Sunday, May 13, 2012

Disfunction Junction

Hello to all and in particular, Lucid. To say I've been having problems posting here would be a massive understatement. Work has been off the hook busy, and the new gmail account I set up to receive submissions to RoD responds to no password I can remember, and Blogger just instituted one of those periodic "upgrades" that changes all the behind-the-scenes stuff about how this website works, with no explanation on how to navigate. As a result, when I do find a half hour or so to try to get caught up and post the new stories that have come in, I just chase my tail in a circle and nothing gets accomplished.

It's enuff to make me think all that Reiki that G had her peeps doing to scuttle the New Yorker article didn't go away--it just revolved in that atmosphere looking for a target and finally landed here.

Please be patient and accept my sincere apologies! SeekHer


260 comments:

1 – 200 of 260   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Thanks Seekher

Anonymous said...

Turn off the gas, SeekHer. I'll be right over with an extension cord and a warm cup of Kava Kava.

Last email I sent had the "revised" revised first section, four pages or so, of Chapter One. Let me know if we need to start over.

In the meantime, don't take off those ruby slippers!

Lucid

Anonymous said...

Hi Seekher, thanks for keeping us posted! My work life has also been off the hook busy, at least for my standards. Busy enough so that I haven't checked in here in a little while. I guess that is something to celebrate, having enough work in our lives, but I also look forward to a more relaxed pace after a looming deadline. Thanks for braving the technical difficulties for us! I know I'm not the only one who would love to read Lucid's next installments.

It takes some courage to really let oneself go back and re-visit the deep enchantment and magical time we had with SY and GM. The mysterious question of what was it all about and how did it all happen? I had a beautiful conversation with Marta Szabo not too long ago. She said she feels that a large part of the power of SY was the amazing community it created, a community that we could enter so easily and be a part of instantly. So many beautiful people we met and got to chant with and work with in so many different seva arenas. A very dynamic set up, it felt that it was meeting many of my needs, including the one to travel and be on tour.

I don't want to be back in it, and I'm glad I know where I stand on it. And at the same time, I feel more ready to acknowledge the amazing life experiences that came with my 15 years in SY. Just a few days ago, I was thinking of the vibrant times of playing chants together, organizing chants at people's houses, playing the role of the music coordinator. There were many experiences of coming together and merging into a single focus, and getting lifted up by everyone's energy supporting one another. A great feeling of teamwork and cohesion, and of ecstasy and abandon at the local center, without the physical guru around. The power of music and singing!

Very interesting to hear Lucid write about it - since I know I can trust that voice, I can go along with re-visiting the glamour and powerful love energy of being on those big retreats and being swept away on the magic carpet. A worthwhile topic to explore more, thank you!

Free At Last

Anonymous said...

"
It takes some courage to really let oneself go back and re-visit the deep enchantment and magical time we had with SY and GM. The mysterious question of what was it all about and how did it all happen? "

For me reading these shares is still so cathartic. In my case it was Muk and not GM, but still so many years later I sometimes wonder and occasionally wish I could revisit that magic, those deep still inner places that were so easily evoked.

Yes, I do agree, the community had a great deal to do with it.

Also, a lot of energy is generated by many people giving a lot of focus to one thing - think football games. People get high on that. Get lots of people into a room meditating together and magic can happen.

Anonymous said...

Free At Last wrote:

"I was thinking of the vibrant times of playing chants together, organizing chants at people's houses, playing the role of the music coordinator. There were many experiences of coming together and merging into a single focus, and getting lifted up by everyone's energy supporting one another. A great feeling of teamwork and cohesion, and of ecstasy and abandon at the local center, without the physical guru around."

This passage in particular is key, Free At Last, because in retrospect, it's so astonishingly obvious, no? Everything you describe had nothing to do with "The Guru" – even if at the time believing seemed to make it so. What we thought was the Shakti was us.

How very different our experience might have been if we'd all been conscious then that our ginormous contact high was actually one we were transmitting/picking up off ourselves/each other – and not in fact being awakened via some sole epicenter of "the Divine."

GM may have been up to something; may have in fact believed her own press releases, I don't know. I was never that close. Maybe she had to believe in order for us to believe so that we could all merge together in one gooey delusional fondue. Regardless, she was just one person – hyped to the nth, for sure – and there were thousands of us. So the larger part of whatever we experienced, felt, believed, was based more on what we and those around us were going through.

At least that's largely how I see it today/the best way I can articulate it here. Could articulate better after a few hours and a glass or two of Pinot.

I used to sob endlessly when I'd see GM at the programs. I thought I was experiencing some divine emotional purge. It may have been partly that...certainly a great deal of my own buried emotions surfaced on such occasions – and given the hours of sensory + auditory overload then deprivation, how could they not? – but years later, after reaching full adulthood and beginning to understand, accept, and learn to manage navigating the world as a highly sensitive person, I finally realized: Of course I sobbed uncontrollably in those programs! My own "stuff" bubbled up, yes – but I was also being swept away in the tsunami of emotions churned up by the thousands of other people squished into those big halls beside me. There we all were, seeking with varying levels of desperation to be saved. You betcha I bawled my eyes out! Those programs were so intense, in fact, that for years I couldn't fathom why anyone would willingly subject themself to an Intensive. Why would you want to experience something MORE intense? (Not until six years after meeting GM, would I sign up for my first.)

Back in the day, it never once occurred to me that anything anyone else was going through in those programs was having any impact on, much less revving up my experience. I thought it was all me and The Guru, and I saw that relationship as incredibly personal, intimate and sacred.
At the time what I beleived was my relationship with GM mind-blowing.

Again, astonishingly obvious now that so much of what I thought was true was in fact just the opposite. Just shows me where I was, once upon a time. Eventually even Peter Pan gave growing up a try.


I know we've talked about all this in different ways before. Thanks for letting me "go there" again. ;)

Lucid

Anonymous said...

At the time what I believed was my relationship with GM was mind-blowing.

L. :)

Anonymous said...

"Maybe she had to believe in order for us to believe so that we could all merge together in one gooey delusional fondue." That sounds like a great working hypothesis, and plus it made me laugh out loud! The metaphor "pressure cooker" is the more conventionally used one to describe the ashram life & life in SY. But a gooey delusional fondue really captures it!

As an aside, here is another ashram image I once heard: When I was on staff in SMA, one young friend of mine creatively described the ashram as "a gigantic wedding machine" - meaning people come there, get connected and then get spewed out into the world together. We had seen enough of our friends get swept up in that way. And those were not guru-orchestrated marriages that posters here have referred to in earlier threads, not put together by the guru's outward "command".

During my time, I was told that GM was not arranging marriages anymore, because too many of those married people had separated, thereby disregarding the Baba's & her command. I am aware of a few of those un-arranged marriages that are still working today. (Of course, there was endless talk about how the Shakti had led us all together.) Last but not least, I have to confess that I owe my own marriage to my time in SMA... So there is just one very real consequence resulting from my SY involvement, one that is still unfolding today, to my surprise.

I also liked the previous poster's comparison of SY to football games (aka delusional fondues): "Also, a lot of energy is generated by many people giving a lot of focus to one thing - think football games. People get high on that. Get lots of people into a room meditating together and magic can happen."

Ram Butler used to write in the Correspondence Course about people having religious experiences at football games that he went to growing up. I forget the details, but something to the respect of people coming together and intensely focusing on the same thing, experiencing unity with others in that way, and expecting to have a wonderful time at those events. The expectation of the transcendence of barriers, and the shared enthusiasm getting more and more intensified by the presence of other "believers". (Those are more my words, I think, than his.)

It is also easy picture that for a sensitive person being in close proximity to so many others diving into their inner worlds would be enough to set off sobbing spells, the "tsunami of emotions churned up by the thousands of other people squished into those big halls". And probably the majority of us could qualify as sensitive. Quite a cocktail that we exposed ourselves to! In combination with the time-proven tools of many cults, "sensory + auditory overload then deprivation", and then everything again, starting with the Arati at 4:30 am or so.

Free At Last - More to follow

Anonymous said...

For my post-cult education, I got a lot of insight on those time-proven techniques from the book
"Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships" by
Janja Lalich and Madeline Tobias http://www.amazon.com/Take-Back-Your-Life-Relationships/dp/0972002154. Dan Shaw recommended that to me, and it became my exit-strategy bible. If someone here by chance hasn't read it yet, I would recommend checking it out. The authors are both former cult members, so they know what they are talking about inside out. In fact, I could probably use browsing through it again.

The book truly does a thorough job demystifying the working of cults, and how they manage to capture all our senses and draw us in more and more.

As GM used to say (paraphrasing more or less): "If new people don't get the Shakti through the chants, they get it through meditation, or through seva, or through the talks. If all those traditional routes fail, they get it through the food in the dining hall!" We all laughed and agreed with her wisdom and wittiness on the workings of the all-powerful Shakti sweeping people's "doubts" away (read: their discriminating minds & often also their former ethics) but now I can look at this statement from a distance, seeing the whole plot behind it.

Not that I would say that from the beginning she was maliciously plotting it all ... I think Lucid has a good point that she probably had to believe it herself to a large extent for all of us to believe it, too. After all, all her formative years were spent completely under Baba's spell. But thinking about it, just having those delicious varied meals in the dining halls available all the time, cooked by talented enthusiastic cooks from around the globe, could be enough to make you fall in love with SY!

A close friend of mine often talked to me about a particular time in SMA (maybe in the mid-eighties) when the staff went through some intense staff meetings with swamis sharing with them GM's latest command. Everyone was encouraged to experiment with how little sleep they could possible get away with.

This friend was a seva afficionado anyway, so he fully went for that experiment, working 23 1/2 hours (okay, I'm exaggerating here) each day and then doing it again the next day. Looking at that command now, it really sounds like directly out of the cult work book 101. Overwork your members so that they can't possibly think straight anymore, and then make them chant some more, especially the Guru Gita every day. No wonder it worked so well!

Free At Last

Anonymous said...

Your thread title is psychic, SeekHer. Wow, just wow, JF is cold. The latest. http://www.yogadork.com/news/anusara-john-friend-update-back-to-business/

Read the Facebook comments linked in the article.
One of JF few defenders says:
"Right on, JF. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Why don't all the haters shut your mouths, get back to yoga, get to dharma, and MYOB. Jesus Christ."

BEST REPLY YET:
"You're joking, right? This /is/ our business. This /is/ our dharma. This is not one guy having a private affair or pissing a few people off. This is someone who created something beautiful and then perverted it with manipulation, lies, threats, and retaliation. The behavior continues and will continue to hurt people as long as it is subverted and supported. We don't hate. We love. That is why we are all so hurt by this. That is why we cannot let this be swept under the rug. We will not shut up.
WE WILL NOT SHUT UP."

Anonymous said...

JF just klunked many folks over the head with a reality stick. Finally!

Anonymous said...

Letter from John Friend 05/17/2012:

"Through this crisis the mettle of the community has surely been tested. Without engaging in the vicious postings on social media from a very vocal minority, many teachers have quietly held their affirmation in the efficacy of the Anusara yoga methodology. Even during this darkest period in its history, Anusara yoga has continued to help many students around the world. This is the greatest blessing of Anusara, the community we all love . . ."

http://www.yogadork.com/news/anusara-john-friend-update-back-to-business/#more-29119


Letter from SYDA Board of Trustees 08/16/2010:

"Tens of thousands of people around the world have chosen Siddha Yoga as their spiritual path. Over time, some people have decided not to continue on this path. A few of these former practitioners have become critics. Salon.com chose to focus on a handful of critics rather than the thousands of Siddha Yoga practitioners who are living active and productive lives in their communities . . . It is unfortunate that the writer has used the release of the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” in an attempt to discredit a path that has enriched the lives of so many."

http://www.salon.com/2010/08/16/sya_response_to_eat_pray_love_story/

Anonymous said...

Anonymous...

Regarding your comment at the bottom, which I had never heard the like of before. I would like to add to this.

When I was in Ganeshpuri in 1988, we were in a staff meeting or all ashram meeting in the hall under Niteshwar. Swami Kripananda said, and it really affected me, that 'the source of the need for sleep was sloth'. It really affected me because I already believed that I was an unfocused person and I needed something to become focused and effective. So I re-doubled my efforts and pushed on, through a sustained six months of sleep deficit. I did not burn out. But her talk really lit a fire under me. Funny, years later I shared that story with someone who was still in the ashram and they quickly changed the subject. Ha...

A close friend of mine often talked to me about a particular time in SMA (maybe in the mid-eighties) when the staff went through some intense staff meetings with swamis sharing with them GM's latest command. Everyone was encouraged to experiment with how little sleep they could possible get away with.

Anonymous said...

Sleep deprivation junkies! If only Red Bull had been around.

Anonymous said...

Noticing a breakdown here and on the yahoo leaving SY group (under a new name) while the biggest story to blast open the decades of lies and bs concerning AY and SY is happening. Why is that? I have Blogger, what's the big deal? And the Yahoo group members are telling jokes and discussing politics and the stock market. Makes me wonder who runs these exsy blogs, not liking it at all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon May 22,
Why not start a discussion here or on the other group if you aren't happy with what is being talked about? As you say, "what's the big deal"? Sometimes people who are really active in these groups can get tired of carrying the conversational ball....join in! It makes it better for everyone concerned.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Did that and was talked over.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous at 9:41 AM--The yahoo group you're talking about (Life after Siddha Yoga) is aimed at people who are pretty much over SY, so the JF stuff is just not that big a deal to most of them--it is so predictable! The group was formed by people who wanted a forum where they could talk about whatever was going on in their lives spiritually (or otherwise). Anyone who signed on to the LASY list got kicked off the old EXSY list.

I think this blog provides a great forum for those who have left more recently to talk about pain and dysfunction, to process all the junk.

older but wiser

Anonymous said...

Anon 'talked over' ? Try again. :-)
We are kind of all alone here...together!

Anonymous said...

Seeker
Spelling mavens must be off their game
Hint hint

Anonymous said...

Coming soon to a theater near you!

Kumare: The True Story of a False Prophet
Kumare Official Trailer #1 (2012) - HD Movie
http://youtu.be/OXUzG6YKuvo

SXSW 2011: "Kumare" Interview Part 1
http://youtu.be/B4vCvOVYyWE

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting those links - very interesting approach that the director & producer took in making this documentary! I'm still making up my mind about it. One more piece in the puzzle, explaining just how much people want to believe in a guru, and how surprised they were how easy it was to act the part of the guru, with everyone going along with it.

I also liked them saying that they met a lot of amazing people in the course of filming the documentary. We certainly met lots of extraordinary people through SY! The makers of the movie mentioned that in the end it became much more a positive movie about people's spirituality, even though they started out from a very skeptical place.

Makes it a little easier for me to understand how GM & Baba got so deeply into playing the guru role, with everyone around them mirroring it back to them, and being so open-hearted with them. A lot of energy & adoration gets directed at a guru figure, and apparently it is hard not to get swept away by it and believing in it oneself.

Free At Last

Anonymous said...

Lucid,

When, in one of your posts, you said that 'the Shakti was us', I would appreciate more about hearing your thoughts. Like each one of us has this shakti-energy experience to tap into, or maybe a group outside of SY could generate this energy (Shakti)...? I am asking because I have been in large groups and chanting groups since my SY days, groups where there is a common spiritual focus, but am not feeling that same shakti-energy like in SY. I feel something, but it is low on the scale comparatively. And in Meditation I feel a touch of it, but low on the scale comparatively... Thanks! Boro...

Anonymous said...

Here are two newer articles by Matthew Remski on the Diamond Retreat cult tragedy that came out in the beginning of May. I just caught on to it through YogaDork and had not heard about it before. It seems relevant to our explorations here.

Remski wrote a few articles worth reading on the Anusara debate. Here again he sheds light on the cult phenomenon from a very subtle insider perspective. I haven't read all of the articles yet, just wanted to let you know about it.

Judging from the amount of comments below them (685 & 1,636) his analysis resonated with a lot of people.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/psychosis-stabbing-secrecy-and-death-at-a-neo-buddhist-university-in-arizona/#idc-cover

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/tragedy-at-diamond-mountain-an-update/#idc-cover

Lots of insightful things in there. I loved this one:
"There’s an old adage: “The devil quotes scripture.” A self-validating metaphysics will twist anything to its purposes."

Free At Last

Anonymous said...

Hello to Anon (June 8, 2012 2:26 PM).

Thank you for your question. I would like to wait to respond until after SeekHer posts my story. For now I will say that

1) I too have never felt the same brand or intensity of the "shakti-energy" (as you call it) particular to SY
2) I too found any other non-SY "group experience" to be low on the scale comparatively.
3) For years that intensity level, strong as a dose of LSD at times, kept me convinced that SY was the real deal
4) Do not understand the sleight of hand to this day and no longer need to, but have some thoughts on my own contribution to the magic. Also know that type of thing no longer attracts me in the slightest. I'd bolt for the exit if I ever felt a similar kind of "intoxication" again... within a group, or with an individual... (have had romances just as potent but on purpose DID NOT marry one - and as a result I'm still married!)

What's that old expression about there being nothing worse than a reformed addict? That type of heavy "shakti-energy" is nowhere in my life today, hasn't been for years, and as a result my life has felt infinately less sensational and far more "run of the mill" -- and for me this has been a reassuring relief. I'm living in my skin now, loving/not loving every minute of it. There are times when I hate my life, times when I'm just getting through it, and times when I feel like I'm doing pretty damn good considering the circumstances. I also know I have a TON of love and support around me and more than my share to be grateful for. But in my SY days it was all bliss, all grace, "all for the best" 24/7 like a cable channel a sat in front of glassy-eyed. Worked for a time but today, no thanks. I was missing out on more than half the experience of being a non-perfect human.


Hope that helps until my story posts.

Best to you,
Lucid

Anonymous said...

Anyone see the new Birthday Bliss slideshow?

InNYC said...

I have followed this great blog for sometime. I appreciate the calm, thoughtful messages I read. Now to add my two cents into the pot. "The mysterious question of what was it all about and how did it all happen?" Well, the people were wonderful, that is for sure, and chanting and meditation that added to the it. But if I may me so bold - it was not a bunch of nice seekers getting together, it was not the great chanting and it certainly was not the thrill of you get at a football game. It was Gurumayi. When I was in Ganespuri and also in South Fallsburg she would walk past I would feel a wave of shakti come over me that definitely had her as the epicenter. After it all went south and I left SY I always felt that the source of my experiences came from Gurumayi. I have never really been bothered by the fact that such intense experiences could be engendered by someone who was deeply flawed. I remain curious as to how it all works but when my brain spins to fast I remember the Muppets song: "What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
We know that it’s probably magic…." :)

Anonymous said...

Hi in NYC,
I was interested in your post. People (here and elsewhere) have dismissed or tried to explain experiences as nothing more than group hallucination or some kind of hypnosis.People will also say chanting a mantra in Sanskrit is no different from repeatedly chanting Coca Cola. I, personally, have been more interested in exploring recent findings in neuroscience, linquistics, etc. relating to how the brain processes experience and language and how those two things are reflected in Tantric practice, both Tibetan and Hindu and in Zen satori states. James Austin's books (such as "Zen and the Brain") are really helpful to read.Also there are several books out that have been on the bestseller list for a while ("Buddha's Brain" for example). Aside from my initial darshan with gurumayi, I never had those strong "experiences" around her. Instead, they would generally happen during text chanting in Sanskrit or in the teaching sessions with Paul Mueller-Ortega (!). However, I have certainly had intense mystical states that seemed to be triggered off by ritual, mantra chanting, being in temples in India, being part of long fire practices, sitting with Tibetan teachers, etc. And, sorry disbelievers, they ARE different from rock concerts, expanded states at the top of Mt. Washington or "nice feelings" generated from petting your cat. The why? and how? as complex as the brain, no doubt. It's kind of arrogant to imagine that we understand when it's so obvious that we are just at the very beginning stages of even beginning to look. In the end, just part of the experience of being embodied...not really actually leading to much. As Ramana said, "let what comes come; let what goes go; find out what remains". Just this empty moment full of infinite potential.

best to all,
old sheep

Anonymous said...

Another response to "In NYC" coming.

I don't think it was GM. I first met Muk 2 years before he passed and stayed in SY for 25 years, through the joint leadership with her brother, through the purge of her brother, and beyond. I understand what you mean when you say "it was all GM" and I used to feel that way as well, both about her, and her bro' (for a period of time), and particularly about Muk.

I say "for a period of time" because after a time, I felt no "shakti" from her bro' at all. And, after a longer period of time, I felt no shakti from her at all. It was as if they "lost something". Frankly, with her it was right before the time when "public darshan was cancelled" and I didn't think that timing was an accidental coincidence.

I had a few occasions to actually speak with her a few years after that point...and her responses came off leaving me with the feeling that her responses were..."contrived" or "canned"...and even just plain weird and non-sensical. What "threw" me even harder was the "thought police" came swooping in on me as soon as she was done speaking with me to convince me that "no, she didn't mean THIS, she really meant THAT" when THIS was clearly what she said.

I was left with the reaction of "just what the heck is going ON here?" and it wasn't long after that that my "veil" thinking SY and GM and Muk were all perfect, suddenly shattered into a million tiny pieces and fell away.

I suddenly realized so much of my belief system was taken from SY just from having read something or having heard something said or someone supposedly quoted.

There truly was a cultural milieu where certain thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, values, practices, mannerisms, and just ways of doing things, saying things, and looking at things, was encouraged, while other ways were discouraged.

It wasn't forceful. But it was there.

Now that I'm going on 7 years out of SY, while I'm nothing like the bliss bunny I used to be, I do feel more like I've recaptured the "self" I was born as, and which I truly am.

So...I have to gently disagree. It wasn't GM. It wasn't Muk. It wasn't even Nit Sr.

Something "magical" was definitely there. Except now I recognize that it wasn't beneficent. It wasn't fully well-intentioned. There was a degree of deceit and manipulation that came with it.

(At least, that was my own personal experience and conclusions.)

I don't know what that "magic" was. But I'm so, so happy to be free of it.

Anonymous said...

For me, the "shakti-energy" was triggered by scriptures and courses. I was never interested in the physical presence of GM or the large celebrations. I tolerated the large crowds at South Fallsburg for several years so I could take courses there. When Paul Mueller-Ortega taught the Guru Gita course at the ashram, I was unable to go but took it "mentally." A person from our center called in to our satsang and told us the first assignment he gave. I followed that assignment and had experiences every day, including inwardly hearing an entire verse - in Sanskrit - from another text chant that I was unfamiliar with. The verse provided me with an important teaching.

I had other experiences of inwardly hearing or envisioning scriptures containing lessons for me. Sometimes they were combined with visions of events before they happened or before I had learned of them, and at other times they were related to problems I was having. I now recognize some of the teachings as spiritual bypassing. They seemed to "work" for a while, but I lost interest in them as the outer conditions of seva became more unacceptable to me. This "shakti-energy" declined, as both SYDA was going downhill and I gradually became critical of one aspect of SY after another. While my views of the experiences and their lessons have changed, the experiences gave me insights about myself and have influenced the direction of my journey since leaving SY (less than 3 years ago).

I have found books that relate Buddhist practices to research in neurology and psychology to be quite interesting, especially after being exposed to the view of the all-powerful shakti that magically removes all problems when you simply do the practices. To old sheep - I was very interested in your approach and the books you have been reading.

Anonymous said...

Tried posting this morning but got one of those goofy "message to big for blogger" messages. Hmpf!

Going to try again right now but may need to chunk it in two...

Don't touch that dial!

Anonymous said...

RE: “What ‘threw’ me even harder was the ‘thought police’ came swooping in on me as soon as she was done speaking with me to convince me that ‘no, she didn't mean THIS, she really meant THAT’ when THIS was clearly what she said.”

This reminded me of all the times I attended a talk in person, then later purchased the audio or video, only to discover that the key “teaching(s)” that had stuck in my in mind as most significant – the ones I surreptitiously took notes on during the programs (remember when note-taking was verboten?!) – had been completely edited out. Often, the moments I’d enjoyed most, when Gurumayi spoke “off the cuff,” laughed uncontrollably at one of her own jokes, or seemed most genuine, had also removed. I never understood that. This type of editing increased over time until eventually her actual, in person talks sounded more like those final, censored recordings. All of the (to me, back then) most charming and engaging aspects of her public persona that initially drew me in during the first programs I attended late 1980s-early 1990s were barely visible by the final satellite broadcast I attended in 2004.

InNYC, I too could chart for you on a graph my experience of the gradual decline in the “Shakti’s” pull; I also mark late 1996 – around the time it was announced the “formal practice” of Darshan was “being withdrawn” – as the beginning of the thrill being gone. Still, I kept going back for years holding onto and trying to recapture and re-experience the essence of my potent early experiences, but the buzz just continued to dissipate over time, like a drug I’d developed a tolerance for – despite increasing the dose the effect was only less. In retrospect, I chased that initial “Shaktipat” experience for years. I got a handful of big blasts during my early days, but ultimately the longer I was “in” SY the less of it I felt. (Writing this now I recall a devotee friend exclaiming one day during lunch in the Amrit, “This path does only gets more amazing!” – a memory that provides an example of the “cultural milieu” referred to in the post above…How many times did we hear things said about SY that we knew, in the moment, were completely out of sync with our actual experience?)

Back then I attributed the absence of those strong experiences to my own spiritual growth, like maybe I’d purged and healed to the point of no longer needing to sob each time I saw Gurumayi, maybe I’d come so far in my practice I no longer needed to go into orbit each time I meditated (I’m talking about the programs here, not home – no on-my-own meditation ever compared to “being with Gurumayi”… even visits to Oakland were pretty flat unless “the Guru was in residence.”)

By the time of her swan song New Year’s Message broadcast, “Experience the Power Within,” I was still hanging on to the hope I might extract one last drop of “nectar” from the well, gain some small new insight, “go deeper in my practice” etc. But – although I didn’t admit it to myself at the time – I felt nothing. I have many, many early potent and memorable SY stories I could share but by 2004, for me, watching GM “live from NY” was really no different than watching an infomercial for a product I couldn’t use.

I could not reconcile seeing her with feeling complete emptiness. I was still holding on – to my history with SY, to the hope it still meant something – but, in retrospect, I was just being sentimental, romantic. Any connection I had left to SY at that point was based on events from nearly a decade prior . . .

Anonymous said...

So, in the space of ten years I’d gone from enraptured to bored.

Then, as I’ve shared before, in late 2007 or so, with my puja still up but nearly zero trace left in my life of any “Shakti,” I landed on this blog, and consequently Marta’s. Over the next few years I began the formal, acknowledging-it-to-myself-and-others, process of leaving SY. . . but in reality SY and I had somewhat sheepishly abandoned each other years before. In retrospect it was kind of a mutual disinterest neither of us had the guts to admit to the other! :)

And my point is . . . ?

Maybe it’s just that my experience mirrors the one mentioned above – and experiences mentioned here and elsewhere over the years and across the blogs – that the “magic,” or whatever anyone prefers to call it, went from knock-your-socks off to non-existent as SY gradually folded up its tent and decided it no longer felt like pretending to be the greatest show on earth.

And thank God, really. I could have only run around barefoot for so long.

Lucid

Anonymous said...

NYT Movie Review

Finding Some Principles by Telling Some Lies -
Kumare: The True Story of a False Prophet

Disturbed by the yoga craze in the United States, Mr. Gandhi, a self-described first-generation immigrant from a Hindu background, travels to India and discovers that the swamis desperately trying to “outguru” one another are, he says, “just as phony as those I met in America.”

After returning to the United States, he transforms himself into Sri Kumaré and travels to Phoenix, where he gathers a circle of disciples. Imitating his grandmother’s voice, he imparts mystical truisms in halting, broken English. With his soulful brown eyes and soft, androgynous voice, he is a very convincing wise man . . .

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/movies/vikram-gandhis-kumare-the-true-story-of-a-false-prophet.html?_r=1&n=Top%2fFeatures%2fMovies%2fReviews%2fBy%20Stephen%20Holden

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. See this? 14 Short videos of a (birth)day in the life of Gurumayi.

http://www.siddhayoga.org/#player

Anonymous said...

I watched 3 so far and noticed I was not very moved and gone were the tears I used to shed when seeing GM. All the reading has really shifted me back to the real world where ashram life seems odd.

Anonymous said...

My primary interest in clicking through was mostly from a marketing standpoint (i.e. how SY "staged" each segment; how they're presenting themselves now).

Watching the clips I too did not experience much in the way of a personal, emotional reaction - until I came to the footage of Gurumayi with the children. It just makes me sad, knowing that as soon as these kids are old enough to google "Siddha Yoga," or as soon as their non-devotee friends are old enough to do so, their world will be turned upside down, they'll be plunged into denial, or spin themselves rationalizing or... ?

I wonder how those children are being "inoculated" and insulated from this right now since every adult around them knows the truth is just a click away. It can only be a matter of time. The main the SY tried to hide from many of us was a stray article in some random, out of print quarterly; I just don't see how the tsunami of ex-SY info can be held at bay.

Maybe SY is a whole other kettle of fish these days -- though these videos, especially the last one of Gurumayi holding up the moon, don't indicate any mellowing of her deification on the part of the org. Bottom line, at some point these kids are going to discover that significant information was withheld from them by those they were taught never to question.

Just strikes me as such a tragic shame.

Anonymous said...

from the comments below the videos post at the SY site:

We are following today's special and beautiful messages with our 18-month-old daughter. We have just finished Prayer for Peace. As Gurumayi held her hands together to close, our daughter, who had been silent throughout, clearly said “peace, peace, peace”—a word she has never used before.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for being the first to teach her this.

A family of devotees from Utah, USA


My wife and I were wondering, "How do we introduce our 2 year old to Gurumayi in a way that he will understand and connect to?" He is a third generation Siddha Yogi and seems to love the Siddha Yoga chants, for example, he was singing Sadguru ki Arati even before he could speak. He finds the chant on our ipod and delights in listening to it.

This morning, he was sitting on his mom's lap when we visited the Siddha Yoga path website to join the Pilgrimage in celebration of Gurumayi's Birthday. The first thing we saw was Gurumayi chanting the refrain of Sadguru ki Arati. Our two year old's eyes lit up. We could see that he recognized Gurumayi's voice. We took great delight in saying to him, "That is Gurumayi!"

Thank you, Gurumayi, for this wonderful form of darshan.
We love you.

a family of devotees in Australia


Today we—our two sons, my husband, and I—had our weekly family satsang and visited the Siddha Yoga path website.

We shared about who Gurumayi is for us, what she has taught us, what we are grateful for, and what we would tell her if she were right here with us in our satsang.

This is what our 9-year-old son shared:

Gurumayi is my Guru. She is a marvelous person filled with love, with peace, enthusiasm, and joy. She is a person filled with energy. She is a perfect person.

Gurumayi has taught me to follow the path of love and to follow our virtues with love. I thank Gurumayi for teaching me good things. I also thank her for being my Guru. I would like to tell her, Gurumayi, I honor you, I admire you, I bow to you, I love you. Namaste.

Beloved Gurumayi, we thank you for being our Guru, for showering us with your grace. We thank you for your teachings and for always guiding us on this amazing Siddha Yoga path. We love you deeply and are truly grateful for having you as our Guru.

Happy Birthday, Gurumayi! May you have a blissful and delightful birthday!

With love and gratitude, a family of devotees


Dear Gurumayi,

Just after watching Prayer for Peace a big silence has taken place inside me. All my usual questions about my life, about what I'll become, have disappeared. Thank you so much for this incredible experience.

With gratitude and devotion, a devotee from France

Anonymous said...

>>"Gurumayi is my Guru. She is a marvelous person filled with love, with peace, enthusiasm, and joy. She is a person filled with energy. She is a perfect person."

This seemed so tragic to me...at 9 years old..to be parroting the words this child has learned through syda. What does "guru" mean to a 9 year old? or "perfect person"? "enthusiasm", "peace", "a marvelous" person? What 9 year old uses this language? what 2 year old actually understands the meaning of Arati Ki Jai? What 18month old, chanting the word "peace", knows what she is saying? If gurumayi had said, "peas peas peas" or "kitty kitty kitty" with her hands folded in prayer, I imagine this child would have followed along. Who is attaching the meaning onto the actions here? the children? or the parents? Children learn to do what pleases their parents. We were always so dismssive and snide in syda about "religious fundamentalism" and indoctrination. It's a tragic thing to see these misguided parents burying the natural curiosity, clarity and awake "buddha nature" of their children in this kind of banal spiritual lingo and these unreal second-hand concepts.
very sad and no different from the religious indoctrination of any other fundamentalist group.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

>> "We are following today's special and beautiful messages with our 18-month-old daughter. We have just finished Prayer for Peace. As Gurumayi held her hands together to close, our daughter, who had been silent throughout, clearly said “peace, peace, peace”—a word she has never used before.
Thank you, Gurumayi, for being the first to teach her this.
A family of devotees ..." <<

What I noticed in the Prayer for Peace (9:30 am on the SY website) was that only the birds and the crackling of the fire could be heard. There were no spoken words, only the written words "Prayer for Peace" in the title. My guess is that the parents taught their daughter to say "peace," and then proceeded to thank Gurumayi for being the first to teach their daughter this. As many have commented in previous posts, the credit always goes to the Guru. And the parents saw what they wanted to see.

Anonymous said...

Muktananda could always blow ppls minds when they would come up with bs about their children being presciently spiritual. That authenticity has been missing a long time. What is weird for me is to see, as was mentioned, that SY has turned into a fundamentalist indoctrination of untruth.

Anonymous said...

Yes. And you said it, Old Sheep. "Banal" is the perfect word.

Anonymous said...

"Recently a Siddha Yogi wrote me a letter and said that she has named the summer of 2012, the “Shri Guru Gita Summer.” I was so happy when I read that, because that was my intention—for Siddha Yogis to refresh their practice of Shri Guru Gita recitation and understand its potency. That is why I requested the SYDA Foundation Website Department to post the Shri Guru Gita recitation for Birthday Bliss and for Gurupurnima.

And today will be the third time this summer for the global sangham to see and understand that Shree Muktananda Ashram is still open, and the Siddha Yoga practices are thriving. They can see that all the work that is being done in the SYDA Foundation is for the purpose of the Siddha Yoga legacy."

A Talk by Gurumayi
July 15, 2012

http://www.siddhayoga.org/bhagavan-nityananda-punyatithi/talk-by-gurumayi

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about message in SY website Anon. That peace described as coming from Bade Baba belongs to everyone and can be found lots of places.

Anonymous said...

What does she mean by saying that SMA is "still open"? Are they allowing people to visit now, other than sevites?

Just some PR to keep the non-profit status current.

Anonymous said...

"SYDA Foundation Website Department"

Is that the new name for what's left of the org? Sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

No visitors per se. Skeleton crew of sevites---look at the people in the temple ---not many at all and that's basically everyone
Anugraha is off limits unless one is doing specific seva there, like board of trustees and some gardening
Other than special events as shown, no access to temple and MM is closed and SM has been decommissioned for years (even covering over crystals since about 2003/4)
The main hall is the renovated in 1997 space in Atma Nidhi
A small BB temple was made with a small murti there behind the front of the hall for morning arati. Anapurna has been divided in half. The back portion is portioned off, has a ping pong table and gaping leaks in the ceilings. So many building and areas are decaying--yet no demolition yet. Needless to say, no bookstores on site and just the arati store remains.
No visitors allowed, just invited sevites if they've made out an application form and they're needed. In contrast to local centers I've seen, there are actually "new" devotees at SMA on staff---entered for example via a Hatha yoga/meditation teacher who is a devotee and also, yes, Anusara practitioners. I wonder if John as asked for guidance recently? The elaborate web presentations are directed by the talented, devoted Denise Thomas, who was the creative force behind so many of the children's programs--eg, the Golden Tales of 2001?

Anonymous said...

Denise Thomas was once part my center and a serious koolaid drinker from way back. I cannot remember her as warm or sensitive and avoided her.

Shelley said...

Thanks much for all the detailed information, anon at 11:12 PM.

I was struck by GM's use of the word "legacy" in relation to SY. I think of a legacy as something of value left for a future generation by someone or something that is gone and/or dead. It doesn't have the connotation of a gift from something vibrant, alive. Interesting that she uses that word.

They call this bit of chat a "talk" on the website. That would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

older but wiser

Anonymous said...

"The elaborate web presentations are directed by the talented, devoted Denise Thomas, who was the creative force behind so many of the children's programs--eg, the Golden Tales of 2001?"

"Hinduism" and American consumerism in all their varied forms of union: Pixar-ated,Disney-fied, corporatized, cleaned-up,translated, trivialized, dumbed-down,comodified,drained of all substance and turned into spiritual fast-food.

I guess it's a "legacy"...of sorts.


old sheep

Anonymous said...

Over the past couple of months I have watched the SYDA website with mixture of fascination and horror. How could this organization, these people who I have revered as Teacher, respected as friends and admired as leaders deteriorated into such banal nonsense. As beautiful, creative and well presented as it is; it is nonsense. Magical thinking, sloganeering, pretending is not spiritual work. This stuff looks more like campaigning, and perhaps it is what it really is. The coffers are probably pretty low by now. The real legacy of Siddha Yoga may be the shell found on the beach on a warm morning, beautiful but empty.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said.

artsquiggle said...

Just checking into RoD after many months have passed. This is not on the thread of the preceding conversation. I wasn't sure I should be posting this here, or e-mailing SeekHer as I see the note about blog technicalities that have been upgraded/changed.

All the posts about JFexposed are new to me. I guess an indication of how far away I've been from yoga circles in general. Thanks SH for keeping on top of the news and continuing, bravely, with this blog. It was kind of interesting and also tragic to read about John, if it’s true. John, who to his credit, overcame polio through self determination and Hatha Yoga when a boy. Made me also think--who or what isn't having a scandal these days? Catholic Church, Mormons, Scientology, every other politician or public servant. Seems if a person pokes their head above the surface with intentions to find truth, they are assaulted with hate and torture; if they rise above the surface, more on behalf of self aggrandizement, then they often, eventually, fall in self ruin. What an increasingly mean spirited world we live in. A scary, screwed up time to be alive. Who can deny it? (And note: I do clearly remember GM warning that it would get much, much worse and NOT to commit the ultimate sin of suicide. But, how could we have known? Who could really foresee all this?) It's so in our face, at increasingly obnoxious volume, 24-7. So many people and innocent life forms suffering, so much hardship everywhere and yet we are still a collective of carbon-based units. Be happy? Smile, smile? That was then.

Now, it’s how about just survive. Help those you can as you go along. At 54, after my once beloved Guru/Ashram Ship long sailed from the harbor, after all the air has gone out of the tire of once exhilarating circles of “enlightenment and consciousness" discussions, I find myself feeling more OK with myself, while feeling more disturbed about the state of the world and mankind. I have since recreated my own, non-spiritual, quiet form of refuge from outer madness, working extremely hard on the practicalities of life. With little time left over, I just rest. No meditation, just plain resting. And then, I begin to hear it again, and realize it’s the one remaining question behind all my action these days: What is next? In the BIG sense of things, could there be, will their be a next? Does anyone feel this pulse? Or is my tail still stuck in an illusion?
Regards,
Artsquiggle

Anonymous said...

Hi Artsquiggle,
You're not alone. I'm the same age as you, 54, left the yoga many years ago and now swim in the centerdness of everyday life and relationship, but I feel the pain of the world more keenly than ever. Sometimes I can't bear to watch what is happening to humanity.
I also question why suicide is the ultimate sin, especially for those who are terminally ill and suffering terribly, but that's another discussion.
It's a mad world out there and probably getting madder. Hold your head high with inner strength, that's the only way you can stay above it.

Anonymous said...

Artsquiggle, Your last paragraph says it all. I asked why no one was discussing the John Friend scandal on ROD and on Yahoo and was told to keep walking nothing to see here. THAT made me wonder who is behind the curtains at these blogs. The JF incident brought me completely through the passage from doubt to conviction that I made all the right moves away from SY. I now have doubts about the bloggers.

Anonymous said...

"In the BIG sense of things, could there be, will their be a next? Does anyone feel this pulse? Or is my tail still stuck in an illusion?"

Dear ArtSquiggle,
I think it's only rational to question and wonder about all those years of practice and deep committment to something that appears, in the end, to result in deeper questions. I am running into monks lately who admit to extreme "lonliness" after years of intense practice. Also I see alot of folks firmly denying any doubt, resolutely clinging to their neo-advaita "awakening" as real,explaining their new conceptual support systems in various groups,using the "lingo" of that new system (Buddhist or Non-Dual) or grabbing at satsangs, retreats, intensives, etc. just to hold on to an idea of themselves as "something". It seems to be an epidemic. Just observing this can help us to realize that there are still an awful lot of "unanswered questions" if we are honest. It's kind of a shock to see that, after so many decades of deep self-inquiry and effort, the end result is, "I really don't know"...and yet the movement towards deeper understanding is not something we can control or stop, apparently.
a little more honesty (in teachers and practitioners alike) and and a little less spiritual pumping up would be so helpful.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

"I really don't know" is what it's all about. Maybe that is the end of the questing and to finally just be.

Anonymous said...

Amen to Old Sheep and Anon at 11:59. Actually coming to the place of recognizing we know almost nothing, that it's all a mystery, seems so necessary to me. Then, how do we respond to that? How do we act in the world?

Some will glom onto a new belief system that purports to answer all the questions. Those belief systems are infinite in mumber, and there's a lot of comfort on signing on to a belief system. But for a lot of us, that approach just doesn't cut it any more.

"Helping those you can as you go along" as ArtSquiggle put it seems like a pretty good description of a spiritual path to me.

I think a lot of us have the idea that human beings constitute some kind of special event in the history of the universe, that we somehow stand outside the rest of it, because we have self-consciousness and the ability to think discursively, to analyze, all those higher mental functions. I wonder if that kind of belief has served us very well as a species.

I do a buddhist practice now and sit a lot of retreats, and still "believe in" the possibility of freedom, of liberation. But my concepts about that look very different from days in SY, and "helping those you can as you go along" is right at the center of it. Because, you know, what else makes sense?

older but wiser

Anonymous said...

""I really don't know" is what it's all about. Maybe that is the end of the questing and to finally just be.'


Dear Anon,
yes....and no. My experience has been that "just being" is not quite so easy as they say, even for monks; "something" continues to pull whatever it is that "I" am towards itself. It's not in the mind; it's not an identifiable anything. It's as though there is a "process" that will continue until it is finished...with or without "my" agreeing (sorry for all the quotation marks but..you know). Nisargadatta said, "be what you are in your natural spontaneous state". Yup! but it still appears to be a "process" of dissolution of the built-up "personal gunk" of mistaken identity, much as we might like it to be simply a matter of experiencing that "you" don't really exist. Those old habits of species survival die hard (at least in my experience). As several people have mentioned, meantime: "how do we act in the world? how do we respond to a situation?" there is a generosity that can begin to arise from not-knowing, an empathy for the obvious confusion in the world and specific,obvious, simple actions from each person's very unique life circumstances. It's small...not quite so grand as I once imagined.And it always seems to involve letting go of habitual "reactive patterns" and imagined separation from "the other"...but it's not that gooey "see god in each other" syda crap...it's coming right up against your own projections...as you have them.... and really doing the no-bullshit work on your own stuff, even as you know it's all "unreal".It can sure be uncomfortable and, since it happens in public, you have to get used to being an idiot. It's really heartening that so many folks seem to be drawn into this...misery loves company, I guess...smile.


old sheep

Anonymous said...

old sheep I am the anon of 11:59 and the anon you told to move along nothing to see here. I do not feel what you feel or see it as you do because as much as we are one we are individuals. The shutting down of the JF story, for me, the most important development towards breaking the co-dependant SY pattern, was really disturbing. I no longer really trust who run these SY blogs. Sorry SeekHer, you may be in the cross fire here but all JF conversation stopped and was not acknowledged at the same time. That smells funky to my inner eye.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon of 11:5,
There are people posting on this blog who don't really know who JF was and don't really care. We don't all live in the USA and many of us had different interactions with SY. We didn't live in the American ashrams for years or get involved with the American offshoots. There is nothing to be suspicious of. The conversations here just take their own natural direction. I for one didn't know who JF was before the story broke. I had never heard of him.

Anonymous said...

"Actually coming to the place of recognizing we know almost nothing, that it's all a mystery, seems so necessary to me." AMEN AMEN

Anonymous said...

Hey old sheep, I should have added thank you for your posting of 4:17 PM.

Anonymous said...

"old sheep I am the anon of 11:59 and the anon you told to move along nothing to see here"

Hi friend,
I think you have me confused with someone else. I have never, in my life, ever told anyone to "move along; nothing to see here"...egad. I don't know anything about the JF controversy, never having been into hatha yoga to any extent. Peace
os

Anonymous said...

Yes old sheep , you are correct. It was another person named older but wiser who said that (I paraphrased) about the yahoo groups back in May. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

". It was another person named older but wiser who said that (I paraphrased) about the yahoo groups back in May. My apologies."<

No problem, Anon.
And I can see how you would feel if the JF controvery was part of what allowed you to break away from syda. Paraphrasing can be dangerous though...it's amazing what a trigger language can be.
Today...feeling kind of sad picking up the newspaper...anniversary of Hiroshima, Sikhs slaughtered in Wisconsin by yet another white supremacist, mosque firebombed for the second time in the Midwest..and that's just a partial list. Ah humanity; we don't look so good as a species. At least we, here, can make the effort to talk to one another and thanks, anon. for the apology.

old sheep (tired)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon of August 6, 2012 5:20PM,

I have followed throughout the creation of this blog. Given the slowed pace of posting over the past couple of years, it has been easy to keep up with comments.

And I have to say that I didn't get the sense that the JF discussion "got shut down" as you assert.

Rather, my sense was that it simply naturally died of its own accord. My sense was that many of us have gotten so used to the idea of fallen yogis, that JF was just another one, caught up in the power, influence, and lust the circus around him obviously presented to him.

I actually DID know JF and more than just in passing, although I could never have been described as a close pal. And I remember thinking back around 1998 and 1999:

"How long will he be able to hold out? How long before he succumbs?"


This was back when his star was just starting to rise. It was also when he was still married to his now ex-wife Lynette.

I distinctly remember looking at the growing demand for his teaching by ever growing numbers of people, and particularly remembered the gaggle of beautiful girls hanging around him clearly vying for his attention, I knew that the average man would only be able to hold out for just so long before losing perspective and giving in to more primal urges.

And I remember thinking "If this guy can hold out strong amongst all this, he's a better man than I."

So for the JF scandal to occur, not only didn't it fully surprise me, I rather expected it. For years.

Except, now that we've all experienced the SY gurus' fall, except for the momentary "Wow" at the realization of what the JF scandal truly entailed, particularly with it hitting big name print and web media, the whole thing for me quickly took on a huge "yawn factor".

Just another fallen yogi we once admired, whose company we once sought.

For me, it was more a matter of "nothing for me to see here, so no need to bother engaging in the conversation" than a "nothing to see here, move along, people" quality to it.

And so...I'm NOT saying somebody else DIDN'T shut you down.

I'm just saying that if that's really what happened, it didn't register with me.

And, like I've said, I've been following along closely for quite some time.

dpx

Anonymous said...

Older but wiser here--personally I wouldn't characterize my comment to the anon. poster who wanted the JF conversation to continue as "shutting down" or "move along, nothing to see." As I recall, I just said that for the most part the people on the list s/he was talking about (not this blog, my sense was that it was the response on the yahoo group "life after siddha yoga" that the person was upset by) were not likely to be interested because for the most part the members of that list are done with SY. I was just suggesting why people might not be interested. If people WERE interested, they'd have at it for sure!

For me there is less interest in the details of what abusive teachers do than in the psychology that leads to that kind of behavior, and also the psychology that leads to students idolizing such people. Ruminating on those kinds of questions is what I have found most useful for myself in leaving SY (and its minions) behind. The scandals themselves don't surprise me at all, they seem inevitable. It's trying to understand the dynamic that allows them to occur that I have found interesting and useful in my own healing.

I have no standing here, am just another commenter. No reason to feel "shut down" by me.

OBW

Anonymous said...

Chins up ppl. World needs you.

Anonymous said...

Hi y'all. FYI---I think it may be therapeutic for some to read the new short GM "talk" on the SY website
The theme is that to label things as guru's grace is a "misuse" of the teachings.

Anonymous said...

>>>"I think it may be therapeutic for some to read the new short GM "talk" on the SY website
The theme is that to label things as guru's grace is a "misuse" of the teachings"<,,

Hmmmmm,
when I ws in syda, all she ever talked about was "guru's grace"..."I got everything through the grace of my guru", "sadhana is a bird with two wings: self effort and guru's grace". If gurumayi gave a talk about the personal responsibility of spiritual teachers to tell the truth..now THAT would really be "therapeutic".

smile,
old sheep

Anonymous said...

Actually read that "talk". Wow, amazing. Still sending the same mixed messages. Nothing has changed! That really surprises me--it's the same candy-coated guilt trip being handed out I remember from oh so many years ago.

Reading it made me feel physically queasy. Dejà vu.

OBW

Anonymous said...

>>"Reading it made me feel physically queasy. Dejà vu.obw"

Maybe if you actually throw-up, then the talk will be "therapeutic"...smile.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Thanks for heads up on talk about grace. Incredulous. Haven't read it yet, but this is some kind of revisionist bs. It was all about the grace of the guru.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Seems we are divided into many camps depending upon our unique sadhana. There are those who are thrilled to read proof that the "old time" Gurumayi is alive and kicking and full of familiar vim and vigor. Others are appalled at the "same old, same old manipulation and script so familiar and painful, others could care less.."Oh interesting that Gurumayi is resurfacing, recreating herself with social media technology. So many hats to wear and I've worn them all at one time or another. Yawn

Anonymous said...

"How can a sacred place have no face? To maintain the sanctity of a place, there has to be a face. There needs to be someone who takes care of the sacred place, a custodian who shows up to do the job and then does the job well . . . "

Ha! Classic.

Anonymous said...

>>"Seems we are divided into many camps depending upon our unique sadhana"<<<

Hi Anon 2:46,
Do you think it's more different reactions to the situation...not so much being divided into camps?
I don't get the feeling that anybody here is all that emotionally invested in what gurumayi might be doing...more: just talking, shooting the breeze. Maybe there should be one of those emoticons to indicate..."not all that serious here".

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Well said "old sheep." Thank goodness the emotional "charge" has receded into the past. I've learned more about myself from "leaving siddha yoga" than I would ever have learned staying. My patterns, my needs at the time I got involved, the reasons I stayed on staff for twelve years, the reasons I left, the reasons I repeated some of the same mistakes, awareness, new choices, new wholeness, the dropping away of karmic patterns. Without leaving, I would never have had the opportunity to go through pain, growth, fear and freedom.

Gurumayi is right about being "Grateful"

"Yawn"

Anonymous said...

<<"Gurumayi is right about being "Grateful"

Dear"Yawn",
Funny isn't it? I feel the same...everything happened for me after leaving. Maybe it was just some doorway we all had to step through in order to get to the real thing? hard to say.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

I enjoy and value anytime I spend here on Seekher's site. Doesn't have to be anything in particular. Agree getting out of Siddha Yoga produced more growth. Siddha Yoga 'philosophy' stunted me, deformed rational thinking for awhile. It took a lot if work to break the clamp the guru put in my mind. Not happy about having allowed another person that much access to inner realms.

I really can't say what I received from Siddha Yoga. Shaktipat? Hmmmmm......

Love and miss many peeps from those days.

Anonymous said...

OK, a few minutes of gratitude for what I got out of SY. Yes, shaktipat, and the tangible experience and appreciation of spiritual energy, laughter, chanting and fun always surrounded with an element of surprise, flexibility (all those roommates, rooms, sevas and right turns of organizational direction), awareness, appreciation and interest in Eastern religion and culture. Teamwork to produce all those events in record time. The joy of serving other albeit the SY community at large or the villagers in Ganeshpuri.Focus on doing things well and as an offering (surrendering of me, me , me)Meeting fascinating people from all over the world..expanded global connectedness. Deeper appreciation of nature, seeing things with new eyes and a deeper place of being from all that chanting and meditation. An opportunity to learn about cultures, religions, exercise (hatha yoga) that I knew nothing about...from some of the best teachers in the world. A deeper understanding of "how things work" regarding karma, vasanas, life and death, etc. The MANTRA and its calming and protective qualities. I also observed a dysfunctional organization and how people become more committed to preserving their own place in the organization rather than maintaining purity of action. (More another time)

Enough for now.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

A couple more. I developed a greater appreciation for beauty, art and music. The world around me became more alive, brighter ...and that attitude of joy, curiosity and appreciation makes my world today s more magical place.

And there is the "flip" side of "other" things I became aware of during my SY tenure.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Yawn,

Can't quite get a handle on what you are communicating, because I read the words ok, but there's a subtext that just does not jive with the straight forward way the people on RoD who are sincerely trying to communicate usually write.

Siddha Yoga has no claim on art and culture and if it was only through Siddha Yoga that you were exposed to the wonderfull world you describe, I feel sorry for you. Anytime you have like minded people together you will have these experiences.

It is precisely this overreach to claim all the world's treasure's, including the moon, that aggravates me the most about Siddha Yoga.

Anonymous said...

I'm not claiming that SY has exclusivity on these things. I'm just saying that as I reflect on my life, I benefited in these ways.Now , I could have received these same benefits through many different paths. Could have attended a University where I was exposed to these things, or married into a family that provided these experiences or lived in a country where I learned first hand. Sorry I don't meet your standard of how someone should write on this website. Maybe you will feel happier when I share "the flip side" which is very direct and equally thoughtful..

No need to feel sorry for me. What I lacked in my art, beauty and music upbringing I made up for in world travel from an early age, strong family and ethical values and a love of learning.

I just happened to be awakened to new areas at the perfect time in my life. My learning tool has been SY.

It all feels perfect and satisfying to me. I have been following and faithfully reading all the SY Leaving websites the past seven years. My comments are meant as an offering and insight into how I have reconciled and come to peace with the many complexities of my sadhana.

These are my first written comments in all those years. Just calling it the way I see it.



Yawn

Anonymous said...

Dear Yawn,
Thanks for your very intelligent and thoughtful comments; I will be curious to learn how you began to see through the structure of the organization and how long it has been since you left.
As for me, I had a deep connection to all of the things you mentioned prior to my involvement with syda (art, nature, travel, other cultures, Hindu philosophy, political activism, etc.). I think, in this, I might be like alot of folks here (thus the wondering). I found everything that I cared deeply about was warped and twisted through the lens of syda and it was extremely confusing at the time. Trying to reconcile my deeply felt ethical and moral concerns, humanitarian committments, deep interest in textual study in various Eastern traditions, the roots of what we came to call "the practices", the use of beautiful concepts like service to others and selflessness : all of this was so hard for me to try and understand when faced with the selfishness and unkindness I saw everyday both in Fallsburg and at my local center and the dawning realization that all of those great concepts were being used to feed a sick corporate structure. I tried to find a way of working it out, believe me. In the end, something broke and it was my connection to this strange path. Afterwards I made it a point to learn about what had truly interested me: the texts and the actual truth of how "the practices" were meant to be used in a complete path to "liberation". As an aside, I found the swamis of syda among the most ignorant I have run across either here or in India...but that's just a personal opinion, for what it's worth.
I also have a peculiar gratitude for my time in syda just like the gratitude I have for every difficult experience of my life: I learned ALOT..mostly about myself and my triggers. It taught me to take responsibility for my own Being-ness and never ever to "go along with the common oonsensus" again if it felt "off" to me.
Having said this, I respect that what you took away was beneficial for you. As for me, I would no more use that mantra than sign up for the next space shuttle to Mars...some things are not to be messed around with; mantra is one of them, imho. If you want to make a clean break, I wouldn't use that particular mantra...like they said, "it's alive"...alive with what might be a good question.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

There is a paper on how enchantment can, literally be manufactured using an impersonal yet powerful set of methods--a technology.

http://icsahome.com/idx_topics.asp?Subject=Cult+Induction%3A+Hypnotic+Communication+Patterns+in+Contemporary+Cults

External, impersonal technology of the sort Werner Erhard taught to Muktananda can and unfortuanately has been be used to trigger sublime experiences that feel tenderly personal, and interior to oneself.

If one leaves, one has an aching sense that those ectsacies remain the property of the guru or group and a sense of deep bereavement will linger.

Anonymous said...

Part Two

To repeat, this sublime experiences are elicted using a technology.

It has been cruel and misleading to tell former members of SY that the siddas were produced by ones own craving mind.

Muktananda got lessons from Werner Erhard on how to use these methods to induce ecstacy-and did not tell his trustful students that he was usign powerful american tech hidden behind HIndu trappings.

(quote)CONVERSION: INDUCING THE SUBLIME MOMENT

The' study of the nature of conversion is a subject broad in scope and implication that has preoccupied theorists and researchers from a variety of disciplines. Conversion is important in this study because of the implications of induced conversion, the active manipulation of a social environment to precipitate and maintain the psychological momentum of conversion. Robert Lifton, writing on the Chinese use of thought reform describes the implications of this difference:

Such imposed peak experiences-as contrasted with those more freely and privately arrived at by great religious leaders and mystics-are essentially experiences of personal closure.

Anonymous said...

Lifton continues with a contrast of peak experiences imposed by indoctrianation, which had different results from those of mystics who privately practiced.

(quote)
Rather than stimulating a greater receptivity and "openness to the world," they encourage a backward step into some form of "embeddedness" -- a retreat into doctrinal and organizational exclusiveness, and into all or nothing emotional patterns more characteristic of the child than of the individuated adult. (Lifton, 1963, p. 436)



*

Anonymous said...

Lifton continues with a contrast of peak experiences imposed by indoctrianation, which had different results from those of mystics who privately practiced.

(quote)
Rather than stimulating a greater receptivity and "openness to the world," they encourage a backward step into some form of "embeddedness" -- a retreat into doctrinal and organizational exclusiveness, and into all or nothing emotional patterns more characteristic of the child than of the individuated adult. (Lifton, 1963, p. 436)



*

Anonymous said...

The moment of conversion usually is recalled as pivotal, after which one's self-definition changes. ..

to an altered state of consciousness. ....characteristic descriptions; some refer to it as if something (a grace(eg Gurus grace) or a spirit) entered them.

..
What is it that stimulates the momentum of induced conversion?

From a hypnotic view, the individuals have been operating in a milieu that continually has expressed certain assumptions about life, spirituality, the nature of internal process, etc., until something finally triggers a whole series of associations and experiences, eventually understood as conversion.

Erickson and Rossi use the term "psychological implication" to describe an analogous process in the hypnotic context:



Psychological implication is a key that automatically turns the tumblers of a patient's associative processes into predictable patterns without awareness of how it happened. The implied thought or response seems to come up autonomously within patients, as if it were their own inner response rather than a suggestion initiated by the therapist. Psychological implication is thus a way of structuring and directing patients' associative processes when they cannot do it for themselves. (Erickson, Rossi, & Rossi, 1976, p. 59)



Perhaps one of the most inexplicable phenomena in the whole process of cult induction is how a process which has been operating outside recruits, comes to be identified and experienced, as originating within themselves. Somewhere in the technology of influence that is employed must be some process which engages a psychological transfer through which individuals undergo a major redefinition of the direction of their experience, and interpret those impulses which tie them to the group or ideology as genuinely emanating from within.

**Eg the Shakti experiences

From this point on they identify themselves as agents of the cultic ideology in converting their own internal processes to conform to the expectations established by the cult. Henceforth, every aspect of personal identity must be restructured as the conversion
(Unquote)

(quote)imbalance, for recruits do not possess the means to access the necessary consciousness to comprehend and experience the depth of the cult. In response to the untenable discomfort of such existential uncertainty, and having been primed that the cult offers an inward alternative, recruits can easily enter a trance state. And the very fact of entering into trance becomes confirming of the cult's veracity and authority because such an experience had been predicted.

When the hypnotic experiences and releasing of unconscious potential begin to manifest, they come as confirmations and property of the cult.

Thus the evocation of these hypnotic potentials creates a dependency, which can lead recruits to ascribe the cult authority over their hypnotic potential, in other words, to those portions of awareness that are outside of individual conscious voluntary control(unquote)

and

(quote)
And the very fact of entering into trance becomes confirming of the cult's veracity and authority because such an experience had been predicted. When the hypnotic experiences and releasing of unconscious potential begin to manifest, they come as confirmations and property of the cult.

(So you feel you are leaving this behind when you leave the group)

http://icsahome.com/idx_topics.asp?Subject=Cult+Induction%3A+Hypnotic+Communication+Patterns+in+Contemporary+Cults

Anonymous said...

Thank you old sheep for asking the questions. Today is my day to put down my "story." I'll do it in two parts: 1) The Mantra and 2)how I started to see through the structure.

One question at a time, first the mantra.

Because my training is different than yours, I'll preface my story with a few observations. First, I have always lived half in the spiritual world and half in the practical world. My upbringing was in a career military family and my father was always one of the kindness and most practical people on the planet. We played a lot of sports in the family and always sat around the dining room table talking about current events and the status of the world. My folks never went to church, however, I asked to be taken to church starting around 5. My favorite book at 5 was "Tell Me About God." Fast forward forty years. My best friends were Presbyterian ministers, I went to hear Norman Vincent Peale regularly, read lots of spiritual books of all types.

Fast forward a few chapters of my story of how I got into SY, my circumstances then, etc....I come to my mantra experience in GSP.

I went to India to Learn more about SY and the culture and be near GM. Frankly, after a lot of Intensives and classes I was still having problems reconciling 40 years of Christianity and the pantheon of Hindu gods.

Early one morning I was sitting in the cave meditating, when I experienced what I later was told was the "Thunderous Roar of Lord Shive." I was surrounded 360 degrees by a roaring sound that sounded like one thousand Niagara Falls. Roaring out from my belly I heard a deep man's voice chanting "I am Shiva." (fortunately this was happening inside me) My body locked in a cross-legged position and the sound and chant went on for three hours. At the end of the time, I staggered out of the cave and crawled up several flights of stairs to my room and my bed. I collapsed face first on my bed and didn't move for several hours.

I've now come to recognize that this was some sort of a special initiation. Since then Shivarati has always been my favorite celebration, my daughter was married on Shivarati and this year when attending the evening Shiva Arati in Rishikesh, I felt so happy and at home.

Gurumayi led me to the mantra, but the mantra within me is independent of SY association. The mantra has comforted me as I sat with both my parents as they passed. It had saved me and others from what I believe were near death accidents. The mantra is my friend and pops out, unexpectedly whenever it is needed.

After the thundering Shiva experience, I became more open to the many aspects of God.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon (Shiva mantra are you Yawn?...don't want to confuse)?,
What a mind-boggling experience. Do you ever wonder: what if you had had the same experience (the roaring sound of one thousand Niagra Falls) and it had not been identified as "The Roar of Lord Shiva"? or if you had not been chanting the Shiva mantra previously, I wonder what form that voice you heard would have taken? I think of this sometimes...how many of my intense mystical experiences were either formed by or explained by the particular context I found myself in: Tibetan Buddhist, Hindu, zen, etc. Now that I am not "with" any tradition, it's interesting to observe mystical states (which still arise, like any other state of consciousness) without the "explanation". What do you think about this? Just curious. I, personally, have not come to many conclusions except that much of life is a great mystery. Happy your experience of that mantra is/was powerful in a positive way and thanks for telling your story here.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

You are welcome. Mystical experiences come to people of all traditions. I believe we are given them in a form that we can accept and at a time we are open. The third dimension isn't the only reality. I believe we "peep through" into other realities. And of course, we have the Akashic Records and all those previous lives. We have such mysterious karmic trails.Sometimes we are surprised when we bump into them.

Yep, it was me,
Yawn

Anonymous said...

hey only got as far as Lifton post two or so
Great thanks


Hey Seekher where are you?


Thank you people




Anonymous said...

"External, impersonal technology of the sort Werner Erhard taught to Muktananda can and unfortuanately has been be used to trigger sublime experiences that feel tenderly personal, and interior to oneself.

If one leaves, one has an aching sense that those ectsacies remain the property of the guru or group and a sense of deep bereavement will linger."

Yes, that was my experience exactly and it took a very long time to recover from the grief.

Anonymous said...

Yawn you have a compelling story. You have it what you are seeking. SY deserves no credit for the obvious. MHO

The Guru should have no claim to your inner joy. None.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the good will expressed and information shared.

Anonymous said...

Just read talk by Gurmayi on being grateful and practical. Wow am I do glad to not have sit through that any more.

Still a royal bitch and I believe batshit crazy.

Makes so sense at all!

Anonymous said...

Hey sorry for repeat posts here. Recording an observation which only relevant here

Reading talk on SY website. Wow and it was FREE!

In the talk the focus is largely in the behavior of others towards her. Somehow your behavior towards her will benefit humanity. someone who thinks she is being benevolent in her gucci collecting golf balls for the neighborhood children. And being mean to others the while.

When you can't simply share your state but instead be humiliating adults for no good reason than your own ego you got a problem sistah!

I know so
Many saintly people IRL. They got it all over gm.


Anonymous said...

"External, impersonal technology of the sort Werner Erhard taught to Muktananda can and unfortuanately has been be used to trigger sublime experiences that feel tenderly personal, and interior to oneself."

Also,it's important to note that triggering sublime experiences was part of the "scene" in India (Tibet,China, et.) for centuries prior to Werner Erhard. Werner just provided his car salesman "expertise" to create specifically Western "hooks". I can't think of one reliable teacher, past or present, who puts an emphasis on "experiences" as something other than a distraction or, ultimately a dead end. It's really interesting to begin to look at the teachers who do or DID emphasize their experiences as some sort of evidence of higher states, either in teaching or in their very edited autobiographies (I'm thinking of both muktananda and yogananda here). I'm sure most of the teachers from the 1960s had "experiences" but most did not stress them that much. The times were hungry for anything visionary or mystical and "yogis" who presented those credentials made a big splash. In the end, everyone has to do his/her own investigation into what "experiences" are, what they might really "mean", what their effect is, etc. Like Ramana said, "Let what comes come; let what goes go; find out what remains". Very good advice, like a cup of cold water in the middle of the excitement. It's amazing just what the Mind can create...we don't know the half of it, I'm sure. thank you all for the interesting discussion. It's funny, isn't it, to revisit topic that used to be so loaded and find that now they are not such a big deal.


old sheep

Anonymous said...

Smiling here. Anon at 7:15 and Old Sheep in your last post (9:30), between the two of you, you've got the whole situation covered pretty succinctly.

Well said both, thanks very much.

OBW

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Sheep. Back to your questions on Aug. 15th. I came into SY in 1986 (just missed all the brother sister fireworks). I was on staff 1990-2002. Was co-center leader 2004-2005. Left attending the center in 06 and truly left SY after Marta's book and lots of reading/research/corroboration with close EXSY friends on the facts (and even more facts). Could no longer be at SY events or bring folks to the center without feeling like a fake. Went through two years of sadness, anger and disillusionment.

It is six years since I have been totally out. What I miss most is the amazing people. But, I just couldn't go to events and pretend all was right with a clear conscience. Still have some SY friends..I'm sure they suspect my position..we dance around things and then connect in terms of common interests and life situations.

Next post will be how I saw through the structure.

Old sheep, I appreciate how frustrated and confused you must have felt given your extensive esoteric background. As a newcomer, I saw with innocent eyes, took everything at face value, had no preconceptions. As I'll address later, my main arena of disillusionment had to do with core values and how people were treated. I reacted strongly to disconnect between what was said and taught and how people were treated and how things were done. As an American, I have huge issues with giving up my freedom to anyone.I am allergic to bullying, intimidation and betrayal.I don't think you can survive at a high level in the organization without 'buying in" to some distasteful things. Fortunately I was on the outer fringes politically (so grateful my inner desires to be "close" never materialized), so I was never asked to do anything that compromised my values.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Dear Yawn,
Looking forward to the next installment of your story. My problems with syda were actually pretty much what you describe here: the disconnect between what was being taught and the reality of what I was experiencing/seeing on a daily basis in the yoga. When American individualism and the Eastern idea of surrender to a guru/teacher meet,it makes for some strange experiences all around. Those issues are still playing themselves out, from what I observe. Nice talking to you.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Sheep, this next part regarding how I saw through the structure in the organization comes in three parts: 1)what I noticed early on but dismissed due to the strange and exotic nature of the organization, 2)what I observed during my staff years, 3)what I observed as a center leader.

This post addresses patterns I noticed "early on" but ignored because I was "in love." Sort of like dating someone and noticing little chinks and not heeding the warning signs (like speaking to mother rudely, pushing ahead of an old person, blaming others,etc)

In this case, at my first center meeting, I noticed a "black list" of swamis and people not allowed in centers. This was right after the brother/sister split and I was clueless. There was also a center announcement that everyone was instructed to turn in all their Siddha Path magazines.

A couple of weeks later, I stumbled across a huge stack of Siddha Paths at a book sale. Being a "naughty girl" and a bit of an historian, I bought them up and read them. I was surprised to discover the early history of SY. I asked someone in the center to explain what had happened in the sibling split, they told me the history was confidential and devotees had been instructed not to talk about it. These were my earliest experiences of MEDIA CONTROL, REWRITING SY HISTORY AND SECRECY.

In per-internet days, one didn't have access to web-sites, blogs, etc. Everything to be learned about SY came by word of mouth.

About five years into SY, a journalist friend of mine pulled me aside and shared most of the information that was to come out in the New Yorker Article a couple of years later. I was shocked! The intrigue deepened.

When the New Yorker article came out, I was part of the Trust Your Own Experience" staff satsang where we were told the article was all lies. (What is that old rock song, "Damage Control?". As you know, the Ashram bought up all the magazines within miles so that staff and community couldn't access the article. Of course, most of us had many family members and friends who mailed usa the article and asked why we were with such a crazy group

Familiar Pattern #1-Contol media access...turn in Siddha Paths, buy up New Yorkers and launch a media campaign to discredit the "bad guys."

Future campaigns would include law suit threats to Marta, attacks on websites, etc. Sally Kempton's piece regarding accusations against Muktananda in Meditation Revolution would be edited out at the last minute causing a huge flap in the scholarly community. Additionally, Sally's two year biographical research on Muktanada's life would be deep sixed.

So much for freedom of speech, transparency and historical accuracy in SY.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Yawn,
really enjoying this...write on! (smile)

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Sheep, Here is Part II of Seeing Through the Structure- The Ashram Years.

In retrospect, there were a couple of structure "blips" along the way,however, most of my experience was pretty benign (that is why I stayed). There was one brief incident of betrayal, bullying and intimidation. I choose not to dwell on it.

One of the things that bothered me most is/was the Ashram's policy to NOT give long time, senior devotees living only on social security a break with Intensive and Course fees. A dear friend did full time seva well into her 80's. She was a dedicated yogini, very serious about her practices until the end. It broke my heart to
see her disappointment of not being able to afford events at the Ashram a couple of miles away. From time to time friends would save up enough money to pay for her Intensive..and what joy that brought her! (and us)

I know another senior on SS who doesn't eat one day a week so that she can save up enough money to take the one day, $400 CD Intensive each year.

It seems the Foundation is comfortable subsidizing the young people, but puts old folks who have done 20-30 years of seva out to pasture. (Beware young people, you too will be treated this way!)

Seems to me there is a real breach in the "kindness" , respect for elders and principles of dharma taught in the scriptures and courses and the practice of caring for our own.This is unconscionable!

More on this in the next post about the SY Retirement Plan for swamis and staff that have served for 20-40 years.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Continuing Part II, The Retirement Plan. As a preface for all those not living in the Ashram, Accommodations arrangements, stipends, gifts,vacations, special perks were all at the final discretion of the Guru. There was a lot of inconsistency in practices which key management in the early 2000 era tried to stabilize and professionalize. Unfortunately when the reality of what it would cost to provide a pension for long term sevites came to numbers, the thought of pensions, the SY retirement home, etc were tossed to the winf along with their proponents.

Doesn't seem part of this blended old time Raj culture and modern HR practices to come to an agreement. For whatever reason, SY doesn't seem particularly concerned about the honorable and ethical way to treat elders and swamis. Not only does my heart ache for these folks, but imagine what young people are being taught by example.

I could go on about this and give some startling examples...but the purpose of this piece is to highlight the structural problems I saw that eventually led to my departure from SY.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Durgananda/Sally Kempton got the right to use her own text from the meditation book she wrote while still a swami, but only by giving up her retirement package. (She brought out a new revised edition with a different title.) She wrote the danged thing, but they wouldn't let her use her own words unless she paid the price. Of course she's doing quite well now teaching, but it shows the greed and small-mindedness of the organization.



Anonymous said...


Dear Yawn,
Post-syda,I found myself going more deeply into the underlying traditon,studying both here and in India. Although it's silly to generalize about a culture, India does not have a very good history as far as treating the elderly "with love and respect" . Well, neither do we in the US, I guess. Buddhists in this country are facing the same issue: how do we deal compassionately with an increasingly aging population of practitioners? What is the responsibility of the sangha to long-time members?
Syda was remarkably callous in its treatment of old timers (can't remember the new name that was invented just as syda got ready to screw them) when Fallsburg was "closing the gates". The thing that got me at the time was ex-CEOs and managers walking away with relatively intact lives, some even profiting from the "connections" they had made in syda . At the same time, others who had given their lives "in service" wound up isolated in double-wide trailers close to an ashram where they were no longer welcome.
As Westerners, so many of us struggled with the whole concept of "surrender to the guru". Now those who did can struggle with the concept of being badly used. It's sad. Still, I am finding your ongoing posts very interesting and informative.
thanks,
old sheep


Anonymous said...

"Great Timers". : (

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 11;24 Aug 19th

I have often wondered what pound of flesh former swamis, scholars, meditation and hatha yoga teachers have had extracted from them by the Foundation. We have heard some on this subject in Leaving SY.

I had a small taste of this myself at departure time. After I sent in my "letter" explaining the reasons for leaving and asking for blessings, the only communication I got back was that I had blessings and I should talk with "so and so" about my plans to teach a class I had learned and taught at the Ashram in my spare time.

When I spoke with "so and so", she told me that the rules were that if I taught anything based on what I had learned in the Ashram, I needed to pay the Foundation royalties. For example if 10 minutes of a 40 minute class were based on Ashram training, I needed to pay the Foundation 25% of what I earned in that class. The good deal was that my first year out, I only needed to pay 12.5 (to help me get established). After that, it was the full amount.

I was stunned, incredulous, hurt ...here I had done full time seva for 12 years and paid 90% of my own way and expenses. (Just add that up!) One year I had no days off, most others one week! The classes I taught were before or after the seva day.(personal time)

Talk about a petty, small minded policy! Controlling my shock, astonishment and rage, I said, "Don't worry, I won't be teaching. Too much paperwork!" There was no way In H I was going to be an ongoing, indentured servant relationship with someone in Personnel or Accounting!

This "parting blow", this lack of generosity colored my feelings toward SY and GM and made me a less than generous donor to the Foundation. (Perhaps, the F. figured it had already gotten all it could out of me!)In most non-profits, donor relations folks don't kick proven donors in the shins to make a nickel profit. Stupidity on someone's part. Human nature isn't that hard to figure out.

So the advice I have to all considering a life of service in Siddha Yoga...GET A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT!

YAWN

Anonymous said...

Dear Yawn,
egad! there is something so tawdry about all of this, isn't there? Now that I'm way beyond my syda years, I look back on what you are describing with amazement. The "bleeding" of devotees (financially and energetically)is so blatant. At the time, though, I gave everything I had, feeling guilty that I couldn't do and give even more.
It's as though the worst elements of Indian superstition and American consumerism combined to create a new organism.

What was it muktananda said? "12 years and you will be realized". Errrrrrrr...no retirement, no realization...got to laugh at the cosmic joke.

old sheep (poor but not quite so naive)

Anonymous said...

When I was told something similar about using what I'd learned, I was flabbergasted. Imagine a university or other school insisting you pay royalties if you use what you learned!

I wonder if it's even legal for an organization legally structured as a religious charity to exact royalty payments from its adherents? It's not some for-profit commercial enterprise, is it? Hmmm. I guess maybe that's what it is. But not officially, not legally.

I used to think all the copyright and trademark nonsense had to do with "maintaining the purity of the teachings." What a laugh! It's all about money!

Imagine the Catholic church charging a royalty if some enthusiastic catholic soul decided to gather a group together and offer spiritual guidance using "their" prayers and liturgy.

OBW

Anonymous said...

OBW said "I wonder if it's even legal for an organization legally structured as a religious charity to exact royalty payments from its adherents?"

Now THAT is one of the most interesting questions I've seen posed here in a VERY long time.

Any attorneys out there who can address this?

Anonymous said...

This is a very important line of discussion.


Find an attorney who can give some advice about a non profit imposing these kinds of royality/intellectual property arrangement.

If someone shows up trying to do distraction such as reminiscing about favorite breakfast foods or chai at the ashram, or claiming its your own clinging minds that caused the disappointment, dont fall for the distraction.


A few years ago an important discussion on Marta Szabo's blog was disrupted when someone showed up talking about the favorite old breakfast food at the ashram. All at once, this trick triggered nostalgia and the discussion of the important legal issue was thwarted.

Intellectual property and the outreagious claims made by SY need to be researched by outside attorneys.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if it's even legal for an organization legally structured as a religious charity to exact royalty payments from its adherents? It's not some for-profit commercial enterprise, is it? Hmmm. I guess maybe that's what it is. But not officially, not legally"<<

Dear OBW,
Dont you think that's why they copyrighted everything? so that they could legally make that kind of "royalty" demand and claim "copyright infringement" if the person did not comply? It smacks of entertainment lawyering. I remember the brouhaha regarding Bh. Nityananda's photos: how syda bought up most (but NOT all) of the negatives and copyrighted them. Then if someone used a photo on a website, they would be contacted by a lawyer and told to take it down. However, alot of folks had the photos from a time before the copyright took effect so it turned out to be a battle syda did not win. But they are as clever as Scientology and the Catholic Church at covering their legal butts.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if it's even legal for an organization legally structured as a religious charity to exact royalty payments from its adherents? It's not some for-profit commercial enterprise, is it? Hmmm. I guess maybe that's what it is. But not officially, not legally"

How can they prove what is their intellectual copyright? If for example you use a mantra in a meditation class, how can they claim to own something that has been used in India for hundreds of years and probably longer. If you convey teachings from Vedanta how can they claim to own that?

Anonymous said...

Hi Old Sheep--Yeah, they copyrighted so much--people's names! What a hoot. And all those photos of course. It's stupid in my view but it's defensible from a legal standpoint.

But what I find so outrageous is treating as propietary things like broad concepts, kinds of pedagogy, processes like brainstorming trees (or circles or tornadoes, whatever) or strategic planning steps, guidelines for creating communication or leadership workshops--things that are so similar to a lot of other things out there in the world of organizations. A lot of those things were developed by people bringing in models from outside sources--academic and commercial both. I think there's a lot they were trying to imply they owned that was clearly not. So those (and they are legion) who left the ashram and became personal and professional coaches might wonder a little whenever they are giving some common-sense advice, hmmm, does this belong to the guru? Should I pay 20% of my fees to SYDA for the use of this?

And of course, the mantras can't be copyrighted. Particular ways of singing them can be, though--the performance and the arrangement can "belong" to SYDA, if they wrote and recorded the music. So if you're out there playing chanting CDs during your yoga classes or reiki sessions, better notify whichever performing rights society represents GM.

I joke of course. But god, it's so refreshing to be in a path now where everything is given away! Books for free download (or printed copies if you pay the postage), limitless downloads of talks and meditation instructions, courses, whatever.

Well, Anon at 3:21 PM yesterday, if you've got money for lawyers, have at it! My response is just ignore their royalty requests, use what you've learned for your own and others' benefit, and let the karma of your generous actions unfold as it may.




Anonymous said...

That was me just now.
OBW

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon, Old Sheep, OBW. Just love the dialogue here. You are all so perceptive, such good writers and have sharp elbows. When I re-read your comments, I laugh and laugh and say, "Yes. they got it!" or, "I wish I had said that."

For me, the "pay to play" era was ten years ago. So, it is a closed book. I never did charge to teach what I learned. (Gave it away)

A huge breakthrough for me is having the courage to speak up (albeit as Yawn). Guess I am finally ready to burn my bridges behind me. Don't care if the SYDA hackers do damage or folks figure out who I am.

There is a huge peace in wrapping up this era. I've spent years maticating on this mess, feels great to have either digested it or spit it out. No longer angry, afraid,depressed a victim or powerless. True Victory at a sadhana level!

Thank you for welcoming me.

After we have some more fun with "pay to play," my next post about the staff years is is "Warm Bears, Cold Shoulders and Gratitude (or lack of)."

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Awww, jeeeze Yawn.
Didja HAFTA remind us of the Warm Bears baloney???

Anonymous said...

Hi there Anon @ 8:43. Got a couple of examples for you. One could be considered, as you mentioned, "kinds of pedagogy". For a few days in the summer of 2003 (the Trust message year) I took a course in Ashirwad, the state of the art Hatha yoga facility near Atma Nidhi which was designed with the input of John Friend. He called it "the most beautiful Hatha yoga studio in the world." The course was co-taught by John Friend and Bill Mahoney. Most would agree that despite whatever their beliefs/ actions have been, they were both gifted teachers. The format of the class was Intro-John, teachings-Bill, hatha yoga as embodiment of the teachings-John. Repeat. It went very smoothly and the students were very pleased. So pleased, apparently, that the morning of the 3rd day, a young woman from the teachings department, I think, made an awkward announcement in the beginning of the day that the format of this course was part of SYDA and that the yoga teachers in the room must not use the paradigm of the course in their teaching. Everyone was uncomfortably silent/ perplexed, notably John and Bill, who of course, as they had every "right" to, used this paradigm for many years (often with Douglas Brooks as well) right up til John's last Anusara teaching experience for Valentines day this year in Miami, just as his scandal was unfolding.
My example number 2 is re: what you refer to as "particular ways of singing" the chants. I was an extra for the movie "Eat Pray Love". Yes, really. We filmed the NYC satsang chanting seen in a small restaurant on the Lower East Side. As Julia Roberts sat there quizzically, we sang the SY recorded version of "Govinda Jaya Jaya Gopala Jaya Jaya" with musicians and it was recorded. Imagine my surprise when I went to the movie and heard that the chant had been dubbed with a non-SY melody. If you listen carefully to James Franco, though, in the previous scene, when he's listening to the chant thru headphones in his apt, it's the SY chant : )

Anonymous said...

Warm Bears and Cold Shoulders.


I just love that. :)

Thank you and saying Hi.

-Lucid

Anonymous said...

OH NO..NOT THE WARM BEARS...PLEASE!
That's one story I'd like to hear...who came up with that one? and how, exactly, were those bears trained? The name alone conjures up strange images...something gooey and sticky and stinky and unpleasant, something uncomfortable...a warm bear...ewwwwwwwww.peeeeeeeeuuuuuuw.
(I live in bear country by the way and a warm bear is something I hope I never run into).

old sheep
(sheep do not like bears, warm or otherwise..."give me a hug"..."nope!")

Anonymous said...

The thinking was obviously something comforting like "Warm Teddy Bears" or something like that.

Looking back on it there was so much infantile behavior.

Anonymous said...

"There is a huge peace in wrapping up this era... No longer angry, afraid,depressed a victim or powerless. True Victory at a sadhana level!"

Dear Yawn,
Yes! and we all have different ways of wrapping it up...like those childhood stories we have of the "mistakes" our parents made...stories that seem to hang on for so long until we realize, "oh, they were only 26 years old at the time..." and it takes on a different perspective. I like talking to folks who were in syda and learning from their revelations. It's an ongoing "tribal" thing I guess. It's kind of like your sister finally revealing that she, too, suffered through those long Thanksgiving dinners and, all the while, you thought you were the only one.
Thanks, Anon. 10:56, for the examples of syda control issues...very interesting and strange.

sheep

Anonymous said...

Yeah, anon at 10:56 last night, that's just the kind of thing I was thinking of. Examples abound.

Warm Bears.....I remember that phase well. Yes indeed, the reference was to teddy bears and the connotations around them. Trouble was that in Europe, warm bears did not connote comfort and safety at all--and after European devotees started complaining, GM lectured those who had created the paradigm and the name was dropped--in favor of something in sanskrit, if I remember correctly. Of course GM had signed off on the name originally--maybe even came up with it herself. It had that "stuffie" (remember stuffies?) feel to it, and that was a word she embraced.

So, an opportunity to look honestly at cultural insensitivity lost, in favor of "humiliating adults for no good reason," as a poster wrote recently.

Looking back, interesting to remember all the jargon I inwardly recoiled at and still dutifully used. Not a lot of maturity operating there.

OBW

Anonymous said...

WARM BEARS AND THE COLD SHOULDER; A SIDDHA YOGA PARADOX

Remember when one of the main spiritual practices was Welcoming People? We had Welcoming Skills workshops in every imaginable form. Welcoming role plays in staff meetings, center satsangs and public programs. If you were in Siddha Yoga, you were expected to have good manners because YOU were a representative of the Guru welcoming the visitor/guest to the Guru's home.

In the beginning, I found this quite charming. I had visited some groups where no one even said , "Hello" or, "Are you new and can I help you?"

In SY, we always went out of our way to help someone carry a suitcase or get on the bus.

All this was rolling along quite smoothly and in the summer of 2000 (I think) , GM decided to make welcoming an "official" extra (by invitation) seva.

Folks with good people skills were selected and trained to be "Warm Bears." I suspect the initial intent and meaning was "helpful person." Why not? we had thousands of visitors showing up every week in the summer at SMA. Kind of like Disney World customer service training. It was fun for those of us who participated. We got to wear a bear sticker on our name tag (a Mom could tell a child, "Honey, if you get lost, look for one of those people with a bear on the name tag." ) We got an hour or two of "customer service" training, had a couple of fun "special" satsangs with GM and were even given small bear "stuffies."

I didn't have issues with "Warm Bears" welcoming visitors and newcomers. As far as I was concerned, it might have been silly, inconsequential; but it was harmless and helpful.

Where I did and still do have big issues is at the other end of the continuium....SAYING GOODBYE to long term staff. Did you know that most of the swamis, leadership and key staff that left got the "COLD SHOULDER" from GM? That is to say that she never met eye to eye with these folks to say "thank you I appreciate your seva and the personal sacrifices you made to be here."

Can you imagine a company CEO not personally thanking an employee who worked for next to nothing or free for 5-25 years so that the company could survive?

Well, it happened to me and a lot of people I knew. Never could figure out why during my last week in the Ashram, GM (who knew I was leaving), kept walking by me with her eyes fixed straight ahead, never slowing down. I told myself that all that mattered was the inner connection and inner darshan (as we had been told). Here I had five or six unspoken darshans that last week. The kid in me really longed for a thank you and a little recognition after twelve years. I tried to tell myself it didn't matter. It did matter. And it mattered that the last word relayed to me by the darshan secretary was that I should talk to so and so about financial arrangements if I taught what I learned in the Ashram. Obviously, according to SY, my BIG EGO was alive and well.

In my opinion, (and after hearing dozens of similar stories) the Guru came up short on the "Goodbye " skill set. Training? Role plays? Anyone here prepared to offer some coaching skills? I'm sure it would be considered "seva", so you wouldn't have to pay the Foundation a percentage of the coaching skill you learned in the Ashram.

WARM BEARS AND COLD SHOULDER: A SIDDHA YOGA PARADOX

NEXT: I'M STILL A BELIEVER; CENTER LEADER

Smile! Yawn

Anonymous said...

"I tried to tell myself it didn't matter. It did matter."

This is the SY devotee experience in a nutshell.

Thank you again.

Also love this:

"It's kind of like your sister finally revealing that she, too, suffered through those long Thanksgiving dinners and, all the while, you thought you were the only one."

-Lucid

Anonymous said...

>>" Kind of like Disney World customer service training"<<<

Yup! exactly! too bad we didn't realize at the time that we were in a spiritual Disneyland.

>"Can you imagine a company CEO not personally thanking an employee who worked for next to nothing or free for 5-25 years so that the company could survive? "<<

Yup! happens all the time these days as security personnel stand by your desk for the alloted half hour you have clear out. Too bad we didn't realize at the time that syda that was a corporation not a spiritual path. I guess the designation of a CEO should have given us a hint.

Anyway Yawn, I'm sorry you got the short end of the stick. Gurumayi appears to be an emotional cripple. During my tenure, I saw her do some serious, irreversible damage to a number of families by "playing favorites" and setting children against their parents (forcing the children to choose and then, when they chose her, turning her back on them to "bust their egos...really sick behavior). Maybe her own sorry family history proved too much for her to ever get beyond. That's assuming one can see her as a flawed human being and not believe that she is some supernatural phenomenon.

As Anon.11:21 said, "so much infantile behavior".. sigh! well, at least we didn't hit rock bottom with "gurumayi dolls" like the ammachi folks (we were serious sadhaks...smile). Somebody overlooked a big cash cow.


old sheep


Anonymous said...

Maybe the thought of seeing her own action figure was too much, even for Gummy!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha..."Gummy's Bears"

anatta said...

I would like to say to all of you, thank you for writing and THANK YOU for your seva.
I was in SY for 20 years, a center leader, in S Fallsburg every chance I got, Ganeshpuri 3 times, intensives and courses etc.
Now I see that the opportunity to bathe in the particular bliss that was these ashrams was not "guru's grace" but the product of the love and service given so generously by the staff.
The rest of us got to show up and be taken care of, by you.
I do not regret my time in Siddha Yoga. I learned a lot. I feel embarassed by it, though, and sorry that my wonderful retreats at what felt like a safe and sublime place came at such a cost to other people.
I am grateful to you all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anatta,

Rest assured that in the moments I served you or the collective you, I felt joy, love and fulfillment. There was nothing in the world I would rather have been doing than serving the Guru, her people and humanity in general. I chose be there. I was happy and I was fulfilling my destiny at the moment. The scriptures comment something to the effect that a true disciple can even follow a false guru and reach liberation through the purity of his intent and actions.

Maybe SY and GM were my best possible bet and Path to make spiritual progress in this lifetime.(Take what you can get!) At some level, I had twelve amazing years to learn and to purify. I thank GM and SY for creating the physical reality where this could happen.

It has been a rich sadhana, all parts, no regrets. It all played out perfectly!

Yawn

Anonymous said...

>>>"the love and service given so generously by the staff."<<<

Not to put too fine a point on it but: didn't the staff receive stipends? Everyone I knew on staff had a stipend. The ones to really thank are the volunteers who came to Fallsburg/GSP every year, paid their way and just did guruseva...every day: from 3am until 11pm, no "breaks", no perks, no stipends, no clothing allowance,no little chatty visits in Amrit, no special taxis into Mumbai, no air-conditioned offices to work in, no free psychotherapy, no access to those little private satsangs with "the guru", no privileges, no special trainings in the mandap for "special people"...just the grunts, those of us who carried the ashram on our backs and paid every cent we earned for the opportunity to do so. If I sound annoyed, I am. The lingo is really hard to stomach.


old sheep

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the summer people. They scraped every penny and vacation day to be in SF. Staff was so delighted when they arrived ..new energy, new ideas and help.

I do want to correct a misconception about "perks" and perhaps stipends. Perks only seemed to filter down to the top 5%(swamis included). Regular staff was only one notch up from summer staff. Most summers I had 5-6 roommates out in SK. If you weren't part of the elite crowd, you weren't hanging around Anugraha doing all the glitzy stuff in Amrit.

I didn't have a stipend for 10 of my 12 years.(and knew others who didn't as well) After I went through my savings, I got some help. By the way, all stipends weren't equal either. I'm sure you have read some of the LSY posts about staff who couldn't afford new eyeglasses or clothes.

In GSP the only AC I experienced was in the Cave.

Yes, there was a pecking order and our wonderful summer sevites were at the bottom. We hear about the 1% today in politics...well, in SY it was the top 5%.

By the way, if you were a regular person, you had to be on staff ten years before you were eligible for a single room (if one was available).

So, that's the story.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how anyone endured years of living in those tiny rooms with roommates. I did 2 retreats at SMA (each about 7-9 days) and that was enough. I eventually paid extra for a room in Anugraha because I stayed overnight so seldom and did not want the hassle of traveling on the shuttle buses and feeling cramped during my visits. I always loved the path between the buildings, my favorite place at SMA.

Anonymous said...

We were all just GM's narcissistic supply. She has new sources now. We are nothing at all to her. The entire mission is a drag to her and she wants nothing more than to dump it.

Anonymous said...

Remember that staff used to joke and say it was almost worth getting married to have only one roommate.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Dear Yawn,
thanks for the reality check based on your experience. We all came away with different things. I knew alot of 1%rs in syda and alot of "the rest of us"..but not too many from your particular level.
These days, I question the whole premise of syda and guru-based devotional paths from any tradition. I look very closely at "the person in charge" and the authentic behavior of the students...how ARE they, in reality, in a pinch, in the world, how do they treat others, how do they live their professed "beliefs"? I've found it's pretty clear when a teacher is authentic and when he/she is hiding behind a tradition. I try and carefully examine concepts I used to just accept. I ask myself, for instance, what exactly IS "spiritual progress in this lifetime"? liberation?, "bathing in bliss", ancient teachings, scriptural quotation from questionable sources. Do I actually know? or am I basing my thoughts on some temporary mind state (an experience that exists only in memory)? I try and look closely (both logically and intuitively) at things that I used to accept as "true". And it is quite amazing to realize just how much is second-hand information (including egoic identity) and how little we really do know. There is always room for improvement in our "real world behavior" based on our own self-inquiry. A careful look at one's own shadow side seems indispensable.
But that's just me. We all have our ways of deeply investigating what it is to be embodied.
The biggest lesson I learned in syda was: this is what happens when powerful (and temporary) visionary experiences are prized above all else and used as a "yardstick" to measure "spiritual attainment". Being of a naturally "mystical" temperament, it was an important realization for me.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Sheep.

I look very closely at "the person in charge" and the authentic behavior of the students...how ARE they, in reality, in a pinch, in the world, how do they treat others, how do they live their professed "beliefs"?

We are on the same page, this is all there is. "Experiences" don't matter,book knowledge doesn't matter, yoga prowess doesn't matter, musicality doesn't matter, creativity doesn't matter, stage presence doesn't matter..


The heart of my leaving SY was/is the incongruity between what the Guru said and what the Guru did; the incongruity between what people she authorized to positions of power said and what they did.

So, the final chapter is "soon coming" about Center Leader days and then a final wrap up.

As an aside, I wrote off the hard work and cramped living conditions as tapas associated with sadhana. No grudges there for me about the haves and have nots. Always grateful that in 12 years I only had 23 rooms and 100 roommates.(only a handful crazy) Sure as heck beat Baba's crossing the length and width of India four times on foot. Looking back I always had a warm, safe bed, food, healthcare and many amenities of living in an Ashram (temples, chants, ceremonies, teachings). Certainly the 20th century version of comfort. All this seems a blur at this point (much like childbirth).

All that matters is my inner state no matter what happens around me. I'm light years ahead of where I would have been without SY or Leaving SY.

Note to Self: Keep focused on the goal Yawn!

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Yawn, you said "Sure as heck beat Baba's crossing the length and width of India four times on foot."

Over the past 7 years since quitting SY, time and time again, over those 7 years, I've had a thought, said a thing, remembered hearing something i adopted as belief that came straight out of SY lore.

Except, nowadays, when I recognize it as such, I will stop myself and do a quick reality check on whether I've been brainwashed into believing something or into parroting something I heard in SY.

"Baba crossing the length and width of India four times on foot" would be one.

His relationships with Hari Giri Baba and Zipruanna would be another.

How Bhagavan Nityananda really regarded Muk and whether Muk was really his "successor" would be another.

Or, on a more mundane level, extending one's feet toward the Guru's picture, or not entering a sacred place with one's right foot first, beg misfortune, being others.

Belief in "siddhaloka" or any other "loka" for that matter, is another. For that matter, how do we know Play of Consciouness isn't largely made up, like I suspect Carlos Castaneda's books and his experiences with "Don Juan Matus" aren't totally made up?

So much of what we were fed in SY...so much of it doesn't stand up to objective, critical evaluation.

How do any of us, particularly those who are Westerners, know what is really true and what is manufactured?

Anonymous said...

You caught me on Siddha Speak!

Recently I returned from a month long spiritual journey to India. So let me rephrase :

1. Sure am glad I didn't spend years in a cold , drafty ashrams in Rishikesh
2. Sure am glad I didn't do the Himalaya cave thing for years
3. Sure am glad I didn't go through the life of Mataji farming and raising cows and babies in Hardiwar

I've seen with my own eyes what some sadhus go through and heard/studied Venkatesananda's and Chinmayananda's life stories. A few years of switching rooms in Sadhana Kutir wasn't bad

I agree we have no idea what is really true for Baba or the relationship between Baba and Bade Baba. I know positive stories about a couple of other of Bade Baba's favorites followers/students.

Neither here nor there for me at this point.

How am I with handling the death of friends and family?

How am I at handling betrayal and spiritual disillusionment?

How am I with accepting my aging body?

How am I at creating joy and happiness and accepting and dissolving sorrow?

How am I at dealing with the fallout of past and current karmas?

Have to say, my understanding is better, I can turn things around faster, I am more focused and feel a lot of joy most of time.

It is so hard to deal with perceptions, tendencies and projections. Who knows? I just keep happily plodding along with what is in front of me. Remember in some Intensive, someone asked, "What is my destiny?" The answer was something like, "What is in front of you right now." I believe this to be true.

Adi Sankara says in The Hymn to Sri Dakinsinamurty, "There are no ideas to be merely heard or understood, but that each student should reflect upon them and make them his own. ...as a result of this education, each one of us can achieve an unfoldment of his or her own personality to a divine dimension and to the eventual attainment of "liberation".

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 2:20,
thanks for articulating so clearly a perspective I share. It's interesting to compare teaching stories and the hagiographies of "saints" from various traditions (Tibetan, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian). There are very strong similarities, leading me to consider that they are simply "pointers", not meant to be taken literally as truth; they point TO a truth; they are not "the truth". Taking them as literal is one way of understanding them, not necessarily the most helpful .
regarding muktananda: if he was, in fact, a sadhu, crossing India from top to bottom is simply what sadhus "do"...travel in a particular circuit from pilgimage site to pilgrimage site, stopping for 3 months at their "home base" every year. It's part of the "job description , not some great austerity that muktananda may or may not have practiced. I have always found it interesting that there is no record of which Math or guru he was attached to prior to Nityananda and yet he is described as a "sadhu". That term has very specific meaning in the religious structure of India as I have been led to understand. But, hey, India is a "mysterious place"...smile.
Yawn, much as I am enjoying your writing, I'm afraid our perspectives are actually quite different. No offense meant and no disrespect for your process, just being clear. I don't ascribe to concepts such as "the self" or "sadhana" or "tapas" or different value placed on inner and outer states; I don't "believe" in a "final goal" or searching, seeking, trying to get there. For me, that was the end result of practicing siddha yoga...the veil yanked away from my eyes regarding spiritual concepts as "truth". It was painful at the time, like a bandaid being ripped from a wound but, in the end, a beneficial experience. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy hearing your story because I am enjoying it tremendously. It would be hard to have spent considerable time in syda without feeling a real connection to others who went that route.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Sheep,

The final goal for me is to be able to handle whatever life throws at me with equanimity, skill and love. I do whatever I can to increase the state of peacefulness within.

As many teachers say, "There are many paths in.The destination is the same."

I bow to you as a fellow seeker. Thank you for the richness of discussion, the respect and thoughtful questions. So nice that you care enough about the journey to engage fully.

Much love,
Yawn

Anonymous said...

>>"2. Sure am glad I didn't do the Himalaya cave thing for years
"<<

see now here is a place we differ. If I had a "do over", that's exactly what I WOULD do...for me, spending several 3 momth periods in India living with a family of Shiva priests, post-syda, made the level of my "practice" pretty clear to me. Realizing that, I would have just gone whole hog like Ani Tendzin Palmo or Tsultrim Allione right onto that Buddhist box seat in a cave for as long as it took. Probably lucky that it didn't occur to me at the time and that now, I am too old. Smile. It wound up working out just fine..but you just never know about folks...what turns them on...funny. I'll bet there are some others out there who feel the same way.

old (creaky) sheep

Anonymous said...

I bet you are right! We are all so different. I'm half mystic and half in the world. If I didn't have the mystical part, I could really get beaten up by the lumps and bumps out there. Love both, try to keep my balance. I was always a karma yogi. Different paths, same destination!

Maybe you can still do some intensive practices in India. Sounds important.I may have some contacts for you to explore.

Much love,
Yawn

Much love,
Yawn

Anonymous said...

>>Maybe you can still do some intensive practices in India. Sounds important.I may have some contacts for you to explore."<<

thank you Yawn but I was just kind of musing about an alternate life in my last post mainly to try and make a point about what I "valued" at the time I was a young "seeker" and how I would have gone about it in that "alternate life". After syda, I spent several years doing intense practice in the tradition both here and in India. It's part of what led me to finally stop searching for it somewhere else. Although I still hold a great fondness for India, I can't imagine going back there frankly. ..except maybe to Benares if social security falls through (smile...errr). I'd also loved to have had an alternate life as an expert in Taoist martial arts; also, a really high level surfer and distance swimmer. I would have loved to have become fluent in Sanskrit and attended the University in Benares. But, also, lived on the upper banks of the Ganges doing puja in a small devi temple and seeing nobody..but, also, lived the very full and interesting life I have lived. When you get older, life does seem so much like a dream; you can barely remember the things that were so important at the time. So it's somewhat entertaining to imagine you may have made other choices although I tend to feel "you" don't really choose all that much.
But it's a very kind and sweet offer that you made to me and I appreciate it.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Love the discussion here, thank you all.
Seekher, I don't know where you are, but thank you for opening up this forum. ... Actually, it occurs to me, you may want to change your name at some point to SeekHerNoLonger?:):)

Anonymous said...

From YAWN Time to wrap up my "story" of why I left Siddha Yoga.

The bottom line was/ is that I hold the Guru and myself to a high standard of integrity. When these standards weren't met, I had to leave.

Reasons for leaving:

__ There was inconsistency between what the Guru taught and what was practiced in SY. When I started SY, I learned the importance of doing my duty, service,attention to detail,kindness, generosity, honesty, gratitude and respect for all living things.

Somewhere along the way, the Guru/organization took a turn for the worse.What I experienced and heard about from friends was bullying, psychological manipulation,secrecy favoritism, betrayal, spying, lying, meanness, stinginess (especially to the most vulnerable),greediness, media manipulation,lack of transparency and lack of concern and responsibility toward the sangham.

By the time I was center leader, most of the damaging information was out on the Internet. Marta's book was the icing on the cake. I personally knew the cast of characters and from my experience of SY, knew that what she said was true.

At the center level, it felt like the walls of the "box" were closing in. Many holidays were dropped, pictures, CD's and DVD's were pulled for not have the "new" shakti.Programs became even more expensive and structured. (no unrehearsed "shares" please!). Dakshina to the Foundation was a pre-requisite for many courses, trainings and Ashram programs. More and more rules to preserve the "purity of the teachings" with fewer real teachers and contact with the Guru. I didn't want to be a wooden marionette on the end of a stick mouthing words to our local communityof seekers.

My co-center leader and I would press the mute button during some regional conference calls, roll our eyes in disbelief and shake our heads at the "Siddha Speak" we heard coming at us from the speaker phone. Often we broke into uncontrollable laughter at the absurdity of what was said. (Sometimes we ignored the latest directive that would have sent our community into a furor).

Foundation Leadership and organizational credibility plunged. I didn't want to play "The Game" anymore. Finished! Over!

The game I thought I signed on for had been changed in mid-stream. New rules that were inconsistent with my personal values surfaced.I had to make a choice.

I couldn't live with the hypocrisy growing inside me like a tumor. I was showing up at the center and pretending all was well, while inside I was fuming at myself for not speaking up about the nonsense I saw, the compromises I made and the fantasy I helped perpetuate.

Finally, my conscience won out. Time to "own up or shut up."

Ah, so long, goodbye, ta ta!

Yawn

Anonymous said...

What happened to all the dakshina collected to create "permanent" centers in certain cities that never materialized? I was on to that hype after several fund raisers and satsangs that kept repeating the same thing. That and no real estate was ever good enough.

Anonymous said...

Dear Yawn,
Your story of being a center leader reminded me of the period during which I left syda (before Marta's book but after the New Yorker article). I was very close to someone who was about as high up as you could be in the yoga and watched the havoc created in his/her life by the need to "keep secrets". During my earlier years, I was frequently asked by folks at the local ashram to "step up to the plate" and "take leadership responsibility". I found that I felt ok going as far as department head. Beyond that, I would not go. Each time I took over a "higher" seva, I was privy to infomation that was "only for your ears" and "not for the community". I'd get emails with "appropriate" and "restricted" information. This seemed really bizarre to me and I would generally make it a point to "share" the information with "the sevites" in the department I was "head" of so that they would be fully informed and could do their seva on a deeper level. I used to spend every Summer in Fallsburg doing seva. One Summer I was nominated to attend the leadership conference as a reward (and, I think the local board hoped I would be so excited by what I experienced at the conference that I would agree to finally "get serious"). When I attended the conference, I was, once again, shocked at the amount of information hidden from the regular community members for no reason I could fathom and the discrepency between what I was seeing in the Mandap... daily satsangs with "the guru", darshans still going on, stuffies handed out, etc. and what my friends at home had access to: videos, doing seva and giving as much dakshina as possible to multiple fundraising efforts. People at the conference were "blissed out on shakti" except me and another woman who was also an "award winning sevite". I think we were both in a state of shock. That was a major turning point...seeing how people I loved and respected who gave everything to the yoga...their time, their love, their trust and their money ...were being manipulated and condescended to. They had NO idea of what was going on or how decisions were made and, if they tried to find out, they were shunned. The lying and the deceit were beyond belief. Such a pitiful story; it still saddens me that people do this kind of thing to each other and call it "spiritual practice".

thanks again for your contribution to the post-syda literature. I'm sure it will all be of help to those struggling to make sense of things.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Dear "Old Sheep"

Yes, things were exactly as you described them. It would be interesting to interview leaders willing to reflect on how and why they bought the "kool aid" and sold out one step at a time. Also true in Scientology, the Catholic church, etc. Must have happened in a similar way in Nazi Germany. The frog cooking in the pot isn't aware of what is happening until it is too late.

I loved your example, this is the way it worked.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

"When I attended the conference, I was, once again, shocked at the amount of information hidden from the regular community members for no reason I could fathom and the discrepency between what I was seeing in the Mandap... daily satsangs with "the guru", darshans still going on, stuffies handed out, etc. and what my friends at home had access to: videos, doing seva and giving as much dakshina as possible to multiple fundraising efforts. People at the conference were "blissed out on shakti" except me and another woman who was also an "award winning sevite". I think we were both in a state of shock."

What year, or years are you reffering to? (Just trying to synch this with other events in the overall SY timeline.)

Thanks.

- Lucid

Anonymous said...

Remember people breathlessly running toward the Mandap with the expression of joy glowing on their faces? Or, folks secretly rushing toward the Namaste Room or some meeting room.

When asked, "What's up?" the answer was always, "It's confidential!" After a period of time, you no longer asked.

This deliberate playing to the adolescent psychology of "Ins and Outs," secrets, being special was part of the system and psychology of manipulation and control.

Really got to see how the "system" played into peoples' vasanas (tendencies) and lower motivations. Sure wasn't a culture designed to bring out the best in folks.

I take that back,the culture was a perfect expression of duality...the highest and lowest.

A disappointing commentary on the leadership and values at the core of the organization.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Once the Guru figured out our vasanas, she could play people like an instrument. Some wanted to hob nob with "important" people (all the dakshina folks). Others wanted to serve the poor (Prasad), How about the folks who loved ritual (Temple)or scriptures? (Scholars) or art (the artists)or hatha yoga?

Or, luxury? nice things? freedom (time off) It goes on and on when you think about it. Pretty easy to figure out how to "play" and to "control" each and every one of us.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

"What year, or years are you reffering to? (Just trying to synch this with other events in the overall SY timeline"


I was pretty specific and as specific as I want to be.

old sheep

Anonymous said...

"This deliberate playing to the adolescent psychology of "Ins and Outs," secrets, being special was part of the system and psychology of manipulation and control."

This was particularly a hallmark of GM's era on the chair. While I can't say Muk didn't run things similarly, things seemed more "free form" in his day.

The SY most GM devotees knew was extremely different than the SY Muk devotees knew when he was alive.

Not that I'm defending him or his crimes in any way. I'm not. Simply saying that it really wasn't the same organization before and after his passing, particularly after she shoved her brother off the shared couch.

Anonymous said...

>"Simply saying that it really wasn't the same organization before and after his passing"


Dear Anon 10:39,
yes..also the times were so different...the time itself was "free form"... 1970 in NY when US syda began! Quite a different atmosphere, different expectations, different mind-set. I have heard that gurumayi really disliked the "hippie element" from muktananda's time. I do know that I had a real hard time adjusting to her updated syda "dress code" for welcoming or hall sevas. I wound up going to a consignment store to buy "straight" clothing. Whoops! then I learned that used clothing was forbidden....bad karma cooties.


os

Anonymous said...

Wish that GM had been able to create a kinder, more simple fantasy/SY reality rather than the troubled culture we discuss.

We were/are players in her drama, She was/is the director.However, we are the director of our own life and can create our own new reality (such as no longer playing a part in the Siddha Yoga game).

SW. VIJRMBHAYATY (which means YAWN in Vedanta and and is defined as "to opens up new realities")

Anonymous said...

>>".However, we are the director of our own life "<<<


sigh...if only! smile.

os

AnattaI said...

I have bee interested to visit Kripalu, where devotees long ago fired the guru and created a school and healing center, thriving, not perfect, but more alive tha ever and serving the world.
And have spent time in Yogaville and been impressed at such a living place with a dead guru.
Interesting contrasts to S Fallsburg as it is today.

Anonymous said...

"Wish that GM had been able to create a kinder, more simple fantasy/SY reality rather than the troubled culture we discuss."

I met Muk in 78 and left in 86, post-split. I've often contemplated how the "perfect master" could leave such a hornet's nest behind for all the people who gave their entire lives to him. Yes, I've heard all the analysis about how she (GM) had him over a barrel, etc, but it still knocks me over that he could do that to so many people who gave him everything - leave them in the hands of a black widow psychopath and what was then an inexperienced youth. ... Just to keep the empire going?

Anonymous said...

Dear OBW, OS, Yawn, (SeekHer, are you there?) and et al!

Since we've got some folks here with long-term SY history to reflect on I'd like to pose the following question that, to this day, despite all I've read hither and thither, has yet to be answered.

As a preface: the first time I set foot in the Oakland Ashram I felt like I'd just taken a bong hit. (I wasn't a devotee at that point, hadn't been participating in a center, no build up, etc.)

Three years later I saw GM again and the intro was a bong + acid -- meditations so powerful it's a wonder I wasn't spit from the earth like a watermelon seed.

Saw GM again, another three years or so thereafter and no LSD, but still major bong.

(BTW, just for context I only ever saw GM on tour and during the one and only week I went to Fallsburg; I wasn't part of a center, never someone you'd call a "regular," and nowhere near anything resembling a true "sevite" though thought myself very devoted to my home practice).

So here's the question. Why the bong hit and LSD experience? What was the cause of all that?

Of course, back in the day I thought and was repeatedly reminded it was all "the shakti," "Guru's grace" etc. But I haven't believed that for years.

I've read loads here and elsewhere about LGAT, cultic techniques, sleep deprivation, etc. and those conversations have proven helpful. But here's the thing, often my highs or perhaps they were "contact highs" dropped on me like a bomb as I was ARRIVING at a program . . . not after three days sitting leg-locked in some White Course (never did one of those but, gee willackers, I heard stories!).

All these years later, I've never seen or read anything that really explained the drug-like-shakti-high phenomenon. To this day it still seems like a magic trick to me and I haven't yet figured out where the were hiding the white rabbit.

Anyone have thoughts?

Ironically those highs were so intense they actually kept me away -- from the ashram, from dedicated seva, from "wanting to be closer" to the Guru. Back then, I assumed that if I became more involved those highs would become more potent -- and they were already about as much as I could stand.

Early on in my participation with SY I actually wondered why on earth anyone would want to take an Intensive. What I was experiencing felt intense enough and I sure as hell didn't need MORE! (I met GM in 1989 but didn't take my first intensive until 1996; ironically it was a bit anti-climactic... I'd been to dozens of public programs prior that had felt far more profound. But alas, the check had already been cashed . . . )


So, perhaps another follow up question to those who were on staff, or spent extended time in the ashram is, did those "highs" dissipate once the real work began? Did they come and go?

For me a big "blast of shakti" every three years or so was enough to keep me going (and hooked) for a long, long time.

Last few times I saw GM, (early 2000s) I felt almost none of the above. And watching her during the 2004 (or 2003? I forget now) final NYD message broadcast I was actually bored. Only manners kept from nodding off or walking out.

Thank goodness that over time those blasts eventually dissapated down into near invisible, and no longer felt, faint puffs of smoke. Quite possible had their potency continued I would have too.

Thanks all.

-Lucid

Anonymous said...

What I observed (and heard from "others") is that certain people were extremely sensitive to the shakti. Those around the Ashram probably witnessed folks "acting out"...uncontrollable intense kriyas. Certain people weren't allowed to visit the Ashram because of their reaction to the energy. Some folks could start being triggered the closer they got to the Ashram (or the opposite, would release the further away they got).

It's a good thing you trusted your instincts about when was enough!

There seemed to be a difference between purification kriyas and kriyas that signaled a breakdown in a person's psychological makeup.
(I'm no expert, just a witness).

My observation is that the Ashram was very watchful and responsible about taking care of people in these situations. A seeker could be caught off guard as you were about what was happening.

The energy was real.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

<< "What I observed (and heard from "others") is that certain people were extremely sensitive to the shakti. ... Some folks could start being triggered the closer they got to the Ashram (or the opposite, would release the further away they got)." >>

Yawn - Your comments interested me since my experience of the energy was so different from the "ashram" people on this site. Most of my "experiences" and feeling of energy occurred at home, but I needed courses and "learning" events to keep them alive. I never had much interest in seeing GM in person, but had experiences from reading both her books and the older well-known scriptures. My experiences were stronger with two of the swamis than with GM.

One of my most powerful experiences came from a 1 1/2 day course at South Fallsburg taught by a professor from another tradition. Unlike other courses from visiting scholars that I took there, no swamis were in the room during his course and it was MC'd by a "regular" person whom I had never seen before. On the second day the professor added something to a statement that GM had made the previous night - this was the only time while in SY that I had seen someone not simply accept GM's words as the ultimate truth. The experience I had at the end of the course and on my way home continued to unfold for the next 13 years.

This energy stayed strong through 2006, when I was still having "experiences" through a home study course that interested me. By 2009, when the home study course changed from letting us choose how to approach it to telling us exactly how and what to do and when, the energy had totally left, and I left SY. It was right after that that I learned about the history of SY.

Last week I threw my SY books away. I was glad I waited this long. For the last several years I have been exploring Buddhist paths and the intersection of Buddhism and scientific research. When I opened the SY books up, I was totally amazed at how harmful some of the beliefs now seem to me, yet at the time I thought my "experiences" supported them.

Anonymous said...

Great observation at the end of your post. Interesting how the Truth 20 years ago is different from the Truth 10 years ago or from one year ago. One year from now, our Truth will be different than it is today.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

>"Interesting how the Truth 20 years ago is different from the Truth 10 years ago or from one year ago. One year from now, our Truth will be different than it is today"<


"My observation is that the Ashram was very watchful and responsible about taking care of people in these situations. A seeker could be caught off guard as you were about what was happening",,



I strongly disagree with both of these statements"


old sheep

Anonymous said...

Old Sheep, let me rephrase. MY Truth about how I experienced SY and GM changed over the years. THE TRUTH...I don't know what that is.

Per the second point, we disagree. I am willing to agree that there are always exceptions to anything. SY didn't handle every situation perfectly. But a very high percentage -yes.

Yawn

Anonymous said...

'.. For the last several years I have been exploring Buddhist paths and the intersection of Buddhism and scientific research"<<

Dear Anon,
My personal opinion (for what it's worth)is that there are two safe and helpful avenues in which to explore the energetic/mystical states that were/are triggered off in some of us. One is the buddhist/neurological investigation going on right now (particularly intesting to me is "Zen Brain Reflections" by A. Austin, a neuro-scientist...but there is a whole new literature investigating how the brain processes energetic reactions). The second important thing, for me, has been an in-depth immersion in qi-gong (the energetic underpinning of t'ai chi/ba gua, etc.). When you actually begin to experience energy as an almost "concrete" thing and discover (in a very REAL way) that you, too, can "direct it" if you choose to and you avail yourself of the very interesting things that are going on now in "consciousness research", it takes the whole phenomenon out of the dangerous labeling of it as some magical occurance. It is also very empowering in freeing yourself from this idea that only "some" people have this capacity. Instead, you can begin to see that what happened in syda had its basis in something that IS very real but not in the way we were taught to "tag" it. There is a very long history in India of accessing this "shakti" "qi" or whatever you want to call it and using it badly by combining it with sensory "triggers" (music, smell, etc). There is NO correlation between the ability to manipulate energy and the moral/ethical or even spiritual qualifications of the person doing it. Some of the most powerful Hindu tantrics I met were among the most ruthless.


old sheep

anatta said...

I am still unable for some reason to let all those books go even though I will never open them again.
I came to the conclusion long before I left SY that the astonishing peace and bliss which characterized the "shakti" was actually the essence of my own inner being.
The question about where all that came from:
I think that the discipline, longing for God and for truth above all else, devotion, and love we all brought was enormously powerful.
It was this energy which allowed us to "experience the power within," and this energy which annointed the person who was the designated guru.
I have respect for her discipline and believe that at first she brought that same pure-hearted devotion. But you are right, she was very young and inexperienced, and she was drawn to the wrong things and the wrong people.
I remember the last program I went to in the SM. She was at the front of the hall a tad too long and the crowd was getting restless, the MC clueless, and I saw how she might have difficulty getting out of the hall.
I think of those Ursala LeGuin stories related to the Earthsea Trilogies about wizards who have lost their power.
But the bliss inside myself that I was able to find and learn to sustain remains with me. And I too found great joy in my seva all those years.
It was never really about the guru.

Anonymous said...

>>"SY didn't handle every situation perfectly. But a very high percentage -yes."<<

Hi Yawn,
We will have to agree to disagree....no hard feelngs. In my opinion, people who have no basic understanding of the phenomenon they are trying to "handle" are not really capable of doing a very good job. Just labeling something as a "kriya", removing a person from the hall, popping a chocolate in his/her mouth or telling them not to come back are not really helpful. All it does is label someone as "impure" (that's why she/his is having all of those "purification kriyas")and send the person home to deal with in on his/her own...sometimes for YEARS...with no real help and no map...basically because ignorance is nothing more than a temporary bandaid. Energy discharge from an overexcited system is something everyone has experienced...children experience it at Christmas, which is why you sometimes see them running madly through the house after opening their presents. Labeling this kind of thing " a purification kriya" allows those doing the labeling to feel subtly superior. It's like someone reading a book and then deciding to do open-heart surgery on you. Um, I'd rather have a trained physician. The mythology of syda in how to deal with "kriyas" is, to me, one of the worst offenses of the organization.
We obviously have a different experience of the organization and, also, a very different background in the tantric underpinnings of syda. Demystification seems so imporant to me. Again, I think because, by nature, I am what would be labeled a mystic. I've had to learn what I've learned at great personal expense in order to survive some of the things I was attracted to. There is a clarity, however, in how Buddhism deals with this phenomenon that kind of puts it into a larger perspective.

And when it comes down to it...we are only beginning to EXPLORE all of this; it's in the beginning stages..and that is a very exciting prospect.

os

Anonymous said...

Dear Folks,
I have been talking so much here. I just realized I do this every year before I go off for a month's silent retreat in the woods. Hope I have not bored you to tears and thanks for listening. I wanted to leave you all with a few books that have helped me with this "experiences" issue:
"Buddha's Brain", Rick Hanson "The Light at the Center; context and pretext of Modern Mysticism", Agehananda Bharati;"The Mind and the Way", Ahahn Sumedho..and other books by students of Ajahn Chah; "Stepping out of Self-Deception", Rodney Smith; "The Eye Never Sleeps, Striking to the Heart of Zen", Dennis Genpo Merzel; "Heart Advice from a Mahamudra Master", Gendun Rinpoche...and I just got a copy of "Phi, A voyage from the Brain to the Soul" by Giulio Tononi..not read it yet.
I'd welcome anybody else's book list on this subject.

love to you all,

old sheep

Anonymous said...

Great book list, OS, thanks. I've read a couple of them, will check out others.

To go back to Lucid's question--I agree with OS. I had the same experiences around GM early in my SY career and because they were presented as evidence of her being a "perfected being" they really increased my faith. As time went on though I began to see that the ability to work with energy was not evidence of perfection, just of a particular skill which could be learned. And I also experienced as time went on that there was much less of it around in SY. I think GM lost interest, personally, and probably stopped doing the practices that increased her energetic capacity.

I experience the same kinds of intense states now at times, both in and out of meditation, unrelated to the presence of obvious "channels" for the energy like a supposed sadguru. And I experience a strong transmission of energy around some of my teachers (though it's not spoken of or considered important in the practice). I think it's something natural, inherent, and some people are able to "move" it, either intentionally or just as a result of deep practice with no particular intention in that direction.

My experience with those who had a tough time with energy, who had ongoing kriyas or mental difficulties as a result of their practice at the ashrams or on tour, was that yes, swamis or other teachers would advise them to lower the heat on their practices, not to do hatha yoga or chant texts or meditate until the energy was under control, but that's it. But that wouldn't happen unless the person made it known that s/he was having a problem, which most people never did, just assuming that anything "the shakti" did was beneficial. There was no ongoing counseling (except maybe for long term staff people). I don't think those situations were handled compassionately at all, not in my experience. The concern was for the reputation (and liability) of the guru and SY, not for the person suffering. Out of control energy can really mess up your nervous system. People were consistently told it was under the control of the benevolent goddess Kundalini who had their interests at heart. Not so, sorry.

OBW

Anonymous said...

"My observation is that the Ashram was very watchful and responsible about taking care of people in these situations. A seeker could be caught off guard as you were about what was happening"

I knew several people who had psychotic breakdowns following intense shakti experiences, both in the last years of Muk and the early Chid/Nit years. It's not true to say the ashram was caring. These people were left to fend for themselves and rarely supported, even in extreme cases (self abuse). They were sometimes deliberately kept away from the public, that's it.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the tennis match Old Sheep. Have a great retreat.

I'm signing off for a while too.

Much love,
Yawn

Anonymous said...

Thanks all, for your thoughts on the highs and lows.

I love:

"I think GM lost interest, personally, and probably stopped doing the practices . . ."

What an image that conjures! “The Ilumined Being who has reached the goal of all seeking" turns out in the end to be just some young gal who fell into the role by default, or (depending on the version the tale to which you subscribe) clawed her way onto the throne sans the maturity to first think it all the way through – then got bored.

Something about the image of “a Guru who exists in an unbroken state with the Divine" juxtaposed with "a bored human being" tickles me. And I don't mean that in a malicious way. It's just that the orgiastic SY saga has seemed so epic at times, and it’s nice to occasionally see the whole drama folded up, placed into a simple, straightforward context and made no more or less remarkable than anything else that's ever happened in the history of our lives.

-Lucid

Anonymous said...

Lucid August 25, 2012 11:30 PM

Love that post.

Anonymous said...

Too much shakti? We were told the shakti could be managed by sugar. Eat a Magic Square! Washed down with Siddha Coffee of course. So calming. ;-)

SY one big ball of dubious content. The legitimate philosophers were seeded here and there for credibility. Coupled with powerful LGAT techniques we could be manipulated. I also know think some of us had obvious issues that made us easier to snag as complete servants. I would have done anything she asked at one time. Scary thought.

My God does not require obedience. He waits for my love. I am sorry that sometimes I am otherwise occupied. But when I return to Him always welcome.

SY is not like this. Free will does not exist there. It's a cult that thrives on robotic compliance with a jerry rigged philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for great discussion and book links.

Anonymous said...

Read SY website. Talk by GM on practicality. In it the belle dame puts Tolstoy in his place. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Old Sheep, you said:

"I wound up going to a consignment store to buy "straight" clothing. Whoops! then I learned that used clothing was forbidden....bad karma cooties."

This is yet another example of the "Siddha Think", i.e., the cultural beliefs, attitudes, ways of thinking, "mythology", one had to adopt to "fit in with the group" or put in GM-era Siddha Speak "Aligning with GM's Shakti".

So much subtle brainwashing. It wasn't forced on total newbies, per se. But it was clearly there and clearly had to be adopted or one would find oneself in the "out crowd".

Perish the thought.

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm sorry but WTF?! Has anyone read the story that just went up at the SY site called "The Guru's Cat"?

Anonymous said...

Just read it. Has anyone heard that "story" before?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is the same story with an Indian twist...Why is it the family tradition to cut the end off a ham before baking it? Because several generations back someone cut the end off the ham to fit into a too small pan. People kept cutting the end off the ham even when the pan was large enough. Same moral, different twist.Traditions are often blindly followed without examining their origin and thinking through into present time. Think I remember GM telling the ham story years ago.This must be the kiddie version. No big deal!

Anonymous said...

The guru's cat story was told many times in SY in my day, and I've heard it or variations on it in other spiritual traditions as well. Classic teaching story about clinging to empty ritual, giving "special" meaning to things that are not special--something the SY culture "specialized" in, to my mind.

Anonymous said...

Weird. GM isn't a cat person.

We all knew she liked dogs.
She also liked birds...I've seen several photos of her with various parrots.

Everything I'd heard in the past suggested neither she nor Muk were cat lovers.

Anonymous said...

cats are bad juju in India..they "eat" the shakti...suck it right out of you!....oy gevalt. sometimes this story is told with a monkey tied to the tree. next up: the blind men and the elephants, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

this story was in Gilbert's book, "Eat,Prey and Love"...just sayin'...smirk

Anonymous said...

Yeah, "Prey".
No kiddin'.

Back in the 1970's we Westerners were like lambs to the slaughter.
So, so innocent.

Anonymous said...

Re: The Cat in The Hat . . . isn't it reassuring to know some things in SY never change -- like the guru's penchant for spewing infantilizing tales that mock the very tenants to which she insists her devotees adhere.

Anonymous said...

Come on Chidvilas quit scraping the bottom of the barrel for significance. This story sucked then and does now. Explains no spiritual truth whatsoever except to mind control and shame your followers. When are you going to give up the charade that you have anything meaningful to share with anyone? Take your stolen money and go the hell away!

Anonymous said...

I know the ashram monitors sites like this and likely is posting among us. So here's a word. Gurumayi and the Siddha Yoga mission is completely corrupted. You cannot get it back. All these recent messages are controlling and manipulative. Defining acceptable spiritual behavior is not necessary when you have a sincere and truthful message. People can be relaxed and in touch with themselves and their heart. GM operates with one technique: shame. Still doing it.

Anonymous said...

Anon August 28, 5:24 pm.

Nicely put!

Anonymous said...

Bravo, anon 9:19

Anonymous said...

"The Cat Who Went to Heaven" written in the 30's is a much better teaching story. GM should let go the idea she has a gift for children's literature. She is actually very bad at it. Why? Gurumayi has absolutely nothing to say. She has no message but bow and send money. Lots of it please. Total gold digger.

Anonymous said...

On a whim I once calculated what I felt would be a dollar figure to feel more balanced about the wasted SY years. Figured about $35,000. Not really enough. Others if they did this would be owed much more. So there's some karma for you guru mayo. (autocorrect but leaving it!) Pay here or pay there. Either way you will pay and that is a comforting thought.

Anonymous said...

Seekher gives a holla! :-) pretty please with agave on top?

Anonymous said...

I'd say around $55,000 including paying to spend 3 months doing full-time seva in Fallsburg every Summer, intensives during the year, food for meals I prepared as an ashram cook, dakshina and, also, as department head, supplying things for sevas out of pocket because it was either that or not have what the leadership insisted on but would not pay for. This does not include a trip to GSP and a 3 month stay there.
I worked 4 jobs to pay for it. Oh, and the "upkeep" stuff (clothing, etc.). Now I am old and (because of the nature of my work...contract teaching in college art departments), I have no retirement funds except a very meager social security benefit which, hopefully, will survive the upcoming election.
syda was a very expensive lesson in so many ways. However, I really no longer hold ill will...amazing to me. I made some choices that I might not make again but those choices were made from a deep deep love of and longing for Truth. Sooner or later, the chickens will come home to roost...and, for me, that's a great prospect...for some, not so much. To change places with one of those folks?...no way. I actually feel sorry for them.

old sheep again,
packing for the woods
see you later..could not resist this topic...smile

Anonymous said...

"GM should let go the idea she has a gift for children's literature."

Ha! Thanks for the Thursday chuckle.

Anonymous said...

"GM should let go the idea she has a gift for children's literature. She is actually very bad at it. Why? Gurumayi has absolutely nothing to say. She has no message but bow and send money. Lots of it please. Total gold digger."

And so, the $64,000 question (a sum I'd consider as "starters" for the $$ I wasted on SY in my nearly 25 years "in") is:

So what's the difference between her and some destitute panhandler on the street?

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