one of her famous 3AM slides onto the meditation cushion. Although, the crashingly obvious Christ-imagery is really beneath an intellect as subtle as Sally's--that's the stuff SYDA press releases are made of."<<

a couple of Sally Kemptom is an excellent example of what happens when you lose your integrity. Having a "subtle intellect" is, unfortunately, no substitute for having the kind of intellectual honesty her own father had. Unfortunately, a "clever mind" can be a dangerous trap as evidenced by the actions of Kripananda, Kempton and many of the "siddha yoga scholars" (remember them, folks?).

secondly, if it were actually true that gurumayi was holed up in Fallsburg with 12 disciples under the age of 25, wouldn't this be cause for alarm among devotees? She is not communicating with them; she is not offering anything but regurgitated "teachings" and yet she offers the "guru/disciple" relationship to 12 "special" teenagers? why is that? what would the justification be? And how could devotees possibly think this was a good thing? I remember those "Fallsburg teens" only too well... if that's the fate of the "ancient teachings of the glorious path" of siddha yoga, lord help those attracted to it through "Eat Prey and Love"

former devotee

SeekHer said...

Anon 3:10

The idea that Gurumayi is giving secret instruction to a select group of young students is interesting in a warped way, but I understand how it could gain currency within the sangham.

Do you remember when Gurumayi told us during her last Labor Day talk in Fallsburg that "our begging bowls were full" and it was now time for her to turn her attention to the next generation? At the time, most of us took that to mean we adults had been selfish students, hogging all of Gurumayi's time and attention when we should have been shoulder to shoulder with her helping to bear the burden of passing the teachings on. It didn't occur to me until much later how she had slyly inverted that metaphor: traditionally, it is the sadhu who proffers his bowl and begs his bread and ghee from the people in exchange for the teachings, not the other way around. Now I think it was a cruel trick, designed to make us all feel bad about ourselves as disciples, i.e. despite your countless hours of seva, all of your dakshina, your experience shares, your years spent meditating and chanting and contemplating the teachings, ladies and gentlemen, yogis and yoginis, you are still untouchables, beggars at the Guru's door who don't have enough sense to know when the last scrap has been thrown your way.

Nevertheless, we adjusted to the new reality. Now we would continue to offer selfless service, chant, meditate, prepare our experience shares to be eviscerated by someone from the programs department, offer thousands of dollars of dakshina---and expect nothing in return. If we missed Gurumayi, well, that's what our talk videos and chanting tapes were for. She was turning away her mega-watt smile and searing shakti in search of fresh blood. Pure, young hearts and minds who would ignite Baba's meditation revolution and spread it across the globe just as we tired old hands had not.

Except that she didn't. Do you remember those succeeding summers in South Fallsburg full of programs for young people, special Intensives just for the under 21 set, courses designed especially to help teenagers and young adults apprehend and communicate the teachings? No, neither do I, because they never happened. Outside of a few satsangs that Gurumayi held for the children of ashram residents and "short-term retreat participants" and, of course, a few treacly children's books and tapes, this new flowering of Siddha Yoga died on the vine.

However, it is very much in the legal interest of SYDA to pretend that this outreach to the young is still ongoing, pace their robotically repeated pronouncement that (all together now) "the core purpose of SYDA is to protect and preserve the teachings to insure they are maintained as an enduring legacy for generations to come". This is the meaning behind the rather awkwardly inserted line on the SYDA website page dedicated to the Guru: "Gurumayi expresses a great love and reverence for children as the holders of our future and has written books and songs expressly for them." And this is doubtless the justification for the lackluster "family retreats" held in a couple of places each summer (except when, like the one in Loreto, PA this summer, they are cancelled for lack of participants.)

SeekHer said...


This is also what is so sad about "iPod Anon" allowing herself to believe in a whisper campaign that Gurumayi is secretly initiating and guiding twelve apostles to carry Siddha Yoga into a bright new dawn. In the twisted logic of what has become of Siddha Yoga, it doesn't matter that this information has not been made pubic, announced at satsangs or claimed by SYDA in answer to press questions about what the Guru is up to these days. Rather, the mere fact that this communication was delivered "for her ears only" and exists solely on her iPod, gives it more currency and credibility than a rash of official pronouncements. After all, if "iPod Anon" is one of the privileged ones to be in the know, she must still count for something, she must still matter, right?

I wonder how many other old-timers have been sold, I mean told, the same thing in all secrecy and confidentiality?

As for Sally Kempton's integrity, well, if she is allowing herself to play along with SYDA in this kind of travesty, I would agree that it is zero. I say if, because we have only "iPod Anon's" word that Sally told her about this. I have always had great respect for Sally Kempton; as a swami she combined fierce intelligence with an equally keen devotion. She could be fiery, but I liked that about her. It made her palpably human in a way that some of the other swamis (the ones with a rep for holiness) were not to me. I read her writings on Slate about meditation and was impressed with how simple and approachable she made the topic seem, sans Guru, without devolving into the kind of pablum that characterizes the subject on, say, Huffington Post. In my purge of all things Siddha Yoga I discarded her book about meditation and sometimes wish I hadn't. If I ever turn to meditation as a sustained practice again, I might consider her a teacher---if she were willing to tell me how someone who once pursued meditation so intensely under the tutelage of a guru, now does so without one.

Of course, when you refer to Kempton's lack of integrity I imagine you mean her silence about, and therefore complicity in, Muktananda's abuse of underage disciples. That is a whole other well of sadness.

Anonymous said...

"Gurumayi has not been seen in public since New Year's Day 2004--just four months shy of the time required before a person is declared legally dead."

Now there's a quote for ya!


Anonymous said...

Did the EPL author actually meet GM in India? Or afterwards, or what?

Thanks, Stuart

According to the book, she met Gurumayi in South Fallsburg and later went to Ganeshpuri for her big "subtle" encounters with Muktananda.

She got "the touch" without the touch.

Anonymous said...

>>"Of course, when you refer to Kempton's lack of integrity I imagine you mean her silence about, and therefore complicity in, Muktananda's abuse of underage disciples. That is a whole other well of sadness"<<<

Yes, that's what I am referring to. I "knew" her in NYC in the old days..meaning, I met her at a couple of feminist gatherings there. Her father was a legend among downtown folks at the time (the anti-Vietnam war days). That Kempton could be among the earliest "feminists" and then become a silent apologist for muktananda's sexual abuse of young women is still kind of disturbing to me. Couple that with her "seva" after the New Yorker article came out as one of the damage control swamis who had a private meeting with community leaders, admitting the truth of the charges in the article and then denied ever saying such a thing. Add to that, her "cut and run policy" when she left siddha yoga. And, on top of that, her choice to carry on as a "spiritual teacher" and write a very public column on ethics and dharma for Yoga Journal and you can see why I, personally, find her to be less than admirable. It's not just a matter of "silence"; it's a matter of actively aiding and abetting and, ultimately, taking no responsbility for your own actions. I would have had alot of respect for her if she had come clean. If she could not have done that (due to legal exit documents she may have signed), I would have still had tremendous respect for her if she had simply gotten a clean job and not become an "expert" on ethical behavior, teaching unknowing students about a dharma that she does not live herself. There are many of us, like Sally, who had to put our lives back together after siddha yoga. There are many of us who had the same health, age and financial issues. There are so many things she could have done just like the rest of us had to do....but what she did was what seems easiest...set up as a "spiritual teacher". I liked her too..she had a great sense of humor and seemed almost human compared to the other swamis. I just have very little respect for her and all of the other swamis and higher ups who left siddha yoga and set up shop without ever looking back at the wreckage they left behind. My old teacher told me there is a special "dharma hell" reserved for these folks. That seems a little harsh to me but I can't believe that someone as intelligent as Kempton doesn't realize the issues. I wish her the best...maybe she sees her teaching as some kind of "atonement". Who knows.

former devotee

SeekHer said...

former devotee

I read one of Kempton's columns in Yoga Journal, in which she attempted to dispense romantic relationship advice ala Dear Abby. The column opened with a short reminiscence about a boy she asked out when she was six, and her disappointment that he stood her up. C'mon. Really? A life-long celibate (alleged) lesbian reaching back to her kindergarten days to forge a bond with her unlucky-in-love heterosexual readers? Clearly, Ūrdhvadhanurāsana isn't the only stretching she's doing these days.

I know a few Siddha Yogis who have become Sally's students. I imagine it must be a kind of thrill to have one of the most renowned Siddha swamis as your personal teacher. Just as I imagine the fortunate wealthy few who have access to Malti-as-Gurumayi must LOVE that all of us riff-raff are gone for good and they can return to the simpler days, so like when Baba had just a few followers clustered around his feet in Ganeshpuri.

It's seductive, this need for a one-on-one connection with someone who has been there and is willing to show you the way (never mind for a fee.) So long as you don't ask too many questions about exactly where they have been and what they have been doing.

Anonymous said...

I know where she is - hold up in a cave somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Anonymous said...

I want my cash:
you can deposit on my bank account if you want!

I just really wished the haters out there would leave us Siddha Yogis in peace. If this path isn't for you just leave... you don't need to mess the minds of others.

Bhakti Brophy said...

Uh...first of a friend of Sally's, she is not a lesbian. I am...she is not.
Moreover, whoever told you that the teachings of Siddha Yoga demand that you forge a "personal relationship" with the Guru is sorely mistaken, and this may account for many people's disenchantment: they're not getting what they thought they would get-- or, more concisely, what they wanted.
The Guru Gita speaks of the Guru-- the Guru being the Inner Self. The relationship spoken of in the Kashmir Shaivite texts ALL speak of the Guru being a reflection of your Self.
My friend is an MD in Ganeshpuri and Gurumayi is there quite often.
I am not nor have I ever been a member of SYDA nor have I ever lived nor worked at the ashram.
I did visit many times and was greated by Gurumayi personally many times in casual settings. Why? Because I didn't beg nor crave to be around her physical body (which itself is a conduit of Grace). I wanted Self Realization.
SO many people in the ashram wanted Gurumayi's physical presence as their guide. That is NOT what she taught.
Read the Guru Gita...which is chanted in many Hindu based traditions...not just SY...the answers you are looking for (and the words you are misinterpreting) are in there.
I have NO affiliation with SY other than Gurumayi is and continues to be my teacher.
Bhakti Brophy

Bhakti Brophy said...

And I did not know that Swami Durgananda was a "famous world teacher" when I met her. When I signed up fir her retreat I was actually expecting Swami Durgananda to be these accusations thar Sally's students are mystified by her celebrity ...where do you come up with this nonsense?
Stop looking without so much...and look within.
I don't care who your teacher is or isn't. Stop projecting. It is quite unfortunate that you are all so unhappy.
Do something about it!
Look within...EVERYTHING you want and need is right there.
If I can find joy as a crip with three spinal can anyone else with a brain and a Heart.

Bhakti brophy said...


Anonymous said...

She said that because of all of the devotees that had and ffelt like they needed to meet the guru and go to the ashram to find their inner self, she would be no longer as available as she was before. Because the devotees seeked outside instead of inside. She wanted to make us learn that we don't need the ashram or even her to become iluminated, we will iluminate ourselves without anybody else she is not that seen regularly as she used to be seen beacuase of this reason and this reason only.