Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Last to Know!

Sometimes life takes a hard left and all you can do is swerve along and try not to go into a tailspin. Such has been my last six months.

For all those who visited here, and particularly for those who I invited to post to RoD but weren't able (Lucid I'm looking at you!) my sincere apologies.

Just yesterday I learned that Gurumayi had resurfaced in SMA for her birthday this year, for a videotaped celebration that is still available for viewing on the SY website:

(I haven't read through all the comments to my last post in May, but I assume this has been brought up and discussed at length. For those who haven't seen the videos, or who want a new and very belated thread in which to discuss them, please join in. I will be checking here regularly once again, and your comments are still unmoderated.)

It is hard to say all I felt while watching the videos taken throughout the day of Gurumayi. Certainly, I do feel some real nostalgia for Shree Muktananda Ashram, which was such a huge part of my life for twenty years, and at which I experienced such peace—along with the recognition that those days belong to a past that cannot be resurrected. I thought I would experience the old familiar tug at finally seeing Gurumayi, but that is well and truly vanished. The disenchantment I sought is complete. But, objectively speaking, she doesn't look comfortable, let alone blissful, playing the part anymore either. In the video taken during the 7:30 meditation in the Temple, in fact, she looks downright unhappy to me.

A friend who still practices, still does regular seva, still gives monthly dakshina, still visits his local ashram, told me of the build up and hype around this event--the worldwide sangham was instructed to visit the website for a surprise the day after Gurumayi's birthday, with the promise that Gurumayi would once again be available to her devotees. When he watched the videos, what he said he experienced was great sadness, realizing that he would most likely never be in Gurumayi's physical presence again. It's hard to square this. Looking at the very small crowd of people at the celebration, how are devotees who sacrificed so much for so many years, and who have remained loyal these last 8 or 9 years, supposed to feel about not even knowing this happened until after the fact, and then being invited to watch from the sidelines? Based on the comments on the SY website, many experience the usual feelings of joy and devotion and bliss, and watch the videos time and again to get their fix of the physical guru.

The more cynical among us might see this and think: money-making ploy. Post-disenchantment, that is my take. If all it requires is a once-a-year recorded visit by Gurumayi to SMA to keep devotees everywhere plugged in and contributing--well, that is a far easier lift than mounting the big, expensive summers that used to take place there.

Two perspectives, two sides of the same coin that is now Siddha Yoga. Which face you see depends on whether you're still hanging on, or whether you've made your last pranham long ago and left the hall.


Anonymous said...

Good to see you back Seekher.

Anonymous said...

Hey, welcome back, SeekHer, we've missed you.

If you look at the comments from around the time of GM's birthday, you'll see there was a lot of discussion--they also posted a "talk" by her at that time, and another a while later. Both were very short and full of veiled blame and judgment of her devotees. They were each taken down within a few days of being posted. Lots of comments about those.

Many topics have come and gone in the comment thread since your last post. Hope you enjoy the read, if you have time!


SeekHer said...

Gonna roll up my sleeves and get caught up this weekend. Sorry to have missed the blame-the-victim videos--they sound fun! G looked so tired and not up for the performance in the b-day vids, and I LOVED the way two of the kids were like, no way lady, get your dirty cake hands away from me!

Anonymous said...

So happy to see you here SeekHer!

Anonymous said...


The saddest thing to me is that there still are a significant number of people looking at the other side of that coin, and who have held on for the past 8 to 9 years.

I should know. I'm married to one of them. My leaving became a great "stab to the heart" in the mind of my spouse. To the point of my repeatedly having been told "You are not my true life partner. I thought you were, but you're not." Which becomes a stab to the heart for me.

But I have resigned myself that my spouse has so much invested in SY that the hanging on is beyond mere denial. In fact, my spouse knows all the allegations through the years full well. What is going on here is some sort of deep need to hold on. It's even beyond a willful refusal to let go and move on. The suggestion of letting go and moving on is derided as a "you really don't understand me at all and you never have".

It's just so sad.

Why are we still together?
Easy: For the sake of the offspring.

Like SY, in my own little world, the inevitable is being willfully delayed. Holding on, rather than moving on.

Sad, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

"Like SY, in my own little world, the inevitable is being willfully delayed. Holding on, rather than moving on. Sad, ain't it?"

That's tough annon. SY is so ex-clusive like that, so much a "if you don't also feel it I can't have a real relationship with you"kind of culture. Classic cult stuff.

Difficult journey.

Anonymous said...

Very difficult journey.

I brought it up -- at the risk of looking too much like I was playing up my own "victim-hood" and begging for sympathy -- primarily as a reminder that the damage SY did was not merely one of tossing out old ashramites out on their backsides after years of harvesting their devoted and years of harvesting faithful service, world-wide devotees' money.

Real damage was done to people's lives even if they never lived full-time in an SY ashram. Real damage was done to family relationships, to the children growing up in those relationships.

I have to live with that damage every day of my life.

Someday, the offspring will grow up and move away. I do not relish the idea of being broke, alone, and broken once the unavoidable split comes at that time.

But I can see it coming. And other than divorcing and becoming broke now, do not see one da**ned thing I can do about it. Because that would certainly not serve offspring's educational and financial future.

So who sacrifices? Well, all of us, parents and offspring.

All because devotion to the cult will not be let go of. All because "moving on" cannot take place as a result.

Damage. REAL damage, has been wrought by SY.

I just pray I live long enough to have the satisfaction of seeing GM's passing from this world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon,
My heart breaks for the pain you and your family are suffering. I encourage you to get some counseling and explore options to your situations. Sounds like no one is happy and everyone is doing his/her duty. There must be a better way even if it is an internal adjustment that strengthens rather than weakens you.

A favorite quote by Lao Tzu is "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings."

This has been true for me.

Anonymous said...

>>". I do not relish the idea of being broke, alone, and broken once the unavoidable split comes at that time."<<<

Dear Anon,
This is tough! What I've observed lately is how very very difficult it is for people who have been deeply involved with a devotional path to let go of that path. The misuse of the concepts of "devotion" and "surrender" by teachers and gurus, taken out of context and out of the cultures that gave rise to these methods, has caused tremendous damage here in the West. In the guise of "ego busting", trust in deep perception is eroded.This effectively prevents the rise of inner knowing as a "check-in" system for the student. What "should" be happening is a more and more refined discrimination and "inner authority" as clarity arises. What does happen is more and more dependence on an outer authority. The student (devotee or whatever label you want to use) becomes more and more rigid, more and more dependent, less and less able to open to anything outside of the guru's dogma. It's a particularly insidious form of dependence and really hard to break away from. The ones who suffer worst are the ones closest to the dependent person.
I am grateful every single day for the lesson of syda. I see the same dynamic playing out all around me but syda was the "vaccination" that gave me some immunity to this particular spiritual illness.
Many of us may wind up old and broke; some of us (all of us, eventually) will wind up alone but not necessarily 'broken'". I really wish you well in your own deepening understanding.
The other thing to consider awful lot of couples go through this "re-evaluation" when family responsibilities are finished...syda or no syda.

good luck to you,
old sheep

Anonymous said...

This is my first time posting again, after many months. Glad to see SeekHer being with us again!

This is to Anon Nov 13, 2012 8:14 AM

"But I have resigned myself that my spouse has so much invested in SY that the hanging on is beyond mere denial. In fact, my spouse knows all the allegations through the years full well. What is going on here is some sort of deep need to hold on. It's even beyond a willful refusal to let go and move on."

I really feel for you, and I appreciate you bringing up the subject of collateral damage, to children and relatives of devotees. It brings up memories of one friend of mine who had her son basically taken away from her by GM, during the peak SY years when they tried to live as a family in SMA. Her son became part of GM's entourage, a favorite, in the inner circle for all his years of growing up. It helped that he was handsome and charming and turned into a charismatic drummer as a teenager. His mother was left on the sidelines and only received negative attention.

She had to watch as her son became alienated from her, with GM always having the last word and being the far more powerful influence in his life. She would easily override what his real mother had to say, and being close to GM was more tempting to him, given that that was the main goal for all brainwashed ashramites around him. After all, getting attention from the central figure in SY was the most desirable thing, gaining you lots of attention from all the bystanders. His mom couldn't compete, since she was just another "deluded devotee". I have heard other similar stories of GM sabotaging the inner workings of family dynamics, and people have shared it online.

One evening, when me and my spouse where still in SY, we spoke about it with her and son. She broke down crying, from all the inner tension, expressing her wish to leave GM behind. She didn't get much understanding from us, when she mentioned GM's mean streak and ostentatiously dismissive behaviors. I actually had not clue of what she was talking about. I thought it must be all exaggerations and "wrong understanding", as the term goes. I remember feeling sorry for her - now I feel sad that I wasn't of any real help to her, validating her feelings of rage and resentment which were quite justified. The next day, she came back around, saying that she couldn't possibly leave GM and that she had to stay loyal to her.

As you see in your spouse, it takes a lot to take that leap of courage and leave all your friends and entire world behind. My friend also had "a deep need to hold on", in-spite of all the humiliations she went through. After my departure from SY, I spoke with an ex-devotee friend who had known her very well, from many years of being on staff together. She stated it very clearly, seeing the similarity to her own status during 15 years in the ashram: "She was definitely tutored She had the right personality to be dominated."

In my friend's case, her son continued bathing in the limelight of the path. Even in the recent quiet years, he was still among the privileged few to be invited to SMA for GM's birthday week and other semi-private celebrations, to drum and to add the glamour of youth to the gatherings. His involvement made it look like there was still something going in the secret chambers of the ashram, something worth to long for and envy.

Hope to write more later - thanks for sharing!
Free At Last

Anonymous said...

Free At Last,

Was the teenage drummer either Indian (but grew up in U.S.) or Mexican?

If so, I knew both young men, and more than just in passing.

The anon to whom you responded.

Anonymous said...

Inner knowing requires that you smile at your inner self. No frowning! Peace everybody. Grateful to Seekher and company.

Anonymous said...

Anon December 01 said "Inner knowing requires that you smile at your inner self. No frowning!"

So, only one question: WHY???

In light, there is darkness. In darkness, light.
Otherwise, the Chinese Yin Yang symbol, one of the most profound visual representations ever devised of how this world functions, is meaningless.

This attitude of denying both sides of human duality does not strike me as "inner knowing". Instead, it smacks of complete denial of our totality.

SY, particularly in GM's era, practiced this attitude of leaving the darkness alone, and only allowing the light to be discussed or shown (publicly, anyway), fervently. I'd even say it was beyond fervently. At some ashrams and centers, it was to the point cultural dictactorship.

Personally, I think this is a large part of why such darkness was allowed to propagate within the SY leadership behind the scenes. "No frowning" and "No acknowlegement of the darkness" was used to justify very dark acts, dark attitudes, dark tendencies.

Unless human totality is embraced and openly faced, how can there be balance? Or true "inner knowing"?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:58. I understand and agree with what you are saying, but my current experience is a sense of inner acceptance whether I am looking at the light or dark. Frowning to me was being so judgmental that I found it hard to accept situations thus leaving me disturbed but unavailable for real thinking about a problem. This isn't a Pollyanna approach, but maybe taking a friendlier approach to problems. I feel less polarized and more balanced. More so than ever in SY which left me ragged. Perhaps part of it was due to so much repression as you mention.

Anonymous said...

>"Inner knowing requires that you smile at your inner self. No frowning! Peace everybody. Grateful to Seekher and company."<<

You're joking, I'm sure????? (or are you...this sounds just like something gurumayi might say,after one of those public humiliations in the yellow room). smile, smile, smile.


Anonymous said...

anonymous said "Frowning to me was being so judgmental that I found it hard to accept situations thus leaving me disturbed but unavailable for real thinking about a problem."

I'd like to ask that anonymous to describe the difference between "being judgmental" versus "critical thinking".

In my experienced, critical thinking was squelched, and squelched HARD, in SY.

To me, this denied devotees the use of their natural human capacity to reason and evaluate.

Blind devotion usually leads to trouble.

Devotion after full use of reason can be quite fulfilling.

And in SY, it was often easy (in my experience) to THINK I was using the full measure of my reason. But in retrospect, I wasn't using it at all. I used the "emotion of devotion" to justify my practice of what was really blind faith.

Anonymous said...

This discussion is touching on something very interesting to me: discrimination. How does discrimination arise? What's the difference between discrimination and judgementalism? It has taken me a long time to work on these issues post-syda. What I've discovered personally is that a very precise "knowing" arises and that this knowing has absolute clarity but it does not come from mental processes. Once you've experienced this very clear "knowing", it can act as a kind of "touchstone" and really help with the issue of discrimination. However, that being said, it is necessary to work on the Mind and understand, for instance what a thought is, what an emotion is,how the Mind works, how it creates the sense of identity, etc. in order to prepare the ground for this "intuitive insight" to begin to arise with any regularity and, also, to begin to stabilize in a clear mental state. None of this precludes deep Devotion in any way but Devotion to the Truth is a very different thing from the kind of unquestioned devotion to a human authority figure that many "devotional" paths require.
Most paths actually do have strong scholarly roots but those aspects of practice are often ignored or watered down and turned into spiritual platitudes.
Look at the Dalai Lama if you want to see someone with an amazing and highly trained Mind who is also a clear example of compassion in action.


Anonymous said...

Old Sheep,

You say "a very precise "knowing" arises and that this knowing has absolute clarity but it does not come from mental processes."

I feel I have to dispute this a bit. Any "knowing" is by definition a mental process.

So, what is this "knowing" then?
Us "thinking we're sure we know"?
Is it instinct?

My point is, there were so many times I simply "just KNEW something" but it was really just my feeling, or "gut feel" or "intuition" about it.

Sometimes that "knowing" was on target.

Many, MANY times, it was not.

I've learned since leaving SY to question EVERYTHING. INCLUDING my own "inner knowing".

Sorry to insert my own experience here, but I felt compelled to say all of this.

Anonymous said...

For me the 'inner knowing' is somewhere behind the mental thought process. It has a stability that feels unwavering. SY taught me to constantly undermine that stability. Nothing was ever enough. inner knowing eluded me. This inner knowing I experience now is not righteous or arrogant. It easily admits mistakes. Stays calm and open. Doesn't second guess just changes when needed. Feels flexible unlike SY so rigid.

Anonymous said...

My inner knowing is that I do not know and that gives me peace of mind. That is grounding. Leaves me open in the moment.

Recently I started therapy. I decided that for this I would not approach it with a lot of mental work. I would be s more passive observer of what was happening, allowing for the unconscious to play an upfront part, because I was not so in control. It has been very productive. Releasing all kinds of hang ups. SY gave my hang ups hang ups. That's gone now. I am happy at a level I never knew even when I am sad and upset about what have you.

Anonymous said...

>>"You say "a very precise "knowing" arises and that this knowing has absolute clarity but it does not come from mental processes."

I feel I have to dispute this a bit. Any "knowing" is by definition a mental process"

Hi Anon,
It's always hard to talk about this stuff. By "mental processes", I meant the usual definition of a mental process...thinking, comparisons, a "mental observer" who is "understanding" information and relating to to itself...all of the characteristics of a separate "someone" who "understands", a something/someone who is weighing possibilities, classifying information etc.. The intuitive rising of "knowing" from an open field is something very different. I guess you could say that any form of "knowing" is a mental process? in some sense of that definition..on some level, our body/brain "knows" when it automatically reaches for something, however dimly understood and there are those "gut feelings" and "intuitions" you mention that might lead us to "think that we know" but it's all refering back to a separate "person" and the concerns of that separate "person". There is something that happens that is different from all of that. There is no question of its being "on target" or not. It's pretty clear but doesn't have too much to do with our personal agenda. At least this is how I have experienced it, for what that's worth. I totally agree with you as to questioning everything...everything. That's the Mind's "job"


SeekHer said...

First--a belated reply to Anon from November 13th. I'm sorry to read of the division in your home caused by your spouse remaining committed to SY while you are not. But I'm glad that you posted here and that others have offered some very very good advice as well as a sympathetic ear. Having a place where anyone can go to anonymously discuss SY is the reason I keep this blog up long after it facilitated my own transition out of the path. The community that has gathered here, and in particular the smaller one that has remained, is comprised of wonderful people who have weathered every kind of storm and made the most of these experiences. Every time I read RoD comments I see how much collective wisdom there is here. All I can offer to someone who has left and can't understand why a loved one remains and is threatened by their leaving is really hard to leave for some people. Incredibly scary. The truer the believer the more that is so. When you have willingly surrendered your critical thought processes, willpower and personal intentions to a path that appears truly magical and mystical and a master who appears to be nothing less than your own inner voice, it can be terrifyingly disorienting to even consider that what you believe may not be..not only real but The Truth. I remember waaaay back when I first heard about the website Leaving Siddha Yoga. I read some of the entries there and immediately ran away and never returned for years. If Gurumayi had not disappeared I might never have gone back there. The experience cratered my devotion, and that was terribly disorienting for me. Even after starting this blog it took me the better part of a year, writing and examining and debating and thinking before I could say I put SY behind me. And I was disappointed when I realized I had! As Old Sheep points out, once you come out the other side you are "vaccinated" in a way to other forms of magical thinking, and if you are someone who likes magical thinking, who prefers not to believe in merely a material universe devoid of meaning, this is the price you pay for your freedom.
I wish you well and hope you will continue to look for support here.

Anonymous said...

As Old Sheep points out, once you come out the other side you are "vaccinated" in a way to other forms of magical thinking, and if you are someone who likes magical thinking, who prefers not to believe in merely a material universe devoid of meaning"<<

Hi Seeker,
First of all...thank you so much for your generosity in maintaining this forum. I wanted to be clear, though, that letting go of magical thinking has not resulted in a "belief in a merely material universe devoid of meaning" for me. On the contrary, I find the world of form and emptiness more amazing, mysterious and unknowable than I could have imagined when I was in syda. I think that's one of the corruptions we all experienced in syda: losing our own natural vision of the amazement of embodiment. We were taught to give the arising synchronicities, insights, resonances, etc. over to a "guru" and so what was ours by "right" became her "power to create experiences FOR us" . Personally, it helped me to think about that "first turning of the wheel of dharma": the realization of how very rare it is to be born in a situation where we have the "leisure and opportunity" to investigate the truth (paraphrasing).Really taking this in helped me to re-connect with my own deeply felt connection to what I guess you could call the Source...that phrase from the Heart Sutra, "form is emptiness and emptiness is form....." has been a major part of my life since leaving syda.
I wish you the best, SeekHer...lots of love to you,

Old Sheep

Anonymous said...

Oh dear!
correction! It's called "the 4 thoughts that turn the Mind to dharma"..not turn the wheel of dharma..I am very very bad at dogma even if it's helpful. Sorry to any Buddhist practitioners out there. I may have caused your coffee to spurt out your nose in astonishment!

Old forgetful Sheep

Anonymous said...

Three poisons, three characteristics (or perceptions), four of this (and this and this and also this, of course), five of that (and also five of a few other things), six of these, seven of those, eight of something else and also the Big Ten. Two big tens, actually. We "buddhists" have many many lists, easy to mix them up.


Anonymous said...

Dear OBW,
It must be the "aid to memorization" stuff from the monasteries (one of the few places people could become literate in earkier times)?


Anonymous said...

I think that's it, OS. And if you read the early suttas, the amount of repetition of phrases is mind-numbing, another memorization tool. In most translations there are many ellipses in every sutta to eliminate the redundancies.

Still, when you realize none of what he said was written down for at least 200 years after the Buddha died, you know a lot of extraneous stuff must have found its way in. And undoubtedly other things were lost. Amazing that what remains of the early canon is so internally consistent, considering all that.


Anonymous said...

"amazement of embodiment" Old Sheep that phrase hit the bell, my heart. That is what I have been experiencing but didn't have a phrase to capture. That is what I feel to be alive. That amazement, is visceral, protective, loving. Just won't quit. Needs no philosophy. Just is. Thank you and all the commenters and readers. And of course Seekher. :-)

Anonymous said...

Love your post Anon Dec 12, so true for me as well. The visceral appreciation, joy and perhaps even awe, without an "ism" to hang it on. It just is.

Anonymous said...

7:59 I get you. To wake up with all kinds of problems and the world a mess but to feel this joy inside and respect for everything. Doesn't have a name. Guess that's why they call it That!