Sunday, December 4, 2011

So sad. So terribly, terribly sad even after all this time.


Anonymous said...

I just received this message in an email, too, and I must say, it sincerely gives me the creeps. Yuck. So cheap--I really wonder whether even the most good-natured person might be even remotely inclined to believe that it is actually Gurumayi writing here. In the times when the secretaries would sign the standardized letter we received from Gurumayi, there was at least an attempt to be honest by signing on behalf of Gurumayi. Although I am aware that I have probably never read anything originally written by Gurumayi alone, I know what she sounds like when she is speaking, and this is definitely not her. Spontaneously, I even thought somebody had hijacked the SY website. I mean, come on ...!

The enlightened master promoting bookstore items you are supposed to buy (!) in this "time of giving" under the pretense of a trivial personal greeting note (after having broken people's hearts)--how disgusting and cynical can things get?

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way. Reading it, I heard myself think "This writing style is very different from her past writing and speaking styles".

Anonymous said...

This is embarrassing! It's such drivel. It's the worst kind of marketing/advertising copy. It follows Copy Writing 101, the juvenile class, with some texting tips thrown in (the smiley? spare me, really).
I can't believe that even GM would allow this rubbish on her site. Has she totally lost control of the people around her? Are the texting tweenie boppers running the show now?

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's come to this.

A couple of ba-dump-bumps leap to mind:

"Hey, it's the holidays - lotsa people are taking seasonal retail jobs."


"They finally found the perfect job for her - bookstore sales rep."

But seriously, folks . . .

More alarming than the mass "just for you" email message (and I believe the last time Gurumayi *wrote* a letter, sans emoticons, was post bro-boot in 1986?) is what's for sale: a Guru rag and a coupla greeting cards.

Apparently SYDA still cares enough to send the very best.

Anonymous said...

Sad, very sad, especially for those of us who believed this was the path of Truth.
It's come to this?
Hard to believe anyone is still hanging in there.

Anonymous said...

Been 6 years since we saw her. She must be sending her kid to an expensive elementary school, needs the money.

Anonymous said...

When did she have a child?

Anonymous said...

In my snarky imagination, not based on anything I really know.

Anonymous said...

Imagine sitting in a program mid-90s and hearing Gurumayi speak about the glowing faces of newly initiated seekers in one breath then pitching a bookstore promotion in the next.

Even a freshman marketing major faced with a case study on reviving a tanked business would never propose trotting out the CEO to hock a few low ticket items.

This recent communication from SY feels significant. Not because it's supposedly a personal message “from the guru” but because it so explicitly defines the state of whatever is left of this organization.

What once upon a time felt like pure silk now feels like moldy cheesecloth.

SeekHer is right. Very sad.

And insulting.

Anonymous said...

They've been insulting our intelligence all along.

We simply allowed them to, individually and collectively.

It wasn't fully our fault. We felt a deep need. Our own vulnerabilities left us wide open. Wide open to their energetic shaktipat magic tricks, and to their brainwashing, which conned us into believing that insults, whether to our intelligence specifically or to other aspects of our being physical, mental, and emotional more generally, were both an incredible blessing and necessary to "bust" or eradicate our ego (as if it could truly be eradicated).

Our only "fault" was feeling deep emotional and spiritual/religious needs, and deciding based on those needs to put our guards down. It felt good, so we wanted to ignore our critical thinking and better judgement capabilities and put them aside.

If our "charlatan meters" were turned off, it was because of the deep needs we felt.

At least, IMHO. That's how I now see the causes for my SY involvement. And so, I can forgive myself at least.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:42...equisite true said it all so i don't need to.

Anonymous said...

Dude, that is just so sad. But I wil continue to do what I have done all along, use what works for me and discard what does not.

artsquiggle said...

Hi Friends,

Just poking my head in to read the latest. Hadn't pulled up the SY site in quite awhile. But, just to chime in--EEEE GADS! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. How infantile, insulting and depressing! The post mortem SY group has outdone themselves with this amazing crap!

BTW--Anyone know of a good ritual, other than lobotomy, to completely rid one self of bad ashram dreams? Almost 12 years later, I'm still having these nightmares of being stuck at the deteriorating ashram full of Stepford-ites, maxing out my credit card, and not having a way to leave and get back home. Hoping my talking about it here will help. I obviously have a part of me that can't seem to let that past go. Shows up in these disturbing dreams.

Anonymous said...

P.S. on a technical note: I really didn't mean to post my "Google Account, blog profile". Last time I hit that button, it simply left my handle with option to e-mail. Kinda embarassing. Why would anyone even care what blogs I visit? Don't do face book or tweets. Visiting Rituals of DisEnchantment on occassion about does it for leisure luxury.

Anonymous said...

"Every word from the guru's mouth is a mantra"...errrr. Ok! Hey, gurumayi, "have a nice day!" (Smile,Smile, Smile).

old sheep

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt any of that shite was from her. It doesn't sound at all like her. Maybe she gave the directive and one of the underlings wrote it. And please don't use beda baba as an exucse to get more money, It just makes you look bad.

Anonymous said...

Is she still there, or is that a cardboard cutout being pushed around by the bean counters?

Anonymous said...

"She was born in the wagon
Of a traveling show
Her Baba used to dance
For the money they'd throw
Baba would do whatever he could:
Preach a little gospel
Sell a couple bottles of 'Dr. Good'..."

Cameron D. McIntosh said...

Dear SeekHer:

I'd like to supply the viewpoint of a person who has gone on to other spiritual associations.

Frankly, I don't find the message offensive. I think that represents my not worrying about SYDA much these days.

That is not a criticism of other commentators. I'm not sure if I can suggest anything, but I hope people can complain as loudly as they find necessary--then not allow the way SYDA works to ruin their day (or life).

Although I'm still suffering physically in the aftermath of my 8 year ashram apprenticeship, I've managed to become disengaged from an identification with the organization, which has allowed me to be more fully engaged in the challenges of daily living. I have recently made certain key discoveries which suggest the possibility that I may be able to resolve my post-ashram health problems after all.

I have a philosophical explanation for SYDA. God allows such organizations to exist because they do his work--providing an avenue for experiencing certain types of karma (a loaded word for some--sorry). I hope some aren't so disillusioned they can't admit that it came with some lovely experiences (however hollow those might seem in light of the "bad" experiences).

I believe that making peace with ones past can be a very valuable means to grow in wisdom, and fall deeper in love with life. Life is so much bigger than our associations with SYDA.

Best Wishes for Peace in this Season of Peace,

Yateendra (Manhattan 1982-1983; South Fallsburg, 1983-1990)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your well wishes to others. I'm sorry you've had to deal with physical suffering after ashram life. I also went through some bad years of unexplained chronic physical pain after living in the shram too. I think in my case, it was in my DNA, but getting no rest and living on a scant, vegetarian and chai diet exacerbated it.

I don't know if you might want to share more about what has helped you resolve or let go of SY days. I'm happy to hear you've been able to make peace with it. Honestly, I wish I could say the same.

Post SY, I also moved on to other spiritual communities, more buddhist in nature, changed my career to something I enjoy much more, sought medical help for my condition which helped me function. I thought I had been proactive, while forgiven, let go, reframed it all in a positive light for myself. But, then, like I mentioned previously, I'm still having these nightmares about the ashram.

No philosophical explanation that I can give myself--one that makes sense to me, seems to rid me of whatever it is in my psyche that is sill holding on. It's like I have a PTSD from the whole event that only surfaces at night when I dream. Maybe I just have to live with it forever. I'll survive. Don't know anything for sure anymore about "God", other than it's all a big mystery, and often devilers brutal events you do your best to deal with.

Except, I do find people's funny comments in this blog, no matter how sarcastic, brings levity to the whole thing. It's sort of like the antidote to the ingrained Siddha Yoga "golden rule", that you're never supposed to say anything "negative" or "critical" about the guru or ashram ways or you will "turn into a worm in a waterless region" as the Guru Gita warns.

At least, this forum puts a mouth piece to many bottled up feelings, expressions, unjust,dark events that happened over the "sunny" decades of our collective and personal expriences in Siddha Yoga. I am very grateful to that.

Anonymous said...

"Except, I do find people's funny comments in this blog, no matter how sarcastic, brings levity to the whole thing"<<

Me Too!
A sense of humor (about your own shortcomings and about those "idols with feet of clay") can cut through an awful lot of the self-rightousness that seems to come with so many years of "spiritual practice". We're all just hanging out in our human containers...including the gurus and "spiritual" teachers. It can be helpful to see the humor in it from time to time. It's never "personal".

old sheep

Anonymous said...

"We're all just hanging out in our human containers...including the gurus and "spiritual" teachers. It can be helpful to see the humor in it from time to time..."

Hear, hear!!

Cameron D. McIntosh said...

Dear Anons:

I'm so happy people were able to hear what I said (about not feeling really upset about [the purported] GM message on the SY homepage).

The spiritual ideas which go with my feeling are that *any* human disposition is OK. If we had the capacity to look deeply at the basis for a given manifestation (whether it be GM's personality, the nature of SY as an organization, etc.), we would see that it flows naturally from all that has gone before (the numberless influences forming a causative chain emerging from the remote past).

We have a tendency to judge based on very limited information and our own conscious attitudes and prejudices, when, if we only could lift the veil of our own past for an instant, we would see that we had been like (or worse than) every "clod" and "jerk" we see outside us. This is true when past-life personalities are taken into account. The way the universe is designed, we and others are automatically helped to become more well-rounded individuals.

I don't like to throw speculation into this, but certain second-hand knowledge which may apply to my past lives suggests that my being involved in SY was a way to expand my view in the context of having been a "false teacher" in the past. ("Expanding ones view" in this case, means experiencing the flip side of a situation, i.e., a "bad teacher" learns what it's like by becoming the pupil of a "bad teacher.")

It is very common, due to tendencies of humans in the recent past to value "religious orthodoxy" (positing that a certain creed or understanding of God is the *right* one) that we could find ourselves pushing a certain formula for knowing God, when our student's innate sense said otherwise. The urge to force a person's relationship to God away from their natural way of relating turns out to be a *big* mistake.

(Continued in Part Two...)

Anonymous said...


Attraction to the concept of "God" turns out not to be in the least related to a soul's closeness to God. There are many lifetimes when an individual has absolutely no interest in the idea of God, but yet is extremely close to Him without knowing it consciously. This lack of connection actually allows certain learning to be done which could not be done under the conditions of "thinking about" or being conscious of a relation to the divine.

For example, I recently completed caregiving for my mom (she passed just 3 months short of her 98th birthday). I don't think it's an exaggeration to assert that she, with her religious sensibility stalemated early in life (due to the counterintuitive orthodoxy of her early church associations) was actually a *much* greater aspirant than I was for all my 8 years trying to know God through ashram service. She had to *live* the values of love and caring in daily life.

I have no idea what "divine love" is. However, I was able to give back to my mom by being her close companion over the past 11 years, the last five of which were spent giving 24/7 care. The inner reward of this was like nothing else. There was complete inner comfort within about the "rightness" of my rendering this service, unlike my years at the ashram where I always had to "double-think" the adequacy and appropriateness of my contribution.

So I've ended up not really understanding what "spirituality" is, but feeling that "life" in its conventional form is *extremely* worthwhile. Perhaps the understanding of spirituality has become subsumed into my daily life, where ordinary tasks have sublime feelings associated with them for me.

As far as the SY salesmanship is concerned, I see it from the standpoint of those people who continue to serve in ashrams. It is right for the organization to want to care for these people. As I write, I remember one old seva supervisor who is probably still there, but I haven't been able to get two-way conversation from (probably due to my admitting concerns about the gurus). I remember that associate as an especially dedicated, thoughtful and loving individual. If he continues to serve, I want the organization to raise enough funds that he can remain comfortable, get his health needs fulfilled, etc.


Anonymous said...

." If he continues to serve, I want the organization to raise enough funds that he can remain comfortable, get his health needs fulfilled, etc."

Dear Cameron,
I don't like to argue with however people have come to terms with "god" or "spirituality" or their own lives. We all try to do the best we can, I believe. But coming to terms with things and putting siddha yoga into perspective requires actually looking at the actions of the organization. I can't see how you could still believe, after all of the online shares and stories, that siddha yoga will spend ANY money raised to care for aging devotees. It is simply not in the mix. The history of older devotees put out to pasture is shameful. Not acknowledging that history and prefering to hold onto an idea of some benvolent hidden action on the part of gurumayi feels disingenuous at best .
Personally, the older I get, the less I feel it necessary to sugar coat what is. Nobody knows if there are many lifetimes required for "the soul" to have an interest in the truth or, in fact, if the soul actually exists as anything other than a concept; nobody knows if "god" plans it all out and "allows organizations like siddha yoga to exist" or if, in fact, a conscious "divine" intelligence micro-manages life in quite that way. The only thing we can know is that it exists and we exist. Meaning is something the MIND attaches to what is. But if we can resist the impulse to "explain" life so that our minds can grasp it, life turns out to be much more than our minds can possibly imagine..much more wonderful, awe-ful, beautiful, extraordinary and simple.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Once in the mid-90s, back when I was steeped in SY like a soggy tea bag, I was speaking with my (non-devotee, therapist sister) about the destructive behavior of someone I'd just ended a relationship with.

I shared how I was trying my best to hold onto "high thoughts" and view this person's betrayal from a place of "how my own karma" had brought such emotional devastation to my life.

Because she's my sister and loves and respects me, and becasue she's also a really good therapist, she listened to me prattle on, then chose her tone and words carefully before saying, "I think all of this 'look within' stuff can be good up to a point, but sometimes the reality is much more simple. Sometimes people are just jerks."

Stepping away from SY required my close examination of the "two to tango" part of it(what attracted me, why I stayed, etc.), for sure. In fact the only thing I really take away from the experience is what I learned from the role I played.

But now that so many years have passed and I can look back at SY's role with minimal emotion, I think my sister was right. Sometimes the reality is simple. Sometimes people are just jerks. (Though in the case of SY the term "jerks" is generous.)

Everyone has to go through their own process but personally, I don't need to look back into past lives for the reasons for what SY did. (In fact, I think that's what they'd want me to do.) The jerks at SY would have still been jerks whether I'd shown up with my asana in one hand and heart in the other, or not.

And in some ways that may have been one of the hardest things to get over, that the "leader" who I believed had my ultimate best interests close to her heart really cared nothing about me at all. Except possibly how much I spent annually at the bookstore. Which brings this full circle, back to the sales pitch that started this whole stream.

In a way, this latest communication out of Fallsburg is perhaps the most honest one they've ever sent. Maybe it's an indication they're finally starting to give up pretending to be something they're not. At this point, why keep up the charade? Who can it be for?

Seems to me whoever's still left at this point is stayin' put.

No matter what.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it's an indication they're finally starting to give up pretending to be something they're not."

Well, actually, they still KEEP pretending, it's just getting to the point where the charade has become outright ridiculous for those who are open to admitting it. If whoever is left over to represent this organization were honest, the person who wrote this sales letter would not pretend to be Gurumayi, and they would not quote stereotypes such as the "time of giving" in a poorly hidden attempt to boost sales.

But you are right, those bent to turn a blind eye on all of this will probably stay no matter what.

Also, I agree with what you wrote, old sheep. Beautifully put.

Cameron D. McIntosh said...

I have no real argument with old sheep. I have tried to be honest with myself in considering my own direct experience living in three ashrams mainly as a worker among other such workers.

The history, which leaves serious ethical questions regarding the highest eschelons of the organization, needs to be taken seriously. The result in my case is that I've avoided contact with the organization.

That said, I felt a huge amount of sincere devotion to God, and a wonderful spirit of service and "sacrifice for a higher cause" among those I served with. I continue to feel deep affection for my colleagues from the ashram days and maintain contacts with some, both in and out of the organization.

As a staffer at South Fallsburg, I also definitely felt there was a tender solicitude among certain of the leadership (a number of the ashram managers, mainly during the off-season, and one particularly memorable person at the finance department). There were people who cared about the staffers and wanted them to enjoy good health--physical and mental. Marta Szabo's book includes examples of this (her star was rising about the time I left), and I suspect it is still true.

In the end, I guess it's up to the individual to make their own meaning of SY, based on their own experiences and understanding of the history.

I hold for the gurus of SY a private affection, and respect for their many gifts (while simultaneously realizing their apparent shortcomings). For me there is no "irredeemably bad" person. We're all on a path toward perfection, and, as it turns out, we all need each other's help to realize that goal. Souls who make missteps in a given life can suffer reversals. If such a thing happened to a past guru of mine, I'd like to think I'd be compassionate enough to help with their healing process.

Best Wishes,

Anonymous said...

When I looked for the ‘Just for You’ letter on the SY website today I could not find it. Links have been taken down and only cached versions are to be found on the search engines. Probably SYDA is walking away from it now. It is embarrassing, really sad, and shocking. But probably not too surprising when you consider the ‘brain drain’ that has been going on in SY for more than 10 years. Consider the diminished quality and content of the New Year’s Message after Sally Kempton left, followed by recycled messages for years running. Or the daily attribute; a word a day for $17 per month can hardly be considered to have either quality or content, unless you believe a magical power selected that word JUST FOR YOU. The master teachers, writers, philosophers, professors, business professionals, technocrats who used to work for the ashram have all left and long enough ago that a communication with such absurd content, poor construction, and smiley faces could be emailed and posted before its impact was ever considered.
The really questionable business decisions to simply shut the doors with no explanation, no articulated future plans, offering only a home study course, a website and a few retreats and somehow the organization will continue on. It comes down to who was and is steering the boat. The empress really has no clothes!

Anonymous said...

"The empress really has no clothes!"

Yuck. Now there's a truly disturbing image I have a hard time erasing from my imagination!

The imagination version of:

"Nooooooo!! MUST -- NOT -- LOOK!"

Anonymous said...

What distinguishes this message from others is the fact that it was "written by Gurumayi". Whether or not it actually was is beside the point. It came from the foundation and it was therefore approved.

In the past Gurumayi never said anything as overt as "buy this!" (A vision just popped into my head of 100s of sevites at public programs wearing buttons that bark, "Get Shaktipat now - Ask me how!") in the past a distinct line was always drawn between what the guru said and what the foundation said. And by keeping the two separate, SY kept a lot of us hanging on to the "guru's words" much longer than we might have had she been passing out frequent shopper bookstore cards during darshan.

What distinguishes this message is that it comes from the illumined mind of a woman who has transcended the limitations of human existence, conquered the thieves of the heart and reached a goal none of us will achieve in this lifetime - and it is embarrassing, careless drivel.

Anonymous said...

The letter probably disappeared because it was no longer timely, not because anyone realized how juvenile and embarrassing it was. This was a Christmas sales pitch.

Anonymous said...


When has it ever been like SY to take anything back?

Anonymous said...

'What distinguishes this message is that it comes from the illumined mind of a woman who has transcended the limitations of human existence, conquered the thieves of the heart and reached a goal none of us will achieve in this lifetime - and it is embarrassing, careless drivel.'

But you make sooo many assumptions herein. Why do you assume her mind was illumined? And why in heavens name would you assume she has reached the 'goal' (lol) and that none of "US" ever can or have not?

I pray you are being sarcastic in this?

Anonymous said...

Your prayers have been answered.

Sorry. Didn't realize my sarcasm was so dry. Will add a little water next time. ;)

Anonymous said...

I wish everyone on this site the joy of completion. May we all realize the truth of what we are. After so many years of intense effort, may our practice bear fruit.
love to everyone,
old sheep

Anonymous said...

Just an interesting blog I happened to find on the web:

Wishing you all a wonderful year 2012!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone attend the 2012 Sweet Surprise? Was it the same message as the last few years or a new message?

Anonymous said...

It is a new webcast on the sy site now. sw vasu is the speaker

Anonymous said...

I'll pass on the $100 fee, thank you very much. Any insider scoop?

Anonymous said...

Message is to continue golden celebration of BB

Anonymous said...

Thanks old sheep. Seekher. Et al...
Intense effort is paying off
Aim was true after all perhaps hard to explain
SY practices over yet
Never better spiritually
Siddha days part of recipe for present
paradoxical/not excusing the bad
Grateful for companions from those days here
Shine on
Thanks old sheep again felt solid support to not treat the past as debility but compostable fodder very nice read

Anonymous said...

For my money/the cost of the Sunday Times, you can't find a better "message for the year 2012" than this op-ed by Pico Iyer that ran in the paper January 1st:

Anonymous said...

BB statue IS gold

Anonymous said...

There's a very poignant newly uploaded personal story on the Leaving Siddha Yoga website.

Anonymous said...

Check out the article on John Friend stepping down from his yoga post, complete with photo of Muk and Nit that ran in today's NYT:

Yoga Fans Sexual Flames and, Predictably, Plenty of Scandal by William J. Broad

Anonymous said...

Art Of Attention: Misconduct In The (Yoga) World
Posted: 02/20/2012 10:20 am

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Deja vu. History repeats itself. All the above.

"John asked me privately to offer my opinion about his teaching at the gathering.

I told him in candor that I’d seen him teach better. Boom. He disagreed, and told me that I was alone in my opinion: that his teaching was better than ever. John started a crusade to prove me wrong. He portrayed my actions to others in ways to discredit me. I felt compelled to ask Christina and other colleagues to vouch for me in emails to John, so that I might regain his 'good graces.' This was hurtful, and like any family member, I coped and longed still to love.

The politics of jockeying for favor became irrelevant when his assistant, Wendy, told me that production on products I had started with the Anusara team had been pulled because John was upset with me for a failure to align with his teaching.

This is a sad, tragic story. But my choice to leave was a refusal to enable John to continue operating in unhealthy ways. One’s conscience demands that we recognize when complicity compromises our simple sense of decency."

Anonymous said...

Anon of March 1, 2012:

You mention "a failure to align with his teaching".

Now is my turn for a Deja Vu moment.

Being "aligned with the Guru's will" or "aligned with Gurmayi's shakti" was SUCH a big deal in SY during the late 1990' to mid-2000's.

Apparently JF took on so much from SY and GM's ways.

When a teacher takes themselves so seriously, needs for his/her students to actually be follower so badly, watch out. Going on 6 years after leaving SY and processing through that experience of leaving, I can say that such attitudes and language are indeed a major sign that something is critically wrong and the wisest find a way to flee.

Anonymous said...

John Friend drank the Kulaid and it poisoned him and his business.

Anonymous said...

Kula + ade = Kulaid?
Gurukula + ade = Guru Kool-Aid!


Anonymous said...

I, too, am very sad this has happened. Om Namah Shivaya belongs to humanity and not to her. I feel its power pulsating in me all the time. I feel protected by it. It is all pervasive and no one will ever change that.